EU eastern neighbours embrace Small Business Act
With an objective of more developed economic cooperation, the European Union and six neighbouring countries in Eastern Europe have signed up to policy cooperation framework defined by the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA). Human capital concerns top the list of policy areas with a specific focus on entrepreneurial learning and improved skills for small businesses.
At meeting in Turin on 29-30 March, top level officials from education and economy ministries of the six participating countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), with representatives from the world of enterprise and civic society, agreed a first set of indicators to be used in a policy assessment to kick-off in each country in May 2011. The indicators cover issues such as partnership building for lifelong entrepreneurial learning, good practice exchange and baseline intelligence on enterprise skills requirements.
Welcoming guests, ETF Director Madlen Serban underscored the importance of policy cooperation in the bid for more competitive and inclusive economies in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood. ‘Bridging the education-economy divide is key to ensuring a better fit between the supply and demand for skills by business,’ said Dr. Serban ‘but with more and more interest by business in key competences, entrepreneurship promotion by the education system is a policy ‘must’, she added.
Loretta Handrabura, Deputy Minister of Education from Moldova was clear about her country’s interest in the SBA policy drive. ‘We’re ready to do what it takes to accommodate the relevant SBA policy lines,’ said Ms Handrabura. To reinforce cooperation and momentum, the Deputy Minister called for a regional meeting on entrepreneurial learning to be hosted by her ministry in Chisinau in late autumn.
‘I very much welcome the Moldovan proposal,’ said Volker Genetzky of the European Commission which is leading the policy assessment effort, in cooperation with ETF, OECD and EBRD. ‘Cooperation and ownership is central to the SBA work in the Eastern neighbourhood and the Moldovan initiative characterises the high level of engagement by the countries which we have experienced here in Turin in the last two days’, he added.
The meeting also agreed a stiff timetable for the countries to move forward with a review of the SBA human capital policy and where ETF experts will follow up with partner country governments in the assessment drive. A report from the overall SBA assessment is expected in March 2012.
Also attending the meeting were representatives of the OECD, ILO and SEECEL.
The ETF’s policy support work in the area of entrepreneurial learning and enterprise skills in the Eastern partnership region builds on a similar effort developed in the EU pre-accession and Southern Neighbourhood regions.
Photo: Loretta Handrabura, Deputy Minister of Education of the Republic of Moldova
Put simply, lifelong learning means that people can – and should have the opportunity to – learn throughout their lives.
Increased labour mobility across borders brings the skills issue onto the international agenda so the ETF also focuses on policy actions related to skills and employment of both emigrants and returnees.
The ETF aims to develop the capacity of partner country institutions and other stakeholders in developing, monitoring and reviewing policies in the areas of entrepreneurial learning and enterprise skills.
“Employment”: promoting better functioning and inclusive labour markets and vocational education and training systems in ETF partner countries.
The ETF's role in qualifications is to provide expertise for the reform of qualifications systems in partner countries, in their various stages of planning and implementation.
Teachers are a critical factor in education reforms. The ETF takes therefore the role of schools and teachers seriously throughout its work.
Quality assurance is provided through the development of methodological instruments to facilitate a structured policy learning process, integrating quality assurance principles, and reinforcing the quality assurance dimension in the Torino Process.
Governance modes and models have a high correlation with the overall performance of education and training policies, influencing their strategic formulation and implementation.