What is ECVET?

The European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) aims to give people greater control over their individual learning experiences and make it more attractive to move between different countries and different learning environments.

The system aims to facilitate the validation, recognition and accumulation of work-related skills and knowledge acquired during a stay in another country or in different situations. It should ensure that these experiences contribute to vocational qualifications.

ECVET aims for better compatibility between the different vocational education and training (VET) systems in place across Europe and their qualifications.

It aims to create a technical framework to describe qualifications in terms of units of learning outcomes, and it includes assessment, transfer, accumulation and recognition procedures.


In ECVET, an individual’s learning outcomes are assessed and validated in order to transfer credits from one qualification system to another or from one learning ‘pathway’ to another.

According to this approach, learners can accumulate the required learning outcomes for a given qualification over time, in different countries or in different situations.

The system also allows the possibility to develop common references for VET qualifications and is fully compatible with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).

ECVET is based on:

  • Learning outcomes – statements of knowledge, skills and competence that can be achieved in a variety of learning contexts.
  • Units of learning outcomes that are components of qualifications. Units can be assessed, validated and recognised.
  • ECVET points, which provide additional information about units and qualifications in a numerical form.
  • Credit for assessed Units. Credit can be transferred and accumulated to achieve a qualification.
  • Mutual trust and partnership among participating organisations are expressed in memoranda of understanding and learning agreements

Although ECVET is underpinned by European legislation, participation is voluntary and national protocols are respected.


ECVET testing and implementation

ECVET is now in a phase of progressive implementation having created the necessary conditions and measures. In 2014 the European Parliament and the Council will review and evaluate the first stage of ECVET implementation and, if required, they will readjust their Recommendations. The quality of ECVET testing is crucial. All stakeholders, such as awarding bodies, training and assessment providers, social partners and employers, are encouraged to engage in ECVET testing through projects and networks, in particular under the Lifelong Learning Programme.

ECVET and validation of Non-Formal and Informal Learning

Countries around Europe are increasingly emphasising the need to take account of the full range of an individual’s knowledge, skills and competences – not only those acquired at schools, universities or other formal education and training institutions. Recognising all forms of learning is therefore a priority of EU action in education and training.

Learning that takes place in formal education and training systems is traditionally the most visible and recognised in the labour market and by society in general. In recent years, however, there has been a growing appreciation of the importance of learning in non-formal and informal settings. New approaches are needed to identify and assess and validate these ‘invisible’ learning experiences within the context of qualifications.