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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Validation of non-formal and informal learning


8.Adult education and training

8.5Validation of non-formal and informal learning

Last update: 27 November 2023

In order to stimulate adult learning, the recognition and validation of knowledge, skills and competences is of great importance. In the Netherlands, there are two options: schools can either develop their own ways and instruments for recognition and validation, or they can cooperate with EVC (recognition of previously acquired competences)-providers. 

An EVC procedure entails collecting data about someone's knowledge and skills. Evidence is assessed in relation to nationally recognised occupational standards. Relevant certificates and life/work experience all count towards the assessment. The collected evidence is then recorded in a certificate of competence.

A certificate of competence gives an overview of the holder’s knowledge and skills. It creates a clear picture of their occupational experience and level of performance. If you understand your own capabilities, you deploy your talents more effectively and know the kind of work that suits you. You therefore opt for training in line with your current job or the career that you are aiming for in the future.

The certificate of competence recognises the competences that the holder has acquired by non-formal and informal means. To obtain a certificate of competence, an applicant first initiates an EVC procedure. They then compile a portfolio containing evidence of their knowledge and skills. A coach is available to offer guidances. Evidence may include:

  • testimonials
  • letters of recommendation
  • reports of job performance interviews
  • products made by the applicant
  • certificates
When the portfolio is ready, it is assessed by two examiners from the EVC provider. They will also consider whether the applicant needs further testing in order to establish their level of competence. It may also be necessary to assess the appplicant’s skills through a practical test or question and answer session. It takes an average of three months to obtain an EVC.
EVC providers in the Netherlands map the knowledge and skills of individuals who apply for certificates of competence. The EVC procedures [link toevoegen] finder indicates which existing providers cater for the skills mix offered by an individual applicant. The applicant can also apply directly to the EVC provider, or seek advice from the relevant contact at their workplace or training and employment helpdesk.
A certificate of competence can be used to create career mobility on the labour market. An adult who wants to follow vocational (MBO) or higher professional (HBO) training can use EVCs to gain exemption from parts of a new course and thus shorten their study time.

The importance of lifelong learning is being recognised. It is also evident from the rising number of people aged between 25 and 64 who are engaged in learning activities.

Percentage of 25-64-year-olds engaged in learning activities (Lifelong Learning)