Assessing competences in enterprises. Main findings from Cedefop studies of Validation of non-formal and informal learning in European enterprises


Ernesto Villalba

When workplace is a key learning arena, the questions are: How validation can strengthen the individual’s opportunity on the labour market? How can added value be created for implementing VPL in working life recognised by employers and employees and other stakeholders? Assessing competences in enterpises . Main findings from Cedefop studies of Validation Of non-formal and informal learning in Eropean enterprises.

Standards for Trades validation of professional skills
Trades validation is a validation of an individual's skills conducted under the conditions and supervision of different trades. In some cases, it is integrated within the Swedish education system, for instance within the municipal adult education, but most often it is conducted outside of formal education. Instead, the national recognition and legitimacy derives from a mandate given by the trade's stakeholders and companies.

Occupational skills requirements are the focus of trades validation, that is those skills that are in demand in the workplace and that makes the individual employable in an area of expertise or in a professional capacity. That is why trades validation often is the first choice when the aim is to improve the individual's opportunities in the labor market and to obtain an occupational qualification. Companies and organizations can also use trades validation internally to promote strategical skills supply.

Validation for recruitment can answer the question of the individual's employability, with or without complementary training, and if the individual meets the skills criteria for obtaining the relevant occupational qualifications.

When trades validation is used as a tool for strategic skills supply within a company or an organization the perspective is somewhat different. It is the skills of employees that are subject to assessment and the need for skills development that can be identified. For this purpose, there is a need to perform a gap analysis compared to identified future skills in demand. The aim is to contribute to sustainable competitiveness.

The standards are part of the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education reporting back to the Government on the assignment to develop standards for trades validation of professional skills. The results of the mission were reported to the Government Offices, 2017 January 31st.

The primary purpose of the standards is to support trades in the development and evolution of validation models of high quality and sustainability. It can be adapted to the needs and conditions of different occupations and competence areas.

The developed standards and associated guidelines for trades validation of professional skills consists of three parts:
• Standards for quality assured trades models for the validation of professional skills.
• Guidelines for the performance and adaptation of trades validation.
• Guidelines for developing trades models for validation.

The standards and associated guidelines is aimed primarily at those who develop, manage and are operationally working with trades validation of professional skills.

The development of standards is based mainly on the analysis of practices in the trades validation and accumulated experience in the business area. The EU Recommendation on validation of non-formal and informal learning in 2012 and the updated Guidelines on VNFIL in 2015 are important basis.

The work was performed in close collaboration with the Trades network of validation. Fifteen representatives from the network was appointed to a group of experts in 2016, working with the content of the standards and guidelines. The Agency has compiled the material from the Expert group to a draft standards and guidelines, which then was referred to the Trades network for feedback and consolidation.

The following uses of the standards have been identified:
• To declare the content of trades validation for the convenience of users and clients.
• To ensure the quality of trades models for greater legitimacy and equality in performance.
• To support the development of trades models to cover new occupations.
• To promote acceptance and transferability of results of validation between different actors.
• To promote the use of trades validation, both for recruitment, outplacement and strategic skills supply.