NEW CHARTER Alliance report: “Cultural heritage education and training in Europe – pathways to qualifications”

NEW CHARTER Alliance report: “Cultural heritage education and training in Europe – pathways to qualifications”

Education and training
Working Package 3 (WP3), focused on education and training, has released its first result. The new report thoroughly describes the European education and training landscape in relation to cultural heritage. This research is fundamental for setting the ground for WP3’s upcoming milestone: the cultural heritage E&T database. In the next article, Wolfgang Baatz and Marzia Piccinnino introduce us to the report.

WP3 has a very clear and important goal in the CHARTER Alliance project: analysing education and training (E&T) in order to map relevant skills through the development of a database for cultural heritage (CH) education and training. As well as with the other EU Blueprints, E&T are at the heart of the CHARTER project and solving skills shortages is at the core of its mission.

The database, to be launched in  March 2022, will address the skills needs in cultural heritage by identifying skills gaps and, secondly, support filling those gaps with E&T opportunities which are fit-to-purpose and support the overall strategy. This instrument will help to explore quality standards and certifications schemes and propose innovative/emerging occupations and curricula guidelines, in cooperation with WPs 2 and 4. By achieving this, CHARTER will be able to support Member states in the upskilling and/or reskilling of CH professionals.

The report we are now launching constitutes the starting point of this process:  developing a methodology for data collection on E&T institutions and programmes in cultural heritage. It lists and explains the main information and indicators the future database will collect.

In order to develop these indicators, we discussed and clarified key concepts and definitions and benchmarked and analysed other Blueprint projects. The making of this new report is the result of working collectively with CHARTER colleagues. In particular, our report builds upon WP2’s model for a cultural heritage ecosystem as outlined in its first report .

We have included practical examples, which you will find included as four sample pathways to CH qualifications and professions based on formal and non-formal learning. These examples describe and illustrate the diversity and complexity of CH E&T in Europe.


Defining Higher Education (HE) and Vocational Education and Training (VET)

Education and training

The report presents a detailed  description of all the different layers involved and researched by CHARTER in education and training. The first and more general level refers to the two main sectors in E&T and how they may be distinguished: higher education and vocational education and training.


Higher education (HE)

HE is defined by the Frascati Manual as “all universities, colleges of technology and other institutions providing formal tertiary education programmes, whatever their source of finance or legal status” and “all research institutes, centres, experimental stations and clinics that have their R&D activities under the direct control of, or administered by, tertiary education institutions” (2015, p.34).

UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) uses the term tertiary education, rather than higher education, and classifies these programmes from short cycle HE qualifications (level 5), Bachelor (level 6), Master (level 7) to the Doctorate (level 8), with only levels 6 to 8 encompassing academic degrees (2011, p. 46). Similarly, the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) covers the higher education sector on levels 5 to 8, from short cycle tertiary education to the Doctorate.


Vocational education and training (VET)

CEDEFOP defines VET in its Terminology of European Education and Training Policy as “education and training which aims to equip people with knowledge, know-how, skills and/or competences required in particular occupations or more broadly on the labour market” (2014, p.292). This definition does not restrict VET to any classification levels, which in turn is in line with the EQF, which uses learning outcomes as level descriptors, rather than formal degrees.

Thus, VET in theory may encompass the full range of EQF levels from 3 to 8, provided a vocational qualification can be described by learning outcomes on the respective level. This is in sharp contrast to ISCED, which places vocational education on levels 3 to 5, i.e., firmly below the level of academic degrees. In addition, ISCED classifies exclusively formal E&T programmes, whereas the EQF can be used to classify formal, non-formal and informal learning.


Lessons Learned

Distinguishing HE from VET does not look as very complicated at first sight. But once we closer examine existing definitions and classifications the picture that arises is much more complex. From our research of these two indicators as well as the others we investigated for the report we have learned the following five main lessons on European E&T, which have shaped our present report and will provide the background to any future analyses on E&T in the course of the CHARTER Alliance:

    1. What may look as clear-cut distinctions, may not turn out as such. As the example outlined above demonstrates, HE qualifications can be placed on levels 5 to 8 of the EQF and VET qualifications may encompass the full range of levels relevant to CHARTER from 3 to 8. The ISCED classification, on the other hand, does not allow for such overlap of HE and VET, except for level 5.
    2. What may look as clear-cut incompatibilities, may not turn out as such. To come back to our outlined example, the EQF and ISCED classify different things. The EQF classifies qualifications, whereas ISCED classifies educational programmes, hence the incompatibilities in their approach are not quite as far-reaching as they appear on first sight and can in fact be resolved to a certain extent.
    3. It is precisely the “grey” areas, in which classifications overlap or in which we are faced with challenges to preconceived notions where we find a great deal of innovative potential for cultural heritage E&T. VET leading to qualifications beyond EQF 5 is a case in point.
    4. Mapping E&T requires in-depth analysis of not just a few, but quite a large number of layers. This is why the report examines a wide range of such indicators.


Access the report and continue reading our research on the following layers of E&T (learning formats; types of programmes; international classifications; credit systems and micro-credentials; learning outcomes, etc.) and the four different examples of pathways to CH qualifications.

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