This section draws mainly on input from the 2018 update to the European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning (European Commission et al. (forthcoming).
There are laws and regulations on validation of non-formal and informal learning for each level of education and training covered by the NKR. Validation arrangements are based on shared basic principles across all sectors. One of these is that the validation process should be voluntary and of benefit to the individual. Although participation in validation is voluntary, the legal framework guarantees the rights of individuals to undertake it.
Validation of non-formal and informal learning, known in Norway as realkompetansevurdering (validation of real competence, or recognition of prior learning) is clearly defined and used as a specific term in laws, regulations and guidelines. Real competence includes formal, non-formal and informal learning. Although formal learning is not assessed separately, it is included as part of the new total assessment.
Responsibility for local provision in primary, lower and upper secondary education (levels 2 to 4) is decentralised to municipality and county education administrations respectively and based on the learning outcomes described in the curricula.
In vocational college education and higher education (levels 5 to 8), validation of non-formal and informal learning is mainly used for admission, and exemption. At these levels, each institution provides validation procedures based on the learning outcomes of the relevant study programme. Each institution is autonomous, so there are no general procedures for validation of competence at NQF levels 5 and above. However, in 2013, as a follow-up of a 2009 white paper on the education strategy ( Report No 44 to the Storting, 2008-09. The education strategy. https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/stmeld-nr-44-2008-2009-/id565231/ ), Skills Norway – formerly Vox – developed two guidelines on assessing prior learning together with representatives from the sectors: one related to admission to vocational college education, and one to recognition of prior learning in (i.e. as part of) higher education.
In lower and upper secondary education, the outcome of validation of non-formal and informal learning can be a document showing that the individual has achieved a full qualification (certificate); if the individual has not achieved a full qualification, the document awarded is a 'certificate of competence'. In VET programmes, it is not possible to obtain a full qualification based on validation of non-formal and informal learning alone. Applicants must pass the final trade examination to obtain the final VET (trade or journeyman's) certificate.
In higher education, a student who achieves some courses through validation, and others via formal learning, will not receive a grade for the validated courses (only the indication 'Pass'), whereas most other courses passed will be graded by the letters A to E. For validation students who wish to continue their studies, the lack of grades in certain courses might be a disadvantage when competing for a place at a master level.
In the Erasmus KA3 project VISKA (visible skills for adults) 2017-20, the focus is on developing methods and processes to increase the access of migrants to validation of prior learning processes, education and work ( VISKA project: http://www.viskaproject.eu). Skills Norway is coordinating this project.
There are also validation mechanisms in enterprises (such as the 2018-21 social partner agreement on documenting workers' competence, Paragraphs18-4 ( Basic agreement between the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises, 2018-21: https://www.nho.no/siteassets/publikasjoner/basic-agreement-lo-nho-2018-2021.pdf)).
In the Norwegian strategy for skills policy 2017-21 ( Norwegian strategy for skills policy, 2017-21: https://www.kompetansenorge.no/contentassets/06b4044721e849ed8116604f9af4faa5/norwegian_strategy_for_skills.pdf ), the strategy partners have agreed to make it easier to document skills acquired at work and to develop a method and model for evaluating skills acquired in the workplace. A working group appointed by the Ministry of Education and Research has developed a pilot on validation of non-formal and informal learning within the retail trade ( See Enterprise Federation of Norway (2018).). The pilot was coordinated by the Enterprise Federation of Norway (Virke) in cooperation with the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the Confederation of Vocational Unions (YS) in dialogue with the ministry. The pilot did not aim to compare or contrast skills acquired in the workplace with those acquired in formal education; it brought a broader understanding of the development of skills in the workplace. A follow-up evaluation by the Fafo Research Foundation recommends that the model should now be tested to ensure its applicability ( Jensen, R.S; Lidahl, N.K (2018). Realkompetanse i varehandelen: en følgeevaluering [Non-formal and informal learning in the retail trade: a follow-up evaluation]. Oslo: Fafo Research Foundation. https://www.virke.no/globalassets/folgeevaluering2203.pdf).
Internal validation procedures at the workplace, linked to wage negotiations or competence development in companies, can also be found outside the formal system of validation. In these instances, validation references are based on local requirements defined by the company concerned.
A study was recently conducted by the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) on validation of non-formal and informal learning in Norway ( Sutherland-Olsen, D. et al. (2018). Realkompetansevurdering: en studie av systemet for vurdering av realkompetanse i utdanning og arbeidsliv [Validation of non-formal and informal learning: a study of the system for validation of non-formal and informal learning in education and working life]. NIFU report 2018:10. https://brage.bibsys.no/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11250/2502219/NIFUrapport2018-10.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y ). It concludes that there is a lot more to be done, both in education and working life, before a well-functioning national system for documentation and validation is established. Another conclusion is that a good system for data collection on the use of the different validation schemes and benefit for the individual is lacking.