The European Social Partners Conference on the ECVET, co-organised by Cedefop and the German social partners BDA and DGB and held in Thessaloniki on 12 and 13 February 2007, was intended to support the consultation process by offering social partners and others stakeholders a forum to discuss the main issues raised by the ECVET.
The conference gathered 93 participants from 24 European countries. They included representatives of European and national social partner organisations, and ministerial and training bodies; the European Commission; Cedefop and the ETF.
The conference found that while debate continues on what precise form an ECVET system should take, there is a general consensus on the need for a system that promotes transparency of qualifications and enhances mobility.
ECVET as proposed is in a position to foster other forms of mobility apart from cross-border mobility. It could allow the transfer of qualifications inside national systems and especially between VET and higher education and between different learning environments.
The conference concluded that the ECVET could be a useful tool for the optimum use of human resources: the learning outcomes approach is very useful to the labour market and allows for the appropriate employment of people according to their real qualification level.
The development of ECVET needs to be linked to the European Qualifications Frameworks and to the National Qualifications Frameworks in particular in order to achieve transparency on what learning outcomes and qualifications represent.
The link between ECVET and the assessment and validation systems of non-formal and informal learning is crucial. The two systems can only work and be developed in a coherent way.
Learning outcomes are in fact the core of the ECVET; credit points are a supplementary tool and their use should be further discussed.
The development of a useful ECVET will require social partners and other stakeholders not just to take part in the current consultation process but to commit themselves to helping develop and implement the ECVET, which also implies that Member States and the Commission make this possible. Dialogue and action at national level will be crucial.
Cedefop will continue to support this process by providing platforms for genuine discussion and with conceptual and technical work on how learning outcomes best can be assessed and certified.