Standardised procedures for the validation and recognition of prior learning in the Canton of Zurich

The Canton of Zurich’s Office for Upper-Secondary Education and Training has commissioned SFIVET to conduct two research projects to develop standardised procedures for the validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning.

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The first research project, Project ANach- und Höherqualifizierung im Rahmen der beruflichen Grundbildungen’ (validation of prior learning for adults who wish to obtain vocational qualifications) is intended, already during the information and advising phase of the validation procedure, to inform adults of the prior learning outcomes that are taken into account towards acquisition of a desired vocational qualification. In order to achieve this, a standardised validation procedure needs to be established for each occupation.

In Subproject A1, the aim will be to validate relevant prior learning outcomes that are frequently achieved in formal and occupation-specific non-formal learning (e.g. a VET programme in a related occupation or non-formal continuing education and training relating to a given occupation). Standardised validation tables will be prepared for a total of twelve occupations.

In Subproject A2, the aim will be to verify whether and to what extent standardised procedures can be used to validate informal learning outcomes (e.g. leisure activities) or to validate knowledge and skills gained from non-formal courses of a more general nature outside the scope of a given occupational field.

The second project, Project BAustritt aus dem Gymnasium – Eintritt in eine Berufslehre’ (recognition of prior learning for young people who leave baccalaureate school and wish to enrol in a vocational school) is intended to provide information to baccalaureate school students about prior learning that counts towards a federal vocational baccalaureate. Initially, a pilot study will be carried out to test the feasibility of such a recognition procedure.


In Subproject A1, a comparison will be drawn between previously defined frequently achieved learning outcomes and the competence profile for the desired vocational qualification. The aim will be to determine the professional competences that have already been acquired in a specific form of prior learning and professional competences that still need to be acquired in order to obtain a formal qualification for the given occupation. The result will be a validation table for each occupation showing which learning outcomes count towards the qualification and which ones do not. A committee of experts will check these validation tables prior to implementation and then update the tables as needed.

In Subproject A2, existing literature and specific case studies will be used as the basis for the creation of criteria for the validation of non-formal and informal learning and for the development of a procedure enabling prior learning outcomes to be validated towards acquisition of a desired vocational qualification.

In Project B, the syllabuses of two or three baccalaureate schools in the Canton of Zurich will be compared with the cantonal core syllabus for the federal vocational baccalaureate. Here the aim is to carry out a feasibility study to determine how the recognition of prior learning could be handled and to identify challenges.

Practical benefits

The aim of these two projects is to provide quick and reliable information – first to adults wishing to obtain a vocational qualification and secondly to baccalaureate school students wishing to enrol in a vocational school – concerning what learning outcomes count towards the desired objective. At the same time, standardisation will simplify and accelerate processes for competent cantonal authorities and allow interested parties to make informed educational and career decisions.