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Information on Conference Results 

On 23 September 2011 in Warsaw, a conference on Developing cooperation between VET, higher education and adult learning in response to challenges of lifelong learning  organised by the Foundation for the Development of the Education System in cooperation with the Ministry of National Education and Ministry of Science and Higher Education was held as an event accompanying Polish presidency of the Council of the European Union.  The conference was devoted to supporting cooperation between education institutions, higher education institutions in particular, and the labour market and social environment with a view to ensure quality education, permeability between individual education sub-systems and strengthening lifelong learning.

The conference was attended by representatives of the European Commission, CEDEFOP experts, representatives of ministries in individual member states responsible for vocational education and training and higher education, as well as representatives of academic circles, decision makers in the field of vocational education and training and adult learning, social partners, and career guidance experts. A study visit entitled Raising Quality of VET in cooperation with employers and higher education organised by National Centre for Supporting Vocational and Continuing Education in cooperation with FRSE was an accompanying event for the conference.

During plenary session and workshops, participants emphasised the role of European and National Qualifications Frameworks, and validation and accreditation systems for ensuring the quality of education and permeability between education systems across Europe. They also emphasised the need for enhanced complementarity of the systems, in particular in the field of vocational education and training and higher education.  It has been agreed that participation of social partners in the knowledge triangle, which covers vocational education and training, higher education and the labour market, should be strengthened. The contribution of the Lifelong Learning Programme as an European instrument, which encourages cross-sector cooperation, in particular between employers and HEIs, has also been emphasised. Experts stressed the need for adapting to permanent change in the labour market and extended work time, which results in the need to consistently raise and update qualifications. This is why the validation of competences, also these acquired as part of non-formal and informal education will be a prerequisite for employees’ staying in the labour market. Starting at possibly the earliest stages of formal education, young people should be prepared for shaping lifelong learning attitudes. The need to develop curricula based on learning outcomes and the importance of further intensive works on the implementation of National Qualifications Frameworks have also been stressed. The role of lifelong career guidance, which should be offered by qualified and well prepared counsellors starting at early stages of school education and professional guidance throughout the professional career should be emphasised. In this way, lifelong learning becomes the basis for lifelong professional activity.

Conclusions from the Conference

a) Initial Vocational Education and Training:
- Implementation of National Qualifications Framework and the ECVET system is a precondition for ensuring permeability in education and should be supported at all levels.
- School curricula should be better adjusted to the needs of the labour market, and representatives of higher education institutions should participate in adaptation works;
- cooperation between schools, enterprises, HEIs and social partners should be developed in order to ensure the graduates easy passage from learning to work environment and to promote other than academic forms of education;
- legal and financial frames should be created to support student participation in placements and vocational training, as well as international mobility as part of vocational education and training. For this purpose, language learning and ICT tool usage should be promoted;
- special efforts should be made to ensure that teacher education also includes possibilities for staging teacher training at HEIs or enterprises.

b) Continuing Education:
- Continuing education, also this offered by HEIs, including such forms as post-graduate and “a la carte” programmes, should become more accessible;
- lifelong learning guidance services should play a special role and should be accessible to all groups in the labour market;
- the quality of continuing education in VET sector is interrelated with the quality of education and training providers, therefore an accreditation system for these institutions should be introduced;
- It is indispensable to shape in young people who enter the labour market soft skills and attitudes consistent with employer’s expectations;
- HEIs should open to adult learners/students and raise the status of lifelong learning;
- Development of curricula based on learning outcomes as a precondition for recognition of qualifications should be promoted.

c) From the perspective of Higher Education Institutions, it is recommended that:
- approach based on learning outcomes is promoted;
- academic curricula and study programme focused on practical education are developed; ‘blind alley” study programmes should be avoided;
- employers should be included in the development works on HEI study programmes;
- graduates’ careers should be mandatorily monitored;
- placements and training with well-defined learning outcomes should be introduced to study programmes.

Presentations

Keynote speech

1. Richard Lewis, former President of International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education, United Kingdom;
HE and VET; enhancing quality through strengthening links with the wider community

Introduction to the workshop

2. Mieczysława Nowotniak, Deputy Director of the Education Office, The Council of the Capital City of Warsaw, Poland; Cooperation between vocational schools, HEIs and employers in the city of Warsaw
3. Barbara Höller, QALLL Project Manager, Austrian Agency for Academic Cooperation OEAD, Austria; Quality Assurance in Lifelong Learning with a focus on Adult Education and Vocational Education and Training (online available after the registration) 
4. Raimo Vuorinen, Project Manager and Coordinator of European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network, University of Jyväskylä, Finnish Institute for Educational Research, Finland; Individual learning pathways and flexible learning opportunities – implications for lifelong career management skills and comprehensive guidance systems

Workshop “Cooperation IVET – HEIs”

5. Isabelle Le Mouillour, CEDEFOP; Articulating qualifications frameworks, credit systems and validation for permeability in education and training
6. Tomasz Saryusz-Wolski, Centre for International Education, Łódź University of Technology, Poland; Can the ECVET be an added value to ECTS?
7. Karin Luomi-Messerer, 3s research laboratory, Austria; Opportunities and challenges for permeability between VET and HE examples from Austria
8. Berthold Hübers, Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training BIBB, Germany; Actor, Advisor, Consumer: The Role of the Social Partners in the Knowledge Triangle VET, HE and labour market in Germany
9. Barbara Pużańska, Deputy Director, and Maciej Siemiątkowski, EU Funds Specialist, Polish Association of Construction Industry Employers, Poland;
Need for continuing vocational training of construction industry employees – equal chances on European Labour Market

Cooperation CVET – HEIs

10. Klaus Fahle, NA Director (BIBB), Germany; Dual university programmes – a contribution to innovation in HE and VET
11. Michael Ryan, Gecko Programmes, United Kingdom; Is Lifelong Learning essential for Lifelong Employment in 2011?
12. Marek Góra, Professor of the Warsaw School of Economics, Poland; Education for lifelong activity
13. Clementina Marinoni, Fondazione Politecnico di Milano, Italy; Engineering observatory on Competence-based Curricula for job Enhancement (Ecce)
14. Agnieszka Chłoń-Domińczak, Educational Research Institute IBE, Poland; Validation of skills acquired in an informal and non-formal way
15. Tibor Bors Borbely-Pecze, senior advisor of the Hungarian National Employment Service – National Employment Office, Hungary; Guidance in Lifelong Learning from strategies to practice; Career guidance without barriers

Summary reports from the workshops – Conclusions: the way forward

16. Marek Polak, Director of the Centre for International Cooperation, Warsaw University of Technology, Poland; First workshop conclusions
17. Joanna Basztura, Leonardo da Vinci Programme, Directorate General for Education and Culture, European Commission; Second workshop conclusions
18. Andrzej Kraśniewski, Secretary General of  the Conference of Rectors of Academic Schools in Poland; Cooperation between VET and HE. Transformations in the Polish HE as seen by academic community