The Austrian academy of continuing education (Weiterbildungsakademie, WBA) validates and recognises formally, non-formally and informally acquired competences of adult educators and awards two-stage degrees against set standards: a WBA certificate and, for certificate holders, a WBA diploma. WBA aims to professionalise adult education in Austria without offering continuing education and training itself. It acknowledges prior learning results and offers guidance on the acquisition of missing skills. In May 2015 WBA registered its 2000th application since its foundation in 2007.

As of January 2015 a new, learning outcome-oriented WBA curriculum entered into force, triggered by debates on European and national qualifications frameworks. Also known as ‘qualification profiles’, the new curricula describe competences required by adult educators in more detail. Qualification profiles make informally acquired skills more visible and enhance their value.

With financial support from the European Social Fund, the objectivity, validity, reliability and practicability of WBA recognition and certification will be examined and its development supported by academic experts. The WBA website will also be revised to improve clarity, transparency and comprehensibility, taking into account Cedefop’s European guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning.

An application is currently pending for the Erasmus+ peer review project Transnational peer review for quality assurance in validation of non-formal and informal learning (VNFIL) extended.

The WBA procedure is one of many for validating non-formal and informal learning in Austria but an all-encompassing strategy is missing. The Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and Women's Affairs (BMBF) has now published an invitation to stakeholders to participate in developing a national strategy for validating non-formal and informal learning in Austria. Statements to the consultation paper can be submitted until 30 September 2015.

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