Working title Strategies to increase participation in adult learning by chenmeixiu


									"Learning does not stop when you finish school or university. We live in a rapidly changing
world in the Information Age, and our workforce must make sure it has the general skills
required by our demanding globalised environment. Also, as our society ages, it is more
important than ever before that adults continue to learn new skills or refresh old knowledge
throughout their lives."

Jan Figel
European Commissioner for Education and Culture

Madeleine Gunny and Evelyn Viertel



This publication came about thanks to a genuine team effort. The editors are grateful to the
many experts inside and outside the European Training Foundation who have provided
valuable contributions. In this context, special thanks are due to:
 Zaklina Gestakovska from Macedonia and Robert Teunissen from the ETF for providing
    inputs to the chapter on “Promoting HRD in companies and assisting small companies”.

1. Introduction

Over the past decade the countries of South East Europe have faced and continue to face
unprecedented changes in the political, economic and social spheres. Transition has had a
major impact on the skills enterprises need to maintain and improve competitiveness and the
growing numbers of small and micro businesses need a range of skills to survive in difficult
market conditions. With privatisation, former state or socially owned industries in Southeast
European countries have closed or restructured, or are in the process of doing so, which has
led to high unemployment, and in particular long-term, structural unemployment. Despite
efforts to strengthen their economies, economic growth is slow and job growth minimal. There
is substantial social exclusion, and poverty has reached critical levels. Moreover, there is a
growing social and economic gap between people with relevant skills for the market and
those with obsolete or low skills.

Major sectoral restructuring and diversification, changing shares of employment in agriculture,
manufacturing and the service sector coupled with changes in job content have increased the
demand for different occupational skills. Set against these changes is the evolving impact of
the global knowledge economy and pressure to raise the quality and level of skills across the
board. The spread of higher technology and information communication technologies is not
skills neutral and increases pressure on workers to upgrade their technological competence
and acquire ICT skills to remain in employable. Other key competences, such as
communication in the mother tongue and foreign languages, mathematical, scientific and
technical literacy, learning-to-learn skills, interpersonal competences, entrepreneurship skills
and the ability to innovate are increasingly important for employment and self-employment.
Despite these general trends, the actual demand for skills in local labour markets may not yet
reflect such skill shifts as transition is ongoing and economic growth may not have
materialised. In closed labour markets characterised by low technology, the demand for
skilled labour is low and enterprises have, as a rule, no difficulty recruiting labour. Closed
labour markets cannot absorb large numbers of highly skilled labour, especially young people
without work experience, many of whom migrate to find employment abroad. Whilst migration
provides people with employment and opportunities to obtain experience and skills, the
downside is that it also reduces the supply of skills when economies begin to grow rapidly.

The challenge for transition economies is to address skill mismatches and skill shortages,
which takes time and is compounded by the pace of economic, technological and social
change and by the scale of skill deficits. Enterprises under most pressure need to adopt
appropriate short-term and long-term appropriate human resources development measures
so that they are able to respond effectively to immediate and specific business situations.
They need to be forward looking to anticipate future skill needs so that they have a workforce
with the right mix of skills and competences at the right time to respond to new business
demands. In practice, this means adopting a range of measures and a systematic process for
human resources planning that is linked to business development and takes account of the
external and internal business environment.

Southeast European countries and territories that emerged from the break-up of the former
Republic of Yugoslavia have also had to come to terms with the after-math of a war, that left
communities as well as economies in disarray. Community divisions and ethnic tensions have
to be addressed alongside economic restructuring. This, in turn, requires people with skills of
advocacy and reconciliation and the ability to bring different communities together.

Responsibility for developing skills and competences is a shared one between enterprises,
government and individuals. Governments and employers have a shared interest in economic
growth, wealth creation and social progress. These will be hard to realise without an
adequately trained and technological progress, new production methods, organisational
change and a workforce which is flexible, able to adapt and to innovate with new products
and services. Individuals, too, need to take responsibility for developing their skills for career
progression and to ensure their employability in a constantly changing labour market.
Continuous investment in skills throughout life is much more important today and requires the
injection of substantial new financial resources from enterprises, individuals and

Many institutions, enterprises and individuals are ill-prepared for the complexity and depth of
the changes which are fundamentally transforming working and social life today. To respond
effectively to permanent change, OECD countries and European Union member states have
given much more importance to making lifelong learning a reality. Lifelong learning emerged
as a key policy issue towards the end of the 1990s as a strategic response to globalisation,
the knowledge economy, continual market and technological change, growing unemployment
and rising social exclusion.

Lifelong learning is a continuum that extends from early childhood education, through initial
education and working life into retirement. Learning takes place anywhere, in kindergartens,
schools and other institutions, at work, in the community or at home. Governments and their
partners are asked to put policies and institutional arrangements in place that ensure lifelong
access to opportunities for acquiring the knowledge and competences essential for economic
development, social and civic progress and personal development.

This publication focuses on the adult phase of lifelong learning – an area that has tended to
be neglected in education reforms in the countries and territories of South East Europe so far.
It draws on analyses and findings from a project carried out by the European Training
Foundation in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and the fYR Macedonia in the period
between 2003 and 2005. Local teams of experts were assisted in the assessment of current
adult learning policies and practices and in the design of adult learning strategies and action
plans. Adult learning covers all learning undertaken by adults for whatever purpose. It is wider
than learning related to employment, professional development and social inclusion and
includes learning for personal development and interest. Notwithstanding the intrinsic value of
all learning, we, the authors, would argue that the first priorities for governments in the context
of transition and scarce financial resources, are to concentrate on skills that stimulate
competitiveness, employment and economic growth, empower people to remain employable
and to move from poverty and social exclusion to work. Hence, in this publication the focus is
on learning related to employment, which is underpinned by the European employment
objectives. Adult learning takes into account formal learning in institutions, non-formal but
structured learning acquired for example at work, as well as random or informal learning.

Following an analysis of the socio-economic trends and their impact on skills and adult
learning systems in the countries, we elaborate on the policy areas listed below that we
believe are important to boost adult learning and ultimately contribute to raising the overall
skill levels of the population:

          raising awareness of the importance of lifelong learning and creating a learning
          promoting HRD in companies and promoting the continuing development of key
           competences among the adult population;
          developing an effective adult learning system responsive to the diverse learning
           needs of adults including young people;
          customising learning offers and methodologies and furthering the professional
           development of adult trainers;
          ensuring quality in adult learning;
          developing qualification frameworks and processes to assess and certify skills
           acquired through prior formal, non-formal or informal learning and experience;
          developing further lifelong information, guidance and counselling systems;
          providing specific support to groups of companies and individuals under-represented
           in learning; and
          promoting intelligence, research and continuous development of adult learning;
          systematic monitoring and evaluation of progress.

There have been many developments in Southeast European countries in the past few years,
which were initiated primarily by donors. Substantial donor funding and technical assistance
have, for instance, gone into active labour market measures, the reform of vocational
curricula and schools, retraining programmes, specific training programmes for
disadvantaged groups and for small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as retraining as
part of wider local economic regeneration projects. However, these initiatives have for the
most part taken place in a policy vacuum. They have very often been ad hoc and were not
followed up when donor projects expired.

The strategies drawn up in the frame of the European Training Foundation project testifies to
the fact that the countries in South East Europe are now giving a higher policy priority to adult
learning, although the full impact of policy change has yet to be realised. With this publication,
we hope to contribute to related national debates. Our analyses show that, for the most part,
the former private and public adult learning infrastructure declined over the last decade and in
some cases collapsed altogether. There is, thus, a need for a coherent adult learning policy
framework that connects up the different strands and actors of adult learning as part of
lifelong learning. Higher investment in the skills and knowledge of people will ultimately
support business competitiveness and growth and ensure people remain competitive in the
open labour market. It is also important to tackle social exclusion by ensuring that those who
are economically and socially disadvantaged and exposed to long-term unemployment have
equal access to continuing training to increase their employability.


2.1.       The need for a broader concept of skills and competences

One of the key challenges of lifelong learning is to enable young people and adults to develop
skills or competences that are relevant and appropriate for working and social life. However,
the concept of skills has changed substantially and covers a broad range of specific and
generic skills that are needed in the workplace today. Payne (2004) provides a useful
summary: Traditionally, he argues, „skills‟ referred to „hard‟ technical abilities and know-how
needed by manufacturing workers and technicians or the analytical capacities of scientists.
The concept has since broadened to include „soft‟, „core‟, „generic‟, „key‟ or „transferable‟ skills
that are important for success in the labour market. These have wide application across
different employment situations. There are the new „basic skills‟ which are not the same as
basic foundation or life skills, such as literacy and arithmetic ability. These „soft‟ skills include

communication skills, process skills, ICT, team working, problem solving skills, learning how
to learn and being responsible for improving ones own learning and performance. Payne
suggests that these important generic skills, with the exception of the more measurable or
„hard‟ skills, such as IT and modern languages, may be downplayed in reforms to vocational
qualifications and curricula precisely because they are not open to measurement and are
acquired in many different and subtle ways.

Employers also ask for certain personal qualities and values, attitudes and attributes in their
workforce which have been incorporated into the notion of „skill‟. These include leadership
skills, positive attitudes towards change, integrity and motivation. Creativity is important, too,
because it helps enterprises to respond to market change and to innovate. In the service
sector, in particular, employers also look for good interpersonal and customer handling skills.
This means that the workforce needs to have good „emotional‟ or „people‟ skills in order to
manage their own feelings and those of their customers. These kinds of skills are acquired
through interaction with others.

At European level, basic skills emerged as a key element in lifelong learning in 2000 when the
Lisbon European Council called on Member States, the Council and the European
Commission to establish a European framework for „new basic skills‟. An EU working group
on key competences found that the key competences are those that are „needed for personal
fulfilment, active citizenship and social inclusion and employment in the knowledge society‟.

The term „competence‟ refers to “the ability to meet complex demands” and to “a combination
of interrelated knowledge, cognitive skills, attitudes, values, motivation and emotions”.
Competence is “action-based and context-oriented” (Rychen, 2006), which means that it
depends on specific situations or circumstances. „Key competences‟ are „important for all
individuals” rather than specific competencies used only in particular occupations or walks of
life. They are “transversal” and require a “critical stance and a reflective practice that goes
well beyond the accumulation of knowledge and facts and basic skills” (ibid).

Key competences include specific skills to carry out a certain task, as well as „more flexible,
generic and transferable competences‟. The EU reference framework describes eight key
competences: communication in a person‟s mother tongue, communication in a foreign
language, mathematical literacy and basic competences in science and technology, digital
competence, learning to learn, interpersonal and civic competences, sense of innovation and
entrepreneurship, and cultural expression (European Commission, 2005).

2.2.    Higher level technical and basic skills

To adapt and maintain competitiveness in response to technological change and higher
consumer requirements, enterprises need appropriate organisational structures, a skilled
workforce and able management. These changes not only impact on the structure of
employment and the types of skills enterprises need, but also increase demand for a more
highly skilled and educated workforce for the global knowledge economy (cf. OECD, 2001). In
particular, a need for modern management frameworks calls for higher skilled and
professional managers. The greater use of information and communication technologies
across a broad range of occupations also requires higher levels of literacy skills and new
skills, such as the ability to access and absorb a mass of information. The latter has then to
be sifted for relevance and fit with the tasks in hand. In the global knowledge economy, a
relevant upper secondary level qualification is now considered to be the minimum qualification
level for entering the labour market and staying employable in the majority of the professions.

The upward lift in skills in developed economies has in part been met by the development of
advanced technical or vocational studies (see the example of Sweden in section 3 below), by
the provision of advanced short updating courses for adults in tertiary non-higher and higher
education institutions and by the spread of advanced professional courses, such as MBAs
that sometimes require prior work experience. More attention has also been given by
governments to raising the skills level of all people, and especially of those with low
educational attainment levels who are more at risk of losing their jobs and becoming
marginalized. In European Union countries employers who traditionally sponsored training for

their highly skilled and skilled workers are increasingly addressing the skill needs of
employees who have lower educational attainment or skills levels.

Despite these positive trends, the OECD comparisons of skill levels in 30 countries show that
the problem of low educational attainment levels in the adult population of people aged
between 25 and 64 years is a critical issue for all the countries surveyed. There are very wide
variations between the percentage of the population with low skills which ranges from 12% of
the population in the Czech Republic to 86% of the population in Mexico (OECD, 2004a).

The quality of the human and social capital in transition countries will be a key determinant of
future economic growth, wealth creation and social progress over the coming decade. An
analysis of the educational attainment levels in the Southeast European countries and
territories below shows that substantial numbers of adults in the population of working age (15
years and over), including unemployed and inactive populations have low educational
attainment or skill levels. This is likely to be a constraint on future economic growth if no
action is taken to raise skill levels.

Table 1: Educational attainment level of population aged 15 and over, 2003 unless

Level of       Albania,       BiH,        Croatia,     Kosovo       fYR               Monte      Serbia
Qualifica-     Census         HSPS        Census       2002         Macedonia,        negro
tion           2001           2001         2001                     ETF LMR

or less
                   59          39.8         40.4       55.0         56.2              35.2       36.5


                   33          50.6         47.1       41.0         45.1              53.9       52.6

                   8          9.6         11.9         3.0          12                11         10.8

Source: Statistical Office of Kosovo, Labour Force Survey 2002, Preliminary Results on Educational

Notes: In BiH, the fYR Macedonia and Serbia the population is 15-64. In Montenegro the group “upper
secondary” includes “lower secondary”. For Croatia the category “others” which is not included in this
table encompasses 0.7%.

NB: The statistics are not comparable. They show a snapshot for each individual country which is time
and survey specific.

Whilst illiteracy levels have been falling and are low in all the countries (ranging from under
5% in Kosovo to 1.8% in Croatia), the real problem is one of low skills in the population of
working age, which is a major constraint not only to competitiveness but also to efforts to
reduce social exclusion. It is self-evident that improving skills across the board will not alone
solve chronic unemployment or reverse economic decline, but investment in people‟s skills is
a central part of integrated measures to tackle these problems.

One problem that has not been fully recognised is the problem of poor basic foundation skills
in the workforce. Despite low levels of illiteracy in the countries, there is a substantial
proportion of employees who have low skills and are functionally illiterate and innumerate to
the extent that they are unable to perform basic tasks efficiently. Yet, the problem tends to be
hidden, under-estimated or unrecognised. The table below provides an indication of the scale
of the problem of low skills in the workforce. Governments in the countries and the social

partners have few policies for tackling functional illiteracy and poor arithmetic ability among
people at work.

Table 2: Employment rates by educational attainment, 15 and over, 2003 unless noted
                          1                             3
 Level of       Albania           BiH,       Croatia        Kosovo      fYR         Monte-        Serbia
Qualifica-                       2003                                  Mace-        negro
   tion                                                                donia

Lower                                        ISCED 2
Secondary      (57.3)          30.1          or less:       …         20.7          …            42.8
or less                                      35.4

Upper                                        ISCED
Secondary                                    3+4:           …                       …
               (63.9)          53.7          59.6                     43,9                       58.2
education      (83.5)          61.6          79.2           …         63.6          …            77.8

1 - Source: INSTAT, Living Standards Measurement Survey (LSMS), 2003 (15-64 year old)
2 - Source: ETF, Labour market review of Bosnia-Herzegovina, European Training Foundation
  publication, Turin, 2006. ETF own calculation from Household Survey Panel Series (HSPS) data for
  the working age population (15-64 year old).
3 - data for 2004, 2nd quarter
4 - Source: ETF, Labour market review of the fYR Macedonia, European Training Foundation
  publication, Turin, 2006.

Notes: In BiH and Serbia the population is 15-64.

NB: For Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro we have not yet been able to get recent, reliable data on this.
The statistics are not comparable. They show a snapshot for each individual country which is time and
survey specific.

2.3.     The impact of economic change on the skills and knowledge needs of the
         working population

Companies are under constant pressure to change because of a number of push factors in
the external business environment and internal changes inside companies that stem from
pressures to expand or contract, reorient businesses in order to survive, continue and to grow
in the free market. Although there are periods of major upheaval, for example, when
companies restructure, there is constant pressure to adapt as markets evolve. During
transition, the adjustments that need to be made are wide and deep. Companies can only
survive if they take advantage of market opportunities as well as respond to fierce
competition. Understanding the market, customers‟ needs and developing products to meet
them depends on good business intelligence (knowing the products, services and prices of
their competitors), capital and human resources. The workforce has also to be able to adapt
quickly and efficiently to external business pressures and to specific technological and
organisational change as a consequence, for example, of the introduction of total quality
control processes, just-in-time production and lean management or simply changes prompted
by business re-engineering. This is true for all the countries and territories, although the
specific mix and level of skills the workforce will vary in line with different market share and
conditions and the phase of economic transformation. The need for higher technological
competences, for example, depends on the sophistication of the technology in use or being
introduced. Employers meet their skill requirements in three main ways: through recruiting
appropriately skilled workers, developing the competences of existing employees or by
combining the two. The effectiveness of these solutions in turn depends on the supply of
appropriately skilled human resources and the availability of good training programmes and
trainers, either in-house or external ones that respond to their specific needs. These are not
automatically available.

In practice, labour rigidities often hinder adaptation because employees may have out-of-date
qualifications, too narrow a set of occupational skills, or lack relevant generic key skills.
Recruitment may be difficult because the supply of labour with the right mix of skills,
knowledge and experience from which companies could be expected to recruit may be
relatively small. Many young people coming into the labour market for the first time may lack
relevant skills as the pace of educational reforms and modernisation of the vocational
curriculum has not always kept pace with changing skill requirements of the labour market.
Furthermore, the skills of substantial numbers of under-employed employees in large state-
controlled or subsidised enterprises awaiting privatisation are likely to have deteriorated from
lack of use. Specific skill shortages and skill mismatches have emerged despite high numbers
of unemployed people seeking work. To give just one example, a study commissioned by
Cisco Systems Croatia in March 2006 revealed that Croatia will lack more than 5,000 IT
experts by 2008. The average shortage rate of IT experts on the Croatian market was 16% in
2005 and it is forecast to grow to 25% by 2008 (IDC Consulting Agency, 2006).

Transition in South East Europe has brought a huge growth in the volume of small
enterprises, either former companies that have started to trade again or fledgling small and
micro enterprises. The example of the fYR Macedonia illustrates the problems well. Little
more than a decade has passed since the fYR Macedonia gained independence, not a long
period to adjust from a centrally planned economy to a market one. Today, the grey economy
represents an estimated 40% of GDP and unemployment stands at 37%. Not less than 98%
of all companies are of medium, small or micro size. The latter have a 49% share in total
employment and 45% in total turnover. In former times responsibility for HRD fell mainly on
the personnel units of large enterprises or on the economic chambers. However, privatisation
resulted in a proliferation of small, often family-owned businesses that usually have a
centralised decision-making structure and lack openness for external assistance. They do not
have management structures that address human resources development. They often do not
have business plans. Owners and employees have to grapple daily with immediate business
pressures and have to carry out several different functions. Low and irregular cash flow leads
to operating difficulties. There is a huge need to update old machinery, but employers would
have to pay high interest rates on any loans. Payment via barter agreements, i.e. the
exchange of goods for goods rather than goods for money, is another problem.

All this makes these businesses very vulnerable and forces human resource issues to the
bottom of the agenda. Owners and managers have little time to consider future growth or
what investment they need to make in developing their staff. Often they have insufficient
business and entrepreneurial skills or business planning capability. They may be unaware
that they have training needs, are unable to articulate them or meet them because they
cannot afford the cost of training or staff time. Moreover, suitable, affordable and high quality
training programmes tailored to their needs that offer flexible delivery either in-house or off-
the-job may not be available in the training market.

In Montenegro, the Directorate for Development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises of
the Ministry of the Economy noted in its Government strategy that small and medium-sized
enterprises currently face in particular the following constraints: low levels of business
awareness and business skills, regulatory and administrative barriers, lack of access to
affordable sources of medium and long-term finance, inadequate access to sources of
business and market information and limited availability of specialist business services.

Despite the human resources development problems that enterprises, large or small, face in
South East Europe there are many examples of exemplary practice. With foreign donor
support, the relevant national authorities are giving priority to developing business support for
small and micro businesses. Sometimes this also extends to training, in particular in
entrepreneurship, business, ICT and e-commerce skills in line with the recommendations of
the European Charter for Small Enterprises.

Experience in the fYR Macedonia shows that good human resource development practice
occurs in certain types of companies or in particular circumstances. Managers are willing to
pay for training delivered in certain fields and in certain ways. Priority is given primarily to

communication skills, skills for manpower selection and recruitment and certain specialised
skills. Examples of pro-active approaches and good practice in HRD are regularly found in the
fYR Macedonia in:

       joint ventures or companies with mixed capital,
       large companies with a human resource development department,
       companies in the information and communications technology sector that face a lack of
        skilled employees,
       companies following ISO, the local HACCP or other quality control standards, as well as
       companies that have had positive experience with training and consultancy services.

The challenge in South East Europe is to make good human resource development practice
standard in all enterprises. In this respect, they face the same challenge as European Union
member states, although the scale of the problem is much greater. Different approaches are
needed for tackling skills in large enterprises and in small and medium-sized ones. Moreover,
the precise nature of the skills and knowledge depends on specific market, cultural,
environmental and business factors and on the skill needs of individual enterprises and their

Whilst it is possible to single out some general skill trends such as management, ICT, foreign
language and higher technical skills, in reality a whole range of skills at various levels will be
needed. Training needs analyses are therefore essential for defining the precise scope of
training and development needed by specific companies and by individual workers. They form
the basis of customised on-the-job and off-the-job training programmes. Other approaches
that raise employee participation levels, create a culture of learning in enterprises and
develop ‟learning enterprises‟ are needed so that employers have the „right‟ mix of skills and
competences in time. Enterprises, unions, chambers and governments, all have a shared
interest in driving this agenda forward. The trend in local economic clustering in the countries,
which will be discussed further in section 7.2., is proving a successful business model and
provides a valuable network for developing human resources within a dynamic business

2.4. The social impact of economic restructuring: unemployment, social disadvantage,
     exclusion and poverty

Economic collapse and transition to market economies brought major social shocks. Long-
term structural unemployment emerged which widened pre-existing social inequalities. Long-
term unemployment and under-employment have had a negative impact on skills: individuals
cannot keep abreast of new developments, they become deskilled and over time less
employable and more exposed to social exclusion and poverty. Economic decline in the
countries has also seriously eroded the financial resources available to tackle social

Table 3: Total unemployment rates by country/ territory, 2004 unless noted

Country/ Territory       Participation/        Employment         Unemployment rate
                         Activity rate         rate               (population 15+)

                                       1                   2
Albania                         57.7                60.3                    15.4

BiH                             57.0                44.3                    22.1

          4                            5                   6
Croatia                         49.9                54.7                    13.6

Kosovo                          46.2                27.9                    39.7

Macedonia                       58.8                36.8                    37.4

Montenegro                     64.7                  49.8                      23.0

                                     10                                              11
Serbia                        65.2                   53.5%                    21.8

1 - Source: ETF, Labour Market review of Albania, European Training Foundation publication, Turin
  2006, based on Labour Market Assessment of INSTAT
2 - Source: INSTAT, LSMS 2004, based on working age population 15-64 years old
3 - Source: ETF, Labour market review of Bosnia-Herzegovina, European Training Foundation
  publication, 2006, own calculation from HSPS data for working age population 15-64 years, data for
  Federation of BiH and Republic of Srpska included.
4 - Source: Eurostat data based on LFS data from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, 2004.
5 - Source: Statistical information 2005, LFS data, second half of the year 2004.
6 - population aged 15–64
7 - Source: Statistical Office of Kosovo, LFS 2004.
8 - Source: ETF, Labour market review of fYR Macedonia, European Training Foundation publication,
  2006, 2004 LFS data for 15-64.
9 - Source: ETF, Labour market review of Montenegro, European Training Foundation publication, 2005,
  ETF data for 2003 (15-64 years old).
10 & 11 - LFS data for 2005

Note: Albania‟s employment rate is high and unemployment is relatively low, while in Kosovo and
Macedonia the share of employment in the grey economy is high, but employment rate is low and
unemployment high. So, we do not know whether the statistics for Albania include employment in the
grey economy.

NB: The statistics are not comparable. They show a snapshot for each individual country which is time
and survey specific.

Table 3 above illustrates that although unemployment is high in all countries or territories, the
impact of unemployment has been unequal, with some countries or territories and regions or
areas within countries being much more adversely affected than others. Although there are
differences in how unemployment rates are calculated which prevents direct comparisons, it
comes as no surprise to find that Kosovo with 39.7% has one of the highest levels of
unemployment in the region and Croatia with 13.6% one of the lowest. In terms of regional
variations, war-affected zones and regions previously characterised by mono-industries or
low-tech agriculture and affected by economic decline and in some cases contamination are
typically most affected by unemployment. Migration to urban areas has also increased
unemployment in urban centres.

    Table 4: Examples of regional variations in registered unemployment levels per
                                   country/ territory

In Croatia, the counties of Vukovar-Sirmium (31.2%), Sisak-Moslavina (29.6%), Slavonski
Brod-Posavina (29.1%), Virovitica-Podravina (29.1%) and Karlovac (27%) are those with the
highest unemployment rates, while Istria – the region bordering Slovenia and Italia, as well as
the city of Zagreb enjoy the lowest unemployment rates with 5.7% and 8%, respectively
(Croatian Employment Service, 2006, data from September 2005)


The impact of unemployment, under-employment and marginal employment in countries and
territories of South East Europe has been unequal and certain population groups are more at
risk of social exclusion and poverty. The terms „unemployed‟, „under-employed‟ or marginally
employed can be somewhat fluid. People tend to register as unemployed not necessarily
because they are unemployed but to benefit from social insurance since unemployment
benefits are very small and paid for a limited duration anyway.

 Workers in previously state or socially-owned companies that have ceased to operate are
 technically „employed‟ but they have often no work and are on occasions not paid. Many
 people registered as „unemployed‟ in reality are likely to be marginally employed in the grey
 economy in seasonal agricultural and casual service sector jobs which are illegal and poorly
 paid. The pattern of „unemployment‟ shows that the unskilled, the semi-skilled, people with
 low general educational attainment and people who have become deskilled are generally
 more at risk of social exclusion and poverty than skilled workers. However, the employment
 service may have given priority to retraining skilled or semi-skilled workers and training young
 graduates which may have further disadvantaged people with low educational and skills
 levels who are the least likely to participate in adult learning (OECD, 2003). Investing in skills
 to increase their employability is an essential component of measures to reduce poverty.

 Gender, ethnicity, disability, poor health, poverty and location factors all have a negative
 impact on access to employment and training. There are generally fewer and more limited
 adult learning opportunities in rural areas. Many young people leave school early without the
 skills needed for employment and they lack work experience. The countries have also had to
 grapple with the economic and social dislocation of war and have had to re-integrate into
 normal working life large numbers of demobilised soldiers, war widows and returning
 refugees. The level of unemployment, the impact of disadvantage and political priorities vary
 between countries and territories. In Kosovo, for example, low skills, poor educational
 attainment levels and gender are important factors (cf. Employment and Skills Observatory of
 Kosova, 2004). In Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia a top priority after the war was to help
 demobilised soldiers return to civilian life.

 At the start of transition as unemployment grew rapidly, emphasis was placed on passive
 labour market measures. More recently, the public employment services have given more
 emphasis to active labour market measures, such as job search, vocational counselling and
 guidance, individual action planning together with job brokerage services, placements,
 apprenticeships, retraining for unemployed adults in skills in demand in the labour market, job
 opportunities and the provision of small grants for the unemployed or redundant workers to
 start a business or become self-employed. However, due to a shortage of funds, the total
 number of unemployed people who benefit from active labour market measures and who find
 jobs after wards is generally very small.

 For example, in Croatia, in the entire period between March 2002 and August 2005, a total of
 80,371 unemployed people, including 37,950 women benefited from the various measures of
 the Government‟s Employment Promotion Programme. The programme as such and
 participation rates can be considered a success, as this was the first time ever active labour
 market measures were implemented in Croatia. However, figures have to be been seen
 against the total numbers of close to 390,000 unemployed persons in 2002 and slightly over
 308,000 in 2005 (yearly averages). An impact evaluation of these measures has not been
 undertaken, i.e. it has not been analysed, for example, whether subsidised jobs had led to
 substitution effects and to which extent they were sustained beyond the legally prescribed

Table 5: Croatian Employment Promotion Programme – n° of participants in the period from March
                                    2002 to August 2005

                                        From March 2002 to August                      2005
            Sub-programme                        2005
                                                         Share of                             Share of
                                        Total Women                      Total         Women
                                                          Women                               women
A – "From College to Work"               5,745   3,667         63.8          1,084        698      64.4
B – "From Classroom to Workshop"         1,874       611         32.6            252          89   35.3
C – "By Learning towards Jobs for       57,044    29,211         51.2      10,538       5,526      52.4
All" C1 – internship                     6,609     3,331         50.4        1,063        582      54.7

     See Croatian Employment Service, 2006, for more details on the individual sub-programmes.

    C2 – introduction to the job            50,435   25,880        51.3          9,475    4,944    52.2
D – "With Experience towards Profit"         6,216    3,980        64.0          1,071       722   67.4
E – "There are Chances for Us Too"            339      153         56.9            70         32   45.7
F – "Work for Veterans"                      9,153     328          3.6          1,470        52    3.5
Total                                       80,371   37,950        47.2       14,485      7,119    49.1

 Source: Croatian Employment Service, 2006, p. 27

 Employment offices also carry out labour market surveys and, with donor funding and
 assistance, they have become actively involved with regional and local stakeholders in
 regeneration projects to stimulate employment. These provide services, such as training
 needs analyses and customised training programmes to companies undergoing restructuring.

 The scale of the problem of low skills can be seen from Table 5 below which shows
 unemployment rates broken down by educational attainment levels for people aged 15 and

 Table 6: Unemployment rates by educational attainment, 15 and over, 2003 unless
 noted (to be completed)

 Level of         Albania          BiH,          Croatia      Kosovo      Macedo         Monte-    Serbia
                                        1                                                      2
 Qualifica-                        2004                                   nia            negro

 or less          …                23.8          …            …           47.1           …         14.5

 Secondary        …                23.1          …            …           …              17.9      19.2
 education        …                12.8          …            …           19.4           14.0      11.1

 1 - Source: ETF, Labour market review of Bosnia-Herzegovina, European Training Foundation
   publication, 2006, HSPS data.
 2 - Source: ETF, Labour market review of Montenegro, European Training Foundation publication, 2005.

 Note: In Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia the population is 15-64.

 Statistics in other documents show the extent and complexity of the problem of low skills. For
 example, in 2002 in Serbia, 46% of the population over 15 had basic elementary schooling or
 less (22% had not completed lower secondary schooling and a further 24% had only
 elementary schooling), which meant that over three million people had a minimum of work
 and life skills (Despotović, Popović and Dimov, 2003).

 The 2001 census in Croatia showed that a high proportion of adults (population of 15 years or
 over) had not completed basic schooling (8 years) or had very low educational attainment
 levels: 2.86% are without formal education; 15.76% dropped out from elementary school and
 21.75% have completed only elementary school (source: Central Bureau of Statistics, quoted
 from: Government of the Republic of Croatia/ Commission for Adult Education, 2004).

 In Kosovo, despite a low overall illiteracy rate of just under 5% for people aged 45 years and
 below, an estimated 40% of the population have insufficient functional literacy and numeracy
 skills and there were higher levels of illiteracy among particular groups such as women, older
 people and young people from some minority groups, e.g. Roma, Ashkali and Turks (Gribben
 et al, 2003, using data from UNFPA/IOM and the National Office of Statistics from 1999-

More about Macedonia/ Montenegro??

Providers of labour market training also face several challenges, namely the adaptation of
programmes in line with skill changes in the labour market and the demand from employers,
and the development of programmes in response to new occupations and demand including
new customised programmes for employers and targeted programmes for disadvantaged
groups. Whilst short training programmes may suffice for the better qualified and those who
have been unemployed for short periods of time who are well-placed to benefit from
brokerage services provided by public employment services whereas people with low
educational attainment levels more complex programmes.

One of the consequences of long-term unemployment and marginal employment is poverty.
High poverty levels exist in South East Europe and there are substantial numbers of citizens
who live below the poverty line, many of whom live in extreme poverty because there are no
or a low levels of social benefits. The scale of the problem of poverty across the region is
shown in the table below. The data below provide individual country snapshots that are time
and survey sample specific. Since these vary, direct comparisons are not possible,

Table 7: Poverty levels (Data - most recent statistics)

Country            Population        Unemploy-           % Population             % Population
                   size, million     ment rate           living below the         living in extreme
                                                         poverty line             poverty
                              1                                  2                     3
Albania            3.134             15.4                25.4                     14.7
                         4                5                      6
BiH                3.8               22.1                19.5
                              7           8                  9
Croatia            4.442             13.6                8.4
                         10               11                     12
Kosovo             1.9               39.7                50.3                     11.9
                              13          14                     15
Macedonia          2.023             37.1                30.2
                              16          17                     18
Montenegro         0.638             23.0                12.2

                              19          20                     21
Serbia             7.492             16.3                10.6

1 - 2005 estimate
2 - Data is taken from the World Bank database and refers to 2002.
3 - Source: World Bank, Albania Poverty Assessment, November 2003, page xiii
4 - Source: Agency of Statistics of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Demography, Thematic Bulletin, 2005.
5 - 2004 data from LSMS data
6 - Data taken from the World Bank database and refers to 2002.
7 - 2003 estimate
8 - Eurostat data based on LFS data from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, 2004.
9 - National poverty line (unofficial), defined as 15,474 Kuna/year (1998; ca. 2,063 Euro), taken from:
  World Bank, Croatia, Economic vulnerability and Welfare Study, 18 April 2001.
10 - Eurostat website
11 - Source: Statistical Office of Kosovo, LFS 2004
12 - 2000 data based on a Standard of Living Measurement Survey
13 - 2002 census
14 - ETF, Labour market review of fYR Macedonia, European Training Foundation publication, 2006,
  (2003 LFS data)
15 - Dito, (data from 2002). National poverty line is defined in relative terms, 60% of median equivalent
  expenditure of households
16 - 2002 estimate
17 – ETF, Labour market review of Montenegro, European Training Foundation publication, 2005, (2003
  LFS data)

18 – Source: World Bank, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, 2003. National poverty line defined as
  “total expenditure below the expenses of the minimal consumer basket for a standard household
  (116.2 Euro per consumer unit)”
19 - 2002 estimate
20 - 2003 LFS data
21 – Source: World Bank, Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, 2002, national poverty line defined as 2.4
  US$ a day.

NB: The statistics are not comparable. They show a snapshot for each individual country which is time
and survey specific.

Experience from European member states suggests that there are no quick fixes for solving
social disadvantage and poverty. Finding pathways back to employment for people
disadvantaged in the labour market is especially difficult when activity rates are low and
labour markets are relatively closed. From the point of view of adult learning, special,
targeted, complex programmes that combine individual needs analyses, individual action
plans, employability training and employment support with parallel services such as mentor
support, allowances for transport, childcare and dependent care, where relevant, can have
positive results. More diverse approaches to learning, adapted to individual needs that allow
adults to learn at a pace, time and in a learner-friendly environment which encourages learner
participation are also important.

With the right framework conditions, integrated local regeneration and employment initiatives
in deprived areas provide a dynamic context for improving skills and increasing opportunities
for employment. Highly successful can be initiatives that combine top down and local bottom-
up approaches that engage local communities and local employers actively in finding
solutions. An important factor in successful local regeneration projects has been capacity-
building of local people and local partnerships to assist them in actively developing local
solutions to local problems. These initiatives have also created job opportunities and new
occupations in regional, local and community development that in turn have created a
demand for new competences. The development of the social economy, which includes
activities that traditionally fall within care and community support systems, such as child-care
and care of the elderly and local environmental services have also been a source of new jobs
generally and for disadvantaged people.

2.5. The aftermath of war, skills for those most affected and the need to embed
     democracy and promote active citizenship

Most countries and territories in South East Europe have had to come to terms with the
economic and social upheaval of war. It left economies and communities in disarray and
dislocated family and working life. Helping people to return to normal working and social life
was an early political priority in the immediate post-war period for many countries.
Programmes which are on-going were developed to help demobilised soldiers and returning
refugees to return to normal civilian working life and to help war widows provide for their
families. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, for example, of the 900,000 workers employed in the formal
sector in the early 1990s, only 72,000 still had jobs at the end of the armed conflict in 1995,
and new categories of the needy-veterans, civilian victims of war, orphans, the disabled and
refugees emerged . 13,000 soldiers were demobilised in 2002 and a further 8,000 in 2003,
many of whom had not completed education and were lacking essential basic, foundation
skills and occupational skills. Programmes, such as those sponsored by the World Bank or
the European Union provided education and training alongside with some business skills and
small grants to help people set up in business. However, initial efforts were not highly
successful due to the fact that 45% of the industrial infrastructure had been destroyed during
the war , the economy had practically collapsed and reforms were slow.

  See http://www-

Sharp divisions in society, based on communal lines and separate enclaves emerged as a
result of ethnic conflict. Renewing and rebuilding physical damage takes less time than
rebuilding lives shattered by war. Continuous positive action will be needed for the
foreseeable future to rebuild peace, trust and respect for other communities and to reduce the
hostility, fear and insecurity that fuel social discord and inflame inter-community conflict and
violence. Building bridges and promoting peaceful co-existence between divided communities
continues to be a major challenge for the countries and requires specific advocacy and
reconciliation skills as well as good leadership skills for community activation.

The Council of Europe promotes democracy, human rights, rule of law and cultural diversity
through teacher training and specific education initiatives such as the Council‟s European
Year of Citizenship through Education (2005). It has several projects running in, for example,
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro.

Ensuring political stability, strengthening democratic institutions, law and order and promoting
active citizenship are important tasks for the countries because of political, economic and
social uncertainties. In part, this agenda is being tackled at national level with support from
the European Union through institution building for public administrations including the
judiciary. At the same time, local projects initiated by foreign donor or non-government
organisations working with their local counterparts are helping communities to help
themselves and through collective civic action to foster trust and build bridges between them.
Such developments also create new job opportunities that require a wide range of leadership,
management, ICT and communication skills.

The economic and social changes that are transforming working and social life in the
countries and territories of South East Europe have major skill implications. A critical problem
common to all the countries and one that is growing is the mismatch between the demand
and supply of skills as their economies evolve. Responding to skill pressures effectively is
influenced by labour market flexibility, which requires an appropriately skilled workforce and
the capacity of local education and training providers to match the supply of skills with the
market demand. This is no easy matter because of substantial skill deficits and shortages,
because adult learning infrastructure has been in decline for over a decade and the training
market has been slow to develop. There are major gaps in the system, quality is variable and
coverage and scope limited. Many providers have not adjusted fully to the demand for new
skills nor to the diverse needs of different kinds of learners. Fundamental reform and
development of adult learning is needed and a much higher priority given to employability


This section provides information on how Sweden and Hungary have responded to changing
competence needs in response to the global knowledge economy and, in the case of
Hungary, of transition to an open market economy. The reforms and developments in adult
learning in Hungary are looked at in more detail. In part this is because the authors of the
report felt that the transition experience of Hungary and the adult learning policy responses
adopted by the Hungarian Government provide useful insights for South-East European
countries still grappling with the impact of transition on how to address similar problems.
Secondly, a recent OECD review of adult learning in Hungary identified several weaknesses
and difficulties facing policy makers, stakeholders and providers of adult learning as they seek
to integrate policies and implement measures. It was also felt that the ideas and suggestions
made by the review team, appropriately modified to meet specific conditions elsewhere, were
partly also valid for transition countries in South East Europe, not least because of
commonalities shared between the countries‟ systems in the past.

3.1. The Adult learning Initiative 1997-2002 in Sweden

Nordic countries have a long tradition of adult education. In Sweden, for example, non-formal
adult education was very much a bottom-up phenomenon based on local and regional
partnerships. Several reforms were made in the 1970s. These contributed substantially to the

development of adult education and to positive attitudes to learning which had an important
side effect of building social capital. Decision-making for initial and adult education was
decentralised and responsibility devolved to the municipalities. Employers and the state
played a more active role in adult learning later.

In the 1990s, Sweden faced major skill pressures and an unexpected increase in
unemployment. In response to these challenges, the Swedish Government introduced major
reforms. Vocational education and training in upper secondary schools underwent substantial
reform. The curricula were broadened to enable more integration between general education
and vocational education and training. More emphasis was placed on quality. There was less
specialisation and the general content of the vocational education and training curriculum was
increased. The result of these changes is that at upper-secondary level students are offered a
range of academic and vocational options some with a higher academic orientation and some
with a more vocational orientation. In order to improve links between vocational education and
employers, Sweden also rebuilt its industry-school partnerships which had broken down.

New legislation was introduced that gave employees an unconditional “right of leave for
studies” and the right for them to return to the same employer on their completion. This
provided a major boost to adult learning. New VET programmes to address the need for more
skilled labour and technicians with higher technological competence were developed. These
advanced technical studies, although relatively new; are increasingly important. Enrolments in
post-secondary advanced vocational training (KY), which is open to adults and young people
alike, increased. University provision was opened up to adults, who can apply without meeting
formal entrance qualifications on the basis of a test of their practical experience and skills. An
internet university was set up in 2002.

One of the key issues facing the Swedish Government was how to achieve a „knowledge
uplift‟ of the population and in particular how to raise the skills of people with low educational
attainment levels who were under-represented in adult learning. Sweden developed a large
national programme, the Adult Education Initiative (see box below), which ran between 1997
and 2002. This was a joint initiative of the ministries of education and labour which provided
substantial funds and new opportunities for adults who did not have an upper secondary level
qualification to acquire one. Direct government support for low-qualified adult learners has
continued through block grants to local government under decentralised management since
2005. In terms of raising the participation rates of low-skilled employees, there has also been
innovation in the private sector. Skandia, a leading company in the financial sector, for
example, experimented with a saving scheme which enabled employees to set aside savings
for future learning. An innovative feature of this scheme were the framework conditions which
were carefully defined to provide additional incentives for poorly qualified employees. Skandia
paid preferential company contributions into their savings accounts with the result that a
higher proportion of low-skilled employees set up learning accounts compared with their more
qualified colleagues.

                                  Case study- Sweden
 The Adult Learning Initiative (1997-2002) - A response to rapid labour market change

Context: Sweden experienced a big economic shock in the first half of the 1990s when the
economy plummeted and unforeseen mass unemployment (14%-15%) emerged, with major
regional differences. The country had to adjust to sudden and rapid labour market change.
Alongside the demand for people with higher technical and technological skills, there was a
strong rise in demand for skilled people to work in schools, hospitals and health services and
to care for the elderly, where there were major skill shortages. All new jobs in the Swedish
labour market require higher level skills. So, the main policy priority adopted by Sweden has
been to improve the skills of the whole labour force to achieve a “knowledge lift”.

Policy objective: Sweden‟s policy objective is to widen the skills base and lift people off the
bottom. Its aim is to include everyone and to avoid a two-thirds society emerging, with one
third left behind. Adult learning is given particular support and non-formal and informal

learning is at least as important as formal learning. The challenge is to find methods that
support people and put the individual at the centre of the learning process.

Programme aims: The Adult Learning Initiative‟s aims were to reduce the unemployment rate
and achieve a „knowledge lift‟ through training and an allowance for living costs

Partners: Ministries of finance, education and employment, national and local education
agencies of the Ministry of Education, public employment services, educational institutions
and local government, employers and unions.

Sweden‟s Adult Learning Initiative was an extensive programme that provided economic
support for full-time training to all adults needing upper secondary level training. Over five
years, it provided some 800,000 people with training and benefits, paid for by switching
unemployment benefits to support studies. The “hard to reach” segments of the population
were actively recruited and given financial incentives. This initiative ran in parallel with other

Lessons learned: need for complementary actions (e.g. information, advice and guidance,
outreach activities, more flexible provision, individual education-training action plans) in
addition to an adequate and even spread of provision.

3.2. Transforming adult learning – the experience of Hungary, a new EU Member State

Today Hungary has a stable market economy, but the challenge facing the country during
transition, as with countries and territories in Central and South East Europe, was to move
from a centrally planned economy to an open market one. The transition period was painful
and brought considerable economic and social hardship. Between 1992 and 1996, the
Hungarian economy was restructured at a cost of 1.1 million jobs, a fall of 21.4% of total
employment (Kerr, 2002). This had a profound impact on the structure of employment, labour
force participation, unemployment and economic activity. Employment declined in agriculture
and industry and employment in the public sector rose to 60%. The labour force participation
rate for the 15 – 64 population declined substantially and remains low. The participation rate
for women was even lower and much lower than the OECD average for the same year. The
employment rate, although low, is now rising. In 1993 unemployment peaked at 12.1% but by
2002 it had fallen back to a more manageable level of 5.6%. Further analysis of the
unemployment data reveals a problem with high youth unemployment. The unemployment
data has to be seen in the context of low economic activity levels as a result of substantial
withdrawals from the labour market during transition, particularly of people with low skills and
low educational attainment levels and older workers.

3.2.1.   Adult education up to the start of transition and during the 1990s

Before the start of the transition period most adult education provision was supported by the
state. Adult education was provided for: (i) people who had not completed primary or lower
secondary education to acquire basic literacy and mathematical skills and formal
qualifications in a range of public institutions, (ii) workers to acquire skills in company training
centres and (iii) people to acquire higher education qualifications. Public support was
relatively generous for people could take up to 21 days a year off work for training. However,
the system collapsed at the beginning of transition.

The main focus of the Ministry of Education in the 1990s was on continuing reforms to initial
education and training for young people at upper secondary and post-secondary levels. Major
reforms were made to support young people making the transition into work (1991-1996), to
modernise the curriculum of initial vocational education and training (1998-2002) (see below)
and to adapt higher education to labour market needs (1998-2005). New advanced technical
studies were introduced and technology, ICT and foreign language training promoted.

During the 1990s adult education was left primarily to market forces, with little government
intervention or regulation. Private for-profit and not-for-profit organisations „mushroomed‟,

especially in the niche markets of management training, information technology and foreign
languages. These providers dominated the adult training market, as they do today. The main
issue for the Ministry of Employment and Labour during the 1990s was to tackle growing
structural unemployment. Employment services were decentralised to county and local levels
to improve local responsiveness and in 1996 a new provider network of regional labour force
development training centres was established to provide training and retraining for the
At the beginning of the 21 century, as the policy importance of adult learning increased, the
legal basis for the introduction of major new policy initiatives was established, which are now
at an early stage of implementation.

3.2.2.   Key features and issues in adult learning in Hungary

Modernising vocational education and training qualifications

As a result of economic restructuring, Hungary had an immediate need to modernise
vocational education and training which at the start of transition reflected the occupational
profiles of heavy industry and mass production that needed low technology and basic
technical, repetitive manual skills. Hungary initiated a rolling programme (which continues
today) to modernise national vocational qualifications and curricula and to bring them in line
with the changing skill and knowledge requirements of the market economy. A national
register of vocational qualifications listing over 800 vocational qualifications was established,
close to 400 of which can be acquired by adults outside the formal school-based system.
Hungary has made considerable progress in developing and updating vocational
qualifications, curricula, training trainers, developing teaching materials and improving training
infrastructure in initial education and training. These reforms were made possible largely
because the Government raised additional funds through imposing a training levy on
enterprises. This is paid into the Development and Training sub-fund of the Labour Market

However, from the perspective of adult learning, the OECD review highlighted a number of
weaknesses with the qualifications and the modernisation process. Although qualifications
were developed by sector working groups of education and enterprise representatives, some
employers interviewed by the review team felt that the qualifications available outside the
school system were modelled on initial education and training ones. The main focus was on
lower level qualifications rather than higher level ones needed by employers. They did not
sufficiently incorporate the broader generic skills and some were out-of-date. In their view, the
modernisation process was supply-driven, insufficiently forward looking and not geared to the
actual competences needed. One employer found the national system inflexible because it
could not incorporate qualifications obtained through company training programmes.

A complex system

One of the complexities of adult learning in Hungary is the sharp policy and implementation
divide between formal school-based adult learning and out-of-school adult learning . The two
strands of adult learning are governed by different legislation and different ministries each
with their own responsibilities, policies, bodies, institutions and networks.

The Ministry of Education is responsible for education policy for primary and secondary
schools (including provision for adults) and the whole of tertiary education but it also shares
responsibility with other sector ministries for vocational education and training qualifications,
programmes and examination requirements. It has its own bodies and institutions (e.g. the
National Vocational Training Council (established 1991), the National Institute for Vocational
Education which maintains the NVQ register, its own accreditation bodies for the different
education sub-sectors and its own networks of state schools and universities. The Ministry of
Education also has lead responsibility for co-ordinating lifelong learning. Separate legislation
  The term „out-of-school‟ system in Hungary denotes all provision by training centres or other
institutions that do not form part of the „regular‟ public school system.

has been adopted for vocational training, including regulations governing the register of
national vocational qualifications, and higher education.

The Ministry of Employment and Labour is responsible for employment policy, measures to
prevent unemployment and the provision of assistance to the unemployed including training
and retraining. It works through the central labour office which oversees the work of the
decentralised networks of county labour offices and councils and nine regional labour force
development training centres. The 2001 Adult Training Act confines the responsibilities of the
Ministry of Employment and Labour to out-of-school adult learning. The Act has also led to
the establishment of new national bodies for out-of-school adult learning (see below).

A feature of initial education and training and adult learning is the widespread representation
of the social partners on key structures. They are represented on the boards of the Ministry of
Employment and Labour‟s new national adult training bodies, the seven Regional Training
Boards, the nine regional training centres and on twenty county labour councils. They are also
represented on the Ministry of Education‟s National Vocational Training Council. Employers
are represented on examinations boards independent of training organisations.
Representation and consultation of multi-stakeholder groupings including associations of
employers and employees, chambers and organisations of adult learning providers are
enshrined in law and recognised in practice. However, among those with a stake in adult
learning some are more active than others in shaping policy.

The overall impression of adult learning in Hungary is one of fragmented policies and
provision and a lack of connections between its different parts. The sharp division between
school-based and out-of-school adult learning appears to encourage overlaps and
competition between different interests. The review team suggests this fragmentation stems
from a lack of a coherent lifelong learning policy and strategy that would balance different
parts of the system and respond effectively to the needs of different learners.

Despite widespread representation of the social partners, decisions taken at national level are
influenced primarily by the government rather than shared with the social partners. The role
played by trade unions is quite weak. Given the criticisms of employers of national vocational
qualifications, it is clear that the voice of employers and trade unions, in decision-making
needs to be strengthened, all the more so because initial and continuing training programmes
have to respond more accurately to the competence needs of employers and the workforce.

Participation in adult learning

A survey of participation in adult learning carried out by the Hungarian Central Statistical
Office in the 2 quartile of 2003 found that 20.5% of the population aged 14-74 participated in
some form of adult education and training in the 12 months preceding the survey. The survey
included 14-25 year-olds, many of whom were still in initial education and training, but when
these numbers are excluded, the average participation rate was only 8.2%, on the surface
close to the EU average of 9%. However, the data are not comparable because the
Hungarian survey covered the previous 12 months unlike EU surveys which are based on the
previous 4 weeks. Hungarian participation rates are low and they compare unfavourably with
the top EU performers such as the UK, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Many factors - age, gender, labour market status, qualification levels, location, availability of
provision and learning mode - influence participation in adult learning. In the survey, the
average participation rates were highest for young people aged between 15-24 (many still in
initial education and training) but participation declined with age. 18.2% of participants were
aged 25-34 but only 4.9% of participants were aged 55-64. Women participated more than
men. When young students are excluded, participation rates for the employed were highest
(15.9%), followed by the unemployed (13.6%) but only 4.5% of economically inactive people
participated. Participation also increased in line with higher educational attainment levels.
27% of people who had completed secondary school and a similar % of people with a
university degree participated compared to less than 10% of people with grade 8 or less.
There were also wide regional variations.

Participation in adult learning is also unequal and uneven. The OECD review comments that
„there is a small group of highly educated people in Hungary, mostly young people, who
continue to educate themselves and who have access to learning environments at work or in
other contexts„. However, the training needs of many people are not being met, especially
among redundant workers, people working in the grey economy and the economically
inactive, disadvantaged people with lower educational attainment levels, older adults and
people living in sparsely populated rural areas.

Participation in continuing training in enterprises

Kennedy and Badescu (2004) found that, compared to the EU-15, Hungary in 1999 ranked
lowest in terms of all employed people who participated in continuing training and in the
percentage of companies providing training for their employees. In the second EU Continuing
Training Survey, which included Hungary and some other candidate countries, the proportion
of enterprises providing continuing training in Hungary in 1999 was 37%, above that of
Bulgaria and Romania but much lower than in the Czech Republic (69%) and Estonia (63%)
(Eurostat, 2001). Participation in training by enterprises is not only low but it is also uneven
and unequal. There are wide disparities between sectors, enterprises and different categories
of workers. The Eurostat survey found that 79% of enterprises operating in the financial
services sector provided continuing training, compared with only 34% in manufacturing.
However, between 2000 and 2002 the numbers doubled and there will have been further
increases since then (Zoltán, 2004).

Hungarian data on participation confirm general patterns of participation in adult learning in
many countries. Although participation is rising in Hungary, it remains unequal and uneven.
The overall focus is on training provided in education and training institutions that offer formal
provision, either public or private but modelled on public provision. It is used predominately by
young people without major learning difficulties. The problem of low participation of certain
segments of the population is recognised and work is in hand to improve basic skills provision
in the school-based system. Some special support measures for long-term unemployed, older
workers and specific groups are arranged through the county labour offices and delivered by
the regional training centres. However, some Hungarian experts commented that the
Government so far has done too little to do away with existing gaps in provision and to assist
those groups in the population who are most in need.

Gap at higher education level

Another major gap, and one that has important consequences for future economic
development, is the lack of opportunities for adults to acquire higher level qualifications.
Funding for adult learning is linked to the national register of vocational qualifications, which
has few higher qualifications. Moreover, public funding is limited to training for a first or
second labour market qualification in an accredited institution and training for people with
disabilities. Universities and other higher education institutions have not exploited fully their
potential to provide higher level adult learning, especially the provision of short, professional
updating courses. Part of the problem is linked to ethos, part is due to institutional rigidity but
inflexible funding arrangements are also a disincentive.

Importance of the remedial function of adult learning in transition countries

Participation statistics show that young people who have obtained a first university degree
and young people who have just graduated from secondary school but who cannot find a job
immediately form the two biggest groups of adult learners today. Despite the modernisation of
vocational education and training, a proportion of young people continue to train for old
profiles that are no longer in demand in the labour market. Skills profiles remain quite narrow
and skills gaps and skills deficits are serious weaknesses. These problems suggest that initial
vocational education and training has been slow to adjust to the new demands of the market
economy (see Zoltán, 2004, amongst others). The remedial or „recuperative‟ function of adult
education, which gives young people the chance to acquire competences needed in the open
market, remains important. The OECD review team believed that the immediate need for
adult learning in Hungary, as in many transition countries, stems from a „persisting mismatch

between the demand and supply of skills‟ as a consequence of transition. This mismatch is
further exacerbated by the growing demand for higher level basic, technical and core skills as
the impact of the global knowledge economy grows. This means that the need for work-
related adult learning is widespread and not confined to a specific group or to certain sectors.

3.2.3.   Adult learning provision

School-based adult learning

Second-chance basic and lower-secondary adult education designed to compensate adults
for previous educational shortfalls is provided by accredited primary and secondary schools
under the ‟school-based system‟. These courses are funded by the Ministry of Education,
directly from school budgets. The users are predominantly young adults with few motivational
problems or serious learning difficulties. Older adults, especially disadvantaged people who
arguably need training most, are substantially under-represented in formal provision. Funding
for adult education flows exclusively to accredited state institutions, which disadvantages non-
government organisations closer to „hard to reach‟ and disadvantaged populations who are
often able to respond more flexibly to their learning needs. Inadvertently, this works against
widening access in adult learning. Funding for adult learning, which is based on a
combination of a fixed sum per lesson and „per capita‟ funding, is the same for school pupils
and adults and is low. This constrains innovation, the development of adult learning and the
recruitment and continuing professional development of teachers of adult learners.

Non-school based adult learning - continuing training for the unemployed

The county labour offices are responsible for training for the unemployed through contracts
with providers. In response to rising unemployment, the Ministry of Employment and Labour
established a network of nine Regional Labour Development and Training Centres in 1996
with the help of the World Bank and the EU. These not-for-profit training centres play an
important and dominant role in „out-of-school‟ adult learning. They are the main providers of
training for the unemployed and also for employees. They enjoy a market advantage with
favourable funding conditions and close links with the labour offices. They have contributed
substantially to the development of adult learning through diversifying the range of training
opportunities and responding to different types of adult learners. The centres are well-
equipped and able to offer more individualised services, including information, counselling
and guidance. They invest in staff training and research and development (for example, the
centre in Pec works on accreditation of prior learning and the centre in Miskolc on e-learning).
The regional training centres also run special programmes for the long-term unemployed
including Roma adults who were hit hard by transition and people with disabilities. The
Szekesfehervar regional training centre, for example, is a designated centre specialising in
training people with disabilities.

However, the regional training centres face some uncertainties. Legislative amendments,
designed to open up competition for labour office contracts, has led to a decrease in funding
and a reduction in their share of training for the unemployed (which used to be 70%). Despite
their good record, the OECD review (2005) found that programmes for the Roma had had
limited success. In part this was due to cultural differences but funding was only available for
training. This prevented the development of integrated programmes that incorporate training,
access to employment and subsidies for food and clothing which were needed.

Funding basis of training for the unemployed

The expansion of continuing training for the unemployed was possible because of social
contributions made by employers (3% of labour costs) and employees (1.5% of gross salary)
to the Employment sub-fund of the Labour Market Fund. A proportion of these funds are
channelled to the county labour offices to finance training for the unemployed, and, in some
instances for redundant workers. Some funds are retained centrally to fund organisations and
national training programmes. The latter include „transit employment programmes‟ that help
certain groups enter or return to the labour market within six months of completing training,

training for small and medium-sized enterprises, social integration programmes and IT
training for the elderly.

Work-based adult learning

Employers had to make a huge effort to adapt to the open market in order to survive. This
required investment in new plant and technology, new products and services and new work
practices. Underpinning these changes was the need for the workforce to adapt to the
demand for new sets of competences and higher level skills, particularly in managerial,
technical and core communication and social skills. The more qualified and skilled people
found it relatively easy to adapt, but people with poor educational attainment levels and out-
of-date skills found it much harder and many lost their jobs. Although many companies
invested in their workforce, especially in their more skilled workers, the overall participation
rate of companies investing in continuing training was low.

The training levy, which provided funding for reforms to initial vocational education and
training, core tasks of government, did not provide an incentive for enterprises to invest in
their workforce and there is a major mismatch between public financial support for initial
vocational education and training for young people and continuing training for adults. The
Hungarian levy scheme is not a train or pay scheme, as in France and Australia where
companies can use up to the full amount of the levy to train their own employees. Enterprises
in Hungary can retain a maximum of one third of their contribution of 1.5% of payroll costs for
training their own employees. Small enterprises particularly find the amount insufficient to
cover their training costs.

3.2.4.   Adult learning responses at the start of the 21st century - new legislation,
         national institutions for „out-of-school‟ adult learning and funding mechanisms

The initial period of exponential growth in adult learning outside the school system was
described as „chaotic‟: it was unregulated, had little transparency or quality control. There
were difficulties in recognising the plethora of certificates issued by private providers and
adult learning opportunities were unevenly distributed. A number of training needs were not
being met and participation was low. In the late 1990s, as the policy priority of adult learning
increased, Hungarian policy-makers started work on new legislation, which, after wide debate
among key ministries and stakeholders including the social partners and the public, resulted
in the 2001 Adult Training Act which came into effect in January 2002. The Act provided a
major boost to adult learning, but its focus was on adult training outside the school system
which meant that the divide between school-based and out-of-school provision was
maintained. The Adult Training Act delegates most responsibilities to the Ministry of
Employment and Labour, but other ministries have a role.

New institutions and new funding mechanisms

The Adult Training Act set up new national institutions under the Ministry of Employment and
Labour to develop adult learning and raise quality. The new institutions include the National
Adult Training Council, the National Adult Training Institute and the Adult Training
Accreditation body. It also introduced new funding mechanisms, which came into force on 1
January 2003. Direct public funding is limited and channelled to institutions under normative
per capita funding to enable adults to acquire up to a second level labour market qualification,
It funds training programmes that facilitate employment and programmes for people with
disabilities. Indirect funding takes the form of a tax allowance of up to 250 euro which
individual tax-payers can offset against their annual tax liability. This too is limited to training
that leads to a registered qualification or to an accredited programme that takes place in an
accredited institution. The tax allowance also covers the purchase of a PC.

A focus on quality assurance

Following the period of unregulated growth in adult training, it was important to develop
measures to increase transparency, quality control and the good use of public funding in non-
formal learning. In particular, processes were introduced to register and accredit institutions.

Good progress has been made in accrediting institutions with over 800 already accredited.
Accreditation has a number of benefits for providers. Accredited institutions have the right to
access norm-based funding and to participate in public tenders to upgrade infrastructure and
equipment and individual students are eligible for tax allowances. Recently, a second
accreditation process was introduced to accredit programmes with the aim of allowing training
providers to respond to the demand for shorter training courses and for skills that are not
included in the qualifications listed in the NVQ register. 658 programmes had been accredited
by the sector ministries at the time of the OECD review.

Accreditation in Hungary is largely a self-assessment process based on scrutiny of
documents submitted by providers to the accreditation body. The system ensures certain
standards of facilities, training and support services. It has to some extent regulated the
market and is accepted broadly by public and private providers. However, there were
criticisms that the accreditation processes were superficial, bureaucratic, not sufficiently
objective and open to provider influence. One private provider felt that the process did not
take account of the extent to which training actually responded to market need. The
processes also appear to favour larger organisations with the funds and resources to comply
with administrative requirements. The adult learning review team thought that the two-tier
system was likely to be confusing for developers, learners and employers alike and that two
sets of administrative procedures added to the costs.

Monitoring and evaluation of policy, measures and programmes

What is not clear in the accreditation processes of institutions and programmes is the extent
to which these lead to a systematic review, adjustment and development of programmes and
form part of a strategic planning cycle.

Accreditation of prior learning and experience

The Adult Training Act (2001) specifically requires providers to assess the prior learning and
experience of adults, but as yet there is no unified system to do so. The use of new
assessment methods is not common practice and there is no independent mechanism to
assess people‟s competences. Adults are unable to reduce the time spent in learning by
following only relevant modules because there is no scope for them to obtain partial
qualifications. They have to meet formal entrance requirements in full. These difficulties are
barriers that can discourage adults from participating in learning. Development work on APL
is currently being undertaken by the Pec regional training centre.

3.2.5.   Summary

Hungary has done much to put in place key components of an adult learning system,
including processes to raise quality. However, the country is in the early phase of
implementing major policy initiatives that which will take time to yield results. More has to be
done to expand „second chance training‟ for young people who leave initial education and
training before completing their studies (early leavers) and for the „losers‟ in the transition
process, especially older people. More diversification is needed in learning offers and learning
modes. The use of modern information communication technologies in learning in institutions,
in the workplace, community and home has to be accelerated and open and flexible learning
expanded. These developments all take time to implement and Hungary, as with other
countries, has a long way to go in making access to adult learning widely available. Among
the many issues identified by the OECD adult learning review team are:

   a lack of a „whole-government‟ vision for the future development of lifelong learning and
    set within that of adult learning and a tendency to develop adult learning policies,
    legislation and funding conditions based on ministerial responsibilities and where the
    funds will come from rather than on developing a shared, coherent strategy and set of
    measures to achieve this vision;
   a sharp divide between school-based and out-of-school education and training that
    hinders integration of different levels and types of adult learning and the integration of
    general education and vocational training;

   the limited influence of the social partners despite widespread formal representation in
    policy development and implementation of continuing training and initial vocational
 insufficient responsiveness of national vocational qualifications and programmes to actual
    competence needs of employers;
 low, uneven and unequal participation in adult learning, unmet training needs especially
    of groups disadvantaged in the labour market and gaps in provision;
 funding problems: insufficient public funding for adult learning generally, unbalanced
    distribution of employer levy contributions in favour of initial vocational education at the
    expense of continuing training, inflexible funding arrangements that constrain innovation
    and diversification of adult learning provision and learning modes and hinder wider
    access and funding that flows primarily to institutions rather than to individual adult
 (see Viertel, 2005)

The OECD adult learning review (Viertel, 2005) makes a number of suggestions as to how
these problems might be addressed in the future. Many of the specific suggestions and ideas
have been incorporated into the following sections of this publication.


Five countries or territories in South East Europe developed initial adult learning strategies or
policy papers, which identify strategic objectives and at times provide precise details as to
how these will be operationalised. This work was, as a rule, undertaken by teams with
stakeholder representation from ministries, employer organisations, trade unions and civil
society. The sections below give a summary of the strategies.

4.1. Croatia‟s adult learning strategy

Adult learning in Croatia had a long tradition of institutional adult education with a network of
institutions across the country that offered formal and non-formal adult learning opportunities
modelled on the German system. During the 1970s, it declined sharply. Whilst formal adult
education was revitalised recently, non-formal adult education was marginalised. Croatia‟s
strategy, adopted by the Government in 2004, gives importance to lifelong learning as the key
instrument for acquiring knowledge. In preparation for accession, Croatia is developing a
comprehensive strategy for lifelong learning and the adult education strategy forms part of
this exercise.

The strategy covers formal, non-formal and informal learning. It defines the responsibilities of
the state as developing the framework, creating the conditions for an adult learning strategy
and monitoring its implementation and success. Inter-ministerial collaboration between the
Ministry of Science, Education and Sport, in the lead, and all the relevant ministries including
the ministries of the Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship, and Family, War Veterans and
Intergenerational Solidarity is essential. In parallel, decentralisation is encouraged and more
authority given to the social and other partners. Longstanding partnerships „between the
employers, the Central Employment Office, adult education institutions‟ exist in labour market
training. Formal partnerships at national and local levels have been set up between the
Government, employers and unions for employment policy. The social partners, relevant
ministries and other groups active on the labour market are members of a commission that is
responsible for monitoring the annual employment plan. In implementing the strategy on the
ground, inclusive local level partnerships are important. The strategy sees partnerships as
being the most ‟frequent way of cooperating between all the relevant parties‟ and the social
partners are expected to play their full role as „users, investors, negotiators and promoters of

 The text of the sections on the strategy of each individual country or territory is based on the strategy

The strategy outlines a number of objectives that aim to develop the organisational and
financial framework for adult learning and to develop a system that offers equal opportunities
for quality learning throughout life based on demand and needs. This will involve creating the
legal and professional prerequisites for establishing comprehensive adult education as an
integral part of the Croatian education system. Legislation for adult learning is at present
covered by different laws. A new law is currently being prepared to include amendments
related to rights and obligations, finance, widening access and recognition of prior learning.

Adjustments will also need to be made to educational planning and programming, strategies
and methodologies to meet the knowledge and skill needs of individuals and the demand for
skills for jobs, work and society and to “speed up the integration of labour and learning, in line
with OECD economies” rather than perpetuate “the traditional separation between studying
and lifelong labour” (Government of the Republic of Croatia/ Commission for Adult Education,
2004). The strategy lists a number of desirable features of adult education such as flexibility,
working in partnership, monitoring and evaluation. It provides examples of initiatives (e.g.
special programmes for war veterans and a large-scale literacy programme for adults who
have not completed basic education). It highlights several areas for further development, such
as the professional development of teachers of adults, opening up access to higher education
to adults and expanding professional courses, improving the research base for adult learning
and developing processes to recognise prior learning. (cf. Government of the Republic of
Croatia/ Commission for Adult Education, 2004)

4.2. Kosovo‟s adult learning strategy

Kosovo is a UN administered territory with an unresolved political status. It is at a cross-road.
The national authorities are striving to restructure and build a competitive market driven
economy and an inclusive democratic society. Faced with imminent closure or privatisation of
public and socially owned companies, chronic unemployment of 39.7%, a substantial grey
economy, 50% of the population living below the poverty line and 11.9% in extreme poverty,
the challenge for Kosovo is to get people back to work. This is not easy. Despite recovery
from the economic collapse that followed the war, the economy has yet to make the transition
to economic and employment growth and skill mismatches, skill shortages and substantial
skill deficits hinder wider efforts to transform the economy and make social progress.
Employment and the European objectives of raising the employability of individuals, the
adaptability of companies and levels of entrepreneurship are, consequently, at the centre of
Kosovo‟s adult learning strategy.

Substantial skills and knowledge gaps exist. 56.6% of the unemployed cohort are unskilled, of
whom 53.3% are women (2002 data). Kosovo has a young population but substantial
numbers of young people leave school early with inadequate education and skills, Despite
low illiteracy levels (just under 5% of people aged 45 or under), there are wide age, gender
and ethnic differentials with illiteracy levels higher for older people and some ethnic minority
groups and four times higher for women than for men. Employers concentrate on survival in a
difficult business environment and their general attitude to workforce development is that it is
a cost. Businesses have difficulty in adapting to new technology and have insufficient
understanding of their skill needs. The employers‟ representative on the Adult Learning
Strategy Team from the Chamber of Commerce commented that “Kosovo‟s employers are
interested in training, but the training organised is not based on their needs”.

Although the political priority for adult learning is now beginning to rise, to date there has been
insufficient commitment to adult learning. There is no system as such, no comprehensive
policy framework for its development and a lack of capacity at all levels. The number of formal
institutions offering adult learning has been insufficient for many years. Company training
centres have disappeared and the training market has been slow to develop. The potential for
computer and internet-based learning in businesses and the community has not been
exploited. There are major systemic gaps, funding is inadequate and recent approaches to
adult learning have been uncoordinated, donor sponsored and often unsustainable when
donor projects end. Data and research on adult learning are lacking. Motivation, the value
placed on learning by adults and demand for learning are all low.

Donor initiatives, for example, in management training, skill needs analyses, business and
ICT training for small enterprises, training related to local economic development, vocational
training and basic education programmes for vulnerable groups provide a base on which to
build. The creation of regional unemployment services and regional training centres, with
support from international donors, provided the impetus for creating labour market training
programmes. Ministerial and partner priorities for the next five years will continue to build on
these initiatives and to expand provision and services.

The key challenges facing Kosovo are to address the skill mismatches and skill shortages
that hinder competition and adaptation of enterprises to the market economy and to reduce
skill deficits of people, including those exposed to social exclusion. Tackling these problems
requires substantial policy intervention. Adult learning across the relevant ministries is
uncoordinated. There is no systemic approach to its development, the data, information and
research base is inadequate, the financial resources are insufficient and there is a lack of
sustainable partnerships for designing policy and implementing action in adult learning.

Developing the strategy was a collective exercise by representatives from the Ministries of
Education, Sport and Technology, Labour and Social Welfare and Trade and Industry,
Kosovo Trust Agency, the social partners through the Chamber of Commerce and the
Federation of Trades Unions and civil society through the Kosovo Education Council.
Dialogue, consensus building, partner commitment to working together at national and local
levels is fundamental to the successful implementation of the strategy. The strategy itself is
rooted in existing policies and development orientations of the stakeholders. It seeks to
balance economic and social action so that they complement each other.

The strategy outlines a number of strategic objectives and measures. Objective 1 aims to
increase knowledge and competences for the market economy and has two measures. One
is to develop new basic skills programmes to lift the skills of unskilled and people with low
educational levels off the bottom. The second measure aims to develop programmes to
upgrade workforce skills in line with the needs and demands of the market. Objective 2 is
about creating an enabling environment for the development of adult learning and partnership
working. Its first measure is to develop an integrated economic and human resource
development framework which will be achieved through establishing a National Economic and
Human Resources Development Council to act as a catalyst for policy development and
action. This council which should have cross-ministerial, social partner and civil society
representation would be tasked with drawing up an integrated policy and implementation
framework. The second measure envisages a range of capacity-building activities including
exposure to international good practice to enable the transfer of expertise for key ministry
personnel. Adult learning is a shared responsibility between different ministries, but the
responsibilities are not always clearly defined, and gaps exist. Although the importance of
inter-ministerial co-operation is recognised, in practice there is less optimal co-operation and
coordination between them at all administrative levels.

Strategic objective 3 is about putting in place the necessary components of an adult learning
system. It includes the development and implementation of information, counselling and
career guidance, an occupational classification system, an integrated national qualification
framework, modular courses, all of which are envisaged in the government‟s strategic plans,
and the design and implementation of quality assurance. In addition, strategic objective 3
aims to promote the development of flexible formal and non-formal adult learning
opportunities through inter alia the development of infrastructure, ICT-based learning,
enterprise and community-based learning and the training for teachers of adults. Objective 4
focuses on the creation of a sustainable data, information, analyses and research base. It will
support the work of the tripartite Workforce Development Research Centre especially in the
field of labour market skill trends, but wider research into learning processes and pedagogy
will also be needed. Objective 5 aims to increase the value of learning by promoting a
learning culture.

The aim of strategic objective 6 is to develop sustainable, effective partnerships that bring
together the economic partners, relevant ministries and civil society in dynamic sustainable
partnerships at all levels (national, regional and local) to develop adult learning and to foster

coherent innovation by partners. Empowering stakeholders is essential, as it provides an
impetus for development. By way of example, the Chamber representative on the Strategy
Team was able to get the Chamber to establish a Centre for Training Needs Analyses, with
support from the key ministries of education, labour and trade and industry, the Employment
and Skills Observatory of Kosovo and the European Agency for Reconstruction. Objective 6
comprises two measures, capacity-building of stakeholders which is essential as partnership
working is quite a new phenomenon in Kosovo, and technical assistance for the National
Economic and Human Resources Development Council. Finally, strategic objective 7 aims to
improve the financial resources available for adult learning by providing technical assistance
to build capacity of Kosovo in funding adult learning, to develop and implement co-finance
mechanisms. (cf. Employment and Skills Observatory of Kosova, 2004)

4.3. Macedonia‟s adult learning strategy

Macedonia‟s Proposal for a Strategy for Adult Education starts by setting adult learning in the
context of economic, demographic and social trends. Macedonia has an ageing population
and a substantial number of people with low educational attainment levels - just under 50% of
its citizens have basic primary schooling or less.The unemployment rate (37.4%) is one of the
highest in the region, although many people registered as unemployed are likely to work in
the grey economy. Unemployment among the Roma population is a staggering 90% and
youth unemployment (67.6%) is high. Long-term unemployment is a major problem that
affects 80% of the unemployed cohort. Because economic development has been „sluggish‟,
employment growth is slow. The private sector (89.38% of all enterprises) has increased its
share of employment to 56.7% (2004 data) but it could not absorb large numbers of
employees who left public administration when it was reorganised to become a lean, efficient
sector. Employment growth in the two biggest sectors, industry and services, and in small and
medium-sized enterprises has been disappointing.

Adult and lifelong learning in Macedonia is in a „serious crisis‟. Little priority was given to its
development by the state, employers, unions, chambers or citizens‟ organisation over the last
decade. The learning culture of the past has been lost and there is low awareness of the
value of adult learning for economic development, employment and active citizenship. There
is little co-ordination or collaboration between partners. The quality of learning offers is
variable, transparency poor and provision inadequate to meet the diverse skill needs of
adults. There are major systemic gaps, such as the lack of a national qualification framework,
of a system to recognise and validate prior learning and experience, of a professional
guidance and counselling system open to all, of sufficient investment in the development of
teachers and trainers in adult learning, of a national data collection system on participation
and demand and of a sustainable system to analyse skill trends. There is little innovation, no
development of open and distance learning, and only one institution (the Institute of
Pedagogy in the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje) carries out research on adult education.

Second-chance adult learning opportunities provided by public primary and secondary
schools declined sharply and secondary school provision for adults is almost non-existent
following the closure of adult evening classes in 1987. A decade later some retraining
initiatives for new qualifications has been reintroduced for workers made redundant as part of
privatisation packages of state-owned enterprises. Participation in adult learning is low and
has declined. It is concentrated in training for new qualifications, foreign languages, and ICT
skills. Retraining opportunities are, however, extremely limited due to a lack of finance, under-
developed post-secondary vocational training and insufficient and poor quality provision. In
2003 only 1.3% of the unemployed aged 25-64 participated in labour market training.
Notwithstanding this, participation in retraining programmes is highest, followed by courses
for employees who want to upgrade their qualifications, teachers and education managers
who benefit from in-service training and employees of companies with company training
schemes. In addition to formal provision, there are many non-formal courses in functional
literacy and number ability for marginal groups (e.g. women and rural populations) that are
funded and supported by international donors and run by local NGOs. Yet, major gaps in
provision exist and access to learning opportunities for adults is unequal.

Funding is a major issue as current finance is inadequate. There is no adult learning fund, no
cooperation with key stakeholders to establish a common fund and no legal framework for
sharing costs between government, employers and individuals. The state provides minimal
finance, individuals cannot afford to pay, and participation of enterprises in retraining the
employed or unemployed is minimal so institutions are left to finance adult education
provision as best they can from their own budgets and course fees.

Employers are not motivated to invest in training their workforce because they see training as
„a failed investment‟. They continue to value old qualifications and can easily recruit labour.
Their low motivation is understandable. The move to knowledge-based jobs has not
materialised, privatisation has not resulted in fast growing productive sectors and many job
offers require only basic qualifications. Traditional perceptions of education as a one-off
exercise at the start of working life persist and enterprises have little awareness of the training
needs of their workforce. By contrast, there are exemplary, dynamic private sector companies
that are committed to human resources development and some collaborate with universities
and other providers to strengthen the competences of their workforce.

The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for adult education, but it has no
separate department in the Ministry. Responsibilities have been split between the different
education sectors. There is no comprehensive state policy on adult learning. In the absence
of economic and social plans for developing human resources, lack of coherent policies and
priorities and tying the development of adult learning to existing formal education legislation
(e.g. Laws on Primary and Secondary Education), development has been haphazard and has
resulted in major gaps, isolated approaches to adult learning and an unregulated training

The need for fundamental reforms to adult learning is recognised. Two key development
programmes of the Government are hoped to trigger a major expansion of adult learning
provision and the development of an adult learning system. A separate law for adult education
is suggested to be drawn up which is expected to cover all aspects of an adult learning
system at national and local levels. It shall establish a financial framework and a system of
providers, defining their activities, ensuring connections between formal and non-formal
institutions and better links between the labour market and the economy, as well as defining
responsibilities for an analysis of skill needs.

The Macedonian strategy paper makes a series of recommendations to take forward the
development of adult education in the country. It considers methods, partner issues,
assumptions and next steps. In particular, the paper recommends setting up a Council for
Adult Education with stakeholder representation, including government, education and
economy, the social partners and the civil sector. Its aim would be to unify the interests of the
parties and create a systemic approach to the development of adult learning at all levels. The
Council would have two main objectives: to design adult learning policies and to coordinate
activities across the country. Specific functions of the council would include regular monitoring
of groups at risk of long-term unemployment, mobilising adult learners and widening access,
mediation in programme implementation, accreditation, establishing a database of labour
market movements and education and training supply and demand, as well as data collection
and information. Pre-conditions to establishing such a council are that there is Government
consensus and that sectoral responsibilities are aligned. It is assumed that stakeholders will
be willing to collaborate. As a first step the paper suggests setting up a commission to
prepare for the Council and its operations.

Taking account of decentralisation of responsibilities to local self-governments, the paper also
recommends setting up municipal centres for human resources development through lifelong
learning. These would strengthen the capacity of local governments and enable diverse
lifelong learning opportunities to underpin local development. The functions of the municipal
HRD centres would link into those of the Council for Adult Education and would include
permanent liaison with the Council. They would include the collection of local information (on
labour markets, providers, civil society initiatives), skill needs analyses of young people and
adults, development of adult learning programmes, local action campaigns to promote a
learning culture, regular monitoring of groups at risk of long-term unemployment, mobilising

adult learners and widening access. These HRD centres would anticipate local skill trends
and help improve responsiveness of adult learning providers to actual skill needs of the
economy. Establishing these centres requires the coordination of all the stakeholders and the
allocation of financial resources from municipal budgets. The paper suggests setting up two
pilot centres in Kichevo and Shtip, where the local self-governments have expressed a
willingness to participate and where, because of their geographical position, they provide
scope for wider regional links.

A fourth recommendation covers the preparation and adoption by Parliament of a Law on
Adult Education following public debate. This would provide the legal framework to regulate
adult education in the fYR Macedonia. The new Law would be aligned with existing laws
governing primary, secondary, VET and higher education. The paper stresses that the new
law should not favour big, specialised providers of adult learning at the expense of smaller
ones and NGOs. It is suggested that the development of the law is done in cooperation with
the European Training Foundation.

The paper also recommends strengthening expertise and professionalism in adult learning
through modernising university study programmes for adult education experts. This initiative
could be realised by increasing the capacities of the Institute of Pedagogy in the Faculty of
Philosophy at the SS. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, the only higher education
institution in the country that trains adult education experts. The last recommendation is for a
public campaign to develop a culture of learning among young people and adults. This would
involve several activities (public events, festivals and appropriate media coverage) and could
be taken forward by the Ministry of Education and Science with the municipal HRD centres,
As a first step the Ministry could set up an expert body to prepare a promotion programme
with external help. (cf. Velkovski et al, 2006)

4.4. Montenegro‟s adult learning strategy

Montenegro‟s adult learning strategy was developed by a team of experts working for the
National Adult Learning Strategy Team whose members included senior representatives and
advisers from the Employment Agency, Ministries of Labour and Social Welfare, Tourism,
Economy, Agriculture, Education and Science, Chamber of Commerce, Trade Union, Agency
for small and medium-sized enterprises, Association of Employers, the Council for Vocational
Education, the Centre for Vocational Education, Commission of Adult Learning and the
Council for Adult Learning. Montenegro‟s strategy for adult learning takes into account the
2001 Book of Changes for education, the Law on Adult Education (adopted by Parliament in
November 2002) and the 2003 Agenda of Economic Reforms for Montenegro.

It is set within the context of high unemployment (23.25% in 2002), high numbers of imported
labour, mostly low skilled, to meet local labour shortages and major skill mismatches and
shortages. Substantial numbers of people do not have basic primary education and certain
groups are affected most. Workforce skill deficits hinder business competitiveness and reduce
the supply of skilled labour. The adult learning strategy, therefore, gives priority to learning for
economic benefit and to skills for employment.

Whilst recent developments in adult learning and good practice have brought improvements,
there are serious weaknesses in the adult learning infrastructure: adult learning premises are
often ill-equipped and coverage is poor especially in rural areas, and company training
centres have declined. Finance is problematic. State finance for adult learning is insufficient
even to meet the most urgent needs, too few employers invest in learning and many
individuals are reluctant to invest time and money in learning. Gaps in adult learning have to
be addressed. This will involve developing nationally recognised qualifications in several skill
areas, processes to recognise prior learning and a system of national standards for quality
assurance. Curricula have to be updated in line with skills needed by employers and by adult
learners. The training of teachers of adults and information guidance and counselling services
has to be further developed together with more diversified learning opportunities. These need
to provide better access to priority groups. Coordination between different government
agencies has to be improved and fledgling social partnerships strengthened.

The Law on Adult Education sets out the framework for ensuring primary education and a first
vocational qualification for all citizens, retraining of the workforce and the provision of learning
opportunities for individuals of all abilities and age to acquire knowledge and skills. To support
these developments, Montenegro‟s adult learning strategy outlines six priority objectives that
focus on skills for faster economic growth and employability, increasing social inclusion,
protection of the environment, building democracy and non-work related adult learning.
Success in implementing the strategy depends on it being owned by a broad social
partnership of stakeholders from the public, private and voluntary and community sectors. All
partners, including government, are to ensure “that their individual strategies support and are
coherent with the overall Adult Learning Strategy” (Republic of Montenegro, 2004).

Each of the objectives will be realised through a rolling programme of a wide range of inter-
related, concrete actions over the short, medium and longer term. It is not possible to cover all
the objectives, but the comprehensive list of actions outlined in Objective 1 to increase skill
levels for faster economic growth provides an example. The short-term activities (over the
next two years) include the use of up-to-date labour market analysis to identify the most
urgent skill needs for economic growth, followed by action to encourage employers to train
their existing workforce and to develop training for the unemployed and redundant workers in
identified skill shortage areas. Also envisaged are selective improvements to physical
infrastructure, redistribution of financial resources and existing budgets to skill priority areas,
setting up high level partnership to respond rapidly to specific training projects, relevant
curricula development and certification and quality assurance. A high priority is given to the
development of teachers of adults. Medium-term activities (over four years) would include
further improvements (e.g. to data collection and labour market analysis, partnership
arrangements to enable employers and unions to influence decision-making, provider
networks to cascade good practice). Policy linkages between general and vocational
education and adult learning would also be improved, and counselling and guidance
infrastructure expanded. Further curricula developments, modularisation of courses and
programmes to tackle functional literacy and basic employability skills, as well as new fiscal
incentives to encourage employer investment in training are envisaged. A Centre for HRD in
Public Administration will also be established. In the longer term (within ten years) actions
could include the development of an award scheme to encourage effective investment in
employee development, a programme to promote learning and motivate individuals,
enterprise learning in schools and the establishment of a business school of international
standard within the University. (cf. Republic of Montenegro, 2004)

4.5. Serbia‟s adult learning strategy

Serbia‟s draft policy paper for the development of adult learning was drawn up by the Ministry
of Education and Sports as part of a CARDS vocational education and training reform
programme. It outlines four strategic objectives, the tasks needed to realise them and a
number of strategic steps. The introduction gives a brief outline of the country‟s economic and
social context. Serbia‟s population growth has slowed and its population is ageing. 25% of the
population is over 60 years (2002 data). Poverty is a major problem as nearly one third of the
population lives below the poverty line. The economy, after a long period of economic crises,
is recovering but growth has slowed. Privatisation is in its final phase and some of the
benefits of restructuring have begun to emerge with higher productivity, growth in small and
medium-sized enterprises and an inflow of foreign investment, but Serbia needs to attract
more foreign capital and companies. The shift to higher technology is slow, the technological
gap with EU member states is wide and future development will depend on technology
transfer. Without an adequately trained and flexible workforce able to adjust to technological
innovation, new production methods and organisation of work and to develop new products
and services, Serbia faces “transitional recession” (Ministry of Education and Sports of the
Republic of Serbia/ VET Reform PIU, 2005).

A core factor in social and economic transformation and transition to a highly productive
economy is the availability of highly skilled and adaptable labour. However, although Serbia
has a high proportion of well-educated and qualified citizens, significant numbers are
unskilled and almost 50% of adults have only basic elementary education or below. Around
three million people over 15 do not have adequate skills and a high proportion have serious

difficulty in finding and keeping a job. Huge job losses that affected unskilled and semi-skilled
workers most and increasingly the highly qualified led to high unemployment and further
deskilling. This, coupled with labour market inflexibility, major systemic weaknesses and the
absence of a systematic approach to the development of adult learning and support services
are serious obstacles to social and economic progress. Major gaps exist at the political,
strategic, legislative, institutional, human resources and financial levels. There is a lack of
programmes that respond to specific skill and knowledge demands in the labour market and
no system for recognising prior learning and experience.

Adult education and training, a core part of lifelong learning and an integral part of the whole
educational system, is recognised as a key instrument for economic development,
competitiveness, employment and social cohesion. It has two main functions - to respond
promptly to economic and labour market change and technological innovation and to
compensate for earlier education and training shortfalls. It has an important role in enhancing
individual employability and increasing professional mobility. Developing a relevant, flexible,
efficient and effective system that is sustainable and widens access is a collective effort of
government and stakeholders including the social partners, business and professional
associations, NGOs, scientific and education institutions and individuals. The strategy paper
is based on the belief that dialogue and working in partnership effectively will lead to the
creation of a “dynamic and sustainable system of institutions and programmes for adult
education and learning that is based on the needs of the economy, labour markets, and on
the realisable possibilities of society and the individual” (Ministry of Education and Sports of
the Republic of Serbia/ VET Reform PIU, 2005).

The first strategic objective focuses on creating the preliminary conditions and framework for
effective social partner dialogue and action in adult education at all levels (national,
regional/municipal and local) and in all areas of organisation and action in education and
training (planning, programme development, financing, accreditation and certification). It
outlines three concrete tasks. The first is to have a formal agreement on co-operation of the
social partners in vocational education and training. This would determine the duties and
responsibilities of the partners, how they would cooperate, the policy goals and their
implementation. The second is to create a new National Council for Education and Training
that would be responsible for taking forward policy development, strategy formulation, priority
setting, reforms and developments of the learning system, establishing national standards
and qualification frameworks, analysing, monitoring and controlling state provision and
developing mechanisms for funding institutions and programmes, and human resources
development. The third task is to establish Local Partnership Councils in Belgrade, Zrenjanin,
Kragujevac, Bor and Nis initiated by the regional centres for adult education and training
through the chambers of commerce. These would be responsible for analysing the local
situation, monitoring developments, identifying needs and priorities for human resources
development and adult learning and suggesting models and approaches for financing and
investing in adult education and training. Members of the Local Partnership Councils would
include representatives from local government, the social partners, chambers, professional
associations, institutions and providers and NGOs.

The second strategic objective focuses on the distribution of responsibilities in adult education
between the relevant ministries and their agencies. Adult education is a basic instrument for
implementing the Government‟s socio-economic reform programmes. Three main tasks are
envisaged: capacity-building for managing and supporting adult education, developing
funding mechanisms and establishing co-operation and co-ordination among the relevant
ministries. Four strategic steps are envisaged: establishing an Adult Education Unit within the
ministries, establishing inter-ministerial teams, one for developing financial mechanisms and
strategy, another responsible for strategic co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation of policy
and strategy impact, and a third for information on adult education and training programmes
and on labour market skill trends.

The third strategic objective concerns the development of a variety of programmes and
resources for adult education and teaching that aim to diversify adult learning offers, widen
access and meet labour market and individual skill needs. Emphasis is given to three
development strands. The first includes basic adult education programmes that support social

integration and increase employability, improve health and enable individuals to develop and
work-oriented basic training programmes for specific jobs that combine basic education and
skills training and job search skills. The second strand is the development of initial vocational
education and continuing training programmes. The former would be aimed mainly at young
adults under 30. The latter would be for people who have lost their jobs or who are at risk of
losing them and for individuals who lack vocational qualifications or who have special needs.
These would be short-term labour market programmes and learning packages that meet
labour market and specific employer needs.

The fourth objective focuses on the development of capacity and quality of adult education
and training. This involves several inter-related tasks. First is the creation of the legislative
framework for all aspects of adult education (e.g. standards, certification and accreditation,
finance) which will be taken forward by a working group with representatives from the key
ministries (the Ministry of Education and Sports, Labour, Employment and Social Policy, the
Union of Employers, chambers, adult education centres and the Union of Workers‟, National
and Open Universities). Other tasks include establishing education and training standards
through a Committee within the Centre for Vocational and Artistic Education, setting goals
and outcomes and developing an accreditation and certification system (through a new
Centre for Accreditation and committee for setting occupational standards). In addition
systematic quality assurance has to be developed based on these standards able to monitor
and evaluate effectiveness and efficiency of management, programme relevance,
achievement of outcomes and responsiveness to economic and social objectives and
effectiveness of teachers. This would be taken forward by the Inspectorate for Adult
Education within the Ministry of Education and Sports. (cf. Ministry of Education and Sports of
the Republic of Serbia/ VET Reform PIU, 2005)

4.6. Some shortcomings

When talking about shortcomings of the strategies developed, one issue is the extent to which
the strategies are officially endorsed by the government and all key partners in the countries,
how far they will influence policy development and implementation and legislation in the short
and medium-term and how realistic they are, given the countries‟ phase of economic
development and the availability of financial and human resources. The European Training
Foundation can be reasonably optimistic in terms of concrete developments, because the
strategies build on initiatives that are ongoing or planned. However, it is less easy to predict
progress, for example, in empowering partners, creating effective partnership working and
improving co-ordination of policies and actions. It is easy to set up partnership structures, but
more difficult to make them work effectively.

Some more specific shortcomings of the countries‟ adult learning strategy documents are
summarised below:

   All countries recognise the importance of a partnership approach between
    government and stakeholders and that responsibilities have to be shared between the
    Government rather than single ministries, the social partners and other key partners and
    that this requires good cooperation and coordination at all levels (national, regional,
    local). The strategies also acknowledge that new effective structures and mechanisms to
    co-ordinate actions of the many actors are central to coherent adult learning policy design
    and implementation (see section 5). However, most of the strategies underestimate the
    difficulties of reaching consensus and collaborating at ministerial level and with key
    partners, which was highlighted particularly in Kosovo‟s strategy. Not all the strategies
    present such clear structural models to strengthen ministerial and partner cooperation
    and coordination at national and local levels as Serbia and the fYR Macedonia. The two
    countries propose national councils for adult education and municipal or local partnership
    councils that support and complement the tasks of the national councils.

   The countries‟ adult learning strategies elaborate on (state-funded) training for low-skilled
    people to acquire primary education or first-level qualifications, where they exist, on
    training schemes for unemployed people and on individually-motivated adult education
    and training, while company training needs, on the whole, are given less consideration.

    Individuals and enterprises and their learning or training needs have to be at the
    centre of policy frameworks and respective legislation, and this needs to be reflected in
    shaping incentives to participate, in funding the actual training, in the design of adult
    learning programmes and in determining outcomes.

   But the point is also about getting the balance right in the countries‟ strategies. It seems
    that the existing strategies are tipped too far towards unemployed people. The driver for
    developing vocational training has been, it seems, the need to reduce unemployment
    rather than to transform the economy through government and providers working with
    employers to develop their human resources and provide a supply of human resources
    with the right mix of skills (via, for instance, sectoral skill analyses & customised
    programmes, strategic HRD planning). Skill and knowledge needs of enterprises are
    the driver of change and, hence, more emphasis needs to be given to the
    development of work-oriented adult learning. Putting employer needs at the centre
    and empowering them to play their full role in its transformation is one of the most
    important strategic developments that the countries need to make. It is a challenge today
    because the transition to the open market is incomplete and has not yet resulted in a
    dynamic economic growth in most of the region. The critical question is how can
    governments empower and mobilise employers since for many of them the demand for
    new skills and knowledge has not yet emerged or has not been fully recognised?

   The countries‟ adult learning strategies make reference to the kind of skills required, for
    example, by unemployed and in particular unqualified or low-qualified adults. They tend to
    be less clear about the skill needs of the employed, the marginally employed or inactive
    people. In adult learning, there is a need to balance different levels of skills and
    different types of skills including occupational skills, key skills such as ICT and
    broader (foundation) skills etc. that facilitate adaptation to job change, professional,
    social and personal development goals.

   The countries share a tradition where all institutions or people were to be treated equally,
    and this can result in under-estimating existing inequalities. Further analysis and suitable
    interventions would be required to ensure equality in the access to learning and,
    related to this, a redirection of the funding for learning to those most in need. Linked to
    this is a more in-depth analysis and a decision by Government on where priorities should
    lie. In the context of scarcity of funding, continuing with the „same-for-all‟ principle may
    prove counterproductive, as funds may not reach those individuals or companies in need.
    Thus, the Government may decide to focus on, for example: (a) the development of the
    training market, (b) encouraging (co-)investments in learning by both employers and
    individuals, (c) programmes for small or micro enterprises, (d) programmes to support
    training for (re-)integration into the labour market, (e) support for vulnerable groups, as
    well as (f) support for those who are willing to learn but cannot afford it.

   The countries‟ strategy documents do not, by and large, analyse how existing resources
    could be rationalised and possible contributions be made to more efficient public
    spending. It is important that policy frameworks incorporate rational funding
    mechanisms and that monitoring and evaluation is built into policy development.

   Overall, more consideration needed to be given to policy frameworks that remove
    disincentives (barriers) to learning with a view to increasing access to and participation
    in adult learning generally and specifically for disadvantaged population segments.
    Barriers to participation in learning are manifold and can be “policy-related; informational
    (level of access to good and timely information); provider-related (entry requirements,
    cost, timing of provision, level of learning supports, quality of provision; nature of learning
    outcomes etc.); situational (the extent to which the life situation or the social environment
    of the adult supports participation), dispositional (the self-esteem and self-confidence of
    the adult as a learner, often linked to failure in previous educational experiences)”
    (European Commission/ Directorate General for Education and Culture, 2006) and

   Finally, the terms „formal‟, „non-formal‟ and „informal‟ learning are new to the context of

    Southeast European countries, which is why most strategies fail to elaborate on how all
    these different forms of learning could be equally promoted and recognised.
    Comprehensive policy frameworks would seek to integrate formal, non-formal and
    informal learning.


5.1. The core problems

The Governments of Southeast European countries, together with international organisations,
have undertaken many studies of the state of the educational system, and there has been
considerable debate on the reforms needed to bring the countries up to the standards of EU
and OECD countries. As far as adult learning is concerned, three key issues may be
highlighted as requiring attention in the formulation of a strategy. It should be emphasized at
the outset that the countries are not alone in suffering the problems outlined below. Most
European countries, including well-developed ones, are to some degree having to tackle the
same issues in confronting their need to develop adult learning strategies.

The policy focus

Government and education ministries are on record as recognising the importance of adult
learning or education. Existing policy or strategy papers on education contain extensive
discussion of lifelong learning and the importance of developing a learning society. They also,
however, recognized that adult education is the most neglected part of the educational
system. The stocktaking reports drawn up in the frame of the European Training Foundation‟s
Adult Learning project by groups of experts similarly believe that the broad statements of
principle about the importance of adult learning have not been followed up by concrete
actions which would give adult learning the positive support it deserves.

The reasons for this are not far to see, and indeed many economically developed countries
have the same problem in making adult learning operational. One difficulty is that adult
learning is so wide ranging. Its coverage is by definition lifelong, so that it has to deal with
young people who have left or dropped out of school, adults who have skill but want to
upgrade, adults who have no skills at all and who need basic literacy, numeracy and
vocational skills, unemployed people of different ages and skills who need to be better fitted
for the new jobs which are being created, war veterans and others besides. Ministries of
education are not structured to deal with this kind of wide-ranging and cross-cutting approach
within their area of responsibility. They are organised according to educational sector, so they
have departments dealing with primary schools, secondary schools, higher education,
possibly adult education, and support services, dealing with areas such as curriculum
development, teacher training and special needs education.

A further problem is a certain lack of commitment within government and the ministries which
should be concerned to divide responsibilities. The lead responsibility is with the education
ministry, but the effective development and implementation of an adult learning strategy goes
well beyond this single ministry, as has been argued before. Within government, other
ministries, including the Ministry of Finance, and those dealing with economic development,
industry, regional development, small and medium enterprises, labour and social welfare all
have an important role to play. There is no sign that this has been recognised across the

Finally, there is insufficient information on the demand for adult learning or the potential
supply of opportunities. The future skill needs of the economy and society are not being
researched, and there is no central information on the training on offer. Some of the
mismatches are pretty well known in general terms. For example, there is a lack of training
opportunities in new technologies, new ways of working and in encouraging entrepreneurship,
and management training, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. The needs of
the long-term unemployed are similarly broadly recognised to be basic or relatively low-level

skills training, and the provision of opportunities is clearly well below the potential demand.
But exactly what the needs of the long-term unemployed are is not known since there is, by
and large, no assessment of their current stock of knowledge on which training courses could


Lack of resources is a fundamental difficulty, which will have to be resolved in the
development of a credible adult learning strategy. Expenditure on education is inadequate to
meet the major reforms needed in all sectors of education, both for young people and adults.
The Governments are aware of the problem, which has inhibited comprehensive education
reform so far. Some countries rely exclusively on external funding for education reform. Given
all the other financial pressures on the public sector, the target of increasing expenditure will
be hard to achieve, but the general recognition of the shortfall in expenditure is encouraging
and importance attached to human resource development by the bigger donors, such as the
EU, can be a remedy.

The budget for adult learning is unknown. While education ministries may have data on adult
education expenditure, there is no identification of total adult learning expenditure in the
education ministry‟s financial information, which reflects discrete types of education – primary
schools, secondary schools, etc. This is not at all surprising. Given that there is no explicit
policy focus for adult learning, there is no demand within Government for transparent
accounts in this area. Having said this, there are clearly aspects within the sectoral accounts,
which relate to adult learning, for example the retraining of adults within the secondary school
system. Other specific areas can be identified. The Ministry of War Veterans‟ Affairs, Family
and Intergenerational Solidarity and the Ministry of Defence in Croatia, for example, have
budgets to provide professional training and employment for war veterans or ex army or
police staff. Again, it is possible to identify the expenditure of the employment service on the
retraining of unemployed adults. In both these cases, however, the financial resources
available are not allocated in relation to a careful assessment of the needs, and the
employment service provision for unemployed people is dwarfed by the scale of the problem -
relatively few unemployed people are given the help they might need.

Adult learning is, of course, about much more than government‟s efforts. Individuals and
enterprises both fund learning, but again there is no financial data on how much each
contributes to the overall adult learning effort. For the private sector as a whole there is no
further information though it seems likely that company expenditure on adult learning will be
devoted largely or wholly to training for the specific needs of the company. How much
individuals spend on their own training and development is again not known.

There is more information about the funds provided by donors. These include the European
Union programmes which provide help in labour market restructuring, training through local
partnerships, training of entrepreneurs in small and medium-sized enterprises and adult
learning, as well as a number of projects funded by bilateral donors. It does appear, however,
that the funds provided by donors, while contributing to the effort to improve adult learning,
are in no sense following any overall strategy and it may be questioned whether there is a
clear set of priorities which Governments and donors can follow in allocating funds.

To summarise, the position on resources is that not enough is being spent on adult learning
by government, enterprises or individuals and there does not seem to be a clear rationale for
the allocation of resources between the various areas of adult learning. This is partly because
there is no single point responsible for collating the total amount going to adult learning. In
addition, there is no model for defining who is responsible for action and therefore
expenditure across the field of adult learning. An important part of the strategy must be to
articulate such a model.

A whole-government approach and partnerships

The effective planning and delivery of all education and learning policies must involve the
whole Government, as well as many stakeholders and this means the development of

A conscious effort has to be made to cross ministerial boundaries, mindsets and practices
and to embed inter-ministerial collaboration as part of normal working practice. A „whole
government‟ approach is needed that involves all the relevant ministries, especially education,
economy, labour and social welfare, finance and to some extent other sector ministries,
because responsibilities in adult learning are shared. Key issues are how to put the skill and
knowledge needs of the workforce at the centre of adult learning developments, how to
engage employers and get them to participate fully in, for example, employee development,
apprenticeship training, provision of labour market intelligence and the development of
national qualification frameworks and how to ensure more equal access to adult learning.
Other challenges include integrating skills and knowledge comprehensively into the countries‟
economic, employment and social policies, action plans, programmes and initiatives and
involving stakeholders consistently in monitoring and evaluating these developments.

A „whole government‟ approach to adult learning relies on consensus of ministries and their
agencies on policy priorities and objectives, funding principles and partnership working to
implement developments. It requires „joined-up thinking‟ at national and devolved levels
between individual ministries and their agencies, more cooperation between them, better co-
ordination of ministerial policies and initiatives and greater collaboration between ministries on
joint programmes. An excellent example here is the Swedish Adult Education Initiative 1997-
2002. This approach brings several advantages: mutually reinforcing ministerial policies and
programmes, reduced risk of duplicating programmes and more optimal use of public funds,
as well as a balanced approach to skills for competitiveness, employability and social
inclusion. Support from the top, new inter-ministerial horizontal structures, and designated
personnel within individual ministries with responsibility for adult learning and working with
other ministries and stakeholders are needed to put a „whole-government‟ approach in

Governments have an important strategic leadership role to play in adult learning to champion
participation in adult learning, to develop coherent policies, supported by legislative reforms,
identify priorities for development in consultation with stakeholders and in gaining broad
consensus on action to achieve them through partnership working. They are able to promote,
foster and encourage developments through raising awareness of the value of learning in
society and in working in partnership with stakeholders, particularly the social partners.
Partnerships with all stakeholders in adult learning are important at all levels because of the
diversity of stakeholders, learners and their needs. Partnerships rely on full consultation, open
dialogue and openness to cross-fertilisation of ideas and actions, provide opportunities for
information exchange and promote mutual trust, informal learning and networking and not
least understanding of common skill challenges. The purpose of partnerships is to build
consensus on appropriate solutions and to facilitate their implementation.

Over the last two decades, partnership working has become embedded systematically into
national and European Union policies, strategies, ways of working, programmes and
individual projects. An important catalyst for partnership working is the shifting in governance
from central control to frameworks that empower stakeholders. Decentralisation and support
empower regional and local actors, and new concepts such as „learning regions‟ or
„knowledge regions‟ and „learning enterprises‟ can gain further ground.

How do the Southeast European countries stand in the development of partnerships? Some
social partnership arrangements exist at different levels, including economic and social
councils at national level. At top level there is a great deal of debate about the importance of
education and learning, as evidenced by the publication of the education strategies and
follow-up documents. But this may be somewhat misleading in the context of workable
partnerships. Several recent reports, including the OECD‟s review of education policy and the
European Training Foundation‟s peer reviews of vocational education and training, pointed

out that in none of the countries there is really effective working between government
departments and effective partnerships are lacking at all levels.

In some ways this is not surprising. Countries in Southeast Europe have only recently
emerged from highly centralized systems of government and administration where there was
very little tradition of partnership in education and training. The social partners are by and
large not sufficiently involved with government either in the development of the economy or in
education and training. The trade unions have a different role from their past activities, and
though sector trade unions may in some cases be quite strong, the decline of the old
industries and the increased number of small firms makes it more difficult for unions to attract
and retain members. In addition, there are different trade union associations or federations
which often find it difficult to get a common view in social dialogue. The main problem,
however, is that the structures of social dialogue are insufficiently strong. Though trade
unions are in theory involved in various tripartite or consultative bodies through membership,
in practice their influence is very limited. In general, there is little or no discussion of adult
learning within existing social dialogue structures. This is something which the education
ministries will have to tackle: in the European Union, in the context of lifelong learning
policies, trade unions and employers have an important practical role to play in social
dialogue, and given the absence of education and learning from such discussions there is a
long way to go in the countries in question.

Another significant issue raised in the context of vocational training which is equally important
for adult learning is the need to see policies planned and delivered at local and/or regional
levels as well as at national level. This does not happen in Southeast European countries at
the moment. There is hardly any effective structure of debate below national level, and the
lack of effective partnerships is even more evident at that level. The general conclusion of
recent European Training Foundation reports was that the vocational education and training
system should be much more decentralized, and the same applies to adult learning. Certainly
adult learning opportunities have to be provided where people live, and it is not possible in
any country to determine the right balance of supply and demand from national level. The
strategy for adult learning has to judge how far it is possible to decentralize in an efficient and
cost-effective way.

Partnership working is developing in Southeast European countries especially in the frame of
foreign donor sponsored projects. One example includes the partnership arrangements
established in Kragujevac under an EC CARDS project in Serbia.

                  Good practice example: Kragujevac partnership, Serbia

Project Aim: to help people back to employment or self-employment through training
partnerships and joint action between institutions;
Stakeholders involved: municipalities, regional authorities, trade unions, employment offices,
employers, chambers of commerce, employers‟ association, accredited adult learning
institutions, national employment agency, ministries of labour and education;
Working arrangements: formal, signed agreement between stakeholders, steering committee,
technical administration and autonomous working groups;
Success factors - capacity building and learning by doing: study visits, learning from others,
team building and tendering/project management; representation: importance of having a
respected leader, credible representatives; good project management; built-in monitoring and
evaluation; employment agencies and partners in driving seat, not education institutions;
Lessons learned: importance of investing in people reinforced; need for vertical linkages and
lobbying at national level; value of informal learning settings/trainers working closely with
  CARDS is the European Commission‟s support programme for Western Balkan countries. The full title
of the project is: “"Support for the development of training programmes and other human resource
development (HRD) measures/services, for the unemployed and redundant employees".

trainees; specific problems of survival of small and micro enterprises and meeting their
training needs - need for special provision;
Outputs: modularised training integrating occupational and core skills and practical training;
management training for enterprises.

Effective partnership working in adult learning is based on building consensus through
listening to others, being open to changing views, defining objectives together and working
jointly or independently to realise common objectives. Partnerships operate best when there
is legitimacy, when partners understand and value the agenda of others while appreciating
the constraints under which partners work, where there is no hierarchy but parity of esteem,
irrespective of the power, resources or size of individual partner. Partnership working is based
on mutual respect and openness. All partners need to share in the benefits of working
together, though not necessarily in equal terms. Like any organisation, partnerships also need
good leadership, sound administrative procedures, transparency and accountability both for
expenditure and for partner action within the partnership and within their own organisation.

Partnership requires capacity building to empower partners and their organisations at all
levels - national, regional, local and community - to work effectively on building consensus
and implementing actions to meet the skill and knowledge challenges. This will mean
strengthening existing and establishing new co-ordination structures and mechanisms to co-
ordinate actions of the many partners, across ministries, sectors and stakeholders.

Support Structures

An effective adult training strategy must adopt a systemic approach to planning, implementing
and assessing policy and its outcomes. There are some deficiencies in Southeast European
countries in the support structures which underpin education and training, and these may be
briefly listed before being dealt with more thoroughly in the following sections.

       While there is much expertise on general pedagogy, and the Institutes for Education
        and, in some cases, Andragogical Centres are involved in adult education in the ex-
        Yugoslav countries, there does not appear to be any central policy or resource for
        scientific research work and development projects in the field of adult learning.
       A national qualification system is lacking. Respective developments have only just
       There is no comprehensive quality assurance system, which is why the validity and
        effectiveness of much adult learning is not known.
       There is little evaluation of what is on offer, and whether learning opportunities have
        benefited the individual or the economy.

5.2. The principles of the strategy

The overall objectives of the adult learning strategy may be summarized as being to improve
the competitiveness of the economy and the labour force, to raise the average skill level of
the workforce, make people more adaptable and able to accept and cope with change, and to
promote social aims of equity and participation. These are in line with the general objectives
of the European Union‟s economic and lifelong learning strategies.

To achieve these objectives and to help overcome the difficulties of the current situation in
Southeast European countries in relation to adult learning, the strategy should be based on a
number of principles.

       There must be a clear policy lead from Government
       There must be effective partnerships between Government and other stakeholders in
        the formulation and delivery of the strategy.
       The provision of learning opportunities - the supply side - must be made more
        accessible, more flexible and more effective.

        Adult learning must relate as far as possible to individual and enterprise needs rather
         than being provider-driven and following an education logic.
        There must be an appropriate balance between the economic aim of achieving a
         more competitive economy and the social aim of meeting individual aspirations and
         improving the quality of life.
        There must be a rational financing system that provides appropriate signals to those
         involved in providing or undertaking learning, and which ensures value for money.

5.3. The development of the strategy

The strategic objectives will be achieved by a series of specific measures, and these will have
to have their own action plans and timetables. But a strategy must be more than simply a
shopping list of measures and the countries have to establish a system which will enable a
long-term approach to the formation and implementation of strategy. Thus, before discussing
what these measures might be, it is necessary to deal with some of the structural problems
which have been identified as inhibiting the development of an adult learning strategy in
southeast European countries.

5.3.1.   Establishing a learning culture

There appears to have been no real attempt to institute a learning culture in the countries in
question, but unless this is done an adult learning strategy is doomed to fail. The various
Government publications on education have received publicity in the various countries, but
this has not percolated to the general public. Indeed, learning is commonly equated with
education, and education with the formal education system. The concept of adult learning is
often still either not understood or regarded as quite uninteresting by the media and public
opinion. This is true for both many individuals and employers.

Individuals in many professions do take part in learning as adults, with people undertaking
regular updating of their skills and knowledge. But most of those who have left the formal
education system do not think of further learning, especially if they feel that the education
system has failed them in the past. There are various reasons why people may not undertake
learning, including lack of knowledge of what is on offer, opportunities not being accessible,
cost, or simple lack of interest. There are exceptions of course. When a crisis occurs, such as
a factory closure, there may be demands for action in the form of retraining, and some people
in work who are highly motivated and concerned with their own development may take an
active interest in further learning. There is little sense that individuals, or the trade unions
which represent them, feel they should be demanding learning or development of their skills,
yet this is a very powerful driver towards a learning culture. If people demand learning
opportunities, there is more pressure on employers or the state to provide them.

Surveys regularly show that, in particular in small and medium-sized enterprises, training is
not considered as one of the strategic purposes of the company. This means that they do not
consider that developing their employees should be a most important part of their business
plans in the interests of recruiting and retaining effective workers, and increasing productivity
and output.

Promoting a learning culture must emphasise to people the significance of learning to
economic progress, personal development, social enrichment and community cohesion. The
promotion of learning in all its aspects is suggested to involve an action plan led by
Government. It should produce this in association with the social partners and other
stakeholders, and joint trade union and employer approaches at local level could be effective.
The implementation of the plan must be highly professional, carried out for example by media
organisations on contract to Government. Among the elements of such a plan might be
learning festivals, sectoral and local learning campaigns, workshops and seminars, and
demonstration projects by local or foreign organisations and individuals which can show in
concrete terms the benefits of investment in learning, without pretending that learning can
solve all problems. People‟s Open Universities across the region, in collaboration with their
foreign partners, have been very active in organising, for example, learning festivals, but it

were not Government and their partners who had recognised the importance of such events
and taken the initiative here.

Overall, a successful implementation of the strategy for lifelong learning, creating
opportunities for lifelong learning for all, hinges on whether the roles of stakeholders have
developed on the basis of participatory and learning cultures. This in turn will depend upon
promoting widespread and systematic changes of culture in our societies. Governments can
contribute to a culture of learning by helping to develop a strategy leading the way towards
implementing the vision of lifelong learning shared by all. In this process, governments would
provide strategic leadership, set a clear framework of aims and priorities, targets and
indicators, foster and evaluate partnerships between government and other partners, ensure
sources of funding and implement quality assurance mechanisms.

5.3.2.   A unified approach to strategy

If an adult learning strategy is to be planned and implemented effectively, there must be a
lead responsibility within government for taking it forward. In the countries this must be the
education ministry, if necessary with a revised mandate. But other Ministries with relevant
responsibilities must be fully engaged, in particular the ministries of economy and labour.

One deficiency noted earlier is the lack of any forward view of the skill needs in the countries.
Some attempt must be made to take a national view, based on a view of the economic and
industrial outlook. This will require a joint effort across several government departments. More
broadly, if the bold statements in the education policy papers are to mean anything, adult
learning must be seen as a Government responsibility rather than the preserve of one or two
ministries. The government as a whole must be interested in the development and resourcing
of the strategy in the interests of underpinning economic and social progress, and all
ministries are called upon to contribute as necessary to the strategy and its implementation.
The strategy must be a long-term commitment by government and its partners, and this
requires continuity of policy and a common approach across the political spectrum. It would
be extremely damaging, if the strategy were to become an issue of party politics.

Participating in the formulation of an adult learning strategy requires new approaches and
new ways of thinking by all ministries concerned. Education ministries, for example, have
traditionally been concerned exclusively with the formal education system. This is not
surprising given the huge task of reform which has to be undertaken. But the vision has to
widen, if adult learning is to be pushed forward. There must be a central policy point in the
education ministry, which has real authority to involve other relevant parts of the ministry and
to link with other ministries as necessary. This may well require a greater capacity for policy
development within the education ministry and an increase in resources, but if the
Government is serious about an adult learning strategy this ought to be affordable.

In number of southeast European countries the Government has set up a working group on
adult education which could be the forerunner of a legally established national council. This
could be an effective central point for debate and consultation on adult learning, depending
on its remit and its membership. To contribute effectively to a national debate on adult
learning, such a body would have to look more widely than adult education as normally
understood, to include also training and informal forms of learning, and its remit and
membership must reflect this. It ought to reflect the range of interests involved in adult
learning to ensure an effective input to thinking. Legislation to establish it ought similarly to
reflect the range of adult learning. Such a council could be a most useful sounding board for
giving views to the education ministry and others about strategy proposals, facilitating their
implementation, and perhaps formulating its own ideas on strategy. It is, however, important
that the strategy and policy lead remains within Government, with the education ministry
retaining responsibility for the national adult learning strategy with the other ministries, which
should be involved.

5.3.3.   Partnerships

It is now widely accepted in most countries that the delivery of learning must involve
partnerships, and this is all the more true for adult learning. The range of possible needs is so
broad and the policy response so diverse, that it is not possible for solutions to be developed
and delivered without the involvement of many interests. The Southeast European countries
are not well advanced in the development of effective partnerships in learning. The OECD
thematic reviews of education policy and the ETF reviews of vocational education and training
both made recommendations for the creation of partnerships in this area, as well as
highlighting the difficulties of doing so, but little progress seems to have been made. The adult
learning strategy requires even broader partnerships, and the following paragraphs outline a
possible structure, which might be considered.

At the national level the partnerships are between Government and the social partners. This
would involve all relevant Ministries, including representatives of new (macro-)regional
structures and the employment service. It might be carried out mainly through a national
council or some such body, provided, as suggested above, that its remit covers all forms of
learning rather than simply the formal education system. It would certainly be counter-
productive to have more than one top-level council in this area. At the same time there should
be regular contact between the education ministry and the social partners to exchange
information and develop ideas.

The task of this partnership would be to define the adult learning strategy, to select priorities
in line with government guidelines and to define responsibility for delivery. In addition, its
tasks might include:

        the drafting and monitoring of National Employment Action Plans in line with the
         European Employment Strategy and its guidelines;
        the general supervision of infrastructure and support structures (see Chapter 8)
        the overall planning and monitoring of national, European Union and other donor
         interventions in partnership with the institutions in charge; as well as
        the supervision of the work of lower-level partnerships.

Below national level, some partnerships already exist at county and local level, as mentioned
before, but there are substantial restrictions on their action. More important, they do not really
form the kind of learning and skills partnerships which are required. These would involve the
social partners, local government, the education sector (schools, colleges, adult and higher
education institutions), the employment service, private training providers, etc. They would
link in with the regional development effort in the same way as the national partnership would
have regard to the overall needs of the economy and the society. These partnerships are
particularly important as bringing the planning and delivery of learning closer to where people
live and work. They would therefore have greater reality to the public. The regional
partnerships might have the following tasks within national guidelines:

        identify the main learning needs for their areas through labour market assessment;
        assess the supply of learning opportunities and how provision might be made;
        coordinate research and survey work;
        guide the employment service on the provision for unemployed people;
        assure the quality of education and learning within the region and
        possibly also allocate Government and donor funding within the region.

It is arguable that there should additionally be a further level of partnerships below regional
level. This would certainly relate learning provision to the requirements of localities, and this
would be desirable and resolve some current problems. For example, there is no doubt that
the links between enterprises and schools in Southeast European countries need much more
development. There is, however, the risk of having too many partnerships and that the system
becomes unwieldy and bureaucratic, with adverse effects on delivery.

This structure of partnerships is merely illustrative of how the approach might work in the
countries in question. But the creation of partnerships is not easy and the experience of other

countries provides some lessons. Firstly, partnerships must be taken seriously by all
concerned and given a real job to do, so that they will attract high quality members to
participate. If it turns out that they are talking shops with no real role, they will not work and
partners with disappointed expectations will leave. Something of this kind happened with the
employer-led bodies in the US and UK. Partnerships must be sustainable over the long term
so that continuity is important. There must be a shared vision and a genuine desire to work
together cooperatively, with a high degree of give-and-take.

Secondly, partnerships cannot be created quickly. It takes time for partners to come to
understand one another and for the mutual trust which is so essential for partnerships to
develop. Since partnerships cannot be enforced on people but have to emerge, not all regions
may have the same degree of enthusiasm or expertise. They may not advance at the same
speed or necessarily end up with exactly the same form of partnership. Flexibility and
differences have to be accepted.

Thirdly, and very important for Southeast European countries, effective partnerships require
capacity and expertise so that the partners can play a full role. Both the OECD and ETF
studies pointed out that in the vocational education and training area neither employers nor
trade unions currently had the capacity to play their proper role in partnerships below national
level, though they might be able to operate at national level given the opportunity. This is still
true, and it is therefore essential that there should be a substantial capacity building effort
making use of international experts and experience before the partnerships are set in place.
There should also be a great deal of informal discussion between potential partners about
their expectations of the system.


The previous section dealt with the development of the strategy. This section discusses
possible measures to implement the strategy in Southeast European countries, in the light of
the core problems identified earlier. There will be choices to be made. Should the countries
take a selective approach, pressing ahead with a few measures, or advance on a broad front?
Where is likely to be the most cost-effective use of the limited resources? What are political,
economic and social priorities of Government in the field of adult learning? And which
approaches seem likely to provide a good basis for further improvement? The following three
sub-sections illustrate how some of the key problems in adult learning might be tackled, and
where the responsibility for action lies.

6.1. Improving Basic Skills

Most Southeast European countries have recognized that they have a major problem of lack
of literacy, with a large number of people over the age of 15 who did not finish primary
education. The reduction of illiteracy must be a national strategic goal, the aim being that all
citizens should have education at least up to the end of primary school.

As far as the economy is concerned, a further problem is that many people also lack
numeracy skills and, even more likely, new types of basic skills, such as computer literacy
and problem solving. Lack of basic skills is particularly evident among the unemployed and
the long-term unemployed. Employers will be most reluctant to hire such individuals not only
because they may not be able to do currently available jobs, but also because the lack of
basic skills may prevent the acquisition of further skill. The long-term aim ought to be to
develop, among a majority of the population, the key competences such as those identified in
the EU framework (European Commission, 2005), namely competence in the mother tongue,
competence in a foreign language, mathematical literacy and basic competences in science
and technology, ICT skills, learning-to-learn skills, interpersonal and civic competences,
entrepreneurship and cultural awareness. This is an extremely demanding list, and one of the
tasks of a strategy will be to identify the key needs of the Southeast European countries and
how they can best be met.

The responsibility for dealing with the lack of basic skills among unemployed people and the
funding of the remedy clearly lies with Government. In some senses it reflects the failure of
the formal education system to provide adequate learning, and there is no reason why other
partners should participate financially. As a rule, employers have little interest in low-skilled
unemployed people and the individuals themselves do not have the resources or knowledge
to acquire the necessary skills. The action in this area lies with the employment service which
has contact with the unemployed adults registered with it, but not those who are unregistered.

How might the employment service approach the problem? The first requirement is that those
with basic skill deficiencies be identified, and this will need some assessment by employment
service staff to ascertain the current level of skill and the type of further training which would
be most beneficial. There may also be problems of motivation of the unemployed people
themselves. They may not want to “go back to school”, they may have become accustomed
to a life without work or they may be working in the grey economy. The employment service
may therefore have to persuade them that remedying their basic skill deficiency, while no
guarantee of employment, will improve their chances of work.

Provision should also be made for the unemployed people who are not registered, though this
is much more difficult. As pointed our earlier, many people who have left the labour force may
have no interest in registering as unemployed, and may indeed be even more lacking in
motivation as the registered unemployed people. It is, however, necessary to consider how
they might be attracted back into the labour force and provided with the skills they need,
perhaps through appropriate marketing, since they currently represent an under-used

The amount of training in this area is currently not adequate. There must be an action plan to
increase the supply of opportunities, involving partnerships as described above at the regional
level and below. Employers have to consider what basic skills would increase the prospects
of recruitment, the employment service can provide information about the clients and the
training providers can adjust their current offerings to meet the scale and pattern of demand.
There is a range of possible providers – general and vocational schools, People‟s Open
Universities, private training organisations or others – all of whom could provide opportunities
on contract to Government, with the clients being supplied by the employment service, and
possibly through outreach activities to get to those who are not registered unemployed.

There may be scope for special training organizations to be charged with the implementation
of the basic skills training by the education ministries, but there are advantages, and perhaps
greater flexibility and a higher quality, if the training is contracted out following a competitive
bidding procedure. The involvement of NGOs in the process might represent an additional
resource. The partnership should keep a close watch on the effectiveness of the different

6.2. Skills for the market economy

Some people who become unemployed may need more than basic skills training. They may
have some skill which they could upgrade, or they may wish to change skill to fit them for
employment in new and growing industries. People in this situation may need some help
before they undertake training, in the form of assessment and counselling. It may be
necessary to consider what their current level of skill is and whether they have sufficient prior
learning to acquire new skill. They may not have a clear idea of what they would like to do
and would therefore need advice based on their capabilities and potential. One possible
source of such counselling would be the employment service, but there may be other sources
of counselling which could be used, for example, through private training and recruitment
organisations, or employers‟ associations or NGOs.

It is important to recognise that in a modern economy many skills are not the highly technical
types which require long training. As the service sector expands in Southeast European
countries, more and more jobs need personnel with social or “soft” skills which ideally should
be inculcated in school but which many adults may lack, whether employed or unemployed. In

countries where the hospitality industry – tourism, hotels and catering – is likely to be a
significant source of jobs in future, the provision of these soft skills is particularly important.

The improvement of the skills of those in work should be an important component of the adult
learning strategy. The general approach in most European countries is that employers should
be responsible for training their own employees since they know best what the training needs
are. In addition, since the benefits of the more highly skilled worker accrue to the company, it
should bear the cost of the training.

This approach has, however, not been entirely successful in ensuring a satisfactory degree of
in-company training. Many companies in Southeast European countries do not do as much
training as required, preferring to try to attract trained people from other firms or from the
labour market. Some do not appreciate the need for and value of training, while others again,
when under serious cost pressures, cut back training budgets as an apparently avoidable
expense. Large firms are more likely to appreciate the need for employee development, but
there may be problems particular to small and medium-sized enterprises, which result in a
less than optimum training performance. They are less aware of the importance of employee
development. They are unlikely to have specialist human resource development staff who
could push forward such development, and it is more costly and difficult in a small
organisation to give employees time off to be trained. For a number of reasons, therefore, the
amount of training in the economy, and in some enterprises, is lower than required for
economic efficiency and individual development.

In many European countries Governments have intervened in company training to try to
achieve a more efficient solution. What lessons can Southeast European countries, which
have the additional problem of companies trying to adjust to the market economy, learn from
their experience? Possible approaches to intervention include:

    a. Legislation? Some countries have passed laws requiring firms to allow employees
       paid leave for a certain number of days for training. This can be difficult to police, but
       the main problem is that without detailed and potentially burdensome regulation,
       there is no way of ensuring that the training is appropriate to the individual‟s or the
       economy‟s needs. The main reason for perhaps introducing or supporting such
       legislation in the countries in question may be to emphasise the importance of
       training. In a sense the precise outcome is less important than the message the
       legislation would give. It might be particularly relevant to small firms whose workers
       have less likelihood of receiving offers of training. Another approach might be to
       encourage enterprises to give their employees paid study leave to undertake learning
       which would be useful to the enterprise.
    b. Subsidies for training? Should any subsidy be general, which is likely to be costly, or
       specific to particular kinds of training and, if the latter, how should this be defined? A
       common problem with subsidies is deadweight, where the subsidy is given for training
       the employer would have carried out in any case, so that training costs are
       transferred from the employer to the public purse. Again, however, there may be
       transitional reasons for introducing subsidies as an explicit signal of encouragement
       to employers to train, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises, quite apart
       from the possible short-term inefficiencies. A related point is that the tax system
       should not hamper the acquisition of skills. Imposing value-added tax on educational
       services and, thus, higher costs may be a considerable disincentive to participation.

    c.   Levy and grant systems? These impose a levy on employers and give a grant to
         those who train in required skills. The UK had such a system, but to the extent that it
         was successful it was the planning structure, which emphasized the importance of
         training rather than the financial incentives which improved training. The levy was not
         high enough to change employer behaviour on training, and since most employers
         both paid the levy and got grants, the system became inefficient.

There is some evidence, therefore, that certain kinds of intervention to influence the training
market are difficult to control or of doubtful cost-effectiveness, and that any positive effect
they do have often diminishes over time. This does not necessarily mean that they should be

ruled out in the case of the Southeast European countries. As pointed out above, financial
incentives may be very useful to provide a clear signal to enterprises of the importance of
training, even if they are not designed to be long-term instruments but simply a pump-priming

Again, where there is clear evidence that financial considerations are inhibiting companies
from training, the case for financial incentives could be made. One example would be to
provide free or subsidized assessments of training needs or the existing stock of skills for
small and medium-sized enterprises. Another is the funding of the training of potentially
redundant workers in enterprises facing restructuring, on the grounds that it is more sensible
to try to deal with these workers before they leave and become unemployed. Joint funding
between the employer and the employment service is desirable, perhaps involving workers
going to vocational training on release from their companies, or trainers coming into the firm
to provide learning. The curriculum of learning should be based on individual needs, as
assessed by the employment service.

In the interests of the long-term development of adult learning in the countries, it is important
to involve employers by building on the partnership approach outlined earlier. If employers are
involved with planning provision in their areas and can relate their training to a forward view of
the national and local economies, the outcome is likely to be an improvement over the current
situation. It may also be possible to reinforce the employer effort by non-financial incentives.
For example, the UK has an award, Investor in People, given to companies by an
independent agency. The company has to show that it has related its human resource
planning to business planning, and that its employees are fully in touch with the objectives of
the company and its plans for their own development. This award is valued by companies
since it gives them national recognition as leaders in the field. A similar approach would be to
make an award to companies in respect of the excellence of their training. These approaches
would help to develop the culture of learning within companies.

Another way of encouraging learning is to provide financial incentives for individuals to
undertake learning. These might include training loans which are particularly relevant to
higher level skills which are expensive and where the learning is lengthy, such as higher
education. Such loans can be difficult to administer and relatively costly since the loan is
repaid, probably through the tax system, over many years. Other possibilities are individual
learning accounts where government pays into a dedicated account which the employee can
draw on to undertake approved training; and tax credits for expenditure by individuals on
approved training. A common problem is how to define the learning which should be
approved under such schemes, and their nature does as a rule not make them very suitable
for lower-level skills.

    d. Training of Managers

This is a particularly important area of adult learning in Southeast European countries. The
disciplines involved in managing companies in the past were very different from those
required of private companies operating in a market economy and faced by increasingly
severe international competition. In the previous industrial structures managers did not have
to concern themselves unduly with increasing productivity or training their workers for new
tasks. Owners of newly private companies were often not themselves entrepreneurs and had
insufficient understanding of the need to train their managers to deal with the changed
situation. This situation is changing. Large companies are developing good systems of
management training, and higher education institutions are developing management
education studies leading to diplomas or MBAs, though there may be some question as to the
quality of training. For small and medium-sized companies there may be greater problems, for
the reasons described above. The manager of a small business may have a wide range of
responsibilities, and so should need a broad training. But it may be impossible for such a
manager to take time off for formal management training, especially if there is no immediate
pay-off to the company.

Perhaps more important than formal courses is the facility for managers to acquire knowledge
through non-formal short courses or seminars, by self-education and by manager networks

which enable individuals to discuss their work problems and to compare solutions. A good
example is the learning organised through the European Union-sponsored Human Resource
Development Fund (HRDF) in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:

              Good practice example: Activities of the HRDF in Macedonia

The micro-economic environment in Macedonia does not allow many business owners and
managers to consider participation in learning activities. In most of the cases there would not
be anyone else to run the company, if the managers came to the workshops. However, some
of them appreciated the idea of exchanging experience through an interaction with other
managers and came along to the meetings arranged by the HRDF.

The activities of the HRDF include developing learning groups comprising up to three
managers each from 4-6 companies per group. Learning groups are organised around either
around specific topics, such as marketing or strategic management, or around sectors, such
as tourism development. This provides a good basis for discussion. Debates between
managers are structured around specific questions where they can exchange their experience
and learn from each other.

         Learning Groups of
         Managers of SMEs
          Reaction of managers to the learning
           group concept
          Exchange of experience

          Peer pressure

          Sector groups or mixed groups

It is, of course, essential that the managers undertaking this kind of learning put into practice
what they have learned. This is often a problem: the courses are forums of discussion, but not
necessarily followed through to improved management practice. This may, however, be a
much more practical route for management training, especially for small and medium-sized

The recently established Agency for Entrepreneurship and the Ministry of the Economy in the
former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2002) have a clear vision on how training for small
and medium-sized businesses should be shaped:

“The interest for training of an academic type, in classroom settings, is decreasing. Small and
medium-sized businesses have a need for training their employees in real situations, through
practical work, especially in the field of developing managerial skills, project preparation,
solving financial problems and marketing. Consequently, the Government would support and
stimulate projects that contain training by practical work in other companies (in the country or
abroad), case studies and simulations of real situations”.

Notwithstanding the improvements in some parts of business, the general perspective is that
in Southeast European countries management training, and the need for managers to engage
in continuous learning, is not taken sufficiently seriously, yet. There are several possible
action points which might be pursued.

      Formal management education courses provided by colleges and higher education
       establishments are suggested to be assessed to ensure that their offerings are in line
       with best practice in other more developed economies.
      Links between institutions in one country and those in other countries already exist to
       some extent, but could be expanded as management training expertise is
       transferable. The Southeast European countries could take advantage of the
       progress that other countries have made.
      Consideration might be given to establishing centres for management training at
       regional level, bringing together such providers as already exist rather than starting
       from scratch, and developing their offerings to suit companies in the regions and
       localities. The structure of the economy differs between regions and localities and so
       does the nature of firms. Some regions will have many more small and medium-sized
       enterprises than others. Management training should be tailored to the needs of the
       regions and localities. The task of establishing or expanding such centres and
       deciding on provision is an issue for the partnerships as discussed above. In this area
       as in others, the keynote is flexibility of provision. They could be particularly important
       in offering training in entrepreneurship to encourage the creation of new small
       businesses. A good example in this context are the Centres for Entrepreneurship that
       were established across Croatia in the frame of an EU funded project implemented by
       the UNDP. When the project expired, some of the centres found themselves however
       in a precarious financial situation and had to close down.
      Networks of companies involved and interested in management training should be
       established at regional or local level. This would fall naturally to the Chambers of
       Commerce and Crafts or employers‟ associations to organise. As part of this, it might
       be possible for larger enterprises which have in-house management training
       programmes to act as mentors for other companies who are less advanced, and in
       particular for small businesses, to encourage and guide them in their efforts to

On a more specific note, the HRDF in the fYR Macedonia has come up with the following

      firstly, that the already existing good practices be utilised and expanded;
      secondly, that all possible ways of human resource development be explored, i.e. not
       limited to training based on a one-sided knowledge transfer; for example, by exploring
       case studies a better link could be made between what has been learned and its
       application in day-to-day company practices;
      thirdly, raising the experience of consultants and trainers will bring about a new level
       of services provided to the companies; and
      finally, in order to ensure the relevance of learning efforts, company managers would
       need to be involved in the design of activities from the start; it is important to find a
       manner that is centred around managers‟ needs, that suits their availability in terms of
       timing and location, learning needs and styles, etc.

          Future directions

             Raising the awareness about the
              importance of HRD with success stories
              and case studies
             Promoting in-company learning activities
             Research in presenting a correlation b/n
              learning and increased competitiveness
             Raising the level of competence of
              consultants and trainers

Promoting adult learning as part of wider human resource strategies

There is empirical and anecdotal evidence that human resources play a key role in the
performance of companies (cf. Brockbank, 1999, and CEDEFOP, 2005, among others).
Human resource practices, including training, are associated with company performance and
closely related to a company‟s innovative capacity. Investments in training generate
substantial gains for companies. Positive training outcomes are evident in studies connecting
training investments with productivity, profitability and stock market performance.

Increasing the productivity of companies requires bringing operating practices and strategies
to more sophisticated levels, which in turn requires more highly skilled people, better
information, more efficient government processes, improved infrastructure, better suppliers
and more advanced research institutions (Porter, 2004). However, achieving a sophisticated
human resource system in companies will help increase the competitiveness of enterprises
only when the micro-economic environment in which businesses operate is favourable at the
same time.

In Southeast European countries human resource development concepts, let alone human
resource systems, are not yet well developed in the majority of companies. The lack of both
strategic priorities for business development, of financial means and time, of a sound
understanding of what to learn and how and of adequate learning offers are often cited as the
main reasons behind companies‟ reluctance to engage further in this field. However,
managers start to become more aware of the fact that a company‟s ability to compete in a
market environment hinges increasingly on having the right people, effective learning and
development systems, as well as measures and incentives for measuring and rewarding
individual and company effectiveness. But a poor business environment is generally felt to
impede on the returns of investment in human resource development and training.

Human resource systems which are aligned with the firm‟s competitive strategy are generally
thought to include rigorous recruitment and selection procedures, performance-contingent
incentive compensation systems, management development and training activities linked to
the needs of the business, and significant commitment to employee involvement (Becker &
Huselid, 1998). Human resources professionals must sit at the table where company
strategies are discussed. For being credible at the strategy table, human resource
professionals must be well informed about markets, customers and non customers,
technology in one‟s own and other industries and finance (cf. Drucker, 2001), as well as
learning strategies, demand and supply.

Training and learning form an essential component of effective human resource systems.
Brockbank (1999) makes a distinction between operational and strategic learning. Operational
learning is necessary for carrying out the necessary daily work in companies – for getting up-

to-date on new technologies, processes or procedures, legal rules, etc. Strategic learning is
more complex and characterized by the following criteria:

       It follows a long-term rather than short-term vision for the development of the
       It covers the entire company as opposed to a small group or individuals.
       It provides a basis for integrating different isolated learning activities.
       It focuses on generic rather than highly specific training.

Strategic learning requires being informed on market trends, including in the areas of
technology, economic and regulatory issues and workforce demographics, and have a plan
for tomorrow, which contains a strategy for human resource development. It may embrace
elements of research and development. Many sophisticated tools have been developed for
implementing human resource strategies, such as the Balanced Scorecard (Kaplan & Norton,
1996 and 2001), the Human Resource Scorecard (Huselid et al. 2004, Ulrich & Brockbank,
2005). Basic elements of these tools could be helpful for companies in Southeast Europe.


A relatively new form to assist knowledge-sharing and learning in groups of companies,
including small ones, are clusters. Business clusters are geographically focused groups of
related businesses and institutions. They typically include buyers and suppliers, distributors,
related service firms and educational institutions. Depending on their depth and
sophistication, they can also include government and other institutions providing specialised
training, education, information, research and technical support, such as universities, think-
tanks or vocational training providers. Porter suggests that clusters among related industries
can have a strong knowledge spill-over effect that enhances innovation and performance.
Firms located within clusters are more likely to attain competitive advantages, both in terms of
effectiveness of strategies and operations (cf. Porter, 1998, 2000 and 2004).

For medium developed countries like the Southeast European countries, the 2004/2005
Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum refers to cluster development
as one of the key elements that distinguishes successful from less successful countries.
Hence, the report suggests that these be developed as one of the principal ways to improve
competitiveness. In Southeast Europe examples of clusters include hospitality and tourism
clusters which exist in most countries, the textile cluster in the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia, the pharmaceutical cluster in Serbia, as well as wine-making clusters, agricultural
products clusters, footwear clusters, etc. in various countries.


The objective is to contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of enterprises by increasing
their productivity. The range of solutions is complex and inextricably intertwined with many
different areas of policy, as well as initiatives at the level of companies. The following
proposed actions, which have been modelled on elements of a framework developed by
Porter (…), focus on the development of human resources, which are key to productivity and
competitiveness, as mentioned above. Adult learning is pertinent in all of these areas - be it
organised among managers or employees or stakeholders from training or other relevant

   There is an issue of addressing the sophistication of company operations and strategies,
    and within them human resource development and training, bearing in mind, however,
    that these are strongly conditioned by the macro and microeconomic business
    environment. Ensuring that managers leading companies are well trained and competent
    will lead to better results in terms of business performance, including overall training
    levels. The Government and its partners from the private sector can promote this by
    introducing high-level standards for business education and management training, and by
    assisting intermediary bodies or other structures that support management development.

   A thorough understanding of the company‟s market position and how it could be improved
    will serve as a basis for an improved strategy for business operations and for a
    specification, within this context, of the contribution employees can make by upgrading
    their skills and competence. Hence, further capacity-building is necessary for the design
    of human resource development strategies and the creation of appropriate systems.

   Managers would benefit from a better use of the power of trade associations,
    entrepreneurs‟ networks, standard-setting agencies, quality centres and technology
    networks. Clusters in particular have a potential to enhance companies‟ access to
    information, services, technology and specialised skills. Special programmes for
    managers could help them overcome their possible hesitation in forming clusters and
    support the nurturing of clusters.

   Three fields of support are proposed for clusters, which would further training, research
    and innovation:

    a. Specialised courses could be delivered locally to train people on cluster-related
       technology, the economic and regulatory environment and major changes in human
       demographics. Some people could develop as experts in certain clusters.

    b. Small laboratories could be funded that are placed within the cluster and provide local
       solutions to local problems. They could, for example, work on a certain software
       required by a number of companies belonging to the same cluster. The „tech labs‟
       could seek to cooperate with local and/or foreign universities or research institutes.
       The concept of finding local solutions for local problems is a key element in a strategy
       to promote learning and innovation.

    c.   An important area of support within clusters could be the use of information and
         communication technologies and the development of related e-skills.

   Governments and their partners could complement the above-mentioned efforts by
    carrying out campaigns to raise the awareness amongst managers about the benefits of

A recent publication by the OECD on business clusters and the promotion of enterprise
describes recent trends and suggests a range of policy measures that are important to
enhance the vitality and competitiveness in particular of the SME sector. This is key
especially in Southeast Europe where this sector comprises over 95% of all businesses and
accounts for two thirds of private sector employment.

The OECD (2005) refers in particular to:
    the need to reduce regulatory and administrative burdens affecting entrepreneurial
    the increasing attention that must be given by governments to entrepreneurship
      education and training;
    the need to ease the access by small and medium-sized enterprises to financing,
      technology, innovation and international markets;
    the growing importance of women‟s entrepreneurship; and
    local policy issues.


This section deals with a number of areas that are important in the provision of adult learning,
and the efficiency and quality of delivery.

7.1. The providers of learning

There is a wide range of providers of adult learning in Southeast European countries, both
formal and informal, though the extent to which they operate will vary between different
countries and different parts of a country.

   People‟s Universities at county level offer formal and, more commonly, non-formal
    training. There is no central source of information about the number of participants in
    these institutions, the types of programmes and the quality of provision.
   Vocational schools and colleges, which educate young people, also provide places for
    adults and this education leads to a qualification.
   Private education and training providers have sprung up in the last ten years to help with
    the transition to the market economy. No data exist on the number of individuals who
    undertake training with private providers. While unemployed people are unlikely to be
    able to afford the cost of training, anecdotal evidence suggests that many individuals do
    pay for training with private providers, especially since they tend to concentrate on the
    skills which are most in demand, such as information technology, foreign languages, and
    a range of business training. Their customers will mostly be people with secondary
    education or higher, who want to acquire new skills or upgrade those they already have.
    Again, however, there is no data available on the operations of these providers.
   Enterprises provide training for their own employees, though as the discussion above
    indicated not all companies do this and there are deficiencies especially in the SME
   Various informal and voluntary organisations offer learning opportunities. The role of such
    voluntary organizations is particularly important in that they operate at local level and
    integrate learning with the development of the communities they serve.

The adult learning strategy must make use of all these types of providers in meeting the
needs of individuals and the economy, but there are some problems in doing this. Firstly,
there is little information on the number of providers in particular parts of the country, what
they are doing, who their clients are, and how effective the provision is. Filling this information
gap should be a major task for the regional partners. Once this information is available, it
should reveal whether there are serious gaps in provision, as one suspects there are in some
less prosperous parts of a given country, and how these gaps should be filled. Once the
structure of providers is mapped, the regional partnership should work to create networks
between them, and with those demanding learning.

Secondly, where provision exists it may not be up to the task of meeting skill and learning
needs. An example is the providers of vocational education and training whose activities were
examined by the OECD and ETF reviews. These found that the curriculum offered by
vocational education and training providers was not well geared up to the new skills. They
were not sufficiently linked to their local economies. The teachers were poorly paid and
insufficiently well trained and, in general, the system lacked flexibility in how students could
move through and within it, and in its response to changing demands. These criticisms may
well apply more widely within the provider system, and a key priority for action in this area is
the training of trainers, so that there is greater assurance that learning offerings are based on
up-to-date teaching practice.

7.2. Qualification standards, assessment and evaluation

It is important that stakeholders in the learning system should have confidence in its
operations. Individuals who undertake learning opportunities want to know that what they
have learnt is recognized to be of high quality and of benefit to them. Employers will want to
know, when recruiting someone who claims to have some degree of skill, that the qualification
is genuine. Anyone undertaking formal learning will want to know whether the provider is
efficient and effective in what it is supplying. To ensure this in Southeast European countries
requires the further development of support measures across the learning system.

First, qualification standards. Many economically advanced countries are moving away from
qualifications based on time spent in training to systems based on learning outcomes, ie,

statements which describe what a person is expected to know and be able to do when they
have achieved the qualification. These can apply to both young people and adults.

Apart from standards for levels of learning in individual countries, there are of course also
international classifications at a broader level. Southeast European countries do not have
frameworks of national qualifications yet, and this is an area on which work is suggested to be
carried out. The lead is generally expected to come from the centre, either from the education
ministry or one of its executive agencies, or more likely from a national body which would
involve the social partners. This is a difficult process as international experience shows.

A balance must be struck between analysing and creating standards for specific skills or
economic sectors or occupations without creating a system with built-in rigidities which inhibit
movement within the labour market. It is necessary to create a framework for recognition
which is flexible and which reflects the fact that individuals will change industries and skills far
more than in the past. The classification system must facilitate this movement, and should not
be based narrowly on current skill or industry patterns. It should involve a systematisation of
the skills and knowledge relevant to the needs of a modern economy.

It also has to be recognised that the “soft” skills or key competences described earlier may
not be easy to fit into the structure of qualifications and standards. The qualifications
framework should nevertheless consider the inclusion of such areas as language skills,
information technology skills, team working and communication skills, as well as the technical
skills appropriate to the occupation or job.

Another aspect of assessing an individual‟s suitability for a job is their existing stock of
learning. While they are not well developed, systems of assessment of prior and experiential
learning can provide evidence of the skills and competences individuals possess. In addition
to being important in fitting jobs to people and vice versa, this kind of accreditation helps
access to learning, by providing a demonstrable base on which further learning can be built.

Related to this is the issue of the status of providers. Should there be a national approach to
recognizing or approving providers or their learning programmes? Providers of adult learning
outside the formal education system are not obliged to seek recognition by the educational
authorities, although they frequently do in the interest of giving their programmes greater
credibility. For private providers it can be argued that they will succeed if they are effective in
giving people the training which gets them jobs, and that this is sufficient. But in practice
individuals are very unlikely to know whether a provider is good or not: the information is not
available to them, or may be misleading. Another issue is that the certicate is likely to have
value for longer, if it is subject to an accreditation process

There is no doubt that when a provider is receiving public funds there has to be scrutiny of the
offerings and the provider‟s outputs: is the training being provided in the numbers and to the
quality expected? Obviously, it is necessary to avoid an unduly burdensome and bureaucratic
system that discourages providers, but international experience shows that an unduly light
regulatory regime can result in fraud and the discrediting of the programmes.

On the whole, it seems desirable to put an institutional process for quality assurance in place
that is itself flexible and not heavy in terms of administration. This is an issue of top down –
compliance approaches versus other approaches, for example, a peer-to-peer process with
reporting to some authority which may undertake intermittent audits. Countries may have a
system of accreditation or certification for providers, with national guidelines and possibly
regional administration where a provider is serving a limited geographical area to reduce and
shorten bureaucratic procedures. This should try to ensure that private providers are
financially sound, that they are not making exaggerated claims in any publicity literature, and
that their pedagogy and instructional approaches are appropriate. More specifically, a quality
assurance process, which would result in the eventual licensing of providers, could include
the following features:

1. Content of the accreditation process

    •   Efficiency and effectiveness of previous activities
    •   The financial situation of the training providers
    •   The characteristics of the teaching and administrative staff
    •   The development of a quality system within the organisation
    •   Follow-up, implementation and development procedures

2. Which indicators could be used to assess the providers‟ performances against the
   criteria selected?

    •   Concrete content of the training programmes
    •   The amount of drop out
    •   The degree of training success (students qualified or employed)
    •   The degree of satisfaction (opinions of users, operators, final beneficiaries)
    •   The organisation of the quality work
    •   The documentation of resources, processes and results

3. Actors involved in quality assurance

    •   Which actors are involved in the selection of the criteria and indicators in the
    •   Governmental actors at national level
    •   Sectoral actors
    •   Training institutions
    •   Social partners
    •   External actors
    •   Students
    •   Enterprises

4. Quality assurance principles for programmes

    •   Is the course based on competencies?
    •   Is the course expressed in terms of learning outcomes?
    •   Is the content of the course appropriate to the level of the qualification?
    •   How does the leaning programme meet an identifiable and verifiable labour market
    •   In what way were the stakeholders to the course involved in its development?
    •   Does the learning programme provide for a variety of learning modes, e.g. part time,
        full time or on the job?
    •   Does the learning programme offer multiple entry or exit points, e.g., is it modular?
    •   Does the learning programme provide a pathway into related courses?
    •   Can the learning programme be customised to fit with local environments?
    •   What are the arrangements to assess the competences acquired by the learners?
    •   What are the evaluation arrangements for the course?

A successful example for a quality assurance system is the EduQua system in Switzerland,
which uses a similar list of criteria (

It may at some stage be possible to relax the registration regime once providers have
established themselves as effective participants in the learning partnerships, and
demonstrated their effectiveness in getting trainees into jobs.

Finally, monitoring and evaluation. There are various levels at which monitoring and
evaluation should take place. At the national level, there should be a mechanism for reviewing
regularly the progress of the adult learning strategy as a whole. This should cover both the
process – for example, have the national and regional partnerships been established as
intended – and the outputs of the system. This kind of evaluation is difficult but it is an
essential part of the strategy process, and it can start quite simply by monitoring the outputs
of providers, to establish how many people are being trained in particular skills, and whether

those whose training was intended to get them into work have in fact got jobs. This will help
establish whether publicly funded adult learning programmes are meeting their objectives and
giving good value for money. More rigorous evaluation can follow, and evaluation should feed
back into decision-making and, if necessary, lead to adjustments in the strategy. To give
credibility to evaluation it should be conducted on contract, with funding from learning
programme budgets if necessary, by a body independent of government or the social
partners. This can be awkward if evaluation suggests that the strategy or particular measures
have not achieved their intended objectives, but it is essential if lessons of experience are to
be learned.

7.3. Customising adult learning offers and the professional development of teachers

With increasing demands for knowledge and competence in the labour market, the lack of
relevant skills and qualifications becomes an important factor behind social exclusion.
However, adult learning presents itself as an external demand and a threat to many of the
low-qualified people who were often „sorted out‟ from the education system at an early stage.
Many people with a low educational background still hold bad memories about their previous
learning experience. They tend to have a low self-esteem or feel under pressure with today‟s
learning requirements.

In this light the clarion call for lifelong learning may appear frightening to many low-skilled
people who have never felt at ease with the formal education system. Hence, we need to
reflect further on the way we think about adult learning and on what education can do to its
participants – beyond its formal aims.

Allowing adult learners more influence on how to shape learning

In the traditional didactic triangle „learning content – participants – teachers/ trainers‟, there is
a need to focus more on adult learners. Adult learning differs from other types of learning, and
we need to understand the participants better if adult learning arrangements are to become
more meaningful. For many adults it is discouraging to go back to school; they may feel that
they are not good enough, that they are unable to cope with their situation with the means
they possess. It is of paramount importance for course planners and teachers/ trainers to take
this into consideration. This contrasts with most adult learning theories claiming that adults
would, in contrast to young people, always volunteer to learn and “take responsibility for their
own learning”, as it is often phrased, which in fact is not the case.

When adults go back to school, they often bear memories about the deeply embedded role
patterns from the school years of their childhood, which imply that it is the teacher who knows
best what is to be taught and how this is ´to be put into students‟ heads´. Many adult trainers
have experienced how learning situations with adult participants developed imperceptibly into
a traditional teacher-learner relationship, even if teachers tried to plan and act differently.
However, experience shows that learning situations tend to vary with participants‟ labour
market situation, age and gender.

What really matters then as regards adult learners‟ learning, motivation and learning
outcomes? This question has been researched into by a number of projects over the years
(see, for example, Jarvis, 1987, Ellström et al, 1996, and Illeris, 2000, among others). The
research focus was laid on adult training involving average or low-qualified learners rather
than more highly qualified people.

Research showed that there is a clear difference in learning patterns between participants
who have permanent jobs and those without a job or with insecure jobs. Typically, those with
stable jobs look, in a target-oriented way, for courses that offer competencies of immediate or
future use in their jobs. Anything beyond that tends to be rejected or may be of much less
interest to this group of people, unless course contents challenge somebody‟s personal

In contrast to this, unemployed adults or those with insecure jobs are frequently more open
towards new areas of learning but, as a rule, only to the extent that learning outcomes are
believed to increase their job or life chances.

In terms of labour market and adult learning patterns, evidence from research also suggests
that it is possible to distinguish between three generations and, within each generation,
between males and females.

The oldest generation – generally, people aged 45-50 years and above – is typically most
hesitant to „go back to school‟. When they do, as an illustration of their feeling of ´distance´
and a kind of self-protection, they stick to the old and well-practiced student roles which they
paradoxically do not feel happy about. They tend to wait and see, often with some scepticism,
what the teacher might come up with. Male learners are typically on their guards and
sometimes protect their own self-respect quite aggressively, while female learners often
express their gratitude about being given the opportunity to learn something new. This is,
however, a feeling of gratitude that implies a passive acceptance and is detrimental to

It is very difficult for an adult trainer to establish a pedagogical situation that enables such
learners to learn. The latter requires insight, empathy, respect, patience and first and
foremost a capacity to get participants to understand and accept that they themselves will
have to take responsibility and show initiative.

The middle generation – aged 25 to 45-50 years – encompasses the vast majority of adult
learners. Participants in this group are normally interested in learning. Males are typically
motivated to acquire more practical skills, while females are typically more oriented towards
acquiring social competences. However, it is particularly in this age group that the tug-of-war
about the student-teacher roles takes place – and often is the key to participants‟ potential
learning outcomes. When traditional teacher-student roles prevail, participants´ learning gains
tend to concentrate on the technical knowledge and skills side. When the adult trainer
manages to break away from these traditional patterns, when participants learn to take
responsibility for their own learning, the teacher becomes a certain role model and
opportunities are opened up for developing new social and learning-to-learn competences of

It is therefore vital that the teacher does neither steer or direct learners more than absolutely
necessary nor act on behalf of or take responsibility for the learners who are mature people
and well able to take such decisions themselves.

Finally, there is the young generation – aged 25-30 years and below. This is the generation
who both at home and in school has been used to a considerable right of co-determination.
They prefer to decide for themselves and to take responsibility to a degree that adult training
systems are normally not at all geared to. They insist on the right to make choices and tend to
see no choice as final. They accept that everything changes all the time and that learning and
studying, hence, means that one acquires a kind of overview knowledge and a capacity to
navigate in the universe of endless possibilities. All educational institutions, which are
traditionally based on the principle that learners should do what they are told and complete
what has been defined as the needs of society, have difficulties to cope with this new group of
learners, as the latter demand flexibility and responsibility for their own learning.

If adult learning arrangements are not to be completely individualised, adult teachers must be
able to convince participants about the meaningfulness, to a certain degree, of common
activities. This is not easy at all.

What are lessons to be learned for adult learning organisation and teachers and trainers?

What follows from this (admittedly much too broadly sketched) outline of participants‟
expectations towards adult learning supply is a highly demanding and complex challenge for
adult teachers and trainers. Three main factors will be highlighted here with a view to ensure

an effective organisation of adult learning in terms of participants‟ learning processes and

Firstly, it is important that adult learning participants, whether employed or unemployed, have
an influence on which courses or programmes to join. Today, a substantial number of adult
learning participants feel that they have been more or less „placed‟ on a given course. Under
such circumstances, the chances for optimal learning outcomes and the transfer of what has
been learned to new learning situations are not very good. The latter would require personal
engagement and co-responsibility, which a person normally develops only when being given
a real choice. Consequently, participants must be given choices to the extent possible, not
only in terms of whether or not they go on a certain course but also in terms of its contents. If
needed, they should be given time and counselling assistance to help them make such

Secondly, adult learning supply must be open and, in the Southeast European countries,
expanded with a view to offer more attractive courses to individual adult learners.

              Good practice example from Simin Han, Bosnia-Herzegovina

School principal Osman from the elementary school in Simin Han launched the idea of
opening an evening school for adults still during the days of war back in February 1995. At the
time most of the children attending regular classes at that school had parents who were poor,
unemployed and with unfinished basic education. “Meeting after meeting took place. How to
begin the school for adults, how to convince adults to come to schools, how to work with them
– these were issues they tried to resolve. In other schools … parents would go to school a
few times, and soon afterward receive worthless diplomas. … Not long after that the teachers
found themselves facing adult students with many different needs. … Over a period of several
months, together with the Institute of Pedagogy, the teachers and the principal created a
flexible curriculum for the adult learner. Everyone agreed to give the teachers a free hand. …
Teachers approached adults as individuals. They developed different methods of teaching,
made it interesting. They abandoned the traditional principles of: I talk, you listen; you
produce, I evaluate; the same story repeated over and over.”

Example taken from: Bassler (2005).

If adult training systems are to achieve a higher quality and efficiency, and if the society is to
get maximum returns from its investments in terms of a higher „competence‟ of its population,
systems will need to become more flexible and adapt to the needs of adult learning
participants rather than the other way round.

Thirdly, both the environment in which learning takes place, how learning is organised and
which contents are selected matter to a great extent. If learning conditions or relations are
influenced by warmth, care, feelings of being safe and tolerance, learning effects will be
higher, while competition or control can have a negative impact. In terms of organising
learning, a participant-centred approach is what learners demand in a democratic society
today and helps overcome people‟s „resistance capacity‟ and further competence
development. Learning contents appeal to adult learners most, when contents are chosen
from real life or work problems, as this is the way through which adults can make connections
between their previously gained knowledge and experience with the new one. Problem-
orientation can be arranged through fora in which adults discuss and elucidate certain
thematic areas or problem fields and jointly seek for proposals or solutions. Galbraith (2004)
claims that, unlike adolescent learning which focuses on mastering facts and assimilating
information, adult learning focuses on applying facts and turning information into action. He
argues that adults have already developed cognitive frameworks through life experiences,
and they are interested in learning how new ideas will help them get what they want rather
than simply accumulating more knowledge. Consequently, he suggests that learning

   was based on (new) ideas from life or business realities;
   focused on application;
   accepted multiple learning styles;
   presented information through multiple channels;
   allowed for connections to a person‟s reality;
   followed a clearly articulated goal;
   was built on respect and allowed for earning respect and
   took place in a learner-friendly environment.

In adult learning teachers and learners share responsibility. However, the fact that adult
learners take responsibility for their own learning does not in any way mean less responsibility
for the teachers and trainers within adult education and learning arrangements. On the
contrary, it is probably more demanding in all the many daily pedagogical situations to have to
reflect on what should be the adult learners‟ own responsibility and what should be the
responsibility of the system and of the teacher or trainer.

Hence, fourthly, policy-makers will have to recognise that teachers and trainers are the
master key to achieving a higher quality in the adult learning system. Success in adult
learning normally depends to a great deal on well-qualified, competent and committed
teachers and trainers. For the moment, however, they are not regarded as an inherent part of
the education system and, more often than not, clear rules and regulations have not been

                  Good practice examples from Serbia and Montenegro

The Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Andragogy of Belgrade University in Serbia offers
Master & PhD degree courses for education specialists in adult learning. In addition, adult
teachers from five regional centres were trained in the frame of EC CARDS projects.

Montenegro is a good example, as laws and by-laws have been adopted, an institutional
frame created, responsible bodies appointed and two groups of trainers trained who train
teachers in VET and adult learning institutions. The latter undergo a specific training which
includes modules on how adults learn and modern methods used in adult training.

However, as a rule, adult teachers and trainers in southeast European countries have not
been trained, yet, on how learning processes are organised in an innovative manner. Hence,
becoming familiar with the non-traditional roles of teachers as facilitators or moderators
becomes a key task of the continuing professional development of adult teachers and
trainers. The continuing training of adult teachers and trainers does not necessarily need to
be lengthy or formalised. Competence develops with years of practice rather than through the
accumulation of theoretical knowledge.

In summary,

   allowing adult participants more choice in selecting courses and course contents;
   maintaining and expanding the variety of adult learning opportunities;
   work to improve the learning environment and base course contents on problems taken
    from life or work; as well as
   strengthening the continuing training of adult teachers and trainers

appear to be meaningful indicators for the quality of an adult learning system.

7.4. Lifelong information, counselling and guidance

Policy context

In recent years, career guidance has become more present on the policy agenda at national
and international levels. It is widely acknowledged now that career guidance can make a key
contribution to achieve public policy goals, such as lifelong learning, labour market efficiency
and social inclusion.

OECD (2004a) states that “the progressive adoption of lifelong learning strategies and an
emphasis upon active labour market policies, pose new challenges for career guidance. It
needs to shift from being largely available to selected groups, at particular points in life, to
being much more widely available throughout the lifespan. And services need to shift from an
approach largely focused upon helping people to make immediate decisions through face-to-
face interviews, to a broader approach that also encompasses the development of career
self-management skills such as the ability to make and implement effective career decisions”.

Also the European Union Council of Ministers of Education adopted a Resolution on
“Guidance throughout Life” (May 2004) noting that the present policies, systems and practices
for guidance in member states do not match the demands of knowledge-based economies
and societies. The EU Council Resolution defined guidance as “a range of activities that
enables citizens of any age and at any point in their lives to identify their capacities,
competences and interests, to make educational, training and occupational decisions and to
manage their individual life-paths in learning, work or other settings in which these capacities
and competences are learned and/or used”.

Examples of such activities include information and advice giving, counselling, competence
assessment, mentoring, advocacy, teaching decision-making and career management skills.

Ministers called for a reform of policies and a rethinking of practices, prioritising the following:

   lifelong access for citizens to high-quality guidance provision;
   refocusing guidance provision to teach citizens learning and career management skills;
   strengthening of structures for policy and systems development through mechanisms that
    would involve the appropriate key players, such as ministries, social partners,
    employment services, guidance practitioners, consumers, parents and young people;
   development of better quality assurance mechanisms, especially from a citizen or
    consumer perspective.

Career guidance in Southeast European countries

In 2004 the European Training Foundation has undertaken country reviews of existing
policies, systems and practices in career guidance in Serbia and Montenegro, the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo, and in 2005 in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina
and Albania.

Career guidance, and in particular for adults, has so far been a “forgotten element” in
education and labour market reform in most countries of Southeast Europe. Where actions
were undertaken, mainly through EC Phare, Cards or other donor programmes, they were
limited to pilots or isolated aspects of guidance. A comprehensive and systematic policy
approach to guidance covering the whole education and labour market system or featuring in
a national strategy has not emerged, yet.

Growing flexibility of labour markets in Southeast European countries and fast changes in the
economy led to increasingly insecure employment and the need to change jobs and
occupations more frequently. As educational and employment options have become more
volatile, less secure and transparent, people potentially need more support in finding their
ways inside the educational system and on the labour market.

Finding quick and appropriate policy responses and solutions proves to be very difficult, as
Southeast European countries face more pronounced constraints and complications with
regard to guidance provision and development, compared to European Union countries. The
following features and challenges arose as preliminary findings of the European Training
Foundation reviews:

   Overall public and private resources are much more limited than in European Union
    countries. This is true also for administrative capacities in ministries concerned. But on
    the other hand there is a comparatively high inflow of funds from international and
    bilateral donors in the area of education and labour market, that potentially might be also
    dedicated for career guidance development.

   The adult learning system is very underdeveloped in most countries, thus building a weak
    basis for guidance needs and activities. There are no centralized databases on adult
    education providers and courses in most countries and educational institutions do not yet
    consider career guidance as their responsibility. On the other hand, the emerging adult
    learning strategies in some countries provide an opportunity to reflect upon and to
    integrate career guidance in wider reform efforts in the near future.

   The labour market systems are characterized by a very high share of informal and even
    underground economy, which, by definition, does not fall within the purview of formal
    career guidance services. And even if, it would be very difficult to reach target groups of
    the informal economy.

   The labour market and career information system is weak in most countries, partly due to
    the fact that the economies are highly volatile in the region, but also due to the existence
    of the informal sector. Current labour market information is not always “readable” for
    users, so that data about vacancies and trends, in form of an “employment barometer”, is
    largely missing.

   As in the European Union, most career guidance takes pace within the context of public
    employment services. However, the scope and extent of active labour market policies is
    much more limited and therefore the share of users is very small and focused on the
    unemployed. For example, in one country some public employment service had even to
    restrict their focus to passive measures, due to lack of funding. In principle, public
    employment services offer guidance to adults in employment as well, but in practice the
    share in Southeast European countries is negligible.

   There are very few private employment services, and where they exist, they act mainly as
    job brokers and head-hunters rather than career guidance providers.

   Cooperation and synergy between the main ministries involved in guidance (Education
    and Labour) remain at a very low level compared with international standards, and
    particularly social partnerships are underdeveloped Employers and trade unions in most
    Southeast European countries play do not play a role at all in career guidance.

   Guidance staff is merely expected to help people to make immediate choices in relation
    to further study, training and work, rather than promoting competences and attitudes that
    are required for continuing learning. Methodologies for clients‟ needs analysis and
    evaluations of guidance activities are only emerging to be developed. Clear competence
    standards for guidance staff and dedicated courses at universities for specialization are

Conclusions: Institutional settings for adult guidance provision and good practice examples

The heterogeneous nature of the adult population presents a range of challenges to
policymakers. Adult guidance has to respond through a diverse setting of institutions and
there are a number of good practice examples across Europe which might inspire policy and
practice development in Southeast European countries.

   Guidance by public employment services

Traditionally, career guidance services for adults have been largely concentrated in public
employment services and focused on unemployed people. Even in this field, however,
services remained underdeveloped in many countries. Services tend to focus on short-term
objectives and on getting people into jobs as quickly as possible in order to reduce
unemployment levels. In Germany, for example, unemployed people are obliged to attend
placement and guidance services in order to maintain their rights to benefits. In Denmark, the
roles of placement officers and guidance counsellors have become more blurred. Placement
officers may offer some basic guidance, and guidance counsellors may be involved in
developing individual action plans. In Latvia, a separate organisation under the responsibility
of the Ministry of Labour runs Professional Career Counselling Centres across the country,
and closely cooperates with the public employment services. In the Netherlands, a new
website has been developed ( which includes diagnostic instruments
(based on interests), data on occupations (including labour market trends and salary data),
information on education and training opportunities, and access to a web version of the
database of job vacancies.

Another good example of an effective response includes the provision of „tiered services‟, as
they can free up time and resources for guidance. In the public employment services in
Austria, Germany, Finland, Portugal and the UK three levels can be distinguished:

1) a first tier provides access to printed, audio-visual or on-line information in a self-service
   mode, without the need of staff to assist them;
2) a second tier of services consists of relatively brief personal interviews;
3) a third tier provides personal guidance to those who are perceived to need it and/or feel
   they can benefit from it. This can range from group help to in-depth personal interviews,
   and can include job clubs and sessions that help users to recover self-confidence and
   motivation and to develop their employability skills.

   Guidance as part of adult learning provision

Some European Union member states, including Spain, Austria, Denmark, have developed
guidance services within adult learning. Many of these services are stronger on educational
opportunities than on labour market issues, and tend to focus on the institution in which they
are based. A regionally based adult education guidance service in the province of Burgenland
in Austria provides career guidance that is independent of particular adult training providers. It
is also an example how guidance services can be used in adult learning to provide systematic
feedback on adults‟ learning needs, thus improving the match between the supply of learning
and demand for it. In Ireland, for example, a number of pilot adult education guidance
programmes have been established, designed to provide support to adults who are enrolled
in literacy, community education and other programmes.

A highly innovative approach to meeting the career guidance needs of adults is the learndirect
service in the United Kingdom.

Learndirect: Launched in 1998, its core is built around call centre technology. There are two
call centres in England, one for Northern Ireland and smaller centres in Scotland and Wales.
Help lines are open between 8am and 10pm, 365 days a year. Its underlying goal is to offer
free and impartial advice assisting adults to access further education and training
opportunities. All staff have access to an online database of information on some 600,000
education and training courses, at all levels. An online diagnostic package can be used to
assess interests and preferences as part of the web site ( Learndirect
provides information on funding for learning and childcare, is open to all adults, but focuses
particularly on those with low levels of qualifications.

   Career guidance provided by employers and trade unions

Many employees expect assistance and guidance from their employers with a view to acquire
new skills and advance within the organisation. Hence, the provision of guidance services
may feature in the process of collective bargaining. Trade unions may also provide guidance
themselves. In the UK, Denmark and Norway, some trade unions have run courses to train
their shop stewards to act as “educational ambassadors” or “learning representatives”
encouraging their members and especially those with limited or no qualifications to access
education and training. In the UK, this programme receives strong support also from

In the Netherlands, a few large employers have established mobility centres for their
employees, which may let employees explore opportunities also in the external labour market.
Some quality mark schemes encourage companies that want to adopt good HRD practices to
use career advisers to review their systems.

   Career guidance in community-based organisations

A recent development in a number of countries has been the growth of career guidance
services in community-based organisations. Some of these focus on particular ethnic groups;
some on groups such as single parents, people with disabilities, ex-offenders or homeless
people or refugees. In Greece, Information and Counselling Centres for Women‟s
Employment and Social Integration have been set up by the Research Centre for Gender
Equality with EU funding. These centres offer services specifically for women, to those who
are both unemployed and in vulnerable employment sectors and wish to change jobs.

   Career guidance provided by universities

Adults students following courses at tertiary level institutions can benefit from advisory
services that increasingly feature in universities and colleges. For example, the Careers
Advisory Service at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland ( provides a
wide range of services to students, graduates, academic staff and employers. In addition to
personal advice, students have access to a comprehensive careers library and to a wide
range of online resource materials.

   Career guidance provided by the private sector

A range of career guidance services exists that can be purchased on the market. These are
normally provided by private consultants, management consultancies, outplacement or similar

The European Union offers the following platforms:

PLOTEUS ( is the European Union‟s internet
portal of learning opportunities.

EUROGUIDANCE ( is a network of guidance centres in the EU
and European Economic Area (EEA) countries, and is a source of information, responding to
the needs of guidance workers to be familiar with other countries‟ education, training and
guidance systems and programmes.

EURES ( links all PES in the EU and EEA, and is being
developed to facilitate worker mobility by ensuring that information about skills shortages and
surpluses for each country and region is more transparent and more accessible.

Good practice examples from Southeast European countries

The following examples describe some attempts of integrating career guidance activities in
the implementation of lifelong learning and active labour market policies:

Info-Points and CASCAiD Programme in Croatia

One of the measures following the 2004 Croatian Adult Education Strategy envisages the
establishment of info points for promoting adult education at county level. Info-Points will
collect all relevant data on educational providers, their programmes (including formal and
informal education and training) with a view to provide information, advisory and counselling
services to potential users, i.e. citizens, employers.

In 2004, the Croatian Employment Service launched a project based on the principle of self-
help called CASCAiD, which has been adapted from a UK model and is intended for a wide
population of users. Counselling is based on replies to a questionnaire on interests, skills and
health status, taking into consideration the level of education. For every occupation it is
possible to see its description and specific analysis of individual aspects of work. The
Education Ministry and the VET Agency were included in this project.

Regional training centres for adults and job clubs in Serbia

In close cooperation with the public employment service, regional training centres are
supposed to cover also some career guidance activities, including information, counselling
and guidance in the selection of programmes, training, and career guidance in education
according to individual preferences, needs of the local community and the labour market.

Job clubs aim at strengthening the skills of unemployed adults, as well as employed people at
risk of becoming unemployed, with a view to assist them with their career planning and
motivate them for active job search. Participants are expected to take over more responsibility
for looking for a job rather than relying primarily on the employment service. Competences
acquired through job clubs include: to be able to analyse one‟s own potential, knowledge,
experience, qualifications and competences needed on the labour market, positioning based
on existing labour demand (SWOT analysis), career planning, decision making and job
search skills. Work with clients involves different learning approaches, including teaching,
simulation, practice and performing in real situations, analyzing and improving performance
based on feedback.

“How to seek a job actively” guide in Bosnia-Herzegovina

A booklet was published recently on “How to seek a job actively”, which is the first publication
of its type after the war. Recently this was followed up by a similar guide produced at canton
level, reflecting the local labour market situation and needs.

The PARSH project in Albania

In the frame of the PARSH project by a non-governmental adult training organisation a printed
directory of training provision in Tirana was developed, which is now updated on a bi-annual
basis. Linked to PARSH, a Soros-funded Career Development Project finished in 2005. It
included a view of career development through the lifespan, the attempt to better link the
education and labour market sectors, training of employment service staff, the translation,
adaptation and development of tests, inventories and tools to aid the career choice process,
as well as experimental approaches to the development of decision-making skills.

Career guidance components as part of the EC CARDS KOSVET programme in Kosovo

In 2003/04, as part of an EC CARDS programme in VET, policy recommendations for career
education and guidance were developed and submitted to stakeholders, including ministries.

Suggestions included the establishment of a national centre for career guidance and
counselling, and provision of public access to career information through the existing network
of employment offices.

In Kosovo there are a number of NGOs, training and employment companies, such as the
Don Bosco organization in Prishtina, which provide specific career counselling to their training

Centres for employment in the fYR Macedonia

Apart from hosting job clubs similar to the ones in Serbia mentioned above, the centres for
employment cover some career information and guidance functions. Occupational
information, professional orientation on the basis of an analysis of a person‟s professional
interests, as well as general and specific abilities is provided alongside with advice for training
and new employment.

National Resource Centre for Guidance in Montengro

On the initiative of the Employment Agency and further stimulated by the European Training
Foundation‟s career guidance review, a National Centre for Career Information and
Counselling is planned to be set up in 2005. Has it been set up?

7.5. Data collection and labour market intelligence

Most Southeast European countries have basic information on employment, labour market
and educational attainment levels from national census information and from labour force
surveys. The information is not comprehensive. Very little data exists, for example, on
participation or investment in on-the-job training by employers for their workforce or on
training and non-formal learning by small or micro enterprises. In some cases, there are legal
barriers to obtaining data on, for example, ethnic minorities. The quality, reliability and
currency of data are also variable. The countries have not yet developed capacity in
forecasting new occupations and occupational skill change and future skill requirements
(although work has begun in this field under different CARDS projects, such as in Croatia).

Data collection and labour market intelligence have an important role to play in enabling and
sustaining policy development and delivery in adult learning. They are strategic policy tools
for decision-makers because they enable a detailed analysis of trends and patterns in
participation in adult learning by enterprises, individuals and government and in investment
made by them. They enable analysis of trends in upgrading skills of employees, job seekers
and disadvantaged groups in line with changing labour market needs. Moreover, they are
essential for setting baselines to allow monitoring and evaluation of interventions. It follows,
therefore, that the quality, scope, reliability of data and labour market intelligence and
robustness of the analyses are critically important. Attention has consequently to be given to
ensuring adequate mechanisms for collecting information and to collecting sufficient
information relevant to adult learning.

The figure below shows that adult learning data and labour market information are at the
centre of shaping policy direction and measuring progress at the European Union and
member state level.

Figure 1. Context of employment-related adult learning


            Exclusion - training for
           Exclusion: training for
            marginalised groups
            for marginalised groups
                                                  Equal Ops
                                                 Equal Ops

                                            Adult Learning Data                                       Skills for self-employment
                                 Adapt-    Partic ipation & Investment        Entrepre-               skills for small & micro
                                 ability   Labour Market Information          neurship                enterprises
                                           Empl/unempl/exc lus ion/s kills

                                                   Employ-                   Labour Market Training
                                                   Employability             Labour market training
                   Adult Education                                            for unemployed

                                               Basic Fondation

Relevant adult learning datasets would include:

       educational attainment and skill levels of the working age population (e.g. 15-64), broken
        down by employment status, region, gender, age group and other characteristics, such as
        disability, ethnicity, demobilised soldiers and people displaced by war;
       numbers or rates participating in on-the-job and external adult learning provision
        (employees, small and micro enterprises, unemployed, inactive people seeking work,
        redundant workers or workers under threat of redundancy, disadvantaged groups or
        individuals), broken down by region and categorised by
         level of skill or qualification, economic branch or occupation,
         gender, age group and other characteristics, such as disability, ethnicity, demobilised
             soldiers and people dislocated by war;
       financial investment in adult learning by employers, government and individuals, broken
        down, for example, by economic sector, size of enterprise, employment status, gender,
        age group and other characteristics.

Social exclusion data would include data on deprivation indicators, such as:

       long-term unemployment, people with no or low qualifications, functional literacy and
       disadvantaged or vulnerable people over 50 years of age, redundant workers, women,
        people with disabilities and ethnic minorities.

Datasets would be broken down by region, gender and age group.

In addition to measurable datasets, a good supply of up-to-date information and analysis is
needed on employment and unemployment trends, on sectors with employment growth
potential and new emerging sectors and on social exclusion in rural and urban deprived
areas, together with skill and knowledge trends and future projections.

Main approaches for an early identification of skill needs in EU countries include:

(i)        quantitative and semi-quantitative measures, including macro-economic forecasting,
           surveys among employers and skills audits;
(ii)       qualitative methods, such as the Delphi method, case studies, focus groups and “sector
           scouting” or trendsetter studies;
(iii)      a combination of various methods seeking to achieve robust and reliable data.
           Examples include Scenarios in Anglo-Saxon countries, as well as the Observatories

      and sector or regional studies, as can be found for example in France. Also Germany,
      Austria and the Netherlands combine quantitative forecasting with elements of
      qualitative research (cf. Tessaring, 2005).

In southeast European countries there is a need in the short term to develop a strategy for
labour market intelligence and data collection for adult learning. The aim is to increase the
quality and number of relevant datasets, fill gaps and systematise mechanisms for collecting
data and developing capacity to forecast future skill needs. There are several questions that
will have to be answered: what is missing, can what is missing be collected, who is best
placed to collect the data, what are the costs involved, and who is responsible for funding
data collection. Countries may draw on EU sources to contribute to the funding.

In the medium term, information on participation in formal adult learning provision and who
finances it can be collected systematically. Public and private providers including non-
government organisations that provide training may be required to provide these data at the
time of enrolment with suitably designed enrolment forms. This could perhaps be one
condition of accreditation, if a comprehensive accreditation system for all training providers is
introduced. The collection of data on participation in on-the-job training undertaken by
employers and their employees is more problematic. It can be gathered, for example, by
public employment services as part of periodic employer surveys on investment in workforce
development and labour market skill trends, but they are costly. Collection of this information
could be systematised if enterprises included such data in their annual business reports.
Again, this will be a medium-term development and one which is likely to include only larger


The discussion of the measures, which might implement an adult training strategy, has
already raised issues of the funding of adult learning, but it may be helpful to summarise here
the main conclusions on the financial aspects of learning.

As we know, adult learning is a wide field. It comprises second-chance education for those
young people who dropped out from school or adults who did not finish school earlier in their
lives for whatever reason, allowing them to gain formal basic or secondary education,
including formal degrees. It comprises further education and training of just any individual who
wants to reach a higher level or more specialised knowledge and skills in his or her profession
or learn a new one, or who learns for his or her own interest or leisure time purposes. It
comprises training or retraining of unemployed people or those in companies undergoing
restructuring who are threatened by unemployment. But it also comprises training provided by
companies, big and small ones, who are interested in raising skill levels of their staff and
ultimately the competitiveness of their companies operating in domestic or foreign markets.
This wide coverage suggests that not only one ministry but many ministries and not only
ministries but employers, trade unions, various associations, regional and/or local authorities,
etc and individuals are responsible for adult learning. Their representatives have to be
brought round the table to discuss new overall strategies for the financing of adult learning.

In drawing up adult learning financing strategies, countries would have to pursue two major
objectives: The first aim is to ensure an adequate level of investment in learning. Lifelong
learning is costly and we cannot claim to move towards a lifelong learning society without
increased levels of such investment. But the public purse cannot pay it all; there is an issue of
putting incentives in place to encourage (co-)investment in learning by companies and
individuals. The second aim is to ensure an equitable distribution of learning. Distribution is
currently biased in favour of the more advantaged members of society, i.e. those people who
come from better educated, better-off families, who have already attained higher levels of
education and who come from the bigger, urban centres with a greater variety of adult
learning offers, typically benefit more from continuous learning opportunities. However, unless
societies can increase participation in lifelong learning, there is a risk of widening social
divides. Financing is one of the crucial policy levers for addressing these challenges.

As a next step, three aspects may be considered.

Firstly, though the total amount being spent on adult learning in Southeast European
countries is unknown, there is a general recognition that expenditure is far below what is
necessary to meet current needs, let alone any new developments emerging from a more
extensive strategic approach. The first step should be for the government to estimate the
current expenditure on adult learning in both the public and private sectors.

We may know what the state budget is for active labour market measures in a country as a
whole, although we may not have the breakdown between the training component and related
support costs and other active labour market measures. The State may also pay formal public
second chance education and training for people who have left school early. Individuals
normally pay their own direct training costs, but we do not know what contribution the state
makes to sustaining educational institutions, making rooms available, salaries for teachers
and trainers, computer equipment and materials - i.e. how much is already shared in the
countries. We certainly have no idea of the actual investment by companies, of whatever size,
to training their workforce, because the information is not collected.

Before key actors in a country can begin to discuss sharing the costs, the countries need to
know how much is already being invested in adult learning and by whom. We also do not
know how much it would cost to gather this information, nor how it could be gathered
efficiently and at an affordable cost. However, this kind of information and, if possible, better
information on the numbers of people participating in learning would give some idea of the
resources being devoted to adult learning and on whom the money is being spent.

Secondly, who should pay for what. The general principle is that the government should meet
the cost of training or learning for those who do not have an employer who might pay, and
who are unable to pay for their own development. This could include, for example,
unemployed people, war veterans, and those made redundant in economic restructuring.
Quite apart from the financial difficulties these people would have in meeting learning costs,
there are substantial social reasons why government should bear the cost, in the interests of
maintaining communities where unemployment is high, reintegrating people into work and
society, and ensuring access for them to new skills.

Another principle is that employers should pay for the training or upgrading of their own
employees on the grounds that the enterprise will benefit from the higher productivity of the
trained employee. This principle does, however, have to be qualified in the light of the
observed fact that many employers do not undertake the necessary amount of training. There
may therefore be reasons for considering financial incentives to change employer behaviour.
These might be grants or loans to employers, levies on those who do not train, or co-funding
for some types of training. To the extent that such financial incentives are used, they must be
carefully controlled to avoid waste of public funds, and may well be most effective when
targeted at particular skills rather than being general support to just any kind of training.

Individuals also have an incentive to invest in their own skills if they see opportunities in a
different area. A proportion of the clients of private training providers in Southeast European
countries are people who are funding their own training in expectation of a better job and
higher salary later. There are several types of financial incentives in OECD countries for
individuals, but very few of them are suitable for unemployed people or those with low skill.

Thirdly, donors. Learning in Southeast European countries receives support from many
donors, among them the European Union with the CARDS programme, national
governments, foundations, the European Training Foundation, etc. One important task for
education ministries and their partners in formulating the adult learning strategy is to map the
current pattern of donor support, and to take ownership of it and monitor progress in
accordance with the priorities of the strategy. There are several areas discussed above where
donor provision or support of technical and expert advice would be particularly useful. These
include labour market assessment, the development of national qualifications, quality
assurance, and monitoring and evaluation.

Funding mechanisms and incentives will eventually be a matter of political choice and the
government‟s funding priorities. Sponsors, objectives and funding arrangements will be
different, depending on who has got a specific interest in a certain area of adult learning or
who gets most benefits out of, or returns on their investment in, the training for specific groups
of people. However, as mentioned before, the traditional dividing lines that used to exist in the
funding of adult learning – companies pay for the training of their staff, Governments pay for
the training of unemployed people and individuals pay for their own-motivated training mostly
with a view to advance in their professional careers – are becoming modified: financing
arrangements are very often shared between different partners. There are, of course,
limitations to cost-sharing: it needs to be proportionate with the returns on investment.

Initiatives to support training in and for companies

Companies benefit from a skilled workforce in that more highly skilled employees are better
equipped to meet their job requirements, deliver higher-quality products and services, and be
more entrepreneurial and innovative. A good company management would make use of the
potential of both its managers and workers and see human resource development as a
strategic pillar to ensuring business development. Some companies in southeast European
countries, especially those operating in international markets, are already investing a lot in the
training of their staff, and most of them do so without any support from the Government.
However, training provided by companies for their staff is not yet commonplace everywhere. If
the Government wanted to intervene here with specific measures, as promoting human
resource development with a view to boost economic development should be in the interest of
every Government, we would need to establish why certain companies do not train and how
this could possibly be remedied. A more in-depth analysis would show that companies are
reluctant to invest in training, for example,
(a) when their state of ownership is unclear, when the company is up for privatisation and/or
    restructuring, managers‟ own position is insecure – in a nutshell, when there is a general
    state of insecurity about what is going to happen to a particular company;
(b) when companies have no incentive to invest in the training of their staff, for example,
    because state subsidies would continue to flow anyway without any specific conditions
    linked to them;
(c) when managers lack the necessary managerial skills, including skills to explore potentials
    for strategic business development and related needs for developing human resources
    within their companies;
(d) when a company can easily find the skilled workers whom they need on the labour
(e) when the company has only a few employees so that they cannot afford to pay and/or
    give their staff time off for training.
There are several options as to what the Government can do about this. Privatisation
processes need to be accelerated which is, of course, not only a matter of changing
ownership, but a matter of finding managers-investors able to develop the business in a
competitive environment. Privatisation agreements drawn up between the Government‟s
privatisation agency and the investor very often contain stipulations for staff training or
retraining which the investor needs to ensure. If the Government continues to provide state
subsidies to certain companies, as state investments into certain economic sectors may be
considered strategically important for the country, then the Government may consider to
make the transfer of state funds dependent on a company‟s restructuring and rightsizing plan
with the short or mid-term goal of phasing out state support. In such a plan, the training or
retraining of staff who are either going to be retained or who would become redundant and
need to look for new job or own business opportunities could take a prominent place. In the
course of privatisation after the German reunification, state subsidies were given to some
East German companies to help them with structural adjustments. Subsidies covered also
training costs plus (over time decreasing) salaries of redundant workers. The maximum
period during which such subsidies were paid originally amounted to three years, but was
extended to five years later on.

Managers of newly privatised companies who lack the necessary managerial skills could be
assisted by the Government by co-funding the training and coaching of managers within their
business environments. Such management training programmes exist in some countries of
Southeastern Europe, such as the PUMA management training programme organised by the
Croatian Employers‟ Association (HUP).

Self-employed persons, as well as small and micro-companies with just a few employees face
specific problems. To help such businesses become established on the market and grow
warrants a specific challenge in the economic transition context. Ways need to be found to
finance training for small enterprises and possibilities explored in this context whether public
funding from different ministries and small enterprises could be combined.

The Croatian Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship runs a programme that
takes into account the specific needs of small and medium-sized enterprises and the
(training) environments in which they operate. When, for example, Ireland had realised that
company training levels were, compared to the European Union average, very low especially
in smaller companies, the Government launched a specific support programme in the late
1990s. The programme included an awareness-rising campaign, training for (small) business
managers on how to form networks, to assess training needs singling out those needs which
cooperating businesses have in common and to jointly set up and implement training in close
collaboration with trainers and consultants. In the frame of European Union-funded projects in
Hungary, a multinational company ran a training cluster together with smaller companies that
formed part of its supply chain. In Wallonia in Belgium, training cheques („chéque-formation‟)
are issued by the Government to support the self-employed, small and medium-sized
businesses, as well as part-time workers who often tend to be forgotten when it comes to
company training. Euro 15 are paid per hour of training. As a result, the number of those self-
employed people, staff from small companies and part-time workers who participated in
training activities rose considerably.

Governments in economically advanced countries are trying to achieve more. In an effort to
boost overall learning participation by adults, and within this context employed people, there
is a case potentially for governments to intervene in larger companies when there are low-
skilled workers or employees with low educational attainment levels. In this case the return on
investment would be less certain. Such workers are more at risk of being made redundant
and becoming unemployed for a long time. Hence, this would represent a preventive

Furthermore, either national laws and/or agreements between the economic social partners
(employers‟ organisations and trade unions) on a sectoral or company basis are in place
which allow employed people to take a certain number of days off from work for the purpose
of further studies or training. Entitlements to training leave enshrined in national laws have in
practice, however, not led to a high increase in learning participation, especially when
employers do not allow their staff to take leave or when employed people fear negative
consequences in case they insist on their legal rights. Training leave schemes function well in
countries where there is generally a positive climate for learning, where training is linked to
company objectives and employers see immediate benefits from their staff undergoing
training and are less concerned about the risk of poaching, and where legal entitlements to
take time off for training are, like in France, linked to the right by individuals to draw on
financial support for learning.

Governments support learning, for example, indirectly by allowing companies and individuals
to offset the cost of investment for training against their corporate or income tax liabilities. For
example, in Spain since 1999, the cost of training by employees is exempted from income
tax, and companies can deduct training cost from corporate tax liability. The latter even
receive double relief if training costs are higher than the national average. In the Netherlands
fiscal incentives to encourage industrial training were introduced in 1998 with a special
emphasis on older employees and small and medium-sized companies. In 1999 the scheme
was extended to the non-profit making sector. In addition, special tax incentives exist for
companies who train employees with no initial qualifications. The option of tax relieves would,
however, be ruled in countries where tax collection systems are weak.

Having realised the need by companies, especially those operating in technological fields, for
a continuous innovation of their products, Governments have also supported learning of
employed people directly by co-financing the introduction of new technologies and related
staff training. In the latter example, state support could be allocated following an open public
tender with transparent procedures and take the form of “seed funding”, i.e. a one-off,
targeted subsidy to „prime the pump‟ and trigger certain developments rather than longer-term
financial support by the state.

In some countries employers (and employees) contribute a lot to training by paying voluntary
or compulsory contributions (“levies”) to national or sectoral training funds. Regulations as to
which companies pay into the fund and how much, and how funds are re-distributed
afterwards, i.e. who can benefit and for what purposes differ considerably by country. Training
Funds as a means to boost company training and adult learning in general have received a lot
of attention worldwide in the past 20 years and exist, for example, in France, Spain, Belgium,
Denmark, Italy, Hungary, South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, the province of Quebec in
Canada and the Canton of Geneva in Switzerland. Also Korea, Australia and the UK
experimented with some training fund scheme, but they were discontinued mainly for
efficiency problems.

The French levy system as the oldest scheme has been in place since 1971. Levies have
since then been periodically increased. Today, companies are obliged to pay 1.55% of their
annual payroll (the total of workers‟ salaries plus additional costs) into the Fund, while small
companies with less than 10 employees pay only 0.15%. Funds are used for three purposes:

   1.1% is directly re-invested into the companies to finance the training of their employees
    on the basis of the annual training plans which companies are obliged to draw up in
    consultation with the trade unions;

The remaining part is split to finance:
 the individual study or training leave, which is granted to all people as a constitutional
   right, following the French 2004 Law on Lifelong Learning (a specific body has been set
   up in charge of administering the individual study leave scheme); as well as
 youth training which can be carried out by firms when they meet specific conditions
   (another specific body is administering this scheme).

Both the public attention paid to the issue of lifelong learning, the contributions made by
employers and the strong role played by the trade unions, as well as the availability of a
comprehensive financing system have greatly contributed to the fact that adult learning
participation has increased considerably in France over the past decades. On the other hand,
the levy system represents a bureaucratic scheme which imposes a number of conditions on
employers and calls for a high level of administration and related resources. In addition, an
evaluation undertaken by the Conseil d‟Analyse Économique (CAE) in 2000 revealed
inequalities in the access to training, depending on the gender, age, qualification level of the
person and the company size, as well as a partial lack of involvement of employers in
deciding about the types of training taken by employees which raised doubts about the
relevance of some of such training sponsored.

The Spanish levy system is interesting, as funds collected through a levy of 0.7% on
companies‟ wage bills are topped up with monies coming from the European Social Fund.
Training funds are managed by the Tripartite Foundation for Training and Employment
(formerly FORCEM) set up at national level. Businesses, business and/or labour
organisations, bipartite foundations, co-operatives or worker-owned companies can all
request financial assistance to implement their training plans. Individuals can request
Individual Training Permits.

  Strictly speaking, the share of the training fund that is used for individually-motivated training not
directly related to company needs should be considered an additional tax imposed on companies rather
than support by the Government to training in the company in question.

Hungary, whose adult learning system up to the early 1990s had many features in common
with those in Southeast European countries, introduced a national training fund as early as in
1986. About one third of the Fund is earmarked for adult education and training (in theory at
least). Following various amendments of legal provisions, business organisations contribute
to the funding of training for both young people and (employed) adults today through a
compulsory tax of 1.5% of their wage costs. The tax levied on enterprises finances the
Training and Development sub-fund of the Labour Market Fund; the tax is referred to as the
„Vocational Training Contribution‟. Up to one third of the tax (the amount was increased from
0.2% until 1999 to 0.5% in 2002) can be re-claimed by companies to pay for the training of
their own employees. Apart from company training, funds are used, amongst others, to
finance the norms-based funding support for adults who participate in training (see below for
more details on this scheme), and a number of specific programmes and initiatives to support
the training of specific groups of adults or research and development.

On the positive side, the Hungarian Training Fund has contributed to a doubling of adult
learning participation in only a few years, a better resourcing of training providers and a
couple of innovations inter alia in assuring quality, learning processes and the recognition of
skills. Critical issues raised in a recent review by an OECD team of the adult learning system
in Hungary (Viertel, 2005) concern the pre-dominant role of Government actors in taking
decisions about the use of available funds (employers‟ and employees‟ representative
organisations do not yet participate in respective councils and management bodies on an
equal footing with the Government); the low uptake of companies, in particular smaller ones,
of the facility to use funds for training their own staff due to the small amounts available and
overly bureaucratic procedures; the channelling of funds through training institutions rather
than individuals limiting the flexibility of the latter, as well as the failure to recognise forms and
contents of learning other than those linked to gaining formal qualifications or to training for a
qualification listed in the National Vocational Qualifications register (which covers only
vocational qualifications mainly at secondary or post-secondary levels and has not yet been
fully updated).

Furthermore, the review (Viertel, 2005) recommended that the percentage of companies‟
contributions to training, which they are obliged to pay into the Fund as per the stipulations of
the law, be further reduced. Countries, such as France or Australia, as well as the Canadian
Province of Quebec, follow the “train or pay” principle, i.e. they allow companies to make use
of the entire levy amount, rather than just one third like in Hungary now, (or pay into the

Apart from training funds organised on a national level, there are many countries where
companies from a certain economic sector became organised and established a fund. Sector
organisations help companies in their sector by sponsoring training. Examples include some
of the sector organisations in the UK . Some of them have statutory powers to collect a levy
from firms in their industry; for example, the Sea Fish Authority in the UK was given powers
under the 1981 Fisheries Act to collect a levy on the first sale of fish after it is landed.
Although the levy is not for training services per se, a proportion of the levies collected are
used to support training throughout the fish industry from fishermen, to people working in the
processing industry and people working in restaurants, cafes, etc. Skillset - the Sector Skills
Council for audio visual industries - collects voluntary levies from their member organisations
  In the UK industry sector organisations have been rationalised a number of times. The most recent
phase, which has just been finalised, has seen the establishment of a new Skills for Business network of
25 Sector Skills Councils. Previous sector organisations have amalgamated with or collaborate with the
new Sector Skills Councils (as in the case of the Sea Fish Authority) and some have disappeared. The
new Sector Skills Councils are employer-led organisations that have strategic responsibilities for
reducing skills gaps and shortages, improving productivity and business and public service
performance, increasing opportunities to boost the skills and productivity of everyone in the sector‟s
workforce, improving the learning supply and setting or reviewing National Occupational Standards (see An over-arching non-governmental body, the Sector Skills Development Agency
(SSDA), funds, supports and monitors the performance of the Sector Skills Councils. The SSDA is
responsible for ensuring high quality standards and provision that meets sector skill needs, promoting
best practice and collating high quality labour market intelligence.

and provides funds for the development of a film strategy and for the Skills Investment Fund
which also benefits from national lottery funding. The Fund supports training projects across
the audiovisual sector. Finally, the Union Learning Fund is an initiative by the trade unions to
support training of their members.

Christine Greenhalgh (2001) who undertook an evaluation of the levy approach in France and
Britain, came up with the following recommendations with a view to make levy systems more
effective and efficient:

   The levy should be linked to company profits rather than payroll.
   New companies and small or medium-sized companies should pay less or nothing.
   Priority in training may be given to less skilled workers rather than leaving free choice to
   To tackle the risk of “poaching” (trained staff leaving the company for more rewarding
    jobs elsewhere), a progressive taxation of wages could be introduced so that those who
    achieved wage increases would redistribute part of their wage gains to public funds.
   The management of funds should include a strict quality control of training organisations
    and a monitoring of the level achieved by those in receipt of training.

However, although national training funds seem to be an attractive scheme to generate more
money for adult learning, imposing additional levies or taxes on companies may not be a valid
option for countries where tax burdens are already high and/or tax collection (and
redistribution) capacities weak.

Initiatives to support the training by individuals and self-employment

Four more schemes shall be discussed here which aim to support individuals who are
interested in learning.

First, the training leave scheme. The ILO Convention from 1974 on the Paid Educational
Leave has meanwhile been ratified by 32 countries. These have passed laws that require
firms to allow employees paid training leave for a certain number of working days per year. In
France this scheme covers employed people with both standard and fixed-term contracts.
The execution of this right to individual training is very much helped by the availability of
funding through part of the training levy. People‟s right to training is transferable to the new
employer in case of job change. In parallel with this scheme, a system for the validation of
skills and the recognition of qualifications has been developed.

Belgium runs both a general training leave scheme and a specific one for companies with less
than 50 employees. In the context of the latter, workers can take up to 100 hours of training.
Employers pay workers‟ salaries up to certain ceiling and can then claim half the allowances
and social and related contributions back from Federal Min of Employment and Labour.
Based on the 1998 Career Breaks Funding Act in the Netherlands, employed persons taking
long-term leave with their employers‟ consent could receive an allowance of Euro 440 a
month for a period of up to 18 months for either for child caring or studying/training purposes.
The condition imposed on companies to benefit from the scheme was that they take on an
unemployed or disabled person as a temporary cover.

Also the training leave scheme emphasises the importance of continuous learning. However,
it is difficult to ensure that the scheme meets its desired objectives and that training is always
relevant to needs without detailed & potentially burdensome regulations. Enterprises may be
encouraged to grant training leave if and when it is useful for the employers. Small firms
usually face problems with giving workers time off. As we know, the scheme is not widely
used in southeast European countries, but better results have been achieved in France where
the legal right to training is linked to its (partial) funding.

Second, the job rotation scheme. This was first introduced in Denmark in 1993 with two goals
in mind: i) to provide employees with the opportunity to take time off from work for training or
studying and ii) to give unemployed adults a chance of working for a year in their place and,
thus, gain or enhance their work experience . Possible benefits for the employer included the

fact that they can test possible new recruits. In the period 1996-1999 participation rates,
however, fell short of expectations for two likely reasons: (a) the economic boom period of
that time made companies more reluctant to release workers and (b) it was increasingly
difficult to find suitable replacements from the unemployment register.

Later on, also Portugal introduced a “Training-Employment Rotation” scheme: it prompted
workers to take up training and gave registered unemployed people an opportunity to train on
the job and acquire work experience. The scheme was found especially suitable for smaller
and medium-sized companies. Training could last from 1 to 12 months but had to be linked to
the specific needs of the company or provided the worker with a (higher) qualification. The
Institute for Employment and Training (IEFP) supervised scheme; it helped identify and recruit
suitable unemployed people and offered technical support to set up and implement the
training plan.

Third, apprenticeship (or in-company training) schemes for (both young people and) adults
which are co-financed by the Government. Examples include Austria that granted a tax-free
allowance of up to Euro 1,500 to companies who train. Luxembourg gave grants and relieved
companies from paying special contributions for their apprentices, as well as supported very
popular trades with special subsidies. Italy reduced the social contributions to be paid by
employers for apprentices. Finally, the UK Government, through the Learning Skills Council
(LSC), supports apprenticeships for 16-24 year olds under its national Apprenticeship
scheme. Much of the training is on-the-job with typically one day a week day release for off-
the-job training, although there are many variants. Colleges of further education or other
training providers receive funding based on the sector involved, trainee participation,
achievement, age of trainee, disadvantage etc. The assumption is that this funding will
normally be sufficient to cover the training costs, with the minimum training allowance or wage
being paid by the employer. Although trainees can have employed or trainee status, the
preference is that apprentices should be employees especially at the Advanced
Apprenticeship stage (National Vocational Qualification - NVQ Level 3). Arrangements for 25-
year-olds and above are different. Formal apprenticeships as such are not publicly funded
though there are some very limited adult apprenticeship pilots being developed. A variety of
adult programmes do exist, some funded by Government. The 2006 National Employer
Training Programme will provide support for employers‟ workforce development, mostly
(though not exclusively) to enable adults to achieve a first Level 2 qualification .

Fourth, individual learning accounts (ILAs). ILAs are relatively new schemes which have been
piloted in a number of countries. They underpin the change of logic in lifelong learning away
from the former supply-driven approach (funding of or channelled through institutions)
towards the individuals and their learning needs. Another innovative aspect of this scheme is
the co-sharing arrangement where all stakeholders pool money into a single account of an
individual to be used for education and training purposes. It also provides rights and
responsibilities to individuals to self-invest in skills. Main goals behind the ILAs include a
higher level of private (both individual and company) investment in learning, as well as
encouraging people to have a stake in lifelong learning and more choice or control over their
own learning. Governments were interested to raise participation and achievement in learning
activities, focusing on specific target groups. In spite of the failure in some countries to
induce, for instance, low-skilled workers to use this scheme, it may be worthwhile to explore
further the potentials of the ILAs. The Netherlands may be considered a good practice
example in that they successfully attracted about 90% of low-educated adults (those with
secondary vocational education or lower; employed or unemployed people) to utilize the

    A full level 2 qualification refers to a National Vocational Qualifications at level 2 and a standard
equivalent of 5 GCSEs at A* - C, UK Skills Strategy White Paper: 21st Century Skills, July 2003, chapter
4, „Skills for Individuals„, footnote 23, page 60.
   It should be noted that, in February 2004, the Dutch government decided to abandon this scheme and
replace it by the so-called Personal Development Account, which has a wider scope (like a life
insurance) where individuals can use the account also for non-training related purposes. The Personal
Development Account encompasses only workers and excludes the unemployed and inactive people.
This recent development is expected to be detrimental to the initial success in facilitating training.

In September 2000 the British Labour Government created the legal basis for ILAs after
running some smaller-scale pilot projects. ILAs did not become real bank accounts, as
originally envisaged, as banks did not find them economically attractive, but workers had to
open their „virtual‟ accounts with a private company, Capita Business Services Ltd., charged
by the Government to manage the programme. In the early phase (2000-2002) individuals
paying a small contribution of £25 (ca. €35) into their accounts, received a matching
contribution by the Government amounting to £150 (ca. €213). The latter sum was channelled
directly through to the training provider chosen by the individual. The commitment to one
million ILAs was reached by May 2001. From January 2001 over 50% of the people opening
accounts had not participated in learning for three years; 16% of the ILA account holders had
no qualifications and ILA community projects were very successful with target groups of
adults hitherto under-represented in learning. Moreover, a successful pilot project – the Small
Firms Learning Accounts (for firms with 5-49 employees) which was afterwards redesigned
and continued as Small Firms Development Accounts. Despite these positive developments,
the ILA initiative was closed in November 2001 for two reasons: (i) a high number of accounts
were opened and the programme ran out of budget, and (ii) there was a high degree of fraud
with companies or training providers opening accounts for fictitious persons and claiming
Government subsidies. This underlines the difficulty of balancing light bureaucracy to reduce
barriers to learning and also ensuring sufficient control. The experience of the UK ILAs has
subsequently been integrated into funding of mainstream programmes. The Skills Strategy
outlines a new entitlement to free learning for adults studying for their first level 2 qualification
as a foundation for employability and the Government‟s plan to provide a means-tested adult
learning grant (up to £30 a week) for full-time courses leading to a first full level 2 qualification
and for young adults studying for their first full level 3 qualification .


In summary, human resource development brings a higher profitability to companies; hence,
companies bear the basic responsibility for their own human resource development. They are
also best placed to understand their business environment and their skill and knowledge
needs. Many enterprises in South east Europe already invest substantially in the development
of their employees. However, many do not and there appears to be low investment overall by
companies in human resources development in South East Europe compared to European
Union averages, although reliable statistical information on investment levels by enterprises is
lacking. Raising participation levels in learning in enterprises is a major challenge. The
availability of funding for workforce learning is a significant factor but one of several factors
that limit learning in enterprises and by individual learners. There are many ways in which
countries tackle the financial barriers to learning for enterprises and individuals.

All Government-sponsored programmes to support training in and for companies can
generally be considered positive in that they send explicit signals to employers (and the
people who benefit from the training) about the significance of training. Programmes that are
open to all, or at least a broader circle of beneficiaries, are certainly very costly; so consensus
has to be reached on who ought to specifically benefit and for which types of training. It is
important to make sure that such programmes reach the target audience for whom they are
intended and meet agreed objectives. Bureaucratic requirements to participate in the scheme
need to be kept to a minimum, although guarantees will have to be built into the programme
to ensure a proper use of public funds or sanctions in the case of misuse. Since companies
benefit from training undertaken, a shared funding arrangement which commits not only the
Government, but also the company appears appropriate in most cases. Co-funding and,
hence, a stake by companies in implementing the scheme is more likely to bear fruit in terms
of a higher effectiveness and efficiency, as well as sustainability. Arrangements whereby the
Government supports employers‟ own initiatives have proved to be effective and efficient in
the UK and other countries. Also, governments need to ensure efficiency in the use of public
funds, so care must be taken to ensure that state funds are not ”wasted” on companies who
would train without state support (issue of „deadweight losses‟) and that companies who
   UK Skills Strategy, 2003, page 64. A level 3 qualification refers to a National Vocational Qualification
at level 3 or an equivalent of 2 A levels.

benefit from state-funded training do not gain too big a competitive advantage over those who
do not (issue of market distortion).

Governments play a lead role in stimulating or fostering learning by companies, their
employees and other individuals and they use a variety of approaches and incentives. One
way is to allow enterprises to offset the costs of training against their tax liabilities. Another
strategy is to use public funding to lever in private sector funds to share the costs of strategic
developments, such as in developing national vocational qualifications, where there are
mutual benefits for enterprises and government in having common qualifications for initial and
continuing vocational training. Another approach is to rationalise or pool public funds already
in the system, for example, by using a proportion of business support funds for small and
medium-sized companies for training. This optimises the use of public funds.

A key issue is gaining consensus of the key stakeholders on government funding priorities in
adult learning and sharing responsibility for addressing them. Employers‟ main responsibilities
lie with running their companies but they would be ready to work with Government on these
priorities if their needs were also being addressed – quid pro quo - although not necessarily in
equal terms. Negotiations between the key partners are needed on that. For example, the
funding of training for unemployed people might be shared between the government and
companies, if companies were interested in recruiting new people. Different ministries can
also share funding: in Sweden, training for unemployed adults is seen as a joint funding
responsibility of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour and the employment service.

In general, governments tend to intervene with public funds for adult learning where there is
market failure and/or when there is a political priority to do so (e.g. through apprenticeship
schemes, as well as the promotion of skills for small businesses and/or for disadvantaged
groups of the population). A major gap exists in Southeast European countries as regards the
funding of training for low-skilled disadvantaged people who do no longer register as
unemployed. Governments need to intervene here, as most disadvantaged people cannot
afford to pay and reaching them is difficult.

When designing a particular financing scheme, the framework conditions are important.
Governments and their partners must consider who benefits and who does not, the cost
implications and the need to ensure appropriate funds not only for the actual running of the
programme but also for its administration, monitoring and evaluation, legal provisions, as well
as possible problems that could arise in relation to cost-effectiveness or implementation.

Close working partnerships between Government actors from various ministry departments,
implementers and beneficiaries of the scheme are required in all phases with a view to both
optimising the design, overall coordination and management, implementation, monitoring and
evaluation of any measure or programme and, ultimately, ensure an effective and efficient
use of public funds.

Southeast European countries have a long way to go to ensure a sound financial basis for
adult learning. Good examples include the voucher system in Serbia, which is new and
attractive for the individual. In most countries or territories, investment in education and
training is still seen as a cost rather than an investment in the future and the lack of resources
hinders adult learning possibilities. The fact that value-added tax is still imposed on top of
course fees, for example in Croatia and the fYR Macedonia, does not help the process further
in a context where incentives for learning in the light of lacking jobs and in particular high-skill
jobs are limited anyway. Introducing tax incentives to encourage companies and/or individuals
to invest in training is a problem in countries, where administrative capacities and tax
collection systems are weak, or in Albania, where the International Monetary Fund insisted
sufficient tax revenue be raised.

Nevertheless, creative solutions can occasionally be found to entice vulnerable groups to
participate more widely in education and training. There are some funds available in all
countries, apart possibly from Bosnia-Herzegovina, which may be used better for adult
learning. It is essential for the countries to prioritise which sectors of the economy and which

population groups the programmes should target. Where individual and labour market needs
are met, programmes are more successful.


The countries face major skill and knowledge challenges in adult learning. These include
tackling basic foundation skills, upgrading, retraining and developing new skills and
knowledge for people wanting to return to work and developing employability skills and
pathways back to employment for the very disadvantaged segments of the population.

Two key development axes are needed to transform adult learning so that people can adapt
continuously to evolving skill and knowledge requirements of the labour market, to be
prepared for future opportunities. The one development axis concerns creating an enabling
environment that fosters, promotes, encourages and rewards adult learning. In tandem with
this, learning systems have to be systematically transformed by developing the training
market and by diversifying formal and non-formal adult learning opportunities in the
workplace, in institutions, organisations and in the community. Learning processes have to be
adapted so that they are responsive to and supportive of adult learners.

The box below summarises key development areas that will create the momentum for
transforming adult learning, increase understanding of what is needed to raise participation
levels among all segments of the population, stimulate action by government, the social
partners, individuals and other partner organisations, raise additional finance and build
capacity across the learning spectrum.

          Key developments to create an enabling environment for adult learning

   Whole government approach involving all the relevant ministries to develop policy,
    comprehensive strategies and action in adult learning, changes in governance to create a
    framework to empower stakeholders and enable government to work in partnership with
   Social dialogue on human resources development and financing employee learning,
    enterprises taking the lead in developing their human capital, embedding a culture of
    continuous workforce learning in house, raising participation and providing incentives and
    rewards for learning;
   Making connections: between enterprises and training providers, initial VET and education
    and continuing vocational training and labour market training, enterprises, employment
    services and providers, regional development agencies, employment services, employers
    and providers;
   Partnership working and networking across the government – employment – learning - civil
    society spectrum at all levels to promote a culture of learning, raise awareness of the value
    of learning, increase participation in learning of all segments of the population, to develop
    the training market and lifelong learning system;
   Maximising public funding and co-funding adult learning;
   Understanding the problems: robust data, labour market intelligence and analysis of labour
    market/ sectoral skill trends/ future human resource needs and adult learning research
    (individual learner-centred methodologies/skill and knowledge needs including functional
    literacy and numeracy/ potential demand for learning/ motivation/ how people learn) are
    strategic tools to inform decision-makers;
   Capacity building: to develop enterprise capability to organise, manage and reward work-
    based and external learning/ institution building/ building effective partnerships.

Major weaknesses and gaps exist in the adult learning systems in the countries that will need
to be addressed systematically as part of a rolling programme to reform and develop adult
learning over the following decade. This requires radical transformation of learning
opportunities and learning modes and emphasis on quality and flexibility. Key development
areas are summarised in the box below.

        Systemic reforms to continuing, labour market and basic life skills training

    Modernisation of vocational curricula in line with labour market trends incorporating
     broader occupational, core & basic foundation skills, modularisation and methods to
     recognise and validate prior learning and experience;
    Vocational standards and national qualification frameworks: standards to steer curricula
     and syllabus design and implementation, national qualification frameworks, certification
     awarded by independent qualification bodies;
    Quality assurance embedded at every stage, i.e. inputs, process and outputs: licensing,
     accreditation, learning process, outcome monitoring and evaluation;
    Initial and continuing professional development of directors, managers, trainers and other
     professionals, such as researchers and career counsellors;
    Responsiveness to the need for enterprises and individuals to adapt: in-company
     learning, training needs analyses, learner-centred methodologies, customised products,
     short courses, advanced vocational training, integrated basic foundation skills training,
     customised counselling and guidance;
    Systematic monitoring and evaluation of progress, performance and value for money
     against identified targets and milestones and as a steer for future action;
    Developing the training market: expanding and diversifying formal and non-formal training
     opportunities, level playing field for public and private providers, developing flexible
     learning modes (e-learning, open and distance learning);
    Development of more complex programmes and parallel support services for
     disadvantaged segments of the population.

The starting point is not a vacuum because a strong adult learning tradition existed in most
Southeast European countries. But adult learning declined as the economic and social
situation worsened and war dislocated normal life. Adult education providers were starved of
resources and learners. Although some parts can be renewed and transformed, developing
work-related adult learning needs a major new push from employers, unions and small
enterprises to ensure the continuous adaptation of their workforce. Enterprises will need to
become ‟learning enterprises‟. The skills needed by employers and labour market skill trends
have to inform the on-going development of public and private training provision. Much better
connections are needed between enterprises, the public employment service and providers.
Priority must also be given to programmes for multi-disadvantaged people to ensure more
equality of access to appropriate learning opportunities and participation.

Steps that could be taken in the short term with a view to develop an adult learning strategy
are recommended to include:

i.   an agreement, within Government, of a timetable for increased resources to be spent on
     education and learning, specifying within them also the share of adult learning;
ii. the undertaking of a promotional campaign to spread knowledge and understanding of
     the importance of learning for individuals, employers and the country as a whole;
iii. the establishment of a “learning partnership” within Government, bringing together
     relevant ministries and the various stakeholders with a view to consider the areas for
     priority action and resourcing in adult learning;

iv. the strengthening of the policy capacity of the Education Ministry to allow it to develop a
    strategy in adult learning;
v. the definition of the role and membership of partnerships below national level; as well as
vi. the enhancement, as necessary, of capacity of the social partners and others to engage
    in effective partnerships, using international experience and donor or expert assistance.

The scarcity of resources in all Southeast European countries warrants concentration on a
few priorities. From our point of view these would include:

   a policy to improve basic literacy and numeracy skills, but also basic life and work skills or
    key competences, as described before, especially among unemployed or inactive parts of
    the population, as well as
   in the context of skills for the market economy, the further development of management
    training in co-operation with employers, which might include the establishment of regional
    management development centres and the funding by Government of entrepreneurship
    training. In addition,
   depending on the evidence of demand for particular skills which seem likely to be in short
    supply and which employers cannot provide, some finance could be provided by
    Government on a short-term basis.

As concerns the infrastructure, there are issues of fully resourcing employment services to
deal with numbers of unemployed people, and of encouraging them to seek to help also those
who are not registered but are without work. Employment service staff should be enabled fully
to assess the needs of unemployed people and to provide appropriate counselling. More mid
to longer-term aims would include the modernisation of public providers of learning for adults
– including vocational schools, colleges and post-secondary institutions – so as to make them
more flexible in their response to the demand for new skills. A key priority is the training of
teachers and trainers in this area. Private providers of learning would need to be able to
compete on a equal footing with public providers. Finally, it seems desirable to develop
further, with employer engagement, a system of national qualifications, as well as the
systematic monitoring and evaluation of learning programmes to help ensure that they are
meeting their objectives in a cost-effective manner.


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