OntheMic – Microcredentials as a means for recognition and validation of learning
A person’s curriculum is made of different elements that shape skills and knowledge: school, university, master’s trainings, but also learning learning gained outside a traditional academic environment. This latter is usually known as prior learning, the knowledge acquired while working, participating in employer training programs, serving in the military, studying independently, volunteering or doing community service, and studying open source courseware. Prior learning is therefore a very important element that shapes everybody profile… but how to assess it effectively? How to asses the knowledge and competence gained through service, working outside the school background?
This is the question at the base of the new OntheMic Project (Microcredentials as a means for recognition and validation of learning), an ERASMUS+ KA2 project coordinated by Live (FI) that gathers partners expert in education and training for disadvantaged groups from Finland, Germany, Belgium, Greece, and Iceland, to develop mechanisms and tools for the recognition and validation of prior learning. In particular, the OntheMIC Partnership wants to develop easy-to-use, user-friendly tools for adult learners to assess their own skills and competencies gained through prior learning in formal, informal and non-formal settings in order to see the emerging needs and to find ways to up-skill and re-skill the competences to meet the needs of the labour market.
As stated in the European Pillar of Social Rights a strong Social Europe is the foundation not only of our citizens’ prosperity and well-being but also of a competitive economy. A skilled innovative workforce, capable of shaping and adapting to the green and digital transitions will be key to this. Education is the foundation for personal fulfilment, employability, and active and responsible citizenship. The right to quality and inclusive education, training and lifelong learning is proclaimed in the European Pillar of Social Rights as its first principle. Education is at the heart of the European way of life, strengthening social market economy and democracy with freedom, diversity, human rights and social justice. In December 2020, 16 million people were out of work. Low-skilled, low-paid workers, and temporary workers were the first to be laid-off due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Migrants’ participation in the labour market was also disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
The guidance and validation of skills play therefore a very important role. A pre-survey on skills conducted by Live before elaborating the project showed us that there is a need for easy-to-use methods and tools for both adult learners in need for support (eg. migrants, disabled, long term unemployed, people without formal secondary level education or otherwise in a vulnerable situation in the society and esp. in the labour market) as well as employers and staff working with adult learners. OntheMIC project therefore, starts from the findings that there is a need for more flexible and inclusive learning paths since the learner population is becoming more diverse and the learning needs including up-skilling and reskilling more dynamic.
A large proportion of people belonging to disadvantaged groups face severe challenges in getting decent jobs, whether they are migrants trying to access education or to enter the labour market or they may be disabled or otherwise in a vulnerable situation. They may have the necessary skills and competences to do the job but they lack the recognition and validation of their skills. Or they may have skills gaps that could be filled with some specified learning tasks in order to be employed.
The recognition of prior learning processes can help these individuals acquire micro-credentials, a certification or even a formal qualification that matches their knowledge and skills, and thereby contribute to improving their employability, mobility, lifelong learning, social inclusion and self-esteem.
OntheMic project will last 2 years and to reach its objectives it foresees 4 interconnected results aimed at developing mechanisms and tools for the recognition and validation of prior learning:
- A self-reflection/self-assessment platform which will enable learners to assess the personal skills and competencies gained through non-formal and informal learning;
- A learning environment tool to connect the adult learner and the learning environment (company or another employer);
- A training module workshop, aimed at aimed at making the (evolving) needs of working life and employers together with the skills people coming from different backgrounds have meet;
- Learning Validation Methodology guidelines based on the previous results.
The project aims also at supporting the green and digital transformation on the grass root level. There is a need to enable a profound change in peoples’ behaviour and skills, starting in the training systems and institutions as catalysts.
The project foresees also a very effective dissemination strategy aimed at reaching the largest number of stakeholders with the goals of increasing both knowledge and public awareness on the importance of effective tools for the recognition of prior learning.
Stay tuned and follow the project latest development here