The Role of Indicators in European Quality Assurance in VET
The use of EQAVET indicators and quality assurance
Quality assurance of VET is a multi-dimensional phenomenon. As such, the set of ten EQAVET indicators is to be applied in the different phases of the quality cycle, not as independent units but rather as an integrated part of the quality assurance system. In this way, the use of the indicators leads to a shared understanding about the basis of quality assurance in VET and assists the users’ developmental thinking, i.e. it can help stakeholders with asking their own questions, gathering and analysing their own data and using their own information and evidence as part of their self-review and decision making.
Quality Assurance and stakeholders- the EQAVET stakeholders
Stakeholders’ perspectives of what quality assurance is and what value a quality assurance system offers differ. While different points of view can be beneficial to the successful development of a quality assurance system—bringing a variety of perspectives, knowledge, and expertise to the discussion table—effective collaboration and communication among these groups is vital. Stakeholders, therefore, should be involved from the very start in the process of selecting the indicators to be applied in each of the phases of the quality cycle.
Quality Assurance National Reference Points play a very important role in this process.
What is an EQAVET indicator?
The EQAVET set of ten indicators aims to address the three priority areas for policy and practice in VET at EU level, i.e. providing employability, matching the supply of and the demand for competencies and qualifications and providing inclusive access to VET. The indicators are not mandatory nor are they to be used as benchmarks, i.e., they are not recognised as “standards” that might form the basis for comparison between Member States. The use of indicators, however, can provide a good starting point into the journey towards quality assurance by focusing on the input-output-outcomes of VET and on the important influences on those outcomes.
How do EQAVET Indicators align with European policy goals?
Since 2000, one of the main features of the EU governance is the Open Method of Coordination (OMC), which was designed to better implement a long-term strategy for a competitive knowledge-based economy and social cohesion. In line with the adopted approach for the implementation of the OMC in VET, indicators are mentioned in the Maastricht Communiqué (2004) for the first time and identified as a priority in the Helsinki Communiqué (2006). In 2008, the Bordeaux Communiqué recommended the continuation of the work on VET statistics while the Bruges Communiqué (2010) stressed the sustainability and excellence of vocational education and training.
What are the main issues regarding the implementation of the EQAVET indicators? First things first….
A successful long-term institutionalisation of the EQAVET indicators at system and providers’ level will only be cemented if a set of pre-conditions are met, namely the acceptance of the indicators by policy makers and programme providers. In order to achieve this purpose some specific requirements need to be met, namely the setting of criteria to select indicators and to collect data. Furthering this process implies the dissemination of results in order to build support for VET policies and programmes.
But then, to that end…
The graphic visual representation of data is a useful tool to present findings in a quick and clear way after the complex information collected has been sorted out and analysed. Developers should, therefore, think about how end users will access and use the data and how they can help them maximize the information's utility. Since graphics are such useful interpretive tools, it is worth taking into consideration different modes of visualising data.