The European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) aims to give people greater control over their individual learning experiences and make it more attractive to move between different countries and different learning environments.
The system aims to facilitate the validation, recognition and accumulation of work-related skills and knowledge acquired during a stay in another country or in different situations. It should ensure that these experiences contribute to vocational qualifications.
ECVET aims for better compatibility between the different vocational education and training (VET) systems in place across Europe and their qualifications.
It aims to create a technical framework to describe qualifications in terms of units of learning outcomes, and it includes assessment, transfer, accumulation and recognition procedures.
In ECVET, an individual’s learning outcomes are assessed and validated in order to transfer credits from one qualification system to another or from one learning “pathway to another.
According to this approach, learners can accumulate the required learning outcomes for a given qualification over time, in different countries or in different situations.
The system also allows the possibility to develop common references for VET qualifications and is fully compatible with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).
ECVET is based on:
- Learning outcomes – statements of knowledge, skills and competence that can be achieved in a variety of learning contexts.
- Units of learning outcomes that are components of qualifications. Units can be assessed, validated and recognised.
- ECVET points, which provide additional information about units and qualifications in a numerical form.
- Credit for assessed Units. Credit can be transferred and accumulated to achieve a qualification.
- Mutual trust and partnership among participating organisations are expressed in memoranda of understanding and learning agreements
Although ECVET is underpinned by European legislation, participation is voluntary and national protocols are respected.
ECVET Implementation – EU Level
The ECVET recommendation and monitoring its implementation
The ECVET recommendation (June 2009) invited Member States to create, by 2012, the necessary conditions for gradual implementation of ECVET with a review and evaluation of the first stage of ECVET implementation in 2014.
Cedefop, who has the role of supporting and monitoring ECVET implementation at EU level published a document on ‘The necessary conditions for ECVET implementation’ (April 2012). This summarises the conditions as follows:
- existing national qualifications framework or register (transparency on qualifications)
- learning outcomes approach to qualifications, educational standards (teaching and training plans, curricula, etc.) but also to assessment, recognition and validation
- design of units of learning outcomes
o component of a qualification
o adaptability for mobility purposes
- assessment provisions adapted to learning mobility and learning outcomes approach / unit-based qualifications
- crediting of learning outcomes
- recognition and validation of learning outcomes
- transfer and accumulation of learning outcomes.
It is clear that the UK has the elements required for ECVET (learning outcomes, units of assessment, credit points and credit transfer) already in place. For the UK a significant challenge is to make learners, providers and employers aware that ECVET is a convention that is being used here and abroad. The network of ECVET experts (insert link) will help with this challenge.
Cedefop produces an annual report for the EC on ECVET implementation in Europe. Cedefop’s fourth report ‘Monitoring ECVET implementation strategies in Europe 2013’ analyses ECVET developments in 38 countries and regions, including the UK, up to September 2013.
Evaluation of the ECVET recommendation in 2014
The European Commission undertook an evaluation of the ECVET recommendation and a final report from external evaluators was published in July 2014. It can be accessed at: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/more_info/evaluations/docs/education/ecvet14_en.pdf
The Commission will submit its report on ECVET Evaluation to the European Parliament and the Council in due course.
ECVET Implementation – UK level
Linking ECVET to Erasmus+.
Depending on national/system- level priorities ECVET can be used for several purposes and implemented at project or system level. Many member states are implementing ECVET at project level to support transnational mobility and lifelong learning. Some member states are however implementing ECVET at system level to reform their VET systems or develop a credit system using ECVET principles.
The UK has all of the main building blocks in place for ECVET implementation with well established credit and qualifications systems. Thus ECVET is not being implemented or adopted as a Credit Accumulation and Transfer System for the UK.
The UK is using ECVET to promote transnational mobility, to ensure a quality experience for the learner/worker and recognition/validation of their learning. UK ECVET Experts (www.ecvetexperts.org.uk) are promoting and encouraging organisations involved in mobility to use ECVET in geographical mobility, linking ECVET to Erasmus+.
UK ECVET National Contact Points (NCPs)
During July 2011 ECVET National Contact Points were established in Scotland (SCQFP), Northern Ireland (CCEA Accreditation), and Wales (Colegau Cymru). An ECVET NCP for England has existed from April 2010 managed by ECCTIS Ltd. These designated contact points work closely with the UK National Agency for Erasmus+ on the implementation of ECVET through the Erasmus+ programme and the co-ordination of the UK team of ECVET Experts (www.ecvetexperts.org.uk).
UK ECVET Experts
ECVET activities are now included in the Erasmus+ National Agency (The British Council and Ecorys UK) yearly work programme. ECVET activities will run for the duration of the Erasmus+ programme (2014 – 2020). Thirteen UK ECVET Experts have been appointed by Ecorys UK for the period April 2014 to December 2015 to promote and raise awareness of ECVET. The aims of ECVET activities in the 2014/15 work programme are to:
- raise awareness of ECVET to key stakeholders;
- promote and encourage organisations involved in mobility to use ECVET in geographical mobility, linking ECVET to Erasmus+;
- provide specific support to organisations in understanding ECVET within the UK context via a suite of guidance materials, events and support visits; and
- develop an ECVET community of practice within the UK.
For further information on the work of the UK ECVET Experts, guidance, resource material and case studies visit www.ecvetexperts.org.uk