Governance crucial to effective vocational education and training
In 2011, under its Torinet initiative, the ETF conducted workshops and studies in eleven countries south and east of the EU. The meetings and research highlighted the importance of governance as a key element impacting on effectiveness of vocational education and training (VET). This brings to the fore the debate around the evidence-based policymaking and the relationship between governance models and effectiveness of policies.
On 23-24 November 2011 in Turin, the ETF hosted a workshop with some sixty participants from ETF partner countries, officials from the ministries of education, labour, VET agencies, researchers and representatives of social partners as well as senior delegates from the EU. The two-day event focused on governance, effective policies in VET, and the role of evidence.
‘Governance is prerequisite for good policy,’ said Luc Van Den Brande, member of the Committee of the Regions, who gave one of the opening speeches at the meeting. ‘And good policy you can only build together, [by being] inclusive. Inclusiveness means that there has to be cooperation between institutional bodies but also with the civil society.
Mr Van Den Brande said many big political initiatives failed because they were not involving all relevant partners. ‘Changes are possible when everybody is on board. We are in the same boat and we have to raw together.’
So is it enough to be inclusive for governance to be good? José Manuel Galvin Arribas, ETF expert on governance, said there are other qualities of a good model of governance.
‘Governance is a way of making the policy a reality,’ said Mr Galvin. Apart from being inclusive good governance should be multilevel. ‘It means the participation of regions - from national to the lowest level, but also horizontally - relevant stakeholders should establish a permanent dialogue.’
Mr Galvin Arribas stressed the importance of anticipatory character of governance considering the constant changes that education and training systems face nowadays. ‘Decisions should be based on good, relevant data, analysis, qualitative information that can anticipate the change in the education systems.’
All this should lead to the ultimate objective of a system of vocational education and training that is relevant to social and economic needs.
We know what it takes to have good governance, so what are the challenges to realise it?
‘If the country follows different principles [then those of a good governance], then you cannot establish a governance in VET, which is contradicting the rest of its public policies,’ said Madlen Serban, ETF director. ‘We have to be really careful and analyse what is really working in a given context.’
Ms Serban reminded that governance is a political issue and centralised states usually don’t want to share their authority. ‘Multilevel governance is a discussion about power,’ said Ms Serban. ‘And power is never given up.’
But even when there is drive to decentralisation, problems don’t simply disappear. ‘You can decide to have decentralisation, but you might lack institutional capacity to perform new roles at local level. Or you can have institutional capacity at local level and central government ready to distribute responsibilities, but not ready to distribute financial resources.’
Ms Serban admitted there is no perfect institutional model of governance. But ‘governance is importance because it is important who is doing what and who is accountable for what is being done. Good governance is when the roles are equally distributed among different players - government, social partners, civil society organisations – and when it is done in a transparent and open way’.
Multilevel governance in education and training: challenges and opportunities
In Brussels on 31 May and 1 June 2012 the ETF will organise a high-level international policy conference on impact of governance models on quality and relevance of education and training policies and their performance. The event will be organised jointly with Committee of the Regions. We’ll cover this event in-depth on the website.