ETF regional conference sets out recommendations for Eastern Partnership

The Torino Process

Policymakers and stakeholders in education and training in the EU's six Eastern Partnership countries have been urged to put a greater focus on lifelong learning as they continue with national reforms to improve human capital development.

Opening the second, and final day of the ETF's online Eastern Partnership 5th round Torino Process conference today on Thursday, 17 Sept the ETF's senior specialist on qualifications, Arjen Deij, said four key recommendations had been identified after analysis of the Torino Process country reports from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Analysis by the ETF country and sector experts had identified four key areas for EaP countries to focus on:

  • support the strengthening and optimization of VET providers
  • developing new roles for teachers and trainers
  • increasing the stake of the private sector in life-long learning
  • start monitoring and increase capacity of life-long learning

"We need now to focus on developing competence, rather than knowledge reproduction; we want students to be able to act, to deal with situations they have not faced during their training," Mr. Deij told the 75 participants, including observers from Central Asia.

"We also need to focus on young and older people and the needs of companies," he added. "This means that vocational education and training providers need to tailor provision to the needs of learners and companies."

The shift to online learning experienced during the COVID pandemic had demonstrated the need to look more to modular, integrated learning: "The real world is not divided into theory and practice. It is important to mix theory and practice - skills trainers and teachers could merge into new profiles."

More cooperation between companies - particularly SMEs that in the EaP represent the biggest number of employers, if not generators of GDP - in deciding training priorities and provision was also needed.

And a shift to seeing education as a lifetime process where provision meets existing and emerging needs, and non-formal, informal and prior learning are considered, are necessary to meet the challenges faced by economies of rapid digital developments and 'green' demands.

Speaking during a panel discussion, Lawrence Meredith, from the European Commission, said tailoring education and training to the needs of the economy must be done within the context of retaining strong values on social inclusion, the rule of law, and battling corruption.

"Working together with the ETF and our partners across the EaP we can really capture the skills of the future and help prepare people," he added.

Cesare Onestini, the ETF's director, in concluding remarks, said it was also essential to "look at the frontline, the providers, the teachers and trainers. We need to invest in them and give them the autonomy to deal with the challenges, and ensure they have the support they need in terms of structure and qualifications frameworks”.

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