The importance to Europe of skilled and knowledgeable citizens extends beyond formal education to learning acquired in non-formal or informal ways. Citizens must be able to demonstrate what they have learned, to use this learning in their career and for further education and training.

Countries need to establish systems that allow individuals to identify, document, assess and certify (=validate) all forms of learning to use this learning for advancing their career and for further education and training.

The 2012 Council Recommendation on validation encourages Member States to put in place national arrangements for validation. These arrangements enable individuals to increase the visibility and value of their knowledge, skills and competences acquired outside formal education and training: at work, at home or in voluntary activities.

Cedefop cooperates with the European Commission and Member States to develop validation systems by:

  European guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning

The European Guidelines identify main challenges facing policy makers and practitioners and present possible responses to those challenges.

The guidelines are practical and provide advice for individuals and institutions responsible for initiating, developing, implementing and operating validation arrangements.

The European guidelines were first developed in 2009 and, following the adoption of the Council Recommendation, updated in 2015. The evaluation of the 2012 Recommendation,  has signalled the importance of the guidelines in promoting a share understanding to validation in Europe and to support peer learning. The third edition was published in 2023

 European Inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning 

This inventory is a regularly updated overview of validation practices and arrangements across Europe. It is compiled in cooperation with the European Commission.

Recognising that society has an interest in using all available skills, national and regional authorities and sectoral bodies have introduced many arrangements for validating non-formal and informal learning. Yet information about how such learning is identified, documented, assessed and certified is, in most countries, not easily accessible.

The European inventory makes information on current practices – including examples from selected sectors – available. It covers all countries taking part in the EU 2020 cooperation process.

So far the inventory has been updated six times (200420052008201020142016 and 2018).

All material is publicly available and can be downloaded from this website. We are working on the next edition.

  European database on validation of non-formal and informal learning

The European database is a pilot data visualisation project, which connects the European Guidelines (2015 version) with the European inventory (2104 edition).

European inventory

European Inventory on Validation: 2018 Update

Synthesis report
Synthesis report (ETF)
Country reports
Thematic reports
Case studies

The European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning is a regularly updated overview of validation practices and arrangements across Europe. It is compiled in cooperation with the European Commission and ETF. The inventory was endorsed by the Council recommendation of 2012 on validation and works together with the European guidelines as a tool to support countries in developing and implementing validation arrangements.

A rich source of information, the inventory informs dialogue and learning between countries and stakeholders developing and implementing validation in Europe. Our key objective is to support Member States so that more learners and workers can acquire and make visible new skills, which will support their career and further learning and improve their quality of life.

The 2018 update of the inventory is a unique record of how validation is being used nationally, regionally and locally across Europe. It contains the state of play and an overview of developments for 36 countries, illustrated by good practice examples. You will also find thematic reports on key issues in designing and implementing validation initiatives, plus three international case studies. The inventory is the result of a three-year process based on the work of a large network of national experts, extensive review of documents, and interviews with key stakeholders.

Contact Details: Ernesto Villalba-Garcia

Synthesis reports

Final synthesis report                      Final synthesis report

Country reports, EU Member States

Austria Austria

Finland  Finland

Luxembourg Luxembourg

Belgium (FR) Belgium (FR)

France France


Belgium (NL) Belgium (NL)

Germany Germany

Netherlands  Netherlands

Bulgaria Bulgaria

Greece Greece

Poland  Poland

Croatia  Croatia

Hungary  Hungary

Portugal Portugal

Cyprus Cyprus

Ireland  Ireland

Romania  Romania

Czech Republic Czechia

Italy  Italy

Slovakia  Slovakia

Denmark  Denmark

Latvia  Latvia

Slovenia Slovenia

Estonia  Estonia

Lithuania Lithuania

Spain  Spain

    Sweden  Sweden


Other countries

Iceland Iceland

Switzerland Switzerland

United Kingdom (Wales) UK-Wales

Iiechtenstein Liechtenstein

United Kingdom (England and Northern Ireland) UK-England and Norther Ireland


Norway  Norway

United Kingdom (Scotland) UK-Scotland


Country Reports compiled by ETF

 Kosovo North Macedonia  
Montenegro Turkey  Turkey  

Thematic reports

       Validation and open educational resources 

Bridging the gap                              Digital forms of assessment



Social partners involvement            Validation for migrants/refugees  


Validation and upskilling pathways

Case studies


European database on validation of non-formal and informal learning

Project contacts

Who is who
Ernesto Villalba-Garcia
Expert in VET supporting policies - validation