The learners guide “Why validation is important to me?” is a part of assessment tool for validation of young people learners’ competence “Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship”.

The aims of learners guide are:

  • To create awareness on possibility to validate learner’s skills, knowledge and competence.
  • To motivate learners to learn and validate.

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1. What are three different kinds of learning?

There are three different kinds of learning: formal, non-formal and informal.

Four essential elements define each typology of learning:

  • the context, in which learning takes place;
  • intentionality (or non-intentionality) of learning;
  • the existence (or non-existence) of a plan and structure for the learning process;
  • the certification, or non-certification of learning.

In the light of these four elements, it is possible to propose the following definitions:

  • Formal learning:
    • Is structured and organised by learning targets/objectives, within a definite timing and employing dedicated resources;
    • It is generally carried out within education and training institutions;
    • It is intentional from the learner point of view;
    • It provides an official certification.
  • Non-formal learning:
    • It is a semi-structured learning which is realised starting from planned activities within a well-defined context and in answer to precise needs;
    • It is generally carried out outside education and training institutions;
    • It is intentional from the learner point of view;
    • It generally does not provide an official certification.
  • Informal learning:
    • It is generally realised during everyday activities relating to work, family and leisure time;
    • It is not intentional nor structured or organised by learning objectives, time and resources;
    • It generally does not provide a certification.

More about informal and informal learning

The fundamental principles of non-formal learning:

  • Non-formal learning activities are intentional and are generally undertaken on a voluntary basis.
  • Learning takes place in a wide range of environments or situations, where learning and training are not necessarily the only or the main activities carried out.
  • Non-formal learning activities are carefully planned by trainers/practitioners/youth workers in order to favour the personal and social development of the participants.
  • Non-formal learning allows the acquisition of essential competences and skills, increasing employment perspectives and contributing to the processes of social inclusion and active citizenship.
  • Activities are generally addressed to specific target groups, and learning concerns specific fields and skills.
  • Non-formal learning activities generally exploit participatory methodologies focused on the person; so, they are closely related to the needs, aspirations and specific interests of the participants.

Informal learning:

Informal learning is the kind of learning acquired by carrying out everyday activities at work, in the family, during leisure time, etc., and it consists fundamentally in learning by doing, or learning by experience. It is a real learning process, to which youth workers practitioners and trainers should dedicate more or equal attention than that generally reserved to other, more structured kind of learning.

The idea is that every day people learn something new from their interpersonal relations and occasional interactions. In fact, about 80% of what people learn is acquired in an occasional way.

Often the person who has acquired skills in an informal way is not aware of the fact that what he has learnt is a competence or knowledge, which possibly could be used and transferred in other fields or activities. It is only through reflection and an open discussion with other people on specific experiences relating to work, leisure time and private life that the individual develops an awareness of the knowledge and competences he used in living and facing that specific experience. This can help them reaching a better knowledge of the self, of their behaviours and possibilities, thus disclosing new social, personal and working opportunities. Reflecting on informal learning is one of the decisive keys in supporting people’s changing and development process.

In conclusion, informal learning is constituted by a series of actions and activities not explicitly aimed at learning, from the standpoint of the person who undertakes them, but which can be an important part of an educational project.

2. What are the competencies?

[1]The competences are defined as a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes, where:

  • Knowledge is composed of the facts and figures, concepts, ideas and theories which are already established and support the understanding of a certain area or subject.
  • Skills are defined as the ability and capacity to carry out processes and use the existing knowledge to achieve results.
  • Attitudes describe the disposition and mind-sets to act or react to ideas, persons or situations.

[2]Key competences are those which all individuals need for personal fulfilment and development, employability, social inclusion, sustainable lifestyle, successful life in peaceful societies, healthconscious life management and active citizenship. They are developed in a lifelong learning perspective, from early childhood throughout adult life, and through formal, non-formal and informal learning in all contexts, including family, school, workplace, neighbourhood and other communities.

The key competences are all considered equally important; each of them contributes to a successful life in society.

The are eight key competences:

  1. Literacy competence;
  2. Multilingual competence;
  3. Mathematical competence and competence in science, technology and engineering;
  4. Digital competence;
  5. Personal, social and learning to learn competence;
  6. Citizenship competence;
  7. Entrepreneurship competence;
  8. Cultural awareness and expression competence.

[3]Entrepreneurship competence

Entrepreneurship competence refers to the capacity to act upon opportunities and ideas, and to transform them into values for others.

It is founded upon creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, taking initiative and perseverance and the ability to work collaboratively in order to plan and manage projects that are of cultural, social or financial value.

Essential knowledge, skills and attitudes related to this competence Entrepreneurship competence requires knowing that there are different contexts and opportunities for turning ideas into action in personal, social and professional activities, and an understanding of how these arise. Individuals should know and understand approaches to planning and management of projects, which include both processes and resources.

They should have an understanding of economics and the social and economic opportunities and challenges facing an employer, organisation or society.

They should also be aware of ethical principles and challenges of sustainable development and have self-awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses.

Entrepreneurial skills are founded on creativity which includes imagination, strategic thinking and problem-solving, and critical and constructive reflection within evolving creative processes and innovation.

They include the ability to work both as an individual and collaboratively in teams, to mobilize resources (people and things) and to sustain activity. This includes the ability to make financial decisions relating to cost and value. The ability to effectively communicate and negotiate with others, and to cope with uncertainty, ambiguity and risk as part of making informed decisions is essential.

An entrepreneurial attitude is characterised by a sense of initiative and agency, pro-activity, being forward-looking, courage and perseverance in achieving objectives. It includes a desire to motivate others and value their ideas, empathy and taking care of people and the world, and accepting responsibility taking ethical approaches throughout the process.

[1] COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION of 22 May 2018 on key competences for lifelong learning


[2] COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION of 22 May 2018 on key competences for lifelong learning


[3] COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION of 22 May 2018 on key competences for lifelong learning


3. How to develop my entrepreneurship skills?

During the “SELF-E: Innovative training course for young learners based on social mentoring training course” you will be able to increase the entrepreneurship competence, with special emphasis on Life- Style Entrepreneurship.

During the course, we would suggest to strengthening the following entrepreneurial skills:

  • Ability to assess and take risks
  • Ability to be result oriented
  • Ability to make financial decisions
  • Ability to plan actions
  • Ability to work in a team and independently
  • Creative thinking skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Decisions making skills
  • Effective communication and negotiation skills
  • Problem solving skills

Please note that you will get inspirations for your own business from Self-E best practices on life-style entrepreneurship and it will motivate you to develop entrepreneurial skills.

4. What is validation of competence acquired within non-formal learning?

The purpose of validation is to confirm prior non-formal learning and create added value for future learning and work. In lifelong learning, ‘validation’ is an essential element to ensure the visibility and to indicate the appropriate value of the learning that took place anywhere and at any time in the life of the individual. The validation covers identification of competences, their assessment and recognition.

Validation encourages the development of personal and professional skills in a wide range of activities and environments. It helps person to engage in the learning process and to strengthen his/her possibilities the labour market.

The recognition of non-formal and informal learning can be an important source of human capital.

Not all of young people is able to attend and complete formal learning courses. For these people, the recognition of the competences acquired through their non-formal and informal learning activities is very important and extremely useful. By this recognition, they would be allowed to achieve formal qualifications more quickly, more efficiently and cheaply.

Moreover, it could be a useful help in the labour market to get a good match in finding or changing a job position, by giving relevant and detailed information on the applicant’s well mastered competencies.

The recognition of non-formal and informal learning requires two essential steps:

  • identification and documentation of what the learner knows or can do;
  • verification that the learner satisfies certain requirements or standards.

Through these two steps it is possible to award a recognised certification or qualification. If this is not possible, starting from the outcomes of the recognition process.

5. Is the validation mandatory?

  • Validation must be voluntary.
  • The privacy of individuals should be respected.
  • Conditions for equal access and treatment are ensured for all.

6. Is an assessment and a recognition related necessarily?

  • Assessment and recognition are not necessarily related.
  • Assessment may be summative to ensure formal recognition and allow you to obtain a document (certificate / diploma) that marks it.
  • Assessment can have a formative - formal recognition is potential but not necessary.

7. Who ensures the equivalence of formal, non-formal and informal learning?

  • Persons’ qualifications, acquired during non-formal and informal learning and based on learning outcomes can be recognized as the learning outcomes prescribed by the national professional standard or study program.
  • In the context of this principle, the links between the informal and formal education systems are evident - non-formal and informal knowledge, skills, skills and values are valued according to official standards of formal education.

8. What are procedures of validation the competences?

There are four phases for validation of an individual’s learning outcomes acquired through non-formal and informal learning:


The beginning is with the identification of knowledge, skills and competence acquired. This is about learning outcomes acquired at home, during work or through voluntary activities, through participating in different kinds of non-formal training courses as well as a result of life style experience.


This can be presented by Knowledge portfolio that tends to include evidences as a CV and a career history of the individual, with documents and/or work samples.


This phase usually takes place in accrediting organization. The assessors analyses a range of information that learners have provided. Many of the tools and methods used for assessing non-formal and informal learning are based on, or similar to, those used in formal education and training.


The final phase of validation can take different forms like involve issuing a license allowing the individual to carry out specific tasks, the award of a formal qualification (or part-qualification). In any case it is a kind of summative assessment officially confirming the achievement of learning outcomes against a specified standard.

9. Why should I validate competence „Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship“?

Validation has been found to positively influence individuals’ self-awareness and self-esteem.

In relation to the competence “Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship“ non-formal training, validation arrangements need to be presented in a way that allows individuals to decide what suits best suited to their particular needs.

The benefits of validation:

  • Grow of confidence;
  • Improved self-awareness;
  • Increased individual motivation;
  • Greater involvement;
  • Increased self-reflection;
  • Visualized learning progress;
  • Better career possibilities;

For the learners of “SELF-E: innovative training course for young learners based on social mentoring” it is important to evaluate also the progress in learning and to realize own potential on self-employment, including to become the life-style entrepreneur.

10. Where could I validate my entrepreneurial competence?

Validation is organised inside an accrediting body (organisation). It is different in every European county and could be independent centres, educational institutions (VET, adult learning centres, and universities) or labour market divisions or enterprises.

You also can ask your Mentor to help you to find accrediting organization.

11. What are the possible validation results?

Validation can lead to various results:

  • to formal qualifications; this remains more common in the VET sector than in higher education;
  • to qualifications that are different from those awarded by education and training authorities;
  • to some form of formal certification without being a qualification. This certificate can sometimes be used towards a qualification but also carries an independent value in the labor market;
  • to access formal education and training courses.

12. What methods could be used during assessment for validation procedures?

Variety of methods could be used during validation process: the knowledge portfolio, Europass or CV, self-assessment, observation, questionnaires, reflection in and on practice tests and examinations.

Knowledge portfolio.

This is most popular method. It could have a different structure. Although, usually includes documents that learners have collected in order to reveal individual skills acquired in various ways. It may include references from employers and supervisors; it may include a performance appraisal, CV and other documents.

Euro-pass or CV.

CVs and individual statement of competences within the CVs are probably the most common way to document individual knowledge, skills and competences. They are often used in both job and education applications and they differ considerably from country to country and by economic sector. Individual statements of competences can be aided by competence checklists, or in CV formats that include structured competence sections, (see Europass CV[1]).


It is a process where learners reflect on their own work and judge how well they have performed in certain area. Developing reflective skills provides learners with the ability to consider their own performance and to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and areas that require improvement. Self-assessment can provide insight into students’ true comprehension of the learning material and can help to identify gaps in students’ knowledge. It can be extremely valuable in helping students develop self-reflection, critique and judgment. Self-assessments are more often used as part of a formative assessment process, rather than a summative one. Self-assessment could take many forms – questionnaires; tests; diaries; presentations, etc. It is often used together with peer assessment. Applicable to groups or individuals this is great tool for evaluation of skills and knowledge.

The observation.

It is used for practical subjects and is the most obvious form of assessment: watch someone doing something to see if they can do it properly. The observation is a method which evaluates practical skills and competences, which can be demonstrated by performance. It could be used for assessing group or individual achievements, but it works best when evaluating individual’s work.


It emphasizes ability to reflect practical skills or theoretical reflections in varying degrees. Here an individual collects physical or intellectual evidence of learning outcomes from work situations, voluntary activities, family or other settings. This evidence then forms the basis of validation of competences by the assessor.

The test.

It is useful tool for all kind of learning environments and is mostly used when working with groups of individuals. It has many advantages and disadvantages. It is objective; take little time to be completed and checked; have high reliability, validity and manageability. Nevertheless the trainer should bear in mind that when using this tool there is a huge possibility of guessing the correct answer. The test also cannot test oral or written skills, it can test only the theories.

Digital tolls can be used when assessing competences. In general, the digital tools can be used in three ways:

1) Anyone can use the digital tools as a tool for self‐assessment of own competences within a wide range of trades, branches and educations.

2) Digital tools can be used as a source of information for guidance and counselling for the individual user.

3) Digital tools are used by providers of the competence test, that is, specialists and administrative staff who are in charge of validation.

[1] https://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/en/documents/curriculum-vitae/templates-instructions

13. Why the pre-assessment and post-assessment is needed?

Self-E assessment test allows to measure your entrepreneurial competence.

After completing the assessment test, you will get your score of correct answers.

You are recommended to assess your entrepreneurial skills using assessment test prior the course (pre-assessment) and after the course (post-assessment).

By comparing the results from the pre-assessment and post-assessment, you can measure your learning progress.

14. How I should prepare for validation?

  1. Use assessment tool for self-evaluation of competence “Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship” to be sure, you have that competence.

You should

  • Asses your competence using the pre-assessment test.
  • Fix the results of test in the document “Mentee’s personal goals and objectives”.
  • Complete the “SELF-E: innovative training course for young learners based on social mentoring”.
  • Once again asses your competence using the post-assessment test.
  • Fix the results of test in the document “Mentee’s personal goals and objectives”.
  • Compare the results of the pre-assessment test and post-assessment test.

It is expected that your level of competence “Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship” is increased at least in 40 percent in compare with the initial level.

  1. Start to produce evidences for your knowledge portfolio. You can ask your Mentor for a Certificate and a help to prepare the knowledge portfolio.
  1. Find the accrediting organisation in your country and ask for guidance, help and advice when preparing for validation. You also can discuss with your Mentor during the final Mentoring session when you will develop the personal goals for a future.