At a policy forum on the role of community lifelong learning centres (CLLCs) organised jointly by Cedefop and the Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP) at the Permanent Representation of Romania to the EU, in Brussels on 29 May, Cedefop presented the new edition of its vocational education and training (VET) toolkit for tackling early leaving from education and training.
The Europe-wide toolkit is underpinned by research evidence and provides practical guidance, tips, good practices and tools drawn from VET aiming at:
- helping young people at risk of becoming early leavers to attain at least an upper secondary qualification;
- helping early leavers to reintegrate into education or training and the labour market.
The toolkit can help policy-makers and practitioners, working in a ministry, VET school, company, guidance centre, public employment service, social service or youth organisation to:
- identify and monitor early leavers and learners at risk of leaving education early;
- intervene to keep them in, or bring them back to, education or training;
- evaluate related measures within a country, region or institution.
What’s in the toolkit:
- two reflection tools and two evaluation plans for policy-makers and learning providers;
- 17 intervention approaches tailored to the needs of the six most common profiles of learners at risk or early leavers;
- 10 protective factors;
- 5 activities on how to use the toolkit to inform policy-making and successful practice;
- 60+ actively contributing toolkit ‘ambassadors’ from 18 countries;
- 200+ resources of best practices, publications, tools, statistics and quick wins.
Community lifelong learning centres
Participants in the Brussels policy forum were welcomed by the Romanian EU Presidency’s Augustin Mihalache, Cedefop Head of Department for Learning and Employability Antonio Ranieri and LLLP President Gina Ebner.
Mr Mihalache said that education is central to the Romanian Presidency’s priorities, stating that the event was an excellent opportunity to discuss how CLLCs can prevent young people from disconnecting, and thanking Cedefop for the collaboration with the Presidency in various projects.
According to Mr Ranieri lifelong learning, preventing and connecting can be achieved by learning from CLLC examples, by investigating and identifying ‘key experiences that can be transferred to our area of interest.’ Ms Ebner added that CLLCs provide a sense of purpose and cultural identity.
In the interactive session that followed, Cedefop expert Irene Psifidou, who coordinates the agency’s related project, presented the updated toolkit and other Cedefop online resources supporting a comprehensive strategy to address early leaving from education and training.
She explained how the new version of toolkit can assist different stakeholders: it is richer in information, user-friendly for non-experts, easy to navigate, flexible and enables monitoring and evaluation.
Toolkit ambassadors from Germany and Spain, who contributed to the new version, also presented their experiences.
Feeling of belonging
LLLP Director Brikena Xhomaqi interviewed Dublin City University’s Associate Professor of Education Paul Downes and Learning for Well-being Foundation’s Shanti George.
Professor Downes said that CLLCs are a welcoming, non-threatening education environment centred around the learner's needs, typically focused on non-formal education. Such centres, he went on, are in accessible locations in the local community; accessible both in terms of physical proximity and in terms of being places where learners, including marginalised and minority group learners, feel they belong.
Ms George spoke of the need for the centres to operate as a kaleidoscope driven by diversity and for diversity, focusing on learners’ individual requirements.
Participants joined the panel to relate their experiences of CLLCs and discuss ways people at risk prefer to learn.
Practitioners then gave their key policy messages about setting up multidisciplinary teams in communities to tackle early leaving.
Cedefop Acting Executive Director Mara Brugia chaired the final two panels where national and European policy-makers discussed ways of tackling early leaving in the post-2020 EU agenda.
Following a presentation of examples by Romania, Portugal and Finland, the member of Commissioner Marianne Thyssen’s Cabinet Kasia Jurczak outlined the European Commission's work on tackling early leaving. She focused on smooth transitions, VET as a first choice, quality apprenticeships, and listening to and involving young people.
On behalf of the social partners, the European Trade Union Confederation’s Agnes Roman stressed that apprenticeship can be a solution to the early leaving problem but it has to be fair and of high quality.
The European Economic and Social Committee’s Tatjana Babrauskiene noted that VET toolkit ambassadors are needed in more countries, something the Committee can help with. It can also help with translating the toolkit to more EU languages.
DG Employment’s Max Uebe talked about the success of the Youth guarantee programme and ways to take it further in the fight against youth unemployment.
DG Education’s Michael Teutsch said that early leaving has not been defeated yet, despite great improvement and that, although it is good to have already achieved the 2020 target of 10%, the ones who remain are the most difficult to reach.
In her concluding remarks, Ms Brugia said that lifelong learning centres and other integrated services are beneficial for young people who face multiple barriers, as they address their complex needs in a holistic manner. She added that ‘our joint work to reduce and address early leaving from education and training and youth unemployment must continue beyond 2020; Cedefop works with the Commission, your countries, social partners and practitioners to help address this issue.’