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Focus on Good Multi-Level Governance for Effective Vocational Education and Training: Backgroud Document Document Transcript

  • 1.      FOCUS ON GOOD MULTI-LEVEL GOVERNANCE FOREFFECTIVE VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAININGETF BACKGROUND REPORT FOR CORPORATE CONFERENCE ‘MULTI-LEVELGOVERNANCE IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING: CHALLENGES ANDOPPORTUNITIES’
  • 2. The contents of this paper are the sole responsibility of the authors and contributors and do notnecessarily reflect the views of the ETF or the EU institutions. 2 
  • 3. Acknowledgments This report was prepared for the ETF by Tom Leney, Senior Policy Analyst, Education & Training Innovation - Danish Technological Institute, in cooperation with the ETF Community of Practice on Governance, Partnerships and Regional Development. The ETF wishes to deeply thank all persons involved to make this report a reality. Those who work in partner countries, ETF colleagues’ country managers in selected six countries and ETF Community of Practice (CoP) team members. 3 
  • 4. Introduction This report provides a stimulus for participants in the ETF conference ‘Multi-level governance in education and training: challenges and opportunities’ to be held in the premises of the Committee of the Regions in Brussels on 31 May and 1 June 2012. It is also hoped that the report will be useful to stimulate discussion and follow-up among a wider audience. The aim of the conference is to discuss how good multi-level governance can support better performance in education and training policies and systems, specifically in Vocational Education and Training (VET) (1), and to explore how stakeholder participation in governance can be improved. The conference is intended to present and discuss a range of aspects of multi-level governance in VET and provide participants with an opportunity to contribute to policy learning by sharing practices and lessons learnt. Part 1 shows why developing good/multi-level governance has become identified as a key part of VET policy development collaboration between ETF and partner countries. Part 2 synthesises some of the main results of a preliminary study on VET governance that ETF conducted in six partner countries: Azerbaijan, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Tunisia and Ukraine. Further discussion in Part 3 and the Conclusion suggests a number of areas to which policy makers and stakeholders can usefully devote attention as they focus on good, multilevel governance in order to improve the effectiveness of vocational education and training and to support reform. The report thus aims to suggest some questions and lines of action for policy makers to consider as they make sure the governance of VET is fit for purpose. In recent years growing emphasis has been placed in partner countries on the role of economic and social, public and private actors in the development of VET so as improve its quality and relevance to emerging needs for skills. An example is the engagement of social partners in the identification of standards and competences that link the needs of the labour market with the supply of knowledge and skills. While this is an on-going concern, the report concludes that: more attention should be a paid to achieving synergy in the management of VET between the different government ministries and agencies at the national level; the role of intermediate levels of governance (which may be regional, local, etc.) should be clarified and strengthened; more attention should be paid to the management role and responsibilities of VET providers, whether schools, training centres, higher education institutions or work-based contexts; the role of Social Partners and Civil Society organisations should continue to be strengthened to support demand driven training provision; particular focus should be given to build sound capacities of all actors regarding VET policy implementation and review. Furthermore, while many countries are placing their effort on improving initial vocational education and training for the formal sectors of the economy, it is also clear that the governance of continuing VET or adult education – as it may variously be known – requires more attention in many partner countries. This is also the case where the informal economy is prominent.                                                             1( ) ETF has adopted following broad definition of Vocational Education and Training (VET): Education and Training which aimsto equip people with knowledge, know-how, skills and/or competences required in particular occupations or more broadly onthe labour market (ETF -1997- adapted by Cedefop -2008-)  4 
  • 5. 1. Good multi-level governance: a leading theme for improved VET policy effectiveness VET is a complex policy area, at the intersection of education, training, social, economic and labour market policies. It is expected to address the present and future skill demands of the economy; the need of individuals for short and long term employability and personal development; and the requirement of the society for active citizens. During the last decades VET systems have been under pressure to become a vehicle for Lifelong Learning -i.e. to build up and permanently enhance the skills and knowledge of the citizens (young people and adults alike)- in rapidly evolving contexts involving economic and technological change, globalisation and uncertain labour markets. In ETF partner countries the pressure on VET has been even more intense given their transition from centrally planned to functioning market economies, the large scale economic restructuring process and the democratisation process. The multiple objectives that VET needs to fulfil, the multiple stakeholders that it needs to serve and the rapid changes to which it needs to adapt create a strong imperative for governance models that ensure participation of stakeholders, leadership and coordination of actions for effective policy making. That is particularly true when governance of the VET system has been traditionally centralised. Multilevel governance aims exactly at coordinated action by the different tiers of government as well as by other public and private stakeholders based on partnership for the effective development and implementation of policies. Multilevel governance is based on partnership and coordination at vertical level i.e. between higher and lower levels of government (national, regional, local); and at horizontal level i.e. between public and private actors functioning at the same level be it national, regional, or local. It can be identified as a dynamic process that does not any way dilute political responsibility. On the contrary, if the mechanisms and instruments are applied correctly, it helps to increase joint ownership and implementation. Multilevel governance represents a political ‘action blueprint’ rather than a legal instrument and cannot be understood solely through the lens of division of power2. The principle of subsidiarity is usually associated with this: that management decisions are taken at the level at which they can prove to be most effective. Multi-level governance respects the principles of good governance understood as ensuring that public resources and problems are managed effectively, efficiently and in response to critical needs of society relying on “openness, public participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence” 3. The proposition is that good multi-level governance has an important part to play in the achievement of the economic and social functions of VET, and in a shift to more innovative approaches to learning. Medium and longer term planning in a multi-level governance perspective can enhance the role of VET as it contributes to the achievement of national development goals also by anticipating future changes for example in skills demand, technology and client groups. It can support systems and reforms that are relevant to the needs of the economy, labour market and society and attractive to employers, learners, families and communities. It can also be instrumental in developing new ways of interaction between the national, intermediate (which may variously be regional, local, state, province, municipality, etc.), sectoral (or industrial) and VET provider levels (schools, higher education, companies, training agencies, etc.) as well as of engagement of social partners and civil society. ETF experience demonstrates that partner countries have recognised the need to adapt their VET governance so as to address the emerging challenges for their VET systems 4. They have also taken actions to shift towards more participatory, multilevel governance approaches. They recognise that the tradition of highly centralised governance has at least to bend a little, and                                                             2( ) See please, Committee of the Regions (2009): White paper on multilevel governance. Available at:web.cor.europa.eu/epp/Ourviews/Documents/White%20Paper%20on%20MLG.pdf (3 ) European Commission- EC- (2001) White Paper on European Governance Available at:http://eurex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/com/2001/com2001_0428en01.pdf  4( ) For more information please see: ETF (2011) Torino Process country and regional reports 2010 please visit:http://www.etf.europa.eu/web.nsf/pages/Torino_process  5 
  • 6. perhaps transform, in order to respond to the modern demands that are made for VET 5. The extent to which de-centralisation is a strategy varies – as do the forms of decentralisation that are preferred - yet all countries seeking effective roles for stakeholders vertically and horizontally, whether or not they are decentralising important management responsibilities. In initial VET strong government control is evident, and this operates mainly in the formal sector. However, continuing training (CVT) and VET in the informal sectors of the economy (where they are a strong feature) is not strongly supported by the state, and depends largely on the efforts of large or international companies, or on traditions of informal apprenticeship. VET councils (which may or may not be effective) are a growing part of an increasingly stakeholder-oriented governance environment for VET. Finally, while growing numbers of sectoral initiatives are in evidence, there is a more limited engagement with regional or local pilots that are exploring new approaches to getting the main tasks done effectively. 2. ETF pilot study on governance effectiveness in six partner countries To explore further issues of VET governance in the context of the ETF partner countries, ETF has conducted a pilot study with the cooperation of six partner countries: Azerbaijan, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Tunisia and Ukraine. The purpose of the study was to map and assess the involvement of stakeholders in the different functions of the VET system as well as to assess how countries perform against a set of proposed principles and indicators for good multilevel governance. The work was carried out over a four-week period in 2012 by local experts and ETF experts engaging key informants among country VET authorities. The pilot study was a limited reporting exercise, and this limitation means that while the results can be a useful stimulus for further analysis and debate, they should not be seen as definitive research results. Nevertheless, the study provides some in-depth information leading to preliminary conclusions and can stimulate ideas and issues for discussion. In terms of governance, who is doing what and how? A synopsis of current VET governance developments in each of the six countries provides a context, which participants in the conference will be able to elaborate. In Azerbaijan, the initial VET system is centralised and led by the VET Department in the Ministry of Education. There are many developments showing an increased role for local actors, schools, companies and NGOs. One can conclude that the reform process is dynamic, not least in initiatives taken to provide a response to specific needs. Wider stakeholder participation at national level has been formally set up recently through a tripartite agreement with the national employers association and trade union federation. As yet, no permanent bodies for social partner involvement have been established. A strong indication of developing approaches to multi-level governance development in Azerbaijan is that the local Raions are regularly involved in the validation and approval of the inventory of the local labour market skills demand that is carried out by schools, before this is submitted to the Ministry of Education. Reform and development of a modern VET system in Croatia is based on the Vocational Education and Training System Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia 2008-2013 and the Vocational Education and Training Act. Founded in 2005 under the umbrella of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education (AVETAE) is responsible for implementing a cohesive national strategy for VET. Currently VET Sector Councils (VET SCs) are being established. Coordinated by AVETAE, they are composed of stakeholders and have an advisory and expert role in identifying and presenting needs in the labour market, higher education and in society. The recent introduction of a self-evaluation methodology can be considered as an opportunity for VET schools to develop more strategic thinking. In Kazakhstan VET systems and management are currently centralised. The main mode of governance can be identified as regulation through legislation and compliance with national standards. In response to the situation, a system of national, regional and sectoral councils was established in principle in 2011. In 2012, A pilot is about to begin in East Kazakhstan oblast (province). The plan is to introduce a pilot project on modernisation for the provincial technical and                                                             5( ) The 2011 Torino Process declaration -in which partner countries’ representatives agreed on set of common priorities forsuccessful VET reform- highlights the need to reinforce ‘anticipatory, inclusive and good, multilevel governance, throughimproved education and business cooperation and enhanced social dialogue’ . Available at:http://www.etf.europa.eu/webatt.nsf/0/B2645A4D00A5C40DC125788D004BB594/$file/Torino%20declaration%20EN.pdf  6 
  • 7. vocational education and training system. In Serbia, VET curriculum and qualifications reform has been on-going for a decade. The process is led by the Ministry of Education and has the active participation of stakeholders, including industry representatives and providers. The Council for VET and Adult Education was established by government decision in May 2010. The composition of the Council has to be inclusive of all stakeholders and its key function is to development of VET and adult education system in accordance with the needs and expectations of the labour market; its main tasks are to link the worlds of work and education and to contribute qualifications development, establish improved learning pathways and to make a key contribution to the good governance of the of VET and adult education systems. In Tunisia, responsibility for VET is the remit of MFPE (le Ministère de la Formation Professionnelle et de l’Emploi/the Ministry of Training and Employment). Other ministries, particularly agriculture, health, defence and tourism are responsible for training in their sectors. The ministry (MFPE) has the role of developing and defining policy for initial and continuing training, while a number of agencies under its umbrella are responsible for implementation. A system best described as deconcentration operates, which means for example that while some decisions are passed on to the more local level, all the training centres report directly to the ministry in Tunis, where the main decisions are made. Regional observatories are at the planning stage, but have not yet been activated in practice. Social partner organisations exist as do conseils d’établissement paritaire in training centres. But in practice the systems remains centralised. Finally, in Ukraine the development of the policies for matching VET/employment and social demands is based upon a centralised approach led by the Ministry of Education in which the roles of the main actors in the process are clear. A wide range of stakeholder and partnership organisations is in place in the field of VET governance, and these are experienced in giving the government advice and expert opinions. It is clearly the case that stakeholder engagement has to be appropriate to the aspect of VET strategies and policies that are being developed. Careful decisions have to be made as to which stakeholders are to be involved with, for example, a skills needs analysis, qualification and curriculum reform or a quality assurance or VET funding reform. The role of the stakeholder may vary from initiator, decision maker or co-funder to partner or consultee through to agencies that do no more than ‘act on instructions’. The evidence of the pilot study shows that some positive developments are taking place in each partner country in terms of developing good, multi-level governance. A first conclusion is that partner countries are well advised to find their own direction and pace for VET governance reform: some common principles may apply, but there is no single blue print or solution, and the process takes time. Where do the main strengths and weaknesses lie? Bearing in mind that most of the six countries can be characterised as having a centralised system for VET, an identified strength occurs when flexibility is present at ministerial or central level, giving rise to an openness to engage with change and reform, not least in contexts where legal frameworks will necessarily remain highly regulated. This occurs for example when the ministry of education is ready to question existing governance arrangements, to look for improvements and has empowered the departments and agencies to initiate reform. This is strength because it opens up an awareness of challenges in the current system, is conducive to pilots and initiatives of different kinds and can establish ways of operating that makes sound, critical use of both stakeholder experience and international support. A second area of strength occurs where a VET reform process is under way, is showing some clear signs of success and has engaged with key stakeholders at least in the consultative and planning stage. Even though questions of roles, responsibilities and functions of the different stakeholders may not be fully resolved, engagement in successful reform appears to be both a learning experience for government agencies and the stakeholders engaged, and to produce improved mechanisms for communication and the provision of information. After an initial, path- finding phase a shift occurs from the ad hoc engagement of stakeholders in the governance of aspects of VET on to the formation of more durable bodies such as a TVET Council or agency, sector councils or the formation of a steering group for developing or implementing a national qualifications framework. Whilst the development of such councils and agencies that engage stakeholders is reported positively in some of the six countries, it must also be remembered that in some countries elsewhere the establishment of a VET Council or an NQF steering group has resulted in an 7 
  • 8. unsatisfactory lack of clarity about roles, responsibilities and key relationships in the decision- making processes. Expressed positively, the development of collaboration and stakeholder engagement is an ongoing process, calling for clarification of roles and functions, shifts in some old working practices and expectations, as well as capacity building, training, gathering and sharing of information, etc. A third area of strength occurs when the development of governance in VET is specifically linked to a broader national development policy, and/or to a broadly skills-based approach to human resource development. This seems to occur most readily where there is a strong commitment to strengthening the role of VET at the highest political level, and where there is a clear and shared national strategy. This implies a growing reliance on interlinked reforms across all the systems and subsystems of education and training, as well as links to employment, social and wider economic strategies. A fourth area of strength that can be identified from some of the country reports is that encouraging developments in VET governance are associated with supporting measures that can contribute to both successful reform and improved governance. This includes development of appropriate quality assurance measures, improved systems for licensing, certification and accreditation of VET establishments and qualifications and VET curriculum reforms. One country emphasises that the availability of a well-developed network of research and methodological centres run by the state is strength in this respect, as is the existence of good and functioning networks among VET schools. It appears, however, that it is often difficult to establish dynamic networks of schools and centres where the VET system is highly centralised; nor has any of the six countries has mentioned the existence of an effective management information system as a strong support for good governance. In some cases centrally led systems are reported to be inflexible and slow to meet demands. In one case medium-term planning in the management of education is poorly organized and poorly supported with information and institutionalized planning capacities at all levels of the system. This may be associated with an out-dated network of VET schools and qualifications that are poorly organised, supply-driven and not quality assured, with financing and funding regimes that do little or nothing to support initiatives and innovation. Slow and hesitant implementation of new laws and policies may be coupled with a central failure to engage with stakeholders. Where the current VET provision is widely perceived as not meeting pressing needs, this seems to be associated with uncertainty and inertia, rather than confidence in the status quo; it is difficult to attract a high calibre of teachers, trainers and school managers, and successful initiatives and pilots are insufficiently take up and mainstreamed. In this case, the main ministry or VET agency concerned works in a rather isolated way. An identified challenge occurs when VET governance and policies are not integrated into broader strategies for education and training, nor associated clearly with economic and social and national development strategies. In one case it is reported that the links between education, employment and economic development and innovation policies and with industrial restructuring are under-developed. Furthermore, in some cases VET policies and reform plans lack the effective implementation measures that would allow governance to steer the system efficiently. This is associated variously with a lack of capacity in the administrations and schools and training centres and among the employers and social partners, out-dated funding systems, weak systems of quality assurance, inadequate curricula and qualifications (or only partially undertaken reforms in this respect), and poor standard-setting. This is also associated with a lack of research and development capacity and, in particular, not well developed intelligence and management information systems. Challenges in engaging partners and stakeholders receive prominent mention. It has to be kept in mind that in some of the six countries surveyed stakeholder engagement is reported as a clear strength, at least in some respects. Yet, overall, weaknesses in stakeholder engagement or governance through partnership cluster around three issues: 1. Stakeholder engagement is rather formalistic; 2. Vertical engagement is poor between the different levels of governance; 3. Horizontal engagement in not effective, for example between the different ministries concerned and the social partners at national level. Several countries report that arrangements for stakeholder engagement in VET governance are in place, but the role of non-government stakeholders – notably the social partners - is formal in character rather than substantive. In one case, in spite of a number of important developments such as setting up skills councils, the social partnership process is still considered to be relatively shallow, formalistic and patchy. So far as the relationship between the central administration and schools or training centres is concerned, one report comments that there exists an almost complete lack of financial, 8 
  • 9. professional and organizational autonomy (and a lack of associated responsibilities) and this does not allow for on-going school-based quality improvement. Schools are not expected to change, do not have the necessary means of change and they are not held accountable for their results. In some cases the relationship between the national administrations, regions regional/local authorities and provider institutions is characterised as weak. Thus, the centralised approach to the state leadership may create a situation in which the regional/local executive bodies and social partners remain bystanders and are not responsible stakeholders. However, there is no single or one-directional call for decentralisation. Indeed, one country halted a decentralisation process that was leading to too many undesirable consequences. The issues are as relevant to effective multi- level governance in systems that are centralised as they are in decentralising contexts. Comments on challenges in horizontal links concentrate mainly on issues at the national level, with some mention being made of the more local level. One set of risk points concerns the collaborative links between the lead ministry or body for VET and the other associated ministries. In one case the ministry of education holds the overall responsibility for educational policies in theory, yet inter- governmental co-operation and policy coordination is relatively weak. Furthermore, as already reported, in some cases the engagement of social partners at the national level is described as rather formalistic and ad hoc. One of the reports reflects that inadequate employer involvement in the development of qualifications standards means that the qualifications system is, as a rule, developed by representatives of VET institutions and approved by the ministry for education without much engagement of the representatives of working life, and this means that educational standards are adopted without taking much account of occupational standards. In summary, a number of factors can help contribute to the establishment of good multi-level governance. These include: an open and flexible way of working is characteristic at central or ministerial level; a developing situation in which a VET reform process is under way, is showing some clear signs of success, and has engaged with key stakeholders; reform of governance in VET is specifically linked to a broader national development strategy or a broad human resource development policy; and, VET governance reforms are associated with supporting measures that can contribute both to successful reform and, in turn, to improvements in governance performance. The absence of any of these factors set out risks in terms of efficient VET management and the development of good, multi-level governance. In addition, identified weaknesses have to be addressed, specifically where stakeholder engagement is absent or rather formalistic; cooperation mechanisms between actors and stakeholders at the different levels of the VET systems weak; and, engagement of the actors or stakeholders at either the national or more regional/local level are not effective. How does the pilot study suggest that governance systems are performing against a proposed set of principles and indicators? Having considered the international literature on multi-level governance (6), ETF has prepared a set of six principles that aim at providing a framework for analysing the development of good governance in VET. These principles are open for discussion and debate. The proposed principles for multi-level governance are: Relevance, Transparency, Effectiveness, Accountability, Subsidiarity/Proportionality and Participation. Each principle can be associated with several benchmarks, as shown in Insert 1.                                                             6( )See, for example, Charbit 2011, ETF 2011, EU Committee of the Regions 2009, UNESCO 2012, UNDP 2008 and 2012)  9 
  • 10. Insert 1: Proposed principles and benchmarks for good multi-level governance Principle Benchmarks Governance settings support the economic role of VET, e.g. by anticipating/matching skills needs and linking this to more competence-based curricula. Governance settings support the social equity role of VET, e.g. by opening up access to learning and accreditation to wider groups, or expanding CVET. Governance settings support the innovative role of VET, e.g. by Relevance introducing sustainability skills or entrepreneurial skills &/or key competences. Governance settings mobilise smart, efficient financing and funding mechanisms at all levels of the VET system. Governance settings respond to learner and labour market needs, e.g. by introducing more flexibility, linking formal/ informal sectors, developing more outcomes-based approaches. Governance settings support improving the professional standards and professional development of VET teachers and trainers across settings. Feedback shows that current governance systems support VET provision and the implementation of reforms, particularly at the VET provider level. Governance supports the achievement of national development goals and Effectiveness a range of broader policies, at national, intermediate and provider level. Goals are formulated in response to shared concerns and identified policy gaps, whilst taking into account feasibility of resources for implementation. Quality assurance mechanisms operate or are developing, and these help to improve quality and apply fit-for-purpose standards. Decisions are taken at the most appropriate level and/or at the lowest level to optimise VET policy implementation. Subsidiarity & Roles and responsibilities of stakeholders do not conflict and do not Proportionality leave gaps in the policy making process. Both hard regulation (laws, etc.) and soft regulation (recommendations, opinions, etc.) apply at each stage and level in the policy cycle. VET policy agenda setting, formulation, implementation and review are open processes that engage the identified stakeholders Policy dialogue is co-ordinated and supported by relevant documentation, Transparency reports, guidelines, etc. Management information systems (MIS) and other data meet the governance needs of the stakeholders. Formal and informal mechanisms for sharing information operate, so that information is used regularly by VET stakeholders. Governance practices comply with standards, regulations and procedures and are agreed by different stakeholders. Governance responsibilities, roles and functions are defined clearly and Accountability take into account the outcomes expected by users and stakeholders. Decisions makers assess and respect the contributions and recommendations of the different VET stakeholders. The appropriate range of stakeholders is engaged collaboratively throughout the VET policy cycle. Participation Different government agencies (e.g. ministries) and the different levels of government (e.g. national/regional/local) are engaged actively. Co-ordinated participation mechanisms (e.g. social dialogue, consultation, advisory bodies) enable stakeholders to participate at key points.Source: ETF (2012). Based on contributions of the EU, ETF, UNESCO and OECD. Consideration of the principles and benchmarks was included in the preliminary enquiry concerning VET governance in the six partner countries, to which the report now turns attention. Some benchmarks showed a wide spread, while some others indicated neither a particularly weak nor a particularly strong performance. On the other hand, six of he indicators are assessed negatively while seven are assessed quite positively. Under the principle of relevance, two benchmarks receive a negative evaluation. These suggest that currently governance settings do not support an innovative role for VET and that governance settings are not successfully mobilising smart, efficient financing and funding at all levels. The benchmark evaluated more positively under the principle of relevance is that governance settings 10  
  • 11. support the social equity role of VET, while ‘governance settings support the economic role of VET’ was assessed as performing neither well nor badly. In terms of effectiveness, two benchmarks are reported positively. This suggests that governance systems are tending to support TVET provision and the implementation of reform, and that a clear system of VET governance is contributing in a number of cases to achieving national development goals. As concerns the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, a negative assessment is made of the benchmark that decisions are taken at the most appropriate level to optimise the ETF policy implementation. If this is the case more widely, this clearly has strong implications for the successful development of multi-level governance. A more positive view is provided in terms of the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders not being in conflict and not leaving gaps, while there is a wide spread of results in response to the indicator that an appropriate combination of hard regulation such as legislation and self-regulation through less formal mechanisms applies to governance throughout the policy cycle. This probably picks up the point made consistently concerning all the partner countries that where multi-stakeholder partnership is engaged in VET governance, this is usually at the pre-planning or early planning stages, and not throughout the policy cycle that would include detailed planning, implementation and review. Concerning transparency, the benchmark that management information systems (MIS), together with the provision of other information, meet stakeholder receives a clearly negative assessment. So, too, does the statement that formal and informal mechanisms for sharing information operate efficiently. On the other hand, the indicator that the VET policy developments are open processes that engage identified stakeholders receives a more positive evaluation. Turning finally to accountability and participation, the statement that decision makers take account of the VET stakeholder recommendations where mechanisms are in place is evaluated positively. On the other hand, a strongly negative response is given to the statement that the range of stakeholders is engaged collaboratively throughout the different stages of the policy cycle. Analysis using the proposed principles and benchmarks thus suggests some areas to consider, while the concept of principles and benchmarks for good multi-level governance merits further discussion. 3. Policy development In recent years education and training reforms launched in the ETF’s partner countries have created a growing impetus towards division of responsibilities between different actors at both horizontal and vertical levels. Turning now to policy development, the report will look at several issues concerning which partner countries can choose to work collaboratively with one another, and with ETF. To support effective leadership at the national level Effective leadership at the national level is an essential component of efficient and effective VET systems, and of successful reform programmes. It is difficult to imagine how any of the principles of good, multi-level governance that this paper has introduced (See Insert 1) can be met without the presence of effective national leadership. Effective leadership applies to all the stages of the policy process, from early consultation and planning through to implementation and review. Policy development in VET covers a wide field: from meeting labour market skills demands through needs analysis and subsequently developing appropriate curricula and qualifications, to performing the social functions of contributing to social inclusion and cohesion by establishing lifelong learning opportunities for new and wider groups of learners, improving access to further learning and to working life, etc. VET also has an innovative role in supporting national development policies and enhancing citizens’ competence in learning to learn. Finance, engaging with the informal sector, linking VET with general, higher, continuing and adult education, training the teachers and trainers, optimising the use of technologies and ICT are important associated policy areas. The evidence suggests that most, perhaps all, partner countries have both taken to heart the need to improve the national leadership of VET and have planned or started to make some major developments in this respect. However, by and large developments cover only part of the field and are incomplete and ad hoc. More detailed discussion of this aspect will identify gaps and areas for action relating to the coherence of national VET policies, the relationship between the different public agencies such as ministries engaged at the national level and achieving a broad consensus on a national strategy for VET that can be sustained and delivered over the medium and longer term. 11 
  • 12. To support skill policies as a driver for socio economic regional development In the case of some smaller partner countries, including some of those covered in the pilot conducted for this report, there is no overriding need for a regional approach to the ETF governance because of the small size of the country. Furthermore, as concerns one of the countries surveyed, an earlier radical programme of decentralisation was halted because it seemed to be producing many unwanted consequences and not to be appropriate to the context. Nevertheless, a broader basis for VET governance, the need to share some of the functions in VET to be distributed between the public and private sectors, and a call to engage social partners and civil society stakeholders in new roles for VET all seem to imply that - except in small countries - a regional or local focus is important to develop. At present developments in this respect seem at best to be uncertain and halting. In particular, ‘Decisions are taken at the most appropriate level to optimise VET policy implementation’ ranks among the most poorly rated indicators in the pilot study, and this is confirmed in other studies conducted by ETF. The challenges posed in the development of a stronger role for regional government and the stakeholders at regional level/local are considerable. A regional approach allows for a more hands- on and responsive engagement between local industries and the authorities responsible for training than a centralised system can do, and in a previously highly-centralised system this adjustment can be expected to take time. A challenge is to identify the new roles of all stakeholders and also the means of communication and partnership at the intermediate level between government and VET providers. New roles and responsibilities have both to be identified and become effective, which implies considerable capacity building work. These developments are probably best initiated through pilot projects. To support institutional leadership: schools and training providers Evidence from wide range of countries and the international literature of the past two or three decades combine to play strong emphasis on the importance of the institutional leadership in schools, colleges, higher education and a wide range of training centres. Among other things, this implies the important role that school leaders play in establishing good working and learning patterns, effective teaching through a well implemented curriculum and assessment, and a sound ethos. These are supported by a clear and consistent approach to management, well formulated and implemented policies and due respect for the needs and views of all members of the learning community. However, successful institutional leadership goes some way further than this, not least in VET institutions. The further step is that school leaders take on a certain responsibility to use their initiative to make the most sensible management and administrative decisions. Variously this may cover issues such as the allocation of funding and sometimes the generation of activities that increase income, developing good relationships with local firms, deciding how best to meet learners needs through the application of the curriculum, and aspects of the employment, development and management of staff. In the pilot study conducted in this report, respondents reported on the roles of all the VET stakeholders in their particular country, and it is striking that in most instances the role of school leaders is described as simply being to implement instructions. On the other hand, in a few cases it is clear that school leaders are being assigned or are assuming a more active role in management and decision-making. It would not be wise to conclude that maximum devolution of responsibility to school leaders would be an optimal solution, and certainly not in most circumstances. Nevertheless, it seems clear that management at the very local level can be improved with a shift in the form of governance so as to give more responsibility for decisions that are best taken locally to school leaders. This implies: making a clear, functional analysis of which aspects of management are best devolved to school leaders, and which aspects are best held at a more central level; identifying the profile of knowledge skills and competences that school leaders need to be effective; setting up programs of training and capacity building for new and current school leaders; and, establishing support mechanisms, such as links with government or regional officials, appropriate policies and peer networks, and IT support. To support social dialogue and effective partnership Efforts in partner countries as well as much of this report and a substantial amount of the supporting work of the ETF and other international agencies has been geared recently to supporting social dialogue and to building more effective partnership between the stakeholders engaged in VET. This can be seen in efforts to enhance communication and effectiveness by engaging with employers, social partners and civil society. Establishing bodies such as TVET Councils and building relationships with sector councils as well as developing tools such as NQFs 12 
  • 13. and quality assurance mechanisms are further evidence of this basic trend. While this aspect is under way in many countries, the work is often far from being complete and efficient, and in some cases has hardly begun or is faltering. In the pilot study, for example, the indicator ‘The range of stakeholders is engaged collaboratively throughout the policy cycle’ received a rather low rating. ETF is currently working with partner countries to identify the ways and means to support social dialogue and effective partnership. The results of this conference should help to take the thinking and activity further. To support evidence based policy development The rapid changes in the societies, economies and labour markets of the ETF partner countries (as elsewhere) create the need for permanent monitoring of skills demand and supply and a forward looking capacity concerning future developments so as to inform policy decisions. Also the current efforts for the modernisation of the VET systems in the ETF partner countries either through pilots, experimentation or larger scale interventions require good information about results, strengths and weaknesses so as to inform the policy cycle and adapt action as necessary. However, as demonstrated by the results of the ETF survey, the use of information for policy development, monitoring and evaluation is still a great challenge in the majority of ETF partner counties. Although the information basis on trends in the field of employment and vocational education and training is getting richer through time, the analysis of this information and its use by relevant decision makers is still in its early phases. Communication channels between those who have this information (e.g. Statistical Offices or employers) and those who could use them for making decisions in vocational education and training are still weak; while a culture of policy evaluation is still lacking. Partner countries would need to make efforts for further enhancing the information basis of trends and future developments as well as to develop mechanisms through which this information is properly communicated to the relevant decision makers and be transformed into action. To develop governance that is fit for purpose Developing VET governance that is fit for purpose is the theme that brings under one heading the different aspects covered in this report. In ways that are appropriate to the context of particular PCs, this means developing and sharing a clear vision, setting up appropriate institutional and functional reforms, capacity building and training for different stakeholders at different levels, and the appropriate supporting use of technologies and networks. The aim is for good multi-level governance to contribute to efficient systems that are responsive to labour market needs and attractive to users including learners and their families, employers in the local communities and often also in a wider, international context. Taking the next steps may raise some important questions. What capacities are needed for building and sharing vision and for strategic planning across the whole policy process? How can capacity be built up, step-by-step and sustainably? Which circumstances enable partnerships to thrive? Does the legislation need reviewing? How should institutional frameworks develop? How can information, intelligence and management information systems be improved? 4. Conclusion: ETF support for PCs developing VET good multi-level governance Governance in vocational education and training is a complex and constantly evolving issue and the ETF is aware of this. Moreover, governance models are very much linked with values, visions, behaviours and processes that are endemic to countries’ cultures and emerging political and socio-economic challenges. Therefore, ETF work in the area of good, multilevel governance in vocational education and training in the partner countries is expected to be a medium- to long-term process that will be adjusted along the way and whose exact modus operandi may not be written in stone. Achieving tangible results in adapting governance models and improving the delivery of vocational education and training policies will take time. At this point in time, however, it is important that ETF supports countries’ reflections and actions by facilitating the dialogue at national and cross country level on (i) key concepts of good governance in vocational education and training, (ii) identification of their governance challenges and needs, and (iii) paving the way towards good, multilevel governance. Also ETF recognising the importance of multi-stakeholder approaches supports activities towards the professionalization of different actors involved in the process so as to enable them to play their role better. 13 
  • 14. In order to address partner countries’ needs the ETF focuses on a step-by-step approach with tailor-made actions in partner countries. These actions take their starting point in the introduction of mechanisms and the development of human and institutional capacity for improving the governance skills of different actors. They are accompanied by awareness raising and advisory activities and experimentation through pilot projects. The latter are employed as a form of learning by doing. Country actions are also accompanied by activities promoting cross-country dialogue and experience. In specific ETF action focuses on: 1. Raising awareness about the benefits, meaning, principles and modalities of good, multilevel governance to vocational education and training. 2. VET functional analysis and assessment so to assist partner countries to identify strengths and weaknesses of their governance as well as scenarios on perspective developments. 3. Knowledge creation and sharing on specific functions, policy areas and actors in VET such as qualifications, quality assurance, training providers’ management, financing etc. 4. Creating opportunities for multi-stakeholders platforms in the development and use of intelligence for better policy making through its TORINET initiative. 5. Building capacity of actors in VET Governance with particular emphasis on social partners, regional stakeholders, civil society and training providers 14 
  • 15. Bibliography Charbit, C. (2011) Governance of Public Policies in Decentralised Contexts: The Multi-level Approach. OECD Regional Development Working Papers 2011/04, Paris: OECD. ETF (2011) The Torino process: evidence-based policy making for vocational education and training. ETF (May 2011) Torino Declaration, Europa publications on-line ETF (2011) Education and Business cooperation. ETF (2011) Yearbook: social partners in vocational education and training ETF (2011) Glossary: Key terminology on governance and public management applicable to governance in education and training policies and systems (unpublished). ETF (2012) Position Paper Good Multilevel Governance in -Vocational-Education and Training (forthcoming). EU Committee of the Regions, 2009 White Paper on Multi-level Governance. United Nations Development Programme -UNDP-(2009) Users’ guide for measuring Public Administration performance. United Nations Development Programme -UNDP- (2012) Users Guide Series on How to Measure Governance. UNESCO (2012) Building skills for work and life: Transforming technical and vocation education and training. Working document for the UNESCO Third International Congress on TVET, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China, 13–16 May 2012. ETF (2012) Partner country reports prepared for this report for the following countries: Azerbaijan, Croatia Kazakhstan, Serbia, Tunisia and Ukraine (unpublished).  15