UP-AEPRO in Iceland

 

In a dialogue meeting in Reykjavik, the participants discussed questions related to the European project UP-AEPRO on competence development. More people need upskilling in order to meet new demands. Many need further education to meet new demands resulting from the pandemic and the 4th industrial revolution.

 
Eyrún Björk Valsdóttir and Fjóla María Lárusdóttir (Photo. Bjorn Garðarsson)

The UP-AEPRO project

- The Education and Training Service Centre has, on behalf of Iceland and in collaboration with NVL and several other educational organizations in Europe, participated in the European project UP-AEPRO (Upskilling Pathways - Adult Education Professionals), says Fjóla María Lárusdóttir, development manager at ETSC, member of NVL's validation network and participant in the project.

The project is coordinated by the EAEA - European Association for the Education of Adults. The project has, among other things, arranged a series of online courses under the title «Innovate, learn, share, act». Further education that deals with strategy and how adults' opportunities for learning and validation can be supported

About the Education and Training Service Centre, ETSC

The Education and Training Service Centre plays an important role in skills development in Iceland. The Centre’s origins are from the grass roots. The Centre was established after tripartite negotiations shortly after the turn of the century. The reason was that about a third of the workforce had limited education and had not completed education at upper secondary school level. Those with limited education, who are the target group, are people with diverse skills who must be made visible and activated in different ways. The Centre's main goal is to develop the system for adult learning in collaboration with the lifelong and vocational learning Centres. ETCS is owned by the partners in working life, and their representatives form the board. The basis for funding is a service agreement with the Ministry of Education.

- The goal is to shed light on the continuing needs of experts and others who work with adult learning, as well as those who develop a strategy for education or competence development. We wanted to open opportunities for them to familiarize themselves with the development of the field in Europe and gain insight into other countries' systems and development projects, says Fjóla María Lárusdóttir.

In line with European strategy

The purpose of the courses is to deepen knowledge and create a basis for discussion about the EU’s strategy for adult learning with the heading “Upskilling Pathway” (UP). It is about further developing the European knowledge society and supporting adult learning and further education to meet today's challenges of, among other things, competitiveness, welfare, and sustainability. It is estimated that around 60 million people in Europe, who have not completed upper secondary education, belong to the strategy´s target group.

The situation in Iceland

- From the very beginning, in 2003, The Education and Training Service Centre has placed the main emphasis on three measures to meet the target group's needs: Guidance, validation and study plans for both general and professional subjects. As is apparent from the following picture, we have succeeded to some extent. A significantly smaller part of the workforce belongs to the target group today, compared to when the centre was established, says Fjóla María Lárusdóttir.

graf-en-800x507.jpg
Source: Statistics Iceland

- But because of CORONA, over 40% of those who are either unemployed or laid off belong to ETSC´s target group. This group has various skills in demand in the labour market, and in general unemployment has been low in Iceland, and people have been able to apply acquired skills. Therefore, it is relevant for us at ETCS to have a dialogue with other experts and stakeholders to discuss how we can meet the needs of the target group. We asked participants at the meeting several specific questions. The conclusions are disseminated nationally to policy makers and experts and in the UP-AEPRO project's product, including the Advocacy toolkit, where successful measures for competence development for adults who have not completed upper secondary education are highlighted. The project will end in December 2020, says Fjóla María Lárusdóttir.

We asked Eyrún Björk Valsdóttir, head of education at Alþýðusamband Ísland (Iceland's LO) and former chairman of the board of The Education and Training Service Centre, the same questions.

What do we have that works well?

- We have a close network of contacts. In the lifelong learning centres, there are people who know the local community well, both the businesses and the residents. The centres’ employees have great professional competence, and there is a long and good tradition of collaboration with The Education and Training Service Centre. We benefit from the great advantages we have gained from participating in several Nordic and European projects, such as UP-AEPRO. The experience we have acquired is reflected in the development of our measures, especially regarding validation and guidance, says Eyrún Björk Valsdóttir.

How can we better facilitate adult participation in education?

- We need greater flexibility between systems. Those who acquire education according to our curricula at the lifelong learning centres are enrolled in informal education, but eventually they want it to be approved in the formal school system. Adults also need the workplace to approve informal learning and its value. Informal learning takes place not only in the centres, but also to a large extent in the workplace, says Eyrún Björk.

Personer deltager i et møde

In times of crisis, the need for innovation is more urgent, and closer cooperation between the social partners and the authorities is even more essential. The companies' need for improved strategic competence development is growing. Finally, greater personal responsibility is needed among the growing number of people who are either completely out of work or are laid off.

Eyrún Björk Valsdóttir, head of the education department at LO, also has clear opinions on the role of the government:

- In Iceland, we have not yet analysed the need for competence. It lays the foundation for the development of a national strategy for both labour and competence policy strategy. We propose that the social partners cooperate with the government on developing this. Regarding this aspect, we could follow the development of competence policy measures in Finland and Norway. The Finns have been able to analyse and shed light on skills needs for the future labour market in Finland, and Norwegians launched a national skills policy strategy as early as 2017, says Eyrún Björk Valsdóttir.

Better knowledge of adult learning

- But we must gather increasing knowledge about adult learning. This requires efforts from all stakeholders, the partners and trade unions, in addition to the Education Training Service Centre and all lifelong learning centres. We should be constantly reminded, for example in social media, says Eyrún Björk Valsdóttir.

Does the pandemic affect the development?

- It is not only the pandemic that affects this development, but also the 4th industrial revolution. Automation and robotisation mean that several tasks or jobs disappear completely or partially. New requirements are set for digital competences and increased further and continuing education. Education will to a greater extent take place in digital arenas, where participants buy or gain access to digital courses that they follow when and where it suits them. Possibly, it will also lead to people wanting to contribute more in the development of their own studies, wanting broader knowledge, from several institutions, organizations, arenas, and/or environments, rather than adopting defined fields of study that end with graduation in a specific subject? - concludes Eyrún Björk Valsdóttir.

About the Education and Training Service Centre, ETSC

The Education and Training Service Centre plays an important role in skills development in Iceland. The Centre’s origins are from the grass roots. The Centre was established after tripartite negotiations shortly after the turn of the century. The reason was that about a third of the workforce had limited education and had not completed education at upper secondary school level. Those with limited education, who are the target group, are people with diverse skills who must be made visible and activated in different ways. The Centre's main goal is to develop the system for adult learning in collaboration with the lifelong and vocational learning Centres. ETCS is owned by the partners in working life, and their representatives form the board. The basis for funding is a service agreement with the Ministry of Education.

Here you can find the Project homepage with further information.

Her is an overview of the webinars/courses in the UP-AEPRO Project.

You will find more examples on good methods in EAEA’s Manifesto for Adult Learning in the 21st Century: The Power and Joy of Learning here
Competence development, adult learning, competence strategy

Erasmus Programme

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