MULTILEVEL GOVERNANCE IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING:CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES.BRUSSELS, 31 MAY – 1 JUNE 2012International policy conference on the impact of governance models on qualityand relevance of education and training policies and their performanceThe European Training Foundation (ETF) is an EU agency based in Turin, Italy, that helps transitionand developing countries to harness the potential of their human capital through the reform ofeducation, training and labour market systems in the context of the EU’s external relations policy.Its core functions include supporting the EU’s external assistance policies, providing policy supportthrough evidence-based analysis, enhancing partner country capacity building in human capital, anddisseminating and exchanging information and experience.In 2010 the first round of the Torino Process took place. This process is a participative and evidence-based assessment of vocational education and training (VET) systems and policy progress in partnercountries. As a result of this round, governance emerged as a key area for further work. This was alsohighlighted in the Torino Process declaration adopted at the end of the international conference thattook place in Turin in May 2011. A total of 29 countries participated and indicated multi-levelgovernance as one of the priorities to shape future work and policy discussion on VET policies andhuman capital development.In this context, the ETF in cooperation with the Committee of the Regions, is inviting partner countries,EU institutions and international organisations to meet to discuss and exchange experiences andlessons learned on the added value of comprehensive integrated policies and multi-level governancein enhancing VET systems and shaping human capital development.
1. BackgroundIncreasing the effectiveness of education and training policies for employability, economicdevelopment and social cohesion is a key issue for EU pre-accession and neighbouring countriesgiven their persistent, high unemployment levels (in particular among young people), emerging skillmismatches and territorial disparities. Integrated policies are needed to support the comprehensivedevelopment of countries and the welfare of their citizens. In this context, education and training has akey role to support economic and social development.Governance has close links with the overall performance of education and training policies,influencing their strategic formulation and implementation and driving key pillars on which policies areformulated and implemented.ETF experience shows that, when looking at governance in education and training, there is need tomap and discuss the effectiveness of VET, develop relevant mechanisms to ensure high-qualityprovision and find smart, innovative and efficient financing solutions to support VET policies within alifelong learning perspective.Actions and debates that target the development of good governance and an increased role for sub-national regions and local actors, social partners and civil society organisations in education andtraining are needed. This brings ETF partner countries closer to European efforts to increase the roleof regions and ensure multi-level participation in the policy making cycle. Such vertical and horizontalinteraction can help to ensure greater effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, transparency andaccountability of education and training policy in the overall strategic development of a country.Moreover, regional policies in many countries have developed targeted strategies to ensure thatrelevant skills and competences are developed. Regions are well positioned to identify human capitalneeds and potential. Economic growth at regional and local levels could be stimulated if regionsparticipate more in the management of education and training policies. At the same time this wouldensure that regional labour markets and company needs are better accommodated.Multilevel governance in education and training can help to open up opportunities to facilitate policydialogue and, consequently, improve the decision making process by involving actors with differentfunctions and roles, including social partners and civil society.The conference offers the opportunity to discuss the links between governance and the performanceof VET policies and strategies and the lessons learned from multi-level governance in the EU.Furthermore, it will provide the opportunity to look at what is happening in different countries to ensuregood governance and better VET policies at local, regional and national levels.2. ObjectivesThe general aim of the conference is to discuss, share and learn how good multi-level governancecan contribute to policy environments that improve the performance of education and training systemsand strengthen participatory governance and values. Moreover, the conference has three specificobjectives: To present and discuss conceptual, methodological and empirical approaches related to multi-level governance in education and training, within an integrated comprehensive policy approach. To share practices and lessons learnt on key opportunities and challenges on good multi-level governance in education and training in EU Member States and partner countries. To develop a common framework for action in the area of governance in education and training.3. Core themes and issues for discussionThe conference will focus on the principles of good multi-level governance and related topics appliedto education and training policies and systems. The following questions will be addressed: What is the added value of multi-level governance in supporting more participatory, effective, coherent, transparent and efficient management of public education and training policies in EU neighbouring regions?
What kind of coordination mechanisms and cooperation arrangements should be put in place to implement effective and accountable decision making processes in education and training to support the strategic development of comprehensive, integrated policies? What capacities and skills do stakeholders involved in multi-level governance need to make education and training contribute to the development and welfare of countries and their citizens?4. FormatDay 1 – Thursday 31 May (from 8.45 am to 17.30 pm)Plenary opening sessionDuring the opening plenary session the framework for debate will be introduced by EU and partnercountry authorities. It will be followed by a technical session focussing on good governance ineducation and training, which will look at the results of governance analysis and vocational educationand training carried out by the ETF, international organisations, and experts from partner countries.Thematic workshopsThe afternoon discussion will be developed through four thematic workshops focusing on the followingareas: Education and training strategies as a driver for regional socio-economic developmentThe focus of this workshop will be on the added value and mechanisms of regional and localparticipation in policy making in the area of education and training. Particular emphasis will be given to(i) the importance of regional education and training strategies for supporting regional socio-economicdevelopment and (ii) the role of regional actors in shaping education and training strategies. Practicesand current activities will be presented and discussed to map the state-of-the art in ETF partnercountries. Involving and coordinating multiple actors in VETMultilevel governance is applicable in both centralised and decentralised systems. This workshopfocuses on the roles, functions and interaction of actors in different governance settings. Particularemphasis will be given to decentralisation processes that have been witnessed by many partnercountries. How can decentralisation and good governance work together? What is the link betweeninstitutional and functional dimensions of performant education and training policies? Good governance and VET providers.The role of VET providers has been evolving from implementation to a complex set of functionsincluding planning, quality assurance, performance assessment, ensuring the effectiveness andefficiency of VET at the local level. What is the role of VET providers in a multi-level governanceassessment? What conditions allow VET providers to perform as expected, and provide inputs into thedesign of policies that support VET performance? What are the roles and functions of VET providersin the EU and the ETF partner countries? Experiences and lessons will be presented and thediscussion will focus on enabling factors and conditions that allow VET providers to fully contribute tothe policy making cycle. Conditions and requirements for partnership in VETVET is an area of shared responsibility of public authorities, social partners and training providers.Partnership can be built at different levels (national, sectoral, regional or local) and can tackle differentaspects of the VET system ranging from policy making to provision of training at work places.Successful partnership is a process of organised cooperation between various stakeholders and isbased on the will, openness and technical capacity of partners to cooperate. How can nationalgovernments motivate and enable stakeholders for setting up successful partnerships in VET? How tocreate effective platforms of cooperation (like sector councils)?
Day 2 – Friday 1 June (from 9.00 am to 14.30 pm)Plenary sessionIn the first part of the morning the results of the four thematic areas will be presented. An expert panelwill comment on the key areas identified in the first plenary session.The conference will conclude with key remarks from EU institutions and partner countries.5. ParticipantsThe event will bring together policy makers and high level officials from national, regional and localauthorities, social partners, civil society organisations, business representatives, training providersand researchers in the field of governance and education and training from ETF partner countries, EUmember states, EU institutions and international organisations and will be attended by approximately150 participants.