Professional competences

There are many different descriptions and definitions of the concept of professional competence. What the various definitions have in common is that professional competence is usually understood as the combination of a full repertoire of possible actions and a person's disposition to act in a self-organised manner in response to various work situations. In vocational education and training, “professional competences” are also sometimes referred to as “competences”. The following definition can be used for vocational education and training:

A person is competent to act if he or she performs occupational tasks and activities in a self-initiated, goal-oriented, professional and flexible manner.

The goal of upper-secondary level vocational education and training (VET) is to provide learners with the professional competences needed to work in a specific occupation. The professional competences that are expected from qualified professionals are laid down in VET ordinance and training plan for the given occupation. Various models are used for this purpose, the Competence Model is the most frequently used one and the Competences-Resources (CoRe) model is used to a somewhat lesser extent.

With regard to vocational education and training (VET), the notion of “professional competences” represents a combination of knowledge, skills and attitude in certain situations. Professional competences encompass technical, methodological, social and personal competences.

Technical competences enable qualified persons to solve typical tasks and problems encountered in their occupational field in an independent and effective manner and to deal with the changing requirements of their occupation.

Thanks to methodological competences, qualified persons know how to organise and implement adequate strategies (e.g. plan work and carry it out in an established order, use good ancillary means and solve problems in line with objectives).

Social competences mean the personal skills and behaviour with which a person is able to adapt to others. This includes team spirit, motivation and ease in their contacts with other persons, whether they are customers, colleagues or superiors.

Personal competences are those that characterise the behaviour of a person at work, for example reliability, autonomy, tolerance to stress but also good manners and the desire to learn.