Could you tell me more about the current trends at Le Forem regarding competencies management of job seekers?

Mathieu Gaillard:
Currently Le Forem is revising its data regarding competencies and skills of job seekers with the purpose to get an unified management for these data. More precisely, ultimately, each job seeker will get an unique dossier which will aggregate his/her competencies. This dossier will be accessible to anyone who works at Le Forem, for example, a job counsellor, a trainer or a member of the administrative staff. Data contained in this unified dossier will be gathered from various sources: information obtained proactively by Le Forem through employers or training centers or information transmitted directly by various stakeholders in touch with Le Forem. It is worth noting that this dossier will contain “authenticated” information such as copies of diplomas or certificates.

There is also another initiative going on called “Cahier Individuel de Compétences” (Personalised Dossier of Competencies, http://crf.wallonie.be/cic/home/) developed by the Regional Council for Training in Wallonia. The Personalised Dossier of Competencies is an online dossier, free of charge, which aims at keeping track of various competencies, skills and professional experiences gained by any individual during his/her life. It works as follows: any individual puts his/her own data into the system any time he/she wants and the system generates an Europass CV. Data introduced into the system stay confidential that means there are not open to the public.
How to make use of these data compiled by Le Forem or produced through the Personalised Dossier of Competencies?

Mathieu Gaillard:

Right now there are two different ways to use these data. First, there is a process called the “valorisation des acquis de l’expérience” () managed by universities which permits to get access to universities by his/her own professional or personal experience. For example, someone who wants to obtain some exemptions in his/her Higher Education program could get some European Credit Transfer Systems (ECTSs) based on his/her reckoned professional or personal experience. This process is a way to speed up the diploma delivery.

 

Second, there is a process called “validation des competences” (validation of competence) which authorizes organization such as Le Forem to deliver a certification called “Titre de competence” related to specific jobs (e.g. electrician). In order to obtain this kind of validation, candidates should either pass a practical exam or provide tangible elements which prove their professional experience (this second way, called “approche dossier” (a approach), is in experimentation). According to me, we should improve this process of validation of competencies. We lack tools which could keep track of these various competencies gained by any individual during his/her professional life.
Would a Public Employment Service such as Le Forem, be willing to recognize informal or non­formal online learning?

 

Mathieu Gaillard:
Recognizing informal or non­formal online learning means that these methods of learning should pass through an assessment process to be made official; in other words, learning outcomes have to be certified, i.e. assessed and validated. Only an assessment process could guarantee the credibility of this form of learning with regard to an official body. I argue that various steps need to be crossed in the process of recognition before getting to the final stage represented by the assessment and validation. Amongst these steps, there is the identification of competencies gained through informal or non­formal online learning. I am quite skeptical regarding the use of badges as a way to recognize informal or non­formal online learning. Indeed, badges are not a guarantee of reaching given standards which is a key element for a qualification (see the definition of certification in the EQF recommendation: “a formal outcome of an assessment and validation process which is obtained when a competent body determines that an individual has achieved learning outcomes to given standards”). In other words, most of the time, they are delivered to someone without taking into account a specific standard. According to me, assessing any form of learning outcomes means evaluate it according to a specific standard.

 

Meanwhile, I would like to bring some nuances. Learning does not always need to be assessed. For example, Le Forem organized a one day training session dedicated to the quality of concrete. In this case, assessment is not relevant. I think the danger is to believe that any kind of learning must be assessed or has been assessed. The point is: what is the added value of assessing that learning outcomes in terms of mobility, lifelong learning, integration in the labour market?

What has changed in the last 5 years in your field?

 

Mathieu Gaillard:
I observed a shift in mentality regarding training. A couple of years ago, the delivery of diplomas was monopolised by educational institutions ( e.g. universities, colleges). Now things are changing. Vocational training institutions like Le Forem are entitled to deliver certificates which attest that some competencies have been acquired. Right now, Le Forem delivers 34 “Certificats de Compétences Acquises en Formation, CECAF” (Certificate of Competencies Acquired during Training) in various fields ( e. g. building, industry). These certificates are coherent with the European definition of qualification (see above) and can be utilised by job seekers during their job hunting. It facilitates job seekers professional mobility and lifelong learning.

 

Is the European Qualification Framework useful?

Mathieu Gaillard:

The purpose of the European Qualification Framework is the make qualifications/certifications more transparent through Europe. Within this framework, it is possible to classify any qualification into 8 different levels. In the French­speaking community of Belgium, the National framework has been developed but we still have to operationally define the way qualifications will be referenced to it.

Interview realised by Franklin Kimbimbi the 27th of May 2016