Mapping the competencies of European Adult Education professionals
The EU sponsored Flexi-Path project ran from January 2009 until September 2010. It was funded by Leonardo, part of the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme which aims to build a skilled workforce across Europe. The ECA was the UK partner for this project and joined adult education experts from CREA (Spain), DIE(Project Co-ordinator, Germany),Eesti Vabaharidusliit (Estonia), IREA (Romania), SVEB (Switzerland) and Universitá degli Studi di Firenze (Italy)
The project was undertaken on the basis that in the Adult Education field across Europe, there are many professionals with competences and functions that are of the highest levels of the EQF. It was recognised that the training itineraries are very different and until now the training and professionalisation systems of the sector haven't allowed the wider recognition and comparability of the qualifications. Agencies have the challenge of recognising the learning and the competences of these professionals, who in turn have limited opportunities to acquire jobs and training opportunities.
The aims of the project were to:
- Analyse the system or the present qualification frameworks for professionals in adult education in the different European countries
- Illustrate the complex high level skills and knowledge of adult education practitioners
- Contribute the comparability and transparency of the adult educator qualifications in order to facilitate
- the access and progression in careers
- mobility on the European labour market
- Design a common competency profile of an adult educator on the 6th and 7th EQF Level
- Develop a validation instrument of learning and competences that meets this level.
The project was based on three previous European projects, the most recent of which was VINEPAC - Validation of informal and non-formal psycho-pedagogical competences of adult educators (2006-08).
European Qualifications Framework (EQF)
The EQF aims to relate different countries national qualifications systems to a common European references framework. The core of the EQF concerns 8 reference levels describing what a learner knows, understands and is able to do. To see how these reference levels compare to the UK qualification framework click here.
Flexi-Path is concerned with those practitioners working at Levels 6 and 7. The grade criteria used for competences at these levels is as follows -
- Manage complex technical or professional activities or projects, taking responsibility for decision making in unpredictable work or study contexts
- Take responsibility for managing professional development of individuals and groups
- Manage and transform work or study contexts that are complex, unpredictable and require new strategic approaches
- Take responsibility for contributing to professional knowledge and practice and/or for reviewing the strategic performance of teams
Designing a common competency profile
This project addresses a key issue in the EQF; that is recognising the non-academic components which relate to skills, abilities and experience. Work based competences are a reflection of a person's ability to undertake the main functions of their professional role. Competences will reflect a person's knowledge, skill and attitude and may be demonstrated through practical application. Their nature differentiates them from underpinning knowledge that may be learnt through academic study.
During the first phase of the project each partner country reviewed a sample of qualification-models and compiled a national report. This has enabled the common elements to be identified and a better understanding of the job roles that adult education professionals fulfil. Emphasis has been placed on the key knowledge, skills and competencies that are represented. A final synthesis report was then written which provided the starting point for the design of the common competency profile.
The resulting competency profile has been split into three clusters. These are Learning, People and Practice. The view the profile click here.
Flexi-Path Toolkit - A Guide to Creating a Professional Portfolio to Demonstrate High Level Competences of Adult Educators
The Flexi-Path Toolkit was written by the ECA project team. The first draft was tested in all partner countries before the Toolkit was finalised so feedback from practitioners could be incorporated into the document.
The Toolkit gives users the resources to be able to demonstrate their high level work based competences by providing a step by step method for analysing complex professional situations in which competences have been (are) demonstrated. It facilitates professional development and helps to set a clear agenda for your Continuous Professional Development activities. This includes guidelines for planning developmental activities which will enable users to work towards acquiring additional competences. It has been suggested that where members of a team work through the Flexi-Path process in parallel, it can help deployment of relevant skills in key areas and identify aspects that need strengthening.
The toolkit was officially launched on 20th September 2010 in Bonn at the 'Senior Adult Educators - Recognising their competences' conference organised by the Flexi-Path partners.
Comments on the toolkit so far include:-
"Very clear, well thought through and a welcome, much needed asset for the sector"
"Every Senior Manager should have on"
"A good opportunity to reflect on own personal competences and to realise one's own potential"
"Can guide professionals in both documenting their career and validating their competences"
"Has the capacity to raising more awareness of the importance of competences gained in non-formal environments"
Flexible Pathways Towards Professionalisation, Senior Adult Educators in Europe - Anne Strauch, Miriam Radtke, Raluca Lupou (Ed.)
Written by the Flexi-Path project partnership (including Bernard Godding of the ECA) this publication describes the ideas and the theoretical background behind the project as well as introducing the Flexi-Path Toolkit and looking towards future opportunities. See our publications page to purchase a copy of the publication.
The Future of Flexi-Path
The ECA will be running a programme of Flexi-Path workshops in the near future aimed at practitioners who wish to use the Flexi-Path Toolkit. If you are interested in attending a workshop please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can keep you up to date with events.
We would love to hear from you if you have used the Flexi-Path Toolkit. You can contact us on email@example.com.
Archived Flexi-Path News
For previous project news please click on links below
Recognition of Prior Learning Outcomes
Another Lifelong Learning Programme project which may be of interest is 'Recognition of Prior Learning Outcomes (RPLO). The project, which is carried out by a Consortium of 9 partners from 5 countries including the UK, aims to improve the attractiveness and effectiveness of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Teachers and Trainers profession in the UK and partner countries. It intends to demonstrate how Credit-based qualifications will make the transition from being RPLO-neutral to being RPLO-friendly, using best practice from UK and EU projects and research, including the Cedefop study on the Recognition and Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning for VET Teachers and Trainers. For more information visit the RPLO website at http://www.rplo.eu/.