Validation as the missing link
Patrick Werquin believes that validation can prove to be much more valuable than just a new pathway to a diploma.
– By recognizing people’s wide range of competences, we can prepare them not only for work, but for life as well, says the economist.
He doesn’t mean there has to be a contrast between the formal education system and a system of validating non-formal and informal learning.
– The systems complement each other. Most formal education doesn’t give people the qualifications that are directly demanded in the work place. By recognizing both formal competences and more subtle competences like ethics and leadership, validation can help fill the gap, he explains.
– It could be a much-needed missing link.
Social recognition is key
Werquin insists that social recognition of validation processes is a key determinant for success.
– When participants get a certificate, they should feel secure that it will be recognised everywhere, he says.
At this point he feels that most policymakers, and a lot of employers, just depend on what they know – and what they know are the diplomas of formal education.
For validation to be more recognized and valuable in the future, he offers two pieces of advice:
– First, all parties need to be involved in shaping the validation process – employers, participants and policy makers alike. Second, we need to communicate the opportunities given by validation to everyone. People need to see the positive examples, Werquin insists.
Need for research
Although positive with regard to the future of validation, the economist has some concerns about the road ahead.
– We are working in the dark right now, says Werquin and explains:
– We just don’t have the facts to back up our decisions. Some countries don’t even know how many participants their validation programs have.
The way forward, he feels, should involve research in a big way.
– More data can help us figure out what works and what doesn’t. We need to talk to the people involved, we need large samples, and we need to do follow-ups to find later benefits.
His visions for the future of validation?
– One system, tailored to people’s different needs. Professional assessors, and programs based on what we know works – not on what we think will work.