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Increasing the recognition of competences acquired outside formal education

Over 80% of our learning takes place outside the formal education system.

Apprentice learning while she works
Our study looks at the importance of informal learning

Very few European countries have highly developed systems to recognise the learning that takes place outside formal education systems (recognised as non-formal or informal learning). Reflecting and gathering data on the most effective systems and tools to recognise non-formal and informal learning is essential to improve both policy and practice, and have an impact on a massive number of people.

Over the last ten years, Dr Manuel Souto-Otero has had a leading role in the production of four ‘European Inventories on the validation of non-formal and informal learning’ for the European Commission, gathering information on how formal education institutions, companies and the third sector recognise non-formal and informal learning in over 30 European countries.

This comparative work has informed the recent Council of the European Union Recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning, the European Guidelines for validation, as well as various other policy documents.

The 2014 update of the European Inventory on validation, which Dr Souto-Otero is directing, will be used by the EU as a baseline to measure progress towards the benchmarks established by the Council Recommendation on validation for 2018.

Work in this area has also resulted in invitations to speak to policy-makers, social partners, practitioners and researchers around Europe, and the provision of training to government officials.

During 2013 Dr Souto-Otero has blogged for or has been interviewed by Microsoft Europe, OBESSU (Organising Bureau of European School Students Union), Spanish newspaper ‘El Pais’ and ‘El Definido’ newspaper (Chile) in relation to the recognition of non-formal learning, and undertook a major project for the European Youth Forum on the role of non-formal education in youth organisations in enhancing the employability of young people.