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Vocational Education: study visits


The Study Visits programme has been a specific CEDEFOP activity since 1985. Study visits allow small groups of vocational training specialists of different nationalities to visit locations that provide insight into the vocational training situation in the host country. To date, specialists from 27 countries have taken part in the programme. In the course of a typical year, Cedefop coordinates more than 60 study visits involving around 700 people.

The main aim of the programme is to stimulate exchange and reflection among protagonists working at various levels in planning and implementing vocational training policies in the Member States of the European Union and other countries associated with the programme. It aims to promote mutual understanding of how vocational training systems and schemes operate, to provide insight for subsequent policy-making, and to facilitate the exchange of experiences.

Unlike many other information exchange networks, the Study Visits programme is intended primarily for policy-makers and vocational training specialists working in public administrations or social partner organisations. This target group is one of the programme's unique features.

The programme receives Community support mainly in the form of grants awarded to participants, which Cedefop administers on an annual basis.

Programme objectives

The programme's aim is to activate information flows in the area of vocational training among specialists from the Member States of the Community or from other countries associated with the programme. Compared to other networks for the exchange of information, this programme lays emphasis on the creation of a communicative space that will make exchange of information become "experience".

The study visits are also conceived to promote or encourage co-operation among Community vocational training specialists.

In addition to this general objective, the programme pursues aims connected to the necessity of activating synergies with other activities of specific interest to the social partners or to administrative bodies, as well as with other Community programmes, particularly Leonardo.

Programme users

The programme is addressed primarily to vocational training specialists operating in public administration and in organizations run by the social partners. It tends to favour persons who, as a result of their functions and professional roles, are in a position to spread the information received during the visit and thus enrich their own professional activity and that of their collaborators.

Some visits are tailored to special groups of users, who are identified from year to year in the work programme.

Themes: first half 2000

* Theme A: Vocational training for young people
* Theme B: Vocational training for adults

Theme A: Vocational training for young people
This study visit aims to give first hand experience of the initial vocational training system for young people in the host country in order to encourage discussion of the main factors which shape a training system.

The system should be presented in such a way that it provides insight into the political objectives and into the way in which it operates. How is the system structured? For which young people (age groups?) is it intended? What are their prospects on completion? What is the philosophy behind the system? How do the young people concerned see vocational training? (as a lifelong project, as basic training or as relegation?). How are the curricula developed? How does the system interact with basic education and continuing training? Who regulates the system? Which social players are the dominant ones? Who finances what? Where does most of the training take place? Why? What educational approaches have been developed? On what traditions is the system founded? What are the most recent reforms? Why were they made? What are the main issues facing the country at present?

Theme B: Vocational training for adults
This subject touches on a complex concept (adult education, continuing vocational training, lifelong learning,…) that is perceived differently in different national contexts. For that reason it would be beneficial to encourage exchanges of views and discussion between experts from different countries and to review their preconceived ideas.

The aim of the study visit is to introduce participants to the various aspects of the vocational training of adults in the host country. Which categories of adult can receive vocational training? Under what conditions? Who lays down the rules? Who provides the funding? Where does the vocational training take place? What is the role of the social partners? Who draws up the training content? Who are the trainers? Is there any research into education methods specifically adapted to adults? Do adults receive any vocational guidance? What kind of recognition is granted to the various training paths? The visit to companies and representative institutions should enable participants to meet the various players in the process and to hear different points of view so that they can obtain as realistic a picture as possible of the situation in the host country. Participants should also gain an understanding of the national traditions and current policies. This will permit the issues or questions of common interest at European level to be pinpointed and allow an exchange of views and discussions that will be rewarding for both hosts and guests.

The visits

The visits last three or five working days and always have a specified topic. These are determined at an annual meeting of the NLOs, acting on CEDEFOP proposals after consultation with the Commission of the European Communities.

Groups of about 12 persons are formed, participants being selected according to their interests for a particular topic and their knowledge of the language, which will become the group language of communication. Each group has to share a common language to ensure good communication among its members; if necessary, however, a professional interpreter will ensure communication with the outside environment during the entire period of the visit.

A tutor who plays the role of cultural mediator between the group and the host "environment" generally accompanies groups.

Visits are carried out according to a model which alternates information and reflection sessions and sessions of contact with the various parties involved in vocational training: enterprises, schools, documentation centres, research project co-ordinators, trainers, pupils, social partners, guidance officers, etc.

Each visit is the topic of a final discussion and evaluation, which is covered in a report (see below) written by the group itself.

How to apply

Persons matching the characteristics of desired programme users and wishing to participate must contact the National Liaison Officer (or the Technical Assistance Agency) of their own country or of the country where they live and work, requesting an application form. This form must be filled out and sent back to the NLO of an applicant's own country.

For the 2nd semester please download this application and send it by mail, duly completed and signed, to the National Liaison Officer of your country by 15th May at the latest. Application 2nd semester (pdf file 1088 KB)

MELLOR ,Jennifer
Tel: + 44-114-259 4117
Fax: + 44-114-259 4531
Department for Education and Employment
European Union Division
Room E6B
S1 4PQ

Tel: + 44-114-222 13 83
Fax: + 44-114-222 13 73
Centre for Training Policy Studies (CTPS)
University of Sheffield
Endcliffe Holt
343 Fulwood Road
S10 3BQ


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