What we aim to achieve
The ETF aims to achieve different and interrelate objectives which can be brought back to general themes and functions contextualised to the different regions we work in.
ETF’ actions are therefore strictly tailored to the background, situation and future perspectives of every single country and take fully into account the EU priorities. Please see the Mid-term Perspective to find out more about our aims for the next years.
The candidate countries can participate in the biennial policy reporting on the progress of the Copenhagen process. The proposed themes included in the policy report provide a good framework for analysing vocational education and training reforms and may therefore be considered for other ETF partner countries.
With the aim of strengthening national capacities on policy reporting and to increase comparability of progress in VET reforms in the partner countries and the EU, the ETF coordinates a parallel policy reporting process (the ‘Turin Process’) for its partner countries in 2010 and 2012.
These processes identify good practice in the ETF partner countries, promote policy learning and the exchange of information, and put forward suggestions for future ETF activities and EU assistance. These cross-country reports will be presented at conferences in 2011 and 2013.
Strengthened capacities, increased policy learning and comparative information are also the main aims for other cross-regional priorities which relate to equity and social inclusion, quality management, lifelong guidance, entrepreneurial learning, qualification frameworks and systems, education-enterprise cooperation, and evidence-based policy development.
Pre-accession region priorities
The EU will continue to invest in supporting reforms in education and training and employment in the pre-accession region. By 2013 it is expected that several potential candidate countries will have achieved the status of candidate country and some may have become EU Member States. This also implies that most countries will have decentralised management systems for IPA in place.
In the area of vocational education and training the countries are shifting their focus from legislation and policy development to the development of support institutions and policy implementation. Key areas for the coming period are the development of national qualification frameworks, setting up quality assurance mechanisms and systems and the inclusion of key competences into the curricula. The increased number of secondary education graduates and the need for higher skilled people also brings the role of post-secondary vocational training in the higher education framework on the agenda. Work-based learning and transition from school to work schemes will also be promoted.
In the area of employability, the transition from school to work will be addressed in several IPA projects, focussing on youth unemployment. Boosted by the economic crisis, a more structured approach to adult learning will also be a major challenge for the period up to 2013. As part of the support to ministries of labour and employment services, more attention will be given to analysing and forecasting labour market needs.
The IPA countries, except Turkey, have been involved in progress reporting on the Small Business Charter for several years. Building on this experience there are three key challenges for the coming years: increasing the role of social partners (as well as other civil society organisations) in vocational education and training and enhancing school-enterprise relations; promoting partnerships for lifelong entrepreneurial learning; and analysing training needs and training support for innovation in small and micro-enterprises.
The EU commitment to its neighbours was reinforced recently through the introduction of the Union for the Mediterranean (launched in July 2008) and the Eastern Partnership (launched in May 2009) as new regional frameworks. Moreover, in the 2009 Commission Communication regarding the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the Commission underlined that “the crisis and the remaining challenges in partner countries have reinforced the strategic rationale for an intensified ENP” and the ETF will continue to provide support to the Commission and inform policy dialogue in human capital development at regional and national levels.
In vocational education and training most countries are seeking more coherence or sustainability in their reform strategies, supported through sector wide approaches or more integrated policies. Countries are introducing new models of governance of education and training systems through interventions aiming at greater school autonomy, optimisation of funding mechanisms and resources’ use, development of public-private partnerships involving social partners, other civil society organisations and enterprises at all levels in the system and the introduction of mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of vocational education and training are key elements to be addressed in all countries. Key areas are quality assurance and the reform of qualifications systems across the sub-regions.
Taking into account the different demographic developments among the countries, high numbers of school dropouts coupled with high unemployment among young people require the development of appropriate lifelong learning policies - adapted to the socio-economic and demographic realities of partner countries. Systems have to provide pathways and opportunities to ensure that individuals can continue learning throughout their lives. This includes interventions to strengthen the links between different education sub-sectors and the establishment of transparent and comprehensive qualifications systems enabling better access and mobility of individuals, the development of continuing training systems and the validation of learning in different settings (formal, non-formal and informal).
In the area of employability, skills in the informal sector and in small and medium enterprises remain a priority, including those of potential and returning migrants, with an emphasis on the portability of those skills. Unemployment, particularly among young people, is a challenge in almost all countries. Labour market intelligence will need to be strengthened further. The development of mechanisms and tools for better understanding the dynamics of labour markets, (the mismatches between skills supply and demand, the level of efficiency of the matching mechanisms) are the key levers for employment promotion.
The implementation of the EuroMed Charter for Enterprise and continuation of the enhancement of the capacities in the countries to the south on entrepreneurial learning will continue. The Eastern Partnership has also raised attention to the importance of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial learning. As mentioned above, social partnership is gaining importance across the whole region and the support to the development and implementation of governance models at different levels (national, regional, local and school level) will continue to be a priority.
The Development Cooperation Instrument highlights the importance of system reforms in education and training, in particular related to vocational education and training, and the modernisation of higher education and skills development to enhance living standards and reduce poverty. Furthermore, the instrument stresses the role of social cohesion and employment. Since May 2007, the importance of education and training has been underpinned by the Council’s Central Asian Strategy for a New Partnership, which has lead to a European Education Initiative for Central Asia.
The ETF’s strategic focus will be on vocational education and training policies and reforms which strengthen the employability of the labour force. This includes the involvement of public and private stakeholders. Substantial capacity development in vocational training institutions and enhanced competencies will be promoted to support employment through lifelong learning and better employment services.
In other countries the objective is to enable the ETF to respond to potential requests from the Commission to provide support to countries outside its present group of partner countries once approved by the Governing Board.
Geographical diversification could support the increasing effectiveness of the EU as a contributor to human capital development internationally. By providing ETF expertise and approaches beyond its current country partners, the ETF can enhance the visibility of the EU in human capital development. This implies that diversification should build on the ETF’s core business area and/or areas in which strong expertise has been developed.
Any geographical expansion should concentrate on the ETF’s strategic core themes. Accordingly, any such diversification will focus on services to the European Commission and the EU on demand (e.g. technical support to DG Education and Culture or other services on thematic issues).
Although innovation and learning is part of all ETF activities, a specific innovation and learning programme was established in 2006 to support expertise development in new thematic areas and new approaches to policy development. The ETF allocates approximately 20% of its resources to innovation and learning on average annually.