Validation of non-formal and informal learning is defined as ‘a process of confirmation by an authorised body that an individual has acquired learning outcomes measured against a relevant standard’.
The analysis examines the degree of development experienced in relation to the 11 principles set out in the Council recommendation on validation. It is important to note that the Council recommendation is not prescriptive regarding how progress or achievement should be measured in relation to the principles it outlines. Table 1 provides a possible interpretation of the level of comprehensiveness on each recommendation principle, based on the available information and on the information collected across the different areas and subsectors.
All Member States have taken up the challenge set in 2012 and have been putting in place, each in its own context, national arrangements for validation. The analysis shows that a large majority of the countries have introduced measures in line with the principles outlined in the Council recommendation.
KEY CHALLENGES FOR THE FUTURE
The information gathered for the inventory project shows that there are some key challenges for future consideration:
(a) the main challenge remains to make validation available to all individuals in need, irrespective of their living, working or education/learning situation. This implies that the system is user focused, making validation a reality for all, that works together with other existing services and policies in a lifelong learning perspective. This will need to build on existing good practices in different areas and subsectors and scale up those initiatives to increase the degree of comprehensiveness with which the Council recommendation principles are met.
This necessarily implies that the practitioners are well trained and understand their role;
(b) there are significant differences in the use of validation between the education and training area and the labour market and third sector areas. Strengthening cooperation between key stakeholders across the three broad areas can help create ‘bridges’ and ensure outcomes of validation that take place in one sector/area can be used in another;
(c) constrained public budgets are an obstacle to the implementation of validation. The 2018 inventory shows that validation activities have a secure and allocated budget only in a handful of countries; fees in many countries are covered by the learners themselves (at least partly), or from within learning provider existing budgets. This limits the use of validation initiatives by disadvantaged groups. A challenge for many project-based initiatives is the lack of sustainable, long-term funding;
(d) there is also a need for stronger monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to enable better assessment and documentation of costs, benefits and impact of validation in general, and of different types of specific validation initiatives and methodologies. Today data collection on different aspects of validation remains very limited. Data on costs, participation, type of qualification or outcomes achieved, user characteristics, success rate, length of procedure are not normally collected.