Presenting the results and the policy recommendations of the VISKA Erasmus+ project
The VISKA Final Conference 'Validation as an integrated part of a lifelong learning strategy' took place in Hendrik Conscience Building, Brussels on 12 February 2020. About 75 participants from all over Europe were welcomed by the VISKA project team. This conference presented the cross-country findings of the VISKA project. Policy makers and practitioners across Europe discussed the key findings and policy recommendations that emerged from the experimentation.
The aftermovie of our final conference
Review of the final conference
After participants were welcomed by the project coordinator Hanne Christensen from Skills Norway and Brikena Xhomaqi, director of the Lifelong Learning Platform and our moderator of the day, the day started with an introduction by Anusca Ferrari, policy officer at the European Commission. She focused on the history and the main aspects of validation. She concluded by saying that policy experimentation is one of the best instruments, but not easy to implement.
Next, our key note speaker Jens Bjornavold (Senior expert - Cedefop) gave a very interesting presentation in which he broadens the view on validation. He emphasized to value the diverse and rich learning of all individuals, whenever and wherever it took place. The audience was immersed in a strong story about the need of the formulation of aligned and coherent standards and reference points on validation of prior learning in relation to learning outcomes.
This all intended to capture the non-standardised, diverse, tacit and context-bound character of all individual learning experiences. He stated that building bridges between education and training at one side and employment and the labour market at the other side is very important.
The results of the VISKA Erasmus+ project were presented by Deirdre Goggin of the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). What policy advises could be given on European and national level regarding validation on prior learning, especially for target groups ? After situating the VISKA project Deirdre pointed out what was common for the participating countries through the validation process. Validation is one element of a much larger system and has to be embedded, supported and aligned.
It is influenced by organisations, national priorities, societal norms and economic drivers and by the candidate groups. She concluded by stating that the policy on validation and the validation process cannot be separated from the broad cultural context in which it takes place. You can find the full presentation here. All results of the VISKA project are presented on the page ‘Downloads’ of the VISKA website.
After the lunch break good practices from Norway, Iceland and Flanders were presented, together with testimonials of candidates and frontline staff. Look at all the testimonials on our youtube channel or on the page ‘Testimonials’ of the VISKA website.
For Norway, Camilla Alfsen (Skills Norway) talked about how newly arrived refugees go through the validation process in order to find a job, or to be oriented to training and education possibilities, supported with guidance. The important role of interpreters was also highlighted. The exception is made to do the skills and competence tests in their own language. Partly due to the VISKA project in Norway, where the importance of early intervention and access was highlighted, a new amendment in legislation has been approved in which it is allowed for candidates to go through the validation process at upper secondary level in other languages than the national languages. Her presentation can be found here.
Helen Gray (IDAN) presented the good practice from Iceland. The following keywords came back through the whole project: trust – one on one – interpreter – access and awareness and certainly ‘What’s in it for me? Explaining what VPL is, before – during – and after the validation process is very important.
For Flanders, Elke Thoné (staff member of the Federation of Second Chance Education) explained that the VISKA project gave the Federation of Second Chance Education a re-boost to continue the development on validation of prior learning for educational qualifications and allowing low qualified adults to get a diploma of secondary education. She concluded by expressing her hope that policy makers will take the policy advices to heart and that legal regulations will emerge from it. Her presentation can be found here.
After the presentation of the good practices, the participants of the conference had the chance to ask questions to the speakers by using Slido. All questions asked through Slido can be found here.
After a coffee break, an interactive dialogue ‘call to action’ with five panel members took place, moderated by Brikena Xhomaqi. The panel members Martina Ni Chealleagh (Senior Expert DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion from the European Commission), Fons Leroy (former CEO of the Flemish Public Employment Service VDAB), Ólafur Grétar Kristjánsson (Senior Adviser, Ministry of Education, Science and Culture Iceland) , Louis Vervloet (General Director ESF, Department Work and Social Economy, Flanders) and Andrina Wafer (Head of access and Lifelong Learning, QQI, Ireland) discussed what we can learn from the VISKA project, how we can use the results in future policy. Reflections on Guidance were also given. Read a full summary of the panel discussion here.
The conference was closed by Brikena Xhomaqi who shared her concluding thoughts and recapitulations and told the participants that there is a lot of diversity and no size fits all. It’s a big challenge to find a common language and a common understanding between partners and stakeholders involved in validation of prior learning. Keeping the learner in the centre and guidance are two of the most important issues when it comes to validation. Projects like the VISKA project are a way to bring the results on the European and national agendas.
During the breaks and lunch quotes from adult learners, frontline staff and stakeholders from all participating countries were displayed on screen (see below). Also take another look at the full conference programme here. Pictures of the event can be viewed in our photo album.quotes_ppt