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NVQs and approaches to competence in the UK: Contexts, issues and prospectsChapter 15. NVQs and approaches to competence in the UK: Contexts, issues and prospects. Peter Stokes, University of Chester, UK Abstract Competence frameworks are a long-standing part of the (United Kingdom) UK training and development environment (Chang et al. 2013; CIPD, 2007, 2013, 2014; Sparrow and Bognanno, 1994). In the British context, competence-based approaches and qualifications evoke strong reactions both in terms of supporters and detractors regarding their worth, viability and relevance. Nevertheless, they have been repeatedly employed by governments and employers’ bodies as a means of responding to skills gaps in business sectors and the national economy. The Chapter examines these tensions and surfaces the underlying paradigms and drivers contributing a novel insight into competence in the UK context. The Chapter identifies prevalent characteristics in the UK competence domain. It explains these features through the impact of hegemonic modernistic and positivistic paradigms built on British socio-political traditions of empiricism, pragmatism and the valuing of the experiential. These, in turn, dominate large areas of management, organization thinking and competence approaches operating in connection with processes of commodification, marketization and socio-political issues. This context is illustrated with an ethnographically-styled case study on the implementation of a competence framework in a British semi-skilled employee organizational setting. Overall, the Chapter, in identifying and contextualising the paradigms which operate at the heart of competence in the UK, reveals implications linked to individual meaning, social class and professional identity and, also, potential future trajectories of competence in an increasingly complex world.