A certificate is a way to visualize abilities, turning abstract abilities into tangible proof documents. Therefore, certificates are very important for job hunting, but there are many certificates we can consider, such as various professional qualification certificates, professional skill certificates, and even new capacity building certificates. So what are the differences between these certificates? In fact, professional qualification certificates, professional skill certificates, and capacity building certificates are products of different eras and have obvious differences.
The first generation is the professional qualification certificate. The history of professional qualification certificates is long and can even be traced back to the apprenticeship system in medieval guilds. For example, at that time in Germany, apprentices had to pass a certificate exam to officially become craftsmen. The truly modern professional qualification certificate originated in early 19th century Britain, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution; the first professional certificates were initiated and established by industry associations. Modern professional qualification certificates are mostly led and participated by national governments with the aim of regulating industries and promoting employment. In our country, government-led professional certificates are mainly divided into two systems: entry and evaluation, including various types such as professional qualification certificates, practicing qualification certificates, professional skill certificates, and professional technical qualifications (titles).
Although professional qualification certificates have played a significant role in the history of vocational education, one significant problem is that as society develops it becomes increasingly difficult to define positions. The same job title has completely different meanings in different industries and different companies.
For example, an operations manager in some manufacturing companies mainly focuses on supply chain management. But in the internet industry, the goal of an operations manager is similar to that of a marketing manager. But for a company providing shared office services, their operations manager has to take care of administration, sales, and service.
This complexity makes the workload of setting professional certificate standards very large. As a result, it takes a very long time to set standards. But today, with technological progress, more and more new jobs are constantly emerging. The speed of setting professional certificate standards cannot keep up with the development of the industry.
One major function of traditional professional certificates, especially practicing qualification certificates, is to establish entry barriers. In some fields this barrier has some value but it also blocks talent flow like a dam. Especially now that cross-disciplinary positions are constantly emerging; more and more positions require cross-disciplinary talent. Therefore in reality professional certificates have gradually become an obstacle rather than a driving force for talent development. This is also one of the important reasons why the government keeps clearing out professional certificates.
Although there are drawbacks, the need for companies to evaluate and assess employee abilities still objectively exists. This contradiction is particularly prominent in the emerging IT industry and has given rise to a new form of certificate: professional skill certification.
The professional skill certificate is the second generation of certificates in the field of vocational skills. It originated in the United States at the end of the last century. At that time, many high-tech products from network companies had high barriers to use. To solve this problem, Novell was the first to introduce an authorized network administrator certification for its own products in 1985. The professional skill certificate focus on a particular ability, especially new abilities related to new technologies and products. Its scope is not as broad as that of professional certificates, so it can be updated more quickly.
Soon this type of certification became popular and many well-known IT companies introduced their own professional skill certificates. But these professional skill certificates also have some problems. For example, many manufacturers’ exams and training content mostly revolve around their own products; although they are timely, they often have certain limitations from an overall professional perspective. Therefore, later some third-party certifications appeared emphasizing vendor neutrality and even spreading to non-IT fields. But this comes at a cost; the technical authority and timeliness of these certifications are often not as good as vendor certifications.
But whether it’s the second-generation professional skill certificate or the first-generation professional qualification certificate, they both artificially split the process of improving abilities into two systems: learning and testing. As people often say, cutting an elephant in half doesn’t result in two small elephants. Similarly, vocational ability improvement is inherently a system; when it is forcibly split into two systems it deviates from its true purpose. Certificates should reflect abilities but when learners and training institutions mistakenly invest resources in test scores, the “arms race” of memorizing test questions and changing test banks never ends. The certificate holder’s score is only related to memorizing and guessing questions; true ability has long been left behind. This is why there are constant rumors of “PAPER engineers” appearing, eventually greatly reducing the value of these certificates.
More importantly, traditional certificate exams usually evaluate based on test scores. Therefore objective quantitative evaluation methods, especially standardized tests such as multiple-choice questions, account for a high proportion. This type of test is easy to operate but as experience tells us the easy road is usually the wrong road. This common multiple-choice test can usually only be used to evaluate knowledge or basic and simple abilities.
The form of multiple-choice questions makes it impossible to evaluate in-depth thinking. For example: What color can a cup be? A is blue; B is red; C is green. You choose A. But I don’t know why you chose blue. And more importantly there are many shades of blue; I don’t know which shade you chose. This is a congenital defect of multiple-choice questions.
Therefore multiple-choice questions are more suitable for evaluating knowledge-based content and have great limitations for evaluating abilities. It easily captures basic abilities; especially when the test involves simple abilities that test-takers frequently use in their daily work and life then test-takers naturally make the right choices easily. But multiple-choice questions cannot be used to judge high-level abilities which are often complex and cannot be directly answered by a simple question.
Even many times because multiple-choice questions can only reflect low-level abilities they are often unfair to high-level subjects because they usually deal with “high-level” tasks while those “low-level” tasks may not necessarily be easy for them. You ask Steve Jobs to assemble an iPhone on an assembly line; he may not do it better than a Foxconn worker. For example writing is an ability; a certain writer has won the Nobel Prize in Literature; his literary ability is unquestionable. But if today he suddenly takes a language test for primary and secondary schools he may not get a high score.
This is why when evaluating Nobel Prize in Literature candidates they don’t develop an evaluation test based on a big data model of global literary giants’ writing abilities. If we let those candidates take such a test and decide whether they win based on their test scores it would definitely become a joke.
Not to mention that ability itself fluctuates; many times the higher the level of ability the more unstable its manifestation. Writers sometimes have surges of inspiration while other times they may be dry. For candidates if the exam happens to occur when the writer is writing his famous work then he can easily obtain a literary giant certificate otherwise his evaluation will be much lower even if he doesn’t get a certificate at all The key here becomes when to take the exam rather than the writer’s own ability which is obviously unreasonable even absurd.
The third generation of certificates, capacity building certificates, were born to solve this real problem for companies. How to understand a person’s abilities? Capacity building certificates take a systems thinking approach to this problem and think about it in reverse. Instead of evaluating implicit abilities, why not focus on the process of forming abilities?
As we mentioned earlier, traditional certificate exams are artificially separated systems. This separation means that we don’t know if the test-taker has undergone formal training and artificially leads to mutual suspicion and opposition between test-takers and exam providers. But if we know from the beginning that this training process exists then the problem becomes simple.
If certificate applicants have undergone professional systematic training and this process is genuine and they have also passed the exam then their abilities acquired through learning are highly credible. This is the same reason we trust degrees from prestigious universities. Good universities have systems to ensure that their teaching content and faculty are first-class and their exams are rigorous. Therefore their graduates – these certificate holders – have credible knowledge and abilities.
Capacity building is a systematic project. A good capacity building certificate includes a complete set of learning plans behind it. The exam is just one part of it. It is not based on suspicion but used to motivate learners. Therefore in the capacity building system the form of the exam is diversified and no longer limited to multiple-choice exams. Especially for evaluating high-level abilities more comprehensive methods such as peer review are used. Usually more emphasis is placed on qualitative rather than quantitative evaluation results.
The concept of “capacity building” originated in the last century and has gradually become widely used under the promotion of some international organizations and government agencies in this century. The United Nations is one of the main promoters of the “capacity building” concept. In 2015 all 193 member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” which was officially launched on January 1 2016. This is a programmatic document of the United Nations including 17 sustainable development goals. Among them “capacity building” is a core component of “Goal 17: Strengthening Means of Implementation and Revitalizing Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.”
According to the definition of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): “Globally capacity refers to the ability of individuals and institutions to make and implement decisions and perform functions in an effective efficient and sustainable manner. At the individual level capacity building refers to the process of changing attitudes and behaviors – imparting knowledge and developing skills while maximizing the benefits of participation knowledge exchange and ownership. At the institutional level it focuses on overall organizational performance and operational capabilities as well as organizational adaptability to change. At the system level it emphasizes the overall policy framework within which individuals and organizations operate and interact with their external environment.”
Therefore the scope of “capacity building” is much broader than exams or training. The purpose of “capacity building” is to promote individual or organizational business capability improvement. This is a problem that needs to be thought about from a systems perspective involving different groups including individuals organizations and society. It emphasizes a sustainable internal change process that will continue to develop and improve over time. And capacity building certificates are an external manifestation of this process; essentially capacity building certificates are dynamic certificates.
Currently domestic capacity building certificates that can be applied for include UCPM product manager UCPD product director etc technically using new generation QGENIUS trusted technology solutions Not only using new ability code technology during learning but also using evaluation as learning method during exams Combining learning practical training and exams so that examiners evaluate test-takers’ real abilities not once but multiple times at high frequency For learners passing exams not only shows test-takers’ real abilities but also an ability leap ability improvement process.
A capacity building certificate not only condenses our invested energy and sweat but also contains a large amount of advanced technology and knowledge systems as well as historical development and ideological changes in talent cultivation.