May 27, 2012

Creating a Learning Pathway

Posted in Best Practice, Leading Volunteers, Management of Volunteers Project, Managers Matter, Professional Development, Professionalism tagged , , , , , , , at 4:16 am by Sue Hine

Those of you who receive the Updates on Volunteering New Zealand’s Management of Volunteers Project will notice a gathering momentum.  The Learning and Development work-stream, charged with creating a professional development pathway, is making good progress towards a significant milestone.

As a reminder, the two key areas of the group’s work programme are:

  1. To identify key competencies for leaders and managers of volunteers
  2. To establish a process for enabling Assessment of Prior Learning (APL)

The part that has taken the most time and effort is figuring out how to frame Competencies.  A whole issue of e-volunteerism (October 2011) devoted to ‘credentialing’, with contributors from all around the world, could not produce a consensus.  It was not simply a matter of establishing options for certification, nor in identifying particular tasks or skills.  Much of the debate roved around the meaning of competence and its application to the business of managing volunteers.

The Learning and Development group is not engaged in determining the detail of what knowledge, skills and attributes signify competencies for managers of volunteers.  That way overlooks the huge diversity in organisations, responsibilities, communities and sector interests.  There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula.  Prescription could also become stifling for people wanting to move beyond standard practice, for people wanting to carve out new territory in leading volunteers.

The principal concern for the group is to identify a learning pathway, a road-map that offers clear entry points, recognition of prior learning, indications for further learning, and for leadership extension.  The pathway is open to all non-profit organisations, will offer something to all managers and leaders of volunteers, regardless of scope and scale of the organisation.

Think of a motorway with on-ramps, and passing lanes, and exits to different destinations.  Think of short journeys for immediate and relevant development needs, or taking the long road to a higher goal.  This learning pathway will have signposts and markers for different options, and room for personal choice and direction.

The Wellington Leadership Group met a couple of weeks ago to consider a draft proposal for the motorway. We are impressed with the breadth and depth of the work that has gone into compiling the documents. We are excited by the range of ways the model could be used, and how useful it will be as a development guide for both new and experienced managers of volunteers.

The draft competency framework will be available for consultation in a matter of weeks.  Getting feedback is one small step towards the significant milestone that will benefit all managers and leaders of volunteers inNew Zealand, and their organisations.

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