What is validation?
Validation is a process of confirmation by a competent/authorized body that learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and/or competences) acquired by an individual in a formal, non-formal or informal setting have been assessed against predefined criteria and are compliant with the requirements of a validation standard. Validation typically leads to certification. Certification is issuing of a document – recognized, issued and accredited by a certification body as guarantor of the quality of the document.
Validation opportunities are aimed at achieving a qualification and might provide a link to the formal education and training system. But some approaches are focused only on building self-awareness and helping people understand their competences. Second approach is more relevant for senior citizens but, of course, some of them can validate their knowledge and skills gained in non-formal and informal education for future education and training in formal education system.
In “European guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning” (2009) (updated in 2015), several perspectives are presented: individual, organisational, national, and European.
The validation process includes:
- identification of learning outcomes;
- documentation of learning outcomes;
- certification of learning outcomes achieved in the form of a qualification, credit points (ECTS, ECVET) leading to a qualification or in another accepted form.
The rapid changes on the labour market, the global competition and the aging of population requires capacity use of society, including knowledge and skills of senior citizens, regardless of the place and means of acquisition. The potential, opportunities and expectations of senior citizens for development are increasingly based on the ever-expanding base of competences acquired in their life and work, including non-formal and informal learning. The means to recognize this kind of knowledge and skills are their validation.
Validation is one of the most important tools for the achieving flexibility at the labour market and providing an adequate and efficient human resources for different companies and organisations. The provision of an affordable, reliable and transparent validation process increases the value of human capital and opportunities for achieving compliance of its quality with new requirements.
Therefore, specified in the main trends in the lifelong learning validation of knowledge and skills acquired through non-formal and informal learning is one of the priorities in the action to achieve the objectives of the European Commission set out in the “Europe 2020. Integrated guidelines for the economic and employment policies of the Member States” and “European strategy for lifelong learning 2014-2020”. This perception is in the conceptions and strategic visions for the European Union. Access to quality education and training is not a privilege but a right of every person in Europe.
The Europe 2020 Strategy stresses the need for more flexible learning pathways and sees the validation of non-formal and informal learning as a pre-requisite and as a strong incentive for the fulfillment of the agreed social targets: 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion, 75% of the 20-64 year-olds should be employed, reduction of school drop-out rates below 10%.
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A glossary of key terms used in the validation of non-formal and informal learning: