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The purpose of the European guidelines, as stated in the 2012 Recommendation for validating non-formal and informal learning, is to share experiences and to support mutual learning between those involved in the development and implementation of validation arrangements in Europe. The updated version of the guidelines, published in May 2023, addresses new and emerging issues, such as cost and financing, standards and reference points, outreach strategies, digital certification and microcredentials. 

The European Commission, DG Employment and Social affairs coordinated the work. Cedefop provided technical and conceptual support and drafted the guidelines. This update is the result of a consultation process with stakeholders and experts in the field of validation started in 2020:

(a) the European Qualification Framework Advisory Group have discussed elements of the guidelines in plenary meetings and provided valuable comments;

(b) a project group on validation including EQF AG members and selected experts provided support over different activities;

(c) results of a flash survey answered by around 200 people involved with validation provided useful input;

(d) discussions and input from more than 100 participants of an online workshop in November 2021 provided valuable insights into specific themes;

(e) consultation and participation in events connected with Erasmus+ and other European projects has also informed the drafting


Overview of the guidelines

The guidelines are organised as follows: the two first chapters are primarily directed to policy-makers and decision-makers, reflecting the strategic nature of validating policies, in particular Chapter 2 focuses on the importance of putting the individual at the centre of any validation arrangement, emphasising the need to respond to their needs and objectives. Chapter 3 analises how validation is implemented in different contexts and connected to different policies in a sustainable, professional manner.

Chapter 4 presents aspects focused on validation provision and how the process can be coordinated and 12 European guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning carried out. Chapter 5 discusses validation methodologies and tools. Chapter 6 aims at briefly bringing all the sections together. At the end of each section a list of key questions provides a tool for reflection. The questions are also collected in the annex 1 to facilitate discussion.

Skills intelligence publication details

Target audience
Digital skills in education.
Digital skills for all
Digital technology / specialisation
Digital skill level
Geographic scope - Country
Industry - field of education and training
Basic programmes and qualifications
Geographical sphere
International initiative
Publication type
General guidelines