EU tools in education and training must be more strongly focused on end-users, a recent Cedefop conference heard.
Although there has been much progress with tools, like those related to qualifications and credits, they have not been sufficiently linked together and have lacked a long-term strategy based on the needs of citizens.
Reporting on the results of recent Cedefop research, these were key messages from the 'Stepping up the Pace' conference held in Thessaloniki on 27–28 November.
According to Thomas Mayr from the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (UEAPME), EU tools “have become household names with agencies, with social partner organisations… But we have been not so successful in reaching the end users… If you talk to individual employers you will find only very very few who are aware of the European Qualifications Framework or credit transfer systems and things like that."
The conference debated how useful it might be to see the tools in terms of a “front office" and a “back office". The front office would serve end-users – learners, workers, the unemployed–whilst the back office would house the technical elements needed.
During the workshops, business and organisation consultant Roger Hobbs highlighted a range of services that might be in the front office including guidance and skills profiling, CV preparation services and support for employers. The back office could deal with technical aspects of processes like validation, qualification recognition and quality assurance, he said.
Pulling together the first day's discussions, Andrew McCoshan (Plexus Research & Consulting) asked, “Can we have a front office if the back office is not yet ready?" Whilst it was important to get the front office open, he noted, what is in the back office affects the added value on what's on offer in the front.
The conference brought together stakeholders from a wide variety of organisations–government ministries, social partner bodies, the research community and the European Commission–in two day's detailed debate.