discuss innoval 300x208InnoVal aims at identifying innovative and reliable assessment methods that can allow all learners to have a chance at validation, with a special focus on the needs of disadvantaged groups such as refugees and early school leavers.

According to the CEDEFOP 2014 Validation Inventory Report, EU countries still greatly diverge in terms of mechanisms in place. In order to ensure the validity and reliability of assessment procedures, and to avoid additional costs, many educational institutions prefer to use standardised tests. The use of alternative methods such as portfolios, declarative methods and simulations, is on the increase but remains limited. The partners believe that the use of standardised tests hinders learners’ take up in validation and represents one of the strongest obstacles to their development in Europe.

Indeed, validation systems are often targeting adults who have had a bad experience with formal education and formal assessment methods. This has led them to not completing their secondary education and to not participating in any further formal education. Yet, they have acquired many skills and competences in non-formal and informal learning environments that they would be willing to have validated if the assessment method did not bring them back to their bad past experience with formal education. InnoVal aims to foster a change in practices related to the assessment of non-formal and informal learning across Europe and across sectors. This is particularly urgent when we consider the need to up skill the adult population (PIAAC results) and to deal with the current refugee crisis.

discuss higher education vinceThe number of refugees and new migrants who reach Europe, escaping from wars or critical life conditions and looking for new life opportunities, has increased dramatically in recent years and is likely to continue growing in the coming years. These newcomers face many challenges in settling into Europe and among these are the obstacles to accessing the labour market or continuing their studies.

Migrants and refugees are in practice often prevented from enjoying their rights by many legal and practical barriers. This also represents an obstacle to their integration in hosting societies. One of the main challenges newcomers and refugees face is that, although they are often educated and skilled, their competences may not be recognised in the host society. There are many reasons for this: their skills and knowledge may not fit into predefined bureaucratic policies and procedures; documentation is lacking; or the curriculum they followed does not match certification structures in the host country. This hinders their access to the labour force and to continuing their studies, jeopardises their chances of fully integrating in the new society as citizens, and represents a source of discrimination and social marginalisation. The main purpose of the VINCE project is to adapt existing proven methods to include disadvantaged people in higher education (HE), so that they meet the needs of the newcomers.

An efficient assessment of migrants' and refugees' prior learning can be critical in enabling them to access the labour market and/or continue their educational studies and improve their qualifications. Recognising and validating the skills and competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning supports the social inclusion and empowerment of migrants, who often have limited opportunities to access formal education. The process of validation of non-formal and informal learning helps to bridge educational inequalities, and offers further pathways for the development of the skills needed in life and in the labour market. Furthermore, by being given the chance to describe their educational and employment experiences and supported in a reflection and analysis of their prior learning, they will be enabled to begin to establish links between that and future opportunities for in education and work, bridging the gap between past and future.

discuss recognition informal learningThe German Federal Institute for Education and Training (BIBB) just published the results of a national monitoring on validation of informal and non-formal learning in Germany. The results are based upon a national survey, conducted in 2015. More than 850 stakeholders in Vocational Education and Training on this occasion have been asked about the future of validation and recognition of informal and non-formal learning in Germany.

According to the answers of the experts, the following key aspects should be taken into consideration towards establishing a national system for the validation and recognition of informal and non-formal learning:

discuss promote 300PROMOTE is a EU-funded project that started in 2014 and will be completed in October 2016. The project aims at promoting and validating social, personal and organisational key competences such as entrepreneurship, civic competences and learning to learn with the help of an innovative, self-directed learning approach at the interface of higher education and business.

The project starts from the consideration that social and personal key competences are hardly to be acquired in lectures, frontal teaching and self-learning. The ideal learning contexts to develop these competences are informal/non-formal learning contexts such as learning in mobility and in traineeships. However, up to now only singular attempts have been made to assess these competences, to give evidence of their development in the learning activity, to connect them to existing certification systems and to offer a European wide validation approach.

discuss valeru 350VALERU aims to establish mechanisms and human resources for the validation of non-formal/informal learning in Russian Higher Education in order to ensure sustainable development of Russian HE.

First objective of VALERU is the development of a national methodological basis for validating NIL in HE, harmonized with European best practice and in line with Bologna and the strategic objectives of EU 2020. The focus lies on NIL at the work place (work based learning: WBL), seen as a key element when it comes to supporting LLL and linking HE to the labour market. This approach focuses on the learner and how to integrate his/her learning outcomes developed at the work place into study programmes, making the project highly relevant for qualification frameworks and the cooperation between HEIs and the world of work in the delivery of study programmes. Second objective is the establishment of a platform on validation of NIL in HE based at the Bologna Club, a Russian network of HEIs. Third objective is the training of experts for the validation of learning outcomes deriving from NIL, establishing a pool of experts in this field. Fourth objective is the piloting of validation of NIL in the Russian partner HEIs.

discuss icovet 348Young people acquire competencies not only at school, vocational education and training and other formal learning settings. They also acquire competencies when they take up responsibilities within their family, when they are meeting their friends, when they work in jobs, when they engage in sports or music, when they do volunteer work.

It is the purpose of the ICOVET validation tool, to make visible competencies that have been acquired by young people in various areas of activities outside formal learning. Making these competencies visible should be useful for a number of reasons:


  • Making competencies visible will help the young person to better understand what abilities she/he has and how these abilities can be applied in further learning, in vocational training, in a job but also in private life.
  • Making competencies visible will help educators (teachers, trainers, social workers) to better link education and training to what competencies the young person has already acquired.
  • Making competencies visible to prospective employers will help them to learn more about the abilities of applicants that are not shown in the certificates that they are able to present.

discuss building learning societiesThis project aims at developing an awareness raising campaign for the validation of learning outcomes of non-formal and informal learning as a tool to further improve adults’ career perspectives and stimulate their further education and training.

discuss siqucae 300The SiQuCAE partnership has developed and tested quality assurance systems in order to: increase the quality of and access to validation of non-formal and informal learning, qualify the training and work systems in partner countries, improve the effectiveness of investment in validation of non-formal and informal learning.

Recession that characterized the last years of the European economy has had an enormous effect on the labour market. Studies show positive signals for employment by 2020, but only if policies and instruments able to facilitate the mobility of workers from one sector to another are put in place and only if we manage to validate and recognize learning outcomes achieved in a non/ informal context. In this direction, it becomes urgent: optimizing access to all levels of education, improving flexibility in the recognition of learning outcomes and how they lead to achievement of qualifications.


discuss graham attwell munich speech 1I greatly enjoyed the DISCUSS project conference in Munich last week at which I spoke together with Steve Wheeler. After the morning speeches, there was a cafe type session in the afternoon looking at four key challenges the project has identified for education in Europe. All were interesting and given the venue tended to be reflected through the lens of the present refugee crisis.

One of the issues was the recognition of prior learning. Interestingly, this seems to have been the subject of more European funded projects in education and training than any other subject. Needless to say there was considerable discussion and some divergence of opinion on ways forward on which I will report my view tomorrow.

But Randolph Preisinger Kleine has dug out something I wrote on a previous project, which seems to make some sense of why we have such misunderstandings. (Mind, you can tell how old it is when I say that the UK has a comprehensive system of careers guidance!).


discuss rakoon example


The focus of the project is the question whether it is possible to adapt successful mechanisms of open innovation to open organizations. In open organizations people from outside the organization are not asked for cooperation because of their individual knowledge but are integrated as a person with all the competences they have. To do so it is not only important to have open organizations. You also need open persons. It is important to know a lot about the competences needed in one organization and the competences that are offered by an individual. And it is important for managers to be open, act as an open person and to act in an open organization. The competences they need for this shall be trained by a serious game application.

Discuss VTEcoach 348The main goal of the VTeCOACH project is to develop an assessment tool based on a 360º evaluation system so that VET learners can later be provided with the necessary feedback to carry out an action plan in order to work on and hopefully improve their SOFT skills.

By achieving this goal, the project consortium tries to cover the existing gap in this kind of ICT-based methodologies for assessing the so called “wicked” competences or soft skills.

The formula of economic growth has been constantly evolving over the last years. Up until now, this economic growth has been directly linked to productivity. Nowadays, however, the importance of productivity is gradually being shrouded by other factors such as competitiveness, quality and innovation, which are deemed as clear pathways towards long term organizational success.

This paradigm shift has generated the necessity of adjusting the perspective of qualification, or, -how much we know in order to produce-to the perspective of competence, or, -how well we perform and interact with others-. Whereas the “how much we know” can be directly related to the acquisition of HARD skills (or occupational skills), the “how well we perform” would go hand in hand with SOFT skills (or personal attributes).

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 19:06

Ciceron - Promoting volunteering to the over50s

Written by

discuss ciceron 348Europe’s ageing population has a wealth of knowledge and experience that should be harnessed to benefit future generations; however this is at risk of being lost as older people face social exclusion. Part of Europe’s 2020 Strategy seeks to address this issue by focusing on the sustainability of knowledge and experience. This strategy is relevant to all sectors of our society.

Research across Europe has revealed that many people over the age of 50 are socially isolated and don’t participate in cultural activities or in the civic life of their community. Since 2011 (European Year of Volunteering), volunteering has been promoted as a solution for social inclusion and intergenerational cohesion, however there are still barriers that prevent over-50s from taking part.

Monday, 23 March 2015 17:29

REAL - Recognition for Adult Educators

Written by


Many experienced, knowledgeable and competent adult educators have no formal teaching qualification. If this situation applies to you, then the Toolkit will help you get recognition for what you have learned so far as an adult educator, by universities, colleges and employers. The resources can also be used to help you make plans for your professional development, with a view to achieving excellence in the practice of adult education.

‌Adult education is very diverse. It operates across the public, private and non-profit sectors, with educators and learners coming from all walks of life. The resources on this site are geared specifically towards those for whom the education of adults takes up the bulk of their job. If your role is concerned more with the management of adult education, please refer to the Flexi-path project which developed a Recognition of Prior Learning toolkit for adult education organisers and managers.

Sunday, 01 February 2015 11:32

IDOL - International Development Officer

Written by

An increasing number of VET teachers/trainers work as developers or project coordinators of transnational project work. They need more competence in the field of international projects planning, implementation and evaluation, but most of all a validation system recognising their competence and experience. A large part of this is acquired through non formal or informal learning. We seek to recognise and accredit this learning by creating an integrated European system.

A training programme to develop the skills needed for the International Development Officer. The future IDOs get new learning opportunities in the two main fields related to their tasks, the international activities and the intercultural dialogue/competence.

Competence-based tests are included in the training programme. They give the participants a unique opportunity to show their competences in real communication situations such as taking part in a negotiation between representatives of widely different cultures, leading a team of programme planners, negotiating new training places for a large group of trainees, and so on.

Further development of skills and competences. The IDOs will be able better to choose and evaluate what new skills they will need in the future. Also, the networks of the new professionals have now the possibility to together decide about further development of their skills and competences.

discuss vowiplm 348The objectives of the VOW+IPLM project are to exchange best practice in the validation of informal learning, to develop transferable competence standards to be used when validating individuals against job standards, and to develop an innovative tool "E-evaluation Platform" for the validation of competences acquired at work place and give to each beneficiary the possibility to build an individual further career by lifelong learning.


Exchange of best practice in the recognition and validation of informal learning contexts; improving the quality of validation of non-formal and informal learning process by transferring the innovative model for recognizing competencies acquired in the work place, developed by the pilot project "The Value of Work (VOW)"; raising attractiveness of VET in participating countries by giving to each person a complete overview of his skills which can have a good impact on them and their decision to continuing to learn and training.

Wednesday, 03 December 2014 11:32

ICONET - Informal Competences Net

Written by

discuss iconet 348Many disadvantaged young people have acquired competencies that may be relevant for VET through processes of non-formal and informal learning but that cannot be used systematically, because these competences are invisible.

Making these competences visible should enable disadvantaged youth to better understand their own competencies and to learn how to use them for VET, should give educators a better understanding of pupils` competences acquired outside schools and should enable teachers to systematically use these competences in preparing for VET, should give disadvantaged youth better access to training and employment in companies, should enable companies or training institutions to systematically use these competences in VET.

The purpose of the validation tool is to make visible competencies that have been acquired by young people in various areas of activities outside formal learning. Making these competencies visible helps the young person to better understand what abilities she or he has and how these abilities can be applied in further learning, in vocational training, in a job but also in private life. Making competencies visible also helps educators (teachers, trainers, social workers) to better link education and training to what competencies the young person has already acquired and helps prospective employers to learn more about the abilities of applicants that are not shown in the certificates that they are able to present.