The future of vocational learning and skills recognition

If you could help to shape the future of learning and skills recognition, which recommendations would you give? 

High-level practitioners and experts in the field of vocational education and training (VET) from across Europe discussed the topic at PEARL, a two-day event in Birmingham. It was hosted in July by the Erasmus+ UK National Agency (NA) with the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) Experts

The team have now published the PEARL report, which aims to inform the direction of future national and European policy and financing initiatives related to mobility in the field of VET. Laura Contrasti and Stephen Green, the UK NA’s representatives at PEARL, tell us more about the event and its outcome: 

“PEARL (Pathways to Enhanced Assessment and Recognition for those achieving Learning within and beyond national borders) was a two-day event held in Birmingham, UK on 4-5 July 2017. The UK National Agency (NA), together with its pool of ECVET Experts, hosted the Transnational Cooperation Activity (TCA) to explore the implementation of ECVET and other transparency and recognition tools.

The event brought together experts, from policy and practice, with a view to confirming the need for change, aligning proposed developments with the New Skills Agenda for Europe, identifying obstacles, synergies and progression strategies and, ultimately, presenting a Call for Action. A total of 98 participants, representing 27 countries, participated in plenary sessions and thematic workshops. Building on the successes of previous peer learning activities, participants reflected on the progression and use of European transparency and recognition tools.

Four thematic workshops formed the core of the programme addressing the following questions/topics:

  1. Building Quality Assurance Frameworks to Support High Quality ECVET Mobility;
  2. Are Employers Adequately Equipped to Effectively Support ECVET within Future Longer Duration Mobility Programmes?;
  3. The Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning – Can ECVET Help to Put Validation Policies into Practice; and
  4. Are Current ECVET Tools and Instruments the best they can be to Validate both Transversal and Occupational Competences acquired during Short and Longer Duration Mobility? 

The workshops provided a platform to discuss frameworks and tools for the recognition and validation of learning achievement within and across the participating countries, with presentations providing an insight into different examples of policy and practice Activities further highlighted examples from across the UK, underlining differences and complementarities. The tools and examples hosted in the ECVET Mobility Toolkit were also actively promoted.

As part of the event’s cultural engagement, a canal boat trip allowed participants to see some of Birmingham’s heritage as the ‘city of a thousand trades’. The Erasmus+ UK National Agency’s VET delivery team, based in Birmingham, enjoyed welcoming UK ECVET Experts, participants and fellow staff from across Europe, to Birmingham, sharing some of its history. 

Workshops continued on the second day with the event finally drawn to a close with a panel discussion in which emerging thoughts and questions were quickly yet informally addressed by institutional and participant representatives (European Commission, Cedefop, Erasmus+ UK National Agency, UK ECVET Expert Team). Panel inputs were valuable in terms of providing initial perspectives on possible future actions and priorities.

The event provided an unprecedented opportunity for UK experts and practitioners to share their experiences with peers from other European countries. As a follow up to the event, the team have published the PEARL Report and Recommendations (552 KB) which presents key findings from the event and the composite workshops. The NA now looks forward to discussing and progressing these findings during the Annual ECVET Forum (Malta, 19-20 October 2017) and in future ECVET-related activities.”

Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #VocationalPathways.

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