Position paper on "European Area for Skills and Qualifications"

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - 14:15

In December 2013, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the potential benefits of a "European Area of Skills and Qualifications". In order to highlight the added value that public libraries bring to the subject matter, the Reading & Writing Foundation submitted its own consultation response.

The objective of the consultation was to identify the obstacles that learners and workers face in terms of transparency and recognition of their skills and qualifications, whether current policies and instruments are adequate, and to weigh up potential benefits of a single European Area.

The results of this consultation will input the development of certain European Commission projects and products, such as the Europass Experience component of the Europass platform. We expect the results to align with the position of the Reading & Writing Foundation, showing clear support for having European tools for transparency and recognition of skills and qualifications that focus on the individual.

In the case of Europass Experience, we argue that public libraries should be listed and recognised as one of the possible providers for various non-formal learning opportunities, including ICT training.

The Reading & Writing Foundation has put forward 6 key recommendations:

  1. Europe’s 65,000 public libraries are key community providers of gateway skills delivered through lifelong learning and adult learning opportunities.
  2. The European Commission should design approaches and policies which recognise the essential contribution of public libraries in the provision of opportunities regarding lifelong learning, transition to employment, e-inclusion, access to digital skills and employability.
  3. Transparency tools for non-formal and informal learning, such as the Europass Experience and the Europass self-assessed ICT module, should be vigorously promoted across the EU. In that regard, the Commission should also engage with all EU library associations to leverage their national networks to drive coordinated adoption and engagement.
  4. The Commission should recognise the role of public libraries to serve as digital intermediaries and catalysts for community online learning. Therefore, European transparency and recognition systems need to be updated to accommodate new learning pathways.
  5. The Commission should engage with key stakeholders, including public libraries, which support non-formal and informal learning, to develop quality insurance principles. Furthermore, the development of an inventory of approved open education resources, compatible with existing tools and systems, and broken down by subject area and skill level, should be considered.
  6. The Commission should establish a single online access point for European transparency, skills, training and mobility resources, and engage with library associations to ensure librarians can direct learners and visitors to the appropriate and relevant services.

 

Public libraries can maximise positive outcomes in the fields of lifelong learning, social inclusion, digital inclusion and successful pathways to employability and employment.