“It is crucial to recognize volunteering as a source of learning”
How Member States defined the recognition of skills acquired through non-formal and informal learning? State of play with Gabriella Civico, Director of the European Volunteer Centre (CEV).
Why is this topic important for CEV?
GC: Volunteering is widely acknowledged as an outstanding source of learning and an important contributor to personal and professional development. It is crucial to recognise volunteering as a source of non-formal and informal learning. However, a balance must be kept in order not to move the focus of volunteering from the benefit to others to the benefit of the volunteer in the form of qualifications or recognition of skills.
What has happened so far?
GC: The EC “Recommendation on Validation of Non Formal and Informal Learning (VNFIL)” has led to the development of a “Roadmap”, an “Inventory on Validation Systems in Europe” and the “European Guidelines for VNFIL”. CEV is a member of the EQF and Europass Advisory groups to contribute to the concrete action and implementation in the Member States. Countries generally tend to emphasize the role of vocational training rather than the role of volunteering organisations with respect to the learning opportunities that they provide to volunteers of all ages. As regard to the latter, the Vol+ tool developed through a collaboration between the Spanish National Volunteering Platform and the responsible Ministry is a promising practice and has demonstrated effectiveness in improving the employability of volunteers in Spain through validation of their skills and competencies gained whilst volunteering.
What more needs to be done?
GC: The involvement of non-state actors in the implementation of the EC Recommendation is a necessity for successfully putting in place validation arrangements. In this context, CEV is currently developing, as part of an Erasmus+ project, a tool for Validation of transversal competencies gained through voluntary experience, the LEVER UP Model, which aims to increase their employability and mobility options.
We also need more coherent and coordinated processes that will increase labour force potential with more validated skills that are relevant for the modern labour market, contributing to a better match of skills demand and supply.
Non-state actors should work together with Public Authorities to ensure that the identification, documentation, assessment and certification mechanisms, that can support and/or facilitate VNFIL, move beyond tests and examinations and even portfolios. Other methods such as declarative methods, observations or simulation games can be more widely used especially in a targeted way with disadvantaged and vulnerable groups perhaps most in need of making their learning visible.
Many other challenges remain: how VNFIL is funded; a less fragmented approach in the development of tools for VNFIL, differences in language & terminologies used by actors from different sectors.
The 2019 EC report on VNFIL will hopefully mark further progress towards coordinated and streamlined efforts concerning the possibilities available to citizens for VNFIL.