As part of its strategy for creating jobs and growth, the European Commission has launched an initiative to boost the recognition of skills and competences gained outside school or university.
The Commission's proposal aims to increase job opportunities in particular for the young unemployed and those with few formal qualifications such as older and low-skilled workers. It also seeks to increase access to higher education, especially among mature students.
Through this recommendation, the Commission is urging Member States to establish national systems for the validation of non-formal and informal learning by 2015. This would allow citizens to obtain a full or partial qualification on the basis of skills and competences acquired outside formal education. Only Finland, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands currently have comprehensive systems in place for validation of non-formal and informal learning.
"Our aim is for all citizens to make full use of the learning opportunities which are available to enhance their skills and employability, whether at the work place, through civil society groups or via the internet," said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. "In a time of high unemployment and low economic growth, it is essential that Europe develops the right mix of skills and competences to boost competitiveness, prosperity and social inclusion."
The Commission's proposal was envisaged as part of the Europe 2020 initiatives "An Agenda for New Skills and Jobs" and "Youth on the Move". It complements the European Qualifications Framework which promotes validation of formal education.
The Commission's proposal for the new Erasmus for All programme 2014-2020 foresees funding for all education sectors, including schools, adult learning, higher education, vocational education and training, as well as non-formal and informal learning.