Twenty years after the EU introduced measures to facilitate the mobility of students in higher education via its credit transfer system, learners in manual or practical activities are set to get their own EU-wide system.
EU-wide recognition of national vocational education and training (VET) qualifications came a step closer to realisation on 10 April 2008, when the Commission proposed plans to harmonise them into a comprehensive system.
The proposed new European Credit system for Vocational Education and Learning (ECVET) is seen as the equivalent of the higher education ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) introduced in 1989. It will look to improve learner mobility across Europe by ensuring that training completed in one member state is recognised in another.
The system “will make it much easier for individual trainees to complete their training courses in different training establishments and in different countries,” explained Education Commissioner Ján Figel, “thereby boosting mobility of learners throughout Europe”.
The current framework is very disjointed, consisting of national education systems with minimal interconnectivity. The credit transfer system hopes to promote learner mobility and give them more access to and choice of lifelong learning.
“The EU faces challenges of globalisation and increasing competitiveness, so it is important that EU citizens maintain skills, competitiveness and knowledge,” said Commission spokesperson John Macdonald, who added: “VET is an important part of that.” He said ECVET is expected to benefit up to 17 million Europeans.
At present, the plans are at the Recommendation stage, and the Commission will present them to Parliament and Council for approval. Subsequently, if adopted, member states would implement the initiative on a voluntary basis.