/epale/en/file/eqf-level-5-epaleEQF Level 5 EPALE
On 9-10 November 2017 EPALE's Thematic Coordinator, Simon Broek, attended the first CHAIN 5 seminar in Luton (UK). CHAIN 5 is an international community of practice that shares knowledge and experience concerning qualifications at EQF level 5. The community of practice was established in December 2013 after Cedefop conducted its study on qualifications on EQF level 5. Simon shared his experience and what he learnt at the event.
The CHAIN 5 took place in November 2017 in Luton, UK and focused on theory and practice concerning work-based learning as a ‘container concept’ and how it can strengthen the role of level 5 qualifications for different target groups; how it can increase the quality of provision (bearing in mind issues like permeability between levels), and how qualifications can be more relevant in the labour market for all kinds of learners as part of ‘lifelong developing’.
There were many valuable contributions in terms of research and practice. Concerning the latter, for instance, workshops were provided to discuss English higher apprenticeships and Dutch institutional models for providing formal level 5 qualifications in a more modular, flexible manner. The research perspective was covered by a presentation of the Tandem project for learning pathways for employees and a presentation on teachers and trainers in work-based learning.
Importance of level 5 in easing transitions
For adults, EQF level 5 qualifications play a particularly important role. These qualifications provide transition pathways from school to work, from vocational education and training (VET) to higher education (HE), from work back to school. In addition, in Europe there are a variety of different types of qualifications with different orientations (e.g., labour market access, further learning). What I took from the seminar is that in many countries a lot is going on at level 5, and not only in short-cycle higher education. It really is the transition qualification that connects (higher) VET and HE, vocational and professional education, business academies and the labour market. These transitions are also becoming more important as some occupations are at risk of disappearing due to low interest. People need to be able (and need to be enabled) to make transitions faster, for their career, and for when flexibility is needed to make ends meet. Level 5 qualifications in this context have a key role for:
- adults who would like to upgrade their skills, competences and qualifications (horizontal transition);
- adults who would like to change their career (vertical transition).
/epale/en/file/level-learning-outcomes-cedefopLevel of learning outcomes Cedefop
Source: Cedefop (2014), Qualifications at level 5: progressing in a career or to higher education
Especially when level 5 qualifications take into account work-based learning in its many forms, depending on the situation now and in the near future, learning can be best aligned with adults’ needs and specific situation.
Work-based learning and use of terminology
However when discussing work-based learning and apprenticeships in Europe, we are often a bit lost in translation as similar concepts mean different things. Hans Daale (CHAIN 5) proposed three categories that can be found related to qualifications at level 5:
- Study-based working: The student is enrolled in a formal education programme and components of the programme are based on work practice. There is not a formal contract with the employer.
- Dual education: Study programme leads to a formal qualification, but there are two contracts – one with the employer and one with the education institution. The learner is both a student and an employee.
- Job-based learning: the learner has a formal contract with the employee; the qualification relates strongly to the job and the career progression within the company/sector. Learning can be non-formal, leading to certificates which can eventually be validated and combined into a full formal qualification.
The difference between the three categories shows the wide scope of learning that takes place at the workplace, not always directly linked to formal education programmes. It is exactly those programmes that might be the most relevant for adult workers, as they provide them with possibilities to learn on the job and progress in their career.
Simon Broek has been involved in several European research projects on education, labour market issues and insurance business. He advised the European Commission, the European Parliament and European Agencies on issues related to education policies, lifelong learning, and labour market issues, and is Managing Partner at Ockham Institute of Policy Support.