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ICOVET

1. General Information

General Information
Informal Competences and their Validation
Name of BP
ICOVET - Informal Competences and their Validation
Implemented by
Institute of Educational Sciences Bucharest, AKC, BFI Peters GmbH & Co. CRED, Deutsches Jugendinstitut e.V., Ergon Kek, INDOR, Knownet, Nexus Research Co-operative, p&w praxis und wissenschaft projekt gmbh, Waterford Youth Service
Year established
2004
Country
Romania, Germany, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain, Ireland
Description of the action

The ICOVET project examined strategies to make the informally or non-formally gained competences visible in order to enable young people to better understand their own competences and to learn how to use them in engaging with the formal world of vocational education and training, give teachers in schools of general education a better understanding of pupils` competences acquired outside schools and enable teachers to systematically use these competences in preparing for VET, give young people better access to training and employment in companies, likewise enable companies or training institutions to systematically use these competences in VET.

Principle aim or goal of the program

The aim of ICOVET was to develop and test validation procedures for vocational skills of young people gained outside the framework of institutional education.

Beneficiaries
VET centers and providers, Young students and workers, SMEs
Keywords
Competences, self-evaluation, non formal learning, informal learning
Contact

Institute for Educational Training
E-mail: info@ise.ro 
Phone: +40 (0) 21 313 64 91

2. Introduction

Young people tend to acquire a range and variety of skills and competences through processes of non-formal and informal learning. These skills may be developed when they take on certain responsibilities within their own family, when they meet up with friends, or when they get involved in sport, music-making, through involvement in employment or indeed as a result of voluntary or community work. These skills may be related to being able to work in a team, being able to organize things, being flexible, and being reliable. Young people are often not even aware of these themselves.

These competences that have been acquired therefore may well be extremely relevant in terms of the formal arena of vocational education and training. These skills and competences however cannot be used systematically, because these competences tend to be invisible. This is especially the case for young people, for whom the experience of engaging with the formal environment of the school or training centre has not been successful.

3. Regional extent

This is an initiative implemented in Romania, Germany, United Kingdom, Greece, Spain and Ireland.

 

4. Goals

The aim of ICOVET was to develop and test validation procedures for vocational skills of young people gained outside the framework of institutional education. Research of the Deutsches Jugendinstitut on vocational integration of young people has shown that integration can be successful if the funding and support network is matched to the requirements and background of the young people in question. One of the obstacles here is the lack of reliable information on the skill level of individuals. School leaving certificates in particular at the level of lower education often don’t accurately validate the factual skill level of individuals in particular neglecting the level of basic skills and procedural knowledge. Furthermore there often is an extreme difference in achievement within one level of certification as well as high uncertainty whether one’s basic skills can be matched to vocational and business requirements. In particular there is a lack of information on skills gained during extra-curricular experiences (e.g. employment, voluntary work, the use of new media). According to Deutsches Jugendinstitut these are very relevant for increasing someone’s employability. For young people the lack of specifically tailored support for their individual skills often results in negative understanding of their abilities and low self-esteem that can influence further learning. Educational institutions on the other hand are not aware enough which young people would ultimately benefit most from their programme i.e. to which it would neither be over nor under challenging.

5. Action Plan

The ICOVET project examined strategies to make these informally or non-formally gained competences visible in order to enable young people to better understand their own competences and to learn how to use them in engaging with the formal world of vocational education and training, give teachers in schools of general education a better understanding of pupils` competences acquired outside schools and enable teachers to systematically use these competences in preparing for VET, give young people better access to training and employment in companies, likewise enable companies or training institutions to systematically use these competences in VET.

6. Implementation and realisation

It is the purpose of ICOVET validation tool to make visible competencies that have been acquired by young people in various areas of activities outside formal learning. Making these competencies visible should be useful for a number of reasons:

-    Making competencies visible will help the young person to better understand what abilities she/he has and how these abilities can be applied in further learning, in vocational training, in a job but also in private life.

-    Making competencies visible will help educators (teachers, trainers, social workers) to better link education and training to what competencies the young person has already acquired.

-    Making competencies visible to prospective employers will help them to learn more about the abilities of applicants that are not shown in the certificates that they are able to present.

This validation tool is designed to achieve the following objectives:

-    At the end of the interview process, the interviewer (facilitator) and the young person will have clarified how specific activities and experiences of the young person relate to competencies or abilities. Activities and competencies will be recorded in a document that will be owned by the young person and can be used at her/his will.

-    In addition, the interviewer and young person will cooperate to translate these competencies into the terminology of the EuroPASS. With the EuroPASS the young person will own a document that has been specifically designed for effective presentation of one’s competencies and experiences to prospective employers and institutions of education and training and has found wide acceptance in many European countries.

7. Results and benefits

Particular interest in this context was placed on how the results of such a validation instrument can be fed back into the design of pre-vocational education and vocational qualification of young people. How can teaching and training staff help to transfer informal and non-formal learning experiences into the institutional learning context? To support staff in their role as advisors and mediators the project developed a framework and best practice guide for the methodical and didactical inclusion of informal and non-formal learning. The best practice guide is envisaged as a guideline for schools and institutions providing them with valuable information for planning personalized education and development. To follow this up a train-the-trainer module seeks to establish systematic reference to the changing teaching/learning dynamic by communicating to the teaching staff new perspectives for more mentor-oriented and more supportive education models based on higher transparency of qualifications and skills.

 

8. Main hurdles and their solutions

There were no major problems encountered.

9. Replicability or Repeatability

The initiative has not yet been replicated but it is fully adjustable to all sorts of beneficiaries.

10. Conclusions

The success of the initiative depended on the cooperation with national and regional authorities to support the programme.

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