5.A Preconditions for a fruitful dialogue

It is widely recognized that the world of work is undergoing rapid and deep changes brought about by technological development, demographics, globalization and climate change. These trends are affecting the composition of employment, the nature of the tasks carried out at work and the skills required in the labour market. They are also putting enormous pressure on traditional education and training systems, calling for improved quality and new approaches to lifelong learning.

Social dialogue is widely viewed as critical for the success of VET, both initial vocational training (i-VET) and continuing vocational training (C-VET). Especially where the social partners are involved in the identification of training needs, curricula and content of training (Finlay and Niven, 1996). Equally, VET is made more legitimate and relevant to the needs of industry, reducing the gap between training providers.  Especially in the formal state education system, and end users in the world of work (source: Social Dialogue over Vocational Education and Training in Europe).  Social dialogue and the process for reaching agreement between stakeholders forms a major component of successful evidence-based VET.

Initiating fruitful dialogue with long established or newly emerging structures or networks requires a number of important preconditions.  So, what are these? Preconditions for a fruitful dialogue includes the need to have the appropriate stakeholder structure in place. Further, dialogue within such stakeholder structures will be significantly beneficial if a suitable comparative study is undertaken. A gap analysis on what aspects of evidence based VET exists and what aspects are missing will help formulate an insightful response. Equally, fuel meaningful discussions.

  • 5A.1.National Report Template
  • 5A.2.National Report_UK
  • 5A.3.WP4 Final Report 
  • Engagement: all participants within the structure should be stakeholders, each recognizing both the purpose and value of their participation. They should have an obligation for giving input and using output. Each should be committed to the goal and the pathway set out. Therefore, it is important to consider the following, “How do we involve employers and secure their long-term commitment?” Further, “How do we foster collaboration to ensure that needs are specified and VET provision meets those needs?” Ultimately, all parties should recognise the value and benefits from being involved e.g.
    1. Higher number of sustained transitions into employment
    2. Higher level of craftsmanship linked to labour market need 
  • 5A.4.Interview Guide
  • 5A.5.Background Paper to Interview Guide

The experimental nature of QSE-VET featured two types of occupational mapping to facilitate the dialogue between VET schools/institutions and the labour market. From an EQAVET 5 and 6 perspective at sector level, the ‘Sector Map’ provided a frame of reference for the occupational domain. Detailed job descriptions provided stakeholders with a common vocabulary and a touchstone for work-place performance and VET relevance. The approach applied was based on the presumption that there is and there always will be some distance between VET programmes and job requirements. Therefore, both the purpose and the assignment of stakeholders and the policy context in which they operate, is that there needs to be heightened awareness of the friction between employment policy, VET provision and the labour market. The challenge is to keep the gap as narrow as possible, which can be achieved by diversity of representation.

  • 5A.6.JobProfiling
  • 5A.7.SectorMap_Italy
  • 5A.8.Views On The VET System_Sweden 
  • Representativeness: of diverse people and organisations. It is important to identify and involve the most relevant stakeholders and who will bring contributions from different perspectives, including those who effectively play the role of a critical friend. Therefore, you may want to consider “Who are the most effective people to sit around this table? What do they represent? What is their influence in their own community? Are they capable of switching between individual/common interests?”
  • Continuity in relations: development of relationships and mutual understanding and commitment requires scheduled meaningful and constructive face-to-face meetings and other forms of frequent and flexible contact with concrete results and impacts.
  • Mutual responsiveness and commitment, vulnerability and trust: so that stakeholders are enabled to think along with each other. Stakeholders engaged need to be willing and able to share sensitive information. Further, will explain difficulties in their own organization, and will give and ask for understanding.
  • Congruency: if this dialogue is about education and training, this dialogue must encourage and support a learning character – to care about and act on core ethical and equity values. Further, to take responsibility for self and others in a co-design process.
  • Balance in support and speed: building resilience for addressing more challenging issues by first taking small steps that yield quick results.
  • Avoid avoiding: stakeholders should be encouraged to identify difficult issues and be fully cooperative in and committed to effective problem-solving.
  • Be creative and practical: be prepared to and enjoy ‘thinking outside of the box’. Take a solution-driven approach that is practical.
  • Accountability: VET programmes are of public importance. Therefore, stakeholders must take collective responsibility for the visibility of input, process, and results.