UNECE launches new tool on education on standards
Standards are one of the principle foundations of trade integration and of all three dimensions of sustainable development, reducing trade costs, ensuring the safety and security of workers and consumers, protecting communities from hazards and facilitating the transition to a green economy. Better knowledge of standards and their wider application is beneficial to the whole of society. The Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardization Policies (WP.6) at its plenary session (24-26 November) launched a new educational and training tool – based on modules “ready to be delivered” and elaborated under the UNECE "model educational programme on standardization".
Work on this initiative started in 2012, when Working Party 6 organized an international workshop on education on standards related issues. This event brought together more than 80 public officials, academicians and business representatives from around 20 countries and 10 international organizations. Participants noted the growing demand for specialists with a knowledge of standards and, at the same, time regretted that very few educational programmes on standardization existed in the UNECE region.
The WP.6 then adopted a revised recommendation “I” (“education on standards-related issues”) which calls on governments to include standardization into the educational curricula of not only engineers but also of economists, lawyers and managers, and stressed the importance of promoting and teaching standardization through the elaboration of coordinated approaches and building on existing national best practices.
Since then, Working Party 6 has pursued its project on education and partnered with several educational institutions in the region which had already introduced new courses on standards for their students and reported positive experiences to the UNECE. The Moscow Academy of Standardization, Certification and Metrology, a leading educational institution, globally, in the area of standards, has prepared the first three teaching modules which were presented to and endorsed by the Working Party 6 at its November 2014 session. These modules are freely available to any university which is interested in teaching standards.
With 15 subject areas, the UNECE model educational programme on standardization covers the minimum set of issues that a university graduate should master in order to have a general understanding of the topic (it includes major standardization, regulatory and related issues relevant to the activities of business and of regulatory and administrative authorities). The preparation of all 15 modules outlined in the UNECE model educational programme is envisaged. These modules will facilitate the inclusion of introductory and awareness building courses on standards in institutions which may currently lack qualified expertise on this subject. Interest was also expressed for the development of similar teaching modules for standards issues in specific sectors (transport, meat standards, etc.).
On 24 November, the UNECE Executive Secretary met with rectors, deans and professors from ten educational institutions in the UNECE region (Belarus, Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the Netherlands). He applauded their efforts, confirmed UNECE’s interest in continuing its cooperation with academia and stressed their important role in raising awareness about UNECE standards and legal tools as well as in disseminating the results from UNECE programmes.
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