O5: Certification


Certification of the quality and competency of advisors participating in the programme developed in course of the project is another output with high transferability potential, testifying credible information for the advisors and service providers as well, about the expected performance of service delivery.

During the lifecycle of the project, we will not only develop but also introduce (in the target countries at least) the certification scheme titled QRFA (Qualified Rural Field Advisor), to be positioned on the market of advisory services with a "quality badge", which will be demonstrated not only as an abstract reference to the underlying process, but also as a visually designed, well-recognizable image, issued by our programme.

With this Output, we would like to complement and supplement the CECRA (Certificate for European Consultants in Rural Areas) that is operated by our project partner LLKC in the EU, as the EUFRAS Secretariat. CECRA is a "tried and tested program to establish a standard in advisory skills" (having set course modules to provide traditional training). Our project instead, by an innovative approach, certifies the advisor's ability to deliver good quality service at the FIELD* level. For this performance, we will develop competences according to individual needs and situations, right at the necessary places of shortages in competence, dynamically generating targeted, personalized learning material and training method.

*By Field level, we do not only mean what takes place at the level of land parcel of the farmer / premises of the entrepreneur, in close rural environment, but rather any type of activity which occurs in direct interaction with the end user during the service provision, for the resolution of concrete cases and issues.

Participation in the QRFA scheme can provide several benefits and advantages for a rural advisor, by testifying the followings:

Improved knowledge, by learning more facts, understanding better the details of specific and cross functional issues, to solve problems at technical and managerial level. Increased skills, gained during the repeated practice, performing tasks more effectively and efficiently.

Enhanced confidence, coming with the knowledge and increased skill gained from certification, also collecting more experience and success gives more self-confidence, which again can feed back to better performance.

Increased value as a successful performer in the eyes of employers and customers, also offering better career opportunities, advancement at work place, salary. Validation, carrying a well-recognizable “badge”, which the industry and the clients accept and honour.

Credibility among colleagues, in the profession, reliability and trust from the side of the clients.

The use of the scheme also ensures a positive recognition of the service provider, and as an employer of qualified staff, enhance the professional image of the organisation

In the second part of this work phase in favour of a globally recognized and transferable certification, we will prepare a plan to adopt an international standard for personnel competence certification, namely ISO 17024. This ISO mark indicates the value of accreditation to an employer that credential holder has undergone a valid, fair and reliable assessment to verify that he or she has the competences required to practice; provide accreditation that ensures additional legal protection against invalid claims (many organizations already rely on this ISO accreditation to ensure that the certification program is competent). Accountability and transparency built into the ISO process support conformity assessment certificates and can lead to reduced liability insurance as well, which is also a crucial topic in RAS provision.

The task will address ISO 17024 requirements:

General Requirements include criteria for legal status, financial resources, liability responsibilities and impartiality. Structural Requirements contain criteria for the organizational structure related to management and provision of trainings. Resource Requirements define criteria for personnel and staff, and other resources such as examination infrastructure.

Records and Information Requirements are related to managing records of applicants, candidates and certified persons, also indicating what is made public or kept confidential. Certification Scheme criteria are about competence and other requirements for awarding the certification to a person, including its scope , job and task description, required competences.

Certification Process Requirements are related to application, assessment, examination, decision, suspending and withdrawing, and the use of the certificate, including logos and marks, as well as handling appeals and complaints.

Target group is the service provider organization and the advisor.