21st century skills recognition for adults in Cities of Learning

This project will introduce the Cities of Learning platform into several new communities: Ghent and Hoogstraten (Belgium), West Brabant, Region Rijnland, Island Curacao (Kingdom of The Netherlands), and Lisbon (Portugal). This project idea takes place in the context of the digitalisation of societies, which is now additionally accelerated by the lockdowns due to the pandemic crisis. A common challenge is the lack of adult education programmes oriented towards competences and skills needed to thrive today and in the future.

That’s where the 21st-century skills idea originates. We refer to 21st-century skills, which we see as a broad set of knowledge, skills, work habits and character qualities for people in ensuring well-being, civic engagement and employment. This set of skills also includes digital skills and literacies necessary to harness digital transformation. Through the work in the Cities of Learning context and also the international adult education context, we will combine frameworks for 21st-century skills that are recognised worldwide and on national levels: E.g. DigComp 2.0, nationally used working skills (can be different per partner country).

Project partners: CODEC (Belgium), Badgecraft Ireland, Samen Leven Oost-Vlaanderen vzw (Belgium), CAMARA MUNICIPAL DE LISBOA (Portugal), Kopa Werkwillig (Belgium), Breakthrough Foundation (the Netherlands), Skills-Connect (the Netherlands), Ministry of Education, Science, Culture & Sports (Curaçao)



We aim to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To map existing best practices of validating and recognising 21st-century skills developed through adult education programmes.
  2. To exchange perspectives on how 21st-century skills can be connected with existing or newly developed competence frameworks.
  3. To create skills assessment, validation and recognition pathways for adult education programmes focused on 21st-century skills development.
  4. To develop technical solutions to embed 21st-century skills assessment and competence frameworks within the platform of Cities of Learning.

Implementation activities

The project partners will map best practices in validation and recognition of the 21st-century skills in participating countries, in other countries in Europe and the world. The 21st-century skills are skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, information literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, flexibility, leadership, initiative, productivity, social and cross-cultural skills, learning to learn, digital literacy, problem-solving, and creativity.

Partners of this project will create unique skills assessment, validation and recognition pathways for adult education programmes focused on 21st-century skills development, which will be developed respecting different perspectives of organisational roles and countries. During this project, we want to extend the possibilities of digital technology to improve transparency and recognition of skills, in our case 21st century skills.

We want to develop the skills assessment and competency framework functionalities and integrate them into the platform for Cities of Learning. The assessment functionality will enable learning providers and learners to use a 360° assessment system which will combine self-assessment, and external feedback from other learners, mentors and supervisors. The 360° assessment system will be based on a specific competence model chosen by the learning provider. The competence model can be aligned to a specific qualification framework or occupational standard.


  • Webinar recordings and a comprehensive report with good practices of validating and recognising 21st-century skills developed through adult education programmes.
  • Guidelines for validation and recognition of 21st-century skills in adult education programmes.
  • Validation and recognition pathways designed, tested and created for selected adult education programmes implemented by the project partners.
  • Technical solutions to implement assessment and recognition of 21st-century skills using the platform of Cities of Learning. – Impact on learning and recognition of adult learners to improve their opportunities for 21st-century skills validation and recognition

LONGER TERM BENEFITS One of the most valuable results of this project will be to launch 5 localised platforms for Cities of Learning. This technical solution will be made available not only to the partner organisations of this project but also to any learning provider in participating cities. We will make sure to promote this opportunity well to our local partners and stakeholders and beyond our networks. Partners of the project will use Multiplier events to reach out to target audiences who can make the best use of

Cities of Learning platform locally. Every partner delivering adult education programmes identified specific stakeholders for this project. We selected local partner organisations, institutions, and businesses which we work with for some time already. In this way, we will make sure that the results of this project will be made relevant and known to important stakeholders. Validation and recognition of skills require the direct involvement of external partners to strengthen value and benefits to learners.

PARTICIPANTS PROFILE: This project will involve around 300 participants. They will be adult learners, including participants with difficult backgrounds and fewer opportunities, adult education staff, managers of adult education programmes, and policy and decision-makers at adult education organisations.

This project is co-funded by the EU Erasmus+ programme.


Best practices of validating and recognizing 21st century skills developed through adult education programmes

The project partners identified education programmes that lack proper validation and recognition of skills and especially would benefit from having the best practices integrated. To be able to create an effective system for validation and recognition of 21st-century skills, we need to collect best practices implemented by other adult education organisations. We prioritise researching and analysing good practices of such systems at the city, region or country level. We plan to select 8 to 10 good practices, such as:

We will reach out to the organisation behind these initiatives and will arrange webinar-style meetings online to interview and record their practices of using digital technology to validate and recognise 21st-century skills. The guidelines will consolidate all of the innovative solutions developed, tested and implemented within this project. The partners will be able to collect and package tools to be used to design and implement skills validation and recognition using the platform for Cities of Learning

Skills assessment, validation and recognition pathways for adult education programmes focused 21st century skills development

The partners do not use digital technology to offer 360° assessment, validation and recognition of skills developed in our adult education programmes. For us, this intellectual output will enable the creation of unique assessment, validation and recognition pathways and integrate them into our adult education programmes. We plan to create, test and implement skills assessment, validation and recognition pathways for the following adult education programmes:

  • CODEC: #developtogether
  • Samen Leven and KOPA: Implementing 21st-century skills in labour market education
  • Breakthrough: Learning while working
  • Skills- Connect: The working way – OWCS: Avond Leergangen (OSBOD) and SBO1+
  • Câmara Municipal de Lisboa: the programme for Inclusion and digital literacy of the Lisbon City Council
Skills assessment and competence framework technical solution on Cities of Learning platform

By using digital solutions on the platform of Cities of Learning the partners of this project will be able to extend their programmes with digital content. They will also be able to integrate the validation and recognition system into their programmes. For adult learners, the assessment tools will help to better understand and internalise learning and make it visible to others.

We plan to create, test and implement the following technical solution to implement skills validation and recognition using the Cities of Learning platform:

  • upload and manage competence frameworks;
  • self-assessment tool which will enable adult learners to self-assess their level of skills using self-assessment scales and use indicators to self-assess their strengths and areas for improvement;
  • external feedback tool which will enable learners to ask for feedback from peer learners, learning facilities and supervisors. The feedback will mirror the self-assessment structure and process and will provide possibilities to analyse the results of self-assessment in relation to external feedback.

All of the developments described above will have a visual and interactive user interface to make the assessment process appealing and engaging.