The Lifelong Learning Platform is happy to share the results of the Policy Forum held in may with Cedefop. Following the many valuable inputs that the two organisations received, we have come up with a revised Briefing Paper on the potential of Community Lifelong Learning Centres as a gateway to multidisciplinary support teams.
The paper explores the cross-sector approach and one-stop-shops as tools to prevent early leaving from education and training. It also suggests recommendations and next steps to policy-makers, and especially advocates for:
CLLCs as welcoming, non-threatening education environment, centred around the learner’s needs, and typically focused on non-formal education.
The need to create an assertive outreach approach that is able to attract the wider community to the CLLCs where they can engage with others and also receive access to further specialized services and support.
The importance of trans-sectoral cooperation (e.g. between different ministries – education, culture, defence, employment and interior affairs, agencies, NGOs and ECEC providers), capacity building at the local level in impoverished areas, and the need to ensure quality transitions (e.g. from education to work) to avoid educational dead ends and decrease early leaving from education and training.
30% of NEETs are short-term unemployed and improving basic skills, decreasing early leaving, and providing apprenticeships could help solve this problem. However, apprenticeships should be fair and of high quality to deliver on the promises.
The resurrection of VET as a valid, first-choice pathway (the excellence dimension of VET), with an emphasis on providing quality education, is key to prevent and counter early leaving.
On 29 May Cedefop and LLLP in cooperation with the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU organised the policy forum “What role for Community Lifelong Learning Centres: the potential of one-stop-shops for preventing youth at risk from disconnecting”.
Building on the LLLP briefing paperCommunity Lifelong Learning Centres a gateway to multidisciplinary support teams and with participation from LLLP members, the event focused on how such centres, based in schools or other spaces in the local community, can meet individuals’ multiple and complex needs (e.g. education, health, psychological) by bringing the work of different services and sectors together in one location. The need for a conducive policy framework – promoting cross-sector cooperation and joint service delivery – was highlighted by several speakers as well as the need to back that framework up with a generous integrated funding model. This holistic approach was likewise reflected in discussions on education specifically with many speakers and participants stressing the importance of parity of esteem between different learning pathways – formal and non-formal, vocational and academic – and the possibility to move smoothly between them in order to prevent early leaving from education or training. In that respect, the cost of “non-education”, i.e. not investing in high-quality and flexible education systems, was also underlined by the representative of the upcoming Finnish Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The 3rd Validation of Prior Learning (VPL) Biennale took place in Berlin on 6-7 May and focused on taking stock of what has been achieved so far in terms of policy development and implementation. Most of all, it addressed the key issue of how to move forward. The Lifelong Learning Platform was partners in the organisation of this milestone event.
Globalization, new technologies and migration are changing the way we work and learn. Our systems need to reflect the changes that we already witness in the world, but sometimes we lag behind and struggle to keep up with societal needs. Pivotal to any further action or policy development, the conference was the perfect occasion to launch the Berlin Declaration, a comprehensive statement that unified all stakeholders behind the need to give structural framework to validation needs. The event managed to gather all actors under the same banner, delivering a great example of what transectoral cooperation worldwide should look like.
Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, shared the ambitions of the Biennale, stressing the importance of empowering the validation practitioners and stakeholders worldwide. A timely message, that places extra emphasis on the participation of practitioners, providers, guidance professionals, and civil society in making all learning visible. In the EU, validation stakeholders will be consulted by the EC this year to take stock on the implementation of the 2012 Council recommendation and look forward on how to ensure everyone acknowledge that validation, indeed, benefits: the learners, the economy and our society.
Cedefop and UNESCO drew on consolidated evidence from the EU Inventory report as well as the Global Inventory on National Qualification Frameworks to outline the state of play of validation in Europe and in the entire world. While there is a strong need and a shared will towards validation, results are far from encouraging as they depict a very fragmented scenario. Nonetheless, all participants and stakeholders were keen on establishing a VLP network, able to serve a vast harmonisation purpose.
In fact, the shared feeling is that validation is about giving visibility and value to all forms of learning; through validation, we can uncover and unlock latent talent in the workforce and in society. We dig deep, and bring hidden knacks to the surface. After all, this was the meaning of the presentation by UNESCO, that highlighted how validation is an extension of the human right to education, and should thus be universally recognised.
“Validation is about opening doors”
As main takeaways, stakeholders at the conference identified six main tracks, essential to the blossoming of a healthy European validation system.
Organisational arrangements are fundamental to the success of a VPL system. Key stakeholders’ areas of responsibility need to be clearly demarcated, with extensive collaboration and cooperation across sectors.
Validation systems have a financial impact. For this reason, the creation of financing structures and a response to the question of who pays what towards the cost of validation or qualification procedures are of crucial significance.
Procedures and instruments
Procedures include structured pathways for validation of learning outcomes, training for assessors and guides, as well as mechanisms for quality assurance of validation processes. Instruments are tools that make learning outcomes visible or help to assess them.
Access to guidance is essential for learners trying to navigate recognition procedures. A combination of face-to-face support and online tools and information form a valuable component of any functioning VPL system.
The true value of VPL results on the job market and to education providers determines the success of a VPL system. VPL results must facilitate an individual’s mobility, opening up pathways which were previously closed off. This is the most evident contribution of lifelong learning to VPL, and it’s lifelong learning that ensures VLP lives ‘longer’ than the actual validation process.
A clear legal framework, which coordinates and oversees quality provision of VPL, is the bedrock of a sustainable VPL system. No system can be effective without clear and stable foundations and clear legal incentives in cooperation with different policy departments (employment, education, social affairs, youth…).
The lifelong learning contribution to the VPL Biennale Declaration is overwhelming. A functioning validation system leaves no one behind, ensuring that validation of non-formal and informal learning serves the common interest and benefits everyone. Even more than that: a validation system centred on lifelong learning impacts an individual career path and personal development way beyond the actual validation process: it opens up possibilities and pathways for self-development, truly projecting all individuals in the society they live in and contribute to.
Practitioners and stakeholders will gather for the next VPL Biennale in May 2021 in South Africa, to assess the progresses made in the light of the Berlin Declaration. The Lifelong Learning Platform will keep on following the latest debates, influencing decision-making processes through the thrust of its membership in the Validation Task Force; the work of LLLP will keep on pushing for assessment, recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning as a crucial step towards a lifelong learning Europe.
During the event, Cedefop will launch the new
edition, currently under development, of its web platform VET toolkit for tackling early
leaving assisting policy makers and VET providers in taking
action towards a comprehensive approach to tackling early leaving from
education and training.
Representatives from good practices in using
integrated service delivery (one-stop shops, case management and multi-skilled
teams) in different settings will present their approach and benefits for
establishing CLLCs in disadvantaged areas across Europe. Viewing
community lifelong learning centres as a
gateway to multidisciplinary teams based services for those with complex
needs, envisages a colocation between these centres and the teams, as part of a
one stop shop.
A high-level panel with key national and EU stakeholders
is invited to reflect on thepost-2020 EU and
national agendas on tackling early leaving from education and training and their
contribution to raising citizens’ skills and improving youth social inclusion and labour
The forum will address some key issues:
is the stocktaking of current strategies and programmes to tackle early leaving
from education and training?
early leaving from education and training still a challenge in Europe? Why?
challenges are currently faced by Member States in the implementation of their
policies to tackle early leaving from education and training? What new
challenges lie ahead?
are the ongoing discussions on the post-2020 strategies and programmes to
tackle early leaving from education and training at EU and national levels to
raise citizens’ low skills, tackle youth unemployment and increase social
role can community lifelong learning centres have in EU and national strategies
to support the social inclusion and labour market integration of youth at risk?
For the answers to
these – and many more – questions, stay tuned on Cedefop
and LLLP social media.
No streaming, but live tweeting of the event is assured!