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Background: European developments

(a) in 1987, in Germany ‘action orientation’ (Handlungsorientierung) was designated as the central objective of in-company training within the dual VET system. The school side adopted this objective in 1991 and since 1996, the mission to generate ‘action competence’ (Handlungskompetenz) is the central pedagogical task of the schools in the dual system. Linked with this development, ‘new’ approaches to assessment and examinations are requested, tested,or introduced;

(b) independently from the German development, the national vocational qualifications (NVQ) were introduced in England and Wales in 1987 with ‘a very particular approach to defining and measuring competencies’. In contrast to Germany, the NVQ concept explicitly refers to the competence-based training and assessment of the US;

(c) in 1991, the bilan de compétences was legalised and introduced in France, focusing on the competences acquired beyond formal schooling, during working life“ (Straka 2004, 268).

The common European tools developed in the framework of the Copenhagen process, including the European qualifications framework (EQF) and the European credit system for VET (ECVET), use learning outcomes as a key mechanism to reach the objective of ‘transparency,comparability, transferability and recognition of competences and/or qualifications, between different countries and at different levels’ (Copenhagen declaration, 29-30 November 2002). These tools require a similar shift to learning outcomes in national VET systems.