Validation of vocational knowledge in the absence of formal education — a chance for a better future

UNDP in Moldova
Nov 30, 2020 · 5 min read

Work experience shall be certified and validated, increasing the chances to get a decent job. Therefore, the lack of formal education will no longer be a barrier to practicing the desired profession.

  • Despite not having any formal education in a certain field, are you a professional in the respective area?
  • Do you have experience, but you don’t know how to demonstrate it to an employer?
  • Would you like to work legally, but you can’t because you don’t have a document confirming your skills?

These are questions that worry many Moldovans who decided to work in Moldova and have work experience in an area other than the one they studied for.

Until 2019, the returnees or citizens who have been working for many years in Moldova didn’t have great chances to be hired if they didn’t have a document confirming their professional proficiency.

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The first candidates who have submitted applications for the recognition of professional skills in the field of public food

Moldovans can have now certified their informally and non-formally — by work experience — acquired knowledge and qualifications.

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Candidates who have submitted applications for recognition of qualifications have passed exams for the professions of bakers, confectioners, cooks and waiters

So those who master their job can file an application with an evaluation centre where their knowledge will be tested. Once the examinations and tests are passed, the applicants receive a certificate validating their qualifications acquired over time. Thanks to this program, citizens living in Moldova or those who returned from abroad will be able to work legally.

Validation became possible thanks to a pilot mechanism launched in 2019 by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research. This initiative was implemented with support from Switzerland, in the framework of the “Migration and local development’ UNDP project, in partnership with the International Organization for Migration, Mission to Moldova.

Four accredited educational institutions (Centre of Excellence in Construction, “Alexei Mateevici” College, College of Ecology, and Centre of Excellence in Services and Food Processing from Balti) were selected to pilot the validation mechanism during November 2019 — March 2020. In present, this mechanism is applied in nine areas: constructions, public food, pedagogy and ecology, beauty, textile, IT, medical assistance and transport sectors.

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Olga Rujan from Bălți was among the first candidates who submitted the documents at the Center of Excellence in Food Services and Processing to validate her competencies

One of the first applicants for the evaluation of studies and validation of qualifications in public food was Olga Rujan. Now 35, she has been working for 11 years in a restaurant network in Balti, without having any formal education in this area.

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Excited and nervous, Olga put on her cook’s uniform and went to the exam room

“My son had started school, and as I needed a job, I was hired as dish washer. I like to cook, but if the manager of this restaurant network hadn’t come up with the initiative of making me a cook, I wouldn’t have become one. Maybe I would have gone to work in garment quality control, professional qualification I studied for. But since I liked being a cook, I stuck to it,” said Olga.

When she found out about the possibility to apply for a document confirming her proficiency in the profession that she embraced for more than 10 years, Olga filed an application with the Centre of Excellence in Services and Food Processing from Balti Municipality. The respective institution was running knowledge validation programs for four categories: cooks, waiters, confectioners, and controller/tellers.

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Each candidate receives a form the number of ingredients and proportions to be used in the preparation of the dishes is indicated, as well as the recipe

“When you learn something new, you can share that with your colleagues, with the staff. That’s why I came to study. Indeed, I learned many new things regarding quality. I do not mean that we don’t perform qualitative work, however being taught and learning things this way is different than learning on your own,” she added.

The evaluation of theoretical and practical knowledge is performed by a committee of specialists. At the end of this process, the applicant is awarded a document confirming his/her qualification. This paper facilitates further hiring, based on work experience.

Despite her rich culinary experience, when she walked into the college, she felt overwhelmed by emotions, but never lost hope of passing the qualification examination.

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“I cannot say that the theoretical test was difficult. It was easy because all we had to do was to answer questions. Practical examination was different. We were given the necessary quantity and portions of ingredients. We had to do things right and flawlessly. We were given the recipe and we followed it. You are always nervous when you know you must not make a mistake,” noted Olga Rujan.

Olga is happy that thanks to the certificate she obtained, she’ll have more opportunities of career growth.

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To take the exam, Olga prepared Caesar salad and polenta with meatballs

“When you have a certificate, people perceive you differently. I want to live in Moldova, my homeland, to be with my family, performing the job I enjoy,” said Olga.

So far, 26 applicants were fully certified, and 26 more signed up for the validation examination.

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During piloting phase, November 2019 — March 2020, the evaluation fee was covered by the UNDP-Switzerland “Migration and local development” project.

Currently, people willing to have their knowledge evaluated, should cover a fee of MDL 2,000–2,500, depending on the area of qualification and the number of certified skills.

The mechanism is to be scaled up across the entire country and to cover other areas and professions from the beauty, textile, medical assistance, IT and transport sectors.

Having a certificate increases the chances of employment and professional development. It also contributes to boosting self-confidence and capacity to assess knowledge and skills acquired over time.

For more details on the evaluation of professional skills, access the website of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research.

Author: Gabriela Tutunaru Samoila, UNDP Moldova

Photo credit: Victor Para, UNDP Moldova

UNDP Moldova

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