Transversal Skills in the Spotlight at the European Commission Validation Event

TRANSVAL-EU partner, the Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP) was invited as speaker and participant to the EC Validation event taking place on November 24 and 30 (2021). This event was the follow-up of the Validation Festival (first edition was in 2019 and it was postponed last year because of the pandemic). This year’s edition focused on the revision of the Cedefop Guidelines on the validation of non-formal and informal learning (last update was in 2015). The aim was to gather feedback from experts and practitioners on 4 thematic areas:

  1. Validation in national skills strategies (integrated approach)
  2. Making validation a reality for individuals
  3. Developing high-quality validation methodologies
  4. Exploring complementary routes to certification

Over 90 participants took part in the event representing all EU countries. The work on the thematic areas was split in 4 respective workshops. LLLP’s presentation of TRANSVAL-EU took place under workshop C “Developing high-quality validation methodologies” and therefore LLLP focused on tools and methods for the validation of transversal skills. It addressed 4 main issues regarding methodologies which are currently relevant in the project:

  1.   Research and analysis of existing tools and methods
  2.   Design of one tool: a referential for transversal competences
  3.   Selection of tools and methods for validation and guidance
  4.   Adaptation of tools and methods for the experimentation

On the research results of good and inspiring practices for the validation and guidance and transversal skills, LLLP noted that over 50 tools were collected. Besides the list of tools, the information collected concerned: Name, initiator, scope, languages, country(ies) of implementation, sector, target group, type, stage concerned, competences concerned, if digital, success factors (eg sustainability, impact), and challenges (eg for replicability). Some of these good practices will be presented in the EU State of play report on the validation of transversal skills (to be published early 2022). Other practices are analysed for their potential for transferability into TRANSVAL-EU experimentation and training towards practitioners.

LLLP briefly presented the new tool developed under TRANSVAL-EU, namely, the project transversal competence framework aligned with EQF levels (soon ready for publication). This includes a selection of 12 transversal skills and competences that partners chose to focus on during the field trials experimentation. Such a tool is a basis for the validation of transversal competences and will soon be completed by specific indicators (the “standards” upon which the assessment will be conducted) and adapted to the national contexts.

In parallel, partners are working on the selection of tools and methods for the experimentation with practitioners and end-users for each stage of validation (identification, documentation, assessment and certification). The criteria for the tool selection are that they are useful for one or more of the phases of the validation process (incl. guidance); transferable or usable in practice, accessible to all partners and affordable; grounded in research; and show evidence of sustainability.

Finally, the pending challenge regarding methodologies for the validation of transversal skills is the adaptation of the selection tools and methods to the national context in the 5 EU countries involved in the experimentation. This is of course a language or translation issue but not only. How can we use those methodology in existing validation or guidance processes? Should it come as a separate process or be integrated fully in existing validation or guidance processes? How can we analyse and ensure whether these tools and methods prove results that are reliable, valid, and therefore ensure the acceptance and trust from practitioners and end-users or beneficiaries? Partners will look into these questions in the following months.

In terms of feedback and participation at the event, LLLP’s presentation was inspiring for the audience and received a good level of feedback, questions, and expressions of interest. Besides, LLLP was not the sole advocate for transversal skills in the audience, which is very encouraging. This means chances are very high that transversal skills will be an important focus of the Cedefop Guidelines to be updated in 2022.