Achieving validation of learning outcomes best practices and the way forward

Ana-Carla Pereira (EC), Conny Reuter (Solidar)
and Pavel Trantina (EESC)
This conference organised by SOLIDAR Foundation in cooperation with La Ligue de l'enseignement was hosted by Julie Ward, MEP (UK Labour party, S&D Group) in the European Parliament in Brussels on October 14, 2014. Due to my presence at the meeting of the ADHD-Alliance I could only participate in the closing panel presentations.

the topic

Validation and formal recognition (certification) of non-formal and informal learning outcome (VNFIL)  is one of the basic ideas in the EU's Lifelong Learning Programme. This means that the competences acquired during play (children), sparetime activities, in work experience or volunteering shall be assessed are potentially as valuable as those acquired and certified in formal education institutions. Though a concept should be presented by all EU member states until 2018 many countries have only done little and civil society - the voice of learners - seems hardly involved at all.

EUCIS-LLL - the platform for European Citizenship and Lifelong Learning - had been advocating for involvment on all levels. EPA participated in prior meetings dealing with this issue.

Solidar is coordinating a European project to push forward and contribute to the implementation of validation of Non-formal and informal learning outcome.

the conference

A comprehensive report published by the organisers is freely available.

Several statements seem to deserve EPA's interest:

Ana-Carla Pereira complained that several European countries showed hardly any effort to find ways of implementation. The European Commission was not to push mandatory progress reports but tried to create momentum for the development. 
 The EC expected differentiated concepts regarding the different phases and purposes of validation. The involvement of all stakeholders was mandatory.
Competence validation should not only focus on employability.

Pavel Trantina referred to his deep commitment to the Scouts-Movement. Validation of competences acquired by volunteering was among his priorities. He referred to the Strasbourg-Process launched in November 2011 and P.A.V.E, the recommendations by the Alliance o the European Year of Volunteering (2011).
He called for more institutional support for volunteering from the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Isabelle Michel spoke on behalf of the employees representing ETUC. She mentioned several examples to show that the purpose of validation needs to be investigated. Validation of specialisation in company is useless if the whole branch collapses and there is no need for this expertise. Validation will only improve employment if vacancies and certificates match. She called for further considerations of the benefits and targeted actions.

David Lopez, representative of Solidar an President of EUCIS-LLL, pointed out that validation was an individual right. It needs to be seen on all EQF-levels and made possible in all sectors. There was a need to reach out for marginalised and disadvantaged groups. Institutions of education need to be prepared for this new opportunity. Full certification of NFIL outcomes had to be implemented.

Robert Plummer spoke on behalf of Business Europe. As Business Europe had not yet defined a position on the topic he gave only some remarks. 75 % of all non-formal learning was provided by employers. Validation was like a letter of recommendation he said – a clear contradiction to the claim for formal certification David Lopez had voiced.
Overall expectations of employers seem to be far away from he claims voiced by stakeholders.

What is relevant for parents?

Parents can benefit from VNFIL as employees and thus develop their professional profiles.

Parents’ organisations who offer parents’ trainings or development programmes should take care to create links to the validation processes. Certificates for trainers from the volunteer organisations are prerequisite to recognition of courses offered by the organisations.

Competences acquired by involvement in parents’ organisations could be valuable for self-employment as well as for improved opportunities in the labour market.

Johannes Theiner 
EPA Ambassador

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