10.6 Recognition and validation of skills acquired through youth work
Legislative Decree no. 13/2013, issued in implementation of Law no. 92/2012, defined the general rules for the implementation of the National Certification System of Competencies (SNCC), including the validation of non-formal and informal learning (see Chapter 6 Education, paragraph 6.4). The validation of competences in Italy is a subject of debate, development and experimentation of practices. In particular, the Institute for the Analysis of Public Policy (INAPP) has carried out specific research supporting the policy-making work of the Ministry of Labour and the Regions, by promoting experiments with public and private actors and monitoring practices adopted at national and local levels (see the dedicated page on the INAPP website).
A specific tool prepared and recognized by the Inter-ministerial Decree 10/10/2005 is the Libretto del Cittadino (Citizens' Booklet), which also includes a specific section dedicated to competences not formally certified. Between 2006 and 2007, this tool was tested in 13 Regions. A specific report is available on the results of this experiment. In 2011, INAPP produced a document of operational guidelines on the procedure for the evaluation of informal and non-formal competences.
The tools and methods developed in the framework of the SNCC are in principle also useful for young people participating in youth work projects and activities. However, data on the actual use of these tools in the youth work sector are not available at the moment. From the INAPP report mentioned above, the young people involved in the experiment are young apprentices and young immigrants looking for a job.
The Youthpass is the main tool for the recognition of competences developed in youth work projects in Italy. The National Youth Agency (NYA) provides a specific activity of information, promotion and technical assistance on the use of Youthpass among young people who have participated in projects funded by Erasmus+. In 2018, for example, the NYA signed a specific two-year protocol with the Piemonte Region to promote Youthpass through meetings, seminars and awareness campaigns. The Youthpass is also promoted as a useful tool for the recognition of University Training Credits (UTCs). However, there are still no common national regulations or guidelines for Universities, since the recognition of UTCs depends on the individual Degree Courses to which students present their Youthpass.
The research Analysis and Monitoring of Erasmus+: Youth in Action is among the few available that have also investigated the use of Youthpass in projects funded by Youth in Action and Erasmus+ (please refer to point 10.4.2 for a general presentation of the research). This research shows an overall positive picture on the use of Youthpass among the sample of surveyed projects: 77.4% of the project leaders and 71.8% used it. For most of the participants, preparing the Youthpass was an opportunity for reflection and self-evaluation on their experience (85.2%). Among the criticalities reported, the research highlights the low use of Youthpass outside the youth sector (only 30.6% used it for a job or internship application), and the perception of a difficult recognition by employees (not recognized for 44% of the young people in the sample).
Specific tools for self-assessment and transparency of competences have been developed and tested in projects funded by Erasmus+ and coordinated by Italian organizations, on the basis of data drawn from Erasmus+ results. Specific attention is given in these tools to the employment impact that can result from the transparency of skills developed in youth work projects. Some examples of tools developed in projects led by an Italian organization are the following:
I’ve-I have Experienced: tool for the recognition of competences developed in workcamps and voluntary service projects; it includes an App that automatically produces the Certificates of Competences Recognition.
Easy Soft-Skills: it has developed a self-assessment test of skills that young people develop during an international volunteering experience.
Voyce - Volunteering Youth: routes and tools for Competence Emersion: a self-assessment test to enhance the learning acquired by young volunteers with particular attention to their employability.
OPELO - Optimization of validation process of EVS learning outcomes project developed a Portfolio of employability skills for volunteers of the European Voluntary Service.
The Bevin Project has created a European database of tools for the recognition of non-formal and informal competences, where 48 tools have been developed in Italy.
Young volunteers of the Universal Civil Service can apply for the recognition of their training credits. Furthermore, the Legislative Decree 40/17, in art. 8, requires the civil service hosting organizations to carry out all the preparatory activities for the recognition and enhancement of the skills acquired by young volunteers during the Universal Civil Service. In addition, art. 19 states that a specific certificate has to be issued for the period of service carried out, indicating the relevant activities and the skills developed. Specifically, the Circular of 9 December 2019 ("Provisions for the drafting and presentation of universal civil service intervention programs - Criteria and evaluation methods") has drawn up the model certificates to be issued to young volunteers by the hosting organizations (Annex 6).
The skills recognition tools developed by projects funded by Erasmus+ mainly focus on three areas: employability, active citizenship, and personal development. It is the development of this kind of skills, therefore, the most expected effect of youth work projects that offer young people experiences of youth mobility, volunteering, and active participation in youth-led projects (in leisure time, community services, social innovation, art and culture, start-up of new enterprises, etc.).
The skills expected and solicited by the experience of the Universal Civil Service are also focused both on the area of civic skills as well as on employability. The guide to the preparation of the final certificate on the skills acquired during the civil service includes:
- management skills of the specific volunteering project carried out;
- social and civic competences referred to in the EU Council Recommendation of 22/5/2018 (2018/C 189/01) (active participation in civic and social life, respect for the common values of Europe, ability to contribute to the public interest, respect for human rights, support for social and cultural diversity, gender equality, sustainable lifestyles, culture of peace, respect for privacy, environmental responsibility).