Lifelong learning strategies
The Flemish strategy on LLL is laid down in 3 major strategy documents: (1) The Policy Note on Employment 2009-2014, (2) the Policy Note Education 2009-2014 and (3) the Agreement between the Flemish Government and the Social Partners on Professional Careers of 17 February 2012 (see chapter 14.1).
The latter agreement constitutes a major recent initiative for strengthening the coherence between education/training and employment policies. In this agreement the transition between education and the labour market is seen as a key priority area, with the following main action lines:
- Study and career guidance;
- In-service training, placements and acquisition of professional experience as part of the learning trajectory;
- Matching education provisions and content (programmes and concrete curricula) with the reality of the labour market;
- Reduce the number of school drop-outs and support low qualified people to enhance their skills.
Participation in lifelong learning decreased slightly: in 2012 6,8% of the 25- to 64-year olds participated in a training for professional purposes or personal development. Participation informal training (provided by Centres for Adult Education, VDAB, Syntra, etc.) continue to increase, although this applies less to non-formal tracks and in-service training provided by business companies.
Platform for research on the future Flemish labour market
In the autumn of 2010 a platform for research on the future Flemish labour market started as an ESF-project based on cooperation of a wide range of organisations: Flemish Public Employment and Vocational Training Service, Flemish ESF agency, Flemish Employment Department, Flemish Social and Economic Council, SYNTRA Vlaanderen, Flemish Department of Education and Training,... A pilot project was launched in April 2011. In September 2012 the Flemish Government published a manual for industrial and business sectors on how to launch prospective research on skill required in the future.
Incentives to participation in LLL courses and “second chance education”
Different financial incentives exist for learners in adult education courses or professional training, such as: vouchers, reimbursement of enrolment fees, entitlement for workers to ask for a (paid) leave for study reasons etc. In 2012 these incentives have been evaluated in view of an adjustment of the system towards a more coherent approach. From now on the focus of the incentives lies on training which is directly related to the needs of the labour market.
Recognition of prior learning
A discussion note on an integrated policy on recognition of prior learning has been discussed by several strategic advisory councils. On the basis of this input the authorities of the different policy sectors involved (Education and Training, Culture, Employment and Welfare) started the preparation of a new legislative framework for recognition of prior learning in which RPL information desks and assessment centres will play a key role. The 2012 EU recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning has been taken into account in the drafting.
Short-cycle higher education (associated degrees) and extension of secondary education (“secondary after secondary”)
On 1 September 2009 the previous post-secondary tracks for nursing as well as the higher education level courses in adult education were integrated in the Flemish qualification structure as short cycle higher education qualifications (associate degrees – EQF level 5).
Preparatory analyses have been launched for the development of criteria for new short cycle and extended secondary education programmes, which match the skills needed by the labour market. In July 2012 the Flemish Government gave its principal agreement to a draft decree on the reinforcement of (short cycle) higher vocational education (HVE) in Flanders. The decree, which has been finally aproved by the Flemish Parliament on 12 July 2013, focuses on the following elements:
- Intensive structural cooperation between the providers of short cycle higher education;
- Economies of scale in adult education (mergers into larger institutions);
- Reform and development of short cycle higher education;
- Financing of short cycle higher education.
From spring 2013 onwards applications for new short cycle higher education programmes are possible (see also 14.3).
Modularisation of adult education programmes
All linear programs in adult education and basic skills education for adults have been replaced by modular programmes. The curricula have been adjusted to external reference frameworks such as professional competence profiles, as has been agreed with the professional sectors.
In 2012 the Flemish Government adopted an "Action Plan on Distance Education", which focuses on the promotion of distance teaching and blended learning in adult education.