Skills and competences acquired in civil society organisations – how to recognise and value them in the labour market

On 20 December 2012, the Council of the European Union issued to Member States Recommendation 2012/C 398/01 “on the validation of non-formal and informal learning” (definitions of the terms in the title are set out in the annex to that recommendation). The main task for Member States was to put in place, by the end of 2018, appropriate legal and organisational arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning.

In Poland, not only have legal arrangements been created, but on the basis of the Act of 22 December 2015 on the Integrated Qualifications System (IQS), a process of entering qualifications into that system is also being carried out. The Educational Research Institute overseen by the Minister of National Education is responsible for this. Employers and civil society organisations are the main stakeholders registering qualifications in the system. For years, they have been conducting training and examinations on specific competences. However, there is also some initial practical experience of cooperation with NGO volunteer organisations, as qualifications obtained through voluntary activities in civil society organisations can also be entered in the system.

2019 is the year for the European Commission to review past experience and explore new solutions. Therefore, the EESC’s Labour Market Observatory (LMO) and the Polish Public Interest Committee have decided to join this process together, acknowledging that the recognition and crediting of qualifications acquired while working in civil society organisations, and through the different types of training and courses organised by them, should be strongly promoted.

Wednesday 10 July 2019 at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland; Al. Ujazdowskie 1/3, Warsaw there shall be a “Joint conference of the Labour Market Observatory of the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee for Public Benefit of Poland:

“Skills and competences acquired in civil society organisations
– how to recognise and value them in the labour market”

The aim of the conference is to:

  • exchange views on the functioning of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and national qualifications framework, with particular reference to the Integrated Qualification System in Poland for qualifications acquired through non-formal and informal learning, including the role of civil society organisations in developing a qualifications register;
  • look for new solutions to allow those working in civil society organisations (especially young people, without work experience), and the beneficiaries of the different types of training and courses they organise, to successfully demonstrate the skills and experience they have acquired on the labour market, using the Polish system of validating skills obtained through non-formal and informal learning. The system for validating qualifications acquired through informal and non-formal learning implemented in Poland has a key role to play here;
  • have direct dialogue and exchange of experience between the Polish participants in the validation system and representatives of the European institutions at the crucial moment when recommendations for the coming years are being drafted;
  • enable participants to get to know the most interesting practices from other countries of the European Union;
  • assess the strengths and drawbacks of the EUROPASS CV, particularly in terms of people with qualifications acquired through non-formal and informal learning;
  • exchange information and views on current trends in recruitment of workers in national labour markets and the importance of qualifications acquired through non-formal and informal learning.

I have the honour to be invited, but the next day I have to be present at another conference in Brussels.
An other issue is my Sheltie which I can not leave without someone in the house for so many hours.

I am fully aware that discussions on the above mentioned topic are very timely, as this year, the European Commission is reviewing the way Member States have implemented the Council Recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning and is seeking for good practices and new possibilities to explore.
Therefore it would be interesting to see how the skills and competencies acquired by people who are active in civil society organisations (such as NGOs, trade unions, employers organisations) can contribute to our system. The question is how these people (especially young people) can demonstrate these skills and experience and be easier and better included on the labour market.

Piotr Gliński Sejm 2015.JPG

Piotr Tadeusz Gliński: First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage in the Law and Justice government.

The event will also focus on the active role of civil society organisations as training institutions – as they offer various types of training not only for their members but also for people from outside who are interested in gaining very specific qualifications.

In any case the organisation may count on outstanding speakers: Prof. Piotr Gliński – the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland will be the keynote speaker. Experts and representatives from the European Commission Polish public institutions, the EU agency CEDEFOP, Polish universities, EU-level organisations as well as Polish CSOs and EESC members will take the floor during three thematic sessions. The debate with participants is foreseen after their presentations.

The next case I am going to look at and discuss are the socio-economic causes of the rise of populism in suburban and rural areas and why populism seems to have taken root in these areas. We have to make time to explore the approach that Civil Society should take when facing this issue and analyse possible best practices.

It is important for the EESC as an EU consultative body comprising 350 members representing employers, workers and various interests to have its institutionalised say on draft EU legislation and to help strengthen the EU’s democratic legitimacy and effectiveness by enabling civil society organisations (CSOs) to express their views at European level.

In this world of “qualifications” and “certificates” we should be careful not to forget the qualification a person can receive when doing some work. At the moment we have come into a business world where too many firms or companies demand proofs of qualifications by “degrees” of official school certificates. The “Paper” has become more important than the real qualifications.
In previous centuries people could grow in a function and could climb up in a company from an unschooled person to become “foreman” , “overseer” or even climb up from supervisor to manager or director of the company. Those times are gone, but we should question if it would not be better to have some master workshops again.

We have come in a time where the workers seem to be less protected and where there is much more workload, whilst trade unions seem to have less to say or are not so popular any more. In a lot of places it is all about about tasks, deadlines, resources and limited funds. Lots of people take work to their home. for many it seems normal and taking home work to do in the evening has for many become part and parcel of the expectation linked to modern careers.

At the same time certain political figures try to make the local population afraid for people from outside their country. With their populism they create a dangerous situation which, in my eyes can undermine the safety of a lot of people but also of the country itself.

For that undermining of a solidarity feeling and a feeling of a united nation we do need organisations which bring social protection and which can opt as mediator between the different parties involved.

All over the European Union we should open the eyes of the citizens that we need all workforce and that we should give everybody equal opportunities to the labour market across the whole of Europe. At the same time we should protect all those working in one country, making sure that nobody in that country works under certain wages and would have to work in bad conditions.

At the same time we have to think about why it is so many youngsters do not finish their courses and end up without a qualification. The level of knowledge diminished also a lot the last few years and lots of students are not able to succeed in the first year of university. Also a lot of those going for a job do not manage to stay long enough in that particular job, after the company had invested money and time in their preparation for the job.

We seriously have to think about ways for guiding and helping young people, without work experience, to make them strong to tackle a job but also to give them a feeling they can do something and that they are respected for what they do.



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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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