The assumptions and principles of the ECVET system are used in many countries, including Poland, as part of educational mobility projects, which are implemented mainly by entities providing vocational education and training in the Erasmus + program.
The assumptions of the ECVET system are particularly applicable in projects implemented within the Vocational Education and Training sector (which is the successor to the Leonardo da Vinci program from 2007-2013) of the Erasmus + program. Entities operating in the field of vocational education and training can implement three types of projects under the Erasmus + program:
- learning mobility projects (Key Action 1)
- strategic partnership projects (Key Action 2)
- central projects of the Erasmus + program (Action 3), managed by the European Agency for Audiovisual and Culture (EACEA).
Mobility projects most often take the form of apprenticeships. Through periodic work in the company of a foreign employer, students gain knowledge, develop practical skills and social competences that will be useful to them in the future at work.
It is worth knowing that these projects use the name “ECVET” – in other areas of application of ECVET principles in Poland (Integrated Qualifications System, higher education, etc.), no explicit reference is made to ECVET.
Moreover, ECVET is not the only European Union instrument for lifelong learning used in learning mobility projects. Together with instruments such as Europass, the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET), ECVET contributes to the framework supporting the transparency and quality of education as well as facilitating the recognition of skills and qualifications.
Mobility projects can last from one to two years. Applications for project co-financing may be submitted by entities that conduct educational activities in the field of vocational education and training. Students can undertake apprenticeships / internships in a company, in an education or training center in another country. They can be attended by students of vocational and technical schools and people undergoing vocational training at the employer’s, as well as graduates (up to one year after graduation).
The rules for organizing learning mobility in the Erasmus + Vocational Education and Training sector are set out in the Erasmus + Program Guide.
In learning mobility projects, the application of the assumptions of the ECVET system is manifested in several aspects, and the key ones are learning outcomes, verification of their achievement and documentation.
- Identify the learning outcomes to be achieved by learners during the mobility, combine the learning outcomes into units (a set) and (if justified and possible) refine them by formulating verification criteria.
In recent years, representatives of the ECVET Team of Experts have analyzed the documentation of many projects, and also carried out monitoring visits to schools that implemented such projects. On the basis of the collected information, it can be concluded that in 2014-2020 there was a significant increase in awareness and knowledge of learning outcomes as a key element in the planning, implementation and evaluation of learning mobility projects. Nevertheless, there was a great demand for access to good practice and sample units of learning outcomes, which is addressed in the publication: Learning outcomes and their verification in learning mobility projects. Catalog of examples (FRSE, 2018).
- Planning the verification of learning outcomes, including selecting appropriate methods and tools to check whether they have been achieved.
Confirmation that the participant of the foreign placement has achieved the planned learning outcomes requires the completion of the verification process, which culminates in the participation in the learning mobility project of a given person. The verification process is to confirm whether a given person has met specific requirements, i.e. learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and social competences) formulated before the start of the internship and included in the project documentation. In order to carry out a credible and reliable verification, it is necessary to use appropriate methods that will be adapted to the learning outcomes.
- Use of appropriate documents, such as:
Partnership Agreement (Memorandum of Understanding – MoU). The agreement is signed with partner organizations. An agreement should be concluded with the host or intermediary institution before starting the mobility. Its purpose is to formalize cooperation between partners and establish general terms and conditions. Under this agreement, partners may enter into more detailed agreements and arrangements.
Learning Agreement (LA). The learning agreement is signed with the partner organizations and with each of the mobility participants. An agreement should be concluded with the host or intermediary institution before starting the mobility. The learning agreement contains the necessary information about the trainee, a description of the learning outcomes planned to be achieved during the mobility and a detailed description of the verification of these outcomes, as well as the validation and recognition of the learning outcomes obtained. The learning agreement is prepared individually for each mobility participant.
Individual Record of Achievement (IWO). This document, signed by the host institution, confirms the achievement of the described learning outcomes by the mobility participant. There is no single template for this document. The partners create it on their own, and can also use the Europass Mobility for this purpose (see Chapter 8 in Using the assumptions of the ECVET system in learning mobility projects in the vocational education and training sector of the Erasmus + program). The appearance and content of the document should be adapted to the learning outcomes planned to be achieved by a given student. The minimum scope of information contained in the IWO are: data of the participant, host institution, duration of the mobility, learning outcomes obtained during internships.