There is an overwhelming consensus on the importance of making visible the knowledge, skills and competences gained through life and work experience. To value what they have learned, people should be able to demonstrate what they have learned in all settings in life and to use this in their career and for further education and training.

This is why validation of non-formal and informal learning can make an essential contribution to the EU ambition of achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as set by the Europe 2020 strategy. Its impact can be significant in better matching of skills and labour demand, promoting transferability of skills between companies and sectors and supporting mobility across the European labour market. It can also contribute to fighting social exclusion by providing a way for early school leavers, unemployed individuals and other groups at risk, particularly low-skilled adults, to improve their employability.

This is one of a series of four thematic reports prepared within the framework of the 2016 update to the European inventory on validation of nonformal and informal learning. The inventory, together with the European guidelines, is a major tool supporting the implementation of the 2012 recommendation on validation that calls on Member States to establish, by 2018, validation arrangements allowing individuals to identify, document, assess and certify their competences to obtain a qualification (or parts of it).

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