Hansági Ferenc Vocational School of the Szeged Centre of Vocational Training has offered opportunities to gain experience abroad for cook, waiter and pastry cook students for many years. Due to their excellent programmes, as well as the conscious and long-term planning of their projects, they won a Vocational Training Mobility Certification in 2009, which they successfully prolonged in 2016. In their work, they rely on the experiences gained throughout the years and continuously expand their application tool set. We talked to Project Coordinator Klára Smicskó Jancsikinné about quality development, the importance of learning outcomes and the tools of assessment.
To many, the expression ECVET still sounds foreign. How did you learn to use these kinds of tools?
ECVET tools help us implement high-quality projects. For us, the publication entitled Guide to Writing Learning Outcomes for the Vocational Training and Adult Education Sector by Éva Farkas meant a lot of help. Also, we took almost any chance to gain new knowledge by learning about the best practices of our partners, using the experiences of the accompanying teachers, as well as through teacher exchange programmes. There are many external lecturers among our vocational instructors who are recognised practising experts at various training locations, and therefore their experiences were also integrated into our ECVET tools.
What advantages do you see that ECVET tools offer?
These tools contribute to the better monitoring and objectivity of assessment. We recommend using ECVET tools to every institution organising foreign mobility programmes. They have a wide range of use: from describing qualifications, planning and developing curricula, training programmes, modules, training structures and materials through elaborating exam questions or, for example, in dual education, specifying practical requirements, to recognising competencies gained in a non-formal environment in various fields; thus, in designing mobility programmes, too.
What was the idea behind the ECMO – ECVET meets Europass Mobility experimental project?
The European Union seeks to combine the existing European transparency tools. It was the ECMO experimental project that took the first steps with the goal of using Europass as a documenting tool of ECVET, and made an offer to develop its 5th point. There are a number of different requirements all around Europe for documenting and assessing competencies and training. The methods used by companies are not quite comprehensible and can’t be regarded reliable. For using ECVET, it’s crucial to document the experiences gained during mobilities, for the sake of practicality. The modified Europass certificate was used and tested in the HoReCa (food service) industry. To identify the most common work processes, the hospitality industry used the VQTS model. The VQTS model serves the structured characterisation of the competencies belonging to a certain job, a key element of which is the competency matrix which we have, too, elaborated for the cook, waiter and pastry cook vocations.
What is a competency matrix and what is it good for?
Basically, it’s a description of the characteristics which make a student suitable for fulfilling the given job, and they also specify the necessary and expected elements of attitude. The measuring-assessing tool of ECVET is the competency matrix, which allows a more precise and objective measuring of learning outcomes than before. Prior to their travel, the students use this matrix in the form of self-assessment to determine the professional competencies they have at that given moment. Then they also mark the levels at each competency in the matrix which they wish to achieve by the end of the foreign traineeship. At the end of the mobility, the foreign professional mentor gives feedback on students’ performance by completing the assessment sheet. Then the students use the table to assess the level of competency they achieved after the mobility again.
What do you consider the most important assessment criteria of traineeship?
The assessment of traineeship includes a number of elements: the self-assessment of the beneficiaries, the written assessment of the foreign mentor, the analysis of the work logs and the written programme summaries, and at the end of the project, the closing assessment after the ceremonial dissemination event.
How do you define the learning outcomes of the mobility programme?
We specify two learning outcomes for the one-month-long – or in the case of our fresh graduates, two-month-long – mobility period. Thus, at the end of the learning process, each participant will be aware of how much they know, how much they understand and what they can perform, at what levels of responsibility and independence they can do their work, regardless of where, when and how they acquired these competencies. It’s essential that the learning outcomes which our students need to achieve during their foreign mobility should be specified precisely, so that they can be measured, documented, and therefore assessed and recognised. The process of assessment and recognition is recorded in the Learning Agreement signed by the students, the institution and a foreign host partner. We start from the presumption that employers don’t care about students’ qualifications, they care about what they can do, how they can perform at work. That is why a learning outcome based approach is crucial; however, it can only work well if there is appropriate communication among the stakeholders.
How do you ensure the quality improvement of the projects?
In order that we can do our application work effectively and reliably, we laid great emphasis on institutional quality improvement in the programme. The quality assurance work of our applications is managed by the Deputy Manager and the head of Quality Management. As early as 2007, we drew up a document called Foreign Traineeship and Experience Exchange Implementation Policy, updated on an ongoing basis, as part of the Institutional Quality Assurance Programme. We also prepared a related material in 2015, called The Rules of Recognising Foreign Traineeship as Part of the Relevant Professional Practice, an annex to the educational programme of our institution. We strongly recommend that even schools without any experience in mobility programmes should develop documents regulating and supporting the system, so that they can do their work professionally, reliably and with a lower rate of error.
Last modified: 19-06-2019