1 INTRODUCTION 2 THE ADULT AS THE CENTRE OF THE VALIDATION PROCESS 2.1 The low-skilled adult population in Europe 2.2 Challenges faced by low-skilled Adults 2.3 How counsellors can put the adult at the centre of the validation process 2.4 Practical steps; preparing as a counsellor for the validation procedure
3 IDENTIFICATION 3.1 Identification Phase 3.2 Roles and responsibilities of the counsellor 3.3 Quality methods 3.4 Facilitating discussion face-to-face and online 3.5 Selection of tools and methods according to the target group
4 DOCUMENTATION 4.1 Roles and responsibilities of a counsellor 4.2 Evidence gathering 4.3 Tools to be used 4.4 GLAS Portfolio
5 ASSESSING THE KEY COMPETENCES OF LOW SKILLED ADULTS 5.1 Assessment process 5.2 Why, what, how and who should assess 5.3 Forms, methods and types of assessment 5.4 Components and phases of the assessment
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5.5 How to Choose the Right Format and Method for Assessment 5.6 Recommended assessment tools 5.7 Core principles for assessing the competences of low-skilled adults with little or no formal education
6 CERTIFICATION 6.1 Micro-credential for validation 6.2 Last phase of the competence validation process in the GLAS project 6.3 Roles and responsibilities of the counsellor
7 PROVIDING FEEDBACK 7.1 Written opinion with suggestions for next steps 7.2 The purpose of providing feedback 7.3 Standards of knowledge and skills as a basis for validation procedure 7.4 And what about the standards of knowledge when we talk about the key competences? 7.5 Structure of the opinion
This document is a contribution of an Erasmus+ project called GLAS (Guidance for Low-skilled Adults towards Skills Assessment and Validation). It brings together partners from Slovenia, Spain, Belgium and Scotland.
The aim of this project is to develop a methodology for assessment and validation of digital, numeracy and literacy skills for adult education and guidance services practitioners, compiled with implementation guidelines that will provide concrete measures and common principles for basic skills assessment and validation.
It includes low-skilled adults in the process of screening, assessment, and in the process of the validation of their basic skills. They will then receive an individual’s skill record, which will include the counsellor’s opinion of achieved level of skills in coherence with EQF, and recommendations for further education and training programs (e.g., Strong areas, weak areas, recommendations for the future).
This document is composed of information related to the competence validation process. It is intended as a reference manual and a toolkit for practitioners in the counselling of low-skilled adults. The focus is to develop innovation methodologies and implementation guidelines and train adult education and guidance service practitioners to use those methodologies.
GLAS aims to create a set of documents in six units that includes an introduction, method and examples of tools that may be used. They are as follows:
1. The Adult at the Centre of the Validation Process 2. The Identification Phase 3. Documentation 4. Assessing the Key Competences of Low-Skilled Adults 5. Certification Phase 6. Quality of Opinion
We also developed interactive Digital European Platform. This is a collection of tools that may be of interest to counsellors. The toolkit is an exchange of good national and international practices of the project partners. The platform is available to all professionals in the field of adult education and career guidance to help them identify, test and assess the basic skills of low-skilled adults. It also allows users to upload new tools that have proven useful in their practice, ensuring that the database is constantly growing, updated and updated.
In addition to the tools for identifying and assessing adults' basic literacy, numeracy and digital skills, there is also a special section collecting tools for identifying and assessing adults' language skills. These tools are aimed primarily at adults whose mother tongue is different from the language of the environment or country in which they live and work. Lack of language skills can be a major barrier for foreigners in integrating into society and finding employment, and the assessment can encourage them to learn the language more intensively and help them in their career planning.
For ease of use, the individual tools on the platform are grouped into four separate sections.
● Digital Skills ● Language ● Literacy ● Numeracy
A benefit will be the establishment of a web-based Forum, where counsellors will have the opportunity to exchange views, discuss issues and provide support for using the tools in the database.
2 THE ADULT AS THE CENTRE OF THE VALIDATION PROCESS
In order for the validation process to be as effective and as beneficial as it can be, it is crucial that the needs, aims and motivations of adults themselves be placed at the centre. This chapter first provides a descriptive overview of the characteristics of Europe’s low-skilled adult population, including some of the difficulties and barriers which they are particularly likely to have faced on their learning journeys. The chapter then outlines some different ways in which counsellors can prepare for the validation process so as to help put adults at the centre.
2.1 The low-skilled adult population in Europe
The GLAS project aims to develop methodologies for the validation of adults’ skills in three main areas: literacy, numeracy and digital skills. Skills in these areas may be acquired in formal, non-formal and informal settings, with the GLAS project focusing on the validation of basic skills acquired in non-formal and informal settings. Before discussing in more detail, the role of the counsellor, it is first helpful to provide a brief overview of the kinds of adults in Europe who are most likely to benefit from this type of validation.
According to the OECD Survey of Adult Skills, which assesses the skill levels of adults in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in technology-rich environments, 16% of adults across 20 EU Member States are low performers in both literacy and numeracy, while 28% are low performers in at least one of these areas.
This latter figure ranges from a low of 15.5% in Finland to a high of 38% in Italy (European Commission, 2021). In addition, the 2019 round of the survey found that 31% of adults in the EU countries surveyed had low or no digital skills, while a further 10% had not used the internet in the three months prior to the survey.
This suggests a population of tens of millions of Europeans who are low-skilled in at least one of the three areas of literacy, numeracy and digital skills. However, it is important to note that being low-skilled in this sense does not preclude adults being highly skilled in other areas. To give one example, an adult from a recent migrant background may have low digital skills, while also possessing a high degree of proficiency in multiple languages - or vice versa.
There is also an important distinction to be made between low-skilled and low-qualified. Adults may gain skills in competences relating to literacy, numeracy and digital skills as a result of their life experiences or other less formal ways of learning, while lacking formal recognition in these areas. It is therefore possible to be both high-skilled and low-qualified in one or more areas, demonstrating the need for there to be accessible and adult-centered processes of validation for these non-formally acquired skills.
While Europe’s low-skilled adult population encompasses a very large and diverse group of people, there are certain characteristics that are more likely to apply to low-skilled adults than others.
A brief summary of some of the characteristics may be of value in helping counsellors ensure that validation processes are responsive and appropriate to the needs of the adults in question.
Firstly, people with less developed basic skills tend to be older than the population as a whole. The OECD (2019) finds that “the relationship between age and proficiency tends to follow an inverted U-shaped curve”, with proficiency in literacy and numeracy peaking in the 25-34 age group and then declining with increasing age. This is partly due to skills declining with age, and partly due to younger generations often being more highly educated than older ones. Indeed, low-skilled adults of any age are considerably less likely to have received any tertiary education than adults with high proficiency.
Amongst older adults, those with low skills are also somewhat more likely to be women than men (though gender differences between younger adults in this respect are much smaller). The OECD attributes this to the fact that the educational attainment of women has grown over time, as well as older men being more likely than older women to do jobs that provide them with chances to maintain their skills.
Adults with low skills are also more likely than others to have been born in a foreign country, and in particular to be recent immigrants - probably because the language skills of immigrants improve the more time they spend in a country (OECD, 2016).