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Validation of skills and knowledge for strengthening the positions of lowqualified employees in the labour market ValidAid

GUIDELINES FOR ENTERPRISES Preparing an enterprise to engage their employees in validation processes

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

GUIDELINES FOR ENTERPRISES preparing an enterprise to engage their employees in validation processes ValidAid



October 2010; it has a




years and is expected to end in September 2012. The project is supported



The objective of these Guidelines for Enterprises is to give instructions to enter-



prises in order to support them in organising information and documentation

sion, in the framework

about their employees, facilitating the processes of recognition and validation of

of Lifelong Learning

competences and of planning suitable education and training, within the enter-



prise. In other words, it will be possible for employers and human resource




managers to have access to specific designed contents and tools to organise

Transfer of Innova-

their employees processes, facilitate competence recognition and validation


processes and establish adequate training and education plans.

ValidAid aims at de-

The Guidelines for Enterprises contents include:

veloping methods and

> highlight about the importance of recognition, validation and certification of

tools for identifying

competences for enterprises;

and validating compe-

> guidelines for enterprises, proposed by ValidAid project,

tences in the work-

> benefits for employers and employees of being engaged in validation proc-

place, opening gate-

esses within enterprises.





and training to make it easier for low qualified individuals to develop



tences and, by that, secure their position

The involvement of small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) in the validation processes presents special challenges, because resources and development capacity are limited. However, SMEs are organizations that typically experience a continuous need to develop their workers’ skills and show a positive opinion about the process of validation.

on labour market.

2 This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

GUIDELINES FOR ENTERPRISES preparing an enterprise to engage their employees in validation processes Highlighting the importance of recognition, validation and certification of competences for enterprises In 2007, before the financial crisis, Europe had some

comes between different groups of individuals, in-

78 million low-skilled (and low-qualified) adults, rep-

cluding specific groups such as immigrants, older

resenting almost one-third of the European working-

workers and unemployed persons. Thus, it is impor-

age population. Since then and especially, all the

tant that opportunities for adults to have their non-

evidence points to the need for a highly qualified la-

formal and informal learning validated become an

bour force to aid economic recovery and growth.

intrinsic feature of adult education and training sys-

Validating non-formal and informal learning is in-

tems, workplaces and the third sector at all levels,

creasingly seen as a way of improving lifelong and

local, regional and national, particularly for individu-

life wide learning and, consequently, improving

als with low or no qualifications.

qualifications. Formal education, enterprises, adult education proRecent years have seen increased emphasis on the

viders and voluntary organizations are key stake-

relevance of learning that takes place outside formal

holders in providing opportunities to validate non-

education and training institutions and on systems

formal and informal learning.

and strategies to validate such learning. Large numbers of employees will change their job, sector and

Validation is not something which concerns only na-

even country of residence during their lifetime. This

tional and/or public stakeholders; validation is in-

requires a parallel transfer of qualifications and com-

creasingly playing a part in enterprise human re-

petences from one setting to another, to a new job,

source development strategies, because there are

sector or country. Validation of non-formal and infor-

major advantages for enterprises in setting up sys-

mal learning supports such transfer.

tems to document the knowledge skills and competences of employees.

Therefore, validation of non-formal and informal learning forms a cornerstone of the lifelong learning strategy of many countries. It enables the achievement of qualifications independent of the context in which the learning takes place (formal, non-formal, informal). This is particularly relevant for adults who have gained a range of competences at work, through participation in non-formal training, in the community, in their everyday life and/or through hobbies, but do not have qualifications to certify these competences. Apart from leading typically to certification, validation also has an important formative role in motivating and leading to further learning. In addition, by enabling adults to gain qualifications, 3 validation systems can promote equality of out2

Identification of non‑formal and informal learning is seen as a process which ‘... records and makes visible the individual’s learning outcomes. This does not result in a formal certificate or diploma, but it may provide the basis for such formal recognition.’

Validation of non‑formal and informal learning ‘... is based on the assessment of the individual’s learning outcomes and may result in a certificate or diploma.’

The term validation of learning outcomes is understood as: ‘The confirmation by a competent body that learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and/or competences) acquired by an individual in a formal, non ‑formal or informal setting have been assessed against predefined criteria and are compliant with the requirements of a validation standard. Validation typically leads to certification.’

GUIDELINES FOR ENTERPRISES preparing an enterprise to engage their employees in validation processes Guidelines for enterprises, proposed by ValidAid project It is broadly accepted that the workplace is a significant

Enterprise involvement in validation is important if the bulk

learning environment. Where workplaces are conducive to

of personal learning, which is probably work‑based, is to

learning there is likely to be benefit for all with an interest

be made visible. It is also important to appreciate that the

in the enterprise. Indeed, some employers are beginning

enterprise process can raise expectations of further learn-

to use validation procedures to identify, assess and make

ing and certification. Thus an enterprise involvement

full use of these learning processes. Validation, building

should be based on long‑term, sustainable human re-

on existing appraisal processes, makes it possible to

source development that benefits all partners. Having said

identify skills gaps and to tailor enterprise training around

that, the enterprise interest in validation is usually driven

this information. At the same time good appraisal processes offer formative assessments that enable individuals to identify the skills and competences they possess as well as their further learning needs. The common outcome of such formative assessment is to support career development. Work modernization is often a driving force for an audit of competences: the formative nature of a validation process can be used to develop work practices in line with enterprise plans. We can also observe cases where enterprises undertake summative validation, making it possible for their employees to have their learning experiences recognized according to national standards.

by short and medium‑term needs in terms of human resources and strongly focused on modernization of work practices and upskilling of the workforce. This is especially the case for small and medium‑sized companies.

Not withstanding issues of long‑term sustainability and conflicts of interest, it remains the case that the need for employer involvement in national validation processes is crucial. Without employer involvement, capitalizing on the workplace as a learning arena is reduced and the implementation of large scale validation of learning across the population is restricted. Sustainability can also be supported by more systematic intervention at sector or branch level, for example by introducing supporting com-

The organization of enterprises (even small ones) human resources procedures provides a framework that can help the validation process to develop, function and link in with services external to the enterprise. The final stage of enterprise validation of employee competences is some-

petence frameworks and standards, providing a reference point and easing transfer. Mobilizing employers, by explaining the human resource development advantages and the time commitments that are necessary to manage the scheme, allows a fair cost‑benefit analysis to follow.

times the final stage only for the enterprise. The employee is presented with further opportunities for progress and

The critical interventions with enterprises seem to be:


> availability of documentation showing the experience of enterprises in the validation;

We present a table in next pages that illustrates the gen-

> availability of advice to the enterprise from local experts;

eral steps of a process of validation operating within an

a positive partnership with trade unions and other relevant

enterprise, that is essentially driven by the skills needs of


the enterprise, but which leads to immediate and tangible

> independent counseling for employees;

benefits for the individual workers. It is important to state

> the lack of sector and branch strategies and supporting

that this table highlights a series of elements in a process

frameworks for validation;

of validation but is not intended to be a strict recipe to be

> the availability of technical advice on summative valida-

followed, only to be used as a guideline that needs to be 4 adapted to each enterprise needs and characteristics.

tion methods based on standards. 3

GUIDELINES FOR ENTERPRISES preparing an enterprise to engage their employees in validation processes


Build commitment Enterprise becomes aware of the opportunities and understands what will be done and how it will be done, the costs, and the possible outcomes.


Enterprise competence profile Enterprise defines a document with all expected functions within it, including for each one the expected school level and required competences

GUIDELINE 1 The commitment to a skills and competence recognition, validation and certification process is shared across decision‑making levels. Plans for enterprise development of a recognition scheme are explained to all stakeholders.

GUIDELINE 2 Define all types of expected functions within the company and, for each type of job, expected school level and the competences expected from each worker doing these jobs.

DOCUMENTS Enterprise strategic plan Enterprise validation plan and budget

DOCUMENT Human resources functions manual

GUIDELINE 3 An initial discussion upon selection of the validation candidates should be carried out. Its purpose is to clarify the individual expectations regarding validation as well as to get the selected candidates acquainted with the processes involved. The discussion will be conducted by the adviser. His role should be to keep things together, providing advice and support to the validation candidates throughout the whole process.


Involve candidates The involvement of candidates requires information about the process, the objectives, the opportunities for the candidate and any critical/difficult situations that they will face.

The initial discussion could comprise the following contents: > determine the educational and vocational background of the validation candidate; > validation candidate’s attitude to validation and any questions he/she might have; > validation candidate’s expectations and ambitions; > review the various stages of the validation process; > information and planning work on the qualification portfolio. At this point, the various stages of the process should be scheduled, times and places specified as precisely as possible, and a list of all the other people involved who will provide support throughout the validation process should be prepared. The schedule should be revised continuously.

Things to consider… Include any education and work experience, which might be of significance for validation. Provide clear information and listen carefully to questions.

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DOCUMENTS Hand-out about validation process Candidate validation schedule

GUIDELINES FOR ENTERPRISES preparing an enterprise to engage their employees in validation processes

GUIDELINE 4 In order that validation candidates identify the competencies they have, they need good selfawareness and the ability to communicate about their competencies. The foundations of these abilities are laid down in a well organised portfolio.


Portfolio completion Candidates complete the portfolio reporting all educational, training and work experiences and inserting evidences of documented or nondocumented competences acquired. This may be done, for example, using a self‑evaluation questionnaire on behavioral competences.

The adviser has an important role to provide guidance to the participant during the performance of this task. Occasionally, existing documents, e.g. diplomas, certificates and testimonials only provide summarised information about the educational and vocational background of the participant. These should therefore be supplemented by detailed descriptions of their educational achievements and work experience. Besides the existing portfolio, the process of performing one’s duties is just as important. Supervision or guidance may be organised in groups but should mostly be provided by the adviser on an individual basis. Among other things, this process helps individuals increase awareness about their own competencies and improve their ability to communicate about them.

DOCUMENT Portfolio

Things to consider… Documents concerning education and work as part of the qualification portfolio, often need to be supplemented by participants’ own detailed descriptions. Considerable time and effort should be put in the process. As a result of the process, participants will become aware of their competences and therefore be able to better identify and communicate about them. Guidance is important.

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GUIDELINES FOR ENTERPRISES preparing an enterprise to engage their employees in validation processes GUIDELINE 5


Assessment Candidates complete the portfolio reporting all educational, training and work experiences and inserting evidences of documented or nondocumented competences acquired. This may be done, for example, using a self‑evaluation questionnaire on behavioral competences.

Self-assessment always relates to the established competence standards including substandards. The validation candidate must be very familiar with the standards in question. Self -assessment may be organised in different ways. Validation candidates may specify the competences they believe can be validated on a self-assessment form, including a list of the established standards It is also possible that candidates determine which competences can be validated following a dialogue with their supervisors.

DOCUMENTS Self-assessment form for validation candidates Supervisor assessment form for validation candidates

Assessors will have a better basis for identifying participants’ competences if self-assessments are supplemented by a supervisor’s assessment. In some cases, the latter may be used as confirmation of participants’ competences.

Things to consider… It is important that the validation candidate fully understands the validation standards. An assessor should be available to provide explanations and guide participants throughout the process of self-assessments. It is valuable if self-assessment is supplemented by a supervisor’s assessment.



Personal development plan Results of assessments are discussed with candidates and within the enterprise and become the basis of a personal development plan that takes into consideration the candidate’s competences and the company plans .

Assessment takes place continuously during the process. As a final stage in the process, the assessor analyses what has been verified during the process. If there is a correspondence between the results of the self assessment and the verification process then it is easy to conclude that the individual has the competences as described. If such a correspondence lacks, the assessor must determine the degree of non-conformity and depending on that, decide which of the following alternative courses of action to take: 1. come up with a decision that the individual does not have the competence in question, 2. allow the individual to carry out additional assignments and 3. define a personal development plan.

Things to consider… It is valuable if self-assessment is supplemented by a supervisor’s assessment

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DOCUMENTS Competences assessment form for validation candidate Personal development plan

GUIDELINES FOR ENTERPRISES preparing an enterprise to engage their employees in validation processes


Vocational training Tailor-made training is defined using all personal development plans as a base, humans resource function manual and enterprise strategic plan.

GUIDELINE 7 The enterprise training plan shall include: 1) training need analysis (organizational, functional and individual levels), 2) definition and implementation of training plan (internal training action and participation in external training), 3) evaluation of training plan implementation.

DOCUMENT Enterprise training plan



Validation of competences Competences are validated by the enterprise, documented and provided credit to start a new job or to get into a vocational training route.

The way of documenting the results is of key importance to the validation process. The decision about the form of documents certifying a given competence should be taken as early as possible since the development of standards and the choice of methods used depend on the form of documentation chosen. A number of issues are important with respect to the documents issued: Legitimacy: is the documentation to be accepted: internally locally/regionally? Nationally? In EU countries? In non EU countries? What qualification should be documented? Factual knowledge? Abilities? General competence? What work assignments/tasks should be included? Only the results of the validation? Details concerning education and work experience? Level-graded of evaluations: how many levels? What standards apply for each level? Format: what should the certificate look like? preparation of template/layout? Who should sign and stamp it? Design/content: the competence standards focus on ability to carry out work tasks – this should therefore be reflected in the documentation. The aim is thus to provide certification, which presents a picture of an individual’s personal profile. When documentation of this type is issued, it is important that the certificate is informative so that the reader receives a clear picture of an individual’s competence within his/her vocational area. The results should be described as objectively as possible. To give the certification more authority, it should include a description of how assessment was carried out and who issued it. There is also value in having certificates issued with the same layout, thus making them recognisable and adding a certain quality to them. If there is a need for national acceptability, it is necessary for assessment to be made in relation to nationally accepted competence standards, found within the formal education system for most occupations. Even the various trade associations could contribute by producing up-to -date competence requirements. This would allow the use of existing documentation such as testimonials, certificates of vocational competence, etc.

DOCUMENT Enterprise certificate model

Things to consider… As early as possible, decide what format of documentation is to be issued, what type of legitimacy, content and who is going to sign and stamp it. A certificate of competence must be informative to have any value.

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GUIDELINES FOR ENTERPRISES preparing an enterprise to engage their employees in validation processes Benefits for employers and employees of being engaged in validation processes within enterprises

Benefits of validation for employers

Benefits of validation for employees

Profits may go up after employees have engaged in a validation process, but the benefits of validation are not always immediately clear-cut for employers as upskilling is a cost. MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) are a particular challenge and to get them to engage with validation it is vital to be able to present a very clear picture of the benefits for them of such engagement a) Skills-related benefits:

The individual is a central stakeholder of validation of nonformal and informal learning. The benefits of validation for the individual are personal, learning-related and labour market related. a) Personal ‘soft’ benefits:

> the improved skills level of their employees and the discovery of their hidden talents, > ability to meet mandatory/statutory requirements for skills – for example, in health and banking, > increased ability to keep up with technological change, a reduction in the time required away from the job to achieve a qualification, > improving self-evaluation and the development of skills, promoting and encouraging the development and certification of competences among workers. b) Productivity-related benefits: > enhanced workforce productivity, > increased motivation and satisfaction levels, > improving enterprise competitiveness and adaptability, > ability to tender for contracts that require a workforce with specific high qualifications. c) Human resources-related benefits: > creating human resource's management systems where the value of experience is not confused with ‘seniority’, > validation of non-formal and informal learning forms part of Human Resources development strategies, > building “tailored career paths” and real “observatories” of workers’ competences that go beyond a mere consideration of degrees and certificates, > in case of restructuring, workers can be repositioned within the company rather than be made redundant. d) Education and training-related benefits: > enjoying a more effective communication with education, training systems and employment services through the adoption of a common language; > having a voice in VET (Vocational Education and Training) policy/practice and in qualifications standards.

Benefits for enterprises are shown in a wide range of examples. When employers engage in validation processes with employees it can: > increase motivation and interest in workplace practice on the part of the employee; > reduce the amount of time needed to complete a qualification and therefore require less time away from the workplace; > generate new ideas and developments in the workplace as a result of a process of reflection on practice by the employee; > improve employee retention and reduce recruitment and training costs.

Validation is also increasingly used to facilitate staff development and to ensure the most effective allocation of resources within an enterprise. 9 8

> increased self-esteem and self-confidence, > self-awareness of capabilities and consequent empowerment, > opportunity to embark on a professional and personal project. > validation fosters participants’ personal, social and professional accomplishment, as well as encouraging them to pursue education and training, > career development is also an important factor, with greater opportunities for increased remuneration and ‘career adjustment’ (i.e. in times of restructuring or redundancy). b) Learning-related benefits > possible tailor-made training to supplement existing identified competences, > formal recognition of learning outcomes not already certified, > a clear-cut path to lower and upper secondary qualifications in some systems, > a stimulus to engagement in formal learning and further non-formal learning, > access to a previously inaccessible level of study, > a reduction in opportunity costs through exemptions which eliminate or reduce the need to spend time and money relearning what has already been learned, > validation can lead to adaptation of course contents and/or a shortening of the study period, thus helping individuals to avoid unnecessary investment of time and/or money and can also lead to access to formal education and training programmes at a higher level. c) Labour market-related benefits > brings an unemployed individual closer to the labour market by promoting his/her self-esteem and the definition of his/her vocational plans, > gives labour market added-value in terms of employability and mobility, > enhances employability through gaining formal qualifications: individuals move more easily from inactivity into work and stay employable for longer, > promotes mobility as the low-skilled have a wider choice of possible employment and education / training routes, > gives access to the qualifications needed to retain a job in highly regulated employment sectors, > leads to a possible higher salary, though this depends on individual situations and is not valid in every country, > is made available as part of redundancy planning, > supports the integration and employability of migrants, > gives a low-qualified individual something to show a prospective employer.

GUIDELINES FOR ENTERPRISES preparing an enterprise to engage their employees in validation processes Employers reactions and images from their employees participation in testing ValidAid Validation Kit

AUSTRIA - MERIG, Graz "Good teamwork facilitates human resource management. Though our employees are very young, they already well understand the benefits of such surveys and analyses.” Monika Poller Head of branch office, PAGRO PAPIERGROSSMARKT


Testing Validation Kit at the Bulgarian Posts.

"Generally we have a very positive attitude towards such analyses, as we are very much interested in supporting training at the grassroots level. We hope you can benefit from our input." Marianne Herzog, Head of Service Centre WOLFGANG DENZEL AG "When reading the questions, I realised that we are asking very much from our employees. Thus for us high-class basic training is so fundamental. When we participate in surveys like this, it is very important to us that the timeframe foreseen is met. In this context we have made bad experiences in the past. " Alfred Pöscher, Head of branch office / Deputy General Manager PORSCHE INTER AUTO GmbH & Co KG "We have no objections answering questions like these. But in our opinion it is very inconvenient and annoying that very personal data are being asked." Sandra Fortmüller Administration / Fa. BRECKEI

PORTUGAL - IEBA, Mortágua Participants from 7 local retail stores The Portuguese retail sector advisor, João Ramos, identified with retail employers the following added-value in ValidAid validation kit: “- It makes employers aware on the existing knowledge and techniques at their disposal, based on previous experiences.” “- Contribute to the introduction of new approaches, techniques and attitudes that small enterprises could hardly have access.” “- This experience allowed sharing experiences between employers in order to identify problems, opportunities and learn with each other.”

ICELAND - FRAE, Reykjavik 8 Participants from retail sector and the counselor

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An individual session with Elka Vassileva from the Institute for Postgraduate Studies in Sofia.

Participants from the Mr. Bricolage Store in a group session.

LITUHANIA - VIKO, Vilnius “The biggest benefit of Validation of previous experience acquired in labor market according “VALIDAID” methodology – saving of time and individualization of evaluation of competencies.” Vida Sviciuliene Representative of Local Store

FRANCE - ISEP, Paris Participants from IT sector

GUIDELINES FOR ENTERPRISES preparing an enterprise to engage their employees in validation processes Guidelines for Enterprises is a result of Work Package 4 - Development of Validation Kit of ValidAid project. It’s general objective is to contents with instructions to enterprises to organise information and documentation about their employees in order to facilitate the validation of competences and appropriate education and training within the enterprise. ValidAid project expects with this Guidelines for Enterprises to give access to specific contents and tools designed to organise employees processes and facilitate their competence recognition and validation. Guidelines for Enterprises is especially targeted for employers and human resource managers. Guidelines for Enterprises is available in several formats: as a content to be consulted in ValidAid web-site, as digital brochure, possible to be paper printed from its .pdf format, be sent by email or downloaded.

Guidelines for Enterprises are an adaptation of extracted texts from: > CEDEFOP, European Guidelines for Validating Non-formal and Informal Learning, Luxembourg, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2009 > EUROPEAN COMMISSION Directorate-General for Education and Culture, Summary report on Peer Learning Activity on Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning - Report to Participants, Prague, June 2009 > ValidAid, Validation Kit - Methods & Tools, November 2011

Credits Edition: IEBA Centro de Iniciativas Empresariais e Sociais, July 2012 Revision & Approval: ValidAid Partnership, July 2012 Deliverable Reference: WP4-D5-IEBA-EN-V3-Approved-July2012-PUB Project: ValidAid - Validation of skills and knowledge for strengthening the positions of lowqualified employees in the labour market Framework: Lifelong Learning Programme - Leonardo da Vinci - Transfer of Innovation Project Reference Number: 2010-1-BG1-LEO05-03085 11

Guidelines for Enterprises - ValidAid - July 2012  

Guidelines for Enterprises is a result of Work Package 4 - Development of Validation Kit of ValidAid project. It’s general objective is to c...

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