Skip to content
Home » Project Spotlight: Validation of transversal skills across Europe (TRANSVAL-EU)

Project Spotlight: Validation of transversal skills across Europe (TRANSVAL-EU)

Transversal skills, also known as soft or transferrable, are skills, knowledge and attitudes that can be used in a wide variety of situations, both in life and at work. The term “transversal” refers to the way these skills “cut across” different spheres and tasks, as they are not specifically related to a particular job role or knowledge area. In an increasingly VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity), these skills are in high demand as they allow individuals to successfully adapt to change and respond to new challenges. UNESCO defines six domains of transversal competencies: 
  1. Critical and innovative thinking, 
  2. Interpersonal skills, 
  3. Intrapersonal skills, 
  4. Global citizenship, 
  5. Media and Information literacy, and 
  6. Others. 

If we dive into these categories, examples of commonly used transversal skills are problem-solving, communication, teamwork and leadership. There is no definitive list of transversal skills. As they tend to be implicit or intangible, an important question arises when talking about them: how can we measure and validate them? 

The need for guidance and validation of transversal skills is a common challenge within and beyond Europe. In this context, the project Validation of transversal skills across Europe – TRANSVAL-EU proposes innovative approaches for the validation of transversal skills acquired through non-formal and informal learning (VNFIL), experimenting how to make these skills more explicit and embed the lessons learned in validation and guidance processes. Co-funded by Erasmus+ KA3 Policy Reform – Policy Experimentations, TRANSVAL-EU is being tested in five pilot countries: Austria, Belgium, Italy, Lithuania and Poland. The project started in March 2021 with an intended lifespan of thirty months. 

 TRANSVAL-EU is one of the largest European policy experiments on VNFIL, with sixteen partners from seven different countries and a consortium of subject-matter experts working together to make the validation of transversal skills acquired through non-formal and informal learning a reality. One of their partners in Belgium is the Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP), which plays a key role in its development. During the project, all the project partners have been developing and testing the following products: 
  • A research base of good practices on validation of transversal competencies
  • A set of training toolkits and programmes for validation/guidance practitioners
  • Standardised competence profiles for validation/guidance practitioners with a specific focus on transversal skills
For doing so, they implement four main activities:
  1. Research: this first phase of the project (months 2 to 10) has the objective of supporting the endeavour to set standards for transversal skills across Europe, help specify research questions and refine research tools, all in preparation for the next activity, which is curriculum development.
  2. Curriculum development: this activity focuses on the development of a toolkit (a box of educational resources and materials) and a training curriculum. These aim at providing hands-on guidance to practitioners and building their competencies on how to validate transversal skills.
  3. Field trials: this is the practical implementation of the project. The field trials combine two perspectives: the perspective of practitioners as well as the perspective of validation and guidance candidates (the end-users). The objective of the field trial activity is to collect quantitative and qualitative data on the outcomes and impact of the experimentation on the practitioners and on other stakeholders involved. Additionally, these trials finetune the training toolkit and curriculum, as well as define training standards that can be used widely throughout the EU. Currently, TRANSVAL-EU is in this stage, closing field trials. 
  4. Policy & sustainability: the final activity in TRANSVAL-EU is the translation and implementation of the project result into practice and policies in the field trial partner countries. It also aims to transfer successful practices to other countries outside of the partnership to ensure replicability and transferability, therefore building an EU-wide community of practitioners and policy-makers with awareness of the validation of transversal competencies.
The TRANSVAL-EU project aims to build the capacity of practitioners and counsellors, as well as other stakeholders, on innovative VNFIL and transversal competencies. For doing so, it strengthens cross-sector cooperation between practitioners, policy-makers and other stakeholders to build coherent VNFIL systems and effective processes around them. 
After two-and-a-half years of experimentation, two final conferences took place this year in Paris and Stockholm to present the preliminary findings from the field trials in the pilot countries (Austria, Belgium, Italy, Lithuania and Poland). These meetings brought together policymakers from across Europe to discuss the future of the validation of transversal skills in Europe.
The conference held in Paris opened with insights from the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). Employers interviewed for the PIAAC Survey have highlighted the need for employees to develop their transversal competencies to engage in complex problem-solving, including in digital environments. This emphasis is particularly relevant for our Collective, as an alarming 46% of the EU population does not reach an overall basic level of digital competencies. In today’s digitalised society, digital literacy should be considered a transversal skill that encompasses many others, such as: 
  • Safety and security: the ability to stay safe and legal online by protecting your data
  • Information and data literacy: the ability to handle information from multiple sources using a range of devices
  • Connecting and collaborating online: the ability to interact with others through digital tools 
  • Learning and working online: the ability to learn and work in blended environments and use digital tools to complete assignments
From social interactions to entertainment, from education to professional life, digital skills and the ability to use technology effectively have become fundamental for development and success. In this European Year of Skills, let’s commit to a culture of inclusion and lifelong learning, where adult education is highly promoted as an effective strategy to leave no one behind.