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ECVET ‘Today and Tomorrow’

Martyn Haines reflects on the ECVET ‘Peer Learning Activity’ concluding in Malta in December 2015….

After the UK Erasmus+ National Agency for VET had decided to extend its team of ECVET experts, members new and old were asked to propose a programme of activities for 2015. A peer learning activity (PLA) was subsequently agreed, to explore whether the validation, recognition and transfer of learning (achieved and assessed) during a period of geographical mobility, and lying at the heart of ECVET philosophy, was well supported in VET systems, policies and practices.

The UK team opted to focus the exercise initially on Scotland with examples of good practice sought from within the Scottish VET community. Although attempts were made to claim the good practice mantle, it was often difficult to ascribe complete success. Many learning outcomes and/or units were being achieved in different host countries by focussing on what were ‘soft’ or partial targets – for example, the use of a work experience unit, assessed on the learner’s return and onsite assessment reliant on visiting assessors from the home institution.

The UK Team extended the scope of the PLA, encouraging ECVET expert teams from other European countries to join their crusade under the heading “ECVET Today and Tomorrow”. Significant interest was shown, securing participation from experts in six European countries: Bulgaria, Malta, Iceland, Ireland, Slovenia and Scotland (UK). Close to 20 expert participants came together during an initial workshop (Glasgow, May 2015) to agree on a common question set, centred on VET assessment and quality assurance practices. Over the summer, data was compiled, collected, analysed and summarised, with a view to enabling fuller discussion and exploration.

During a second and final workshop (Valletta, December 2015), strengths and successes were confirmed in the different national systems, alongside areas requiring deeper effort and reinforced action if the delivery of high-quality (and cross border) vocational education and training is to be achieved. Common areas for development centred on:

  • the need for countries to create a single system of quality-assured VET mobility that is either self-regulated (by institutions) or regulated at national level (by government);
  • the need to secure labour market input to the development of VET qualifications, driven by the development of national occupational standards;
  • the need to continue to promote the value of geographical mobility to learners, through their active involvement in all stages of mobility (before, during, after);
  • the need for convergence among existing European tools and instruments that support geographical mobility (for example, EQF, EQAVET, Europass);
  • the need to build skills and capacity among those involved in the quality assurance of VET and VET mobility, building on existing principles, frameworks and good practices.

Whilst some conclusions had a familiar ring to them, the consultation, sharing, discussion and debate with expert peers from other European countries and the establishment of new networks had an inherent value. Perceived strengths were confirmed and ambitions for continuing development and improvement shared and agreed, providing the potential for increasingly effective collective action in the future.


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