Why the validation of non-formal and informal learning?
"Real" life-long learning is about more than adding professional trainings and courses to your curriculum vitae. We also learn in non-formal ways, out of interest but without an approved syllabus, and even informally, by experience but without the deliberate intention to acquire knowledge or skills. The EU is engaging in activities to make sure that these alternative ways of learning are acknowledged, validated and may lead to a qualification.
What is the validation of non-formal and informal learning?
As highlighted in the New Skills Agenda for Europe of June 2016, people should be able to use the full range of their skills for their careers or for further learning – including what they acquired in non-formal or informal ways. Learning from whatever source has a value. These skills should be made visible and accounted for, for example to increase employability.
The validation process allows individuals in four distinct steps to identify, document, assess and certify all forms of learning. Its impact can be significant in better matching skills and labour demand, promoting transferability of skills between companies and sectors, and supporting working and learning mobility between countries. It can also contribute to fighting social exclusion by providing a way to improve the employability of early school leavers, unemployed individuals, low-skilled adults and third country nationals.
The 2012 Council Recommendation on validation encourages Member States to put in place national arrangements for validation by 2018. These arrangements should enable individuals to increase the visibility and value of their knowledge and skills acquired outside formal education and training: at work, at home or in voluntary activities.
It is expected that by the end of 2018, a vast number of Member States will have taken concrete steps to provide individuals with the possibility to show and prove all the learning acquired during their life, also beyond formal education. The European Commission and the European Center for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) assist the Member States in this process. The European Guidelines on validation provide policy and practical advice to Member States and stakeholders on implementing validation. The European Inventory provides a unique record on how validation is used at national, regional and local level in Europe, illustrated by good practice examples. It further contains thematic analyses of key issues relating to the design and implementation of validation initiatives. These reports are a source of information to support dialogue between the different stakeholders in developing and implementing validation in Europe. The Guidelines and the Inventory are linked in the online database published by Cedefop. The EQF Advisory Group follows up on the implementation of the Council Recommendation (minutes and documents can be found in the Register of Commission Expert Groups).