Meeting the Challenge: Skills Development in EU Development Cooperation

What is the role of lifelong learning in development cooperation? Which role could civil society stakeholders in development play in promoting lifelong learning? To discuss these issues, the advisory group on “Adult Education and Development: LLL for all”, composed of civil society and EU representatives, met for a workshop on Wednesday, 5 March 2014, at the EAEA office in Brussels.

“To date, the connection between adult education and development has not been investigated sufficiently. However, the message was clearly understood that adult education and vocational training should play a bigger role in development policy”, Uwe Gartenschlaeger from DVV International said.
Newer developments in the UNESCO show that there has been a shift from primary education to lifelong learning and technical and vocational training and education (TVET). Furthermore, the European Commission (EC) has conducted research on cooperation projects in the TVET field.

Shift towards skills development and vocational training

Donatella Gobbi from the European Commission (DG DEVCO) presented the EC study TVET and Skills Development in EU Development Cooperation which was released in January 2014. The approach of the EU was a long time focused on academic skills. Lately, there has been a shift towards Skills Development (SD) and Vocational Training and Education (VET).
“For the jobs of today and tomorrow – because we live in times of globalisation –, skills and competences required in particular occupations play a major role”, Donatella Gobbi stated.
This is not only true for EU countries, but for developing countries as well. Since 2012, there has been a “renaissance” of VET and Skills Development.
Implementing VET and adult education policies in development – not an easy task
“VET financing in development is still the weakest link in all current reforms and the sustainability of projects is always a big question mark. Policies still neglect the informal workers, and there is a lack of quality in education, synchronisation with national programmes, and coordination with other donors”, Donatella Gobbi said.
Ms Gobbi called for solid evidence-based analysis and information on the Labor Market and VET system in order to better focus the projects.
"Early and systematic involvement of social partners and businesses in project formulation and delivery increases effectiveness, ownership, sustainability and impact. Support to local skills development initiatives often prove more relevant and effective", she stated.
Consequently, development cooperation asks for new strategies, concepts and indicators in TVET and Skills Development. There is need for better and simpler financing, organisation and management of projects, and better quality and access to TVET.
- “However, taking into account the often difficult political and economic situation in developing countries, these processes need time”, Ms Gobbi remarked.
Continuing the discussion
The discussion will continue in the future, especially in regard of 2015 which will be the European Year of Development. In June, the EC will offer a training on VET for delegations, including a module on social partners and civil society in VET. DVV International and EAEA are invited to participate. It is also envisaged to produce a common paper about partnership dialogue and lifelonf learning.
The advisory group on “Adult Education and Development: LLL for all” was formed in 2012 by EAEA and DVV International. The group targets at establishing a dialogue among education and development stakeholders on the challenges and opportunities for non-formal adult education in the development sector.
Source of text: EAEA (

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