10.6 Recognition and validation of skills acquired through youth work
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Recognition and validation of skills acquired through youth work was first dealt with on the state level in the Czech Republic by the National Institute of Children and Youth in the year 2009 through the national project ‘Keys for Life’.
The recognition of the value of non-formal education within the ESF project covered three different levels:
- Recognition of social benefits of the work with children and youth,
- Recognition of competencies gained in non-formal education by employers,
- Formal validation of competencies gained in non-formal education by public authorities and educational institutions,
- Self-evaluation of competencies gained in life-long learning.
The project provided methodological support for creating training programmes in the field of developing human resources in youth NGOs, youth clubs and leisure-time centres. Within the project, five expert meetings with employers, professional educators and other professional public were organised, which focussed on the recognition of the results of non-formal education. Moreover, a national conference (2011) for the same target group was organised during which” Memorandum on supporting the recognition of the results of non-formal education” was signed by the representatives of the employers signed at the ‘Conference on the Recognition of Non-formal Education’, which took place in Prague from 2nd to 3rd November 2011. In the meantime, the Memorandum (see above) was signed up by more signatories.
Several tools and policies were developed, such as a 'Personal Competence Portfolio' (Osobní Kompetenční Portfólio, OKP) or a set of self-evaluation tools. A set of minimum competence profiles for selected positions in youth NGOs was developed as a baseline for recognition of professional qualifications, as well as educational programs aimed at youth workers so that they could build these identified minimum competence profiles for their continuous work with children and youth. The identified minimum competence profiles facilitate the process of the transparency and validation of skills and the recognition of youth workers´ qualifications.
Another national ESF Project K2 (2012 – 2015) as a follow up contains a key activity based on recognising the results of non-formal education within which the “Personal Competence Portfolio” was further elaborated, and its scope was enlarged by planning the personal development of youth workers. Four roundtables were organised for employers, public authorities, professional educators and youth workers.
Still, currently no unified system of recognition of results of youth work exists as such. But, there is a system of recognition of further education, in the scope of which it is possible to use knowledge and skills gained through Youth Work. Further education of the individual is possible to get recognized according to the Actno. 179/2006 Sb. based on the National Register of Qualifications, which defines what skills are necessary for given professions and who will carry out testing and in which way, which is a necessary prerequisite for the recognition of prior learning.
The National Register of Qualifications - Recognition and Validation of Learning Outcomes (Národní soustava kvalifikací, NSK)
It is a publicly accessible register of recognised professional qualifications as well as their assessment standards. The NSK provides a collection of standards, allowing verification and recognition of abilities, skills and competencies.
Professional qualifications are awarded by authorised bodies. During examinations, applicants must demonstrate all the competencies listed in the qualification standard according to the criteria in the assessment standard. Successful applicants receive the Vocational Qualification Certificate, a nationwide valid certificate containing personal data of the applicant, authorised body data, the exam report, and a list of verified and validated competencies. The certificate and the exam report are stored as required by the law on archiving.
In the youth field, several professional qualifications were defined following the Keys for Life project, in order to validate and recognize skills developed through Youth Work:
- Coordinator of Volunteers
- Youth leader of recreational activities of children and youth(hlavní vedoucí zotavovací akce dětí a mládeže) - basically a youth camp leader
- Self-reliant youth leader for leisure-time-based activities (samostatný vedoucí volnočasových aktivit dětí a mládeže) - youth leader
- Youth leader for leisure-time-based activities for children and youth(vedoucí volnočasových aktivit dětí a mládeže) - assistant youth leader
- Expert in the area of international cooperation with children and youth
- Guarantor of the safety of children and youth in non-formal and leisure-time-based education (Garant bezpečnosti pro oblast práce s dětmi a mládeží v zájmovém a neformálním vzdělávání)
Quality Label for outstanding projects granted from Erasmus+ Program: Youth
This Quality Label is awarded in the Annual Valorisation Conference by the Deputy Minister acting as the National Authority for the implementation of the Erasmus+ Programme in the Czech Republic. The winning project based on outstanding youth work is selected by the Committee and presented by the beneficiaries in the plenary of the Conference.
Youthpass certificates are widely promoted by the National Agency of the Erasmus+ Programme, especially in the activities of youth field such as Youth Exchanges, European Voluntary Service, Mobility of Youth Workers, Transnational Cooperation Activities (TCA) and Structured Dialogue meetings. Participants of approved projects are informed about having the right to receive recognition for their participation and learning in the projects in a form of the Youthpass certificate. The National Agency promotes Youthpass in their information campaigns also for potential beneficiaries.
Competencies are seen as a flexible concept of acquiring information, skills, attitudes and values. Young people can acquire them during various youth work activities depending on the given youth work activity. Gradually more youth NGOs work with the competence frameworks in defining their programe for children and young people. However, apart from the qualifications in youth work, there is no central register or recognition framework - it depends on the level and the actors involved. Following the discussions, it seems that it needs to wait until the competencies are reformed within the formal education system to be possible to make relevant connections.