More than 100 specialists from across the EU discussed ways to treat this theme in study visits during a knowledge sharing seminar organised by Cedefop in Thessaloniki on 24-25 June
The seminar focused on challenges that need to be addressed to promote the social inclusion and the labour market integration of vulnerable groups such as early school leavers, learners with special educational needs, unemployed, immigrants and ethnic minorities. Around one third of all study visits taking place in 2010-2011 deal with this theme of common interest at European and national level.
Social inclusion is a cornerstone of the Europe 2020 strategy adopted by the European Council on 17 June 2010 and a key factor to ensure smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The strategy calls for action to empower people by ensuring high levels of employment, investing in skills, fighting poverty and modernising labour markets, training and social protection systems. Targets include a share of early school leavers of less than 10 %, tertiary education for at least 40 % of young people and an overall employment rate of 75 %.
Cedefop offers knowledge sharing seminars to the organisers of study visits to help them prepare and run good quality visits. Participants are informed on recent developments in education and training policy in Europe, share experiences and good practices with their peers and learn from each other.
This seminar, the third of its kind, focused on
how to ensure equal opportunities from early childhood education through mainstream school to special needs education;
how to promote active citizenship and social integration of migrants and other minorities through education;
how to foster the labour market integration of young people and adults at risk of social exclusion.
Participants stressed that learning should be accessible to all citizens regardless of their age, educational attainment, employment or social status. They discussed challenges related to access and equity in education and training and ways to overcome bottlenecks in labour supply. Some of the measures discussed relate to helping people stay in school, allowing second chances to dropouts, better preparing for transitions between work and training, and addressing the needs of migrants, older workers and other vulnerable groups. These discussions were underpinned by examples of good practice drawn from Cedefop’s most recent publication on ‘Guiding at-risk youth through learning to work’ that takes stock of guidance approaches across Europe that aim at fostering school completion and education-to-work transition.
On top of that participants received practical know-how as to the organisation of good quality visits. They discussed with experienced organisers, representatives of the National Agencies and former participants and explored effective and creative ways of preparing, implementing, and following up study visits. They worked together in small groups to draft a programme of a study visit along with a promotion and dissemination plan and to draw up a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) to deal with unexpected situations that may arise during a study visit.