In December 2012, the Council of the European Union adopted the recommendation to its’ Member states to organize and offer systemic arrangements for validation of knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning to their citizens, when possible, by the end of 2018.
The Republic of North Macedonia, as a candidate country for EU-accession, followed this recommendation as well. In line with this decision, in 2014, the state institutions in charge for Adult education and Lifelong Learning policies put the setting up and introduction of a national System of Validation of non-formal and informal learning as a top priority on their agenda and have been continuously working on this topic ever since, with the aim to have the system prepared by 2020.
Why is Validation so important for North Macedonia?
Beside the high unemployment rates (28.4 % in 2014, estimated to reach 19.4 % by the end of 2019), as a persisting problem, the country is facing other issues and challenges related to weak economy, mismatches in supply and demand of skilled work force for the labor market needs, shortage of qualified human resources for the needs of the business community and increasing brain drain and emigration rates.
Having in mind this highly complex economic situation, which is negatively affecting the individual and collective wellbeing of the citizens of North Macedonia, the process of Validation of non-formal and informal learning is a tool to address and combat the abovementioned problems.
What was done so far and by whom?
The institution in charge – Public Institution Adult Education Centre, in cooperation with all other relevant state agencies and with the support of European Training Foundation, DVV International and other donors, has developed a strategic approach in designing a functional and national system of validating knowledge, skills and competencies acquired through non-formal education and informal learning.
Numerous steps and actions have been taken in this regard – starting from analysis of validation systems in other countries in Europe, analysis of the capacities of the national potential future carriers of the process, compliance and reforming of the legal framework, training of necessary human resources, creation of required tools, design and development of a strategic approach in promoting the process on all levels, especially in reaching to the individuals, etc.
What is foreseen by the Validation system and who should benefit from it?
In the first phase of its introduction, the system will validate knowledge, skills and competencies leading to a partial and full qualification. This is especially important, because beside the unemployed citizens, the validation should reach out to the employees in the grey economy, who have been actively working and have gained practical working experience in certain fields (such as workers in construction or waiters in hospitality sector), without possessing an adequate document. All citizens of the country should benefit from the system. With validating their knowledge and skills – no matter if it is acquired through the formal system, non-formal education or informally in their everyday life, they should get the message that all their knowledge is valuable and recognized by the labor market. The process of Validation through its’ flexibility should put the individual in the center, empowering and encouraging each individual to realize the knowledge and skills gained and to get a certificate, but also to guide them and recommend further training for their continuous development.
The business society should also benefit from this process. It should support the companies in identifying the level of knowledge and skills of their employees so that they can plan their resources and offer their employees suitable training at the workplace – a measure to build up the human capital of the companies and foster their growth.
The process of continuous efforts of the state in the past 5 years, will be wrapped up by a testing phase, which is to take place by the end of 2019. Everything that was done so far gives high expectations about a successful implementation of the system of Validation of non-formal and informal learning in North Macedonia.