At European level, activity is led by the European Commission and its Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, albeit with a requirement for regular reporting to the Directors General for Vocational Training (ACVT-DGVT), an informal body that brings together Ministers responsible for education, training and employment, from EU and accession countries, alongside a small number of wider VET stakeholders such as Cedefop and social partner representatives.
In addition to stimulating ECVET implementation and motivating the various national and European actors, the European Commission provides regular input to a number of different committees and advisory groups, with a view to ensuring coherence among the various European instruments developed to support European cooperation in education and training.
A number of additional European level actors also exist, however.
Currently, ICF Consulting Services is contracted as ECVET Secretariat working under contract to the European Commission. As well as maintaining the current ECVET Mobility Toolkit, the ECVET Secretariat is also responsible for the hosting of ECVET-related meetings, workshops and events, at European level, and for supporting the ECVET Community of Practice. The ECVET Community of Practice was launched in 2013 with a view to building partnerships and sharing knowledge among those bodies, organisations and institutions involved in the governance, testing and implementation of ECVET. Register here to become a member of the Community of Practice and to hear more about future events and activities.
In line with the ECVET recommendation, an ECVET Users’ Group was set-up to govern the quality and overall coherence of ECVET coordination, cooperation and implementation. Chaired by the European Commission, the ECVET Users’ Group is formed by representatives of national Ministries with responsibility for VET, alongside wider VET stakeholders involved in one or more aspects of ECVET implementation - for example, social partners, employer associations, and national agencies working to implement the Erasmus+ Programme. Cedefop and the European Training Foundation (ETF) also provide specific expertise and input to the ECVET Users’ Group.
As a part of their remit for management and implementation of the decentralised actions of the Erasmus+ Programme, some Erasmus+ National Agencies work together on areas of common interest, targeting improvements in policy and service delivery and the identification of good or interesting practice. An example of this, in the past, was Thematic Networking, an initiative which targeted the identification and exploitation of good practices emanating from European-funded development programmes - an example of Thematic Networking is NetECVET (2010-2013) which brought together 14 National Agencies in order to support geographical mobility practitioners working with ECVET. NetECVET was also responsible for initial development of the current ECVET Mobility Toolkit.
In the last decade or so, numerous ECVET-related projects have been funded either within the sectoral funding programmes for education and training (for example the Lifelong Learning and Erasmus+ Programmes) or in response to dedicated Calls for Proposals at European level, from which a vast array of tools and materials have been developed, and continue to exist; examples of these ECVET Projects are referenced in the current ECVET Toolkit.
Beyond European level activity, and governance, ECVET implementation at national level can (and does) involve a number of additional actors, including:
- Erasmus+ National Agencies: contracted by the national authorities in each country (national authorities are usually nominated departments within the Ministry of Education, Training or Labour), Erasmus+ National Agencies are responsible for the management and implementation of decentralised funding actions within the Erasmus+ programme - the European funding programme for education training, youth and sport; Erasmus+ National Agencies actively promote the use of common European tools and instruments for transparency and recognition (for example, ECVET, EQF, Europass) and are also responsible, in many countries, for managing National Teams of ECVET Experts in which selected experts work together to promote ECVET, encouraging its wider take-up and use;
- ECVET National Coordination Points: national coordination points - also referred to as ECVET national contact points or NCPs - exist in many European countries and provide expertise to qualifications providers and awarding bodies (helping them to better understand how ECVET can work with existing vocational qualifications, or in the design of new awards) and to mobility practitioners and individual learners (advising on possibilities for the recognition and validation of learning outcomes, particularly those achieved through geographical mobility);
- Competent Institutions: national ministries, sectoral bodies, chambers of commerce, regional education or employment administrations, qualifications awarding bodies, training providers and companies are just some of the bodies and institutions that are referred to, in ECVET circles, as Competent Institutions; such institutions differ from country to country but generally comprise those organisations responsible for the design and award of qualifications, the allocation of credit and credit points to qualifications (and units) and the assessment, validation and recognition of learning outcomes, with practices usually governed according to national policies and regulations;
- Social Partners: in many European countries, social partners play an important role in the design and development of new qualifications and awards, and in establishing standards and assessment criteria; social partners continue to promote the take-up of common European tools and instruments, such as ECVET and the EQF, and have been involved in their testing and promotion since the very beginning;
- Mobility Practitioners: mobility practitioners exist in all European countries and are responsible for organising short and long-duration mobility and for sending and hosting learners; in addition to education and training providers in the public and private sectors, mobility practitioners can comprise employers, sectoral bodies and specialist mobility agencies, among others; mobility practitioners have played, and continue to play, an important role in the development, testing and implementation of ECVET and its technical components.