This article explores (1) the degree to which immigrants can be considered dominant groups in the area of validation of non-formal and informal learning and are subject to specific validation measures in 33 European countries; (2) whether country clusters can be identified within Europe with regard to the dominance of immigrants in the area of validation; and (3) whether validation systems are likely to lead to the inclusion of immigrants or foster a process of “devaluation” of their skills and competences in their host countries. Based on the European Inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning project (chiefly its 2014 update) as well as a review of 124 EU-funded (Lifelong Learning Programme and European Social Fund) validation projects, the authors present the following findings: (1) in the majority of European countries, immigrants are not a dominant group in the area of validation. (2) In terms of country clusters, Central European and Nordic countries tend to consider immigrants a dominant target group for validation to a greater extent than Southern and Eastern European countries. (3) Finally, few initiatives aim to ensure that immigrants’ skills and competences are not devalued in their host country, and those initiatives which are in place benefit particularly those defined as “highly skilled” individuals, on the basis of their productive potential. There is, thus, a “low road” and a “high road” to validation, leading to a process of polarisation in the recognition of the skills and competences of immigrants.

DOI: 10.1007/s11159-015-9516-7
ISSN: 0020-8566