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EPALE - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


Validation of competences in the field of volunteering based on the European Qualification Framework

Language: EN
Document available also in: DE ES PT BG IT FI

This blogpost is available in German, English, Italian, Portugese and Spanish


by Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Gerholz and Silvia Zehr

‘Organizing volunteer days for the town’, ‘Giving dancing lessons in a retirement home’, ‘Helping children to learn or practice reading in the afternoon’, ‘Managing a youth sports team’ – these are four examples of volunteering. It is a typical area of informal learning. Generally, volunteers acquire new competences or further develop existing ones trough their volunteering activities. The focus of the EU-project Destination eValidation is on the development of an online tool for the validation of volunteering competences.

The project has started in October 2014 and is funded within the ERASMUS+ program.

The consortium consists of nine partners (Germany, Bulgaria, Finland, UK, Italy, Portugal, Rumania, Spain, and Turkey), who are working hand in hand to reach the goals.


Visualizing the competences acquired through volunteering with the help of an online tool

Through volunteering, competences will be acquired or further developed. Volunteers often do not realize this consciously. Furthermore, there is a lack of appreciation, especially with regard to the labor market. The main goal of the project is therefore the development of an online tool that makes it possible for volunteers to reflect, to document and to visualize the competences they have gained.

Very special about the project is, that the visualization of the competences is linked to the European Qualification Framework respectively with the National Qualification Framework of each partner country participating. This is a contribution for the further development of a unified European Education Area.

The online tool does not only allow visualizing competences acquired through volunteering, but also gives the user feedback in which competence level of his/her NQF he/she is located. This information is relevant for identifying individual possibilities of further education or qualification. Future employers will also be provided with relevant information about the skills of the volunteers.

Starting point: National and European Qualification Framework

First step was a structure analysis of the NQF of each partner country and its link to the EQF. Based on that, a level-matrix was developed, also taking into account the key competences for lifelong learning. On this basis, the consortium developed:

  1. Reflection questions, which should motivate volunteers to think about their skills, to concretize them and to make themselves aware of how these skills can help them in their private and professional life. The reflection questions are linked to the key competences.

  2. Questions to determine the competence level in relation to the EQF.

  3. Statements, which are adapted to the particular EQF level. Through the self- and peer-assessment-, it can be described and shown how or to which extent a competence level has been reached.


Gaining a certificate through reflection questions, self- and peer-assessment

The development activities led to an online tool. The online tool has four steps that build up on each other. First of all, the user describes as detailed as possible and by adding appropriate documents (e. g. work samples) his previous activities in the field of volunteering. Afterwards, the user will be asked to answer reflection questions on the several key competences. Then the self-assessment follows, where the user at first has to answer four questions in order to assign him/her to a specific competence level of the EQF/NQFs and then has to answer the statements, which are directly connected with the competence level. After that, the volunteers have the opportunity to invite their boss or volunteering colleague to a peer-assessment. Finally, all relevant information will be summarized and clearly arranged in a portfolio. If the volunteer fulfils certain prerequisites, he or she will get a certificate.


Get started!

Get an idea of the project on and you can also find there the link to our test version of the online tool. At the end of the project (November 2016), it is planned to give access to the online tool to all interested volunteers all over Europe. The aim is to raise awareness of the competences acquired in the field of volunteering and of the need for validating them. In order to get in touch with and also reach relevant stakeholders, national seminars and transnational conferences will be organized within the project as well as further dissemination activities. You are cordially invited.

Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Gerholz has begun working on this Project, when teaching at Paderborn University in Germany. Since in April 2016 he has been appointed for professorship  of business and economics education at Bamberg University. Despite this he still is actively engaged in this project. Silvia Zehr is scientific assistant in Bamberg University.


Im Freilwilliges Engagement erwerben Menschen zahlriechen Kompetenzen



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  • David Mallows's picture

    Many thanks Christian

  • Christian BERNHARD-SKALA's picture

    Dear Lynne and David,

    the link of the beta version works now!



  • Lynne Thompson's picture


    Article very interesting, especially as I have been involved with technology volunteering here in the UK and helping volunteers gain qualifications. As David Mallows mentions, I tried the link to  the beta test ( on three different web browsers, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox same results not able to find webpage.


    Please let me know when this has been fixed thank you.

  • David Mallows's picture

    Thank you for this blog and for the link to the project website. Helping volunteers ' reflect, to document and to visualize the competences they have gained' seems an excellent way of encouraging (and understanding) volunteering.

    One small point: I tried to use the online tool, but the link doesn't appear to be working. 

    Best wishes