REPORT: VISKA Literature review and country needs analysis

This report has been developed under work-package 2 Mapping, Needs Analysis and Experimentation Protocol.

This document provides an overview of the current discourse surrounding the Validation of Prior Learning (VPL) at a European level as a basis for the project interventions. The literature review provides the foundation for this report. It is a synopsis of the appropriate European literature and is informed by the relevant local and national literature of the partner countries, namely Norway, Iceland, Ireland and Belgium-Flanders. A mapping process to establish existing practices and to guide an analysis of the individual country needs was undertaken. The responses of each of the country partners are summarised providing a vital baseline on existing processes, procedures and resources for the validation of prior learning and a structure through which to explore the lived experiences of key stakeholders. This important contextual information supports later evaluation of the interventions and their impacts.

Sections each relating to key parts of the situational analysis activity in each of the participating countries are included as follows:

Section 1: Environment Analysis
o European Principles – literature review
o Legislative position – Viska Project Partners

Section 2: Stakeholders
o Target group profile
o Policy makers
o Support personnel

Section 3: Intervention pre field trial SWOT analysis

It is acknowledged that each partner country has individually identified the particular interventions with which they intend to engage wholly or partially as part of their planned field trials, as well as the appropriate target population and size for their intervention focus. In addition to the VISKA project partners, the target audience for the initial exploration included but was not limited to government agencies, education institutions/providers, social partners, employer/ or representative bodies and learner support services.

It was the responsibility of the local researcher/ evaluator within each implementation partner to identify the appropriate research population to respond to the questions posed in this document in consultation with the project team in each partner country and the overall project leader. This document outlines the current situation and systems in operation within the partner countries. The five interventions as proposed within the original project submission guide the project activity which will take place.

You will find the report following this link: D2.2_Literature review and needs analysis

Progressing VISKA: Results from the Progress Meeting in Oslo, Norway

Representatives of all partner countries came together in the offices of Skills Norway in Oslo from the 25th of April until the 27th. The progress meeting started with a packed agenda, with a focus on furthering the discussion on tools development, an update from the research partner and a presentation of all partners on the planned field trials. Partners also had the opportunity to meet with the new external evaluator, who took some time to present his future role in the project.

Tools Development

The main body of work during the meeting focused on the development of tools. The partners discussed the online competence self-assessment tool, one of the deliverables of the VISKA-project. The use of the EU Skills Profile Tool for Third Country Nationals was discussed by all partners. Throughout the VISKA profile, this tool will be tested and feedback will be provided.

The lead partner for this work package, ETSC, have presented a two-day course for validation staff in Iceland. While the different countries may look into different modules, the consortium could cooperate to set up a format for training sessions and suggest the content for those modules, described in learning outcomes.

Last but certainly not least, the partnership discussed the importance of holistic quality assurance measures. The consortium will discuss ten QA factors, as suggested by ETSC.

Research focus

The partners discussed the main goal of the VISKA project, which is to have an impact on policy, be it at a local, regional, national or international level. The consortium has agreed to formulate a number of outcomes, per intervention, not only of a practical nature, but also with regards to the impact on policy.

Field trials

During the meeting in Oslo, every partner gave a brief presentation on how the field trials will be conducted, including all possible challenges. Partners are currently occupied with recruiting participants for the field trials and engaging their National Advisory Groups as well. The coming month, partners will post on the VISKA website what their aim with the field trials is and what they will try to achieve in their countries as part of the project.

Next meeting

The partners will convene again in the first half of September in Reykjavik, Iceland.

A critical friend for the VISKA project

In the VISKA project, quality assurance is an ongoing process. To assure the quality of the project, a separate Work Package is dedicated to QA, to run alongside all the other project activities throughout the project period. One of the features of this Work Package is external evaluation, in which external opinion is sought on progress and delivery of the project. Specific reflections are to be provided on the management and implementation of VISKA, as well as on the perceived efficiency, participation and continued relevance.

For these purposes, VISKA has teamed up with Kim Faurschou (FACO, Denmark), who is an experienced evaluator with extensive insight into project and programme delivery. Over the years, Kim has worked with a number of international actors from different countries and sectors in various projects and activities. He sees his role as a “critical friend” who is helping the project and the partners to achieve their objectives within the given resources.

As well as contributing to the two expected evaluation reports; one formative and one summative; Kim wants to be proactive and constructive in predicting and handling challenges in the project – as soon as he sees them. His aim is to make a difference for the project in terms of supporting the ongoing work to reach the promised deliveries and expected results.


Workshop for local evaluators in Cork, Ireland

On the 20th and 21st of March a workshop was held in Cork Institute of Technology to support the data collection and research processes of VISKA. Attendees from all partner countries were present.

The workshop facilitators prepared a Handbook for the participants which addressed the overall project aims and provided guidelines for particular research methods.  It also addressed the important ethical considerations for the project.  In the workshop the team shared views and experiences.  Some were new to the VISKA project so time was taken to revisit the aims and objectives of the project.  It was clear that the project partners who will be undertaking the field trials and interventions are starting from different positions, have different target groups and will be taking a variety of actions.  The VISKA project proposal envisages a number of points in the project activities at which information will need to be collected by the implementation partners.  The project takes an ‘action’ focus and each of the country implementation partners will be involved in specific field trials (chosen by them and applied by them in their country context) in relation to the validation of prior learning focused on different target groups.   This means that there is a challenge to be overcome as the activities and hence the collecting and recording of information will not be uniform across the project.   However the workshop focused on ways in which we can align the data collection exercise and still be mindful of the variation in the local context, with a view to developing outputs and outcomes that have some transferrable value.

In terms of collecting information there are probably three (or more) potential target groups:

  • The learners who might seek to access validation services
  • The guidance and other front line staff who interact directly with the learners
  • The policy makers (and partner organisation staff) and other influencers as well as the National Advisory groups.

In terms of the points in time at which information might be collected there are three potential points under consideration:

  • Before the project to establish the baseline or existing situation
  • During the project to check on processes being used and to allow for adjustment where appropriate
  • After the project to assess impact, effectiveness

And we also considered that there are probably three methods that all partner countries will use to collect data:  Surveys, Focus Groups and In-depth Interviews.

Over the two days the team worked to agree outline formats for the data collection methods that will be employed – these have been collected into a report from the workshop and shared with the workshop participants initially before being shared with the wider group.  A clear outcome from the event was the assertion that these researchers will have to be well-integrated into the ‘action’ workpackages associated with the tools for validation and the field trials so that the points at which data can and should be collected are agreed in a more detailed project Gantt Chart.

Feedback from the workshop participants was positive with a recognition that meeting each other was one of the most important outcomes.  As the photographs show we even had some rare March sunshine!

Behind the acronym: meet the partners!

As the VISKA project kicks in a higher gear, we want to take the opportunity to introduce the organisations behind the project. Behind the VISKA name are six organisations from four different countries with a shared interest in the validation of skills obtained through prior learning, be it non-formal, informal or formal. While the partners are aware of the many differences that might exist across the participating countries relating to validation policies, practices and infrastructures, the focus for all partners is on how to deliver change, for individuals and for systems.

This common ground enables the partners to focus on similar issues and trying out similar measures regarding the validation of prior learning. Through sharing expertise and experiences, all partners bring an added value to the project, providing opportunities to learn from each other and grow together. Today, we would like to introduce you to these partners:

For more information on the partners and their work on VISKA, click on their respective links!


Progressing VISKA: Results of the Progress Meeting in Naas, Ireland

From the 25th until the 27th of October 2017, the VISKA-partners met up for the first progress meeting since the start of the project in February of 2017. The colleagues of the Education and Training Boards Ireland welcomed all partners in their offices in Naas, Ireland.

The first objective of the meeting was to discuss and agree on the final paper describing the common understanding of transversal skills in VISKA-project. Throughout the meeting, the partners offered feedback on the work ETSC had done before the meeting. The result of this work can be found in the Results section on this website.

The main body of work for the second day of the meeting in Ireland was related to Tools development and adaptation (WP3) and the local field trials (WP4). With regards to the tools, the partners presented what they thought they could contribute. Several instruments for identification of skills were presented during the meeting. The partners learned about the Norwegian tool for self-registration, offered in Norwegian, English and twelve other languages. The Icelandic tool (Next Step) for validation of around 50 different curricula was also presented. This tool is used by, among others, guidance counselors, to see what steps the learner can take. The partners also discussed the EU Skills Profile Tool for Third Country Nationals. This tool is intended for use by any service that may be offering assistance services to third country nationals. Every partner gave a short presentation about how they will conduct the local field trials, as was reported to the research partner as a basis for the experimentation protocol.

The third and final day, there was a focus on the internal evaluation of the project, communication and dissemination and some general housekeeping for the remainder of the project.

The next progress meeting will be in Oslo, Norway, from the 25th of April to the 27th. Stay tuned for more updates!

Launching the VISKA website

We are launched! Our brand new website is now online and will contain all relevant information concerning the project. Missing something? Tell us at!

Welcome to the VISKA Project!

Welcome to the official website of the European Erasmus+ Key Action 3 Project VISKA, Visible Skills of Adults. On this website, you will find more information regarding the goal of the project and how we are going to achieve those goals, a profile of every partner involved in VISKA and every deliverable we will produce over the course of the project.

As a disclaimer, we would like to note that the European Commission support for the production of this project does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the VISKA partners, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.