30 per cent of today's occupations did not exist 20 years ago.

We will probably not have to wait even another 10 years for another 30% change in occupations.

Lifelong learning and career evolution is more and more everyone’s reality. 

Despite being poorly recognized, informal and non-formal learning and social and behavioural soft skills are getting key for recruitment and job evolution. 

Thus, classical education and credentials or diplomas are more and more unable to address the real job market needs.

Filling in a major gap of diplomas, competence certification is a way to demonstrate availability and maintenance of competences acquired through informal and non-formal learning. 

But the occupation profiles and work market needs evolve much quicker than formal certification schemes. And the soft skills are poorly covered by competence certification. 

If today’s diplomas and certificates do not fulfil the needs of the job market, what will the situation be in 10 or 20 years time?



To be future oriented and ready to face the next generation’s challenges, competence certification will have to evolve on several grounds:

  • keep up-to date competence frameworks in real-time to capture changes in the world of work (disappearing and emerging jobs)
  • improve and widen access to certification—getting rid of the current bottlenecks
  • Use digital technology not just to support the old processes, but enable new ones

To face these challenges, EFCoCert is exploring three major dimensions:

1- Integrating non formal and informal open badges recognition within the formal certification process;

2- Flexibilizing and individualizing the certified competence profiles in order to cover both the job profile evolution and the increasing importance of soft skills;

3- Updating competence frameworks in real time from signals generated through informal and non-formal recognition of emerging competencies and needs.


Open badges appear to be an extremely promising approach for supporting the opening of these three major degrees of flexibility, agility and timeliness within the competence certification.

This will lead to investigate an in-depth radical rethinking and putting into questions of all paradigms on which competence certification has been based for the last 20 years, e.g.:

  • only an examiner with a superior level of education & competence compared to the candidate is habilitated to assess the demonstrated competence level,
  • competences shall, per definition, be assessed and demonstrated “on the job”, i.e. only evidence, based through either (physical) observation or documented evidence, can be used as assessment method,
  • soft skills are impossible to assess and recognise within a competence certification scheme,
  • ISO 17024 accredited PCBs are the only neutral and reliable awarding instance that can be involved in competence certification of non-regulated professions and competence profiles acquired through NFIL,
  • evaluation or recognition from (communities of) beneficiaries, employers, clients, peers, hierarchical superior or subordinated, coaches or mentors, etc. is just subjective and has no value,,
  • ...