Over the last year Europe has received an unprecedentedly high number of migrants and refugees. As a result European societies are becoming more diverse and multi-cultural, and this calls for the development and implementation of integration policies at all levels from European to local. These actions should meet and address the needs of those newly arrived, and seek to ensure social cohesion.
One of the practical steps to support the active participation and integration of migrants and refugees in social and economic life is to support inclusion through the validation of skills and competences, which would greatly enhance access to further training and employment.
SOLIDAR Foundation will address exactly this issue through our work as part of the VINCE project - Validation for Inclusion of New Citizens of Europe - that will be conducted over the course of the next three years together with 13 other European partners, under the leadership of eucen.
The main aim of the project is to train staff of educational institutions to be able to provide validation of prior learning (VPL) for migrants and refugees, taking into account their specific needs and adapt the existing VPL methods accordingly. This is essential to meet the specific needs of newcomers and refugees so that they can access higher education and more easily integrate into European society.
The project will include the design of a set of guidelines for newly arrived migrants and refugees, containing fundamental information on the culture and expectations of Europe, their host country and in particular how to access higher education, and the validation arrangements. The Guidelines will represent a key tool in designing the training course for teachers, validators, advisors and administrators. The adapted VPL procedures will be trialled with candidates who are themselves newcomers. NGOs will be actively involved in the project, as full partners or associate partners, to ensure that the target users and the ultimate beneficiaries are reached at grassroots level and that their interests are represented in all the project phases. The outputs and results of the project will form the basis of policy recommendations targeted at EU, national decision makers and institutional learners.
Creating validation arrangements by 2018 in EU Member States was an intention of the Council Recommendation on validation of learning outcomes of non-formal and informal learning. However thus far only a few Member States have such procedures in place. SOLIDAR Foundation strongly encourages Member States to intensify their efforts to develop skills and competences regarding validation and recognition procedures, to enable the social and labour market integration of EU citizens, as well as migrants and refugees.