Partnerships for change

'Partnerships for change' in education and skills development refers to people or groups who join together to enhance learning (curriculum design and support), support learners in their uptake (inclusive education), and build a wider learning community and society to facilitate and benefit from this investment. A valuable partnership enables greater achievement than any one of its members could achieve alone.

This month we explore the many elements of partnerships, a key component of the EU’s external relations and the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We examine their nature (e.g. single or multiple sectors such as purely public, public/private, or public/private/civic etc..), how to determine their value, enhance their impact, and understand their transformative role as a mechanism for system change for education and skills development.

The 17th Sustainable Development Goal aims to increase international cooperation and strengthen global partnerships at governmental level, including through public-private partnerships and the involvement of civil society. This goal is vital to achieving each of the other 16 SDGs.

With examples from our partner countries in the EU’s neighbouring regions, our specialist networks, and partner organisations, throughout April we illustrate the role of partnerships as policy influencers and key contributors to system reform in education and training. Stay tuned to all our social media channels to find out more. 

What is the ETF doing to support partnerships?

The ETF is a facilitator of the formation and development of partnerships for education and skills development within our partner countries and at regional, European, and international levels. We offer continued support for the success of the partnerships by sharing knowledge and developing expertise through our networks, such as the ETF's Network for Excellence which focuses on on vocational excellence, and the recently launched innovative educators network.

Not every partnership can be a success, but, with stakeholders committed to achieving shared goals, partnerships can make all the difference in education and skills development.

Examples of the critical role of partnerships include: 

Public Private Partnerships in support of the Youth Guarantee

With 2022 being the European Year of Youth, the EU is placing particular emphasis on skills training for young people. Part of this effort includes the reinforced Youth Guarantee (YG), adopted in late 2020, which is aimed at supporting youth in education or training, and reducing unemployment.

The YG requires collaboration between the public and private sectors. The ETF is reinforcing the YG process through a series of knowledge and practice sharing that support its design, implementation and monitoring in the EU and partner countries. The role of public private partnerships (PPPs) in skills development for youth was the subject of a webinar on Tuesday 1 March hosted by the ETF. More information is available on the dedicated page about the event on the ETF's Open Space

Partnerships for lifelong learning, GLAD

The ETF has set up a new network to support  partnerships and enhance the contribution of multiple stakeholders to the governance of vocational education and training, skills development and lifelong learning, entitled the GLAD (Governance - Learning - Action - Dialogue) network. It is open to the key actors in formal, non-formal and informal learning and employment support, including the public and private sectors, social partners, and civil society organisations (CSOs). The objective is to accelerate learning between partner countries and through the exchange of existing best practices.

Partnerships with civil society

Governments across countries establish dialogue and cooperation with a wide variety of stakeholders to respond to the diverse needs of citizens for education and skills development which intersects with social, economic and labour market policies.  The ETF undertakes targeted studies to better understand the specific role of civil society organisations in governance partnerships in all its partner regions, and most recently in 2020 in Albania, Jordan, Serbia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan; and in 2018 in the Southern Mediterranean region.

The ETF advocates the important role that the CSOs play in governance arrangements for the development of human capital especially given their operational capacity and resilience at times of crises. 

Partnerships for craftsmanship

Recently, the ETF partnered with the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, a Swiss-based non-governmental organization studying and promoting excellence in crafts. It is best known for its Homo Faber Guide in which it tries to define excellence and focuses on 11 criteria:  authenticity, craftsmanship, innovation, originality, territory, training , competence, creativity, interpretation, talent, and tradition.

The partnership brought the Homer Faber Guide to new countries where these criteria were adopted based on which the ETF undertook an initial study of craftmanship and skills for the future in eight countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Ukraine. Studies are currently being released in the first countries.

ETF partnerships

As well as creating opportunities and offering support through our various activities and networks for stakeholders to form and grow partnerships, the ETF engages in partnerships with other organisations for greater impact of its work under the remit of the EU’s external relations and to better support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Goals.

We undertake regular specialist research and diagnostic studies in various domains of human capital development together with other institutions of the European Union, for example the European Commission's Joint Research Centre. We also engage in joint activities with other European and international organisations such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Organisation for Migration (IOM), UNIDO and UNICEF amongst others.

What are the challenges for partnerships?

The number and success of partnerships needs to be significantly increased to ensure their validity as a mechanism for education and skills development and system reform.  Moreover, partnerships require its members to have appropriate skills, time and resources to ensure they create value and impact. Lessons need to be learnt from failures in the past with evidence showing that they show greater success when based on local needs and consistent with ‘national strategies to improve local ownership, efficiency and coherence’ with ‘inclusive structures and processes’.

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