The 3d annual forum on ECVET (the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training) signals the coming of age of this new instrument, which aims to allow all vocational students to have their education and training recognised across the European Union.
The European Commission has long stressed the importance of mobility for an open labour market, both in terms of technology transfer and in terms of opportunities for workers and learners. The European initiatives to improve the quality and attractiveness of vocational education and training and to make mobility easier for vocational students are part of this wider effort.
The diversity of vocational systems has proved to be both an opportunity and a challenge. This is the complex issue that ECVET has been designed to address. ECVET facilitates the mobility of vocational education and training students by enabling the accumulation of credits from different training providers in different countries. Credits are validated by each awarding institution and recognised by the awarding body of the final qualification.
Cedefop, which helped to design ECVET, continues to monitor how the system operates across Europe. But from now on, the responsibility for implementation will lie with the Member States. On the basis of national legislation, and after appropriate testing, countries can begin applying ECVET to vocational qualifications already in 2012.
Isabelle Le Mouillour, who has managed the project for Cedefop, explains: “If we really want to ensure mobility, people should be able to take their learning with them – into other EU countries, other areas of study, different economic sectors. ECVET has so far shown that it is the right system for the task of evaluating and recognising vocational knowledge and skills across these various borderlines.”
The online community of practice which Cedefop set up for ECVET in 2003 has been a key factor in paving the way to implementation: it has allowed interested parties to share information, discuss issues, and convey messages to decision-makers. As a a result, this year's forum will pay special attention to developing a common understanding of how an ECVET community of practice can work from now on. This can involve sharing good practices, solving common problems, actively participating in exchanges and promoting ECVET to make sure all potential beneficiaries know about it.