European Training FoundationVET for social inclusion and cohesion: ETF launches new research
The ETF, together with KulturKontakt Austria, will host a workshop on the role of vocational education and training in social inclusion and cohesion in Vienna on 3-5 December.
The recently started ETF action research project will be discussed with the team from the London School of Economics Research on South Eastern Europe and some 70 stakeholders from the Western Balkan countries, Turkey and Israel.
The research project uses the methodology of participatory action research, in which a wide range of stakeholders, including national and local policy makers, school professionals, students, employers, researchers and civil society organisation representatives from the "community of practice," are consulted to ensure that the project addresses the relevant issues.
‘The research is based on the view that a school is an integral part of the community in which it functions,’ says Lida Kita, who is in charge of the project at the ETF. ‘Schools are key actors in the local "skill development system," along with the employers, local government, trade unions and NGOs.
The meeting will also be an opportunity to learn from the Austrian experience. The participants will visit VET schools and will talk to representatives of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth and other relevant institutions.
Background of the project
The profound economic and societal changes in the Western Balkans and Turkey have resulted in great inequities in the access to and participation in education, training and employment. This situation is shared by Israel’s minorities and vulnerable groups. The resulting skill mismatches gave rise to long term unemployment, poverty and social exclusion of young people and older workers alike.
‘Although skill mismatches should ideally be addressed by vocational education and training national systems have failed to provide this vital function,’ says Ms Kita. ‘In omitting to equip the most disadvantaged workers with appropriate skills they have also failed to fulfil their role of supporting social inclusion at an individual level and social cohesion at a societal level.’
The Western Balkans and Turkey, share common present-day aspirations for EU membership and are involved in the process of accession to the European Union, although at various stages.
Combating social exclusion and poverty is among the key priorities of the European Union. Building a more inclusive Europe is vital to achieving the European Union’s goals of sustained economic growth, more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, as reiterated by the Europe 2020 strategy. Therefore, social inclusion is a policy area highly relevant to the candidate countries and the potential candidates.
This has prompted the ETF to launch a regional intervention in the Western Balkans, Turkey and Israel to deal with linkages between VET and social inclusion. With this regional action research project, carried out in cooperation with three VET schools/training centres in each of the countries, ETF aims to deepen the understanding of the main barriers and potential opportunities for building inclusive and equitable VET systems vis-à-vis the current socio-economic challenges in the in the Western Balkans, Israel and Turkey.
The research will look into the holistic-school approach towards inclusion in education, i.e. incentives and barriers in developing whole-school systems and cultures to foster the participation and achievement of all students.
The ETF - European Training Foundation is an EU agency that helps transition and developing countries to harness the potential of their human capital through the reform of education, training and labour market systems in the context of the EU's external relations policy. We are based in Turin, Italy, and are operational since 1994.