11th October 2016 at 3:55 pm #533
CEDEFOP: Monitoring the use of validation of non-formal and informal learning: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/publications/4148
I reviewed this thematic report for the 2016 update of the European inventory on validation for the purpose of presenting a quick summary to the RPL Network Conference. All of these reports are accessible in format, and at approximately 60 pages, make finding information easy, particularly because they include relevant case studies presented in standalone text boxes.
This thematic report presents the current use and outcomes of monitoring of national and regional Validation of Informal and Non-formal Learning (VNFIL) across the 27 European States, detailing whether and how, VNFIL is monitored; gaps and obstacles to monitoring; barriers to, and enablers of, monitoring, and finally makes recommendations for VNFIL stakeholders.
The purpose of monitoring of VNFIL arrangements is to take stock of, and support progress in establishing arrangements; to improve understanding of the impact of VNFIL on individual participants and to evaluate the extent to which VNFIL arrangements contribute to desired goals, such as reducing skills mismatches, support employment and improving qualification levels of the workforce.
The report describes the use and monitoring of VNFIL arrangements across education levels, including
• Compulsory and secondary general education
• Vocational education and training and adult education including
o Initial VET (I-VET)
o Continuing VET
o Adult Education
• Higher Education
• Non-affiliated or formative VNFIL – i.e. recognising skills not related to formal education ot training programmes and qualifications
The authors of the report identify that both the use of VNFIL and the monitoring of VNFIL is fragmented across the EU, in terms of why, what and how data is collected. The most developed sector is I-VET, typically offered to 16-20 year olds.
The most comprehensive system identified appears to be the validations des acquis de l’experience (VAE), which has been established in the French system since 2002. Within the French system gathering of national data and sharing of data between ministries and the public is a norm. A legal basis for monitoring of VAE has been established since 2014. This monitoring applies to both public and private organisations (apart from those Chambers of Commerce that make awards), and allows monitoring of candidates and their pathways,
The Icelandic system focusses on those who have not completed upper secondary education, and data gathered about the numbers availing of VNFIL; number of recognised units of education or training achieved; subjects validated; hours used in the process and number of interviews with counsellors. This data is used to review funding levels for the process, and cost effectiveness of the process.
It is also noted that many universities are autonomous, and thus implement their own approaches to VNFIL and monitoring, and that data related to this may not be collated and analysed nationally. In Spain, VNFIL is carried out in relation to skills deficits identified in specific vocational fields, with a view to accreditation of employees who have the correct skills for the industry, but require validation to gain employment. This is an example of data collection by specific industry representatives leading to an action using VNFIL. In this case, monitoring of the outcomes of VNFIL has a purpose that is connected to the original data collection.
The value of VNFIL is illustrated in a Dutch study (ProfitWise, 2011), which indicates that Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) ‘stimulates participation in formal learning activities and increases the probability of obtaining a degree’. The study also showed increased self-perception of their own employability for participants who were employees aged between 40 and 50. These positive effects were linked to the achievement of academic degrees.
Variations of type of VNFIL and purpose of VNFIL is reflected in variations of approaches to monitoring.
The report goes on to highlight some of the gaps, challenges, and enablers of Monitoring of VNFIL. The authors note that it is important to identify how the qualification was achieved when gathering data (was it achieved through a VNFIL process, or through a formal learning process?), particularly when learners are achieving qualifications that are on a national framework of qualifications. This becomes important when determining how many/what proportion of the population is seeking VNFIL (RPL). In addition, the following items were identified as issues explaining lack of monitoring, and for consideration (this is not an exhaustive list):
• Lack of definition of VNFIL
• Lack of systems for gathering data
• Inconsistency of interpretation – different models across and within different countries, regions and sectors
• Lack of legal/regulatory frameworks to support monitoring
• Lack of central data collection
• Fragmentation of arrangements and variation in data collected
• Prevalence of small-scale initiatives
• Difficulty of monitoring when data is not published in a coherent format
• Evidence of outputs and impact is limited
The authors of the report go on to recommend a number of actions which could be taken, and which potentially provide a range of discussion topics for the RPL Network. The recommendations are clearly drawn from the authors’ observation of practices.
Overall, I learned a lot about the variation of practices for VNFIL as a result of reading this publication, and would recommend reading and interrogating it in more depth to get the full flavour of the situation.
Recommended actions stated in the report include:
1. Collection of Data
a. Development of data collection databases that gather information about:
i. Participation at different stages of validation
ii. Type of qualification (level, field of study) or outcomes (e.g. Certificate)
iii. Achievement and success rate
iv. User characteristics
v. Length of procedure
vi. Cost of the procedure for the institution and the user (in comparison with the cost of achieving the qualification through a formal learning route
b. Make data available online
c. Gather data on the outcomes and impact of VNFIL for users if possible (based on surveys and internal or external evaluations)
2. Monitoring recommendations for national or regional stakeholders
a. Taking stock of existing systems
b. Guiding VNFIL providers on how to keep registers to monitor activities and encourage publication of data
c. Develop common databases in cooperation with other stakeholders, for instance vy creating working groups to assess whether and how data could be centralised, using common categories
d. Adoption of legislation to clarify roles and responsibilities could be considered, but is not a prerequisite.
3. If some central databases are already in place:
a. Encourage the creation of working groups involving all stakeholders to assess how the data compiled at regional or national level could be improved. These discussions could cover aspects such as the length and cost of the procedure, or how to improve coverage of VNFIL arrangements;
b. Complement available evidence on take-up by launching studies to measure the impact of validation on users;
c. Identify and recognise good practice in collecting data in relation to validation(including outcomes and impact) and consider the use of awards or awareness raising events to promote the benefits of such approaches;
d. Use data for planning purposes and informal policy developments on VNFIL, for example, budgeting and awareness-raising activities.
CEDEFOP: Monitoring the use of validation of non-formal and informal learning. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2016.
KWETB, October, 2016.
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12th October 2016 at 11:30 am #539
Hi Angela- thank you for this, its very useful. I am hoping it inspires others to read the report and input alos.
From your read, is there anything you think we should address as a network? How could we help move ourselves along nationally and locally with regard to monitoring?
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