Outcomes of the Cedefop conference on cost-sharing in the newer Member States, 15-16 October 2009
Cedefops conference, Sharing the cost of training in the newer Member States identified monitoring and evaluation as the main area that needs improvement. Participants also encouraged Cedefop to examine in greater depth the schemes that work well today including those that address the particular challenges of the economic crisis.
The conference presented the findings and the recommendations of the Cedefop report, Sharing the costs of vocational education and training: an analysis of schemes in the newer EU Member States. The report, the first to map and examine cost-sharing training schemes in these countries, showed that well-designed financing mechanisms combining private and public funds can help increase both overall investment and in participation in vocational training.
Almost all cost-sharing mechanisms used in the new Member States score relatively low in equity: most do not offer equal opportunities to lower qualification levels or smaller companies. The report therefore recommended that more attention be paid to ensuring equal opportunity of access in order to increase efficiency.
Conference participants who included representatives of the newer Member States, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank - agreed that there is a need for better guidance: potential beneficiaries must be aware of the opportunities available to them. They also urged Cedefop to undertake case studies and bring them to the attention of policy-makers. This, they argued, is the best way to respond to the main finding of the conference: that despite the proliferation of cost-sharing schemes the 12 newer Member States have until now paid little attention to monitoring and evaluation. The Cedefop report, and the discussions at the conference, showed in broad outline what works and what doesnt. The challenge is to improve the situation, both in terms of the schemes themselves and of the methods used to evaluate them.
But there was good news, too: some countries have put in place measures to counteract the effects of the crisis. For instance, Cyprus is co-financing training for women returning to the workforce, and for the unemployed, while Poland has is targeting older workers who need to update their skills. Moreover, in the wake of the crisis several Member States, including Romania and Hungary, are providing more training opportunities and incentives.
The European Social Fund is a component of such co-sharing schemes: it finances mechanisms that correspond to the priorities of the Communication of the European Commission, Shared Commitment for Employment. These include upgrading skills and matching labour market needs.
The next step for Cedefops project on financing vocational training will be an examination of loans as financing instruments, including an in-depth look at eight countries. In this, Cedefop will be seeking the cooperation of the European Investment Bank.