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Strategies for implementing validation of non-formal and informal learning



Kirsten Aagaard

Kirsten Aagaard ( is head of the Danish National Knowledge Centre for Validation of Prior Learning (NVR) (2007-). She is responsible for several research and development projects in validation of prior learning and involved in development, implementation and evaluation of validation activities. Years of experience in the field of adult learning and education. Contacts and networks in the field of validation of prior learning nationally and internationally. Member of the Expert Network for Validation in the Nordic Network for Adult Learning. Member of European Continuing Education Network (Eucen). Cooperation with ministries, social partners, educational institutions, universities and stakeholders in the field of validation of prior learning (VPL).
Responsible for the arrangement of the 2th VPL Biennale: The user at the centre! 25 – 27 April 2017 in Aarhus, Denmark;

Márcio Barcelos

Márcio Barcelos is a youth activist from Portugal who has been involved in youth organisations from an early age, first as a beneficiary and later on leadership positions at local, national and European levels. Márcio is a Board Member in the European Youth Forum, an independent, youth-led platform representing over 100 National Youth Councils and International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations from across Europe. His roles include the topic of Quality Education for Young People with a specific focus on Non-Formal Education as provided by Youth Organisations and its recognition.

Jens Bjornavold

Jens Bjornavold has been working with European education and training issues since 1996. Starting as a Norwegian seconded expert to the European Centre for Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) in Thessaloniki, he has been permanently employed by the EU since 1999, holding posts both in Cedefop and the European Commission, DG Education and Culture. He is currently the Brussels representative of Cedefop, located to the European Commission.
Bjornavold has been involved in developing the EU lifelong learning strategy, the Copenhagen process in vocational education and training, the Europass and the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). He is currently supporting the European Commission in the follow up to the Council Recommendation on validation of non-formal and informal learning as well as the development of the European standard classification of skills, competences, occupations and qualifications (ESCO). In recent years he has increasingly been working on the issue of learning outcomes, focusing on the conditions for implementation at national and European level. Bjornavold has also coordinated and carried out numerous research projects, notably on the shift to learning outcomes, the changing roles of qualifications and the recognition of non-formal and informal learning.

Mara Brugia

Mara Brugia is the Deputy Director of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) since September 2014. She has been involved in vocational education and training since she joined Cedefop in 1994.
As Head of Area from 2004-2014, she managed teams of experts working in European VET policy analysis, adult and work-based learning, with a specific focus on apprenticeship-type learning and the European tools for recognition and transparency of qualifications, such as the European Qualifications Framework.
She also served as Acting Deputy Director from November 2012 to October 2013.
Ms Brugia holds a university degree in Economics and a Master’s Degree in Economics, Politics and Law of the European Union.
She is Italian mother tongue (born in Perugia) and is fluent in English, French, Greek and Spanish.

James Calleja

Director of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP)

James Calleja has been involved in vocational training since 2001. Before his appointment as Director of Cedefop in October 2013, he served as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Employment (2011-2013) in his native country, Malta. In 2005 he was entrusted with the setting up of the Malta Qualifications Council where he served as Chief Executive up to December 2010. In 2009 he also took charge of the National Commission for Higher Education (2009-10). He was in charge of the merger between the two agencies in 2010-2011.
Since 1988 Mr Calleja has held a part-time lecturing position in the Faculty of Education and since 2001 in the Department of International Studies of the University of Malta. In summer 2013 he was promoted to the rank of University Professor.
Mr Calleja is a graduate of the Universities of Malta, Padua (Italy) and Bradford (UK). In the UK he obtained his PhD from the Department of Peace Studies.
In 2001 he was appointed Administrative Director of the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology and in 2004 he moved to the European Training Foundation (ETF) in Turin as Administrator. Prior to these appointments he served in the Foundation for International Studies of the University of Malta (1986-1995), the United Nations International Institute on Ageing (1995-1998) and in the Ministry of Economic Services.

Agnieszka Chlon-Dominczak

Agnieszka Chlon-Dominczak, Ph. D. is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Research Institute (IBE) in Warsaw, as well as at Institute for Statistics and Demography in Warsaw School of Economics. Previously she was a Deputy Minister and Head of Department of Economic Analyses and Forecasting in the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. At the IBE she is the leader of the National Qualifications Systems team. She is a member of the European Qualification Framework (EQF) Advisory Group and leader of the Twinning Project supporting National Qualification Framework (NQF) implementation in Macedonia. Her research interest include: demography, pension systems, labour markets, social policy, health, education and qualifications systems.


Hanne Christensen

Hanne Christensen is working as an expert in the European Centre for Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) for the period 2013-17, in projects on validation, qualifications and policy analysis. Before joining Cedefop, she was with Vox (Norwegian Agency for Lifelong Learning). Her work there covered a broad range of the issues in which the agency is engaged, such as guidance, validation, basic skills, immigrant integration.
Through her work she has been able to take part in the ongoing discourse around competence acquired in working life, especially in connection with validation issues and national qualifications framework (NQF) development. She is especially interested in questions concerning quality, access and equity. Previous experience includes teaching and editorial work/publishing.

Ruud Duvekot

Ruud Duvekot (1960) studied Economic and Social History and holds a PhD at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. In his thesis he analysed the impact of the systematics of Validation of Prior Learning (VPL) on personalising learning.
Since 1992 Ruud is involved in policy-making, training and research on VPL. He founded the “Kenniscentrum EVC”, the Dutch knowledge centre on VPL and worked as (associate) professor ‘VPL and personalized learning’ at several universities of applied sciences. At present he is director of the Centre for Lifelong Learning Services and works amongst others as project leader in building up a validation centre for cross-overs between learners and HE-programmes at Utrecht University of AS. Furthermore, he is a founding member of the Global VPL Biennale, a biannual manifestation aiming at raising awareness of the benefits of VPL and providing a platform for policymakers, researchers and practitioners on a global scale.

Gina Ebner

Gina Ebner is Secretary General of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA). She worked as a language trainer in adult education and as a pedagogical manager for a vocational training institute in Austria. In Brussels, she was a project manager at EUROCADRES (Council for European professional and managerial staff). She is also secretary general of the European Civil Society Platform on Lifelong Learning. EAEA represents non-formal adult education with 141 member organisations in 45 countries. It also promotes adult learning and access to and participation in non-formal adult education for all, particularly for groups currently under-represented.

Yolande Fermon

Yolande Fermon works at the Directorate general for higher education and employability (French ministry of higher education and research). In the lifelong learning unit, for the ten past years, she has been responsible for several research and development projects and activities related to validation of prior learning. She is today involved in the development of the LLL (lifelong learning) dimension in the institutions of Higher education and in particular in projects concerning continuing training of the adults and employability of the students.
She has been the representative of her country in several European committees and working groups among which the Socrates Committee (ex EU LLL program), the network on teacher training and on recognition of learning outcomes. She is today member of the European Qualification Framework (EQF) advisory group and of the European network of national correspondents for the development of qualification framework in higher education (Bologna Process).

Paul Guest

Paul has worked in the field of education and training for much of the last 25 years. Having started his career in the UK guidance sector, Paul helped to establish the UK Euroguidance Centre, in the early 1990s, before moving to Brussels to facilitate delivery of the European Commission’s Higher Education and Vocational Training funding programmes. Nowadays, Paul works as a consultant, facilitating the delivery of projects and programmes, building capacity among project management professionals and helping to make sense of some of the complexities tied to the delivery of change and improvement in European education and training. Paul was principal researcher in a Government-funded study, in Scotland, centred on “Support Mechanisms for the Recognition of the Skills, Learning and Qualifications of Refugees and Migrants” and is a member of the UK European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) Expert Team with additional responsibility for maintenance of the ECVET Mobility Toolkit.

Bonnie Kennedy

Bonnie Kennedy has been the Executive Director of the Canadian Association for Prior Learning Assessment (CAPLA) since 2002. She began teaching adults at night school in the 1970’s and later worked as a college faculty member and coordinator in continuing education, women’s programmes and labour adjustment. Bonnie was hired as the College’s Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR). Coordinator in 1991 and in 1998 she left the college to assume the lead for PLAR at the Canadian Labour Force Development Board in Ottawa. Later she became the Interim National Coordinator for the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) with the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. Bonnie is on the Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s Sectoral Commission on Education and the Board of Directors of Ross Memorial Hospital. She was elected as a public school board trustee for five consecutive four-year terms and has received the YWCA Woman of the Year award and the Governor General of Canada Commemorative Medal. In addition to her non-formal and informal learning, Bonnie holds degrees in political science, sociology and education.

Dr. Grant Klinkum

Dr. Grant Klinkum is Deputy Chief Executive Quality Assurance of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). NZQA sets the rules for quality assurance in the tertiary sector in New Zealand. The Quality Assurance Division is responsible for managing approximately 500 non-university providers in relation to entry, maintaining quality through moderation and consistency, carrying out evaluations of provider quality and managing risk. NZQA administers the New Zealand Qualifications framework and the Education (Pastoral Care of International Students) Code of Practice 2016.
Grant has the unique standpoint of someone who has worked for private and public providers and has worked for both the funding and the quality assurance government agencies. Prior to joining NZQA in early 2014, Grant spent seven years at the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) in senior management roles. During that time Grant led engagement with the tertiary education sector as General Manager of Tertiary Investment. Prior to the TEC, Grant worked as Deputy Chief Executive at an Institute of Technology and Polytechnic and has worked as a Dean of Faculty at two tertiary education organisations. Grant has a PhD in Political Science from Victoria University of Wellington, a Master’s in Education Administration from Massey University and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Canterbury.

Alain Kock

Director in the Consortium de la validation des compétences (CVDC). Teacher in the secondary vocational education. Coach of innovative projects in secondary vocational education, until 1993. Secretary at the Council of Education and Training of the French Community of Belgium in charge of dual training, validation of non-formal and informal learning, qualification structure.

From 2004, Director at the Consortium de validation des compétences and, at once, from 2010 till 2014, Director at the Service Francophone des Métiers et des Qualifications (SFMQ).

Elin Landell

Director at the Ministry of Employment, for the period  2015-2019 heading the secretariat of the National Delegation for Validation. The Delegation is a committee appointed by the government to follow and support a coordinated work to develop validation on both a national and regional level. The Delegation consists of 15 members representing trade unions, employers’ associations and national authorities.
I have previously been in charge of analysis regarding structural change and skills and competence needs at the Federation of Swedish Industries (1995-1999) and the Swedish National Board for Industrial and Technical Development (1999-2000), continued by responsibilities for policy formation and implementation in the fields of labour market policy, education policy and integration policy at the Ministry of Finance (2001-2005), the Ministry of Integration and Gender Equality (2008-2010), the Ministry of Employment (2011-2014) and the Ministry of Education and Research (2014-2015).


Ramona López

As a Jobcoach for migrant people at AWO Interkulturell Schleswig-Holstein (project COMMA plus), Ms López helps refugees and other migrants to find a job, where they can use the skills they already acquired in their home countries. Ramona supports her clients with acknowledging of certificates, orientation on the labour market in Germany, creating application papers, dealing with authorities, preparation for interviews and competence analysis.
After her apprenticeship as an orthopedian shoemaker, Ramona studied English, Psychology and Education in Kiel. During this time she worked as a student research assistant for the Early Language and Intercultural Acquisition Studies Project (ELIAS), where she collected data in bilingual nursery schools. Based upon that data she wrote her master thesis about the development of the listening comprehension of a second language. Before starting to work as a Jobcoach, Ramona successfully completed a training as a mediator and coach.

Martin Noack

As Senior Expert at the Bertelsmann Stiftung in Gütersloh, Germany, Dr. Martin Noack is responsible for the project “Further education for all”. The project aims at improving the chances of people with low levels of formal qualification to participate in further education and qualified work. To this end, the project develops, tests and promotes concepts and tools of competence assessment, development and recognition. More info at: Martins focus lies particularly on the topic of validation of informal and non-formal learning.

Martin studied Psychology in Marburg, Turin, Detroit and Bremen with a focus on the aging workforce and lifelong learning and he received his PhD in Psychology from Jacobs University Bremen in 2009. He joined Bertelsmann Stiftung in 2012, after working for some years as an age management consultant and lecturer for statistics at Jacobs University and University of Bremen.

Ana Carla Pereira

Ana Carla Pereira is Head of Unit for "Skills and qualifications" in Directorate General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the European Commission. She is responsible for developing and implementing the New Skills Agenda for Europe, including the implementation of EU tools for recognition and transparency of qualifications such as the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), Europass, the EU Skills Panorama or the Skills Profile Tool for Third-country Nationals. Prior to this, she has worked more than ten years in the implementation of European Employment Strategy and several years in the private sector as a business consultant specialised in human performance. She graduated in Economics at University of Coimbra (PT) and holds a MA in European Human Resources Studies from the College of Europe (BE). She is Portuguese mother tongue and fluent in English, French and Italian.

Antonio Ranieri

Antonio Ranieri, Head of Department for Learning and Employability at the European Center for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), manages a team of European experts working in vocational education and training (VET) policy analysis and research. The mission of the Department is to support the development and the implementation of VET policies aimed at increasing attractiveness, effectiveness and inclusiveness of vocational education and training in EU Member States.
An economist by training, Antonio has taught regional economics at the University of Roma since 2002. As Head of Area at CLES (Centro di ricerche e studi sui problemi del lavoro, dell’economia e dello sviluppo) in Rome, an independent centre of studies on labour market and economic development issues, he coordinated research projects in design, monitoring and evaluation of public investment and policies.

Roman Senderek

Roman Senderek studied Economics with a special focus in International Management at the Maastricht University (Netherlands) and the Universidad de Los Andes Bogotá (Colombia). After graduating in 2006 he worked for different German and Latin-American companies before he became in 2010 research associate and project manager at the FIR - Institute for Industrial Management at RWTH Aachen University. Since 2013 he coordinates the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) funded project ELIAS (Early language and intercultural acquisition studies).
During the recent years he was able to establish himself as a leading expert for technology-enhanced work-based learning on an international level. Next to his responsibility for projects concerning the exportation of German vocational education and training he contributed to international conferences like IC3K (International Joint Conference on Knowledge Discovery, Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management), ICBL (International Campaign To Ban Landmines), UNESCO-UNIR (Universidad Internacional de la Rioja) and ICALT (International Conference on Advanced Logistics and Transport). In addition to that he is a member of the technical committee at the Association of German Engineers (VDI) developing a guideline for the learning-enhancing work design for the Industrie 4.0. Furthermore, he has been a regular expert on CVET to the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) since 2013 and he is an expert to the European educational network ecoMediaeurope.

Madhu Singh

Madhu Singh joined UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) Hamburg in 1998. As part of UIL’s Lifelong Learning Policies and Strategies (LLPS) programme, she is currently coordinating UIL’s contribution to the Global Inventory of Regional and National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs) and also responsible for UIL’s Global Observatory of Recognition, Validation and Accreditation of Non-formal and Informal learning. Her other areas of work are Integrating the lifelong learning perspective into TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) and workplace learning for sustainable development.
Madhu Singh has recently completed a study on the Recognition of Non-formal and Informal Learning for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.  She is also doing a comparative study in 7 Asian countries on the Recognition of Green Skills in Formal and Informal Sector Enterprises.
She has numerous publications, among which are Linking Recognition Practices and National Qualifications Frameworks: International benchmarking of experiences and strategies on recognition, validation and accreditation of non-formal and informal learning (eds, with Ruud Duvekot, 2013); and Global Perspectives on Non-formal and Informal Learning: Why recognition matters (Springer 2015, Dordrecht, Open Access).

Manuel Souto-Otero

Dr. Manuel Souto-Otero is a Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences (Education Policy) at Cardiff University. He works and publishes in the area of validation, the link between education and work, internationalisation in education, international mobility, lifelong learning and educational inequalities. He has undertaken research projects, amongst others, for the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Education and Training (Cedefop), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), national governments, think tanks and NGOs. He has directed various editions of the European Inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning, and worked on various other projects on the labour market returns to non-formal education and on transparency of qualifications. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Education and Work.

Jan Stepan

Leads learning and development in Deals for PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) UK. He leads the implementation of a full  technical and business skills curricula across Deals in the UK, integration of on-the-job learning and talent management agenda. As a certified executive coach he supports the growth of key talents and leaders. He also works for PwC clients as a consultant on Development Strategies, HC Organization Design and design and delivery of bespoke learning interventions.
After getting a Masters degree in Economics of International Trade and European integration, Jan started his career in Deloitte Central Europe.  Over the years he has served as financial systems consultant, change management consultant and trainer and progressed to become the Learning Leader of PwC in CEE and currently heads L&D for Deals service line in the UK. As a career break he spent 18 months working for a humanitarian NGO in Afghanistan before joining PwC in April 2011.

Pavel Trantina

Pavel Trantina was born in 1975 in České Budějovice, Czechoslovakia. Studied history and political science at the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University in Prague. Worked as political analyst in the Office of the President of the Czech Republic (1996-2002), International Commissioner of Junak – Association of Scouts and Guides of the Czech Republic (mostly as a volunteer), Chairman of the Czech Council of Children and Youth (2004-2007) and Director of the Department of EU Affairs at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, responsible for the preparation of the Czech Presidency of the EU Council (2007-2009). Coordinator of recognition of non-formal education in the ESF funded project ‘Keys for life’ (2010-2011).
Currently works as EU projects and relations manager in the Czech Council of Children and Youth and freelance in project management. Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) since 2006, specialized in youth issues, education, situation of young people at the labour market and volunteering. Since 2015 President of Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship. Also since February 2013 the first President of the European Alliance for Volunteering.

Ernesto Villalba

Ernesto Villalba is an expert at the European Center for the Development of Vocational Education and Training (Cedefop) since 2011 working on European transparency tools and principles. His main responsibility is in the area of validation of non-formal and informal learning, where he works together with the Commission in the follow up of the Recommendation of 2012 as well as updating the European Inventory and European Guidelines. During 2012 he worked in the development of the European Skills passport and on a prototype of a tool for recording non-formal and informal learning experiences within the Europass framework.

Before joining Cedefop he worked as a scientific officer at the Center for Research on Lifelong Learning (CRELL) at the Joint Research Center of the European Commission, Ispra, Italy.

He has several publications relating to European policies, especially concerning the measurement of cross-curricula competences. He holds a Ph.D. in International and Comparative Education from Stockholm University. He is in the editorial board of the Journal of business creativity and the creative economy and an editorial correspondent at the European Journal of Education. He has served in different committees and working groups of the OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), UNESCO and the Commission.

Andrina Wafer

Andrina Wafer is currently Head of Access and Lifelong Learning at Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). Responsibilities include policy development for access, transfer and progression relating to the National Framework of Qualifications, including supporting progress with regard to the validation of non-formal and informal learning (VNFIL)/RPL nationally. Part of Andrina’s role involves working closely with the publicly funded VET (Vocational and education training) system which is engaged in an ambitious transformative change programme. Andrina is the VNFIL representative at the EQF (European Qualification Framework) Advisory Group and is also responsible for IQAVET, the Irish National Reference Point for European Quality Assurance network for VET.
Formerly Andrina worked in predecessor policy agencies at senior level and began professional life as a teacher in the VET and community and voluntary sectors. Areas of interest include equity, combating disadvantage, issues and challenges relating to progression from FET to HE, curriculum and assessment, and learning at the initial levels of the Framework.

Gonçalo Xufre

Gonçalo Xufre is the Director of the National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education and Training (ANQEP), a public body whose mission is to coordinate the implementation of policies regarding vocational education and training for young people and adults, as well as to ensure the development and management of the National System for the Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences (RVCC).
He is the Portuguese representative in several international/European groups: OECD Group of National Experts on VET and Adult Learning; Directors-General for VET; Advisory Committee on Vocational Training; European Qualifications Framework Advisory Group; National Coordinators for the Implementation of the European Agenda for Adult Learning.
He holds a PhD in Operations Research, has a post-graduation in Education Sciences and is a professor in higher education.