How to make skills visible and valued

Real life-long learning is about more than just adding professional training sessions and courses to your CV. We also learn in other ways, through our own interests and experiences, without an approved syllabus or without even intending to acquire knowledge. The New Skills Agenda highlights that people should be able to use the full range of their skills for their careers or for further learning, including what they gain in non-formal or informal learning.


How to make skills visible and valued

Skills today need to be made visible and described. This is done through a process called validation that allows individuals to identify, document, assess and certify all forms of learning. Following this process can have a significant impact in terms of an individual’s employability, personal development and social inclusion, as the Upskilling Pathways Initiative has highlighted.

The 2012 Council Recommendation on validation encourages Member States to put national arrangements in place to ensure validation of non-formal and informal learning by 2018. This will provide each individual with the chance to demonstrate and prove all of the skills that they have acquired during their lifetime, including those learnt outside of formal education. To help with this process, CEDEFOP has an online database with European guidelines on validation and a European inventory of validation practices at national, regional and local levels in Europe.

The Erasmus+ programme offers funding opportunities for organisations willing to experiment with new ways of validating skills acquired outside of formal learning. One example of this is the VITA project, where partners from nine countries came up with an IT-based system that helps to show visually and assess social, personal and organisational skills, wherever and however they have been learned. Learners benefit from feedback that they wouldn’t ordinarily receive during a course, while the validation of important skills will help participants in their future careers. Thanks to European funding, the approach was tested on a wide variety of participant groups, including students, adult volunteers, education professionals and even prison inmates. This showed that the system was flexible enough to work across a number of sectors and that the methods could be adapted to each learning setting.

More news, cases studies and opinions can be found in the thematic section on validation of EPALE, the e-Platform for Adult Learning in Europe.

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