On establishment of qualification assessment and certification centers qualifications in the field of recreation and sports tourism

Professor, Dr.Sc.Ec. G.M. Romanova
Professor, Dr.Sc.Ec. N.A. Savelyeva
Sochi State University, Sochi

The study was performed under State Contract #06.081.11.0049 of November 7, 2013 “Designing and Testing a Model of Professional Qualification Assessment and Certification Centre in Recreation and Sport-and-Health  Tourism Sector”.

 

Keywords: sector-level Qualification Assessment and Certification Centre (QASC), recreation, sport and health tourism.

Introduction

The need for the national industry competitiveness being maintained under the mounting pressure from the foreign production companies competing on the local markets – is still listed high on agenda by the local governments [1-3]. Much attention is given to the problem of the sector companies being adequately staffed by competitive professional personnel. And it is the efficient professional qualification assessment and certification system that is viewed as one of the most effective instruments to improve the sector competitiveness.

Modern management systems, including a variety of certification mechanisms, are designed to include, among other things, general quality management components with the objective to provide for the corporate performance being persistently improved in every aspect of the core activity; with the relevant progress in the performance efficiency. Every analysis of the practical corporate performance confirms the need for due certification systems, and it is imperative that such systems are based on transparent assessments and well-developed standards, with due public awareness provisions for the clients being kept informed on the product quality. Every corporate certification decision will be made based on the relevant accreditation and certification standards as provided by the laws in effect.

Objective of the study was to explore the Qualification Assessment and Certification Centres (QASC) development potential in the recreation and sport-and-health tourism sector.

Methodology and organisation of the study

It is the presently popular theories, concepts, methods and models offered by the national and foreign researchers for the personnel qualification assessment and certification systems that we have accepted as a theoretical and practical basis for the present study. The study was largely designed on the methods of theoretical analysis, abstract and logical analysis, systems analysis and comparative analysis, with an emphasis being made on comprehensive interviews of the leading sector specialists as a key tool of the study.

Study results and discussion

Personnel qualification assessment and certification system is being actively developed in the Russian Federation since this project was initiated by the “top decision” [4]. At the federal level, the system is represented by the Public-private Council and the National Qualifications Development Agency (HQDA) as a base organization. At the sector level, the system is being developed by the expert-and-methodological council and the relevant Qualification Assessment and Certification Centres (QASC). Generally, any sector-level personnel Qualification Assessment and Certification system shall be designed with due consideration for the requirements and needs of the sector. As we all know how specific the Recreation and Sport-and-Health Tourism Sector (RSHTS) is in terms of its performance needs and goals, due attention should be given to these specifics being duly addressed by the sector-level Personnel Qualification Assessment and Certification System. This is the reason why one of the key goals of the study is to give an overview of the most controversial issues of the QASC development process since these centres are considered a key component of the QAS system of the RSHTS.

The QASC play the key role in the sector-level qualification assessment and certification system for the reason that they are directly responsible for assessments of the knowledge and skills of the personnel and issue the relevant qualification certificates to the personnel. When it comes to the QAS system with its functionality being implemented in the RSHTS, specific requirements and needs of the sector expressly come to the forefront to be reckoned with.

However, the efforts to implement and manage the sector-level qualification assessment and certification system in the RSHTS are complicated by the fact that no professional standards are available as yet for the sector. Therefore, a project to develop sets of professional standards for the QAC system of the RSHTS shall be considered a top priority for the sector. Furthermore, the system implementation is further complicated by the fact that the RSHTS structure provides jobs to a wide variety of professions. Therefore, the system will include a broad range of the relevant professional standards to address every aspect of professional backgrounds of multiple specialists whose services are required by the sector. The sport-and-health tourism branch, for instance, offers walking tours, trekking / water sports, bicycle/ horse riding tours, plus car/ motorcycle tours, spelunking adventures and many other forms of tourism and entertainment; and each of these tourist services is impossible unless staffed by well-trained personnel having special knowledge, skills and experience.

Top priority in the RSHTS system shall be given to the system components designed to certify qualifications of the key personnel including tourist instructors/ guides, sport tourist instructors, referees, instructors for the extreme sport disciplines etc., with almost every of these tourist service staff members being subject to special knowledge-and-skill assessment and qualification tools and procedures.

In addition to the theoretical knowledge assessment toolkits, the above specifics of the RSHTS system require special practical skill assessment instruments being applied; and it is very important that these practical skills are assessed in the situations and conditions that are at least as harsh as the real professional environment of the candidate staff member subject to the professional assessment. Very often such tests may be possible only in field conditions. This effectively means that for the practical competence assessment system being efficient enough, special field grounds need to be constructed; otherwise, the assessments will be organized based on the available sport-and-health tourist service centres and facilities.

In the personnel assessment process, due consideration will be given to the special needs of the clients served by the RSHTS system, including, among other things, age and health conditions of the service consumers, with classified services being offered to different categories of the sport-and-health subsystem clients, including, for example, such services as children’s tours, adolescent group tours, young people’s tours, students’ entertainments, adult people recreation and tours, services to mature clients, tourism for people with disabilities, family/ mixed-age group tours etc.

In the personnel qualification assessment and certification process within the RSHTS system, special emphasis will be made on the requirements to the key service personnel in the high-risk disciplines including the competitive tourism and some other categories, and particularly requirements to the search-and-rescue staff engaged in the tourist sector.

Key responsibilities within the QASC system will be vested with the examination, certification and appeal commissions composed of the relevant experts. In addition to these commissions, the QASC system should include a certification department, economic department, management and legal departments etc.

In view of the high versatility of the recreation and sport-and-health tourist services, there are no realistic ways to staff the QASC system with permanent commissions composed of the full-time staff members of the Centre. It is particularly true for the sport-and-health tourist services that cover a wide variety of sport disciplines, each of them having its own specific requirements to the backgrounds, practical knowledge and skills of the service staff members. This is the reason why the QASC expert commissions will be staffed mostly by the part-time service personnel that combine their engagement in the expert services for the Centre with their core professional jobs within the RSHTS system.

Therefore, the QASC system will be basically built up based on the examination, certification and appeal commissions staffed by fairly mobile personnel and summoned as soon as there is a need in the personnel qualification assessment for the relevant service within the RSHTS system. Consequently, the QASC commissions will be considered as a dynamic component of the system, all the more that neither of these commissions can work longer than one year with the same composition and must be rotated to secure the personnel qualification and assessment procedure being performed on a highly fair and impartial basis.

One more of the RSHTS system specifics is that the quality of services provided by the sector staff members is quite often critical in how well protected is the health and even life of the client. It is for this reason that the personnel qualification and assessment procedures will be designed in a most strict and objective formats. Moreover, the service personnel knowledge and skills shall be subject to frequent scheduled and non-scheduled checks that may additionally motivate the personnel to take their own professional competency building efforts and obtain vital practical competences, particularly in terms of the special equipment and tools applied within the RSHTS system.

The personnel qualification assessment and certification system within the RSHTS shall include the necessary quality control offices and decision-making offices, including the relevant inside offices within the QASC system. In particular, the following system divisions may play the role of the inside quality control offices within the QASC system:

- Certification department on the whole and its information-and-methodological support unit in particular – as a prime force for the personnel qualification assessment and certification procedure; and

- Economic department for the Centre on the whole.

It should be noted that it is the QASC that will always remain the decision-making centres within the personnel qualification assessment and certification system under the RSHTS, since they are designed to control the quality of personnel and benefit from the service quality.

Inside the QASC system, the decision-making responsibility will be shouldered by the certification commissions since they are designed to make decisions on whether or not the application documents of the candidates meet the requirements; on qualification of the candidates for the tests; on acknowledgement of the test results as positive; on certification of the successful candidates; and on relevant formal certificates being handed to the qualified new staff. In addition, it is the appeal commission that will bear the decision-making responsibility inside the QASC system.

Furthermore, it is the QASC that shall play a leading role in the RSHTS system when it comes to putting together the lists of qualification requirements to the relevant special service personnel recruited for every form and discipline in the versatile field of the relevant professional services. This is largely due to the fact that there are virtually no heavyweight players on the sector-level market that could be of serious influence on the sector development strategies and its evolution processes. Some help in these activities may be provided to the QASC by the sector-level trade unions and professional associations, provided they are interested to make their contributions to the personnel qualification assessment and certification system within the RSHTS. However, it should be noted that it is the QASC that accumulates valuable practical experience in the personnel qualification assessment and certification process, and, hence, it is the QASC specialists that should take the lead in specifying and spelling out the key requirements and standards to qualify and certify the special sector service staff members to meet the real challenges upcoming in the business. And it is also the reason why the QASC specialists shall be directly engaged in the sector-level professional standards development and perfection process, with the engagement being always maintained at least on the level of consulting services to the standards development teams.

The QASC shall not limit its consulting service to setting forth the professional requirements to the sector service personnel, but also be active in other departments of its core responsibilities, in close cooperation with the relevant sector-level trade unions and professional associations, and with contributions from the large-scale corporate interests in the sector. In every important aspect of its activity, the QASC shall closely cooperate with the relevant federal and local executive government agencies responsible for the subject subsector and the relevant vocational education establishments and employment services.

Furthermore, the QASC shall set forth assessment and qualification standards not only for the sector service personnel but for the qualification assessment and certification experts as well, since the experts perform their responsibilities as staff members of the QASC commissions, and it is the commission that depends on the negative and positive aspects of their professional backgrounds and experiences in the expert role. Despite the fact that it is the expert-and-methodological centre that is directly responsible for professional training of the experts, the QASC will also train experts at the local centres with assistance from the latter. Therefore, the QASC shall draft requirements to the expert service or at least provide consulting services in the process of the relevant expert qualification assessment and certification requirements being developed by the RSHTS centre.

It is important to mention that the RSHTS system is basically in no need of mass professions and, consequently, the demand for the staff qualification assessment and certification service will unlikely be high. Therefore, the number of QASC in the RSHTS system shall be limited enough. Geographically, they will be located as close to the service consumers as possible, i.e. mostly in the recreation zones of the country.

The limited demand for the above service and, as a result, modest operations make it unreasonable to break down the QASC into independent institutions. We believe that QASC shall be designed as fairly autonomous units within the special sector-level professional associations. In such a format, the QASC will have an access to the economical resources of the professional associations, and this support will undoubtedly help them cut down the costs of the professional qualification assessment and certification services and the start-up investment required; in addition, it may facilitate sponsorship flows from the corporate interests of the sector and improve relations and communication with the latter.

Conclusion

An effective model of the Qualification Assessment and Certification Centres applicable to the RSHTS system will be designed with due consideration for the specific conditions and requirements of the sector. The key role in the process will be played by the professional associations of the sector. The Qualification Assessment and Certification Centre will operate as a socially-sensitive special infrastructure unit within the RSHTS system. The Centre model design based on the recommendations given herein will facilitate improvements in the competitiveness of the sector service personnel and give the means for an objective personnel qualification assessment and certification mechanism being formed.

References

  1. Savelyeva N.A. Otsenka i sertifikatsiya kvalifikatsiy kadrov v oblasti rekreatsii i sportivno-ozdorovitel'nogo turizma v sisteme otraslevogo upravleniya (Qualification Assessment and Certification of personnel in recreation and sport-and-health tourism sector in sectoral management system) / N.A. Savelyeva // Izvestiya Sochinskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta (Bulletin of Sochi State University), 2014. - #2 (30). – P. 59-66.
  2. Rossiyskaya Federatsiya. Polozhenie ob otsenke i sertifikatsii kvalifikatsiy vypusknikov obrazovatel’nykh uchrezhdeniy professional’nogo obrazovaniya, drugikh kategoriy grazhdan, proshedshikh professional’noe obuchenie v razlichnykh formakh [Utv. Minobrnauki RF, Obshcherossiyskim ob’edineniem rabotodateley – RSPP 31.07.2009 # 317/03]. (Russian Federation. Regulation on Qualification Assessment and Certification of graduates of professional education institutions, other categories of citizens who have gone through vocational training in various forms [Approved by Russian Ministry of Education, All­Russian Employers’ Association ­ RSPP 31.07.2009 № 317/03].)
  3. Vetitnev, A.M. Creating a System for Assessing and Certifying Qualifications in the Area of Sports­Fitness Tourism as a Factor of Implementing Post­Olympic Legacy Programs /A.M. Vetitnev, N.A. Savelyeva, L.A. Galtsova, T.M. Alimova // European Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 2014, Vol.(3). – № 1. – P. 85­91.

Corresponding author: sochi-nelli@yandex.ru

 

Abstract

Objective of the study was to examine the issues of development of Qualification Assessment and Certification centers (QASC) as a key component of the branch system of evaluation and certification of qualifications in the Recreation and Sport-and-Health Tourism Sector. The features of development of QASC in the Recreation and Sport-and-Health Tourism Sector, stipulated by the nature of services provided, the specifics of service consumers, modern conditions of sale of services in this area are allocated. Owing to a wide variety of areas of Recreation and Sport-and-Health Tourism in the structure of QASC it is hard to create permanent committees of the Center staff members. A set of examination, review and certification boards is created in QASC, which should be mobile enough to form when certification of the personnel’s qualification in the corresponding area of the sphere of recreation and sports tourism is needed. Hence, QASC Committees are going to be dynamic. Branch features determine the need to use a wide range of practical assessment, that requires organization of a specialized infrastructure or conducting certification under actually operating sport and health tourism bases. Centers for control and centers for decision­making were identified in the structure QASC. The role of QASC in the process of developing the qualification requirements for applicants and evaluators and certification of qualifications was determined. The specifics of the Recreation and Sport-and-Health Tourism Sector defines the territorial concentration of QASC in recreational areas of the country, as well as a small number of QASC in the sectoral qualification assessment and certification system. It is proposed to create QASC in the Recreation and Sport-and-Health Tourism Sector in the form of stand­alone structural divisions within the relevant professional associations of industry companies, which will provide a lower cost services, reduce the amount of upfront investment and improve the information exchange with employers in the industry etc.