Project Type Transfer of Innovation
Whilst there have been a considerable number of initiatives dealing with informal learning, the main focus has been the accreditation of informal learning seeking to develop instruments and strategies to recognise such learning for the purpose of qualification.
However, our research suggests that often young people are not able to recognise the relevance of such learning itself, nor to relate it to more formal competences. Furthermore, programmes to accredit informal learning tend to focus on the particular competences required for a qualification and thus may ignore wider learning gained by young people or competences outside the spheres of a particular programme or qualification route.
The ICONET project, building on work undertaken through the earlier ICOVET project, focused on the broader achievements of the young person themselves and seeked to support young people in exploring their previous informal learning, regardless of subject or context.
Learning outside the framework of institutional education is coming increasingly into the perspective of educational policy. How do young people learn in contexts not designed for learning? What do they learn and can these skills and competencies be made visible? Acknowledgement and recognition of informal learning can help awaken motivation and interest in formal educational processes and make them more successful. Particularly those young people whose achievements in school are insufficient to guarantee a successful start in employment will benefit. However, making use of these competencies requires that the learners themselves recognize these and that they can be made evident to third parties.
For this purpose the precursor project ICOVET developed a procedure for the validation of competencies, a manual, and a programme for further training which in ICONET were developed further, and transferred into the support systems. ICONET included 11 partners from 7 European countries.
The ICONET project aimed to transfer the ICOVET procedure to new fields of application, settings, and target groups. This involved the further development of the ICOVET tools and their adaptation for use with new groups and in new contexts.
The project also aimed to embed the key results and experiences from the ICOVET project in each of the partner countries’ system of career support programmes for disadvantaged people. The so doing, the aim was to open up new avenues for institutions and organizations working in the field of vocational support for disadvantaged target groups.
The project brought together partners from Germany, the UK, Austria, France, Portugal and Romania.
In Germany the aim was to develop the ICONET process as a tool for use in the stages of preparation and review of work placements for young people whose school completion is at risk. The aim was to stimulate a reflection process by young people concerning their experiences of work placements in order to find out what they have learnt during that time. The second aim was to research the effects on young people who engage in a setting of inter generationally learning.
In Austria, France, Portugal and Romania, the ICONET process and tool was transferred to sectors which have yet to develop specific methods for the validation and documentation of informal competence.
In Austria, the process and tools were developed to assist the vocational development of people with disabilities.
In Romania, the project worked together the Ministry of Justice and the State Law Enforcement Agency to further develop the ICONET procedure for use with juvenile prisoners.
The French project also focused on how the ICONET process could be used working with professionals responsible for young offenders.
The UK team, comprising of two partners, looked at the use of the ICONET process in two different contexts. The first was that of a summer school for disadvantaged young people, seeking to encourage them to progress to university. The second was within the context of a higher education entrepreneurial skills module.
Finally, in Greece, the ICONET process was tested as a tool to support competence development in small and medium‐sized enterprises and the industrial sector.
Besides the adaptation, testing and reporting on the use of the ICONET process and tools the project has produced examples of effective and exemplary practice and a transfer guide, designed for others to build on the work the project has undertaken.
Utilization and distribution of results
Access for disadvantaged
Recognition, transparency, certification
Human Health and Social Work Activities
transparency and certification
program or curricula
All products and materials are available at:
In order to validate competencies, acquired in informal settings an online-tool is available: