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European database on validation of non-formal and informal learning

The current database aims to support European countries in their efforts to develop and establish arrangements to validate non-formal and informal learning. It is also a tool for anyone interested in validation, to understand better how validation is carried out in Europe.

The database links the European guidelines for validation of non-formal and informal learning (2nd ed, 2015) with the European inventory on validation (update 2014). It provides an overview of how countries are meeting the various challenges of establishing validation arrangements. It follows the chapters of the European guidelines. Detailed information per country can be found in the country reports.

All information has been extracted from the ‘country fiches’, which were put together as part of the European Inventory update and are based on country researchers’ responses to a set of predefined questions. The text has not been edited by Cedefop. However, considerable effort has been made to ensure accuracy and correctness of the information. Please get in touch with us, if you discover inaccuracies. For suggestions, improvements, ideas, comments or further information, please contact the project manager, Ernesto Villalba-Garcia

For more information about Cedefop’s actions in validating non-formal and informal learning, visit our validation project.

CHAPTER 1.INTRODUCTION
1.1 National policies on validation

The member states should, with a view to offering individuals the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned outside formal education and training — including through mobility experiences — and to make use of that learning for their careers and further learning, and with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity have in place, no later than 2018, in accordance with national circumstances and specificities, and as they deem appropriate, arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning.

Q1.1Does the country have a national (or where relevant, regional) strategy or policy for validation?
1.2 Sectoral policies on validation
Q1.2Does the country have a national (or where relevant, regional) strategy in one or more education and training sectors (HE, VET, adult education, etc.)?
1.3 Time of implementation
Q1.3How long has the strategy / framework been in place and to what extent have they been implemented?
1.4 Trends
Q1.4Since 2010, have the number of validation applications by individuals...
CHAPTER 2.THE BASIC FEATURES OF VALIDATION
2.1 The four phases of validation process

The 2012 Recommendation iIdentifies four distinct phases: IDENTIFICATION of an individual's learning outcomes acquired through non-formal and informal learning; DOCUMENTATION of an individual's learning outcomes acquired through non-formal and informal learning; ASSESSMENT of an individual's learning outcomes acquired through non-formal and informal learning; CERTIFICATION of the results of the assessment of an individual's learning outcomes acquired through non-formal and informal learning in the form of a qualification, or credits leading to a qualification, or in another form, as appropriate (Council of the EU, 2012, p. 3, points 2a to 2d).

Q2.1Are all four stages of the validation process (Identification, Documentation, Assessment and Certification) used in the process of validation or are some stages used more than others?
2.2 The Centrality of the individual

The 2012 recommendation underlines that the individual must be at the focus of validation arrangements: ‘[the] arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning which enable individuals to (a) have knowledge, skills and competences which have been acquired through non-formal and informal learning validated, including, where applicable, through open educational resources; (b) obtain a full qualification, or, where applicable, part qualification, on the basis of validated non-formal and informal learning experiences (Council of the EU, 2012, p. 3, point 1, emphasis added).

Q2.2Does the country have a legal framework which frames the arrangements for validation of non-formal and informal learning?
CHAPTER 3.CONDITIONS FOR DEVELOPING AND IMPLEMENTING VALIDATION
3.1 Information, Guidance and counselling

The recommendation pays particular attention to the role of guidance and counselling in taking forward validation. Member States should ensure within validation arrangements information and guidance on the benefits of, and opportunities for validation, as well as on the relevant procedures, are available to individuals and organisations’ and ‘the validation of non-formal and informal learning is supported by appropriate guidance and counselling and is readily accessible’ (Council of EU, 2012, p. 3, points 3b and 3e).

Q3.1.1Do the validation arrangements generally include provision for information and guidance to candidates?
Q3.1.2Who assumes an active role in raising awareness on validation? Please list all that apply
3.2 Coordination of stakeholders

The recommendation emphasises the importance of coordination of and appropriate information on validation. The Member States are invited to ‘promote the involvement in the development and implementation of the elements and principles […] of all relevant stakeholders, such as employers, trade unions, chambers of industry, commerce and skilled crafts, national entities involved in the process of recognition of professional qualifications, employment services, youth organisations, youth workers, education and training providers, and civil society organisations’. The Member States are furthermore called to ‘promote coordination on validation arrangements between stakeholders in the education, training, employment and youth sectors, as well as between those in other relevant policy areas’ (Council of EU, 2012, p. 4, points 4 and 5).

Q3.2.1Are certain sectors given priority in the national arrangements for validation?
Q3.2.2AWhat is the level of awareness on validation amongst the general public
Q3.2.2BWhat is the level of awareness on validation amongst guidance practitioners in education
Q3.2.2CWhat is the level of awareness on validation amongst guidance practitioners in employment
Q3.2.3Does the country have a national (regional where appropriate) institution in charge of overseeing validation practices?
Q3.2.4Is there a clear allocation of responsibilities across the range of stakeholders involved in the education, employment and third sectors, as well as between those in other relevant policy areas?
Q3.2.5What is the level of engagement of relevant stakeholders in shaping the design of validation policies and initiatives at national level (or regional level where appropriate)?
Q3.2.6ADo any of the following collect data on the number of validation applications that is comprehensive, and up to date?
Q3.2.6BDo any of the following collect data on validation outcomes that is comprehensive, and up to date?
Q3.2.7Which are the dominant user groups of validation opportunities in your country?
Q3.2.8What targeted measures are in place? (Which groups are targeted? the low qualified, migrants, early school leavers, the disabled, etc.)
3.3 Links to National qualifications and frameworks 

The recommendation stresses the importance of linking validation arrangements to national qualifications systems and frameworks: Member States should enable individuals to ‘obtain a full qualification or, where applicable, part qualification on the basis of validated non-formal and informal learning experiences’ (Council of EU, 2012, p. 3, point 1b). They should ensure that ‘validation arrangements are linked to national qualifications frameworks and are in line with the European qualifications framework’ (ibid. point 3a), that ‘synergies exist between validation arrangements and credit systems applicable in the formal education and training system such as ECTS and ECVET’ (ibid. p. 4, point 3j). They should also ensure that ‘education and training providers […] facilitate access to formal education and training on the basis of learning outcomes acquired in non-formal and informal settings and, if appropriate and possible, award exemptions and/or credits for relevant learning outcomes acquired in such settings.’ (ibid., point 4b)

Q3.3.1Is validation linked to the national qualifications framework / European qualifications framework?
Q3.3.6Is validation linked to the national credit system / modularised qualifications?
3.4 Standards and learning outcomes

The recommendation asks Member States to assure that ‘qualifications or, where applicable, parts of qualifications obtained by means of the validation of non-formal and informal learning experiences comply with agreed standards that are either the same as, or equivalent to, the standards for qualifications obtained through formal education programmes’ (Council of EU, 2012, p. 3, point 3h).

Q3.4.1What mechanisms are used to make sure the qualifications awarded through validation are equivalent to those awarded through formal education?
3.5 Quality assurance

The recommendation asks Member States to assure that ‘transparent quality assurance measures in line with existing quality assurance frameworks are in place that support reliable, valid and credible assessment methodologies and tools’ (Council of EU, 2012, p. 3, point 3f).

Q3.5.1Is there a quality assurance framework in place?
3.6 The professional competences of validation practitioners

The recommendation maintains that ‘provision is made for the development of the professional competences of staff involved in the validation process across all relevant sectors’ (Council of EU, 2012, p. 3, point 3g).

Q3.6.1Are there mandatory requirements to take on the role of a validation professional?
Q3.6.2Are there provisions in place for the development of the professional competences of staff involved in validation?
3.7 Funding
Q3.7.1What are the main sources of funding for validation?
CHAPTER 4.THE CONTEXTS OF VALIDATION
4.1 Validation in education and training

The recommendation recognises the key-role played by education and training institutions in taking forward validation: ‘education and training providers should facilitate access to formal education and training on the basis of learning outcomes acquired in non-formal and informal settings and, if appropriate and possible, award exemptions and/or credits for relevant learning outcomes acquired in such settings’ (Council of EU, 2012, p. 4, point 4b).

Q4.1How is validation linked to formal qualifications?
4.3 Skills audit and the labour market

The recommendation states that ‘disadvantaged groups, including individuals who are unemployed and those at risk of unemployment, are particularly likely to benefit from the validation arrangements, since validation can increase their participation in lifelong learning and their access to the labour market.’ It further states that ‘individuals who are unemployed or at risk of unemployment have the opportunity, in accordance with national legislation and specificities, to undergo a ‘skills audit’ aimed at identifying their knowledge, skills and competences within a reasonable period of time, ideally within six months of an identified need’ (Council of EU, 2012, p. 4, point 3c).

Q4.3.1Is there a right for unemployed people to undertake a skills audit?
CHAPTER 5.VALIDATION TOOLS
5.1 Validation tools

The recommendation emphasises the need for appropriate tools and instruments allowing for validation of non-formal and informal learning, also drawing attention to the relevance of common European tools for transparency and recognition and their possible support to the process: ‘the use of Union transparency tools, such as the Europass framework and Youthpass, is promoted in order to facilitate the documentation of learning outcome’ (Council of EU, 2012, p. 3, point 3i); and asks Member States to assure that ‘[…] synergies exist between validation arrangements and credit systems applicable in the formal education and training system, such as ECTS and ECVET’ (p. 4, point 3j); as well as asking Member States to foster participation of stakeholders that ‘[…] should promote and facilitate the identification and documentation of learning outcomes acquired at work or in voluntary activities, using relevant Union transparency tools such as those developed under the Europass framework and Youthpass’ (p. 4, point 4a).

Q5.1.1Methods for the stages of validation
Q5.1.2To what extent are Europass accepted by employers and educational institutions in your country as tools to document non-formal and informal learning
Q5.1.3To what extent are YouthPass accepted by employers and educational institutions in your country as tools to document non-formal and informal learning