When building and establishing an international partnership, with a view to supporting ECVET implementation, it is important to consider local circumstances relating to qualifications governance, development and delivery.
The way that such systems are managed and organised - this can differ between sending and hosting countries - has the potential to impact on ECVET implementation and on the delivery of mobility programmes.
Diversity of Systems not to be Underestimated
Education and training systems in Europe are mostly developed within national contexts, responding to national needs and priorities, and forming an integrated part of a country's identity. This has led to a quite diverse landscape in European education and training, making transparency and comparability between education and training systems not always easy.
ECVET relies on organisations and institutions working together, despite these organisational differences, yet the diversity of systems is still not to be underestimated, as a potentially complicating factor, with a need to actively consider this when agreeing on cooperation for international mobility.
Bodies and Roles Vary
firstly, the range of ECVET actors in different European countries is broad - types of involved bodies or institutions can vary greatly - and might include, for example, ministries and national authorities, chambers of commerce and industry, social partners, regional administrations, employment agencies, education and training providers and sectoral authorities.
secondly, depending on the qualification system, the roles and tasks of involved bodies or institutions can also vary - the same function can be the responsibility of very different ECVET actors in different European countries - for example, validation and recognition might be dealt with by individual education and training providers, by bespoke recognition authorities or by national ministries.
Level of Autonomy Varies
In some qualification systems, VET providers have a high level of autonomy and can decide on validation and recognition issues independently. In other qualification systems, these decisions must be taken, or at least confirmed, by a separate competent body or institution - for example, national or regional authority, sectoral body - with VET providers sometimes limiting their responsibility to internal (or external) assessment issues.
Due to this varied landscape of ECVET actors, it is vital to ensure, in advance of any actual mobility period, that the partnership is well-equipped to apply the agreed ECVET principles. In this respect, it is important to consider:
the exchange of detailed information at the preparation stage (Before Mobility) between sending and host organisations, covering issues such as targeted learning outcomes, associated units and qualifications, onsite assessment and reporting mechanisms and any other aspects covered by the learning agreement.
the involvement of competent institutions in both countries, partners will need to clearly determine the roles to be performed by different actors and stakeholders, including those with responsibility for validation and recognition (competent authorities).
planning additional time for the application of ECVET principles to mobility at the start, more time will be need to allow ECVET principles to be discussed and agreed on, including in terms of the planned use of common tools and mechanisms - this will ultimately pay-off, however, with initial investments expected to save time in the longer-term.
In some countries, ECVET remains in a testing (or post-testing) phase, with regulatory obstacles potentially still in place - these might, for example, place limits on the value (or credit value) that can be attributed to learning outcomes achieved and assessed in another European country. In all cases, it is important that these matters are discussed among partners, at the point of planning a mobility programme, so that expectations are realistic and so that compensatory measures can be introduced, where needed.
In this video, Maarit Saarenkylä and Veera Metso from Omnia Vocational College (Espoo, Finland) confirm core ECVET issues for discussion with their partner in Ireland.