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New recommendation on the validation of skills obtained through informal and non-formal learning

On 5 September, the European Commission has issued a proposal for a Council Recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning. This proposal aims to improve the recognition of knowledge, skills and competences obtained outside schools and universities in the member states.

Crucial to the pursuit of EU2020 objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and, particularly, with a view to foster lifelong learning, to increase employability and to promote economic growth, this proposal aims to push the member states to become more competitive and better equipped to cope with the rapid economic and technological challenges. By validating and recognising skills acquired in informal and non-formal settings, citizens should stand a better chance of advancing their job and career prospects, accessing further formal education programmes (e.g. higher education), and becoming more mobile in the European labour market. Still, most EU countries are still lagging behind in the development and implementation of comprehensive validation systems, with the exceptions of France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Finland.

This proposal sets out several recommendations to the member states, in order to ensure that by 2015 national systems for the validation of non-formal and informal learning will have been established and that citizens may, by then, use their validated experiences to obtain a full or partial qualification.   Some of the main recommendations to the member states include:

  • Ensuring that all the national systems of validation will focus on supporting citizens to identify, document and assess their learning outcomes, and that certification of the learning outcomes should be in a form of qualification;
  • Ensuring that information regarding validation is widely accessible to the public, namely to disadvantaged groups, that there is appropriate guidance and counselling and that access to validation is affordable for all of those who wish to undertake it;
  • Giving the opportunity to individuals who are unemployed or in insecure forms of employment to, within three months of an identified need, undertake an audit of their skills and competences;
  • Providing incentives to education and training structures to facilitate access to formal education and training on the basis of certified learning outcomes obtained in non-formal and informal settings.

This proposal should be adopted by the education and youth ministers in the end of November.

European Commission – press release

European Commission – proposal for Council Recommendation