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  • Europe 123, 570 01 Thessaloniki (Pylea), GREECE | Postal address: PO Box 22427, 551 02 Thessaloniki, GREECE el. +30 2310490111 | Fax +30 2310490049 | E-mail: [email protected] |

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    Building European VET Time to move on

    CEDEFOP/DG EAC conference, Thessaloniki 29-30 September 2014

    Introduction The conference will reflect on progress with the priorities for vocational education and training (VET) set for the period 2010-14. These so-called short-term deliverables support long-term strategic objectives for 2020 outlined in the Bruges communiqu which Member States, joined by other European countries, the European Commission and European social partners agreed in 2010.

    Based on Cedefops monitoring of national VET policies addressing the short-term deliverables complemented by the European Training Foundation for the candidate countries the conference will discuss successes as well as obstacles and bottlenecks to reform and how they can be overcome. The conference results will help foster policy learning with respect to achieving the strategic objectives and will feed into the discussion on future short-term deliverables for VET. During the conference, workshops will zoom in on areas where making progress towards the objectives of the Bruges communiqu appears challenging.

    This paper gives an overview of the progress that European countries have made in four thematic areas selected for the conference, which will be discussed during the workshops:

    Monitoring labour market outcomes and ensuring feedback to VET provision

    The use of incentives in VET The role of VET for innovation Key competences in VET

    Understanding and visualising progress

    Comparing and assessing progress countries are making towards implementing 22 deliverables, that are very different in nature and scope, is not straightforward. Countries' starting points, their individual contexts, and the ways they work towards the deliverables differ. Responsibilities for VET are often shared between various institutions at different levels of governance. In several countries, regions

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    have broad remits for VET and VET institutions may enjoy a large degree of autonomy. This makes identifying trends a challenging task.

    Cedefops monitoring focuses on national policies in EU Member States. It is based on information provided by ReferNet - Cedefops network of expertise, the monitoring of common European tools and principles, various studies and statistical data. This is complemented by information on candidate countries collected and analysed by the European Training Foundation (ETF).

    To collect comparable information across countries, Cedefop predefined a set of policy options, i.e. possible ways of addressing each deliverable. These policy options can be alternatives, so not all need to feature in addressing a short-term deliverable. Nevertheless, when a country has not reported on any action for all policy options to address a particular deliverable, the assumption is that it may need more attention in the future.

    To illustrate trends, Cedefop developed bullet charts which indicate stages of development in progressing towards the deliverables. The bullet charts present two groups of countries:

    EU Member States, Iceland and Norway (referred to as EU+) , and the four candidate countries (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,

    Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey).

    Coloured dots indicate the number of countries (1) at any particular stage of development (Table 1).

    Table 1 Stages of development for policy options The policy option was in place already by 2010 and there have been no changes since 2010

    The policy option was in place already by 2010 and has been adjusted since 2010

    The policy option has been put in place since 2010

    The policy option was put in place after 2010 and has been adjusted since

    The policy option has been in preparation stage but not yet been put in place (2010-14)

    No action on the policy option has been reported (e.g. cannot be captured at national level, no action)

    Source: Cedefop

    (1) Within EU Member States, the Flemish- (Fl), French- (Fr) and German-speaking (Dg) communities are

    analysed separately for Belgium, as are England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for the UK. In total, EU+ therefore refers to 35 VET systems. For reasons of simplicity, they are treated as countries in the bullet charts and in the text of this overview.

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    Thematic areas discussed at the Conference

    Theme 1: Monitoring labour market outcomes and ensuring feedback to VET provision

    To ensure that VET is relevant to the labour market, feedback mechanisms are needed. Such mechanisms assure that VET qualifications, curricula and programmes are responsive to:

    current and future labour market trends; how successful VET graduates are in entering the labour market, in

    retaining jobs, and progressing in their careers; employers and other relevant stakeholders views about the relevance of

    the knowledge, skills and competence people have acquired.

    Tracking VET graduate employability can be part of monitoring systems for the VET-to-work transition and is usually carried out using follow-up surveys. The majority of the countries, including all candidate countries, collect data on transitions from VET to work, the employability and other labour market outcomes of their VET graduates. In eight countries data collection is in preparation or has been recently launched. Seven countries have pointed out that they use the ESF to finance data collection or analysis. Examples of ESF co-funded measures are graduate transition surveys in the Check Republic, Poland and Slovakia and studies on VET graduate transitions in Estonia and Lithuania. Figure 1 shows what countries have been doing to ensure adequate feedback of VET graduates employability to VET institutions.

    Figure 1: State of play and progress towards STD5c: feedback on the employability of VET graduates for VET institutions and STD6: monitoring systems on transitions from learning to work

    Source: Cedefop based on ReferNet and ETF

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    Progress towards implementing short-term deliverables 5c and 6 appears slow and may have even slowed down in the past two years. Although the majority of countries collect data on VET graduates, programmes, standards and/or curricula take account of transition and employability data only in half of the EU+ countries. In the candidate countries, the regulatory basis to collect information on the employment status of VET graduates is often not clearly defined. Data on VET graduate employability is collected ad hoc and is not being used by VET institutions in a systematic manner. This is worrying as feedback from the labour market on the employability of VET graduates is one of the fundamental pillars of ensuring labour market relevance of VET.

    However, some of the Nordic countries and the Netherlands have systems with strong feedback loops and could inspire other countries. But in many countries where feedback loops are weak, this is linked to legal restrictions that make it difficult to combine data on learning, labour market entry and career. For example, in Ireland, there are on-going discussions between the key stakeholders for developing a comprehensive labour path-tracking system, but although individuals can be identified, data protection laws restrict practical implementation. In Belgium (Fl), due to privacy legislation it is still not easy to cross data on learning pathways with labour market participation. After 2012, some countries have started working on changes in legislation to address this.

    Other factors that inhibit using information on VET graduate employability are lack of funding schemes to encourage VET providers to do so (for instance through performance based funding) and missing links between information on graduate employability and learning methods and learner support. No countries have reported on new methods or schemes during 2010-14.

    These findings coincide with countries use of outcome indicators set out in the recommendation on a European quality assurance reference framework for VET (EQAVET). Their aim is to help understand the relevance of VET graduates learning outcomes for their entry into the labour market. However, the indicators on destination, employability and occupation of VET learners as well as satisfaction of individuals and employers with the acquired skills/competences, are not used very frequently.

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    Box 1. Tracking labour market outcomes for better VET Country highlights

    in Bulgaria, an agreement between the education and labour ministries foresees combining data on early school leavers and VET graduates with information on transitions to employment. The data will inform measures to prevent unemployment, shape policies to activate early school leavers, and help design schemes to increase the employability of young people;

    quality improvement funds in the UK (Wales) and performance based funding in Finland encourage VET providers to use VET graduate employability information; for transition programmes, curricula design takes account of data on progression to employment or further learning;

    a new law is being prepared by the UK government in 2014 to make sharing data on learners' destinations with providers possible; in Wales destination surveys of further education g