In 2002, the law on Validation of experience opened a new right for individuals making possible the recognition of what they have learnt, formally or informally, in their professional and personal life by official qualifications. All training and learning organisations, private or public, offering qualifications registered in the national list, the RNCP (RĂ©pertoire National des Certifications Professionnelles) are obliged to set up a procedure and to give an answer to candidates applying.
Validation of experience constitutes a new road to certification. All kinds of qualifications, diploma, degree and certificates, may be partly or totally awarded. This means that there is now a complete dissociation between the learning process and the assessment process for a qualification. The whole experience of an individual can be taken into account.
A three-level VAE system has been built and it is now progressively becoming an essential element of the educational policy in France.
A Committee for the Development of Validation of experience, involving Ministries awarding qualifications, has been established in 2006 and placed under the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour. This Committee has built a â€śdossierâ€ť common to the 13 Ministries involved and definer a Charter for guidance. A specific website has been opened (www.vae.gouv.fr). The annual State Budget includes a chapter on VAE under the Vocational Education Annex. Numerous reports ordered by different Ministries have been published during the last years (around 10). Their objectives are on the one hand to assess the results of the process launched in 2002 and on the other hand to investigate new developments.
Social partners came to an agreement in 2003 regarding continuing education for employees. The agreement aims to place continuing education in a lifelong learning perspective and to contribute to positive professional pathways for employees. VAE is one of the tools at their disposal. This orientation has been confirmed by a new agreement signed at the beginning of 2009. This agreement stipulates that â€ścollective approaches developed by companies and individual initiatives of employees or unemployed people must be encouragedâ€ť. Information and access must be facilitated and guidance funded.
On the first level, we find information and orientation services which since 2006 are the responsibility of the Regions. All Regions have implemented a network of information and counselling offices (Points Relais Conseil- PRC-) where individuals may find information and counsel on the VAE process, qualifications, and procedures developed by learning and training institutions.
On the second level, we find procedures developed by learning and training institutions. In the case of institutions awarding State qualifications, the procedures are defined by Ministries. These Ministries have developed a validation action plan that introduces validation regulations, assessment procedures and application forms and tools, and procedures for the identification and training of professionals, and so on. The procedures of other institutions are their own responsibility, but they are controlled by the CNCP. The validation procedure is now part of the accreditation process.
On the third level, we find quality control procedures that have mainly been developed at the State level on the basis of annual reports provided by learning and training organisations and thematic reports produced by inspection bodies or experts.