Validation – for skills supply and lifelong learning
In this final report, Validation – for skills supply and lifelong learning, the Delegation submits its proposals for measures for a coherent, national and permanent system for validation, so that more people can have their knowledge and skills identified, assessed and recognised.
A new common definition of validation
Validation is carried out by numerous different providers in both education and working life. At present, there is no coherent regulation on validation. The term ‘validation’ is also defined differently in different areas. There are thus different views of what the aim of validation is and what phases it should include. This creates uncertainty about the value of validation, and there is a risk that this uncertainty will lead to validation not being carried out to an extent that is sufficient and desirable. The National Delegation for Validation proposes that the definition of validation in the Education Act be changed.
Validation should be defined as:
a structured process for in-depth identification, assessment and recognition of knowledge and skills that a person has, regardless of how they were acquired.
The proposal is based on the description of the validation processes in the Council Recommendation but has been adapted to language that is more common in a Swedish context.
The definition must also be followed by a common conceptual structure that, at an overarching level, clarifies what validation entails. The Delegation therefore proposes that an ordinance with general provisions on validation be introduced. The ordinance is to contain the Education Act’s definition of the term ‘validation’ as well as additional provisions that describe how validation is to be carried out. The validation ordinance should also state that validation should enable a competent body to confirm that the person has acquired knowledge and skills that correspond to an established and relevant standard. The new ordinance is to apply to validation processes in all forms of education, in working life and in other activities covered by the SeQF unless otherwise provided for in other statutes.
A national strategy for skills supply and lifelong learning
The current changes in the labour market require strategic and coordinated measures for learning, transition and development. Technological developments give rise to changing skills needs and thus an increased need for lifelong learning. The national policy in the areas of education, labour market and industrial policy must be better coordinated to meet the needs in the area of skills supply.
The National Delegation for Validation considers that there is a great need for a coherent strategy for skills supply and lifelong learning in which validation constitutes an important component. Work on the strategy should be conducted jointly by the relevant ministries and with broad participation from working life organisations, representatives of municipal adult education and regions, and other relevant actors. An overarching strategy will help put the issue of validation in its context. This will improve the possibilities to establish long-term, sustainable structures for validation.
The link between validation carried out in different areas remains weak, which on the whole results in a fragmented validation system. A national function will allow better use to be made of the synergies between developments implemented in the various parts of the system.
The National Delegation for Validation proposes that the minister responsible should convene a council with overall responsibility for validation. A council, led by the responsible minister, will make the political engagement clearer. In the long term, the validation council should be part of the organisation proposed for implementation of the national strategy for skills supply and lifelong learning.
Skills supply a fundamental task for regions
The efficient supply of skills is key to sustainable regional growth in that employers in the private and public sectors gain access to the right skills. Validation can help create benefit from a regional skills supply and employment perspective by giving visibility to and confirming the skills available in the region.
Regions should promote, coordinate, support and increase knowledge of validation among regional actors. Regional collaboration on validation can contribute to equivalent access to validation between municipalities and to maintain consistency within the validation system.
The National Delegation for Validation proposes that skills supply should be a fundamental part of the responsibility for regional development and regulated in law, which would give regions a clear mandate to work with skills supply and validation. The Delegation also proposes that regions, individually or together with other regions, should be allowed to apply for funding from the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth to help develop and establish effective structures for validation at regional level.
Support for sector validation needs to be strengthened
Sectors own their validation models and are responsible for ensuring their development, quality assurance, financing and updating. However, central government has an interest in developing validation of working life qualifications to enable increased access to qualityassured and equitable validation. The National Delegation for Validation therefore proposes establishing a government grant to develop validation of vocational skills. According to the proposal, government grants will be awarded for initiatives aimed at developing models for validation of vocational skills. Applications aimed at developing new and revising existing qualifications should particularly be prioritized.
Increased access to validation in municipal adult education
Adult education must be based on the needs and requirements of the individual. In the Delegation’s view, this should mean that no student should need to complete the parts of an education in which they already possess the equivalent knowledge and skills. Students therefore need to be offered validation so that their studies can be designed in line with their own needs and goals for the studies. However, current regulations in the Education Act state only that validation may be carried out. Although the data is insufficient, it indicates that few students are currently offered validation of their prior learning in municipal adult education.
Individuals need guidance as well as help in identifying their previous education and professional experience to be able to make informed choices. For some people, this initial identification may then lead to validation, which means that their studies can be shortened.
After the validation process is completed students will be entitled to a certificate or a grade. following validation. This means that the documentation resulting from validation is given a formal status, which is expected to lead to greater legal certainty, equivalence and confidence in the documentation issued following a validation. The National Delegation for Validation proposes that the student should be able to obtain the grade ‘E’ by the principal without having to take an examination. A grade following validation also ensures the legitimacy of validation in relation to employers and education institutions, making it clear that the student’s knowledge in both cases has been assessed based on the same knowledge goals and knowledge requirements.