December 7-8, 2012 - Thessaloniki (Greece)
Georgios K. Zarifis, Catalin Martin, Simona Sava
Back to Work - The Role of Validation
of Competences in Professional
Counseling of Adults
This eBook was published within the European project “Counseling returning migrants – Back to
work”, ref.no. LLP-LdV/TOI/2010/RO/023, project financed by the European Commission under
Lifelong Learning Programme, Leonardo da Vinci – Transfer of Innovation. The Publisher will send
the Proceedings to Thomson Reuters in order to be indexed in Conference Proceedings Citation Index.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects
the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may
be made of the information contained therein.
Competences of career counsellor for preparing the validation of competences
Catalin MARTIN, Simona SAVA
Innovative Model for Promoting Entrepreneurship Among the Unemployed Person
Nadia POTOCEANU, Cristina GHEORGHE
Roadmap for Competence Based Design of Study Programs for Pharmacists’ Higher
E. M. MUT, S .POPESCU, D. PITIC, M. DRAGOMIR
Models of Good Practice on School Participation in Preventing Human Trafficking in
Dorin OPRIS, Monica OPRIS,
Aspects of Mathematical Modeling of Professional Counseling Process
Marcela POPESCU, Paul POPESCU
Women Skills Needed in the Process of Searching for a Job
Testing of the Validpack Instrument in Latvia, Estonia and Finland: The Opinions of
Svetlana SURIKOVA, Lu-cija RUTKA, Anni KARTTUNEN, Larissa JÕGI
European Integration Agent and Innovative Guidance Methodology for the
Integration of Low-Skilled Immigrants into Adult Education
Maria TOIA, Yevgenyia AVERHED, Roger VAN DE WINKEL
IMPROVE: Improving Validation of Competence of Career Guidance Practitioners
-The professional Check up and its Results
Mary TOUNTOPOULOU, Leonardo EVANGELISTA, Zuzana FREIBERGOVA, Rachel NELSON,
Speranta TIBU, Peter WEBER
The Necessity to Adjust Skills Training Process of Unemployed Persons to the
Labour Market’s Regional Features
Mentoring in the Teaching Profession
Cristina-Mihaela ZINICA, Georgiana-Alice NICHITA
COMPETENCIES AND ROLES OF CAREER COUNSELORS
, Laurenţiu Şoitu2
New items on which we insist are considering the superior attitudes that the beneficiaries of the
counseling process "steal" if and only they find them at the counselor. It's about the attitude towards work,
assumed career, the relationship between undertaken results and the offered results, between effort and success,
between the individual and the environment life / family, professional and community group membership. All
these elements serve at least equal to the knowledge, information, and the principles which the candidate acquire.
Personal skills have value if they are consistent with cultural, moral and spiritual values of the person who
demonstrates their use in relationship to others, because each "other" wants to transcend statements, contextual
demonstrations valid if confirmed in new behaviors worthy to be assumed by the candidate. This difference is
given by the quality of the person of the counselor, by the set of values to which the activities are subordinated,
by the perspectives that transcend the time of action.
Keywords: skills, attitudes, roles, success, counseling, career
Who is the career counselor? The career counselor is a specialist with theoretical and practical
training in the humanities and social sciences, whose work is to help different people in different stages of life,
and to assist3
them in making some decisions regarding the career. Counselor’s intervention is appropriate at any
time during an individual’s life4
. The actions are considering the expectations of the beneficiaries regarding: the
identification of an occupation that is suitable to their interests and aspirations, the facilitation of the process of
looking for and obtaining a job, providing the necessary support for the professional development for those who
are active in the labor market.
Specific activities of the career counselor aim on cognitive account (conveying the information regarding
the beneficiary’s request), affective account (building a positive and realistic attitude of the beneficiary towards
the beneficiary’s own professional development) and on operating account (teaching the beneficiary to take
responsibility for a decision, to design a personal and professional development plan, to follow out what it has
been learned during the counseling process). Consequently, the counselor has the responsibility for building and
expending the person’s skills towards the educational and occupational self awareness and unto planning their
own becoming. When discussing self-awareness competencies we take account of the capacity that the counseled
person has to evaluate herself and the relationship with others, towards the awareness of her actual abilities. The
exploration competency is considering the ability of the person to search, analyze and interpret the received
information for professional development and to identify a job according to what the person knows, can and
wants to do. The planning competencies require the capacity of the person to turn to account the results obtained
consequently to self-awareness and the information acquisition particular to her needs. In order to obtain results,
the career counselor will hold the relationship abilities – respect, motivation, project engagement – that should
be developed to a superior level regarding the counseled person, through the capacity to build a genuine
relationship, where each one is learning – with simultaneous and similar effects – how to manage the
The career counselor is a professional who5
: analyzes the career needs of applicants and their socio-
professional environment, defines their personality characteristics, identifies together with the applicant the
development of the objectives, sets the design of the actions and the dimension of information relevant to the one
they are counseling.
Ph.D. Student of Alexandru Ioan Cuza Universitaty of Iaşi
Univ. Prof. Ph.D. of Alexandru Ioan Cuza Universitaty of Iaşi
R. Nelson-Jones, 2009, Manual de consiliere, Trei Publishing House- specifies that the expression ,,support person” is
recommended to be used by those specialists that use the counseling abilities as a specific aspect of their role
Analiza nevoilor de consiliere pe toată durata vieţii, 2006,Institutul de Ştiiinţe ale Educaţiei, Laboratory of Counseling and
www.anc.ro, Occupational standards for School Counselors, Vocational Counselor, Counselor for Personal Development,
Instructional Designer in the business sector: Education and Training, Research-Design, Sports
In any context, career counseling has an important role, because this service aims different categories of
users (students, youth, employed adults, unemployed), at various times when facing development needs or
difficulties with the integration and social success. Approaching career counselor roles becomes relevant from
three perspectives: that of the specialist providing these services, from the point of view of the direct
beneficiaries (the applicants from the counseling services)6
, and of the indirect beneficiaries of the process (the
future employers). The success of counseling is given by systemic perspective of the designed approach - results
/ deducted from the needs, the possibilities - physical, moral, intellectual – and the expectations of the
beneficiaries, but also from the awareness of the opportunities of the moment. Hence, there are several directions
in which the career counselor may have responsibilities: to herself as a professional, to direct beneficiary
(individual or organization), to indirect beneficiaries – their family, employers and the local community.
From this perspective, the main roles of the career counselor refer to supporting the personal and
. Personal development is based on performing the acceptance and supporting role
towards the counseled person: that of a trainer when is referring to learning actions, that of motivation to
sustained effort in order to achieve results and identification of success paths, of the work satisfaction. The
professional development is based on the performance upon the role concerning the access to the opportunities
that the beneficiary has already professionally, as well as the role concerning the information resources
management and facilitating the access to these resources.
The career counselor is able to perform the role concerning the personal and professional development of an
individual or the staff from an organization8
. Changes in the career guidance regarding the finality take into
account that the expectations of all involved in this process are the same, focusing on the social success9
counselor wants to be a good specialist, the candidate wants to fulfill her expectations for professional
development, the employer needs a person fit for his organization, not just a very good specialist. We are all
required to undertake a self reflective role on our own professional development. The career counselor is always
subject to these requirements, because through introspection the couselor can easily understand the difficulties,
challenges, different and particular needs for each beneficiary.
Frequently, the analyzis of the activity of the counselor considers the effectiveness and efficiency achieved
through the activity10
. What is efficiency? What is the relationship between knowledge, application and
enforcement of the indicators regarding the counseling activities (application of theory in current activity) and
the influence of personality traits, and personal qualities of the counselor? There are practitioners11
focusing more on personal qualities and professional training. These views sometimes occupy the extreme
positions, emphasizing either the personality or the training. In reality, the counselor combines specialized
knowledge, skills and work habits that are specific to the occupation, which were acquired only through practice
and continuous improvement. On the other hand, work skills cannot be separated from personal, individuals
qualities. When we talk about personal skills, we refer to the ability to perform a professional activity upon the
required standards through knowledge and specific work habits. With more developed personal skills, we are
more prepared to find solutions and to achieve professional performance. Development and correlation of these
features help us to be effective in everyday’s life through actions that are specific to professional behavior,
determining the efficiency at work. Continuous training for personal and professional development is an intrinsic
element of the counseling services based on the analysis of concepts and techniques of counseling used
internationally and the adjustments of these to national particularities, economic, social and local specific needs.
This is also a way to improve skills. It is not enough to know how to do something, the ability to do that better
each time is also necessary, so that the output is remarkable, superior to previous results. Continuous
development of career counseling skills will allow access to knowledge and needs analysis, abilities, resources,
motivations, values and personality traits of the client. Of course, the powers that ensure the success of the
counseling activity can be successfully applied to many fields related to human resources.
These "key competencies" represent a transferable, multifunctional package of knowledge, skills and general
attitudes necessary for all in view of personal development and their social and professional inclusion. Those can
be acquired during initial training, but can also be developed and subsequently by attending further training or
personal development programs. In fact, these key competencies that are built on personal skills are a basic
aspect of social success. This is a new dimension and purpose of career counseling, an important role that
counselors can promote: an individual achieves success in a field if she has the expertise (being acquired during
professional training) and if she has developed a range of personal skills required in the labor market in general.
M. Jigău coordonator, 2004, Cod etic şi standarde de calitate în consilierea carierei, Insitutul de Ştiinţele Educaţiei
A. Szilagzi, article www.nbcc.ro
A.Szilagyi, 2008, Manualul consultantului în carieră, Institutul European Iasi
I. Mitrofan, A.Nuţă, 2005, Consilierea psihologică. Cine, ce şi cum?, Sper Publishing House
New items on which we insist are considering the superior attitudes that the beneficiaries of the counseling
if and only they find them at the counselor. It's about the attitude towards work, assumed career,
the relationship between undertaken results the offered results, between effort and success, between the
individual and the environment life / family, professional and community group membership. All these elements
serve at least equal to the knowledge, information, principles which the candidate acquire. Personal skills have
value if they are consistent with cultural, moral and spiritual values of the person who demonstrates their use in
relationship to others, because each "other" wants to transcend statements, contextual demonstrations valid, if
confirmed in new behaviors worthy to be assumed by the candidate. Of course, these aspects of the relationship
are influenced by many factors that can not be fully controlled, but attitudes, superior behavior of the candidate
contain the value hold by the trainers who are never unique designs, but will always be possible landmarks.
The general responsibilities are the most outlined, firstly by the analysis of career development articles13
which shows that performance is supported by a set of elements which are subject to personal development and
those are providing support for skills specific to various occupations - including that of a counselor. Of these
general skills we select and enumerate those considered to be relevant: effective networking14
, vision, flexibility,
proactivity, results orientation, reliability, appropriate behavior, team working, lifelong learning aspiration - for
personal and professional development. To turn to account the expertise in her current counselor activity career,
the counselor performs different roles: the visionary on what can get in the end, the person with maximum
flexibility - in permanent agreement with the elements discovered at the candidate of her services - the promoter
the proactive attitude – subordinated to objectives – being aware that all actions aim at achieving a result.
Effective networking is an essential skill when the professional work involves direct contact with service
beneficiaries. To relate effectively requires a clear formulation, concise ideas, active listening, as well as
respecting the point of views of interlocutors, mutual support and common assumption of success. Vision - also
mutual – reflected on the short, medium and long term business objectives also contribute significantly to
creating a strategy as effective as possible. Flexibility in dealing with work situations refers to the acceptance of
new tasks, to working in a team, to different approach and multiple angles view of similar situations. Proactivity
- is a distinguishing feature of the professional who is interested in the news from the field, the new products and
available services, she propose solutions to address situations no matter how unusual they may be. Results
orientation requires perseverance in pursuing the professional goals of the individual or of the team. Team
working is established as compulsory since achieving the objectives depends on good relationships and
involvement of participants.
The career counselor can be considered an important person in the process of building an individual's career,
because it facilitates shaping the occupational identity of the candidate. Final results of the career counselor work
are likened to a tip of the iceberg. They are visible at a given time, but the process of obtaining them started
much earlier, deep seted, much deeper, if we compare the first meetings and the iceberg.
Of course, not everyone will recognize the presence or the importance of the counselor for the evolution that
the candidates have enjoyed. Not everyone will say, I had a counselor who offered what I have asked for, which
I have paid to guide me. This is because some people succed to develop their own personal skills - or so they
believe, when between the further training distinctions of this kind have not been made - but most of them need
to be guided by another person whose job is to provide support, and help to assist the others. That person who
wants to be with the others at the moment of career options is precisely the career counselor15
We might conclude that a career counselor’s mission is to prepare individuals at the same time for two
purposes: selecting an occupational identity and preparing for success, for the social success. In fact, when a
person uses the services of a career counselor, that person contributes to some extent to its self-definition, as the
final decision on what will that individual becomes will always remain at her discretion. The counselor does not
force a decision, does not choose, nor decide on behalf of the other, for the beneficiary of the offered services,
but the counselor helps to choose between yet unknown options, to decide whether of all the offers, identified
opportunities and found arguments, there is something that fits the expectations, thus being able to contribute
from a point of view on the evolution that is bearer of succes.
L. Şoitu, 2001, Pedagogia comunicării, Institutul European Publishing House, Iaşi
We prefer this expression of “effective communication” since the communication has become a vague concept – because of
extensive use, often without the characteristic that defines the reference area. Additionally, in this situation the relationship
based on mutual trust, consideration, mutual support, empathy and communion- is closer to the objectives aimed at by
I.Al.Dumitru, 2008, Consiliere psihopedagogică – Consilierea pentru formarea deprinderilor de viaţă, Polirom Publishing
Career counselor roles can be derived from activities and specific skills, as well as from a consultation of the
which are those of: facilitator of personal and professional development, consultant for
those seeking a job, motivator, information supplier for labor market and occupational areas, facilitating
customer access to career opportunities in the labor market, designer to initiate development activities of staff in
an organization etc. Our option was to ponder on some of those, stressing on their roles, with the certainty that
their "slightly different" presentation - as thinker Contantin Noica stated using the mentioned collocation –
would be good value for the effort to gain a better emphasis on the roles and the possibilities of their fulfillment
by the career counselor. This difference is given by the quality of the person of the counselor, by the set of
values to which the activities are subordinated, by the perspectives that transcend the time of action.
From the perspective of occupational areas17
at national level there are indicated several occupations that
have a direct or indirect connection with the providers of career counseling or advising on professional
development. Of these occupations we note: school psychologist, school counselor, career guidance counselor,
vocational counselor, personal development counselor, employment consultant, professional skills assessor.
There are some occupations recently introduced in the Code of Occupations in Romania (COR) that do not have
an occupational standard developed yet, such as employment and unemployment counselor, working conditions
consultant, professional skill systems specialist, human resources specialist, inspector of specialized training,
assessment and selection training. New additions emphasize that counseling market regarding the career
development is open - because of the multiple needs and possibilities of intervention - and those interested in
these services will be able to select between those opportunities considering their possibilities and expectations.
Analiza nevoilor de consiliere pe toată durata vieţii, 2006, Institutul de Ştiiinţe ale Educaţiei,
Laboratory of Counseling and Lifelong Learning
Dumitru I. Al., 2008 Consiliere psihopedagogică. Baze teoretice şi sugestii practice, Polirom
Publishing House, Iaşi;
Nelson-Jones R, 2004, Manual de consiliere, Trei Publishing House, Bucureşti;
Mitrofan I, Nuţă A., 2005, Consiliere psihologică. Cine, ce şi cum?, Sper Publishing House,Bucureşti;
M. Jigău coordonator, 2004, Cod etic şi standarde de calitate în consilierea carierei, Institutul de
Şoitu L, 2001, Pedagogia comunicării, Institutul European Publishing House, Iaşi
Szilagyi A.M.A, 2008, Manualul consultantului în carieră, Institutul european Publishing House
ei.pdf (autor: Robert Munteanu)
www.anc.ro, Standarde ocupaţionale pentru Consilier şcolar, Consilier vocaţional, Consilier pentru
dezvoltare personală, Designer instrucţional din sectorul de activitate: Educaţie şi formare
profesională, cercetare-proiectare, sport
www.anc.ro, Standarde ocupaţionale Consilier orientare privind cariera, Consultan ă în domeniul
forţei de muncă, Sector activitate: Administraţie şi servicii publice
www.anc.ro, Standarde ocupaţionale din sectorul: Educaţie şi formare profesională, cercetare-proiectare, sport; Sectorul:
Administraţie şi servicii publice
DEVELOPING STUDENTS’ PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCES,
DESIRABLE ON LABOR MARKET;
A POTENTIAL FRAMEWORK PROGRAM
Bunăiaşu Claudiu Marian
University of Craiova, Department for Teachers Training, Romania
Given the inconsistencies between graduates’ professional training and their expectances in the field
of professional competences, University of Craiova has started a series of projects in the field of
students’ professional training. Ongoing POSDRU project entitled Socio-human competences on labor
market in South-West Oltenia region, ID 81762, has the general purpose of harmonizing professional
competences of students attending socio-human faculties with those expected on labor market, by
local employers. Up to this point of the project’s implementation, two products have been elaborated in
order to analyze the synchronization degree between competences pursued in the socio-human field
and those expected on labor market , and to delineate a framework program of professional
practice, in order to facilitate development of students’ professional competences, desirable for
This paper presents an impact study of the framework program of professional practice in the socio-
human field, elaborated by us as part of the specified project, in which I took part from May to July
2012, having the role of Training Expert and the attributions in order to train practice tutors and to
elaborate the program.
The impact study is based on presenting methodology and results of the evaluation regarding the
impact of the framework program of professional practice in the socio-human field. The methodology
is based on managing and analyzing data of a questionnaire applied to direct beneficiaries of the
framework program of practice (students, caretakers and practice tutors), managers of institutions-to-
be employers and University didactic staff of different specializations in the socio-human field. Impact
study’s results confirm subjects’ adhesion to the framework program of professional practice.
Keywords: professional competences, framework program of professional practice, curriculum of
professional practice, curriculum’s self-management of developing professional competences,
methodology in order to organize and deploy practice internships.
1. Impact study’s theoretical and methodological premises
Framework program of professional practice elaborated as part of the Project entitled Socio-human
competences on labor market in South-West Oltenia region, enrolls itself among projects’ value-added
elements, concerning the optimization of the relationship between University education and local labor
market. The program of practice is structured on three coordinates corresponding to the three
elements: theoretical and legislative framework, curricular dimension and methodological coordinates
of practice internships.
part – Theoretical framework of the process of professional practice in socio-human field –
delineates program’s elaboration principles, conceptual and legislative support of practice internships
in general and methodology in order to organize, coordinate and evaluate the professional practice.
Key-concepts belonging to the framework program of practice are: key-concepts belonging to National
Framework of Qualifications in Superior Education; management of the process of professional
practice; curriculum of professional practice in socio-human field; curriculum’s self-management of
training professional and social competences.
part – Curriculum of professional practice – describes curricular elements of the process of
practice from a multidimensional perspective, through an integrate approach of purposes, training
strategies and strategies of evaluating students attending socio-human faculties, as well as by
detailing content units and teaching situations specific to each specialization. Curricular framework of
the program of practice is built in accordance with many curricular paradigms and orientations:
postmodernist paradigm in socio-human sciences; planning the curriculum based on competences;
types of professional and transversal competences, desirable to graduates in socio-human field;
contents’ adequacy, accessibility and attractiveness; efficiency and efficacy of training strategies in
professional practice; evaluation strategies’ adequacy and role while adjusting and self-adjusting the
The purposes of professional practice of students attending socio-human faculties, defined in terms of
professional and social competences, abilities and attitudes that are specified as part of the framework
program, are :
1. Competences of comprehension, explanation – interpretation: 1.1. Developing capacities of
analysis and interpretation of evolutions and perspectives regarding the connection between
University education and labor market;
1.2. Developing capacities of reflective and critic analysis and elaborating personal value judgments,
regarding optimization of the partnership between University of Craiova and local potential employers;
1.3. Developing competences of analysis and valorization of observed activities and strategic projects
as part of practice units; 1.4. Developing capacities of self-evaluating professional and social
competences and developing some meta-cognitive strategies, aiming these competences’ self-
development (self-management of the curriculum of professional practice).
2. Active and methodological competences: 2.1. Developing capacities in order to build products
and tools belonging to pedagogic practice, which transpose postmodern orientations of University
curriculum and objectify strategic directions of the approached sectors of social activity;
2.2. Developing students’ capacities in order to complete/elaborate products and tools of practice, by
using the models provided, by adaption or development; 2.3. Developing students’ competences in
order to plan, organize, implement and (self-)evaluate activities of professional practice;
2.4. Developing competences of research and innovation; 2.5. Asserting capacities in order to adopt
decisions of amelioration/improvement/development of some activities specific to professional
3. Professional attitudes: 3.1. Absorption of principles in order to conceive the framework program
and practice internships, emitted concepts, used methodology and tools, as part of students’ system of
professional values; 3.2. Adoption of some social attitudes in the spirit of democratic, social-cultural
and moral-civic values, as part of the practice; 3.3. Consequent application of conduct principles while
building and applying professional practice’s products to institutions of practice, as part of all specific
The training strategies adequate in order to accomplish these categories of competences and adapted
so they can be applied to practice internships, are as follows: training strategies focused on students’
professional activity, interactive strategies , strategies of constructivist training , meta-cognitive
strategies , strategies specific to mentorship activities , learning strategies based on new
technologies of information and communication .
part – Methodology of organization, coordination and evaluation of students’ internship practices –
methodological models, strategies and tools, having the role of regulating, guiding and supporting the
activity of caretakers, tutors and students: a) managerial strategies in order to organize, coordinate
and evaluate professional internship practices; b) students’ regulation of professional practice; c)
description of operational tools specific to the activity of practice caretakers and tutors (activity report,
research report, monitoring sheet of students’ presence and activity, students’ evaluation sheet); d)
presenting the structure of individual portfolio of professional practice, and the emission of
methodological suggestions in order to elaborate specific products.
2. Purpose of study and objectives
Impact study’s purposes are: 1) Testing subjects’ perceptions and opinions, regarding the framework
program of professional practice of students attending faculties in socio-human field; 2) Systematizing
methodological elements that contribute to the program’s development and increase of its operational
Investigative approach’s general hypothesis is: If the framework program of practice has a
multidimensional structure and elements with value-added in comparison with actual methodological
guides and practices, then it can achieve subjects’ adhesion, which implies its adequate and flexible
use as part of professional practice.
From this hypothesis, we have declined two particular hypotheses: 1) If the theoretical and legislative
support and the curriculum of professional practice are adequate to actual orientations regarding
education’s relevance for labor market and focus of educational act on student, then program’s
premises guarantee its possibilities of development and adaption to actual and future socio-economic
context. 2) If methodological elements and operational tools of the framework program of practice are
developed based on reasons regarding optimization of the connection between University curricula
and expectations on labor market, then the framework program is asserted as an innovative
alternative tool as part of the professional practice.
The criterions we have used in order to test particular hypotheses are as follows: 1) the structure of
the framework program of professional practice (concerning the first particular hypothesis’s test) and
2) the program’s practicability (regarding second particular hypothesis’s test). For each criterion
mentioned we have established a series of indicators: a) concerning the 1
criterion: indicator 1.1.:
consistency of the program’s conceptual framework; indicator 1.2.: relevance of the curriculum of
professional practice on labor market; indicator 1.3.: extension of the curriculum of professional
practice; b) regarding the 2
criterion: indicator 2.1.: operational character of the program’s strategies
and tools, and indicator 2.2.: flexibility of strategies and tools.
By combining the rational selection with the probabilistic one while sampling subjects, we have selected
a total of 200 subjects, based on the following categories: 160 direct beneficiaries of the framework
program of practice (100 students attending different socio-human faculties belonging to University of
Craiova; 30 trainers - 10 teachers teaching as part of University of Craiova, practice caretakers and 20
tutors as part of different institutions in Craiova; 30 representatives of local employers) and 40 persons
belonging to University didactic staff, having specializations in the socio-human field. Sample’s structure
based on indicators of sex and age is as follows: 60% female subjects and 40% male subjects; 18-25
years (45%), 25-35 years (20%), 35-45 years (25%), over 45 years (20%).
Impact study’s main research method is the questionnaire, structured on the following categories of
items: a) theoretical and legislative premises of the framework program of practice (items 3-7); b)
curriculum of professional practice in the socio-human field (items 8-15); c) operational and flexible
character of the framework program of practice (items 16-22). Primary, the questionnaire was
pretested on a sample of 80 subjects, having characteristics similar to research’s lot of subjects. Given
subjects’ relevant methodological suggestions, the questionnaire’s final version has been elaborated
and applied in October 2012, after subjects’ previous study of the framework program of professional
The framework program of practice as a whole and its structural elements represent research’s
independent variables, which determine the dependent variables we have foreseen as part of the
investigative approach’s planning stage – subjects’ favorable opinions regarding the conceptual
framework, qualities of the curriculum of professional practice and applied character of the invoked
strategies and tools).
Questionnaire has been applied directly, face-to-face and online, through Google Forms application. In
order to detail subjects’ answers, we have carried out two focus-group meetings with representatives
belonging to direct and indirect beneficiaries of the program.
Quantitative analysis of subjects’ favorable answers (by cumulating those distributed on “to a large
extent” and “to a very large extent” assessment scales or 4, 5 values) regarding the structure of the
program of professional practice (criterion no.1) and the program’s practicability (criterion no.2),
reveals the following percentage data:
Table 1. Percentage data regarding subjects’ opinions with respect to the structure of the framework
program of professional practice
Groups I1.1:Consistency of the
Didactic staff 75%
High percentage of favorable answers distributed on the three indicators of the criterion structure of
the framework program of professional practice, without significant differences between categories of
subjects, validate the first particular hypothesis of the investigative approach.
Table 2. Percentage data regarding subjects’ opinions with respect to the practicability of the
framework program of practice.
Groups I2.1: Operational character of
strategies and tools
I2.2: Flexibility of strategies
Didactic staff 67,50%
High percentage of favorable answers with respect to the indicators regarding practicability of the
framework program of practice, without significant differences between categories of subjects, validate
impact study’s second particular hypothesis.
Analysis of the results achieved confirms research’s general hypothesis, regarding the fact that the
framework program of practice has achieved subjects’ adhesion, due to structural and procedural
elements with value-added in comparison with actual methodological guides and practices, which
implies its adequate and flexible use as part of the professional practice. Although there haven’t
existed significant differences between intensity degree of the subjects’ assessments, as we
mentioned when presenting research’s results, we have observed the percentages afferent to local
employers’ adhesion to be smaller than those belonging to other categories. This can be explained
through a curricular culture lower than that of trainers, University didactic staff or students and through
local employers’ hesitation with respect to University programs’ practical and applied character, under
terms of disparity between University curricula and expectations on labor market.
Research’s strengths are represented by impact study’s organization and deployment, concerning
scientific research’s rules and confirmation of the results’ predictability. Our investigation’s weakness
is represented by evaluation of the impact the framework program has on a representative sample
belonging to University of Craiova and local employers, which after recording results of the program
applied as part of internship practices belonging to University year 2012-2013, determined us to
develop research tools and extend the investigative approach to a national representative sample. We
foresee the long-term impact of the framework program of practice to constitute an extended object of
study consisting in: a) developing students’ competences of self-managing the curriculum of
professional practice, in order to facilitate project management of personal and professional
development, materialized through professional performances, upgraded training and adaption to
labor market’s dynamic; b) generating some harmonization reports between curricular programs of
academic disciplines, University internship practices and requirements on labor market.
 Niţă, A. M. (coord.). (2012). Barometer of harmonization degree between pursued competences
in socio-human field and those expected on local labor market. Craiova: Sitech Publishing
 Bunăia u, C.M. (2012). Framework program of professional practice in the socio-human field.
Craiova: Sitech Publishing House, pp.23-25.
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The Role of Intercultural Competence in Professional Success
Romania, The West University of Timişoara, The Faculty of Sociology and Psychology
The Department of Education Sciences
In the present-day context of globalization and unemployment caused by the economic crisis, research regarding
intercultural interactions at the workplace has increased. Born on the road to Vienna, as an idea, during a
conversation with a group of unemployed fellow travellers looking for a job, and as a consequence of having
taught several courses on communication and intercultural education at several European universities, the
following article is a reflection on the role of intercultural competence in training/mobilizing cultural councilors
and mediators whose job is to train people looking for employment in multicultural environments.
Intercultural competence. Definition, resources.
The notion of intercultural competence appeared approximately two decades ago in the United States, as a result
of the internationalization and globalization phenomenon, of the necessity of training teachers with great
mobility on the job market, as well as managers of diversity. For this reason, most research falls under the
umbrella of intercultural management and refers especially to complementary competences, necessary to
expatriate teachers, international managers leading multicultural teams. Be it the domain of education sciences
properly (Bennett, 1999) or other activities from the realm of international cooperation and training of cultural
mediators (Geoffroy, 1998) who could intervene on the job market. The multitude of definitions trying to
describe intercultural competence, starting with American Studies until today, all of them emphasize how
important and necessary this theme is. The wide range of definitions of the term culture have led to different
approaches to intercultural competence in managing human resources. Since culture is not a closed concept, but
one in a perpetual movement of transforming existing mental programming (Hofstede and Bollinger, 1987), as a
result of the interaction among several dimensions: a communicative and behavioural dimension, a cognitive and
affective one. Attempts to define intercultural competence take into account the entirety of abilities achieved in
order to successfully carry out an interaction among a group of people belonging to different cultures (cf.
Hofstede, 1994). Intercultural competence does not consist only of analyzing and understanding the relationship
among people and groups with different cultural backgrounds, but also of knowing how to manage these
situations. <<It is about the ability of distancing oneself enough from a situation of cultural conflict, in order to
identify and understand ongoing processes and master them>> (Flye Sainte Marie, 1997, p.55).
The importance of intercultural competence in the professional success of those who seek work in intercultural
environments becomes obvious in the first studies focusing on expatriate workers, and refers to the ability to
work efficiently within the borders of a different culture ( Hays, 1974; Gertsen, 1992). The architecture of
personal resources based on which intercultural competence is built and developed (Rakotomena, 2005, p.683-
688) is structured on several levels: a cognitive one, involving knowledge of one's own culture in relation with
other cultures; an operational level, based on observing and conceptualizing a concrete experience; some
personality traits, such as cosmopolitanism, construed as open-mindedness and flexibility in dealing with others,
cultural empathy (Iles, 1995), optimism, intelligence and a sense of humour (Gertsen, 1992) as well as some
affective-emotional resources, such as motivation, willingness to take on risks, emotional intelligence and the
ability of managing one's stress (Iles, 1995). All of the above represent the basis one which to build a global
competence (Caligiuri and Di Santo, 2001) – the ability of aligning one's activities to a global perspective or
from the point of view of national and international diversity (cross-intra-national diversity).
Developing and assessing intercultural competence
The literature on the subject of intercultural competence agrees that the intercultural is learned just like people
learn to walk, by assuming possible risks and by assuming a conscious experience. In the Sciences of Education,
competence is defined as <<un savoir en usage>>, acknowledged thus in relation to the Other (Malglaive, 1990).
Intercultural competence cannot be developed only by simply passing on didactic knowledge or through
behavioural imitation, but through <<an experimental construction>> which the English call learning by doing, a
process that consists of several stages <<experience – observation – conceptualization – active
experimentation>> (Kolb, 1984). In constructivist approaches, the most renowned model – DMIS (Development
Model of Intercultural Sensitivity, Bennet, 1986) – describes six steps grouped in two stages: an ethnocentric
stage and an ethnorelative stage. These steps are in an evolutionary and transformational continuum in relation
to cultural differences and the complexity of cultural interactions. The six stages: denial – defense –
minimization – acceptance – adaptation – integration represent the trajectory of developing intercultural
competence. They start with primary stereotypes that exist in the relationship with the Other and move towards
the total removal of these differences. The fourth stage, acceptance, considered to be the moment when one
moves towards an ethnorelative perspective, is characterized by a thirst for knowledge and a good grasp of how
cultural differences operate. Adaptation means widening and improving one's intercultural competence, as well
as preparing to integrate and assimilate cultural differences.
The model described by William Howell, one of great pedagogical interest in identifying competences and
selecting the staff according to the desired level (apud Schoeffel and Gariazzo-Dessiex, 2011), described four
stages of developing and refining intercultural competences: unconscious incompetence – conscious
competence – conscious competence – unconscious competence. If DMIS underscores how the other is
perceived, Howell's model focuses on the idea of interaction and its role in the development of competences. For
instance, in the stage of unconscious incompetence, a person is not aware of the existence of intercultural
challenges, does not understand the culture in which he/she is trying to work and to integrate. Because of this,
he/she is bound to make some intercultural faux pas. The second stage comes with what some researchers call
culture shock. The person who finds himself/herself in a foreign cultural environment will become aware of
his/her limits and begins to show an interest in the necessity of evolving. If the person manages not to destabilize
himself/herself, he/she will progress to a superior stage, that of conscious competence, where he/she will be able
to understand the transversal stakes of intercultural communication, in the interaction with other partners, still
affected by some hesitations and erroneous interpretations, which he/she can correct through an improved
attention and conscious training.
Relatively few persons manage to move on to the stage of unconscious competence, which is reached by
mastering intercultural situations in a quasi-automatic manner. At this stage, one that requires a long time and a
continuous training, the person has the potential to become a transmitter of intercultural knowledge and
competences, to become a cultural mediator or facilitator. Knowing and identifying the level of competence are
fundamental for intercultural trainers. Often, the level of unconscious incompetence can be mistaken for the
following stage, that of conscious incompetence, or even for the third stage, namely that of conscious
competence. Practicing intercultural competence is essential for their assimilation and automation, otherwise the
risk of regression persists. It is important for recruiting agencies to have experienced and well documented
trainers that find themselves at the fourth stage of intercultural success. Intercultural training that aims for the
efficiency of professional activity in intercultural working contexts has to be oriented towards a continuous
training. This has to start with a correct diagnosis, a personal one – self-evaluation – and an external one, carried
out by an expert who will analyze the type of culture ( Hofstede, 1994; Hall, 1978 ), the distance from power, the
relation to time and space, and even the management model that the candidate comes from. It is known, for
instance, that there are several models of intercultural management – the Anglo-Saxon model, the Latin model,
the Asian, Indian or Muslim model – with specific cultural traits regarding the role of the state, the financial or
social priorities, the respect towards the ancestral traditions and values of the group. These have to be not only
identified but also explained to the people looking for employment, so that they could be analyzed and
understood in relation to the cultural environment the candidates wish to integrate.
The process of evaluating the level of intercultural competence marks the beginning of the process of acquiring
and developing these competences by becoming aware of the interactions between the subject and the context. In
the last few years, there have been numerous tests and questionnaires meant to identify, assess and improve
intercultural competence ( Byram, 1997; Caliguiri et. Al, 2000). Together with these evaluation instruments,
which have to be constantly adapted to demands and cultural circumstances, the conversation method, or in G.
Genette's terms, culture as a story (1972) can represent new hermeneutics (Ricoeur, 1995, p. 28), that is so
necessary and so fertile in the analysis of social and relational competence, capable of mobilizing the resources
of intercultural competence.
In this sense, I recall a bus trip from Timişoara to Vienna and back, in the summer of 2010, in the company of
several unemployed travellers looking for a job at the gates of the West, or workers who had already gone
through this experience and were either coming back to visit relatives or they had not been successful at
managing the culture shock, having given up finding job in foreign lands. The life stories of people looking for
jobs in multicultural environments represent a good opportunity of reflecting on the openness of the present-day
world and the problems inherent in the cultural diversity of a Europe that is in the throes of a crisis.
Our experience in teaching classes about communication and intercultural education, at the West University of
Timişoara as well as at the Universities Pierre Mendès France and Jean Fourier of Grenoble, at the Haute École
Leonardo da Vinci of Louvain la Neuve, has strengthened our conviction that intercultural interaction hinges on
empathy and communication. The iceberg metaphor is well-known in intercultural research. It consists of a
visible part (nourishment, architecture, verbal/non-verbal language, arts, political or religious systems) and
invisible parts (values, beliefs, norms). A successful intercultural interaction has to take into account the visible
as well as the invisible traits of the involved partners.
The culture shock occurs on the invisible levels of the iceberg, namely at the level of the value systems, norms
and beliefs. This extremely vulnerable level, which is in close connection to the hard nucleus of individual
identity, is difficult to evaluate through tests and questionnaires. This is even truer in the case of an unemployed
person, that is someone belonging to a disadvantaged group, who is subjected to discriminatory practices. The
interaction between this group of people and the cultural mediator is of paramount importance and the process of
acquiring competences has to be converted in a mutual comprehension capable of (re)building trust in our fellow
humans, despite a myriad of unknown, cultural factors. Creating and evaluating intercultural competences in the
case of people who are seeking employment in multicultural environments has to start from the cultural
trainers'/mediators' competences of intercultural communication, namely from their ability of <<interpreting the
acts of intentional communication (words, signs, gestures) and those of unconscious communication (body
language), as well as the habits of someone belonging to a different culture>> (Bennett, 1999).
The new impetus in the sociology of international mobilities evinces that many researchers have called a
paradigm shift, in which concepts such as culture, interculturality, intercultural competence, identity acquire
increasingly novel meanings. From this point of view, defining intercultural competence and its role in
professional success does not rely only on the relationship between the <<native culture>> and the strategies of
adapting to the <<new culture>>. This process needs to be mindful of the idea of evolution, first and foremost, of
the identity transformation of these people as well as an increased sensitivity for the responsibilities we each
have. Cultural diversity should be understood and lived at its true dimension, that of common legacy of
humanity, in which knowledge and intercultural competence may develop new forms of transnational, civic
solidarity and participative democracy capable of creating <<integrated citizens, and at the same time, loyal to
their communities>> ( Attali, 2007).
The complexity of intercultural competence consists in the conjunction of personal traits with the lived
intercultural experiences. Intercultural education is rarely aimed at training the unemployed and those seeking
jobs in multicultural environments, the majority of studies focusing more on intercultural management and less
on training the unemployed. We have to admit that at this level, too few trainers have solid intercultural
knowledge, which makes them likely bearers of stereotypes and prejudices.
Intercultural training does not have a predictable character, but it fosters a better understanding of complex
situations and facilitates a better professional integration, offering possible answers and solutions to the
challenges of a knowledge society. Training trainers in the intercultural field represents a condition and an
opportunity for professional training in a European context afflicted by a profound economic and social crisis. In
this process, it necessary to rethink the role of university education on the job market, as a research space and
value-centered education, in setting up complex programs of professional and intercultural training.
ATTALI, J., Scurtă istorie a viitorului, Iaşi, Editura Polirom, 2007.
BENNET, C., Comprehensive Multicultural Education. Theory and Practice, Boston, Allyn and Bacon, 1999.
BENNETT, M. J., ,,Towards ethnorelativism:A developemental model of intercultural sensitivity”, in Page, R.
M., Cross-cultural orientation:New conceptualizations and applications, New York, University press of
America, p.27-70, 1986.
BYRAM, M., Teaching And Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence, Clevdon, Multilingual
CALIGIURI, P., DAY, D.V., ,,Effects of self-monitoring on technical, contextual and assignment- specific
performance”, Group & organization management, 25(2), p.154-174, 2000.
CALIGIURI, P., DI SANTO, V., „Global competence: what is it, and can it be developed through global
assignments?”, HR. Human Resource planning, 24(3), p.27-35, 2001.
FLYE, S.M., ,,La compétence interculturelle dans le domaine éducatif et social”, Les cahiers de l’Actif, 250-251,
GEOFFROY, C., « De la compétence interculturelle en milieu du travail. Un rôle à jouer pour l’enseignement
des langues ». Les langues modernes, no.4, 1998, p. 59-77, 1998.
GENETTE, GÉRARD, Figures III, Paris, Seuil, 1972.
GERTSEN, M.C., ,,Intercultural competence and expatriates”, International Journal of Human Resource
Management, 3(3), p.341-362, 1992.
HALL, EDWARD T., La dimension cachée, Paris, <<Points Essais>>, 1978.
HAYS, R.D., « Expatriate selection: insuring success and avoiding failure », Journal of international business
studies, 5, p.25-37, 1974.
HOFSTEDFE, G., BOLLINGER, D., Les différences interculturelles dans le management, Paris, Éditions
HOFSTEDE, G., Vivre dans un monde interculturel, Paris, Les Éditions d’Organisation, 1994.
ILES, P., ,, Learning to work with difference”, Personnel Review, Vol. 24, No.6, p.44-60, 1995.
KOLB, D.A., Experiential Learning. Experience as the source of learning and development, Eaglewood Cliffs,
prentice Hall, 1984.
MALGLAIVE, G., Enseigner à des adultes, Paris, PUF, 1990.
RAKOTOMENA, M. H., « Les ressources individuelles pour la compétence interculturelle individuelle », revue
internationale sur le travail et la société, Vol.3, no.2, 2005.
RICOEUR, PAUL, Eseuri de hermeneutică, traducere de Vasile Tonoiu, Bucureşti, Editura humanitas, 1995.
SCHOEFFEL, F, GARIAYYO-DESSIEX F., Compétence interculturelle dans la coopération internationale,
From work to school and back.
Validation of prior learning as tool for local economic development
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Bucharest (ROMANIA)
Validation of prior learning appeared lately as a key initiative in open and flexible continuing vocational
training systems, based on the generic context of lifelong learning, but also on the specific situations in
which people, having certain working experiences and practicing a range of competences, may need
formal or official recognition of their learning, taking place out of the formal system. Based on a real
case, designed and piloted in Serbia, in a bakery area, in which a a vocational school initiated and
conducted a validation of prior learning (VPL) process, and having a stakeholders reflective practice
exercise going on throughout the whole cycle of the initiative, we proposed a simple, but intuitive, step
by step procedure for conducting VPL projects at a vocational school level. This framework procedure
could be useful especially in the vocational schools and systems being in the early stage of initiating
and implementing recognition of non-formal learning and validation of prior learning. We consider that
before issuing national regulations and methodologies, these initiatives should be tested in practice
and learn the lessons from implementation in advance, for a better and feasible design of the
Keywords: validation of prior learning, VET school, partial qualification
1. General context for validation of prior learning (VPL)
The recent transformations of our social, economic and cultural reality brought about significant
changes in our discourses and practices on learning . Globalization, for instance, became a de
rigueur concept in almost all analyses, and now is ”applied” to any other key concept, including
education and learning. Though, a globalization of learning occurred, in at least three meanings: a)
globalization of learning throughout the whole lifespan, typically called lifelong learning, b)
globalization of learning sources and contexts, bringing a tremendous diversification of what is usually
called informal and nonformal learning and c) globalization of learning processes and setting, as one
of the results of internationalization and circulation of people for learning and work.
When talking about the second instance above, significant efforts could be identified, both at practice
and policy levels, to ensure recognition of competences achieved in more ”non-traditional” ways,
namely nonformal and informal learning. Complexity of everyday life, and complexity of learning
environments and settings imposed this as a necessity and as an ethical approach to people
professional development. Validation of prior learning recognizes and admits the contribution of
different experiences lived throughout our lives to own learning and development.
Validation of prior learning is the confirmation by a competent body, that the knowledge and skills
acquired by the person in formal, non-formal or informal learning setting or working experience have
been assessed against predefined criteria and are compliant with the requirements of the study
programme (modular, learning outcomes based) or qualification standard. VPL process typically leads
to full or partial certification.
When referring to the main goals of the VPL process, as shown by Fokiene & Ciolan , we can
mantion two directions, briefly described below.
First, VPL is a tool for promoting participation in Lifelong Learning processes by providing persons
willing to study (in IVET or CVET) with opportunities to enroll in study programmes according to their
personalized study plans. Very much encouraged lately by EU policies and initiatives , VPL
promotes a more positive attitude towards learning at the workplace by emphasizing particular
achievements rather than the institution or country where they were made. Keeping in mind that the
procedure of VPL starts with self-assessment, testing and examining and finishes with personalized
professional development plans, it is important to mention that VPL is not only about the measurement
of learning achievements, but also about finding the most effective learning path for an individual
Secondly, VPL in VET is a tool for improvement of the effectiveness, namely accessibility and
flexibility of formal VET study programmes for practically experienced individuals, approaching VET
institutions from labor market. The other goals of VPL are:
- to avoid double learning,
- to match the choice of the study programme to individual learning needs,
- to reduce learning costs for learners,
- to evaluate the relevant value of previous learning based on experience,
- to increase self-esteem and self-confidence of the persons, having work experience, but no formal
- to ascertain which knowledge and skills are to be improved, in the process of one’s career
Starting from these general principles and goals, we will present a specific case of a VPL project,
designed and implemented between 2011-2012 in Serbia, in the frame of the vocational education
reform project supported by the European Commission, and having as main beneficiary the Ministry of
2. A specific experience on VPL: bakery qualifications in Serbia
In order to prepare the ground for more extensive discussions and policy initiatives on recognition of
non-formal learning and validation of prior learning in Serbia, one interesting initiative, that could be
considered example of relevant practice, took place in the frame of the VET modernization project. In
order to taste the appetite of adult learners for getting involved in VPL, but also for trying out a model
of partial qualification as a modality of VET schools to increase their participation in adult education, a
pilot was design and implemented in vocational school in Zrenjanin, Sebia, school which acts also,
according to the local regulations, as a regional training centre for adult education.
As the region has a well know reputation in bakery industry, we decided that this will be a good area
for piloting VPL, especially that quite a significant number of people involved in this business were
working for different periods of time abroad. The basic and simple idea was to select a number of
candidates, adults already working in bakery occupations, and having not yet been officially certified
for this, and go through the steps of a VPL process, described in a synthetic way in the next section.
The key challenge of this initiative was its novelty, both for beneficiaries and for the VET school in
which we have placed the pilot, but also the very loose provisions in the Serbian regulations at the
moment regarding this topic. This was not necessarily impeding on the implementation of the project,
but as is the case in majority of countries in the region, missing or loose regulations on a specific issue
creates distress and hesitations from the stakeholders in launching any innovation.
Nevertheless, a group of 11 people was selected and followed, step by step, the described procedure,
starting from the recruiting phase, initial evaluation, design of the individual learning plans and final
partial / full certification for their qualifications. Ten out of the initial number managed to finish the
whole process and to get certified, and get their ”experience turned into learning” . All of them were
employed on the local market, mainly in small businesses, with different levels of professional
experiences in various working settings, including working abroad. Instead of describing the individual
process as such, in this specific case, we tried, based on a reflective practice exercise, in which we
involved vocational education experts involved in the design and supervision of implementation, VET
teachers and trainers from school, as well as candidates participating effectively in the process, to
design a more general procedure to be followed in a vocational school ready to initiate VPL
processes, in a system in which this initiatives are still in an early stage.
3. Procedural steps for VPL process in VET schools
Vocational schools should be among key actors in the VPL process, as part of adult education and
continuing vocational training processes in which they should progressively get more involved. In the
specific case described for Serbia, a framwork procedure was folloed, and the main steps are
Preparation of VPL. This stage is key for the success of the overall process, and it demands attention
and effort from the side of the organizers (VET school) in order to adapt to the specificity of each case
/ situation. The following steps are needed:
- Needs assessment. Before initiating a process of VPL, the decision should be grounded on existing
demand. A VET school can look tot he economic entities active in the sector for which they provide
specialization, and investigate if they can mobilize resources from different parties, according to the
case (unemployment fund, educational budget, company financing, individual payment etc.).
- Initiation and promotion. As the process is new, information should be disseminated in an accurate
way, mainly to potential customers, specifying the individual benefits and making available all the
needed support during the process. The process should be also promoted at the level of other
stakeholders, such as indirect beneficiaries (companies) or potential financial contributors (local
authorities, decision makers in education and labor sectors). VPL should not be perceived as a way to
avoid formal schooling and getting certificates in a easy manner, but as an alternative solution for
those who accumulated a consistent experience and competences, and they would like to have them
- Recruitment of candidates. Sometimes, if well informed, candidates could ask themselves for being
included in a VPL process, but this assume previous promotion and availability of the service in school
for the respective domains. In the initial phase, is rather the school going towards potential candidates
and eventually their current employer (if the case), to make this opportunity known. Selection and
recruitment of candidates could become an ongoing process when the VET school is already
experienced in doing VPL.
- Consulting and building up the portfolio. The candidates need permanent support and consulting
from the specialist in order mainly to build up the portfolio in a relevant and evidence-based manner,
including all kids of proofs for the competences required to be validated through VPL. Moreover, a
guidance on the steps and procedure of the whole process is needed. In order to fill the portfolio with
the required evidences, it might be needed that the specialist applies other methods, such as job
observation, interviews etc. All these should be documented and added to the portfolio.
The evaluation phase can start even at this stage, as for some competences where is difficult to
produce evidences, there might be a nee for specific evaluations (i.e. tests, simulations, practical tasks
Evaluation and decision is the next stage of the process, where a diagnostic assessment is done
and a decision, based on the results, is taken. Here, the key role goes from the consultant / facilitator
(VPL coordinator in the school) to the specialist(s), namely subject teachers and trainers from the VET
school. In a more detailed way, this stage includes:
- Analysis of the portfolio. All the evidences collected in the portfolio, either existing or produced
especially for documenting the skills of the candidate, are carefully analyzed by the assessor or
assessors, depending on the complexity and coverage of competences to be recognized and
validated. Normally, for full certification a small team is needed to analyze the portfolio and make a
decision. At this stage, assessors could ask for more evidences. The idea of building up a portfolio is
important, as the whole process of VPL strongly relies on self-assessment and willingness of the
person to participate.
- Selection of (other) assessment methods / development of assessment tools. This can happen when
the evidences in the portfolio are considered not sufficient or not completely relevant in order to make
a decision. Assessors can select, develop and than use a variety of evaluation methods and
- Evaluation and reporting. A diagnosis needs to be done for each of the competences entered in the
VPL process, based on analysis of evidences and potentially further assessments undertaken at the
initiative of the assessors. In simple terms, a competence can be fully recognized, partially recognized
or declared as non-existing. In order to fulfill this task, the qualifications should be described based on
- Decision on validation of competencies (full or partial). Full validation of all competences needed for
a qualification leads to awarding of the certificate. Partial qualification refers to situation when only a
part of the competences composing a qualification are validated through the VPL process (this might
be the initial decision of the candidate, to get only partial certification or it might be the result of the
assessment). Partial validation could also mean that a specific competence (or a number of specific
competences) is only partially present or achieved. In order to achieve the minimum standard for one
or more competences or in order to train non-existing competences in order to achieve a qualification,
an individual learning plan need to be designed and than followed.
Individual learning. This step / process appears when the decision of the evaluations leads in this
direction. Basically, starting form the concrete situation of the individual candidate, with the support of
the specialist(s) and VPL consultant a plan is designed in order to meet the specific level of
competence required by the certification process. In a more detailed way, this stage includes:
- Preparation of individual learning plan, based on the results of the assessment. The learning plan
may include different kinds of activities: attending classes, individual study, practical training in school
or at economic agents, etc. In the learning plan, there is specified what competences / skills the
candidate should acquire, through what learning activities / experiences and the timeline.
- Organization of the learning process. Although each individual has its own learning plan, at the
institutional level (VET school) probably there will be more persons involved in the process of VPL in
the same time. This is why the learning process should be adapted / organized for the candidates,
making available for them activities, resources and specialists they need.
- Implementation of the individualized study process. According to the designed plan, the candidates
follows the activities in the indicated timeframe, having a clear schedule and continuing support and
supervision from the teachers.
- Evaluation appears again in order to check the effectiveness of the individual learning process, after
the whole plan is fulfilled by the candidate. As before, evaluation could be based on completing the
portfolio or other methods, as agreed by the candidate and specialist teachers. Normally, a decision is
made to give the full of partial certification to the candidate. In this case, partial certification means to
certify only a part of the competences belonging to a qualification, but not partial mastery of a specific
Certification. Final stage of awarding certificate based on the achieved results in the learning
process, as well as on the results of the assessment is basically closing the circle and, capitalizing the
learning throughout the whole process, could lead to improvements at the level of next initiatives.
- Collection of information needed for certification. In order to issue a formally recognized certificate,
some information are needed, both in terms of personal information about the candidate (copies of
relevant documents, i.e. ID, previous diplomas / certificates etc.), but also the final report of the
assessment. The final report of the assessment and the portfolio based on which VPL happens,
should be archived in the school. The assessors should take responsibility for the proposal thy made
related to certification.
- Awarding of certificates. Here, the respective VET school (VPL centre) should be officially entitled to
award the respective certificates, according to the legislation in force.
This basic description is a framework according to which each VET school that intends to get involved
in VPL should act, especially in a system being at the early stage of initiating these processes.
Adaptations to the current procedure could be initiated at local / contextual level level, taking into
account the specific circumstances of the institutions, occupations, learners and resources.
 Jarvis, P. (2007). Globalization, lifelong learning and learning society. Sociological
perspectives. London: Routledge.
 Fokiene, A.; Ciolan, L. (2012). Methodological framework for validation of prior learning in
Serbia. Belgrade: VET Reform Project.
 European guidelines for validating non-formal and informal learning (2009) CEDEFOP.
Luxembourg: Office of Official Publications of the European Communities
 Boud, D., Keogh, R. & Walker, D. (2005). Reflection. Turning Experience into Learning.
ASPECTS REGARDING THE INVOLVEMENT OF FACULTY
MEMBERS IN THE STUDENT CAREER COUNSELLING ACTIVITIES
Elena Liliana Danciu
University of the West Timisoara, 4 Bd. V. Parvan, Timisoara, 300223, Romania
The current social dynamics and the problems caused by the long-term economic, social and
political crisis generate discontinuities both in the professional development and in the
completion of professional projects. However, the effects of this crisis are felt more strongly
by the migrants who, after a stay of several years, have to come back to the country and
readapt to the conditions they had to move away from upon emigration. The position of the
faculty members in relation to these phenomena, but particularly in relation to the capacity of
student career counsellor and the solutions envisaged for efficiently sorting out the problems
related to the counselling of migrant students returned to the country represent the topic of
Key words: Migrant, career counselling, occupational standard, psycho-pedagogical and
vocational counselling, professional inclusion
“Process of maximum harmonization between the resources, requirements, aspirations or
personal interests of an individual and the effective offer in the field of education, social-
professional training and integration”, career counselling became a stringent necessity
because of the absence of professional and moral reference points of a generation which is
more and more affected by the long periods of crisis, is in a constant hurry and is unable to
wait certain social phenomena (Chelcea, S., 2004) to happen and triggers them, sometimes
chaotically and randomly. As career counselling services (Nayak, A.K.; Rao, V.K., 2002) are
not widely varied and students do not benefit from them, one possible solution that could sort
out the numerous career-related problems (Nelson –Jones, R., 2006) is the involvement of
faculty members in career counselling.
As in education the initial training of young people should develop their key skills (Gliga L.,
2002) (Jigau, M.; Chiru, M. 2004) in order to prepare them for adult life and lay the
foundations of lifelong learning and successful integration on the labour market” (Collins, S.;
Hiebert, B., 2002) it is highly necessary for the professors to have specific professional skills
(Zgaga, P.; Neacsu, I.; Velea, S. 2007) of communication in the mother tongue, in foreign
languages, computer skills, career development skills (Hansen, E., 2006), the capacity to
adapt to change, curiosity, interest for knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit (Patton, W.;
McMahon, M., 2006), student and project management skills, motivation, personal marketing
skills, openness to new ideas, innovation.
The modern means of career counselling regarding training structures (courses, workshops)
for the contacts with the labour market, or direct with the labour market (visits, job shops,
volunteering, training- practice, apprenticeship, internship) as well as the means of coaching,
mentorship or computer assisted counselling shall become habitual for university institutions
but particularly for those carrying out activities of this category.
For this reason, the investigation carried out aimed at making a diagnosis of the
counselling activity at a university level, defining the main problems involved by this
phenomenon, also covering the migrants returned to the country (Jigau, M., coord., 2007),
highlighting the existing blockages and suggesting efficient solutions for the educational
balance of the university institution.
In order to start the investigation we set the fulfilment of the following
• Identify the student career counselling activities carried out at a university level
• Define the involvement of faculty members in the student career counselling activity
• Identify the advantages and disadvantages of faculty members’ involvement in student
• Find the best counselling methods to ensure the social-educational and professional
reintegration of migrants returned to the country
and the demonstration of the following hypotheses’ validity:
• There are important differences in the attitude of faculty members towards their
involvement in student career counselling activity
• The absence from the faculty members’ occupational standard of the skills specific to
counselling and lifelong learning makes them reticent when it comes to the decision to
provide career counselling to students
• Even if they do not have the courage to request counselling directly in relation to their
situation, migrants need psychological and career counselling in order to find their
emotional balance and pertinent solutions for their professional problems
The instruments used in the investigation were the interview survey (62 Polytechnic students
and 47 career counselling specialists, out of which 28 faculty members) and questionnaire
survey (35 students- initial training, 3rd
year and 24- master’s degree, and 58 career
counselling specialists out of which 31 faculty members selected in a balanced manner
according to the teaching function criterion).
The investigation team included faculty members, career counsellors, sociologists, students.
Findings and Results
The interview in which the 62 students participated revealed numerous problems, out of
which the most relevant were:
• The factors having influenced career decision-making for the majority of respondents:
o Family (45 answers) and closest friends’ (19 answers) advices and attitude;
o Level of recognition of the diploma obtained as compared to the other universities,
aspect that would increase the chances of getting a job more than reasonable, good
or very good (8 answers)
o Faculty members with strong personality or with a professional activity having
particular resonance both locally and at a county or national level (6 answers)
o Level of school and university performances (11 answers)
• Potential recipes for success from the respondents’ perspective:
o Good professional background (42)
o Active involvement (15)
o Love what you do and do it as good as possible (24)
o Work and dedication (8)
o Capacity to easily adapt to different conditions of activity and interrelation (17)
• Relation to the career plan:
o Problematic and at a too low rate (most respondents do not have and did not
envisage a career plan (41)
o Those who, however, developed a career plan, limited themselves to reaching
immediate or reasonable objectives (graduation, enrolment in a master’s degree
• Decision-making problems:
The interviewed students insist on:
o The implications determined by career-related decisions and on their importance
for their future (26)
o The difficulty in making a decision without a prior prospection of the labour
market and a correct self-knowledge (20)
o The dependency of the acceptance or refusal decision by a person in the
respondent’s entourage (parents, relatives, elder brothers etc.) (16)
o Insufficient knowledge of the career decision-making algorithm
• Professional expectations- referred to the chances of promotion, (28) advancement, (11)
specialization or professional development in a certain field, (23) job stability
As regards the participation in personal development courses or such other courses focusing
on career topics, 41 students answered that they did not participate ever in a training, 26
benefited from self-marketing (writing a CV, letter of intent, letter of thanks, presentation to
an interview), 9 benefited from online job offers and none of them participated in an
internship or mentoring session but if they had been organised by the university they would
have found time to participate.
The group of faculty members interviewed included 12 professors, 19 associate professors, 11
lecturers, 17 assistant professors and the data was interpreted according to the established
interview guide. Here are some of the questions asked:
Have you ever given / do you give students career counselling?
The answer was positive, except for 3 faculty members whose seniority in the educational
field was below 2 years and who considered that their relationship with the students did not
also involve counselling.
Depending on the seniority in the educational field and on the educational experience, the
professors considered that they provided counselling to students either on a weekly basis (7)
or during consultations and seminars, (11) practical activities either as part of the activity of
coordination of diploma theses (12) of joint professional meetings- projects- (5), experience
sharing programs (3).
In question: What is / was the weight of student career counselling in your teaching
activity? – the respondents indicated an approximate percentage ranging between 9 and 15%
depending on the skills for this type of activity but also on the express need expressed.
The issues tackled during counselling included:
o Necessary competencies required to practice in certain professions (24)
o Ways of looking for and choosing a job
o Representativeness of the public system as compared to private system
o Professional alternatives in relation to the level of specialization
o Professional information
o Employment availabilities
o Motivational aspects related to career trajectory
o Self-marketing skills (writing a CV, letter of intent, letter of thanks, presentation
to an interview)
When asked about the importance they pay to this kind of activity, the faculty members
expressed the following views:
o “Even we, as adults, sometimes need counselling and even more so do the students who
are still in a quest to find their individual style of action and relation to the profession
o “The students need our experience and the certainties built after many years of work and
dedication. For this reason, it is very important to support them in the right moment and
to the extent they need our support in order to make sure that they can correctly plan the
o “Due to the impact our advices and views might have on the students, the counselling
activity is particularly important and it involves a high degree of responsibility.”
o “I consider that counselling activity is more than necessary, important, crucial for
completing professional projects, especially if they are meant to provide training for
None of the faculty members denied its importance and necessity but when they had to decide
whether they are or not prepared to provide career counselling the opinions were different. 18
respondents considered that they can assume only to a partial extent the role of counsellor
even if they have considerable life and professional experience and the teaching position
enabled them to act as trainer or consultant for different problems. 20 respondents consider
that being a counsellor involves first of all a certain level of knowledge of certain algorithms,
structures for the assessment of the obvious skills of the trainee personality in order to ensure
that the career guidance provided is correct and efficient. That is why they are slightly
sceptical when it comes to the value of their counselling activity outside a set of exact
11 of the professors interviewed say that they have a great pleasure in carrying out this kind
of activity, which comes in addition to the teaching activity, especially when the person who
performs it has a higher psycho-pedagogical training. None of the respondents would give up
teaching career to provide only counselling because it is an indestructible part of what they
8 of them state that they will carry out such activities only if it is expressly necessary because
they can not take the risk of a wrong counselling with long-term effects, 6 of them recognise
openly that this kind of activity does not suit them and they can do it if the counselling
provided fits their areas of expertise and 16 support the idea of a special and thorough training
so that to get the desired effects.
The specialised training shall include elements of counselling methodology (10) and the use
of specific instruments in order to offer counselling in a systematic and organized manner
(12), the existence of training courses focused on these techniques (7) for specialisation (5) or
higher specialisation (4) as it is required for any professor the teacher training module and
training in psycho-pedagogical field (8).
29 respondents consider that all university professors should have knowledge in career
counselling such as:
o Situation on the labour market (10), economic development at a local, regional
and national level (11), degree of inclusion of graduate students (8), areas in
which they are included (6)
o Counselling means and methods (12)
o Strategies to assess the manifest skills of the student (21)
o Diagnosis and assessment instruments (14)
o Possible career impediments and ways to eliminate them (4)
o Strategies to develop communication and social-psycho-pedagogical skills (8)
o Elements of personality psychology (6)
75% of respondents consider that professors have the obligation to guide to special career
counselling centres the students they can not efficiently advise.
When asked whether they should have duties of career counselling stipulated in the job
description and correspondingly paid all professors indicated that they would accept such
duties if they attended in prior counselling and psychology training courses.
11 of them were reserved, being convinced that a correct and efficient guidance may only be
provided by a good specialist who would feel more comfortable than them in this role in
which they do not quite see themselves. The fear that they might strongly interfere in the
professional future and alter the already fragile balance of decisions already made, determines
many faculty members not to fully agree to this kind of activity; however they do not fully
refuse it because their involvement as teachers in career counselling involves both advantages
Among the highlighted advantages of the faculty members’ involvement in student career
counselling, the most relevant were:
• Experience in working with young people, psycho- pedagogical skills and mutual
knowledge may consolidate the trust in the counselling provided by the professor
• Access to professional information both on the national and international labour
• Quality and efficiency of professor-student communication (14)
• Psychological and pedagogical skills of faculty members (32)
• More complex knowledge of student personality (18)
• Proper decision-making behaviour, adapted and well-informed (16)
• Quality of interpersonal professor-student relations (24)
• Competencies to assess the potential
• Access to professional information both on the national and international labour
• Quality and efficiency of professor-student communication (14)
• Psychological and pedagogical skills of faculty members (32)
• More complex knowledge of student personality (18)
• Proper decision-making behaviour, adapted and well-informed (16)
• Quality of interpersonal professor-student relations (24)
• Competencies to assess the potential of the students to be guided to the labour
The disadvantages relate to:
• Insufficient information of faculty members in relation to career-counselling (34)
• Their limited skills in the field of labour market and business (18)
• Low level of positive social affection of certain faculty members (9)
• Communication problems because of formal interrelations (frequent use of formal,
• superficial or standard answers (11)
• The high load of faculty members meaning insufficient time for other activities (16)
• Disinterest in counselling activities of certain faculty members (15)
• Exaggerating the importance of disciplines taught by the professor with counselling
When asked about career counselling institutions or services provided to the students, 32
faculty members stated that they do not know anything of the existence of such services and
the other ones indicated: human resource departments (9), local employment agencies (11),
marketing, career counselling and guidance offices (16), on-line job offers (9), student
associations (8), job shops (14), self-marketing services (writing a CV, letter of intent, letter
of thanks, presentation to an interview) (10), internships (7), teaching career mentoring /
Out of the total number of 121 students interviewed and questioned, 25 were from that
category of migrants who returned to the country (3 from the USA, 6 from Italy, 8 from
Spain, 5 from Germany, 2 from Austria, 1 from Holland) for different reasons (none of the
respondents had only one reason for returning to the country):
• Incapacity to adapt to the social life and to financially support themselves (14)
• Failed marriages (4)
• Loneliness and distance from the family (4)
• Particular family problems (5)
• Severe health problems preventing them from working
• Continuing the studies for those who interrupted them in the 2nd
year (6) or 3rd