A high number of personal care and social workers are currently mobile across Europe, but the recognition of the competencies gained in other contexts (countries, institutions or systems) and learning settings (formal, non-formal, or informal ways of learning) is hardly achievable, as they do not hold specific or equivalent qualifications.

According to a
study conducted by IRS (Institute for Social Research, Milan), in Italy there are more than 693.000 personal care workers, of which 619.000 foreigners with heterogeneous qualification levels.
Due to the raising request of personal care services, Lombardy Region hosts more than 100.000 foreign people working in the sector (8,2% in Bergamo District) of which 66% from Eastern Europe (Romania, Poland, Moldavia, Ukraine). More than 42% of them are over 50 years old and, after an average stay of five years in the Lombardy Region, they go back to their countries without any certification of past learning and experience, achieved both in native countries or in Italy.

The lack of common methodologies and frameworks for the evaluation, transfer, validation and recognition of learning outcomes and the rarity of related flexible training solutions still delays a full labour market integration and the development of human capital.

The radical reform of the VET and labour regional system (
Sistema DOTE) implemented in the Lombardy Region starting from 2005 makes it a qualified context for experimenting the application of the ECVET system for the establishment of a recognition model in the field of personal care. Frameworks and initiatives aimed at facilitating lifelong learning paths, in fact, were promoted as well as transition mechanisms from one qualification to another in the personal care sector, and experimental models of validation of prior learning. A further step in making qualifications more transparent, thus increasing the employability of people, is therefore suitable and could help in creating a new and applicable framework (in the specific field) shared with other European countries.

In addition to the secondary data analysis, Fondazione IKAROS undertook a field research (at project proposal development stage) during which a number of professionals working in VET provider organisations (2 trainers, 2 training managers, 1 managing director of IVT and CVT), job placement services (4 job placement advisors) and personal care institutions (1 managing director of a nursing home for disabled people) were interviewed in order to verify their interest in project aims and expected results. All respondents confirmed the need for making qualifications and competence recognition more transparent in the specific sector as the number of mobile workers is constantly increasing.