2.9 Skills recognition
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The Flemish Government is making efforts to better recognise voluntary activities and to value the social involvement of young volunteers and the skills they have acquired (EVC). The Policy Plan Youth (2020-2024) states that the Flemish Government aims to ensure that voluntary involvement is accredited and also in the Youth and Children's Rights Plan (Jeugd- en Kinderrechtenbeleidsplan) one of the tactical goals is the recognition and improvement of the talent, quality and competence developments that result from voluntary commitment.
The Flemish Government built on skill recognition in youth work through new regulations for a ‘certified training’ (kadervorming). Where in the past, from 1980 till 2015, organizations had a great deal of freedom in setting up framework reforms. There were major differences in structure, duration and content. Yet they were all honoured with the same certificates. This freedom was in line with the great diversity in youth work but had the disadvantage that it became unclear what a volunteer should be able to do.
The Flemish Decree ‘certified training’ of 2014 (Het Vlaams decreet Kadervorming 2014), which provides a framework for recognised training courses, was a social recognition of the importance of training for youth workers. The new regulations harmonized the trajectories. The aim of the decree was to strengthen leadership competences and to honour youth work as a powerful informal learning environment. Volunteers can register their voluntary work at the website of the Flemish Public Employment Service (VDAB) but they do not receive a certificate.
In the Policy Paper Youth (2019-2024), the Minister of Brussels, Media and Youth, Benjamin Dalle (Christian Democratic Party), states that he will work on the amendment of the decree and the decision in the field of ‘certified training’ (kadervorming) based on the results of a study delivered in 2018 and the consultation that took place with the youth sector in 2019. The procedures will be simplified without affecting the quality of training.
The Department of Culture, Youth and Media commissioned in 2022 a research on recognising competences of young volunteers and aligning existing instruments for this recognition. The study provided an overview of gaps, bottlenecks and needs, with a specific focus on children and young people in vulnerable situations and children and young people with disabilities (report in Dutch).
Labour market-oriented initiatives
Recognition of acquired competences (EVC) gives someone the opportunity to have their knowledge, skills and attitudes recognised, independent of the context in which they acquired this knowledge, skills and attitudes. The person's competencies are assessed against a predetermined standard . EVC procedures offer an alternative route to obtaining a certificate of recognition, outside the traditional education and training circuit.
The EVC procedures are however high-threshold and complex and far removed from the specific competences acquired as young volunteer in the youth sector.
‘certified training’ -'Kadervormingstraject'
'Kadervorming' is a certified training explicitly meant for youngsters who (will) have leadership responsibilities in the context of youth work. The main goal is to strenghten their competences. One trajectory consists of a theoretical part, an internship and an evaluation. The training may lead to a certification (animator, chief instructor) delivered by the Division Subsidising and recognising.
ComPaS (Competence Passport) is a certificate that organizations and schools award to young people who support, coach or guide other children, teenagers and young people in their spare time (such as managing a festival, supervising workshops, animating children, being a point of contact for younger students at school...). Via ComPas young people receive recognition from the city of Antwerp and the VDAB (Flemish employment service) for the competences they have acquired during a course or by doing voluntary work. A number of conditions are attached to the granting of a ComPas label:
- A trajectory works on at least 8 competencies (out of a competency list)
- The target group are young people aged 15 to 30 years
- A young person follows a program voluntarily. It is not linked to a compulsory internship
- The guidance provides regular feedback to the youngster so that he learns to recognize and name the competences.
- A jury, composed of representatives from different sectors (education, youth work, sports, VDAB, employment sector,…) assesses after a visit and an interview with supervisors and young people whether a trajectory receives the ComPas label for 3 years.
Organizations’ own initiatives
Organizations working with volunteers usually provide a form of training, education or support for volunteers which may or may not lead to the award of a certificate. Although such certification is not legally recognized, these initiatives give an indication of the basic quality.
Skills recognition for young volunteers in Erasmus + projects
Young volunteers, that participate in an Erasmus + project, may recognise their skills through the Youth Pass.