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Brussels, 04 July 2008
1) What is Europass? What purpose does it serve?
Europass is a direct service to citizens, which aims at helping them make their qualifications and competences clearly and easily understood throughout Europe. It is a coordinated portfolio of documents, which in particular improves the communication between job applicants and employers, regardless of borders. This facilitates occupational mobility – between countries as well as between sectors – and both promotes and adds value to mobility in education and training.
Europass also helps citizens and organisations focus on the actual skills and competences, for application and recruitment purposes as well as for more general development purposes.
The user survey carried out by external evaluators in September 2007 found that Europass is helping people move: about 40% of those who had used it for this purpose considered it as a supplementary incentive for being mobile. But many people are using the Europass tools – in particular the Europass CV offered online - even if they do not plan to move: Europass helps them become more aware of what they can do, so that they can better organise their development and the planning of any future transition.
2) Which documents are included in Europass?
Europass includes five European transparency documents.
Two Europass instruments can be completed directly by all citizens through the Europass portal available in 26 languages, with the support of online help and examples, which are highly appreciated by users:
The Europass CV, which is the backbone of the whole portfolio. With a common structure in all languages, it helps people highlight their competences. It is the most frequently used Europass document. .
The Europass Language Passport allows a detailed description of language skills, which in today’s Europe are more important than ever. This document is part of the more comprehensive European Language Portfolio, a tool developed by the Council of Europe.
The other three Europass instruments are issued by competent organisations to citizens who have achieved a particular learning experience:
The Europass Mobility is a record of experiences of transnational mobility for learning purposes – in vocational training as well as in higher education. It is completed by the home and host organisation that are involved in the mobility project.
The Europass Diploma Supplement is issued along with a higher education diploma, by the same university or institution. It outlines the student’s educational pathway, making it easier to understand, in particular for potential employers.
The Europass Certificate Supplement is issued along with a vocational education and training certificate, to clarify the competences acquired by the person who holds the certificate. Its production is a responsibility of national authorities.
3) Why was Europass evaluated?
All EU actions and instruments – large spending programmes as well as initiatives with a small or no budget – are regularly evaluated. This is a standard provision in all acts establishing EU initiatives: after some years of implementation it is vital to assess the relevance of the initiative, the extent to which its objectives are being achieved up to that stage and the cost efficiency of the implementation structures. Decision 2241/2004/EC, which established Europass, required a first evaluation after three years and regular evaluations every four years.
4) How was the evaluation carried out?
An independent body conducted an analysis of existing documentation, mostly reports produced by the National Europass Centres, carried out surveys both among Europass users and stakeholders and interviewed a number of stakeholders.
The evaluators gathered their findings in a report, analysed strengths and shortcomings of Europass and proposed a number of recommendations. Their report is available on the evaluation page of DG Education and Culture (see link below).
5) What are the results? Is Europass still relevant?
The evaluators consider that a European initiative helping people to move in the labour market and in lifelong learning is as necessary now as it was four years ago, when it was developed.
6) Are the objectives being met? In 2005, the Commission declared that 3 million citizens would use Europass by 2010 – how are things going?
This specific target has already been reached early in 2008, thanks in particular to the success of the Europass CV, which alone has been produced in more than 3.1 million copies.
About 100,000 Europass Language Passports have been generated online; this is a rather specialised document, and many people only use it as a preparatory tool to better complete their CV, without completing it as a self-standing document.
By 2007 about 90,000 citizens have received a Europass Mobility after having achieved a mobility experience in the framework of their education or training.
Including the two supplements, the total of Europass documents created since 2005 is probably higher than 3.5 million. However, the situation varies significantly from country to country, and in the case of the Europass Diploma Supplement universities in one and the same country may have different approaches. In addition, for many countries reliable data is not available.
7) Some Europass documents are more successful than others. Why are results uneven?
As the external evaluation concludes, the service offered through the Europass CV and Language Passport is indeed a clear success while there is still potential for improvement. Both documents help people make clear what they know and can do. Users are assisted in completing them through the interactive portal, which, according to the survey, they find very clear and helpful. The quality of the portal – developed and managed by Cedefop and available in 26 languages – is certainly a reason for this success. Numbers of visits are steadily growing and now there are often more than 15,000 visits on a single day. The promotional efforts by the National Europass Centres, which in one year organise up to 150 events and participate in twice as many, are also an important factor.
National Europass Centres directly manage the Europass Mobility, which is much more widespread in vocational training than in higher education. The added value of this document, which concentrates on learning outcomes in terms of skills acquired through a particular mobility experience, appears to be more easily understood in vocational training.
The evaluation has noted that the two supplements do not really focus on what their individual holder knows and can do: the Europass Certificate Supplement is the same for all those who hold the same certificate, while the Europass Diploma Supplement only refers to formal aspects of the educational pathway. This may limit their use, as they may be perceived as less relevant by both citizens and institutions.
8) Is this service reaching all categories of citizens?
Most of the three documents issued by competent authorities are handed out to young people, as they represent the majority of people in formal education and initial training. Most recipients of the Europass Mobility, in particular, are young or indeed very young, and a slight majority among them are women.
Nevertheless, both the Europass CV and the portal reach a more diverse group of people. Two thirds of users are between 20 and 35 year old, with 10% younger and 15% older than that.
The evaluation shows that most users of the portal are highly educated (65% have a higher education degree) and about half are employed, while about 16% are unemployed. There is a clear need to improve the uptake of Europass among the low qualified and the unemployed – groups for whom the CV could be particularly helpful.
9) Europass is a service to citizens - but how much is it costing the taxpayers?
The evaluators concluded that Europass is a very cost-efficient service, and the costs of the service are decreasing as the numbers of users increase. In 2008, the financial support to the National Europass Centres and the operation of the portal will cost about € 2.5 million (approximately the same as in any of the three previous years). If the trend remains the same, some 1.8 million CVs will be generated this year alone. Careful estimates predict that 50,000 Europass Mobility and at least as many supplements will be issued in 2008. This means little more than 1 € per document.
In addition to the documents, the services provided by Europass also include information given to 5 millions portal visitors and all the citizens, mobility promoters and educational staff who are in contact with the National Europass Centres.
Considering the high level of user satisfaction indicated by the evaluation survey – above 90% - Europass, including its support structures, is a useful and low cost service to citizens.
10) Will Europass be changed or developed following the evaluation? What are the next steps?
Following up on the external evaluation, some developments have already been started building on the success of the Europass CV and Language Passport and addressing the weak points identified.
11) Will there be changes to the Europass portal?
Internet portals need to keep developing to remain adequate. The CV tool will grow into a comprehensive Europass CV and self-assessment service, offering targeted versions of CVs and additional self-assessment tools – in particular to help people describe their skills acquired outside the formal education system – as well as more and diversified guidance tools. This should make Europass both more useful and easier to use for the low qualified and at the same time further improve the service for specific user groups with different needs – the young and inexperienced, who need more guidance, as well as mid-career professionals, who might prefer more flexible formats, or researchers and academics, for whom details on publications and achievements are vital. This will be supported by closer links with employment, youth and guidance services. In this framework, a joint meeting of the National Europass Service and the Euroguidance network has been held already.
An important improvement, soon to be implemented, is the link between the Europass CV tool and the CV database of EURES, the European employment services portal. Citizens will soon be able to directly add their Europass CV to the EURES database, so that they don't need to enter the same information twice. This should trigger similar developments at national level, which would allow citizens to directly post their Europass CV in the databases of national or local employment services, as well as private agencies.
12) Are there also plans for the three issued documents?
The Europass Mobility tool needs to be promoted more: its structure is already compatible with the needs of people going abroad for a traineeship, a placement in a company or a university study period. It is largely through further promotion that this tool can become the general mobility record within lifelong learning, starting with mobility actions funded by the EU, but reaching beyond that.
With appropriate adjustments, the Europass Mobility might also prove adequate to document mobility within research.
More radical developments may be needed to make the Europass Certificate Supplement and in particular the Europass Diploma Supplement able to take into account the learning outcomes of their individual holders. Any development needs to be carefully considered in coordination with the various stakeholders involved in managing, implementing or using these tools, namely the Council of Europe and UNESCO, co-owners of the Diploma Supplement, but also the Bologna process secretariat, ENIC-NARIC networks, university and students' associations, and the social partners.
13) Does Europass need to be adapted in response to other major initiatives in education and training?
The external evaluation did not identify any need for major changes. It is important to stress that Europass is not an isolated tool, but an element of a coordinated strategy aimed at facilitating both lifelong learning and labour market mobility. Other complementary tools exist and can be developed and applied to solve problems that the Europass service is not aimed to address.
For instance, adequate information and guidance are vital to allow citizens' mobility. To satisfy this need, there is the Euroguidance network and the PLOTEUS portal, which provides information on learning opportunities throughout Europe. PLOTEUS is currently undergoing a major development based on the inter-connection of national databases.
Europass helps citizens make their qualifications and competences better understood. This would be additionally facilitated if qualifications were easier to compare. The European Qualifications Framework (EQF), adopted in April 2008, is a reference framework which will relate different countries' qualifications systems and frameworks together. It will act as a translation device to make qualifications more readable and understandable to employers, individuals and institutions, so that workers and learners can use their qualifications in other countries.
Evaluation report (by external evaluator): http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/evalreports/index_en.htm