Cedefop has long contributed to the conceptual and practical aspects of the European common tools, including the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET). These instruments are meant to complement each other, but each faces its own challenges in terms of implementation. In May, a Cedefop workshop, Mainstreaming ECVET to practitioners (30-31 May), examines a thus far neglected aspect of implementing the credit system: how the system affects training provisioners and their staff. Also this month, the Hungarian Presidency conference on the EQF (25-26/5) looks at the progress achieved across Europe, which challenges and tasks lie ahead, and what we have learned so far from Member States’ efforts to link their national qualification frameworks with the EQF.
The aim of ECVET, as of all the common EU instruments, is to increase transparency and mutual trust within the European education area. In providing a counterpart to the credit transfer system for higher education, it also promotes the parity of vocational education and training.
Changes in the institutional environment in which ECVET operates are leading to new definitions of trainer responsibilities, more autonomous decision-making and a greater decentralisation or regionalisation of vocational education and training.
Greater institutional autonomy - within a regulatory framework that guarantees quality and standards - would allow institutions involved in ECVET to take greater responsibility for the training process and would encourage the creation of partnerships for mobility.
Cedefop’s role is to take into account the issues raised by education and training stakeholders; to collect facts and figures on how ECVET works; and to formulate proposals for both policy-makers and practitioners. Its most recent policy report details the progress achieved in formulating and implementing the common instruments in the period 2002-2010.
One of the ways in which Cedefop supports the development of ECVET is by reflecting the factors which can ensure its implementation. In particular, Cedefop focuses on the place of ECVET in the context of European common instruments (EQF, Europass, Validation principles, EQAVET). This is part of a wider analysis on the role of qualifications in education and work life, and on the learning outcomes approach – that is, the switch from input-oriented qualifications to those that are based on what the learner understands and can do at the end of a period of learning.
But Cedefop’s work does not only comprise the continuous monitoring and reporting on progress achieved in ECVET. As Acting Director Christian Lettmayr states in a recent editorial, “we believe that the best way to gather and produce evidence for policy-makers includes carefully listening to stakeholders on the ground”. To reach these stakeholders we use a variety of channels ranging from ECVET-linked events, contributions to the Users’ Group, social media, our virtual community, and special publications. The workshop in May is part of hat effort.
By 2012 the necessary conditions should be in place for a gradual implementation of ECVET, and the entire process will be evaluated in 2014.
Regarding the European Qualifications Framework, Christian Lettmayr will be a keynote speaker in the Hungarian Presidency conference on this theme. The conference will discuss what has been achieved since the milestone of 2010 – by when all countries were to have linked their national frameworks with the EQF – and what needs to be done by April 2013, the date on which the European Commission is to report to the Parliament and Council on the implementation of the EQF.
In November 2011, Cedefop will be organising a conference and workshop with the European Parliament in Brussels to examine the full spectrum of European instruments for mobility, learning and working.