The impetus for the development of a national strategy for the validation of non-formal and informal learning (VNIL) in Austria was given at the national level by the LLL-strategy, which was adopted in 2011 (cf. 8.2). The aim was to create a validation strategy in order to make competencies visible and usable that were acquired outside the formal education system, for example at work, in leisure time, in voluntary work or in the context of the various non-formal offers of adult education. At the European level, the Council published the recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning in 2012, which also had a significant influence on the development of a VNIL-strategy in Austria.
After an intensive discussion and work process lasting almost two years, the first draft of this strategy was presented in 2015 and subjected to a public consultation. The feedback was then discussed and incorporated into the text. The validation strategy was decided in 2017 and published jointly by the Ministry of Education, Science and Research.
The strategy is accompanied by ambitious activities: a catalogue of quality criteria is to be developed on the basis of existing validation procedures. An online portal should present all validation and accompanying offers, increase their level of awareness, facilitate access and address the target groups. In addition, a qualification profile for validation experts and special training offers are to be created.
Although these activities have stalled somewhat due to government reshuffles, but also due to the corona pandemic, the subject of validation is still a priority on the education policy agenda. On the one hand, the importance of the recognition of learning achievements outside the formal system should be increased; on the other hand, those validation procedures that are currently in use should be made better known, further developed and coordinated more closely.
The following examples of existing validation procedures can be named:
- Awarding of the wba-certificate and the wba-diploma through recognition of learning achievements from all educational contexts (chapter 8.4)
- exceptional admission to the apprenticeship-leave exam (chapter 8.4: Possibilities where certification bodies are involved)
- exceptional admission to study programmes at universities of applied sciences (cf. chapter 7.2: Universities of Applied Sciences)
- waiving of parts of the practical apprenticeship-leave exam
- credits for the acquisition of certificates in second-chance education (such as of the compulsory school qualification)
- recognition of relevant competences to shorten the training period (such as upon entering a post-secondary VET course, cf. chapter 8.4: Add-on courses and post-secondary VET courses:, or a school for people in employment, cf. chapter 8.4: Schools and colleges for people in employment (“evening schools”).