The needed opportunity for improvement of transparency and recognition of qualifications is filled by the innovative PureH2O project through development of learning outcomes (LO) based training system and redefinition of competence standards. In order to achieve these set goals the PureH2O project peruses the following objectives:
Definition of joint LO based blended learning model in drinking water sector; establishment of innovative competence standards and qualifications’ description approach in terms of content and target audience.
Adaptation and development of VET courses in accordance with the defined qualification model and implementation of EQF/ISCO/ESCO principles.
Use of ICT in training, teaching & learning activities. VET learning & teaching methodologies innovation. The PureH2O project major task to improve the VET trainers' competence is best welcomed, especially in the context of the links between theory and practice and the learner-centred approach.
To facilitate the improvement of VET system in Europe, the PureH2O consortium brings together 6 partners from Turkey, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands. The participating universities, R&D centres and SMEs provide the PureH2O partnership with expertise, enriched by the competence of the associated members.
To meet its objectives the PureH2O project focuses on:
creating of blended learning programme by the PureH2O project consortium into the field of the drinking water plants;
bu ilding a structured model following European Qualification Framework (EQF);
formulating a skill passport combining common and novel documents presenting personal competency design;
establishing a multilingual e-learning platform.
The tools for qualifications’ description are tested in various countries and sectors to check their feasibility and practical value.
The exploitation & Use of the PureH2O learning outcomes gives prospects for successful post-project validation and accreditation of the new qualifications’ recognition model and training programme, as well as for its future commercialization.
PureH2O new views
The education of VET professionals is a key development objective for building the EU knowledge society. The role of teachers, trainers and other training facilitators needs a change to respond to the latest scientific, technological and social changes. The European Education and Training 2020 policy has already performed some preparatory work and analysis of the situation in Europe. The various national needs were reflected in different qualification networks. The results indicate existing social needs for more subject-based and specific competences, linked to learning processes and curriculum outcomes, and less connected with the traditional educational schemes.
Since VET professionals are recognized as an important source of knowledge, the following basic requirements for changing the role of trainers are included in the Erasmus + programme: improvement of subject competence; establishment of links between theory and practice; and use of learner-centered approach. These requirements are applied to PureH2O target beneficiaries: teachers, trainers, learning facilitators, guidance professionals, school/institution managers and political decision makers.
Educational Transfer for Knowledge-based Economy
The PureH2O project philosophy is in compliance with the European policies for investment in education and innovation management for successful transition to knowledge-based economy and society.
The investment in education is a national priority for all European governments that commit to ensure conditions for VET system operation where the European reference levels and quality practices in training have priority.
PureH2O project uses the tools for qualifications recognition in the national and EU scale
European and National Qualifications Frameworks
European Qualifications Framework (EQF) provides a reference framework, which assists in comparison between national qualifications systems, frameworks and their levels.
The EQF framework translates qualifications by making them more understandable across different countries and systems in Europe. EQF promotes lifelong and life-wide learning, and the mobility of European citizens whether for studying or working abroad.
The EQF encourages countries to relate their national qualifications systems to the EQF so that all new qualifications issued from 2012 on carry a reference to an appropriate EQF level.
European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET)
The European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) aims to give people control over their individual learning experience and makes it more attractive to move between different countries and jobs. It facilitates the validation, recognition and accumulation of work-related skills and knowledge acquired during a stay in another country and experience in different situations. ECVET works for better compatibility between different VET systems across Europe and the qualifications they offer.
ECVET creates a technical framework to describe qualifications in terms of units of learning outcomes that are subjected to assessment, transfer, accumulation and recognition procedures. Each unit is associated with a certain number of ECVET points developed on common standards.
Individual’s learning outcomes are assessed and validated in order to transfer credits from one qualifications system to another. The system allows development of common references for VET qualifications and is fully compatible with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).
EUROPASS is an EU initiative that aims at increasing transparency of qualifications and mobility of citizens across Europe. It is a lifelong learning portfolio of documents describing all learning results, qualifications, work achievements, skills and competencies, acquired over time, along with appropriate certificates.
The portfolio consists of the following five documents that make skills and qualifications easily understood:
Curriculum Vitae is freely accessible CV format that helps the EU citizens to present their skills and qualifications in the best possible way.
Language Passport is a self-assessment tool for language skills and qualifications.
EUROPASS Mobilitycertificate records the knowledge and skills acquired in European countries.
Certificate Supplement describes the knowledge and skills acquired by holders of vocational education and training certificates.
Diploma Supplement describes the knowledge and skills acquired by holders of higher education degrees.
The PureH2O programme in education advancement
The PureH2O project takes the following steps to qualifications recognition:
The PureH2O team establishes the management structure, distributes activities among partners and supporting organizations, and creates thematic and grade units and course subjects.
The ECVET based system for sectoral qualification description is constructed through creation of blended learning program in water supply sector, comprising 12 courses which knowledge part is organized in Learning Pathways (LPs) and Short Intensive Courses (SICs) designed to match EQF levels 5, 6 and 7, and weighed through ECVET.
The project participants implement pilot procedures for assessment and transfer of the learning outcomes in formal and non-formal education.
PureH2O Skill Passports will be provided for gathering of documents certifying completed training and acquired competence/qualification in water supply sector.
These steps are to be made using the following instruments:
A broad multilingual b-learning portal that hosts the PureH2O qualification e-scheme and the PureH2O Skill Passports, plus guidance, evaluation and dissemination materials.
Partnership with sectoral organizations established for integration of the ECVET system at national and European level.
PureH2O outcomes disseminated & use through open information and supporting resources.
Measures for post-project exploitation of the PureH2O e-scheme for qualifications description based onLearning Outcomes.
Links between the intended qualifications and qualifications required by the national training programmes using ECVET.
The PureH2O quality management
A set of quality indicators are applied to measure the progress in different phases. The quality management tools monitor the integrity, flexibility and efficiency of the project components, using procedures for control and assessment of the PureH2O outcomes.
Allocation of the ECVET credit points depends on the national requirements.
Formal learning contexts in different countries and situations are compared to determine learning time for competence acquisition in non-formal/informal manner.
Process quality indicators should observe:
Relevance between content and objectives.
Criteria for assessment and self-assessment of the work.
Appraising the adequacy of the project communication and plans for operational phases.
Evaluation of the project outcomes against the EU requirements.
PureH2O competence based VET model – the pillars
The didactic approach
Learning outcomes are organized in units according to the qualifications needed in a particular area of activity.
Materials need to be rearranged to accommodate the changing role of educators from teachers to facilitators of learning. Thus, the structure of the learning material needs new models of units’ identification.
The PureH2O methodology is based on the definition of the content of a formal unit defined as a subject in the study curriculum. In the Learning Outcomes scheme, the unit represents a number of competencies required at completion of a study course.
In the context of an output–centered course description, a newly introduced unit has to cover knowledge and skills that are part of the daily work life. These practical competencies are incorporated into the Learning Outcome Scheme.
The training is based on the need of up-to-date education in drinking water supply sector and covers new content in this respect. It is organized in units functioning through an e-platform. The process follows special training and qualifications description model published in 4 languages. The training supports the development of national and sectoral qualifications systems, using tools such as EUROPASS, ECVET and EQF.
The testing relies on cooperation work with representatives of target groups. It organizes approbation of the system for qualifications description and the mobility procedure for cross-organizational and multinational cooperation. The testing monitors the performance of training events and creates a set of documents regarding the certification procedure. It reviews feedback for project products applicability and relevance and carries out final tuning of the outcomes.
New job opportunities
New job opportunities emerge due to the EU recognition of qualifications acquired by the trainees in drinking water supply sector, especially in relation to operation, management and economics of Drinking Water Treatment Plants. They are opened to nationals who embark on reintegration into the national economies after studying and working abroad. These job opportunities appear as a result of the cross-border mobility of trainers and employers due to the application of PureH2O model that offer scheme for transparency and better understanding of trainees' qualifications since PureH2O supports recognition of qualifications in drinking water supply sector in partner countries.
PureH2O impacts drinking water supply economic sector
EU development policy promotes an integrated framework for drinking water resource management, applying a range of widely tested approaches to purified water and sanitation services. The EU water management policy has three priorities:
Universal access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
Establishing and strengthening organizations and infrastructure for the sustainable and equitable management of water resources.
Coordinating fair, sustainable and appropriate distribution of water between users.
Water loss and bad sanitation raise water supply services operating costs, and impede their improvement. Leaks and contamination complicate drinking water systems sustainable management.
Therefore, water loss from distribution systems and poor water sanitation deserves appropriate actions to reduce stress on scarce water resources through implementation of strategies and technologies to control leakage and contamination.
Besides saving water and energy resources, drinking water loss reduction can diminish pollution to freshwater systems. Investment in water loss reduction improves customer satisfaction and redirects resources for management of more advanced sectors.
The growing problems in drinking water management needs more adequate human capacity that can be improved by training of urban water managers, decision makers and operators of water supply utilities that may learn from each other’s experience.
The successful approach involves development of sound institutions and strong cooperation to apply the best solutions that are to be shared among the international community of practitioners and agencies that provide capacity in the area.
The drinking water supply sector lacks
Best trained professionals and managers.
Individuals with flexible qualifications and appropriate skills and competencies.
Mutual recognition of qualifications acquired abroad and at international level.
Transparency among the various national qualifications systems and Vocational Education and Training (VET) programmes.
The bottle neck to be addressed
Deficits are to be addressed by increasing the chances of professionals to meet internationally agreed qualification standards in drinking water supply by supporting knowledge gathering, assessing best practices and formulating needs for qualifications upgrade and understanding.
New policies in qualifications recognition are still to be applied at national level, but they must be preceded by analysis of state-of-the-art and economic conditions. Moreover, institutions and national and private educational and labor organizations need tools to facilitate the process of qualifications recognition.
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