The main aim of the conference was to encourage discussion on the role and purpose of microcredentials in Slovenia, thus contributing to the development of national education strategies in response to technological, economic, environmental and social challenges.
The conference was attended by more than 80 national stakeholders, including representatives of upper secondary VET, tertiary education, ministries, labour market, chambers and trade unions.
The plenary talks of the conference on microcredentials focused on the following themes:
- presentation of the ‘Proposal for a Council Recommendation on a European approach to microcredentials for lifelong learning and employability’ (hereinafter referred as: proposal for a Council Recommendation) (by William O'Keeffe, DG Employment, social affairs and inclusion, European Commission);
- presentation of ‘Europass digital credentials’ (by Koen Nomden, DG Employment, social affairs and inclusion, European Commission);
- presentation of the interim results of the Cedefop project ‘Microcredentials for labour market education and training’ with a focus on the case study of Slovenia (by Anastasia Pouliou, Cedefop);
- presentation of the microcredentials concept from the point of view of Slovenian higher education system (by Duša Marjetič, Head of higher education division, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport).
The panel discussion was followed by moderated workshops on the following topics:
- definition of microcredentials;
- quality assurance of microcredentials;
- inclusion of microcredentials in the Slovenian Qualifications Framework.
The workshop participants first discussed which short training courses, education courses and programmes of those already available in Slovenia would best comply with the characteristics and function of microcredentials, as defined in the proposal for a Council Recommendation. Some of the cases discussed are accredited courses/programmes and are included in the NQF (for example programmes for acquiring supplementary qualification and study programmes for further training); others operate freely in the labour market. In the light of this diverse and heterogenous educational landscape, it was suggested that further discussion with key stakeholders on this topic needs to be conducted.
Regarding the definition itself, the workshop participants concluded that it would be necessary to define the ‘volume’ of learning, expressed in duration and/or credits according to the national accreditation system. In the area of higher education, participants support the accumulation and combination of smaller credentials, when necessary, in order to build larger ones.
With respects to the quality assurance of microcredentials, the participants support the use of existing quality assurance systems and mechanisms in Slovenia, adapted for different levels of education and training. The idea of a national authority, solely responsible for microcredentials garnered great support. It would be responsible for accreditation of providers and programmes leading to microcredentials, including the establishment of a register of microcredentials, as well as of ICT tools that enable portability and responsive quality check of microcredentials within Slovenia.
Opinions on the rationale for the inclusion of microcredentials in the national qualifications framework varied. Some participants believe that the placement of microcredentials in the NQF would make sense in terms of achieving greater transparency, quality and trust in microcredentials; however, clear relations with other existing qualifications should be established and the matching procedure should not be too bureaucratic. Regarding the inclusion of microcredentials into the NQF, proposals varied from the integration into existing NQF pillars, to the establishment of a new pillar, designed for microcredentials.
The conference closed with all participants looking forward to further relevant events but also to national policy and legislative initiatives that will provide a framework for the development of microcredentials at national level, taking into consideration the ‘Council Recommendation on a European approach to microcredentials for lifelong learning and employability’.