European Inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning
Why is a European inventory on validation needed?
Learning taking place outside the formal education and training system is crucially important for individuals, companies and society at large. Existing information about validation of non-formal and informal learning is, however, in most countries, scattered and not easily accessible. The European inventory aims to address this weakness by presenting regularly updated information on current practices in all countries taking part in the EU2020 cooperation process and by making this information - including a range of practice examples from selected areas and sectors - available to everybody working in this field.
The European inventory is an ongoing project. The original idea for a European Inventory was presented in the EU communication on lifelong learning from 2001 (Com 2001 678). So far this has resulted in four updates; in 2004, 2005 and 2007 and 2010. The Inventory has been taken forward in a cooperation between the European Commission (DG EAC) and Cedefop, supported by external contractors. All material gathered so far is publicly available and can be downloaded from this Web site. The 2010 version of the Inventory has been structured in such a way that it reflects and illustrates the European Guidelines on validation of non-formal and informal learning published (1st edition 2009, second edition planned for autumn 2011).
During the last decade a number of initiatives have been taken at different levels (European, national, sub-national, industry, third sector) introducing arrangements for validation of non-formal and informal learning. This reflects that validation has been identified as a European priority on repeated occasions, notably in the Communication on Lifelong Learning (2001), the Copenhagen process on increased cooperation in VET (Declarations 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010), in the Recommendation on the European Qualifications framework (2008) as well as in the ministerial declarations of the Bologna process (2007 and 2009). Of particular interest are the 'Common European Principles' for the identification and validation of non-formal and informal learning adopted by the European Council in 2004. The European Commission is currently, 2011, preparing a draft Recommendation on validation. This Recommendation aims to put in place a more coherent European strategy in this field and will further underline the the need for updated and high quality data. During 2011 a Recommendation on validation of non-formal and informal learning will be published by the European Commission.
European Inventory 2010
The overall situation as regards validation of non-formal and informal learning in Europe in 2010 is presented in the following synthesis report. An executive summary of this report is also available. The 2010 update of the European Inventory covers developments in 32 countries. The 32 countries are described in 34 reports. Belgium is covered by separate reports for Flandern and Wallonia; UK by separate reports for England/Wales/Northern Ireland and Scotland. For the 2010 update of the inventory, the scope of the country reports have widened considerably compared to previous versions. The aim has been to look at validation from different angles and a common thematic structure is used throughout the 34 reports. This structure mirrors the focus of the European Guidelines on validation.
List of countries covered by the European inventory: Austria, Belgium - Vlaandern - Wallonie, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Croatia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, United Kingdom - England, Wales and Northern Ireland - Scotland.
Decision on the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity (2012)
Article 1 Subject
The year 2012 shall be designated as the "European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations" ("the European Year"). It shall promote the vitality and the dignity of all.
Article 2 Objectives
The overall objective of the European Year shall be to facilitate the creation of an active ageing culture in Europe based on a society for all ages. Within this framework, the European Year shall encourage and support the efforts of Member States, their regional and local authorities, social partners, civil society and the business community, including small and medium-sized enterprises, to promote active ageing and to do more to mobilise the potential of the rapidly growing population in their late 50s and over. In doing so, it shall foster solidarity and cooperation between generations, taking into account diversity and gender equality. Promoting active ageing means creating better opportunities so that older women and men can play their part in the labour market, combating poverty, particularly that of women, and social exclusion, fostering volunteering and active participation in family life and society and encouraging healthy ageing in dignity. This involves, inter alia, adapting working conditions, combating negative age stereotypes and age discrimination, improving health and safety at work, adapting life-long learning systems to the needs of an ageing workforce and ensuring that social protection systems are adequate and provide the right incentives.
On the basis of the first paragraph, the objectives of the European Year shall be:
(a) to raise general awareness of the value of active ageing and its various dimensions and to ensure that it is accorded a prominent position on the political agendas of stakeholders at all levels in order to highlight the useful contribution that older persons make to society and the economy, raising the appreciation thereof, to promote active ageing, solidarity between generations and the vitality and the dignity of all people, and to do more to mobilise the potential of older persons, regardless of their origin, and to enable them to lead an independent life;
(b) to stimulate debate, to exchange information and to develop mutual learning between Member States and stakeholders at all levels in order to promote active ageing policies, to identify and disseminate good practice and to encourage cooperation and synergies;
(c) to offer a framework for commitment and concrete action to enable the Union, Member States and stakeholders at all levels, with the involvement of civil society, the social partners and businesses and with particular emphasis on promoting information strategies, to develop innovative solutions, policies and long-term strategies, including comprehensive age-management strategies related to employment and work, through specific activities, and to pursue specific objectives related to active ageing and intergenerational solidarity;
(d) to promote activities which will help to combat age discrimination, to overcome age-related stereotypes and to remove barriers, particularly with regard to employability.
Article 8 Budget
1. The financial envelope for the implementation, at the level of the Union, of this Decision, in particular in respect of the activities set out in Article 3(1), for the period from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2012, shall be EUR 5 000 000.
2. Annual appropriations shall be authorised by the budgetary authority within the limits of the financial framework.
Mid term review of the Lifelong Learning Programme
During its first three years, the Programme has financed, with almost EUR 3 billion, transnational education and training activities promoting the modernisation of education systems in 31 European countries.
It has catered for 900 000 learning mobility periods of European citizens, of which more than 720000 by students and almost 180000 by teachers/trainers/staff. More than 50000 European organisations have taken part in various forms of co-operation activities. Download the Mid term review of the Lifelong Learning Programme.
In accordance with Article 15, paragraph 5 of the Decision No. 1720/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2006 establishing an action programme in the field of lifelong learning (LLP Decision: OJ L327, 15.11.2006, p. 45), this report provides information on the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP). It builds on the findings of the LLP interim evaluation, on National Reports on LLP implementation from the 31 participating countries and on information gathered by the Commission. National reports provided by countries participating in the LLP (27 EU Member States, EEA countries and Turkey) in agreement with paragraph 15.4 of the LLP Decision and covering the 2007-09 period were important sources of information and data for the overall interim evaluation of the LLP.
The Lifelong Learning Programme is considered by the external evaluation as relevant and instrumental to reaching the key Education and Training objectives agreed at EU level and thereby contributing to attaining the overarching strategic objectives of the European Union. It is also important for the lives of the individual citizens involved, user friendly, highly popular and addresses the needs of its various target communities. The control framework is working effectively.
But there is still room for improvements. Some of them are of a managerial nature and are within the reach of the Commission. Most are more far-reaching and would require a review and rethinking of the design of the Programme.
Based on the mid-term review of the LLP, the Commission intends to:
- fix the management framework that has reached a good quality level with stable rules, procedures and IT tools minimising efforts throughout the implementation chain: Commission, National Agencies, final beneficiaries. Potential change will be assessed against a thorough cost-benefit and risk analysis;
- examine as a matter of urgency the possibility to simplify audits by replacing the current approach of untargeted sampling with a new one, based on a serious risk assessment strategy ;
- test new exchange platforms or the extension of existing platforms or other means to facilitate exchanges of information and know-how to match offer and demand for cooperation projects and mobility (e.g. Leonardo or Erasmus placement partner search).
Without prejudging its proposals for the next programme generation in the context of the new MFF, the Commission intends to:
- reflect on a comprehensive policy framework for the new MFF, seeking synergies between different types of EU-financed investments in education and training, to avoid overlaps and maximise impact;
- consider how to further build on the strengths of the existing Programme to contribute to the overarching Europe 2020, E&T 2020 and the Digital Agenda objectives. EU-wide actions engaging all Member States in similar activities with common objectives, transnational learning mobility, providing evidence for policy reform, serving as an incubator for innovative actions and best practices, exchange and networking at low cost, are all areas where the Programme excels;
- reflect how better to balance ambitious targets, notably through meaningful concentration, streamlining, simplification and better impact measurement;
- prepare the management and control framework for the next Programme generation to ensure a seamless start-up phase and full exploitation of all possible simplifications.
Raising quality of VET in cooperation with employers and higher education
A study visit organised under Study Visits programme will be held on the week preceding the conference. The study visit will be organised by the National Centre for Supporting Vocational and Continuing Education (KOWEZiU) in cooperation with the Foundation for the Development of the Education System acting as the National Agency of the Lifelong Learning Programme, the European Commission and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP).
The study visit addressed to decision makers responsible for the shaping of educational policy and in-service training and entitled Raising Quality of VET in Cooperation with Employers and Higher Education will be staged on September 19-23, 2011 in Warsaw. The goal of the study visit is to present good practices and solutions that contribute to boosting the effectiveness and attractiveness of VET in relation to the needs and requirements of the labour market. It will also emphasise the role employers and higher education play in the process.
Improving attractiveness and quality of vocational education and training (VET) is one of the priorities of Polish educational policy. To achieve this, several actions have been undertaken at national and regional levels, such as creating vocational training programmes based on learning outcomes and quality standards for VET, encouraging cooperation between VET schools and employers and higher education. The National Centre for Supporting Vocational and Continuing Education is the central public institution whose activities support reform of vocational education. The study visit will be part of promoting Polish education during the Polish Presidency of the EU Council.
The topic of the study visit is closely related with conference theme of lifelong education and activities designed to improve employability thanks to intersectoral cooperation and activation of enterprises and employers as partners of the education sector. At the end of their study visit, the participants will attend the conference held on 23 September, which will crown the discussions held during the visit and constitute an excellent opportunity for exchange of experiences.
Developing cooperation between VET, higher education and adult learning in response to the challenge of lifelong learning. A conference organised by the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The main aim of the conference is to underline the importance of the cooperation between different sectors of education with reference to the educational needs of youths and adults. Discussion on the topic of lifelong learning linking vocational training, adult education, higher education with such areas as competiveness, entrepreneurship and labour market will be the leading theme of the conference. The registration is available for the people invited via email only. The number of participants is limited. More information about this event.
Learning later in life – uncovering the potential of investing in an ageing workforce
Cedefop and the European Commission are jointly organising a two-day international seminar on learning later in life and the impact of investing in an ageing workforce.
To be held in Brussels on 21-22 September 2011, the seminar will be an international assembly of researchers, policy-makers and experts. It will contribute to the European Year for Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity 2012 by providing a solid basis for further work. Cedefop invites contributions to the seminar. For more information, please refer to the call for papers.
Cedefop (the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training) and the European Commission are jointly organising a two-day international seminar on learning later in life and the impact of investing in an ageing workforce. To be held in Brussels on 21-22 September 2011, the seminar will be an international assembly of researchers, policy-makers and experts. Active ageing policies are emerging in many EU Member States. The seminar aims to stimulate dialogue between research, practice and policy to support evidence-based policies for active ageing. While providing new insights, the event will also identify how research can fill gaps in our knowledge on this topic. The theme is highly relevant academically and politically. It will contribute to the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012 by providing a solid basis for further work. Cedefop will publish the best contributions to complement previous work on ageing and workplace learning. After the event, policy relevant conclusions and recommendations will be disseminated to stakeholders to support future initiatives linked to the upcoming European year.
Demographic changes in Europe will have a major impact on its society and economy. In recent decades, research on an ageing workforce in general and ageing workers in particular has increased significantly. Attention has, for example, been given to working patterns and needs of ageing workers and the factors that promote or inhibit longer working lives. Assuming that learning plays a major role in promoting longer and successful working lives and smooth transition to retirement, the learning patterns of ageing workers have been examined and insights into how to design and facilitate their learning at work have emerged.
Despite the increase in research, there is little solid empirical research available on the impact and potential of learning later in life and of investing in an ageing workforce. More insight is needed into the impact of policies aiming to keep people in the labour force (productive ageing) and into the conditions that need to be in place to ensure that we can tap the potential of an ageing workforce. Solid empirical evidence can encourage companies and individuals to invest in learning later in life and inform vocational education and training policy-making.
Vocational education and training is good for you
This project had three aims:
(a) to review different theoretical approaches explaining why a learning experience can benefit individuals, their families and their communities and to apply these theoretical principles to the particular case of vocational education and training (VET);
(b) to locate initial VET (IVET) and continuing VET (CVET) within national contexts of education provision and their relationships with the economy; in so doing, to determine whether these national contexts exhibit characteristics which are desirable for social benefits to be realised;
(c) to test empirically the social benefits of IVET and CVET in Europe, using data from the European community household panel (ECHP).
Conclusions and recommendations
Looking across our results, we can conclude that there are important complementarities between the institutional arrangements of IVET ― and to some extent CVET ― and social benefits achieved by individuals. Strong welfare states complement the realisation of health benefits of IVET. Systems that reward civic participation see more voluntarism in organisations linked to IVET. In policy terms, the returns on investment in IVET are affected by the mix of other institutions present in the countries. Without such institutions there is a need for policy coherence across sectors to raise the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the efforts made in IVET to promote social outcomes for individuals. VET itself cannot generate social outcomes without challenging economic and social inequalities at macro level, and stigma and disadvantage attached to the value of IVET and CVET, which individuals perceive at micro level. Tackling these issues may ensure net positive impact of VET for individuals.
Future research is needed to deepen our understanding of how VET is embedded in the system of social and structural inequalities and how this can limit the generation of social benefits. VET itself can deepen educational inequalities if its value is not recognised both socially and monetarily and if there are strong selection effects (VET education mainly catering for the educational needs of pupils from disadvantaged social backgrounds, as a route to earn a livelihood). Previous research mainly focused on the impact of income inequality on economic growth, crime, civic unrest, health, and well-being: few studies focused on inequalities in education. Our results on the possible links between meso-level institutions and micro-level processes by which IVET relates to social outcomes is just the beginning of this research.
Supporting modernisation of VET systems
Medium-term priorities 2012-14. Download Medium-term priorities 2012-14.
2.1. Supporting modernisation of VET systems
Continuous renewal and reform of VET is important for Europe to recover from the current economic crisis and ensure longterm growth and prosperity. This is required to reach the vision set for 2020 in the Bruges communiqué to make VET systems ʻ[...] more attractive, relevant, career-oriented, innovative, accessible and flexible [...]ʼ.
In the period 2012-14, Cedefop will support this renewal process by:
(a) monitoring and reporting on progress of European VET cooperation (Copenhagen process); and
(b) further developing and supporting implementation of common European tools and principles, in close cooperation with the European Commission, Member States and social partners.
This support for European processes and initiatives will build on Cedefopʼs research and systematic comparative analyses of VET and lifelong learning policies and practices at national and sectoral levels.
Support for VET reform and renewal must consider the way the overall European VET landscape is changing. VET is increasingly playing a critical role in our societies. While current trends indicate traditional forms of initial VET will remain stable in the years to come, vocationally oriented education at tertiary level and in the form of continuing and further education and training is rapidly growing in importance. VET will increasingly have to operate in a lifelong and lifewide context, be realised in partnership with the education and training sector and the labour market and lead to qualifications at all levels.
Development of VET requires prioritising between a complex set of objectives: not only must vocational education and training be attractive to young people as well as experienced adults; it must also be relevant to enterprises and sectors. VET reform and renewal, focusing on excellence and inclusion, thus requires systematic cooperation between a wide diversity of stakeholders from different institutions, sectors and levels. Qualifications frameworks in particular (at European, national and sectoral levels) are becoming key instruments to foster more systematic dialogue and cooperation on education and training reform. Frameworks make it possible to bridge traditional divides between general, vocational and higher education and clarify how VET is interlinked with these other parts of the education and training system, in particular general and tertiary education.
Citizens must be able to make full use of their knowledge, skills and competence to find employment and increase their potential through further learning. Use of learning outcomes to define and describe qualifications will promote this transparency and in the long term help to improve mobility between institutions, sectors and countries. To succeed in helping citizens better to demonstrate their formal qualifications and their knowledge, skills and competence acquired outside formal education and training, all European instruments and principles introduced in recent years (EQF, Europass, ECVET, validation of non-formal and informal learning) must be fully implemented. As all these tools are still at an early stage of implementation, it will take continued information and commitment of all actors to apply and develop them further. At a later stage, their relevance to employers and employees will need to be evaluated.
Overall coherence of European VET policies represents a particular challenge in the coming years. Countries differ significantly in terms of overall strength and profile of their VET. In initial VET, for instance, some countries see the majority (60-80%) of youngsters choosing vocational tracks, while in other countries less than 30% choose this route. These differences can directly influence youth unemployment, productivity and innovation capacity, as the current crisis has shown. European instruments such as the EQF may inspire and ease exchange of experience between countries and sectors and promote excellence in VET in Europe overall. Diversity of European VET is a challenge to developing common trust in the quality of countriesʼ VET programmes and their outcomes. The role of the European quality assurance framework for VET (EQAVET) in building this trust must be ensured, in particular in relation to the shift to learning outcomes.
Mobility of learners and workers is one key objective of the EU 2020 process. Not only can mobility make it easier for people to find jobs, it is also a source of new experience and learning. Mobility depends on recognition of qualifications. While the EQF and ECVET may make such recognition easier as they focus on learning outcomes, European VET cooperation must ensure better coordination with existing arrangements and mechanisms for academic (ENIC/NARIC for higher education) or professional qualifications (Directive 2005/36). Simplifying recognition practices, access to and progression in education and training is a precondition to make VET more flexible and lifelong and lifewide learning possible.