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In Iceland: Needs analysis for a training module for frontline professionals in VPL in the VISKA project

On February 23rd, 20 career counsellors from LLL centers from all over the country came together to work on development in the field of adult guidance. The VISKA project was introduced and an analysis for a training module for front-line professional, involved in delivering Validation of Prior Learning (VPL), was conducted.

In Iceland all professionals (counsellors, assessors and project managers) working in VPL projects (for low-qualified people) need to take a two day course before working on VPL. In the VISKA project there will be a specific focus VPL for migrants which has not been done before in Iceland. It´s necessary to develop a special training module for professionals working with the target group. Professional front-line staff need their competences to be up to date in order for them to better meet the needs of diverse target groups for VPL. Hopefully this will result in an increased access to validation processes for migrants, fair validation results and successful guidance towards career development.

The analysis showed that the professionals‘ multicultural competence needs to be a priority. They also need to learn how to work with interpretors as well as learning about the tools which will be used in VISKA for documenting and assessing competences. In addition to this they need to learn about the possibilities for the migrants to get their formal education evaluated.

A Training module/course will be developed in the coming months, based on the results of the analyses. Validation staff linked to the VISKA project will go through their „new“ training before the Field trials begin in autumn, 2018.

 

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Conducting the field trials in Flanders

The aim of the field trials in Belgium-Flanders for VISKA is to explore if it is possible, especially for the target group of low-qualified adults, to obtain an educational qualification through a VPL-procedure. We want to explore what the necessary legal framework is, the financial implications of such a procedure and the quality assurance conditions.

During the field trials the VISKA team in Flanders will work together closely with a total of seven selected adult education centers offering the course ‘additional general education’. A certificate obtained at the end of this course leads, in combination with a certificate from a professional qualification, to a diploma of secondary education. Currently, the VPL-procedure can differ between adult education centres. During the VISKA project, the selected centres will organise the four phases of the VPL-procedure in a similar way, supported by the Flemish Department of Education and Training. At least 150 adult learners will participate in this procedure. The intake for this procedure has started this month and the trials will run for one year.

The project team in Flanders will be supported by the members of the National Advisory Group (NAG). The members of this group have been selected based on their involvement with adult education and/or guidance of adult learners. The function of the group is mostly to be a sounding board and to ensure that the project stays within the limits of the legislative possibilities and the needs of the sector. Furthermore, VISKA Flanders has decided to work together closely with some of those relevant stakeholders in separate meetings on specific topics. There are six-monthly, monthly, weekly, and ad hoc meetings with several key actors and stakeholders in the field of education.

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Conducting the field trials in Iceland

The first year has passed and the field trials head our way! Our first year has been defined by great cooperation with the Education and Training Service Centre in Iceland and our co-partners here in Iceland and all our partner in VISKA. We have acquainted our self’s with immigration in Iceland and defining ways to meet the objectives of the VISKA project. All project deliverables appear on the VISKA project’s website, on this page.

Collaboration and consultation with industry is important for the progression of the VISKA project in Iceland. IÐAN established a local steering group directly related to our target group in this project. This group includes representatives from MATVÍS (Union for culinary trades), SAF (The Icelandic Travel Industry Association), SI (Federation of Icelandic Industry) and BYGGIÐN (Association construction trades).

We recently visited three secondary schools; Technical College, Kópavogur College and the Broadway College in Breiðholt. There we met with principals, student and career counselors and a course manager. We introduced the VISKA project and the opportunities involved in working systematically with immigrants through validation. The reception was positive, and the schools expressed great interest in the subject.

IÐAN will implement the VISKA field trials. Before the experimental phase, consultants, interpreters and assessors will attend a training course at the Education Training Service Center. With the support of the labor market and through an open introduction meeting VPL will be accessible for the target group. The VISKA project requires a total of 500 individuals to go through the VPL process in Europe, 50 of them in Iceland. The field trials will start in Fall 2018.

Fréttabréf um stefnumótandi verkefnið VISKA (KA3 Erasmus+) sem fjallar um raunfærnimat fyrir innflytjendur. Fyrsta árið liðið og prófun á matstækjum framundan.

Fyrsta árið hjá IÐUNNI fræðslusetri hefur einkennst af mikilli og góðri samvinnu við Fræðslumiðstöð atvinnulífisins (félagar okkar í VISKA), við höfum kynnt okkur stöðu innflytjendamála á Íslandi og leitast við að finna leiðir til að mæta markmiðum VISKA verkefnisins. Allar afurðir verkefnisins munu birtast á heimasíðu verkefnisins, nánar hér.
IÐAN hefur stofnað samráðshóp sem tengist beint markhópi okkar í þessu verkefni. Í samráðshópnum eru fulltrúar frá MATVÍS, SAF, SI og BYGGIÐN. Samvinna og samráð við atvinnulífið skiptir miklu máli varðandi framgang verkefnisins.

Við höfum einnig heimsótt þrjá framhaldsskóla ; Tækniskólann, Menntaskólann í Kópavogi og Fjölbrautaskólann í Breiðholti. Þar hittum við skólameistara, náms- og starfsráðgjafa og áfangastjóra. Við kynntum VISKA verkefnið og þau tækifæri sem felast í að vinna markvisst með innflytjendum í gegnum raunfærnimat. Móttökurnar voru góðar og lýstu skólarnir miklum áhuga á viðfangsefninu.

IÐAN fræðslusetur mun sjá um prófun matstækja sem þróuð eru fyrir markhóp VISKA. Áður en prófunin fer fram munu ráðgjafar, túlkar og matsaðilar sækja endurmenntunarnámskeið hjá Fræðslumiðstöð atvinnulífisins. IÐAN mun nálgast markhópinn meðal annars með hjálp atvinnulífsins, verkefnið verður auglýst með opnum kynningarfundi. Verkefnið krefst þess að alls 500 einstaklingar í Evrópu taki þátt, þar af 50 hér á landi. Auglýst verður eftir þátttakendum í haust (2018).

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Starting the Norwegian Field Trials

The Norwegian trials in VISKA will be carried out in close cooperation with the five integration reception centres in Norway. These centres themselves are a pilot project linked to better integration of asylum seekers, initiated as a response to the large number of refugees coming to Norway in 2015. One of the obligations of the residents in these centres is to take part in full-day programmes of introduction to the Norwegian language and culture; labour market orientation; civil society orientation and other activities.

All residents in the integration reception centres self-register their education and experience from work electronically, which is then followed up in one or more career guidance sessions.

In addition, the residents in the VISKA project will be offered validation of prior learning (VPL) against learning outcomes in the VET curricula. In Norway, VPL is accessible to all adults without former VET and is provided by the education authorities in each county. It is required that the procedures are performed in Norwegian language. However, VISKA candidates will be allowed to perform VPL procedures in English or in their mother tongue, using an interpreter. This will make it possible to recognise the candidates’ competences at an early stage and may contribute to faster integration into formal education or working life.

Skills Norway is currently about to sign partnership agreements with all five counties responsible for VPL in VISKA. These agreements will be the basis for recruiting candidates in each county. Some candidates may be able to complete the full VPL procedure during the trial period, some may need some more time to complete their portfolio or get to know the Norwegian system better before they enter the assessment phase of VPL. However, the initial self-registration of their education and experience from work, together with career guidance, will have provided them with a start of the process that will be completed when the candidates are ready.

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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

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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, partners hosting field trials gave a brief presentation on how the field trials will be conducted, including all possible challenges. These partners are currently occupied with recruiting participants for the field trials and engaging their National Advisory Groups as well. The coming month, partners hosting field trials 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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

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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!

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