Essay: Transparency and recognition of skills in the European Union

For people who go to work or continue their studies in another town or in the country of origin or abroad, it is important to obtain quick and easy recognition of skills and qualifications they have. This contributes to improving skills and increase employability.

The European Union has created several tools to support transparency and recognition of knowledge, skills and competences, so that citizens can more easily study and work in any EU country.

There were a number of initiatives to ensure greater transparency and facilitating the recognition of competences and qualifications in Europe. These include:

  • the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) – allows comparison of qualifications systems and national frameworks and their levels, qualifications obtained in different countries and systems in Europe makes it easier to understand;
  • validation of non-formal and informal – is a way of recognizing the knowledge, skills and competencies of people, regardless of educational system in which they were acquired. Validation involves identification, assessment and certification. If validated, these learning experiences can become more visible and can be better used for further study or work. EU countries are invited to take the necessary measures to implement the validation system until 2018. Guidelines for the implementation of these provisions in the Member States are under development. European
  • Inventory is updated regularly to provide a more accurate picture of the current practice of validation;
    Europass – a set of five standardized documents and a passport of skills available in 26 languages, designed to allow users to submit their skills, qualifications and experience throughout Europe;
  • credit systems: ECTS and ECVET for higher education and training;
  • arrangements for quality assurance in higher education and vocational education and training sector.

At the European Commission stakeholders ‘views collected through online public consultation:’ The European skills and qualifications “. This consultation addresses the problems faced by Member States in terms of transparency and recognition of competences and qualifications when they move within the same country or in another EU country.

The European Quality Assurance Reference Framework is a tool to promote continuous improvement of education and training. It is intended that this would help improve the quality of education and training, and to strengthen mutual trust between education and training systems. Also, considering the acceptance and recognition of qualifications and skills acquired in different countries and different educational systems.
The framework enables an improvement in the quality assurance systems through the creation of national reference points for quality assurance, participation in the European network and develop a national approach for improving quality assurance systems.

The frame is a voluntary system that can be used by public authorities and other bodies in charge of quality assurance.

To be smart and to overcome the economic crisis requires better qualified people.

It is expected that the number of people who apply to training with low qualifications will decline. At the same time, are expected to increase demand for skills training to a higher level. Also, mid-level qualifications will be sought.

In this context, adult education and training will enhance its attractiveness, fulfilling an important role in overcoming the economic crisis. It is necessary to strengthen the relevance of training on employment, and professional development of the powers of teachers and trainers.

Overcoming skills mismatches and improving the employability of young people will be achieved through an appropriate approach to ensure quality education and training processes.

Quality assurance can contribute to increased mobility through mutual recognition of learning outcomes in different countries, making it a better response to economic and societal challenges.

In Europe adopted a recommendation on establishing a European reference framework for quality assurance in education and training. Which sets a reference tool to help Member States to promote and monitor continuous improvement of their systems of education and training. Framework to improve the quality of education and training, as well as increasing transparency and consistency of policy development on education and training in the Member States, thereby promoting mutual trust, labor mobility, mobility of learners and lifelong learning.

The framework comprises a cycle consisting of planning, implementation, evaluation and review. Each of these phases is characterized by quality criteria and indicative descriptors that apply to the education and training system, the education and training providers and award of qualifications. It is a systematic approach that emphasizes quality monitoring and improving quality by combining internal and external evaluation, review and other processes for improvement, supported by measurement and qualitative analysis.

The proposed indicators to measure the improvement of the quality of education and training take into account information on investment in training of teachers and trainers, the rate of participation in education and training programs, the rate of completion of education and training programs, using skills acquired in work, unemployment rate, prevalence of vulnerable groups, mechanisms for identifying training needs in the labor market.
With this recommendation requires Member States to designate a national point of reference for quality assurance and participate in the European network (network EQAVET).

Quality assurance mechanisms in the system of education and training

Following the provisions of the European reference framework for quality assurance over 20 countries strengthened their approaches to quality assurance. Modelling the national system of education and training was made possible by the contribution of this framework for 14 European countries. Some of these countries had approaches compatible with the European reference framework for quality assurance, so they were forced to significantly modify existing systems of quality assurance.

In some European Union countries as a condition for public funding, legislation requires that education and training providers to apply certain quality standards. It is necessary that all education and training systems to provide for periodic review and develop action plans.

Some indicators are used by most Member States. This is the case for the rate of participation in education and training programs and completion rate of education and training.

Even if other indicators could provide key evidence on how to ensure a better alignment with labor market needs, they are less used. Among them we can mention: “the use of qualifications at work” or “proportion of employed learners at some point after the end of the training period.” An explanation of how difficult can be reduced using data mining.

A system of education and training of high quality qualifications facilitate further development, mobility and permeability between VET and higher education.

At European level there is evidence to support the idea that quality assurance in education and training contributes to gaining access to higher education. The qualifications in education and training systems that meet the quality criteria are recognized as a normal qualification for entry into higher education or have a dual status, that is both educational and professional.

Quality assurance mechanisms in the education and training providers

For a supplier quality assurance in education and training is important to have effective leadership. It is also important that teachers and trainers are of high quality but it is a contribution and support in learning. It is shown that in learning, education and training provider to relate to the economic community at regional and national levels.

At European level desirable for Member States to have a common quality assurance framework for VET providers, which is compatible with the European reference framework for quality assurance in education and training. Almost all countries have a system of external evaluation of education and training providers and 22 countries require education and training providers to hold internal quality assurance mechanisms.

In Europe, the most common form of external review is inspection. In general, these examinations are conducted by external inspection services covering both schools and initial vocational education and training and general education. There are other forms of external assessment used. Thus, some L??nder in Germany require suppliers to implement quality management systems such as Q2E, EFQM, ISO 9001 Malta QZS or require providers to submit quality audits carried out by external experts. In other countries there are insurance agents or quality assessment, such as, for example, the Agency for Quality Assurance in Education and Training of the Flemish Community of Belgium, Danish Institute of Evaluation and the Spanish National Institute for evaluating education and training.

Self-assessment of its suppliers contribute to developing a culture of quality in education and training institutions. Each VET provider operating in different contexts. Therefore, self-assessment enables organizations to develop a framework and a set of measures that are appropriate to the context and reality of each organization separately.

On the other hand, an important challenge is to ensure the quality of work-based learning component size.

However, criteria, descriptors and indicators do not provide specific guidance on quality assurance of work-based learning component. This weakness has been addressed through the Bruges Communiqu??. It calls on countries to develop, by 2015, a common framework for quality assurance for all providers of education and training to apply and associated workplace learning and which is compatible with the European Quality Assurance Reference .

CONCLUSIONS

We conclude that in European countries within the European Quality Assurance Reference helped to promote a culture of quality in education and training. However, measures have focused on providing institutional, school-based (mainly education and initial training and part of continuing professional education and training). These measures have had a visible impact less on work-based learning component and the formal provision.
In using the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework, Member States have found that it takes cooperation with other European instruments for quality assurance and transparency.

Measures relating to quality education and training is aimed at quality of learning outcomes. This involves the acquisition of professional skills and good cross by students of education and training.

According to the last survey on adult skills (PIAAC), it was found that adults who hold qualifications at the same level showed significantly different skill levels.

The European Quality Assurance Reference Framework promotes a better approach to education and training non-formal and based on the work. Also, the importance of increasingly numerous are permanently available and free resources (OER) and open online courses and mass (Mooc).

Improving transparency and impact of mutual recognition by the European reference framework for quality assurance can be achieved through more explicit attention to quality assurance in developing and awarding qualifications, by establishing links with the European Qualifications Framework, the European Credit System for Education and training and the Europass certificate supplement.

It is necessary correlation between the quality and competence of the results achieved by students in education and training, on the one hand, and the development of descriptors and indicators.

Erasmus + can provide support for cross-border cooperation in quality assurance in education and training by creating strategic partnerships and alliances at sectoral level, supporting the involvement of all stakeholders.

At European level need to be further strengthened cross-sectoral dialogue with higher education and adult education on quality assurance, and support for continued dialogue with EQAVET network.

In recent years increased ability to move people between different education and training, both in the original traditional educational paths and to update and expand their knowledge and skills throughout their lives. Thus, many learning opportunities can not be assigned to conventional classification systems. Students are now able to create their own learning path by selecting opportunities in different sub-systems and forms of delivery (including learning resources delivered through Information and Communication Technology). This brings a need to increase confidence in the quality of such opportunities. Appear increasingly sectoral approaches and hence type and the need to identify basic principles and guidance are available in all areas and to be applicable to all qualifications. Also, to meet these challenges, it would be useful to discuss EQAVET in a comprehensive context of all instruments for transparency and quality assurance.

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