“Qualifications frameworks are more than stratification,” said Michael Teutsch of the European Commission. “For many countries in Europe it is also an opportunity to develop validation of non-formal learning,” he added.
As Deputy Head of the Unit for Lifelong learning in DG Education and Culture, Michael Teutsch presented the official view on qualifications frameworks to the conference in his key note speech.
He also placed this work in the broader political context. Referring to the recently adopted strategy of the EU Commission, “Europe 2020” Michael Teutsch said:
“The Commissions puts a huge emphasis on skills, competencies and education. That is necessary, if we want to move beyond the economic crisis and prepare our countries for the challenges after the crisis.
An important part of this is to prepare people for the labour market,” he said.
Michael Teutsch focused on two out of five “flash initiatives” in “Europe 2020:
• Youth on the move
• New skills for new jobs
“We need better skills and we need the right skills. That includes also transversal competencies like communicative competence and competence of collaboration.
Also the Commission wants to increase the ability of citizens to access skills, and lifelong learning is an important part of flexicurity in the labour market,” said Michael Teutsch adding:
“That is why the Commission pushes for lifelong learning policies in the member countries. We recommend a better validation of non-formal and informal learning.
As a part of this the European Qualifications Framework is very important on the European Agenda right now. In many countries we have reached the stage where we will see if it works in praxis. In that respect this is a very timely conference.”
Two forms of mobility
For the Commission the purpose of qualifications frameworks is to facilitate lifelong learning and mobility.
“We are talking of mobility in two ways,” said Michael Teutsch.
“Of course the frameworks should make it easier to move between educations in different countries. But is also a question of mobility between educational sectors inside the country,” he stressed.
Michael Teutsch also said that the European Qualifications Framework is not just a question of stratification:
“The framework focuses on learning outcomes instead of the number of years at school, the curriculums and the exams. It will make it possible for people to continue their learning from whatever level they are at and at some point get access to higher education”
To illustrate his point Michael Teutsch told about a German politician:
“He was the president of my region (Land), and he had been a top politician for many years. Then he wanted to enlist at the university. But he was turned down because he never finished the proper youth education.”
A chance for non-formal education
Michael Teutsch told the conference that the task of creating and implementing national and European Qualifications Frameworks is a huge challenge.
“But it is important, also for non-formal education. It will make it easier to compare different kinds of education. A lot of countries will take this opportunity to develop their system of validation of non-formal learning,” he said.
Concluding his presentation he called on the participants of the conference to make their voice heard in the public consultation on a new EU document on validation of non-formal learning.