Implementation of EU lifelong learning policy and instruments in VET

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Leonardo da Vinci Centralised project KA1 (2010-2011) DE , AT, SE, NO

BAQ Forschungsinstitut für Beschäftigung Arbeit Qualifikation ( ) (2009-5156/167183 – LLP – KA1 – ECETB)

The LLL-RADAR project on application of the EU lifelong learning policy approach and instruments at practical vocational education and training (VET) level was applied for and implemented by a partnership comprising BAQ Forschungsinstitut für Beschäftigung Arbeit Qualifikation (Bremen, Germany) as promoter, Institut für Bildungsforschung in der Wirtschaft (Vienna, Austria), European Masters of Skilled Crafts – Euromasc (Oslo, Norway) and Høgskolan Halmstad, School of Business and Engineering (Halmstad, Sweden) between March 2010 and March 2011. It consisted of country reports on national lifelong learning strategies, case studies focusing on the practical level and short studies on good practices in four countries outside the partnership.

The methodology used characteristic elements of lifelong learning as operators. These operators were:

(1) national qualifications frameworks, (2) credit systems, (3) Europass, (4) validation of prior learning, (5) permeability, (6) means to improve and increase access to learning, (7) guidance and counselling, (8) the learning outcome approach, (9) mobility, (10) financing, (11) institution building.

The operators were used, firstly, to identify whether these elements of lifelong learning are present in the national lifelong learning strategies, and if so in what form and to what extent, and secondly whether they are in use at the practical level.

The study focused on the construction industry, since it is the biggest industrial employer in Europe and is often cited as an example of a European labour market. The construction sector has one of the lowest rates of participation in continuing vocational education and training in Europe. Consequently,

recommendations to improve lifelong learning in this industry are of particular relevance and importance. That said, thanks to the activities of various actors, the construction industry is also well advanced in implementing lifelong learning strategies in Europe.

Lifelong learning in Europe in characterised by a gap between the national and practical levels. Whereas at national level aims have been defined, approaches, methods and instruments have been developed and a discussion is ongoing about the right way and the most appropriate means to make lifelong learning from cradle to grave a reality, the practical level of VET remains more or less untouched. The discussion on lifelong learning seems to be limited to decision makers and experts. Nevertheless, actors at practical level found some of the elements of lifelong learning strategies, when they were introduced and explained to them, interesting and potentially helpful for their work.