DEQA-VET: The Copenhagen Process

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The Copenhagen Process

Though the topic of “Quality in vocational education and training” already gained focus in the Lisbon Process (2000) it has only been systematically implemented since the Copenhagen Process (2002) .1 The Copenhagen Process defines political priorities for the achievement of the Lisbon goals in vocational education and training, namely in the context of the “10 year work programme”.2

On November 30th, 2002 the ministers of education of 31 European countries and the European Commission approved the Copenhagen Declaration3 for an enhanced European cooperation in vocational education and training. The following priorities and other deliberations about the instruments connected with them have been written down in the Copenhagen Declaration:

  • Strengthening of the European dimension in vocational education and training
  • Improvement of transparency, information and counselling (European curriculum vitae, diploma supplements, Europass, uniform European framework for foreign language learning)
  • Recognition of competences and qualifications, including non-formal and informal learning (recognition systems based on common principles, credit point system for vocational education and training, common principles for the validation of non-formal and informal learning)
  • Cooperation in the field of quality assurance (co-operation by means of an exchange of models and methods, development of general criteria and principles for quality in vocational education and training)

For the implementation of the Copenhagen Process three working groups – for “Transparency”, “Quality Assurance” and “Credit Point System” - have been established apart from a steering coordination committee. For the field of quality assurance the Technical Working Group on Quality in VET was established by the Directorate-General Education and Culture of the European Commission at the end of 2002 in order to foster the development and implementation of the common European goals in the field of quality in vocational education and training.

At the beginning of 2003 the working groups for “Transparency”, “Quality Assurance” and “Credit Point System” started fulfilling their mandates. The mandate of the Technical Working Group on Quality Assurance in VET included

  • the establishment of an analysis of the current status,
  • the identification of criteria for quality development,
  • the identification and description of quality indicators for vocational education and training at system level (good practice basis),
  • the conception of a comprehensive reference framework for the development and reform, respectively, of quality systems in vocational education and training (Common Quality Assurance Framework)
  • as well as the description of methods and instruments for the support of self-evaluation and quality assurance.

In 2003 and 2004 the three working groups developed the following products:

  • a single Community Framework for the transparency of qualifications and competences (EUROPASS)4
  • common European principles for the identification and validation of non-formal and informal learning5
  • a common European Quality Assurance Frameworks (CQAF) as well as6
  • principles of a basic model for a European credit point system for vocational education and training (ECVET)7

From December 13th to 16th, 2004 the European conference “Strengthening of European Co-operation in the field of Vocational Education and Training” took place in Maastricht. It can be considered the first follow-up conference of the Copenhagen Process in which the so-called Maastricht Communiqué8 was adopted. The Maastricht Communiqué assesses the progress that has been made in connexion with the Lisbon and Copenhagen strategies. New priorities for an enhancement of European co-operation in vocational education and training are fixed in the Copenhagen Process.

The necessary reforms and investment should be focused particularly on:

  • the image and attractiveness of the vocational route for employers and individuals, in order to increase participation in VET
  • achieving high levels of quality and innovation in VET systems in order to benefit all learners and make European VET globally competitive
  • linking VET with the labour market requirements of the knowledge economy for a highlyskilled workforce, and especially, due to the strong impact of demographic change, the upgrading and competence development of older workers.
  • the needs of low-skilled and disadvantaged groups for the purpose of achieving social cohesion and increasing labour market participation

The core content of the Maastricht Communiqué is the agreement to develop a European Qualification Framework (EQF) as well as a European credit point system for vocational education and training (ECVET). Especially as regards the European Qualification Framework there are links between the Copenhagen Process and the Bologna Process the main goal of which is the creation of a common European higher education area by 2010.9

In the course of the follow-up process of the European Conference in Maastricht the European Network on Quality Assurance in Vocational Education and Training (ENQA-VET) was founded by the European Commission. The main tasks of the network initially were the development of a Common Quality Assurance Framework (CQAF) as a continuation of the work of the Technical Working Group on Quality in VET as well as the encouragement of co-operation amongst the relevant stakeholders at national and European level.

The second follow-up conference of the Copenhagen Process took place in Helsinki in December 2006. In the Helsinki Communiqué10 vocational education and training is once again assigned the central task of contributing to the competitiveness and social cohesion (Lisbon Strategy). Moreover it is emphasised that in the future a more focused approach will be necessary which is to be oriented towards the following four priority areas:

  • The image, status and attractiveness of VET. In this context, more emphasis should be placed on good governance of VET systems, institutions and/or providers.
  • Further development, testing and implementation of common European tools. The aim should be for the agreed tools to be in place by 2012.
  • A more systematic approach to strengthen mutual learning. To support this, special attention should be given to improving the scope, comparability and reliability of VET statistics
  • Active involvement of all stakeholders in the work as the Copenhagen process moves towards an implementation phase.

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1  For further information see: http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-policy/framework_en.htm 

2  European Council (2002): Detailed working programme for the implementation of the goals of general and vocational education and training in Europe. 

3  Declaration of the European Ministers of Vocational Education and Training, and the European Commission, convened in Copenhagen on 29 and 30 November 2002, on enhanced European cooperation in vocational education and training “The Copenhagen Declaration”  

4  Decision Nr. 2241/2004/EG of the European Parliament and the Council of December 15th, 2004 on a single Community framework for the enhancement transparency of qualifications and competences (Europass)

5  European Council (2004): Conclusions of the Council and the representatives of the Governments of the Member States within the Council on Common European principles for the identification and validation of non-formal and informal learning.

6  European Commission (2005): Fundamentals of a Common Quality Assurance Framework`(CQAF) for VET in Europe.

7  European Commission (2006): Working document of the bureaus of the Commission. A European credit point system for vocational education and training (ECVET). A European system for the transfer, accumulation and recognition of achievements in vocational education and training. 

8  Maastricht Communiqué on the future priorities of enhanced European co-operation in vocational education and training 2004.

9  See: http://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/educ/bologna/bologna_en.html 

10  Helsinki Communiqué on enhanced European cooperation in vocational education and training 2006.


Source: ARQA-VET

 
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