The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's326 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
strongly believes that emphasis should be placed on identifying, recording, assessing and hence valorising the outcomes of non-formal and informal learning and doing so in the most comparable way possible;
recommends that Member States provide opportunities to get the outcomes of non-formal and informal learning validated, and broaden the range of institutions providing guidance and counselling on the benefits of validating competencies and the options and mechanisms for doing so, to the public;
calls for support for all stakeholders, particularly social partners and other civil society organisations, to make them aware of the benefits of validation and enable them to participate actively in setting national qualifications frameworks and determining professional qualifications;
considers that a good national legislative framework is a prerequisite for ensuring the equal value of certificates achieved through formal and non-formal or informal learning. This places significant demands on the quality of validation processes, which should be financially supported by, for example, the European Social Fund;
calls on educational institutions, particularly secondary schools and universities, to promote the validation of skills and knowledge acquired through non-formal means. The EU has many examples of good practice in this field and these should be promoted;
is convinced that collective bargaining and social dialogue between unions and employers could play an important role in the process of validating non-formal education and lifelong learning and it should be used as an instrument to work on validating non-formal learning as an important contribution to the debate on employability and instruments to support it;
considers that given the high rate of youth unemployment, opportunities for interaction between public and private employment agencies, volunteer organisations (particularly of young people) and employers should be supported;
is therefore disappointed that the European Commission has suspended the preparatory work on the Europass Experience and calls on it to see this initiative through to completion.
Recently, CEDEFOP published the European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning, which covered 33 European countries. It showed that a better design and implementation of effective tools to recognise non-formal and informal learning is needed so they can better contribute to tackling current bottlenecks within the EU labour market. New tools and policies are being designed and the EESC has stated on several occasions that it would like to have its say in these processes.
This opinion should summarise the concerns of employers, employees and other civil society organisations, such as youth and educational NGOs, regarding practical procedures for recognition/validation of non-formal and informal learning, and put forward proposals for practical solutions. Those should feed into the work of the Commission in 2015.