Functional Analysis is the main tool we use to specify the nature of a certain occupational sector and the activities to be carried out within it. This is an essential procedure of defining occupational competences and in setting boundaries between various qualifications. Functional Analysis is intended to provide a detailed understanding of what an employee is expected to do as part of their job, and thus, it enables to specify the learning outcomes (LO) to be achieved by an individual for getting a qualification
When talking about “functions”, we mean the activities an individual is expected to carry out as part of their job. Functions are not random activities. Functions are to have a clear purpose and outcomes that are relevant for the employer. Once you know the functions people are expected to perform, it becomes easier to specify the knowledge and skills enabling them to meet the performance criteria. To conduct functional analysis one may take any occupational area and keep breaking it down into discrete elements until the functions that an employee is to perform can be clearly seen. Functions, in other words, are what people should be able to do. Once we know what these functions are, we can work with the employers to agree upon the contents of units of learning outcomes (ULO), which in their turn are to describe what an individual in a particular occupation should be able to do, and what sort of knowledge and skills they need to perform effectively.
Functional Analysis is to be carried out by groups of people, engaged in or at least familiar with the occupational area. Since Functional Analysis is to reflect what employers expect from the employees, employer representatives should make up the majority of those involved.
Other specialists who might greatly contribute to performing efficient Functional Analysis are representatives of those who actually do the jobs, as well as professional body or trade body representatives. In some sectors with a strict regulation, it might be essential to involve representatives of a regulatory body. Training specialists with a good knowledge of the occupational sector can also be helpful at this stage, proving they look at the analysis from the viewpoint of what employers expect, not what training requires.