The COllaborative MOnitoring REgional Lifelong Policies (“COMORELP”) project held a European Round Table conference in a hybrid format in the beautiful venue of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland on 13-14th June 2022 (check the full programme here).
As part of the initiatives of the Laboratories of Regional Lifelong Learning Policies in different EU regions, the conference gathered project partners and stakeholders from across Europe to exchange experiences and share the results of the project achieved so far. LLLP is one of the partners in the COMORELP project, which is led by the Jagiellonian University (Poland) and also involve FREREF – Foundation of European Regions for Research in Education and Training – France (LLLP member), and other partners: Arcola research UK, CIS – CIS School for business management Italy, and WUP – the Regional Labour office in Krakow (Poland).
Watch the first day of the conference on Youtube:
Partners were welcomed by a representative of the regional labour office in Krakow who expressed their unflinching support to the COMORELP Project and for lifelong learning. He went on to disclose an initiative that had just begun called Learn from the Master which supports industries that suffered during the pandemic. Sectors such as Catering, Hotels, Events, and other entrepreneurs seek to benefit from this lifelong learning program all around Poland.
Diana Spiridon, the leader of the adults’ skills team in DG EMPL (European Commission) gave the following presentation remotely. She spoke about the key policy developments in adult learning (AL) at EU Level and the role of regions. She recounted that the New European Adult Learning Agenda is to increase and improve the AL provision and promotion as well as the take up of formal, non-formal and informal learning opportunities for all. Looking further, the agenda outlines a vision of how adult learning should develop in Europe by 2030 in 5 priority areas which include Governance, Supply and take-up of lifelong learning opportunities, Accessibility and flexibility, Quality, equity, inclusion and success in adult learning and Green and digital transitions. The Pact for Skills was also launched in November 2020 as an approach to skills development to incentivise private and public stakeholders to take actions on upskilling and reskilling of the working class. Moreover, as part of the EU skills agenda, a Council Recommendation on Individual Learning Account (ILA) was recently adopted and recommend Member States to set-up personal training entitlement for adults as well as the Recommendation on micro-credentials. The Upskilling Pathways initiative is currently being evaluated by the European Commission and an external contractor.
The Ministry of Education and Science in Poland then took the floor and recounted how women have high representation in education, yet they seem to be more absent later on in life in higher education and adult education. He questioned why according to statistics women in Poland stop learning.
Then, project partners took turn to present a self-assessment tool for lifelong learning policies at regional level and a benchmarking system allowing stakeholders to compare situations between the regions. Claudio Dondi from CIS, Emilia Romagna in Italy explained the concept of a regional laboratory which is a core concept of the COMORELP project. He explained the regional lab as having an involvement of the regional authority, being relevant to existing policy challenges, having a user orientation, and including an integrated perspective on lifelong learning. He stated that the Lab should have reporting and benchmarking as a ground for inter-regional cooperation.
Different departments of regional authorities, education and training organisations, learner group and employer representatives, civil society organisations should all be involved in the Regional Lab. The Malopolska region, which is one of the regions in the project, was identified as an outstanding region in terms of lifelong learning because of their experience in the last decade of setting up a LLL partnership with over 100 institutions.
Watch the second day of the conference:
As part of the project, some regional perspectives on existing policy challenges were shared. In Poland, 12 experts gathered in a round table session in June 2022 and through an internet survey identified some challenges associated with LLL. They noted, among others, that since LLL policy solutions are being mainly the responsibility of central government, formal education and legal solutions are created at central level with little competences in the regions. In Italy, inclusion and civic participation are a challenge as well as the bridge between formal and informal education. In Istanbul, Turkey the activities of COMORELP included reviewing reports, reaching different stakeholders, collecting best practices in the region and country, and disseminating the project at different occasions. The representative in Istanbul worked on how activities are evaluated and reported to policy makers, on their weaknesses, strengths, and on strategies to take action. Challenges include that there are too many different actors in the field and difficulty in accessing activities in a single framework. By Arcola Research UK, 7 stakeholder interviews were completed and analysed in April 2021 as well as a research on LLL policy in Wales.
Some good practices in Wales included the writing of 5 reports on Wales practices: ReAct, ReStart, TAITH programme, Digital Communities Wales (DCW) and Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF). Furthermore, there is initial design and testing of a benchmarking tool.
There was a regional lab in Auvergne-Rhône Alpes in France involving local stakeholders from VET, Higher Education, employment, companies etc. Good practices include “promo 16-18 @ AFPA” which brings back early school leavers into the learning and training environment. Also, a regional platform for Apprentices mobility is coordinated by the region and the chamber of craft to promote VET and apprentices’ international mobility.
It is foreseen in the project to organise regional Labs and to use the benchmarking system in each region. The Lifelong Learning Platform looks forward to testing the data collection and benchmark exercise with the other partners. LLLP will also work on drafting policy recommendations for the EU and regional levels in the next months and will organise a European policy workshop to discuss them.