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A national workshop within the project EQVET-US was arranged on May 12, 2016 in Sofia

A national workshop within the project “European Quality Assurance in VET towards New Eco Skills and Environmentally Sustainable Economy – EQVET-US” was arranged on May 12, 2016 in Sofia. The project initiative is implemented in the framework of the Erasmus + programme, Key Action 2: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices, Field: Strategic Partnerships for vocational education and training.

The purpose of the national cascade pilot event was to test and implement EQVET-US Framework and Practice Set in order to ensure a shared understanding and gain support for the validation of EQVET-US intellectual products. Furthermore, the event aimed at promoting the project initiative among stakeholders.

A total of 17 participants representing 10 organizations – VET providers, higher education institutions and policy makers in VET sector took part in the event. The agenda suggested the following activities:

The practical exercise was designed as a serious of case studies describing EQVET-US self-assessment results in 7 VET organizations. Each exercise included: 1. Self-assessment results per indicators groups (7 areas of social responsibility) in a table and diagram format; 2. A part of self-diagnostic tool with the answers to the questions in that indicator which received the lowest result; 3. The action plan template. Seven case studies described seven different EQVET-US indicators. The task was to analyse the organization’s responses, identify weaknesses and develop an action plan to improve its performance according to that indicator.

The event participants implemented this exercise in small groups of two-three people. A number of good practices, which the workshop identified, came from the participants’ solutions to the case study problems.

The lessons learnt from testing EQVET-US instruments were the following:

  • Quality of EQVET-US Framework: using Deming Cycle and ISO 26000 makes EQVET-US Framework a “universal” methodology applicable to various contexts of VET institutions.
  • Quality of EQVET-US Practice Set: Self-Diagnostic Tool and implementation guidelines are succinct; they explain in a step-by-step approach how exactly EQVET-US instruments should be applied.
  • Challenge: ISO 26000 is intended as guidance and organizations cannot be certified in accordance with it. Thus, there is a risk of low motivation on behalf of VET institutions to apply EQVET-US instruments based on ISO 26000.
  • Resource: Effective implementation of EQVET-US approach requires strong involvement and commitment on behalf of management. Organization leaders should drive, manage and control EQVET-US self-assessment process.
  • Advantage: Recent changes in normative documents/acts in Bulgaria require VET institutions to carry out self-assessments as a part of quality management process (before that, only external audits were required). EQVET-US self-assessment approach is completely in line with this recent requirement, which could increase VET institutions motivation to apply it in their institutions.

As a result of the round table discussion the event participants came to the general conclusion that cooperation with BG National Agency for VET and Association of VET Institutions could enhance EQVET-US dissemination to VET organizations in Bulgaria, thus facilitating EQVET-US transferability.

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