VNFIL policies and volunteering: what can policy-makers do?

Last June 22th YouthProAktiv participated in the online event organized by the Lifelong Learning Platform on the discussion on VNFIL policies and volunteering. The event counted with the view of key stakeholders like Jo Peeters (expert on the field of validation at the EDOS Foundation), Anusca Ferrari (Policy Officer at DG Employment), Andrina Wafer (Head of Access and Communications at FETAC) and Gabriella Civico (Director at the European Volunteer Centre).

This third and final webinar on the validation of formal and non-formal volunteering from the Lifelong Learning Platform wanted to offer a general vision of the progress of EDOS policy paper on validation in the voluntary sector followed by a debate in which policy experts shared their thoughts about possible upgrades to the paper.

To start with, Jo shared the objectives of the policy paper which aims to position the voluntary sector as an important environment for non-formal learning through contributing to the coherence and synchronization of validation projects and activities by supporting and encouraging new initiatives in this field. Jo, who is currently working in the ImproVal project which pretends to upgrade our current validation tools and support the voluntary sector, has dealt with the validation of skills and competences of volunteers in more than 25 projects which involved more than 50 volunteering organizations in 20 member states. Furthermore, currently more than 40 validation tools for the voluntary sector are developed and tested in EU member states.

However, Jo remarked that currently we are facing a limited structural use of validation tools and methods in the voluntary sector, since only a few connections are created between projects and the links to important EU developments (for instance, the new Europass tool, EQF and the European Guidelines for Validation) are not always clear enough. To solve the above-mentioned issues, Jo proposed to enhance the creation of links between projects thus making a proper use of the existing resources and infrastructures in the voluntary sector which will result in stronger bridges between developments at EU and national level in the voluntary sector.

After the paper presentation, given the importance of the content, Anusca suggested to include a general introduction with non-technical vocabulary, since the volunteering sector gathers a wide variety of members who may not be familiar with the terms used in the paper and it is important that every stakeholder is able to understand the paper contents.

To continue with, Andrina added that we should see European validation tools as enablers to boost competences in the voluntary sector and use them to counter the current absence of communication strategies around validation. More specific, Andrina spoke about youth unemployment rates in Ireland which exceed 50%, contributing to the proliferation of physical and mental illness among youngsters. Hence, validation tools have a key role in order to stimulate youth employment and help youngsters to overcome their current crisis.

Finally, Gabriella also remarked the importance of validating soft and transversal skills, since they are highly valued but harder to validate when compared to, for instance, digital competences. In order to ease the validation of these competences, Gabriella suggested to build bridges between the volunteer and validation sectors, this way fostering their cooperation.