The term ‘EVC’ (Erkennen Van Competenties – recognition of competences) is used to refer to the validation of non-formal and informal learning.
Validation can be used to get admission to an education and training programme, to request exemptions from (parts of) the study programme and to obtain a work experience certificate. Validation is a matter of policy in different sectors and the arrangements in these sectors differ.
Validation policy is aimed at the general population, but there are specific measures and initiatives that are targeted at low-skilled persons, unemployed people, migrants and refugees.
VPL in Higher Education
The VPL-system is decentralised with each association in higher education elaborating their own rules of procedure. The procedures result in a proof of acquired competences which can then lead to the appropriate exemptions/shortened study duration and credit certificates and/or a proof of qualification. The procedure starts often from a portfolio and typically includes other elements such as assessments, structured interviews and behavioural observation.
Validation in the Labour Market
People can receive a certificate of work experience if they demonstrate that they have acquired the skills needed to perform an occupation. The social partners give their advice on the variety of professions for which a certificate of work experience is relevant. It is based on the competences related to a certain profession, no matter where one has achieved those competences. If they pass the test, they receive a certificate for work experience, granted by the Flemish government.
A sound definition of ‘skills audit’ has not been developed as such in Flanders and generally the EU definition of skills audit is adopted.
Validation in the Third Sector
The cultural, youth and sports sector are ideal places for giving attention to the recognition of competences. Given the sector’s concerns that a higher degree of formalisation could undermine the voluntary nature of activity, there is no strong support in the youth sector in developing formal qualifications for voluntary youth workers. However a new policy on the validation of competences acquired through courses including apprenticeships, based on competence profiles, leads to the award of certificates.
Participants in these types of training activities issue certificates of participation, which are mainly based on self-assessment practices rather than on institutional or formal assessments. The focus on validation in the sense of ‘identification’ and ‘documentation’ and less so on ‘assessment’ and ‘certification’. This new system is due to be evaluated by the end of 2018.
Funding of VPL
There is no funding available from the government for validation within the higher education sector. The education and training institutions have to bear the various costs of validation together with individuals who also bear some of the associated costs. Thus stakeholders in this sector feel that on the one hand validation is promoted but that on the other hand it is not financially supported, which affects its acceptance at institutional level.