Does validation pay off?

Validation is a method of identifying and giving recognition to human knowledge. Both the formal knowledge which people learn at school and for which they receive grades, and other skills that they have acquired in their work, or through their leisure-time activities.

"In a validation you don't take the grades into consideration, but rather what is actually known," says Per Andersson, project manager for A&O's subproject Validering som bas för lärande och utveckling (Validation as a basis for learning and development), and researcher at Linköping University.

Increased labour mobility

One area where it is common to validate personnel is within the social services sector. In the social services sector, many employees lack formal education. The staff may have many years of work experience, but lack an upper-secondary school education equivalent to today's Health Care Programme.

"Despite the fact that an employee has skills equivalent to upper-secondary school education, he or she may find it difficult to find a permanent or a full-time job, because employers often require formal education," says Per Andersson.

"When knowledge is made visible and is documented, the person's job prospects are strengthened. It becomes easier for these individuals to find a new employer if for example they do not like their place of work. In this way, validation can contribute to increased mobility on the labour market.

Companies have much to gain, but they also take a risk

There is also a growing interest in validations in the engineering industry.

"There are many jobs in the engineering industry that do not require formal knowledge. But if personnel are validated, the employer can show their customers that his personnel have the skills needed to cope with the job," says Per Andersson.

"When the employer knows what skills there are at a workplace, the company can also use the skills more effectively within the organization.

But an employer who chooses to validate its staff also takes a risk.

"When employees' knowledge is made visible, they can demand a wage increase and better work tasks, or even worse, choose to change employer. To validate and develop staff skills is a costly process and if the staff then chooses to leave the company, the work done is in vain.

Cheaper to supplement gaps in the knowledge

For both companies and society, validation is an effective training method, since the way to formal qualification is shortened. After a validation, the employer and the employee know where the knowledge gaps are.

"Skills development becomes more effective, you can customize training solutions to the needs of the individual, instead of letting everybody do the same standard educations. The staff do not need to be locked in training for a long time, but can remain at work.

How is it done then?

But it is not always profitable to conduct validations. The process may require resources and may be time consuming.

"When to validate, and who, is a matter to be decided on a case by case basis. But the practical work often goes to training companies that get paid for every person who is examined. For them, it might be more profitable to educate many people at the same time in traditional classroom training.

How tedious the process is also depends on the type of knowledge to be validated.

"To validate practical knowledge, it may be sufficient that the person shows off his/her skills. But often, there are also requirements for theoretical knowledge, and it is not always certain that a person knows the theory, even if he/she is familiar with the practical aspects of the work.


Some ESF projects that are working with validation:

  • NIKE-kompetensförsörjning (NIKE competence maintenance - young people), project owner Uddevalla Municipality.
  • LPA, lärande på arbetsplats (learning in the workplace - health care), project owner Kunskapsnavet, Småland and the islands.
  • Kompetensbarometern (the competence barometer - elderly care ), project owner Äldreomsorgsförvaltningen (Elderly care administration), Sandviken
  • Validerad kompetensutveckling (Validated skills development - certifications in the engineering sector), project owner Skärteknikcentrum Sverige AB in Gislaved.