VALLA - Validation of All Lifelong Learning in AquacultureIntroduction
European aquaculture is a fast-growing innovative industry, its success relying on a joint practical and theoretical knowledge base, whose personnel regularly require specialised training. Yet training such as work placements, on-the-job training, and short-term learning courses, regarded as essential in today’s competitive business, falls outside current credit systems.
The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) links national qualifications systems, acting as a translation device to make qualifications more readable, with the aim to promote mobility between countries and to facilitate lifelong learning. The EQF encompasses general and adult education, vocational education and training, as well as higher education, and applies to all types of qualifications. A seminally important conference to launch the EQF was held on 3-4 June 2008 in Brussels, at which the VALLA project was promoted. Many issues concerning the implementation of the EQF were raised, all of which can be accessed here http://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/educ/eqf/conf_en.html.
A key challenge for the EQF is the status of unaccredited short-term sectoral and professional training courses. VALLA will test how some types of lifelong learning fit into the EQF targeting the aquaculture sector as a pilot case study.
The aims of the VALLA project were to support the realisation of a European area for lifelong learning, building transparency and trust:
by showing how unaccredited learning activities in the aquaculture sector can be described as Learning Outcomes (what a learner knows, understands and is able to do) and according to best practice format.
by providing generic tools, methodology and supporting guidelines able to be used by all sectors;
using existing networks covering Higher Education, Vocational Education and Training (VET) and non-formal learning to promote quality assurance and trust.
VALLA aimed to contribute towards the stated aims of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) in several ways: by developing competence-based learning outcomes for the aquaculture sector; by providing a reference for the validation of non-formally acquired competences; by linking such reference points to established sectoral standards; and thus 'improve permeability within education and training'.