Improving Systems Providing Education and Training Throughout Life

2.1 Lifelong learning is a journey with many pathways and TVE is an integral part of the voyage. Therefore TVE systems should be designed as developmental life experiences with cultural and environmental aspects in addition to their economic dimensions.

2.2 To make the maximum contribution to lifelong learning TVE systems need to be open, flexible and learner-oriented. They must do more than just provide the learner with knowledge and skills for specific jobs. They must also prepare individuals more generally for life and the world of work. TVE is for personal, social and economic benefit.

2.3 TVE needs to be based on a learning culture shared by individuals, industry, different economic sectors and government in which individuals are empowered to take progressively more responsibility for their own knowledge-management and independent learning while public and private providers ensure programmes that facilitate access to and through the pathways of lifelong learning.

2.4 TVE has an important role in reducing levels of anxiety in the midst of constant uncertainty by providing information and knowledge, skills and competences, entrepreneurial capacity and the development of the human personality.

2.5 All nations require a coherent education policy and coordinated education systems within which TVE must be a fundamental part. TVE should develop close interfaces with all other education sectors, particularly schools and universities, to facilitate seamless pathways for learners. The emphasis must be on articulation, accreditation and recognition of prior learning to enhance their opportunities. Within this spectrum TVE has a responsibility to ensure a sound initial education and training aimed at learning to learn, the most precious skill for all citizens both young and adult.

2.6 Perhaps the biggest challenge that faces TVE is to coordinate the needs of a general and a vocational education through curriculum, pedagogy and delivery. Each country will wish to pursue its preferred approach to coordinate these domains but it is clear that the demands of the twenty-first century require new synergies between these fundamental pillars of education and training systems.

2.7 TVE should inspire in young people a positive attitude to innovation, enable them to help shape change and prepare them for self-reliance and citizenship.

2.8 TVE is particularly important in ensuring a seamless transition from the school to the workplace. To achieve this it needs an holistic approach which captures the dichotomies of the academic and the vocational, the theory and the applied, knowing and doing, the use of the head and the hand. This requires effective partnerships with schools and with industry and other economic sectors which embrace shared values, shared curriculum, shared resources and shared outcomes.

2.9 The informal economic sector is often excluded in the spectrum of lifelong learning. TVE has a vital role to play in reaching out to this sector in every way possible to ensure that the less privileged have access to the pathways of continuous learning. This applies with equal force to those who drop out of the formal cycle of education.

2.10 To achieve all of these aspirations for TVE a number of urgent considerations must be addressed:

¥ the status and prestige of TVE must be enhanced in the eyes of the community and the media. This includes raising the status of teachers in TVE systems through attention to their own skills and competences and the provision of resources for their task. It will also require strong marketing of the capabilities of TVE to its many stakeholders accompanied by a simplification of TVE in the minds of many who find its language, its products and its modalities too complex. Publicizing and disseminating models of good practice in TVE are also important. There is a need to promote parity of esteem between vocational and general education, especially in developing countries;

¥ the sectors of education must achieve more effective interrelationships to facilitate more seamless pathways for learners. They do not need to be homogenized; each sector can retain its identity and they all can recognize each otherÕs passports and visas at their borders;

¥ there must be flexibility in programme administration and curriculum design to facilitate a smooth passage through lifelong learning and provide continuous entry, exit and re-entry points;

¥ career guidance and counselling are of the utmost importance for all clients of the education and training systems and need to be significantly strengthened. Career guidance should take into account the needs of industry, the individual and the family and be sensitive to each learnerÕs requirements and circumstances. Its role should be extended to prepare students and adults for the real possibility of frequent career change which could include periods of unemployment and employment in the informal sector. It should not only be a recognized function of educational institutions but should also be provided at other venues accessible to the population at large;

¥ all stakeholders, particularly industry and educationalists, must be involved in new TVE partnerships. Each has much to learn from the other in approaches to lifelong learning;

¥ the high cost of many TVE programmes must be addressed. They should be redesigned to incorporate more workplace learning;

¥ the lifelong learning continuum will be best sustained if there is a diversity of funding, a diversity of providers and a diversity of delivery mechanisms. Innovative approaches to flexible delivery of TVE including the use of information and communication technology and distance learning should be particularly welcomed;

¥ quality assurance is essential to ensure a new higher status for TVE. Qualification standards, certification processes, valid assessment methods and acceptable outcomes are all key ingredients and should be the hallmarks of all TVE systems;

¥ We need to understand more about the critical moments of choice on the journey of lifelong learning. More research should be encouraged to help understand the key issues, dilemmas, potential barriers and opportunities which confront the voyager at the various phases of the journey. More longitudinal studies would be of significant benefit in this regard.