UNESCO adds Europe view on skills development to UK education conference
The transformation of training skills in Europe formed part of the international education conference, Going Global 4, held in London in March.
The conference which took as its theme, World potential: making education meet the challenge, aimed to provide a global forum to explore the latest developments and issues in international education drawing on case studies from around the world.
UNESCO Director of the Division of Education Strategies and Capacity Building, David Atchoarena participated in a session on lessons learned from the European experience. Europe has undergone a transformation of its skills and training systems with countries aiming at a harmonization of approach, principles, tools and quality assurance.
In his presentation David Atchoarena reviewed some of the reasons UNESCO gives such high priority to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). He then provided a review of the UNESCO TVET strategy stressing that its implementation mobilizes other partners such as the International Labour Organization, the European Training Foundation and the World Bank also present in the panel discussion.
Among the lessons that can be learned from the European experience David Atchoarena outlined:
- The contribution of TVET to building new learning pathways and support given to the expansion of education systems of secondary and higher education levels
- The diversity of TVET systems in spite of policy convergence. European skills development models remain diverse reflecting the need to ensure coherence at national level between the education system and labour market conditions and institutions.
- The shift in policy focus from inputs to outputs as illustrated by the establishment of the European Qualification Framework, quality assurance mechanisms and innovative schemes to recognize non-formal and informal learning.
- The importance of the regional dimension in the context of globalization, the national level is no longer sufficient to assure the regulation of the supply and demand of qualifications and to facilitate mobility of capital and individuals.
- The role of partnerships and social dialogue to contribute to establish demand-driven regulations and to ensure ownership of the reform process.
- The strategic role that policy learning can plan to inform the reform agenda and ensure the relevance of policies to the national context.
- The need to pay particular attention to policy consistency considering that TVET is located at the intersection of several policy areas notably education, social policies, economic policies and local development policies.
David Atchoarena ended his presentation by stressing that the relevance of the European experience for other regions has some limitations such as the difficulties in ensuring the common definitions of some of the key concepts such as skills and competences. He also questioned the tendency to drastically shift policy attention to skills recognition in countries when the major challenge remains skills formation.