What we do
The activities are structured around a series of projects that take place in the partner countries to facilitate the reform of vocational education and training and employment systems. All activities we carry out aim at providing services to the European Commission, our partner countries and the EU Member States.
ETF services to the European Commission
We are funded from the operational budgets for the European Union's external relations programmes, and as such we are a resource for each of these programmes. We help the European Commission to make its investment in education and training reform in partner countries effective and in line with EU external relations policies. We provide advice and project cycle support to various Directorates General of the European Commission upon request, Education and Culture - our DG "de tutelle" - External Relations, Enlargement, Employment, Enterprise and the Europe Aid Cooperation Office.
ETF services to the partner countries
We support our partner countries by providing opportunities for policy learning on reform strategies to policy makers and key stakeholders in the countries. We provide advice on vocational education and training policy and innovative approaches in EU and relevant good practice from other partner countries. We seek to enable policy makers to integrate their reform efforts within the overall support framework provided by the EU. We also support our partner countries to develop participatory policy development to ensure ownership and sustainability for the reform process. In particular, we carry out targeted seminars, facilitate study visits and focus groups to encourage reflection and debate among policy makers, and we support the development of reliable information and analysis on the reform process.
ETF services to Member States
We also work in close cooperation with the EU Member States to contribute to the coordination of assistance provided by the EU, its Member States and partner countries. We seek to engage the EU Member States in our work to help ensure a common and constant focus to enhance the overall impact of EU assistance to partner countries.
ETF activities on mid-term perspective
The ETF’s vision and strategic objectives are translated into the content related activities by grouping them into three core themes for the period 2010-13 where considerable support is necessary for the further sustainable development of partner country VET systems.
Overall, the ETF is guided by the principle of ensuring policy coherence between vocational education and training, employment and business as a way of increasing competitiveness and creating inclusive societies in the partner countries.
The core themes are linked and therefore the ETF works to create synergies among them. Collectively the core themes represent an integrated agenda for reform which links VET systems with business and the labour market.
The ETF’ activity based budgeting is also based on these three core themes. The core themes to be addressed in the mid-term can be described as follows:
Vocational education and training system development and provision in a lifelong learning perspective
The development of vocational education and training policies in a lifelong learning perspective covers the design and implementation of policies in partnership with all relevant stakeholders and in particular with the social partners. This means:
The development of vocational training policy in secondary, post-secondary and tertiary education as well as further education for adults including horizontal and vertical pathways with other components of education and training, in line with the needs of the labour market. It should be supported by efficient counselling and guidance systems and modernised qualification systems. These include learning outcomes and, where necessary, the development of national qualification frameworks, transparent and equitable certification systems and the establishment of systems for the recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning. The aim is to facilitate access to education and the transition to work, enhance qualification levels, and promote equity, including gender mainstreaming and the social inclusion of disadvantaged groups. This should rely on effective public-private partnerships both in the design of policies and the provision of services, as well as cost sharing schemes.
The improvement of the quality of the system with a particular focus on teachers and trainers and innovative pedagogies, as well as updated curricula including the introduction of key competences. Quality assurance approaches will centre on evaluation and review functions and the use of appropriate indicators. New governance schemes will be needed, for example school autonomy, efficient and effective financing approaches, and specific support to the institutions involved, including the social partners.
Labour market needs and employability
This theme focuses on understanding labour market changes and their implications for the employability of individuals. It informs the policy debate on: (a) the development of responsive vocational education and training systems for young people and adults; and (b) actions that enhance the quality of the labour force within the framework of employment policies. Particular emphasis will be given to: (i) anticipation of skills needs in close consultation with the economic players; (ii) enhancing employability; (iii) matching the supply and demand of skills in the short, medium and long-term in the context of economic restructuring processes taking place in the partner countries; (iv) addressing skills in the informal sector for the promotion of decent work and lifelong learning opportunities. A high priority will be given to the social dimension including flexicurity policies, the activation of people and their participation, including gender mainstreaming, in active labour market policies including formal or non-formal training, counselling and guidance, and support to self-employment, with a particular emphasis on disadvantaged adults.
Enterprises and human capital development: education and business partnerships
This theme focuses on four main strands:
1. Creation, management and sharing of knowledge and skills in enterprises (in both the public and the private sector), particularly small and medium-sized enterprises.
2. Support to enterprise development with a focus on entrepreneurship skills and learning.
3. Education and enterprise partnerships to support the transition from school to work
4. Building the capacities of enterprise representatives, employers and employees as well as other civil society institutions for their active participation in defining and implementing policy, as well as monitoring and evaluating in the context of lifelong learning.
For all three themes, the ETF considers cross-cutting issues such as the promotion of equal opportunities, including gender mainstreaming, the involvement of the social partners, lifelong guidance, sustainable development principles and the contribution of skills to poverty reduction.
Put simply, lifelong learning means that people can – and should have the opportunity to – learn throughout their lives.
Across the world, certain groups of people are still hard pressed to get the most out of their education and training system.
Partnership between the worlds of work and education is a process that is set to become an integral part of how we go about developing education.
“Employment”: a better guidance contributes to broader economic and social well-being by easing the functioning of labour markets.
Making qualifications transparent and easily readable, even across international frontiers, is a high priority for the ETF.
Teachers are a critical factor in education reforms. The ETF takes therefore the role of schools and teachers seriously throughout its work.
Focusing on key competences is one of the surest ways of keeping education and training relevant in a fast-changing environment.
Governance modes and models have a high correlation with the overall performance of education and training policies, influencing their strategic formulation and implementation.