To establish whether an organisation in another country might make a suitable partner for ECVET and future mobility, it is important to gather as much information as possible so that you can better understand the qualifications systems and frameworks, in the targeted country or countries, and the local conditions that any future mobility programme might be subject to. In this respect, it is worth considering:
the VET system and curricular model of your partner country (or countries).
- the operating structure and the breadth of responsibility of the partner training organisation or institution.
- opportunities for practical (workplace) training in the host country.
More broadly, you could also consider information on the national qualifications framework (NQF), the structure of qualifications and units, the use of learning outcomes and all or any quality assurance arrangements.
The targeted qualification, or unit, is also relevant (for example, profile of learning outcomes, relevance to labour market needs, suitability for accessing other programmes of education and training), especially where the mobility programme is targeted at a training institution rather than a workplace.
Do not worry, however, if you cannot locate or access information on all of these areas because even a little information can go a long way.
Exchanging Detailed Information
Once the initial suitability of the partner has been confirmed, the next step for the sending and host institutions is to exchange more detailed information on targeted learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and competences), specifically those that expect to be achieved and assessed during a period of geographical mobility, ensuring that these also meet local qualification requirements (see also section on Learning Outcomes).
At this stage, it can be useful to share and discuss the following:
- assessment criteria and mechanisms (for example, observed practice, tests, exams) relating to agreed learning outcomes - also see section on Learning Agreement.
- mechanisms for assessing non-formal or informal learning.
- options for addressing learning gaps - in particular, those areas not able to be covered during the mobility period - on return to the home institution.
- practical aspects such as the organisation of training, important dates (for example, local holidays), places and forms of learning, duration of mobility, access requirements, language of instruction, etc.
The length of this phase, the time and resources invested, and the amount of information exchanged depends on how well partners already know each other, on local qualification systems (and any recent changes) on on specific local or national requirements for learner mobility or geographical mobility.
The Partner Profiles Tool can assist with the exchange of relevant information between partners.
Involving Competent Institutions
In some cases it will be necessary to involve additional (competent) bodies or institutions, beyond the partner institution, ensuring that management, hosting, assessment, validation and recognition processes are each adequately covered. In other cases, individual training organisations or institutions will operate as a competent institution, taking sole responsibility for all such matters - also refer to the section on International Partners for an overview of ECVET-related roles that might need to be considered.
When each of these steps has been carried out, satisfactorily, preparation for mobility can begin, including the preparation of a common Memorandum of Understanding (see also Before Mobility).
Where you do not already have partners with whom to launch your ECVET mobility programme, there are a number of avenues that you could explore.
Erasmus+ National Agencies are a natural contact point as they are already in touch with funding and mobility agencies in other European countries and will normally be able to assist by publishing or circulating contact details to education and training providers having already shown an interest in European mobility.
Potential partner organisations can also be found through European websites, platforms and databases such as ADAM (a portal hosting data on VET projects and products developed under Erasmus+ predecessor programmes), or European Shared Treasure (a similar portal hosting information on past-funded partnership projects in education and training). Some institutions also use the e-Twinning platform for making first contact with new partner institutions.
Alternatively, partner search might also begin by confirming the availability of a particular qualification, which might only be available in certain countries or regions. In this respect, Europass Certificate Supplements can be useful during initial comparison. Having identified the targeted qualification, this might additionally make the selection of future partner institutions easier.
Applying ECVET principles in an international partnership provides for smoother long-term mobility arrangements and higher quality mobility. It saves the sending institution from double- or extra-assessment on the return of the individual learner and can help to better match existing learner skills with actual learning opportunities within host institutions or workplaces.