The EC Communication on “Rethinking Education: Investing in Skills for Better socio-economic outcomes” highlights significant discrepancies between countries across Europe in their development of VET and PHE. It specifically points out that while some European countries have world-class VET and PHE systems (Germany, Austria, Denmark, etc), many others, typically in southern Europe, lag behind in terms of participation, quality outcomes and attractiveness.
In countries with developed PHE systems, professional education is characterised by dual systems which have a high proportion of work-based learning, apprenticeships and other models which facilitate transition from learning to work. The communication further points out that excellence in PHE comes from systematically renewed curricula, constantly modernised delivery, and, crucially active involvement of businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The differences in development of PHE across Europe is due to differences in socio-cultural traditions and perceptions, diverse structures of education and training systems and of the economy and labour market, reforms undertaken, the extent of involvement of social partners as well as the employment prospects of PHE graduates, and the preferences of individuals. PROCSEE will set up systematic structures for policy-recommendations and best-practice sharing, focusing on four specific areas:
PROCSEE will analyse and propose improvements to:
- Modalities of cooperation with the region
- Interaction of PHE with regional bodies and/or non-education/employment ministries (making space for PHE in overall policies)
- Informal connections with environment and regional development funding as a driver for PHE development
- Availability of regional development policies, relevant issues for PHE development and their reflections within PHE institutions’ policies and strategies
- Interaction with external, regional partners and their engagement in governance and development of PHE institutions and their activities
PROCSEE will closely look on promotion of PHE/HVET as an alternative route through tertiary education, in particular to respond to skill shortages and increase employability of graduates. The theme tackles the function of PHE in society, including perceptions of employers and the general public. The theme will examine the following areas:
- ensuring equivalence of ‚professional‘ and ‚academic‘ tracks of education in terms of the Lisbon Recognition Convention
- improving the evidence-base of PHE‘s contribution to society and to individuals (through such tools as tracer studies, etc.)
- mapping, predictions and assessment of labour market – PHE interaction, outcomes and impact
- improving the status of PHE within the overall academic community
PROCSEE focuses on organising and monitoring student placements in the world of work, in particular increasing the quantity and quality of available student placements, so as to provide for meaningful learning experience and preparation for employment. We will work on the following thematic areas:
- legislative levers supporting apprenticeships & placements
- methods to clarifying and communicate the benefits of student placements (to companies, governments, etc.)
- quality assurance of student placements including auditing partners, learning agreements and learning assessments
- support structures for companies taking on students
- relevant activating methods of teaching and learning emphasising development of skills relevant for the professional career.
- capacity building of institutional structures within Higher Education Institutions sending students for placements
PROCSEE will analyse use of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) (personalised, flexible distance learning opportunities, delivered over the internet), and in particular their role in further education (both for purposes of re-the /requalification and enhancement of skills). The theme includes challenges of the relation of PLEs with PHE vis-a-vis:
- methodologies to encourage modernisation (and digitisation) of teaching
- widening access to non-traditional groups
- increasing cooperation with graduates and businesses for post-graduation training of staff
- benefits, motives and methods for cooperation
By bringing together leading actors in the field from across Europe, educational institutions & companies from SEE and European and Regional policy actors, the project will provide specific policy inputs on how to address these priorities in each participating country as well as across the region.