On 20 January 2022, the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union organized a Ministerial Conference in Paris entitled: “New Erasmus+ generation: developing mobility for apprentices”. The aim of the Conference was to reflect on how to increase mobility opportunities offered to the apprentices in Europe. The event, which was also livestreamed, gathered French, Austrian, Croatian, Czech and Polish ministers for employment, European commissioners but also civil society organizations.
The Conference was introduced by Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for jobs and social rights who highlighted the: “real added value of the mobility of apprentices for the companies”. After that, some video testimonials from young apprentices who participated in a mobility in Europe and presented their experiences were showcased.
Jürgen Siebel, Executive Director at Cedefop, introduced the obstacles and needs to the mobility of apprentices in Europe: higher involvement of employers as senders and receivers of apprentices, the fear of employers to send apprentices abroad, the administrative burden for the companies and the language barrier among others. Unfortunately, long term mobility for apprentices remains very low and Mr. Siebel finished his presentation by saying: “to overcome these obstacles, we need to fix the rules and coordination issues”.
The first round-table of the Conference tackled the following question: “How to develop European partnerships and networks to increase mobility? » Labor ministers from France, Italy and Austria took part in the discussions with representatives from companies but also civil society organisations. Speakers discussed existing schemes, good practices and commitments to increase the opportunities for European mobility in learning and training.
The second round-table discussion tackled the supportive measures to encourage mobility. There, French, Czech and Polish Ministers along with Director of the Finnish Erasmus+ Agency exchanged views on mechanisms in place at national and European level to support mobility in the training and apprentices’ pathways.
On 14 December 2021, EARLALL hold a meeting to celebrate the re-launch of its five Working Groups. A call for membership to the Working Groups was organized during the summer and EARLALL members were contacted to express their interest to join the different Working groups:
Noelia Cantero, EARLALL Director, introduced the meeting by explaining that the re-launch of the Working Groups was an initiative by the leaders of the Working Groups. She reminded that the aim of the Working Groups is to share information (from EU but also from the regions), build project ideas and participate in joint projects and organize events among others. Participation in the WGs is still open to any EARLALL member that would be interested in joining. She highlighted that the WGs work together and regular meetings are organized with the leaders to learn about what the other groups are doing.
Levenez Molac, Project & Communication Officer at EARLALL, presented the new EARLALL Teams platform that will be the new working place of the working groups. She gave “a tour” inside the platform and explained its functioning.
After that, each of the Working Group leaders presented the objectives and activity plans for 2022. Andrea Bernet-Bürkle (Baden-Württemberg) leader of the working group for ageing societies and lifelong guidance gave an overview of the projects in which the working group is or was involved: Bridge+, RegALE, NEET for NEETs and Erasmus+ KA1 Echanges and trainings. Some of the activities planned for 2022 are:
Then, Camilla Winter, (Borås Municipality, on behalf of Västra Götaland region), leader of the working group for mobility presented the projects in which the working group is involved: TCL, DAMAS, RegALE and the NEETs for NEETs (starting in 2022). The objectives and work of the working group for the year 2022 are:
After that, Maria Pascual (Department of education of the government of Catalonia) working group leader for skills and labour market presented first the objectives of the working group. Then, she presented the current projects in which the working group was or is involved, including the Boost for CLIL, the Stride for Stride and the Damas project. The Work Plan 2022 for the skills and labour market working group consist of:
The last one to deliver a presentation was Miriana Bucalossi (Tuscany region) leader of the working group for youth policies. The project in which the working group is involved at the moment in the YESpecialists project. The priorities for the year 2022 are:
It was agreed to use the Teams platform for further communication and interaction among members. The working groups will hold meetings every two months and the first ones will be organized in January/early February 2022. Information will be sent from the Working Group Leaders.
It has been a rather successful year for the region and its stakeholders in terms of recognition at European level. Many congratulations to the winners for their outstanding achievements in 2021. EARLALL hopes that you will continue to excel in 2022!
A brief overview of the region’s 2021 awards:
One of the Swedish winners of the European Innovative Teaching Award 2021 is the Department of Natural Resources in Region Västra Götaland. “I am very pleased to represent Vocational Education and Training (VET) and I am especially proud of the excellent work in our organisation, says Director Yvonne Kjell.
The new policy initiative from the European Commission was launched during the autumn this year. The aim is to highlight teachers and their innovative teaching practices. One of the objectives is to show the value of Erasmus+ to European teacher and to collaborate through transnational activities and the creation of the European Education Area. For more information, please contact Yvonne Kjell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Adult Education Partille, Region Västra Götaland was awarded with the “European Language Label” for their pilot project with the purpose to develop VET (Vocational Education and Training) Integrated Language Learning for immigrant learners. Principals and heads of Adult Education in the Gothenburg Region initiated the project. “The aim has been to strengthen the progression of the learners and their ability to overcome language barriers in the workplace through integrated learning and strengthened the link between the school-based and work-based learning”, said Principal Nomi Madolo. For more information please contact Principal Nomi Madolo, email@example.com
The city of Gothenburg is partner in the Interreg North Sea funded project BEGIN (Blue Green Infrastructures through Social Innovation) that was awarded the REGIOSTARS Public Choice prize on 2 December 2021. The overall objective of BEGIN is to demonstrate at target sites how cities can improve climate resilience with Blue Green Infrastructure involving stakeholders in a value-based decision- making process to overcome its current implementation barriers. Partners include regions, cities and organisations in Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom apart from Sweden.
For five years BEGIN has been working tremendously hard to tackle the consequences of climate change with blue-green infrastructure solutions through social innovation – co-created with citizens across our 10 participating cities. This ensures added benefits such as improved human health and new spaces for wildlife to thrive in the city. BEGIN has delivered over 30 pilots with a flood risk reduction of around 30% and our partners have calculated that these actions will provide benefits worth €350 million over the next twenty years!
The DAMAS project partnership held a transnational partners meeting, hosted by BBQ – Bildung und Berufliche Qualifizierung on 29 and 30 November 2021. Due to travel restrictions, partners had to meet virtually. Interaction was animated thanks to some introduction games organized by the host of the meeting. Project partners had the opportunity to discover more about the German automotive sector, and more precisely in Baden-Württemberg.
During the first day, the leaders of Intellectual Output 1, Government of Catalonia – Department of Education-, presented the results of the DAMAS survey, which aims at analysing the possibility of telematic monitoring of apprenticeship practices, in the field of mechanical manufacturing in the automotive sector. This survey was shared with schools and companies by the project partners in their regions. Thanks to the survey’s results, project partners will be able to draft guidelines on the implementation of digital training and virtual mobilities in the automotive sector (Intellectual Output 2). In the coming year, a platform to be able to take part in virtual mobilities will also be developed in the project (Intellectual Output 3).
The expected project’s outcomes and results are the following:
The two-day meeting ended with a virtual tour and presentation of the city of Stuttgart. Project partners are hoping to be able to see each other physically next spring.
Another successful edition of the International VET Congress organized by the Basque Country took place in San Sebastian-Donostia on 10 – 11 November 2021. Participants of the Congress and EARLALL members were first welcomed by the Basque Country Vice Minister of VET, Mr. Jorge Arevalo in the evening on the 9 November 2021, for a cocktail reception, taking place in Tabakalera an old tobacco factory, rehabilitated as a cultural center. Participants had the chance to taste local gastronomy and dishes prepared by students from a VET school.
The Congress, which gathered 900 participants from all over the world and that was also web streamed live to more than 4000 people, started with a welcome from Mr. Jokin Bildarratz, Minister of Education of the Basque Government. He was followed by Mrs. Clara Sanz, General Secretary for VET at the Spanish Ministry of Education and by Mrs. Manuela Geleng, Skills Unit Director at the DG EMPL, European Commission, who highlighted the importance of the Pact for Skills for reskilling workers, on the day of its first anniversary. The president of the Basque Government, Mr. Iñigo Urkullu also welcomed the participants of the Congress. Then, Mr. Jorge Arévalo, Vice minister of VET at the Basque Government, explained the challenges of VET, facing Intelligence and Complexity. Looking towards the future, he declared: “digital transformation can’t happen without a human change in behavior and values”.
The viewpoint from the Industry and how it sees the future and its needed collaboration with the VET sector was provided by Mr. Andres Arizkorreta, CEO of CAF. Mrs Chiara Riondino, Head of Unit for VET at the DG EMPL, European Commission, highlighted recent EU policy developments in support of VET (from the Osnabruck Declaration, the Council Communication on VET, to the relaunched European Alliance for Apprenticeships all in 2020).
Mr. Iñigo Urkullu
Mrs. Manuela Geleng
Students from the VET Center Miguel Altuna
In the afternoon, participants had the opportunity to discover four innovative and inspiring VET centers in the region around the following areas:
The second day of the Congress started by addressing the question of digitalization of work in the COVID-19 times. It also addressed digital transformation of manufacturing in action with some examples coming from the Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, United States of America. Then, Mr. Joao Santos, Senior expert at the DG EMPL, European Commission, presented the European initiative on Vocational Excellence. He highlighted three factors of success of the European Centers of Vocational Excellence: the link to the strategies for regional development, strong enduring partnerships, but also the integration of activities. The morning ended with a round table tackling the keys to excellent vocational education and training. Mr. Iñigo Araiztegui, Director of Internationalisation at TKNIKA, and leader of the Exam 4.0 project, announced the launch of the COVE community of practice, which will enable collaboration between twelve forward looking projects.
Mr. Joao Santos
Round table discussion
EARLALL members and secretariat
The Congress ended by a presentation of the digital transformation in the gastronomic field, the gastronomy 4.0. Three stars Michelin Chef, Mr. Eneko Atxa provided an interesting masterclass about how the gastronomy sector has changed to embrace sustainability principles. It was a great occasion to meet and discuss with the hospitality students who also joined the Congress during the session.
Under the Presidency of the Basque Country, EARLALL hosted its Annual Conference in San Sebastian – Donostia on 9 November 2021. Prior the association’s General Assembly, a first Board meeting was organized online on 5 November 2021. Board members (Basque Country, Brittany, Tuscany, Baden-Württemberg and Catalonia) assessed the progress of the network along 2021 and agreed on the main lines for its work in 2022, which were ratified afterwards by the General Assembly. The Board members were also re-elected for another mandate.
On 9 November 2021 was held the General Assembly, were EARLALL members had the opportunity to join in presence in San Sebastian and online.
The main achievements of the network in 2021 included a strong cooperation with the European Institutions (European Commission, European Committee of the Regions and Cedefop) as long as strengthen collaborations with other European networks dealing with education and training (EAEA, EfVET, StartNet, Lifelong Learning Platform, etc). EARLALL worked in close cooperation with its members and working groups and developed several projects and events that took place throughout the year. Noelia Cantero, EARLALL Director, said: “EARLALL believes that regions and local authorities have a privileged role in designing and implementing strategies on lifelong learning since they are in direct contact with citizens, educational institutions and other stakeholders. The strength of EARLALL lies with its members.”
Looking towards the future for the year 2022, and following the line of the European Commission, EARLALL will work on the following areas:
All details about EARLALL’s activities in 2021 and plans for 2022 are gathered in the Activity Report 2021 and work plan 2022.
EARLALL would like to wholeheartedly thank the Basque Government for kindly inviting its members to the General Assembly in San Sebastian and to the International VET Congress taking place afterwards on 10 – 11 November 2021.
YESpecialists partners met in Ringkøbing-Skjern (Denmark) and online on 26 – 27 October 2021 for their third transnational partners meeting. The meeting was successfully held in a hybrid way as some partners’ organisations still have restrictions to travel in place. During these two days, partner representatives discussed the project: its work in progress and further steps but also had the opportunity to discover local initiatives held in Ringkøbing-Skjern.
The first day of the meeting was mostly dedicated to internal discussions on the project. However, in the afternoon, Andreea Elena Oprea, Project Manager at DGI Vestjylland, presented some best practices in the region. She introduced the way DGI managed to create communities which encourage young people to join local sport associations through the concept of “village clusters”. The aim of these villages is to strengthen the rural life by establishing a common organisation that coordinates the villages. Citizens are directly involved through dialogue meetings which enable them to collaborate with the municipality, so that the citizens and the municipality can jointly optimize the municipal service. DGI also wanted to involve young people in the village clusters, so they created the “young clusters”, which involves young people from 15 to 25 years old. Young people can share their ideas and initiatives and be more involved in the local community.
During the second day, partners representatives present in Denmark visited the UCRS Vocational School in Skjern which was holding the UCRS Innovation Championships. Young students were presenting their innovative ideas and it was the occasion for partners to exchange views with them. Judges composed of teachers, local entrepreneurs and professionals had to vote for the idea they found the most interesting. In the afternoon, partners visited the “Yellow room”, (GUL STUE in Danish), a youth organization based in the southern part of Ringkøbing-Skjern municipality. It is called this way because the room and all the items present in the room are painted in yellow. The room hosts different activities for young children and teenagers, which makes the rural area livelier. Partner were welcomed by two young people of 20 years old. They explained how they managed to renovate the yellow room, which was an old shop, with donations, help of volunteers and a good dose of willingness. Partners finished this day by visiting the small lighthouse in Hvide Sande and seeing the north sea.
The next meeting of the YESpecialists project is expected in Trentino in spring 2021.
On 18 October 2021, EARLALL joined the Lifelong Learning Platform delegation in a meeting with representatives from DGEMPL. The online discussion gathered relevant stakeholders on lifelong learning, E&T and skills and focused on two main initiatives:
Participants from the EC included, among others, Alisson Crabb (Head of Unit, Skills) and Diana Spiridon (Head of Sector, ALE) who welcomed the participants and expressed their commitment to continue this exchange of information with civil society representatives.
Klara Engels (Skills Agenda – EMPL.B.2) introduced the ILA initiative. The Individual Learning Accounts will cover unemployed and atypical workers, in fact the ILAs are to be understood as a tool within the context of the labour market. This is because ILAs focus on labour market ‘transitions’ (i.e. Green and Digital), that’s why the initiative looks at the working population. Attention is being paid to avoid complexity and over-bureaucratization of ILAs at Member State level, as the key design parameters to be determined by Member States as they are to choose a design that fits into already existing structures and set up.
The ILAs are just one measure among others trying to make lifelong learning a norm across the EU. Susana Oliveira, from EAEA, took the floor to share the LLLP concerns about the correct implementation of these ILAs.
Next, Luka Juros (European Semester, EMCO EMPL.F.1) shared some remarks and information about the European Recovery and Resilience facility. Luka mentioned that so far, 18 Member States have had their plans approved and pre-financing is happening for 13% of their plans. Twice a year Member States will ask for further instalments when certain targets and milestones specified in their national plans are achieved. Civil Society Organisations and other stakeholders, such as regions, are to be involved in the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans – participation is not limited solely to the consultations that were held. Concerning the lack of quality consultations with relevant stakeholders at national level the Commission is aware of the issue, however given the complexity of the new instrument and the strict timing, it is an understandable situation. The Commission does not have the mandate to sanction Member States for poor performance related to consultations for the plans. However, the EC recommends to analyse the plans in order to map investment in education and training and facilitate the monitoring of the implementation of the plans.
The Lifelong Learning Platform is currently undertaking a comparative analysis of the National Plans when it comes to education and training and EARLALL will share this study and main conclusions with its members as soon as it is available.
EARLALL organised, on 14 October 2021, a workshop entitled: “Transnational cooperative learning factories & interconnected regional skills ecosystems in Advanced Manufacturing” at the European Week of Regions and Cities 2021. The session was featuring the EXAM 4.0 Erasmus+ project and gathered project partners, regional and local stakeholders, companies and students from the Vocational Education and Training center Miguel Altuna, who were following the workshop in class.
The advanced manufacturing (AM) 4.0 sector is an asset for the European economy and a driver for employment. However, skills mismatches are hampering its further development. In this context, building regional skills ecosystems will enable a more competitive European economy, for which “transnational cooperative learning factories” can be a key solution, with a strong involvement of Vocational Education and Training. The workshop, moderated by Noelia Cantero, EARLALL Director, introduced the concept of “transnational cooperative learning factories” as a solution to bridge skills gaps at regional level. It refers to the collaboration of institutions in which academic teaching and research takes place in different realistic production environments, developing real collaborative workplaces.
The workshop was introduced by Rikardo Lamadrid, Director General for advanced New Technologies and Advanced Learning at the Ministry of Education of the Basque Government. He described the role of AM and skills intelligence for regional development and smart specialisation, showing videos of how technology can re-define the way of living and thinking. Then, Raimund Hudak, senior researcher and lecturer at the Duale Hochschule Baden Württemberg in Germany – DHBW Heilbronn, presented the EXAM 4.0 project and the collaborative learning factories in Vocational Education and Training Institutions. The learning factories’ aims are to enhance academic education trough offering more realistic hands-on practical experience, to enable the acquisition of technical and vocational skills but also to facilitate experimentation for research, and the acquisition of the skills and understanding that these activities require. He was followed by his colleague Professor Klaus-Dieter Rupp, who presented in practice the ongoing work of the collaborative factories. He showed the work achieved by the students to develop the learning factories.
Students from the VET Center Miguel Altuna
Unai Ziarsolo, International Projects manager at Tknika, Basque Country, closed the panel by presenting EXAM 4.0 and the learning transformation, highlighting the challenges faced by the industry in the AM sector. He said: “lifelong learning is even more important than before, we need to upskills and reskill the workers”. The second part of the workshop was shaped as a round table discussion with the participants and the speakers. The questions raised during this exchange were the following: how can the collaborative learning platform contribute to the internationalization of VET systems? Looking ahead, some questions related to the future of work were also raised.
On 13 October 2021, EARLALL co-organised a workshop on regions providing skills and jobs for a green society at the European Week of Regions and Cities 2021. The session gathered experts from the European Commission (DG Employment), the European Forum of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (EfVET) and Thomas More Kempen – knowledge centre energy (KCE).
The pandemic changed Europe’s social and economic fabric and impacted the ways of working, learning and training. The European Commission also put forward new ambitious climate and energy objectives with the European Green Deal. The goal of this session was to see what those challenges mean for citizens, companies, local authorities, and regions and the kind of skills needed to benefit from the green recovery.
The workshop, moderated by Iñigo Araiztegui, Director of Internationalisation at TKNINA, Basque Country, started with a presentation from Anita Halasz, Economic Analyst at the European Commission, DG EMPL. She presented the Effective Active Support to Employment (EASE) recommendation, adopted by the European Commission in April 2021. The EASE recommendation provides guidance to Member States on active labour market policies and on how they can use EU funds to support the EASE principles.
After the policy insights a concrete example of the Platform of Vocational Excellence Water, was presented by Pieter Hoekstra, Program manager at CIV Water. PoVE water is a joint initiative of VET schools and Water industry professionals in Europe. The goal of this initiative is to train VET students to become more flexible, digitally skilled and sustainability-oriented water sector professionals. He was followed by Paul De Schepper, Lector at KCE – Thomas More Kempen who presented the EEMS4SME project, conducting an open training and innovative digital platform all over Europe for qualified energy managers. The last example showcased was the one from Marisol Martinez Garcia, Director of IES Luces, Principality of Asturias. She presented the school project in the field of circular economy, which aims at developing new skills for teachers and students and encourage creativity and entrepreneurship. IES Luces, being an agricultural vocational training center, develops the cultivation of the spirulina alga (Arthrospira platensis) in photo-bioreactors built for this purpose at the Center and using the slurry from the dairy cattle as a culture medium.
The examples were followed by a round table discussion, focusing on how regions and local stakeholders can contribute to the objectives of the Green Deal by providing the skills and employment needed in the renewable energy sector. The session was wrapped-up and closed by Arja Flinkman, Vice-president of EfVET.
On 12 October 2021, EARLALL co-organised with E40 Group, an international consultancy, and ZSInnovation, the Centre for Social Innovation in Vienna, a workshop on Smart recovery in rural communities through youth engagement and social innovation. This workshop took place in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2021.
This session was focusing on how rural recovery can be made a reality through inspiring stakeholder engagement methods – with particular focus on youth engagement, and social innovation. Among others, the session aimed to demonstrate how various funding schemes support creative citizens’ engagement methodologies that can help local communities become more resilient.
The workshop brought together knowledge and bottom-up experiences from various EU-funded initiatives. Edina Ocsko, E40 Director, presented the Preparatory Actions on Smart Rural Areas in the 21st Century project, funded by DG AGRI. The aim of this initiative is to develop and implement smart villages approaches across Europe and to draw conclusions and support future policy interventions on smart villages. Then, Wolfgang Haider, Project coordinator, presented the CERUSI Interreg Central Europe project, which implements a rural social innovation lab caravan to build skills and capacities for social innovation and social entrepreneurship. The last initiative presented was the YESpecialists Erasmus+ project. In this occasion, Barbara Harterink, Vestland County Council, coordinator of YESpecialists, presented the project and the possibilities it offers to young people. Barbara Harterink summarized the aim of the YESpecialists project saying: ‘What we want is to boost youth entrepreneurship, enabling young people to live in rural areas’. She also presented examples of young people with concrete projects, who struggle to find their place in the rural areas. She was followed by Tina Ellingsgaard, Youth worker from Ringkøbing-Skjern (Denmark). Being a member of the Youth advisory board, she gave some concrete grassroot experience of their achievements.
The event ended with a round table discussion, moderated by Edina Ocsko, tackling the question of youth involvement in local ecosystems. Among others, the question of the sustainability of the projects was also raised so that project could continue to live, even after the end of the European fundings.
On 9 September, the OECD organised the third workshop in the context of its policy dialogue on adult learning and cities. The aim of this event was to reflect on the way of strengthening the provision of adult learning through local partnerships. The event gathered representatives from non-governmental organisations, such as trade unions, economic chambers, non-profit organisations working in the field of lifelong learning but also regional and local governments.
Karen Maguire, Head of the Division, Local Employment, Skills and Social Innovation Division at OECD introduced the workshop by presenting the LEED program which aims at offering best practices on building communities with more and better jobs for all workers through effective policy implementation and local initiatives.
Then, representatives from the Trade Union Committee (TUAC) stressed the challenges faced by adult education since the beginning of the pandemic, which includes the reduction of training opportunities for workers in companies. They also presented the Sherpa project, aiming at training workers to guide and motivate their colleagues to catch lifelong learning opportunities. A representative from Eurochambres also took the floor to present examples of local training projects involving career guidance, skills forecasting and training courses in which the chambers of commerce are participating.
After that, Maria Pascual, Head of the International Projects Unit for VET, Department of Education of the government of Catalonia presented the work of the Department, focusing on the way in which companies are creating links with local stakeholders in the region, on skills provision. She also introduced the Stride for Stride project coordinated by the Brittany region, in which the department of education of Catalonia, EARLALL and other EARLALL member regions are partners. The project aims at promoting best practices for a more effective implementation of skills policies at regional level. The project includes four workshops allowing project partners to identify ideas that can be implemented in other regions. Maria Pascual insisted on the importance of regional cooperation, highlighting the same needs in different regions.
She was followed by Dearbháil Lawless, Executive Board member of EAEA (European Association for the Education of Adults) and Advocacy Lead of AONTAS (Irelands National Learning Organisation) who reflected on the role of non-government stakeholders in adult learning with a focus on community education and learning.
Participants where then split in two breakout rooms in which city-levels projects from London, Michigan works, Madrid and Calgary where presented.