I think you hit the nail on the head, seamusrowan. That is how we should look at this translation. "How is he qualified?" is the real translation here, but most people would say "what is his qualification" or "what are his qualifications"; the "wie" meaning "in what way" or "in what manner". The answer to this question may be far more involved than simply quoting the degrees and professional certificates he holds.
How do we distinguish between the two possible meanings?
This question could be asking "How are his qualifications?" meaning, "How do you rate the quality of his qualifications?" or, "What is your assessment of the value of his qualifications?" but the person hearing, "Wie ist seine Qualifikation?" might think I only want his qualifications listed.