ETF aims are defined in its mandate, regulation and recast regulation.
The ETF recast regulation adopted in December 2008 specifies that the ETF has to contribute, in the context of EU external relations policies, to human capital development, defined as work that contributes to the lifelong development of individuals’ skills and competences through the improvement of vocational education and training systems.
This includes the provision of assistance to partner countries in:
- facilitating adaptation to industrial changes, in particular through training and retraining;
- improving initial and continuing vocational training in order to facilitate vocational integration and reintegration into the labour market;
- facilitating access to vocational training and encouraging the mobility of instructors and trainees and particularly young people;
- stimulating cooperation on training between educational establishments and firms;
- developing exchanges of information about and experiences in issues common to the training systems of the Member States;
- increasing the adaptability of workers, particularly through increased participation in education and training in a lifelong learning perspective; and,
- designing, introducing and implementing reforms in education and training systems in order to develop employability and labour market relevance.
To meet its objective, the ETF has the following functions as defined in its mandate:
- to provide information, policy analyses and advice on human capital development issues in the partner countries;
- to promote knowledge and analysis of skill needs in national and local labour markets;
- to support relevant stakeholders in partner countries in building capacity in human capital development;
- to facilitate the exchange of information and experience among donors engaged in human capital development in partner countries;
- to support the delivery of Community assistance to partner countries in the field of human capital development;
- to disseminate information and encourage networking and the exchange of experience and good practice between the EU and partner countries and amongst partner countries in human capital development issues;
- to contribute, at the Commission’s request, to the analysis of the overall effectiveness of training assistance to the partner countries; and
- to undertake such other tasks as may be agreed between the Governing Board and the Commission, within the general framework of the regulation.
The recast regulation follows the pattern of EU developments since 2000 by placing vocational education and training in the context of lifelong learning involving a holistic view of education and training covering human capital development based on the different sub-sectors of education, including their links with the labour market.
It also places the ETF’s activities in the policy driven approach to external assistance contained in the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)and the Development Co-operation Instrument (DCI). These instruments put greater emphasis on supporting partner countries in the definition and implementation of strategies aligned with national policy priorities.
The recast regulation also introduces potential flexibility in the ETF’s geographical scope, to allow the Commission to use the ETF’s expertise outside the 31 countries it presently assists. Over time, in response to specific proposals and the agreement of the ETF Governing Board, this may include other countries.