European Validation Festival

European Validation Festival (by YouthProAktiv)

The first ever European Validation Festival was organised by the European Commission on 14–15 June 2018 in Brussels, with the aim for stakeholders to share practices and exchange ideas and knowledge on validation of informal and non-formal learning.

Validation is understood as “the process of identifying, documenting, assessing and certifying the learning outcomes of individuals acquired outside formal education and training (e.g. at work, at home and while volunteering)” (Unlocking talent: Validation of non-formal and informal learning infographic [pdf], the European Commission).

The first day featured a ‘marketplace’ with 40 stands in which organisations from around Europe had the opportunity to present their practices, initiatives and approaches to validation, as well as a set of thematic workshops in the afternoon.

In the morning, introductions and welcome were provided by Alison Crabb (Head of Unit Skills and Qualifications, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission), Ernesto Villalba-Garcia (Expert, Department for Learning and Employability, Cedefop) and moderator Martin Watson (Senior Consultant, Prospex) were followed by an open marketplace session combined with short on-stage presentations by each of the 40 stands. The examples presented included open badges, certification issued by official bodies, validation based on a video submitted, competence cards, digital portfolios making use of artificial intelligence or blockchain, peer review, online systems for self-evaluation and other online, electronic and physical tools, and numerous personal and professional development opportunities on top of skill validation. They covered a range of skills such as soft, VAT, digital, literacy or industry-specific skills, with a focus on young people, volunteers, apprentices, adult education, migrants, refugees and other groups. (On the event page, you can find the full list of marketplace stands and their descriptions [pdf], where you can explore the many exciting initiatives.)

After lunch giving space for valuable networking and sharing of experience, the afternoon offered also two rounds of workshops [pdf], where participants could choose from a number of themes, such as low-skill adults, migrants and refugees, workplace validation and employer collaboration, Youthpass, transversal skills, and e-portfolios and open badges. In small groups, participants were able to share their views and experience and make recommendations for future consideration.

The second day explored unlocking talent through validation by means of contributions from a number of policy-makers, experts, employers, counsellors but also learners and their own validation stories, as well as screening of an explanatory video Unlocking talent: Validation of non-formal and informal learning, presenting different perspectives.

There was a shared understanding of the importance of non-formal and informal learning and making the full use of its potential. Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, stressed that learning happens everywhere, not just in formal learning, and validation makes this learning visible and more valuable, thus also helping people in their careers. “It is our joint mission to make sure that people can make full use of all their skills, regardless of where they learned them. Formal learning is only the tip of the iceberg!”

YouthProAktiv was pleased to see the level of interest, the existing good practice and the plans and likely progress in both policy and practice, and is hopeful that showcasing valuable skills will become more and more efficient for young proactive people eager to make full use of their potential.