Networks in Europe: Educational cooperation on work-based learning

In Europe, the aim is to implement various forms of work-based learning (WBL). Good communication, the exchange of experiences and cooperation with relevant stakeholders are all essential for this. Networks are the ideal way to facilitate exchange and cooperation. In this blog post you can learn about the most important European networks with respect to WBL.

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Original language: German

Since Europe has for many years now been increasing its efforts to implement various forms of work-based learning, communication, exchange of experiences and last but not least cooperation with relevant stakeholders – on both national and international levels – are all extremely important. Networks are ideal in this regard to facilitate exchange and cooperation. Learn about the most important European networks with respect to work-based learning.

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European Alliance for Apprenticeships

As part of the World Skills 2013 in Leipzig, the European Commission launched the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA) with a joint declaration of the European social partners and the chair of the EU Council. A concluding explanation from the European Employment Council reinforced the significance of the initiative: As a core element of the “EU Youth Guarantee”, it aims to help reduce youth unemployment in Europe, in particular by increasing employability. 22 member states in the initiative committed to implementing high-quality, practice-oriented training. To this end, work-based learning and principles of dual vocational education and training in particular are to be established and existing dual vocational education and training systems are to be modernised.

To date, the EAfA has successfully encouraged EU member states, EFTA and EU accession countries and a large number of stakeholders to introduce a qualitative apprenticeship programme. The Alliance itself is a platform that enables experiences to be exchanged and best practices to be learnt from one another. Members can also find partners on the platform, develop new ideas and initiatives together and gain access to the most up-to-date news and tools for work-based learning.

Work-based learning is also gaining importance in adult learning. The ongoing digitalisation and innovation process affects the labour market, which requires more flexibility, continuing education and retraining. While apprenticeships are often traditionally regarded as an opportunity for young people, they can also be an important resource for adults, even acting as part of the solution to the challenges of a rapidly changing labour market and, with examples of good practice, providing momentum for innovative methods in the non-formal sector. 

A recent study from Cedefop clearly shows that learning at work is already recognised as being beneficial for both the employers and the employees during task-related advanced and continuing education. The European Centre for the Promotion of Vocational Education and the OECD are currently asking themselves whether vocational education and training might also be a successful model for adult learning. Vocational education and training should be incorporated, according to the principles of lifelong learning, in an individual’s holistic development in order to ensure an effective implementation. Via this approach, WBL would not only be a key element of lifelong learning, but would above all constitute a long-awaited bridge between the educational areas that are still thought of in Europe as being independent from one another.

Work-based Learning and Apprenticeships Network (NetWBL)

From 2013 to 2016, 29 national agencies in Europe joined forces to form the network Work-based Learning and Apprenticeships (NetWBL). They worked together on making the contents and work of the projects concerning work-based learning visible and, above all, useful for everyone. To this end, they identified, classified and disseminated NetWBL-relevant project results from the programme for lifelong learning, as well as from Erasmus+ at the start. The project succeeded in significantly increasing the appreciation for work-based learning in vocational education and training and in higher education in Europe.

Work-based Learning TOOLKIT

The core product of the network is the WBL TOOLKIT, the first European web-based platform which provides comprehensive materials and transferable instruments for work-based learning. Politicians, social partners, institutes of higher education, and stakeholders of relevant educational sectors can use the platform to learn more about and implement WBL in their company, educational institution and in their country. The WBL TOOLKIT consists of three elements: an introduction to WBL, tools, and other resources. The central part, the database of a total of 90 tools, offers instruments, models, methods and examples for WBL. A variety of additional resources complements the offer: a bibliography with to date 300 electronically available publications in multiple languages, a collection of case examples on implementing WBL, a glossary of relevant specialist terminology as well as the list of projects which supplied the tools and products.

Take a look inside the WBL toolkit yourself!

 Want to know more? Read more articles from the EPALE Work-based Learning Week.

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