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Assessment (of skills and competences) - The sum of methods and processes used to evaluate the attainments (knowledge, know-how, skills and competences) of an individual, and typically leading to certification.

Basic skills - The skills and competences needed to function in contemporary society, e.g. listening, speaking, reading, writing and mathematics.

Certificate / diploma - An official document, issued by an awarding body, which records the achievements of an individual following a standard assessment procedure.
Certification (of skills and competences) - The process of formally validating knowledge, know-how and/or skills and competences acquired by an individual, following a standard assessment procedure. Certificates or diplomas are issued by accredited awarding bodies.
Competence - Ability to apply knowledge, know-how and skills in an habitual or changing situation or proven ability to use knowledge, skills and personal, social and/or methodological abilities, in work or study situations and in professional and personal development or Ability to apply learning outcomes adequately in a defined context (education, work, personal or professional development). Comment:Competence is not limited to cognitive elements (involving use of theory, concepts or tacit knowledge); it also encompasses functional aspects (involving technical skills) as well as interpersonal attributes (e.g. social or organisational skills) and ethical values.
Continuing vocational education and training - Education or training after initial education or entry into working life, aimed at helping individuals to:
- improve or update their knowledge and/or skills;
- acquire new skills for a career move or retraining;
- continue their personal or professional development.
Comment: continuing education and training is part of lifelong learning and may encompass any kind of education (general, specialised or vocational, formal or non-formal, etc.). It is crucial for the employability of individuals.
Core competence - The basic, fundamental competence that an individual needs to demonstrate with regards to specific tasks or professional demands.
Credit transfer system (in VET) - A system which provides a way of measuring and
comparing learning achievements (resulting from a course, training or a placement) and transferring them from one institution to another, using credits validated in training
programmes. Comment: a credit transfer system supports the transparency and comparability of education and training pathways, curricula and systems. In a credit transfer system, a value is allocated to every learning unit (course, training or placement) that the learner is required to successfully complete, in order to pass a full training programme at a school or training centre, including examinations or other assessments. In 2002, the European Commission created a technical working group to set up a European credit transfer system in VET.
Curriculum - A set of actions followed when setting up a training course: it includes defining training goals, content, methods (including assessment) and material, as well as arrangements for training teachers and trainers.

Descriptor - Reference term that serves to describe or identify an item.

e-learning - Learning supported by information and communication .Comment: e-learning is not limited to ‘digital literacy’ (acquiring ICT skills). It may encompass multiple formats and hybrid methods: using software, Internet, CD-ROM, online learning or any other electronic or interactive media.

European qualification framework for lifelong  learning (EQF) - Reference tool for describing and comparing qualification levels in qualifications systems developed at national, international or sectoral levels. Comment: The EQF’s main components are a set of eight reference levels described in terms of learning outcomes (combination of knowledge, skills and/or competences) and mechanisms and principles for voluntary cooperation. The eight levels cover the entire span of qualifications from those recognizing basic knowledge, skills and competences to those awarded at the highest level of academic and professional and vocational education and training. EQF is a translation device for qualification systems or
Reference tool to compare the qualification levels of different qualifications systems and
promote both lifelong learning and equal opportunities in a knowledge-based society, as
well as further integration of the European labour market, while respecting the rich diversity
of national education systems.
European credit system for vocational education and training  (ECVET)  -  Technical framework for transfer, recognition and, where appropriate, accumulation of individualsĘź learning outcomes to achieve a qualification. ECVET tools and methodology comprise the description of qualifications in units of learning outcomes with associated points, a transfer and accumulation process and complementary documents such as learning agreements, transcripts of records and ECVET usersĘź guides or Device in which qualifications are expressed in units of learning outcomes to which credit points are attached, and which is combined with a procedure for validating learning outcomes.
The aim of this system is to promote:
• mobility of people undertaking training;
• accumulation, transfer, validation and recognition of learning outcomes (either formal, non-formal or informal) acquired in different countries;
• implementation of lifelong learning;
• transparency of qualifications;
• common trust and cooperation between vocational training and education providers in
Comment:ECVET is based on describing qualifications in terms of learning outcomes
(knowledge, skills and/or competences), organised into transferable and accumulable
learning units to which credit points Quality in education and training are attached and registered in a personal transcript of learning outcomes.

Formal learning - Learning that occurs in an organised and structured environment (in a school/training centre or on the job) and is explicitly designated as learning (in terms of objectives, time or resources). Formal learning is intentional from the learner’s point of view. It typically leads to validation and certification.
Further training - Short-term targeted training typically provided following initial vocational training, and aimed at supplementing, improving or updating knowledge, skills and/or competences acquired during previous training.

Good practice  - Method or approach that leads to better and transferable achievements.
Guidance and counselling - A range of activities designed to help individuals take educational, vocational or personal decisions and carry them out before and after they enter the labour market. Comment: guidance and counselling may include: counseling (personal or career development, educational guidance); assessment (psychological or competence-/ performance-related); information on learning and labour-market opportunities and career
management; consultation with peers, relatives or educators; vocational preparation (pinpointing skills/competences and experience for jobseeking); referrals (to learning and career specialists). Guidance and counselling can be provided at schools, training centres, job centres, in the workplace, the community or other settings.

Informal learning - Learning resulting from daily activities related to work, family or leisure. It is not organised or structured (in terms of objectives, time or learning support). Informal learning is in most cases unintentional from the learner’s perspective. It typically does not lead to certification. Comment:

  • informal learning is also referred to as experiential or incidental/random learning;
  • informal learning outcomes do not usually lead to certification but may be validated and certified in the framework of recognition of prior learning schemes;

Information and communication technology (ICT) - Technology which provides for the electronic input, storage, retrieval, processing, transmission and dissemination of information.
Information and communication technology (ICT) skills - The skills needed for efficient use of information and communication technologies (ICT). Comment: in a report on ICT skills and employment, OECD proposes a simple classification:
- Professional ICT skills: ability to use advanced ICT tools, and/or
to develop, repair and create such tools;
- Applied ICT skills: ability to use simple ICT tools in general
workplace settings (in non-IT jobs);
- Basic ICT skills or ‘ICT literacy’: ability to use ICT for basic
tasks and as a tool for learning.
Initial vocational education and training - General or vocational education carried out in the initial education system, ususally before entering working life. Comment:
(a) some training undertaken after entry into working life may be considered as initial training (e.g. retraining);
(b) initial education and training can be carried out at any level in general or vocational education (full-time school-based or alternance training) pathways or apprenticeship.

Key skills / key competences - the sum of skills (basic and new basic skills) needed to live
in contemporary knowledge society. Comment: in its Recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning, the European Commission sets out the eight key competences:
– communication in the mother tongue;
– communication in foreign languages;
– competences in maths, science and technology;
– digital competence;
– learning to learn;
– interpersonal, intercultural and social competences, and civic competence;
– entrepreneurship;
– cultural expression.
Know-how - Practical knowledge or expertise.
Knowledge - Definitions of knowledge are legion. Nevertheless, modern conceptions of knowledge rest broadly on several basic distinctions:
(a) Aristotle distinguished between theoretical and practical logic. In line with this distinction, modern theoreticians (Alexander et al., 1991) distinguish declarative (theoretical) knowledge from procedural (practical) knowledge. Declarative knowledge includes assertions on specific events, facts and empirical generalisations, as well as deeper principles on the nature of reality. Procedural knowledge includes heuristics, methods, plans, practices, procedures, routines, strategies, tactics, techniques and tricks (Ohlsson, 1994);
(b) it is possible to differentiate between forms of knowledge which represent different ways of learning about the world. Various attempts have been made to compile such lists, in which the following categories seem to be frequently represented:
- objective (natural/scientific) knowledge, judged on the basis of certainty;
- subjective (literary/aesthetic) knowledge judged on the basis of authenticity;
- moral (human/normative) knowledge judged on the basis of collective acceptance (right/wrong);
- religious/divine knowledge judged by reference to a divine authority (God).
This basic understanding of knowledge underpins the questions we ask, the methods we use and the answers we give in our search for knowledge;
(c) knowledge encompasses tacit and explicit knowledge.
Tacit knowledge (Polanyi, 1966) is knowledge learners possess which influences cognitive processing. However, they may not necessarily express it or be aware of it. Explicit knowledge is knowledge a learner can consciously inspect, including tacit knowledge that
converts into an explicit form by becoming an ‘object of thought’ (Prawat, 1989).

Learning - A cumulative process whereby individuals gradually assimilate increasingly complex and abstract entities (concepts, categories, and patterns of behaviour or models) and/or acquire skills and competences.
Learning outcome(s) / learning attainments - The set of knowledge, skills and/or competences an individual acquired and/or is able to demonstrate after completion of a learning process, either formal, non-formal or informal.
Level of qualification The term covers two aspects: level of attainment in education and training recognised in a qualification system or in a qualification framework; or learning outcomes acquired through education and training, work experience or in informal/nonformal
settings. Comment: The level of qualification:
• is often determined against a standard in a qualification system or against a level descriptor in a qualification framework;
• can be determined against an occupational profile (for example, description of learning
outcomes required to perform the tasks attached to a job at a specific level of responsibility and autonomy);
• may also refer to education and training attended but not validated and certified.
Lifelong learning - All learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim personal, social and/or professional reasons. This refers to all general education, vocational education and training, non-formal education and informal learning undertaken throughout life, resulting in an improvement in knowledge, skills and competences within a personal, civic, social and/or employment-related perspective. It includes the provision of counselling and guidance services.
Lisbon strategy Strategy aimed at making the European Union (EU) the most competitive economy in the world and achieving full employment by 2010. This strategy, developed at subsequent meetings of the European Council, rests on three pillars:
• an economic pillar preparing the ground for transition to a competitive, dynamic,
knowledge-based economy. Emphasis is placed on the need to adapt constantly to changes in the information society and to boost research and development;
• a social pillar designed to modernise the European social model by investing in human
resources and combating social exclusion. Member States are expected to invest in education and training, and conduct an active policy for employment making it easier to move to a knowledge economy;
• an environmental pillar, which was added at the Gśteborg European Council meeting in
June 2001 and draws attention to the fact that economic growth must be decoupled from use
of natural resources.
Low-skilled person  - Person whose level of education and training is lower than a predetermined standard. Comments:
• standard level below which an individual is considered as low qualified depends on the
context, for example on the general level of education in a society, or on distribution of
qualifications within an occupation; in Europe, individuals are generally considered lowqualified when they have a level inferior to upper secondary;
• the actual qualification of an individual goes beyond the level of formal education and
training: it encompasses learning outcomes acquired through continuing (re)training /
upskilling, work experience, personal or professional development

Modular programme - A programme of study comprising discrete blocks of study each with
specified learning outcomes which are assessed. In each programme there will usually be modules tha t are compulsory, and other optional modules taken from a wider choice

New basic skills - New skills that, combined with basic skills, are needed to function in contemporary society. New basic skills are information and communication technology (ICT) skills, foreign languages, technological culture, entrepreneurship and social skills.
Non-formal learning - Learning which is embedded in planned activities not explicitly designated as learning (in terms of learning objectives, learning time or learning support), but which contain an important learning element. Non-formal learning is intentional from the learner’s point of view. It normally does not lead to certification. Comment:

  • non-formal learning is sometimes described as semistructured learning.
  • non-formal learning outcomes may be validated and lead to certification;


Occupational task - A logical portion or phase of the work, under the profession, with a clearly defined start and end. Set of professional activities, tied by a single goal of activities, ending with a specific product, service or significant decision.

Partnership (bilateral and multilateral) - A bilateral or multilateral agreement between a group of institutions or organisations in different Member States to carry out European activities in lifelong learning.
Pilot Testing - The initial administration of a new or revised assessment, with the intent of evaluating and/or adjusting the assessment prior to national, full-scale administration.
Profession (occupation) - Set of occupational tasks, isolated as a result of social labour distribution, which require the employee to possess appropriate professional qualifications.
Professional qualifications - System of skills, knowledge, and psychophysical features neces­sary to perform the set of occupational tasks.
Programme (of education or training) - An inventory of activities, learning content and/or methods implemented to achieve education or training objectives (acquiring knowledge, skills or competences), organised in a logical sequence over a specified period of time.

Qualification - (a) An official record (certificate, diploma) of achievement which recognises successful completion of education or training, or satisfactory performance in a test or examination; and/or
(b) the requirements for an individual to enter or progress within an occupation.
Qualification framework Instrument for development and classification of qualifications (at national or sectoral levels) according to a set of criteria (such as using descriptors) applicable to specified levels of learning outcomes. Comment:A qualification framework can be
used to:
• establish national standards of knowledge, skills and competences;
• promote quality of education;
• provide a system of coordination and/or integration of qualifications and enable comparison of qualifications by relating qualifications to one another;
• promote access to learning, transfer of learning outcomes and progression in learning.
Qualification system - All activities related to recognition of learning outcomes and other mechanisms that link education and training to the labour market and civil society. These activities include:
• definition of qualification policy, training design and implementation, institutional
arrangements, funding, quality assurance;
• assessment, validation and certification of learning outcomes.

Retraining - Training enabling individuals to access either an occupation requiring skills other than those for which they were prepared originally, or new professional activities.

Skill - The knowledge and experience needed to perform a specific task or job.

Teacher in VET - A person whose function is to impart knowledge or knowhow to students or trainees in a vocational school or training centre. Comment: A teacher may fulfil several tasks such as organizing and carrying out training programmes/courses and transmitting knowledge/know-how, whether generic or specific, theoretical or practical. A teacher in a vocationally oriented institution may be referred to as a ‘trainer’.
Trainer - Anyone who fulfills one or more activities linked to the (theoretical or practical) training function, either in an institution for education or training, or at the workplace.
(a) two categories of trainer can be distinguished:
- professional trainers are teaching specialists who have completed a teacher training course for delivering vocational training. Their job may coincide with that of the teacher in a vocational training establishment;
- part-time or occasional trainers are professionals in various fields who take on, in their normal duties, part-time training activity, either in the company (as mentors and tutors of
recruits and apprentices or as training providers) or externally (by occasionally offering their services at a training establishment);
(b) trainers must carry out various tasks:
- design training activities;
- organise and implement these activities;
- provide the actual training, i.e. transfer knowledge, knowhow and skills;
- help apprentices develop their skills by providing advice, instructions and comments throughout the apprenticeship.
Transferability (of skills and competences) - The capacity (of skills and competences) to be transferred to and used in a new occupational or educational environment.
Transition from school or training to work - The move from education to employment, covering the period between leaving education and entering the labour market. Comment: transition between school and employment (integration path, type of employment – with regard to level and status – and duration) is complex. Integration depends on many factors (gender, age, qualification, employment policy, guidance and counseling provision, etc.).
Transparency (of qualifications) - The degree to which the value of qualifications can be
identified and compared on the (sectoral, regional, national or international) labour and training markets.

Unit of learning outcomes (ECVET)  - Set of knowledge, skills, and/or competences which constitute a coherent part of a qualification. A unit can be the smallest part of a qualification that can be assessed, transferred, validated and, possibly, certified. A unit can be specific to a single qualification or common to several qualifications. Comment:Characteristics of units (content, size, total number of units composing a qualification, etc.) are defined by a body
responsible for the qualification at the appropriate level. The definition and description of units can vary according to the qualifications system and the procedures of the competent body. However, the ECVET system proposes to provide for every unit:
• generic title of the unit;
• knowledge, skills and competence which are contained in a unit;
• criteria for assessment of the corresponding learning outcomes.
Component of a qualification, consisting of a coherent set of knowledge, skills and competences, that can be assessed and validated.
Upskilling Short-term targeted training typically provided following initial education or training, and aimed at supplementing, improving or updating knowledge, skills and/or competences acquired during previous training.

Validation of informal / nonformal learning - The process of assessing and recognising a wide range of knowledge, know-how, skills and competences, which people develop throughout their lives within different environments, for example through education, work and leisure activities.
Validation of  learning outcomes-  Confirmation by a competent body that learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and/or competences) acquired by an individual in a formal, non-formal or informal setting have been assessed against predefined criteria and are compliant with the requirements of a validation standard. Validation typically leads to certification.
Vocational education and training (VET) - Education and training which aims to equip people with skills and competences that can be used on the labour market.