Vocational qualifications and competences

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1 Vocational qualifications and competences Transparency and recognition Jens Bjørnåvold

2 A European Qualifications Framework The Joint Interim report of the Commission and Council, March 2004, states that: The European labour market cannot function without a European framework to stand as a reference for the recognition of qualifications. A framework of this kind should naturally be based on the national frameworks which themselves must be coherent and cover higher education and vocational education and training.

3 Transparency and recognition of VET qualifications and competences; 4 decades of European effort Harmonisation; Directives on recognition of regulated professions; 1960s until onwards Comparison and alignment; European 5-level structure, the CEDEFOP approach; 1980s and early 1990s Transparency: Decentralise recognition, give actors themselves the necessary information; 1990s and onwards Credit Transfer and common reference levels, 1990s and onwards

4 (Simplified) Directive on recognition of professional qualifications Expected to pass Parliament and Council 2004 Reaffirms existing sectoral agreements (health sector) Reaffirms the general system for recognition of qualifications in regulated professions Introduces new mechanisms for establishing voluntary agreements on professional qualifications (professional platforms) Covers professional qualifications at all levels, not only Higher Education.

5 Transparency of qualifications and competences Makes it possible for individuals, employers, educational providers to make informed, decentralised decisions on the content and profile of qualifications and competences A wide range of initiatives; fragmented, not easily accessible; not user friendly Decision in 2002 to create one framework for Transparency of qualifications, EUROPASS, bringing together all instruments and services supporting Transparency Commission proposal on EUROPASS 2003, Council and parliament decision by April/May EUROPASS operational from Spring 2005

6 Credit transfer for Higher education and for VET Highly relevant to the discussion on recognition and transparency Allows individuals to transfer and combine qualifications Working group on credit transfer in VET (introduction of B.Sellin)

7 Weaknesses of approaches Fragmented developments covering limited areas (regulated professions, Universities, VET). Solutions have frequently been developed frtom the perspective of systems, not citizens (and their lifelong and lifewide learning). Address public, initial education and training, - less continuing education and training (for example provided by the private sector). No common European currency for qualifications and competences; you are entitled to mobility but we cannot guarantee a free transfer of your qualifications and competences.

8 Towards 2010 Strategies on recognition and transparency can not be treated as sectoral issues, belonging to VET, Higher education etc. Need one integrated approach. Need a lifelong learning approach to transparency (EUROPASS) and recognition (European Qualifications Framework)

9 REQUIREMENTS to a Qualifications framework There s no intention to impose on a school, a university or an employer any kind of legal obligation to automatically recognise qualifications, but the framework must allow admission officers and employers to take swift and informed recognition decisions. The framework must be flexible enough to accommodate different national and sectoral approaches, and different learning pathways, while not imposing particular solutions on the national level. It should be a meta-framework making it possible to locate a particular qualification

10 Link policy processes; Bologna and Copenhagen A framework must combine and integrate the qualifications framework being developed for the higher education area, following Berlin, and the common reference levels being established for VET, following the mandate of the Copenhagen declaration

11 Basis for a European Qualifications Build on existing initiatives: Framework Firstly, quality assurance: the necessary mutual trust, which must underpin a qualifications framework, can only stem from quality assurance instruments which are appropriately compatible and credible. Secondly we need level descriptors from kindergarten via VET and HE to lifelong learning.

12 Basis for a framework Thirdly we need Credits linked to learning Outcomes. The ECTS and the credit system under development for the vocational education and training must be linked together and gradually be developed into an integrated credit system for lifelong learning. Fourthly, a range of instruments developed from a lifelong learning perspective: the new Europass for transparency of qualifications and competences; the common principles for validation of non-formal and informal learning; and the common principles being developed for lifelong guidance.

13 Sectoral aspect Crucial to involve sectoral stakeholders (ICT) in this development.

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