Title Equass in practice. Implementation of quality assurance for VET-providers in vocational rehabilitation according to the EQUASS Assurance standard, (European Quality in Services), in some selected EU-countries.
Project Number NO/08/LLP-LdV/TOI/131003
Project Type Transfer of Innovation
Marketing Text EQUASS Assurance is a certification system for quality assurance in social services developed by EPR (European Platform for rehabilitation). Upon the initiative of AVRE (Association of Vocational Rehabilitation Enterprises in Norway), six organisations from Lithuania, Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Ireland and Norway engaged in a project to make the EQUASS Assurance certification system more easily available to all VET providers. EQUASS in Practice is developing methods, guidelines and strategies which will be used to produce a web based manual. This document is intended to be a practical tool and will coach the VET-providers through their Quality Assurance work and enable them to become more easily certified. EQUASS in Practice aimed at develop and share best practice for how VET service providers may work to implement the EQUASS Assurance certification programme, with the aim of improving quality of their services and achieving sustainable working practices.
EQUASS Assurance (European Quality Assurance in Social Services) is a system for quality assurance and certification in vocational rehabilitation and social services. EQUASS Assurance is developed by European Platform for Rehabilitation (EPR) together with key stakeholders at European and international level, hereby; user organisations and employer- and employees organisations. The system and the quality criteria are based on key values for the sector that are widely approved by internationally experts. The reason for this project was that feedback from VET providers indicated that some found the requirements difficult to understand, and that it was unclear how to implement them.
The objective of this project has been to develop and share best practice for how VET-service providers may work to implement the EQUASS Assurance certification programme, with the aim of improving quality of their services and to achieve sustainable working practice and routines. To day it is a growing awareness of how to secure good quality among VET-providers in most European countries.
The objective for the 6 partners from Lithuania, Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Ireland and Norway has been to make this system more easily available to all VET-providers within the sector of vocational rehabilitation. This included development of methods, guidelines and strategies which resulted in a practical web-based manual which will coach the VET-providers through their QA work (quality assurance), and enable them to become certified. The project have also established a pool of approved auditors in each country.
All partners work within the field of vocational rehabilitation, four as VET providers, and two as non profit, non governmental associations for VET providers. The dissemination and explotation of the results from the project has been facilitated by arranging project meetings for the partners throughout the project period. The project was completed by arranging a final partner seminar and by publishing the manual on the internet. This will result in sustainable routines and working methods beyond the project.
The objective of the project was to develop and share best practice for how VET-providers may work to implement the EQUASS Assurance certification programme, with the aim of improving the quality of their services and to achieve sustainable working practice and routines in different European countries.
EQUASS Assurance (European Quality in Social Services) is a system for quality assurance and certification for VET-providers in vocational rehabilitation and social services, and the system was developed by EPR together with Rehabilitation International, The European Association of Service Providers for Persons with disabilities (EASPD), The European Parliament Disability Group, European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), European Disability Forum (EDF), European Social Insurance Partners, Employers Forum on Disability, The Conferation of European Business, Business Europe and International Labour Organisasjon (ILO). EQUASS Assurance is characterised by 9 principles based on the key values of the sector. The 9 principles are: Leadership, Rights, Ethics, Partnership, Participation, Person Centred, Comprehensiveness, Result orientation and Continuous improvement.
The experience and feedback from the VET-providers, who at present work to implement the standard, was that the requirements are perceived as hard to understand, and that the need for coaching seemed significant. We also know that in some countries (for instance Norway) the authorities may requires a QA-system with external auditing and certification in order to become approved as a VET provider. The objective for the 6 partners from Lithuania, Slovenia, Portugal, Belgium, Ireland and Norway was to make this system more easily available to all the VET-providers within the sector. This included development of methods, guidelines and strategies which resulted in a web-based practical manual that will coach the VET providers through their QA work, and enable them to become certified.
This manual has become a practical tool with answers to frequently asked questions, elaborations on each question, a glossary, etc., which has been made available to other VET-providers and stakeholders at the end of the project. It should be possible for VET-providers to implement the EQUASS Assurance within a 12 months period. Each partner has worked together with a certain number of national VET-providers in a way which made it possible for them to apply for EQUASS Assurance certification within the end of the project.
•Each VET provider had access to coaching and assistance throughout the process and they were given enough time to monitor the effect of their work, and to carry out evaluations and improvements.
•The partners were given time to collect information in each country, share and compare it in the project meetings and gave feedback to the VET-providers so that they may exploit the information in their ongoing work.
•The project have also establish a group of approved national auditors and consultants in each country.
Innovation aspects and added value.
•A methology on how to implement EQUASS Assurance in European countries in the sector of vocational rehabilitation in social services.
•Publish a manual with practical information about the implementation work in each VET-provider which is made available on the internet for the public.
•To establish national EQUASS Assurance licence holders with a purpose of making sustainable structures for implementing in each country.
•Develop a methodology to follow up VET-providers who want to get a successful certification.
•VET providers in rehabilitation have applied for EQUASS Assurance certification at the end of the 24 months project period + qualified, independent, approved auditors in each country.
•Certification according to EQUASS Assurance means that VET providers in the rehabilitation sector in Europe have the possibility to implement a common European quality assurance system within the social service sector.
•The user will feel more assured of the quality of the services from the service provider which is also important for the funders. The VET-provider is certified through an external audits and which provides a guarantee of the level of quality in provision of services to all stakeholders. It will make it easier to buy services across borders within Europe within the sector.
•For the employees the implementation of EQUASS Assurance means also the possibility of personal development and learning, as the VET-providers on a continual basis is committed to evaluate if they possess the required competence and, if not, plan the necessary improvement of the staffs skills and competence,
•The certification will raise the reputation and status of both the VET-providers and the profession and may improve recruitment to this type of jobs.
Indicators of progress.
The progress of the project will be measured based on the following indicators:
•The number of licence holders and agreements. (One in each participating country).
•The number of VET-providers in vocational rehabilitation in each country which join the project.
•The number of VET-providers which applies for certification during the project period.
•Number of described frequently asked questions and corresponding answers, reports about good practice, guidelines and strategies which are collected to be included in the manual.
•Publication of the manual
The dissemination and explotation of the results from the project was facilitated by arranging project meetings for the partners with 6 months intervals throughout the project period. The project was completed by arranging a final partner meeting and by publishing the manual on the web page.
The potential target group for the dissemination activities are:
•VET-providers in the field of vocational rehabilitation : Institutes for vocational assessment and evaluation, institutes for vocational training, institutes for mediation to employment.
•Institutes for Vocational Education and Training (Mainstream and Specialised Institutes for individuals with special needs)
The dissemination activities will include:
•A continual process of giving practical information about the project and results through relevant National websites and EPR website.
•National information events by the partners of the project as we expect increased awareness of the importance of implementing EQUASS Assurance for the service providers.
•The publication of the web-based manual.
•Make a web based database of the national legislation related to quality assurance in this field.
Recognition, transparency, certification
Human Health and Social Work Activities
material for open learning
Several VET-providers in Europe and national authorities consider this standard as relevant for quality assurance of the sector of vocational rehabilitation. However, experience and feedback from the enterprises who presently work to implement the standard was that the requirements were perceived as hard to understand, and that the need for coaching seemed significant.
The aim of this project was that the results will lower the threshold for embarking on QA-work and thus enable more VET providers in Europe to make use of the standard developed by EPR. We planned to achieve this by develop and share experience and best practice for how the VET-providers in this project work to implement the EQUASS Assurance.
Our opinion is that the added European value of the project is:
•There will be national licence holders for EQUASS Assurance in all 6 countries involved in this project. The experience from this process will form a strategy for how to establish licence holders in other European countries not involved in the project.
•There is approved EQUASS Assurance auditors in all 6 participating countries. The experience from this process will benefit the training of auditors in other European countries, and countries with a similar language will be able to make use of each others auditors.
•The requirements of the EQUASS Assurance standard hs been clarified and are more easily available for European VET-providers.
•The web-based manual is a practical tool which will lower the threshold for starting the process towards certification.
•The project has made VET-providers aware of network within the VET sector, and thus facilitate communication and cooperation between the companies.
•Certification according to EQUASS Assurance means that VET providers in the rehabilitation sector in Europe will implement a common European quality assurance system within the social service sector.
•This achievement is a transnational acceptance of a described known quality level within this sector. This will make it easier to buy services across borders within Europe within the sector.
•Quality assurance according to EQUASS Assurance certification programme will create awareness of and clarify the common European criteria which characterises good quality in vocational rehabilitation. This is important because the awareness and knowledge that the individual certified enterprises fulfil common European requirements will create a positive motivation within the company
Projecthomepage http://www.equass.no/equass-in-practice-1.aspx and http://www.epr.eu/index.php/equass/projects/166