Testing a European Competency Framework for VET in Collections Management (EUColComp)


Natural history collections are used by a wide variety of disciplines, including global climate change, biodiversity conservation, agriculture, fisheries, forensics and pharmaceutical/drug development companies. They are a unique resource for the understanding of global geo- and biodiversity, and for education at all levels. These collections must be easily accessible both today and well into the future to facilitate research. The requirements to manage collections are almost identical, but there is a widely varying application of best practice in their care, conservation and management across Europe.

This project addressed these issues by applying the competency framework principle used in other business sectors to the European museum community. By transferring and modifying the comprehensive framework developed by the Natural History Museum, London (NHM), a set of universal competencies was created and applied across the EU to help organisations to a) identify the competencies required for particular roles; b) identify individuals’ levels of competence and; c) identify the vocational and educational training (VET) needed to address missing/weak competencies.

Three of the largest natural history museums (NHMs) in Europe were in this project. As leaders and setters of standards in their countries they tested the framework transfer and helped facilitate the broader transfer of the competencies. NHMs in four additional EU states assisted in the transfer at a transnational scale. One partner is leading the Distributed European School of Taxonomy (DEST) and was integral in developing a VET curriculum. Other internationally recognised non-museum partners were responsible for a certification system, taking steps towards ECVET staff in NHMs and for evaluating the project and maximising its effectiveness.

This ToI delivered:
* 1. a standard set of multi-language competencies that can be tailored to suit museums of varying size, focus, culture and governance;
* 2. learning needs surveys that identify both existing training and key gaps to assist staff in developing appropriate competencies through customised VET;
* 3. a web-accessible set of multi-language competencies and targeted training to assist organisations in applying them in their own work place;
* 4. a detailed curriculum to enable institutions to establish clear roadmaps for the development of VET for their staff.

The main impact was to raise and make consistent the competence of collections management staff across Europe through targeted VET, thus ensuring the long term accessibility of Europe's scientific and cultural heritage.


01.10.2013 - 30.09.2015



Europäische Union (EACEA)


Museum für Naturkunde Leibniz-Institut für Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Narodni Muzeum Prague

Muséum National d'histoire Naturelle


Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas/Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales

Natural History Museum, Birmingham

Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique

Collections Trust

Museo di Storia Naturale dell'Università degli Studi di Firenze

Rathgen-Forschungslabor Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz


Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP)