A Sustainability Matrix for Adult Education Institutions (SMALEI) Erasmus+ project is pleased to announce the launch of its website

The SMALEI project aims to improve the sustainability of adult learning and education (ALE) providers and organisations all over Europe and to increase their capacity to contribute to forward-looking societal developments. The project will raise awareness about the environmental and climate change challenges and enable ALE institutions to take concrete actions towards sustainable growth. Green competencies and methodologies for ALE educators and staff will be developed to foster behavioural changes and contribute to the environmental sustainability of the European Union.

In this context, SMALEI’s website is built as a user-friendly information point not only about the project’s results and deliverables but as well as a point of reference to strengthen the importance of linking sustainability and education. At the moment, users will find under resources a repository of good practices, with a collection of successful adult education practices and policies at the local, regional and national levels and successful projects/initiatives/policies from all over Europe; a database of theoretical materials, with a wide collection of theoretical materials on environmental and eco-education referring to the European and global levels. In particular, these documents are linked to the five areas of sustainability that will be included in the SMALEI future matrix.  A specific section is dedicated to “SMALEI for you” materials which will include a Digital Academy, Policy Recommendations & Roadmap and the heart of the project the SMALEI future matrix.

As of September 2023, experts would be invited to visit and use the future online SMALEI matrix.  The project partners are currently working on developing this future matrix to assess the existing conditions of sustainability aspects, hands-on tools and policy recommendations in ALE organisations. The matrix will address five specific areas: Environmental sustainability of the institution, Green skills of trainers and staff,  Engagement of learners, Awareness-raising of & involvement of people, and Partnerships for sustainability.  It will be made available here.

SMALEI communication channels are also looking into the future, and the website will be used as a source of inspiration for Adult organisations who are looking for resources in the field of sustainability.

Keep up to date on our latest workshops, seminars/webinars and sustainability and education announcements in our news section, or follow our news via our social media hashtag #SMALEI.

On 1-2 February 2023, NEETs 4 NEETs project partners met in Stuttgart, Germany for an in-person Transnational Partners Meeting. The NEETs for NEETs project seeks to improve inclusive methods to empower young adults (NEETS, Not in Employment, Education or Training). The project works on co-creating and adapting an existing example of good practice of youth inclusion, the ReAct Self-Empowerment model, developed by the organisation Support Group Network (SGN). NEETs For NEETs is led by EARLALL member Region Västra Götaland, in consortium with  Volkshochschulverband Baden-Württemberg, Save the Children Sweden, Oslo Adult Education Rosenhof, NAV Bjerke (Norway), Borås Stad, the City of Stuttgart, EARLALL and the Support Group Network.

Over the two days, hosted by Stuttgart City and Volkshochschulverband Baden-Württemberg, partners evaluated the last ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop in November. During the workshop, young adults had the chance to carry out training in tools such as forum theatre, strategic planning, co-creation, storytelling and interculturality. The partners discussed new ways to evaluate the training, including video testimonials from participants who were more comfortable speaking than writing.

Moreover, partners discussed the next NEETs training workshop that will be held in Boras, Sweden. The concept of the training in Boras is for the young participants, thanks to their experience in Stuttgart, to take ownership of these tools and to become the new “experts” instead of the previous ones. In this way, a reversal of roles will occur and the relationship between the young participants and staff from the partner organisations.

Partners also deliberated on how to best bring in the co-ownership that characterises the project to the next training in Sweden. They concluded that the youth needed to be consulted to plan the agenda of the next training activity, and have decided to go back to the participants from the workshop in November to gain their guidance on how to organise the sessions.

Finally, partners were inspired by two study visits to best practices of a holistic approach to the integration of migrants in Stuttgart. On the first day, they visited the Ausbildungs Campus, where they were introduced to the work of the centre by the Team Leader, Marcela Ulloa. She explained how the centre guides newly arrived migrants through administrative, legal, financial, educational and interpersonal issues they may face. On the second day, partners were invited to the Welcome Centre by its director, Suzana Hofmann. The  Welcome Centre is the first place where all new arrivals in Stuttgart can go, without an appointment or judgment, to receive advice and guidance on their next steps in the city. It has been a large success because of the strong network of civil society and governmental networking that it has done, ensuring that migrants are accompanied through all their issues.

Partners left the meeting days with both motivation to continue to work on the project for the empowerment of young and vulnerable individuals, and with a clearer sense of how to continue to co-create the project outcomes with the participants.

Partners will next meet in Boras on April 25-27 2023 for the next Train the Trainer workshop.

On 24 January 2023, the European Association for Regional and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL), the European Forum for Vocational Education and Training (EfVET) and the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) jointly launched the work of dynamic Gender Equality Task Force. 

The Task Force is an initiative launched by the three EU-based associations that operate in the sector of Vocational Education and Training (EfVET), Adult Education (EAEA) and Lifelong Learning (EARLALL). These organisations join forces to gather interested members to launch a series of initiatives that encourage discussion on EU policies and strategies related to gender equality in lifelong learning.

The first informal meeting was chaired by Ms Sylvia Liuti, a Gender Equality expert at FORMA.Azione (EfVET Italy), gathering over 25 participants such as public and regional authorities, representatives from European Institutions, education and training providers, and gender in education experts, among others.

Ms Noelia Cantero (EARLALL) explained that the Task Force’s main purpose is to advocate for equal and balanced lifelong learning educational opportunities for all which can only be achieved through the incorporation of a gender perspective in all EU policies. A series of preparatory activities were coordinated to launch this initiative, such as a first event at the European Regions and Cities Week 2022 (see here), and a survey to explore the gender situation in the educational environments.

The meeting started exploring the Gender disparities in VET and Adult Education with the presentations by Ms Sylvia Liuti and Ms Aleksandra Kozyra (EAEA).

In the VET sector, Ms Liuti explained that even if there are high rates of women enrolled in education, then when it comes to employment rates, this decrease drastically. Therefore, there is a need for cultural change. Ms Liuti said that is needed to introduce Gender Equality competences as a quality factor in VET. This is not about women, but about the future societies that we want to build, Ms Liuti stated.

Ms Kozyra (EAEA), guided participants through the Adult Education situation. The profile of a “typical” adult learner in the EU, generally speaking, is slightly more likely a woman than a man, 11.6 % of women participate vs 10.1 men in 2021, most likely young (25 34) and with tertiary education. However, Ms Kozyra, explained that, according to the “Gender and Learning Study” conducted by The Irish National Adult Learning Organisation (AONTAS) in 2021, there are men disparities as well as they are wary of adult education when not focused directly towards employment and retired men are the least likely to participate. In addition, vulnerable groups, such as migrant or refugee women or trans and gender non-confirming adults are less likely to enrol due to several barriers (language, negative experiences, safe spaces in learning…).

The first Gender Equality Task Force official activity was a survey, launched in September 2022 by the three organisations to understand gender equality issues in the educational sectors. Ms Susana Nogueira (EfVET) introduced the results and explained that it gathered responses from 34 participants (education providers the type of organisations most represented in the survey, followed by public Authorities) representing 17 countries, from Europe and beyond.

Finally, the meeting participants were invited to brainstorm for future Task Force topics and activities. In particular, they agreed to share best practices in dedicated roundtables, seminars and other events, to open a dialogue around gender inequalities with relevant stakeholders, and to translate the discussions into actionable items where possible.

The results of the survey and other materials will be shared with the participants of the Task Force, if you would like to take part you can write an email to earlall@earllal.eu. 

The Learner Centric Advanced Manufacturing Platform for Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) – LCAMP – project meeting took place on 17-18 January in Toulouse (France). The LCAMP project aims to support and empower regional Advanced Manufacturing for  Centres of Vocational Excellence to become more resilient, innovative and better equipped to train, upskill, and reskill young and adult students to successfully face the digital and green transitions.

LCAMP partners met for the second time since the EU-funded project kicked off in 2022. Over the two days, project partners met in Toulouse at the Maison de la Formation Jacqueline Auriol, a regional Training / Research / Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre, hosted by partner Mécanic Vallé in cooperation with Campus des métiers et des qualifications d’excellence.

LCAMP Work Package Workshops 

During the meeting, partners learnt about the progress of nine of the Work Packages in the project and collaborated on the next stages for each one. Students from the Telco-Mines Schools Albi-Carmaux (France) were also invited to present their insights about how the future Observatory (WP3) could look and match students’ expectations.

The first day was closed with a brainstorming session on how to define the qualifications, respective skills, and competencies needed for the digital transformation towards Industry 5.0 (WP5, led by DHBW).  Partners worked to provide the initial data collection of qualifications, training offers and Micro-credentials for Advanced Manufacturing, which will be used to pilot the future LCAMP platform.

On the second day, partners contributed to the first steps to set up factory labs (WP6, led by VET centre Miguel Altuna) and the final Platform (WP8, led by KIC) for advanced manufacturing training.

EARLALL also hosted a workshop on the updates of the LCAMP Alliance (WP2) and Dissemination Activities (WP8) that they are responsible for. The Alliance will be one of the initial milestones of the project, as a network of VET centres, research centres, relevant organisations and SMEs involved in Advanced Manufacturing. As the Alliance grows, it will sign cooperation agreements with other networks and organisations.

Aerospace Valley cluster 

Within the spirit of the Alliance to expand LCAMP collaboration to other sectors and EU Projects, partners had the opportunity to learn more about the work of the Aerospace Valley cluster. The actions of the Aerospace Valley are related to LCAMP’s goals to support and empower regional Advanced Manufacturing VET-SME ecosystems to become better equipped to train and upskill students to face the twin transition.

Next Stages in LCAMP

  • The next project meeting will be hosted bythe Kocaeli Provincial Directorate of National Education (Kocaeli, Turkey) in June 2023.
  • EARLALL, as the Dissemination and Communication Partner, invites all interested parties to follow LCAMP activities via its social media channels (Twitter and LinkedIn), website or by subscribing to the recently launched newsletter.

 

The first ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop for the NEETs for NEETs project occurred in November 2022. The NEETs for NEETs project seeks to improve inclusive methods to empower young adults (NEETs, Not in Employment, Education or Training). The project works on co-creating and adapting an existing example of good practice of youth inclusion, the ReAct Self-Empowerment model, developed by the organisation Support Group Network (SGN).

The ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop invited 17 staff members from project partners: Support Group Network; Save the Children; Region Västra Götaland Folk High Schools (Sweden); Borås Stad (Sweden); Nav Bjerke (Denmark); Oslo VO Rosenhof (Denmark); Stuttgart City and Volkshochschulverband Baden-Württemberg (Germany) to be trained by 18 young adults (NEETs or with relevant experiences) from Norway, Sweden and Germany.

The participants received training in various tools, including forum theatre for identifying situations of oppression; strategic planning; interculturality and leadership and communication. EARLALL talked with various participants of the training to gain an understanding of the impact of the project’s training on their professional and personal lives.

Salem’s Experience

Salem is 24, living in Oslo and is currently taking Norwegian courses. He participated in the Stuttgart training in November, after joining the project in the autumn of 2022. EARLALL spoke with Salem about his experience on December 22, 2022:

Salem, how did you get involved in the Stuttgart training?

It was an unexpected opportunity! One of the staff members told one of my friends, who told me about it, and I knew that I really needed to be involved once I’d heard about it.

What did you learn in the training, and how might that help you with your future plans?

I want to study interior design and I am currently doing Norwegian classes. It will be hard because everything will be starting from the beginning. From the training, I learnt so many different tools, particularly forum theatre. For the forum theatre, I liked the way that the idea of the ‘oppressors’ was brought up and it was very eye-opening. I also learnt how to make strategic plans from the group from Sweden. That’s the main tool that I could take interest in because I wanted to focus on my future and strategic planning is so important, like learning about timelines and showcasing. I wasn’t expecting that I would take such a lesson back, but I realised that that was what I needed, and that feels good.

I want to learn how to use the tools that I learnt about and to hold a workshop for others, either in forum theatre, or strategic planning.

What did the experience bring you personally?

It was a fun and interesting experience. When I started, I didn’t know the other staff. When I went to Stuttgart with the trainers, we met other people and that’s when we got to know each other better. I did make friends too, particularly from Sweden and Germany. Our communication as a group was so good, in the way we were working together, or the way we woke up early in the morning and had breakfast and went to the sessions. I hadn’t travelled much before, besides a few times to Sweden. I want to travel more now, to learn about different cultures.

Would you try to bring more young people on board for the project?

I spoke to one of the staff members that I know well after the training. I visited her and told her that we need to get more students to take advantage of this and of what we learnt. So we are actually doing it, hopefully!

 

Jasmina’s experience

Jasmina is living in Sweden  and attended the ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop as a staff and an active participant. EARLALL spoke with her about her experience on December 23, 2023:

Jasmina, how did you get involved in the project?

I got an email from my boss saying that I was nominated to go on the training. I didn’t really know about the project as I only found out about it at a late stage. But I was very enthusiastic, and I read a bit about it online and wanted to be involved.

What do you think the main purpose or benefits of the project are?

It’s both about empowering youth, and about empowering professionals to change their mindset in seeing the potential of youth in new ways – at least that is what happened to me. I got a completely new mindset from the project. I saw how I wanted to work, and it was very inspiring.

What was the most interesting tool that you learnt about from the training?

The forum theatre was my favourite tool we learnt about! We did forum theatre on two different days. I didn’t know about the method before. It was interesting to learn about the method, and to really do it. We used forum theatre to practice identifying situations of oppression and understanding the mechanisms of oppression and practising how to react in these situations. Creating our own plays and acting gave us ideas of what to do and what to say in these situations. It was very empowering to do that.

How was the experience personally?

We travelled for 30 hours from Sweden to Stuttgart, via ferry and train. The best part of this was just spending time with the youth and colleagues. We became a group and we got to spend time with one another and get to know each other in a non-hierarchical situation. On the way back, on the last night on the ferry, we were just playing games in the restaurant and people were looking at us, but we were just enjoying our time! Everyone came with an open mind, and everyone wanted to be there. Of course, it was a long journey and people got tired and that is normal, but from my point of view, it was really very nice.

How do you plan to build on your experience in the training?

Currently, I am planning a youth forum in a reception centre. This was already planned before the training, but the execution of the forum is now way clearer for me.  The training was really useful in helping the planning of the forum because I got inspired and I hope that I can give the same feeling to the youth. I took the idea that the forum must be co-created equally, and I should only support this as the forum leader. We are working now on the idea of including youths in all steps of the process.

My colleague and I are also planning on giving a little workshop to our colleagues who were not there, just to share a little bit about our experience and lessons learnt.

Looking ahead

There will be a second training workshop in April 2023 in Borås, Sweden. Participants will have the opportunity, thanks to the first training, to function as trainers carrying out co-creative self-empowering activities to “new” NEETs and “new” staff members working with NEETs. The NEETs will, in this way, become the experts rather than the learners.

To find out more about the NEETs for NEETs project, follow #N4Neets on Twitter and LinkedIn, or on Instagram.

Sweden has taken over the presidency of the Council of the EU for the first six months of the EU, bringing with it an official programme of priorities. For the next six months, Sweden will have the opportunity to set the political agenda and steer the debate among member states.

As the Presidency of the Council of the EU affects all EU member states (and their regions), EARLALL has reviewed the presidency’s official programme of priorities in the field of lifelong learning. EARLALL’s Swedish regional member, Västra Götaland, shared how their regional development strategy (2021-2030) reflects the current priorities of the Presidency.

Digital Skills at the forefront of the Twin Transition

The EU has long considered that the digital and green transitions reinforce one another, creating a ‘Twin Transition’. The link between these two transitions, and the joint upskilling efforts needed to respond to both changes, is highlighted in the priorities of the Swedish priorities. According to the official programme of the Swedish Presidency:

The EU must continue to provide the best possible conditions for a sound and open economy based on [….] successful digitalisation […] European companies that provide green solutions will be in high global demand and can help drive the transition towards a circular economy.

As digitalisation increases the need for new knowledge and expertise in everything from technical infrastructure and programming to communication and work processes, the Region Västra Götaland (Sweden) is also focusing on improving and speeding up the digitalisation of society and regional businesses.

Resolving Skills Supply Challenge

According to the Council’s Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning,  “Key competences  [for lifelong learning] include knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed by all for personal fulfilment and development, employability, social inclusion and active citizenship.” In this light, reskilling Europeans has a particular economic and social importance. Reflecting the need to respond to the twin transition in terms of skills, the Swedish Presidency underlines that “Basic skills and lifelong learning are the building blocks that resolve skills supply challenges”. Moreover, during the upcoming European Year of Skills, “the Presidency intends to link up with this and one of its focus areas, matching skillsets to labour market needs.”

Mirroring the importance of addressing the skills shortage, Västra Götaland’s Skills programme has prioritised areas to address these issues by increasing the potential for upskilling and reskilling to meet shifts in technology and changing needs on the labour market; combatting skills mismatch in the labour market; Developing cooperation between education coordinators, the Public Employment Service, employers, and industry representatives and capitalising on and develop the skills of the workforce and make it easier for more people to become established on the labour market.

Sustainable and Youth Development

In line with the green transition, “The Swedish Presidency intends to highlight the social dimension of sustainable development”. Moreover, the official programme of the upcoming Presidency indicates that they intend to “work on a Council resolution on the conclusions of the ninth cycle of the EU Youth Dialogue [….] and on a Council resolution on the midterm review of the work plan for the EU Youth Strategy 2022–2024.” This will be an important transition between the European Year of Youth 2022 and the upcoming European Year of Skills 2023.

What actions in the Presidency are related to lifelong learning?

Based on the official programme of the Swedish Presidency, the following concrete actions that will contribute to a lifelong learning culture in the EU will be undertaken:

  • The European Year of Skills 2023 will be launched
  • The Presidency will continue to work on the European Education Area, for example regarding mutual recognition of qualifications.
  • The Presidency will work to promote open science, as a prerequisite for implementing the green and digital transitions.

You can follow the updates on the Swedish Presidency here.

 

EARLALL Brussels-based representatives met on 14 December 2022 in the Basque Delegation Brussels, the office of the current presidency of the network. The meeting welcomed representatives from the Autonomous Province of Trento; Vestland (Norway); Tuscany; Region Västra Götaland (Sweden); the Basque Country; Brittany; Catalonia; Baden-Württemberg (Germany); SwissCore; GO! and the Welsh Government.

The meeting opened with a presentation from Anna Carerro, Deputy Head of Unit – Vocational Education and Training, Cedefop at the DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion in the European Commission, about the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA). The Alliance has been growing since 2013, and in 2023 will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Ms Carerro expanded upon the possible topics of interest for the EAfA in 2023, including developing apprenticeships as a way to secure skilled employees in SMEs.

Ms Carerro also presented the European Commission’s plans for the European Year of Skills 2023. She highlighted that the Commission’s vision for the year is wide-ranging and that they are particularly keen to raise awareness among citizens, stressing the role of the local and regional levels in communicating and sharing their initiatives. The Commission hopes to engage with all relevant stakeholders and to hear from regional and local levels on best practices and projects for the year.

The discussion then opened up to all EARLALL representatives, who shared their projects for the European Year of Skills and exchanged them with one another. The Autonomous Region of Trento discussed a project in the pipeline to combine various initiatives in digital innovation, AI, Deep Tech and rural and urban development under the annual theme. Moreover, SwissCore expressed that the Year of Skills is being used to put the importance of Erasmus Plus at the forefront, while Wales shared that they have an upcoming Skills Action Plan which will pave the way to Wales’ ambition to be Net Zero by 2050.

Participants agreed to meet again in the new year to share their region’s priorities, events and projects that could be relevant as part of the European Commission’s European Year Of Skills 2023. The EARLALL secretariat will shortly be in contact with the members to facilitate this.

EARLALL, for their part, showed the Work Plan 2023. Within the context of the European Year of Skills, representatives were invited to join the first Gender Task Force meeting on 24 January 2023, as well as an online webinar on Individual Learning Accounts on 9 February 2023 (more information coming soon).

On 14 December 2022, the EAfA (European Alliance for Apprenticeships) hosted a Live Discussion ‘Promoting apprenticeships to SMEs’. The event aimed to foster a discussion among relevant local and regional stakeholders about how they encourage SMEs to accept apprenticeships. The experience of Tuscany (EARLALL regional member) in the wine sector was shared by Miriana Bucalossi, Head of Apprenticeships, WBL Policies and EU Project Management Unit, Tuscany, Italy.

The Live Discussion opened with a panel discussion moderated by Anna Carerro, Deputy Head of Unit – Vocational Education and Training, Cedefop at the DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion in the European Commission presenting the European Alliances for Apprenticeships (EAfA) and the European Year of Skills.

The panellists represented various regional, EU and local stakeholders, including Ms. Bucalossi, Paula Zaplana from the Catalan Small and Medium Business Association; Sergio Corridori, HR manager of winery Cantine Mazzei and Valentina Guerra from SMEUnited.

Ms. Bucalossi, representing the Tuscany Region, showcased the latest apprenticeship policies in the region, notably in the wine sector. As SME enterprises and the wine sector are highly important to the region, local authorities have launched a new dual apprenticeship EQF5 programme to engage companies more in the regional skills ecosystem. The programme is co-designed to strengthen relationships between the VET systems and enterprises. This is to ensure there is better skill matching between organisations and apprentices and to increase the quality of apprenticeship offers.

The move is a shift away from the former ‘alternating’ work-based-learning offer, with new regional (Tuscany) and ESF+ funds available to finance apprentices. The initial results from the new scheme are positive, with 87% of businesses involved appreciating the training model and wishing to be involved in a subsequent cycle. The second apprenticeship course for wine technicians is currently being developed with the Istituto Tecnico Agrario Bettino Ricasoli, Siena, Italy.

Sergio Corridori, from the winery Cantine Mazzei, welcomed the initiative saying that “we are happy to welcome new trainees and to make an impact on the future training.”

The second part of the panel discussion turned to the challenges of SMEs in hosting apprentices, with participants highlighting: the financial costs of apprenticeship placements; the difficulty in matching the company and the candidate; the non-financial and technical barriers in apprenticeship schemes and finding and training apprenticeship tutors to a high quality.

One solution proposed from the discussions, by the Tuscany region, is pre-apprenticeship programmes, where businesses have the chance to try the kind of activities offered in apprenticeship pathways before engaging in them. This allows small businesses to be more conscious of what is expected in their provision of training to apprentices.

  • See the presentation on Tuscany’s new apprenticeship here
  • Read more about the work of the EAfA here

The first ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop for the NEETs for NEETs project was organised by Volkshochschulverband Baden-Württemberg (VHS) in Stuttgart, Germany, from 29 November – 1 December.

The NEETs for NEETs project seeks to improve inclusive methods to empower young adults (NEETS, Not in Employment, Education or Training). The project works on co-creating and adapting an existing example of good practice of youth inclusion, the ReAct Self-Empowerment model, developed by the organisation Support Group Network (SGN).

The ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop invited 17 staff members from project partners: Support Group Network; Save the Children; Region Västra Götaland Folk High Schools (Sweden); Borås Stad (Sweden); Nav Bjerke (Denmark); Oslo VO Rosenhof (Denmark); Stuttgart City and Volkshochschulverband Baden-Württemberg (Germany to be trained by 18 young participants (NEETs) from Norway, Sweden and Germany

The ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop also allowed the young participants to reflect upon what they had learnt in their training and to put into practice the various tools that had been co-developed between them and the partner staff members. They presented these tools by training various members of Civil Society Organisations, on topics such as how to get a job, finish their education or plan strategically.  This allowed the participants to evaluate the tools which had been developed, encouraging their appropriation and ownership of them.

During the last day of activities, the participants were asked to brainstorm collectively possible upcoming activities for the NEETs for NEETs project. The result was a fruitful interaction and suggestions including: an arts festival co-created between the young people and staff in Oslo; creating synergies between young people to use the project as a platform to learn more communicative English; involving the young people in designing the second training in Boras and planning a creative physical event alongside the next training.

The same young participants will be invited to a second training workshop in April 2023 in Boras, Sweden. They will have the opportunity, thanks to the first training, to function as trainers carrying out co-creative self-empowering activities to “new” NEETs and “new” staff members working with NEETS. The NEETS will, in this way, become the experts rather than the learners.

On 30 November 2022, the Department of Education (International Mobility Unit) of the Government of Catalonia organised the first International Seminar on Mobility and Cooperation Projects, gathering over 200 participants, consisting mainly of teachers and trainers, coming from 16 different countries. EARLALL was invited by its member region to moderate the project matchmaking session in the afternoon.

The first Seminar focusing on international mobility was opened by Mr Angel Miguel, General Director of the Vocational Education and Training Department. The seminar took place just one week after the Erasmus+ call for proposals 2023 was published. Therefore, the event was the perfect occasion to discuss the opportunities that the Erasmus+ Programme offers from a policy perspective but also acted as a starting point to build future partnerships among the participants.

In the morning, sessions were focused on policy recommendations with presentations from the European Commission followed by an introduction to the Pact for Skills, which the Catalan Department of Education and EARLALL are members of. Ms Anna Barbieri, European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, introduced how the European Commission supports Vocational Education and Training internationalisation through the Erasmus+ programme. She guided the participants through the different European initiatives and stressed the importance of 2023 as the European Year of Skills. EARLALL is already planning events in the context of this important milestone for our regions. In her closing remarks, Ms Barbieri encouraged participants to submit their forward-looking project proposals in 2023. Ms Barbieri recommended that participants ensure the whole organisation is involved in the Erasmus+ project proposal and join forces to build partnerships with public authorities and labour market actors.

Ms Flavia Colonnese, from Ecorys-Pact for Skills Support Services, followed the European Commission presentation with an introduction about the Pact for Skills. This initiative aims to support public and private organisations to upskill and reskill, so they can thrive through the green and digital transitions. One of the key initiatives under the EU Skills Agenda is working to build relationships between stakeholders, such as regions, looking into tools for lifelong learning and exploring funding opportunities. Their new website https://pact-for-skills.ec.europa.eu/index_en explains how to join the pact, and includes a knowledge hub, among other services. The policy session was followed by an informative session where participants learnt more about the different VET networks, EPALE and also Work-Based Learning opportunities.

The afternoon was all about international cooperation projects. A project matchmaking session offered participants the opportunity to network and to get to know new innovative project ideas to partner with. EARLALL moderated the session which included the presentation of seven project proposals, coming from a wide range of countries. Participants showed their interest to work together on subjects such as “no gender in VET”, “digital skills”, “fashion skills”, and “centres of vocational excellence” or “tourism”. After the seminar, participants will explore the different opportunities to build their partnerships through the Erasmus + 2023 call for proposals.

The International Seminar was closed by the ‘video competition awards ceremony’ which recognised the excellence of international mobilities done by local learners and teachers during the past year.

On December 01 2022, the European Commission organised this year’s Fifth European Education Summit centred around ‘Bright Young Minds’. The event focused on discussing how European education and training systems can adapt to allow young people to develop the skills and competencies they need to thrive and innovate.

EARLALL was invited to participate in the high-level event which annually gathers representatives from all education and training sectors, including EU member states’ ministers of education and experts from international organisations. It is a brilliant occasion to get updates from the EC policy developments in the area and to learn examples of best practices from the grassroots level, as it was highlighted by European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Marija Gabriel in her opening speech.

Commissioner Gabriel reported that, halfway through the implementation of the European Education Area by 2025, the EC can already announce that progress has been made in the benchmarks regarding early school leaving and participation in tertiary and early care education. There are still some challenges to deal with:

1. The aftermath of the pandemic;

2. Equity in education;

3. Boost digital education;

4. Promote gender-balanced education, especially STEAM subjects for female learners.

She added that the 2022 European Year of Youth should be a recognition of the efforts of the younger generation of Europeans. Together with the Member States and through the recovery and resilience plans, the EC should guarantee that enough budget is committed to education and training.

Mrs Themis Christophidou, Director General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture at the European Commission (DG EAC) also announced the publication of the progress report on the European Education Area together with the Education and Training Monitor in early 2023.

 

This year’s Lifelong Learning Week was held from 28 November – 2 December 2022 in Brussels and online, and focused on the capacity and need of lifelong learning to answer to the growing challenges of digitisation, the green transition and internationalisation, under the annual theme of the Lifelong Learning Platform (LLLP) ‘Investment in Education and Training: a Public Good for All.

EARLALL enjoyed the learning and exchange opportunities of the week while participating in several of the events organised by the  Platform’s members. This year’s Lifelong Learning week was hosted by MEP Milan Zver, a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT).

The dynamic week opened with a networking event:  European Lifelong Learning Civil Society Forum focusing on the subject of “Investment in education and training: a public good for all.” The opening gathered academics, policymakers, teachers, civil society organisations and public authorities representatives, offering EARLALL the opportunity to strengthen our connections with Brussels-based lifelong learning organisations and platforms. The policy discussion was followed by a social reception where participants could become ‘certified lifelong learners.’

Our highlights from the week’s agenda:

Lifelong Learning Interest Group – Investment in education and training transnational cooperation: what target or goal for learning mobility? | Tuesday 29 November

The event was opened by MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, Chair of the European Parliament Lifelong Learning Interest Group, followed by the presentation from Fiorella Perotto, European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC along with panellists from across the learning cycle. The discussions concluded that while higher education has particularly grown with Erasmus+ mobilities, adult education and apprenticeships are lagging in terms of international mobility options.

The “Forgotten” of Digitalisation | Wednesday 30 November

The event, hosted by the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) and the LLLP, was an opportunity for Lire et Ecrire and MAKS to discuss their work in building basic skills and digital literacy skills among the most digitally and socially vulnerable populations. The discussions that followed highlighted the importance of first increasing basic skills among these “forgotten” populations, and developing specific digital methodologies to complementarily increase both digital and traditional literacy.

Investing Lifelong Learning in EU Regions| Wednesday 30 November

This policy workshop was organised by LLLP and Foundation of European Regions for Research, Education and Training (FREREF). The event was the opportunity for EU, national and regional policy-makers, experts, education and training representatives, and civil society representatives to discuss tools, practices and recommendations that aim to improve lifelong learning policies in EU regions. One of the main outcomes of the discussion among stakeholders at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM) and DG EAC was that we need to foster more synergies between higher education providers, non-formal education providers and informal education providers at the regional level, as this is sorely missing in the current EU context.