1997 - TUAC STATEMENT

 

 




Texte franšais

TUAC STATEMENT
TO 1996 OECD MEETING
OF MINISTERS OF EDUCATION
Making Lifelong Learning a Reality for All

  1. INTRODUCTION

    1. Lifelong learning for all is an idea whose time has come. Though not a new concept the emphasis has changed. Lifelong learning is no longer viewed as a second chance for people who have failed educationally, but is seen now as a spring-board for all to continually upgrade their education and training to adapt to the changes taking place in a rapidly globalising world. The responsibility for lifelong learning encompasses all actors, but the main responsibility in the future, as in the past and present must remain with government. Presently, they appear to lack the confidence to make the necessary decisions to increase investment in education and training systems. Certain policy advisors have even suggested that the challenge of lifelong learning can be met by making more efficient use of existing resources. However, to meet this challenge effectively more resources, over and above existing resources will have to be found; for society will judge their government's promises in this area by action and not rhetoric.
    2. It is now time to implement policies to deliver lifelong learning for all. The broad based consensus on its desirability exists: lacking, however, is a consensus on the required policy mix and mechanisms for its delivery. The lack of consensus can be seen by the range of education and training reforms being implemented across the OECD, each meant to improve upon past failures. TUAC welcomes this approach, but cautions against the adoption of a dogmatic method, whereby top-down reforms are implemented without the involvement of the social partners. Experience shows that this approach invariably leads to greater failure, and later revision to include the views of labour and business. TUAC calls this the "partnership" approach to deliver lifelong learning. Once adopted innovative ways to finance lifelong learning, and policies to combat social exclusion can be developed to ensure a total quality approach to lifelong learning for all participants. In addition, the international dimension has a prime role to play, in that the globalisation of economies and societies offers new challenges and opportunities in the field of education and training that cannot be tackled at the national level alone.
    3. The TUAC approach to lifelong learning and the road map to guide the implementation mechanisms for policy makers is set out as follows. Section One sets the scene by offering a trade union view of the problems facing contemporary education and training systems. Section Two, drawing on case studies of "good practice" sets out the TUAC vision of how the "partnership" approach to lifelong learning works in practice. Section Three develops the crucial role of the international dimension in delivering new education and training systems and its role in promoting democracy. Section Four discusses how innovative ways to finance lifelong learning could be developed. Section Five highlights the policy mix needed to ensure that lifelong learning plays a leading role in combatting social exclusion, and in spreading the benefits of education and training to all groups in society. Section Six summarises the main themes of the paper and proposes new avenues for the OECD to follow in meeting the challenge of delivering lifelong learning for all.


  1. CONTEMPORARY EDUCATION AND TRAINING SYSTEMS : THE APPROACHING CRISIS

    1. Societies and economies in the face of economic globalisation are changing at an ever increasing rate; employment is becoming ever more knowledge dependent; and yet, presently one-third of all adults in most OECD countries do not have basic standards of literacy and numeracy. The demand for unskilled workers is declining relative to that for skilled workers, and the financial returns to skills is increasing when compared to the wages of the unskilled which have in some countries fallen absolutely.
    2. It is not just the unskilled that are bearing the brunt of the changing economic landscape. All workers are now facing the reality of the "flexible" labour market of the 1990s. Middle layer management, civil servants and other professionals are being "downsized", "re-engineered" and "outsourced" as companies and governments grapple with the problems of economic restructuring and competitive pressures. Insecurity is stalking the jobs market and affecting all workers, young and old professional or manual alike.
    3. Flexible labour markets and employment insecurity are reducing opportunities for training, not increasing it as argued by some. Employers are less prepared to train part-time and temporary staff, which stems from a misguided view of the return on investment from training such workers. Women and ethnic minorities are particularly affected by this as their training is likely to be informal, on-the-job and related to low level qualifications. Flexible labour markets are, in this respect, undermining improvements in skills and training which employers need to compete effectively in the globalised market place.
    4. Add to this the plight of the long-term unemployed and the picture becomes bleaker. In many countries across the OECD long-term unemployment is now casting its shadow across a third generation of families. Often housed in inner city estates, or in suburbs located far from the greenfield sites of new employment, these people are increasingly marginalised from mainstream society. Social exclusion is also disproportionately affecting ethnic minorities. Now, through occupational segregation, the collapse in the demand for their labour is pushing them ever further down the ladder of opportunity.


    5. These factors are combining to create an explosive mixture of despair, where the elites are gaining at the advantage of the socially excluded and marginalised in our societies, where the boundary between security and homelessness is becoming ever thinner for a growing proportion of our people. In 1992 John Kenneth Galbraith published "The Culture of Contentment", where he said the relatively affluent two-thirds of society lived alongside the one-third in relative poverty. Now however, commentators are talking about the 40 per cent who are content and the sixty per cent either living in fear for their jobs or having slipped through the net into despair. For this growing "underclass", increasingly disenfranchised through insecurity and poverty, their salvation is often sought through crime, drugs, or the shadow economy - which will only push them further away from mainstream society.
    6. With regard to vocational training in many countries the apprenticeship system of giving young school leavers the necessary skills to embark on their working life has all but collapsed. The philosophy of the 1980s, namely that the market would provide adequate vocational training failed to deliver, thus leaving many governments no other option but to recreate the systems which their own policies helped to undermine. Where the so-called "dual system" approach prevailed the results in terms of economic effectiveness and efficiency at the economy wide level have justified the initial public and private investment. Now, however, the pressures are mounting on these systems from the firm-level organisational changes occurring. Firms which are "delayering" and "downsizing" are looking more to internal training to meet their own needs, and citing cost pressures to cut back on spending for occupational training. Outsourcing is also pushing the costs of training lower down the supply chain, often onto small and medium size enterprises which are in no position to finance such training.
    7. The paradox in public policy is evident. A broad consensus exists that education and training holds the key to the future, being among the most significant investments a society can make in its own future. But public investment in education and training has been cut, often dramatically. The private sector has not been able to replace this loss in public investment, and has indeed scaled back its own levels of investment, for the reasons just described. Related to this is the effect of government economic policy on the education sector. In some countries, reforms have attempted to introduce competition between schools and colleges, aimed at the promotion of greater choice, opportunity, public accountability and efficiency. However, upon evaluation, efficient education and training markets have not been established as a result of these reforms. Indeed, evidence points to negative effects for learners, in particular a lack of coordination of education provision, a reduction of professional and local political accountability, and distortion of selection processes through an emphasis on outputs.
    8. In sum, education and training systems in most OECD countries are approaching a state of crisis. On the one hand, governments facing demands for fiscal consolidation are cutting back on current and capital spending, while on the other hand companies are looking to provide the minimum training required in a globalised market place. The long-run costs of this strategy will far outweigh the short-term financial gains. It is now time to implement the trade union agenda for lifelong learning.


  2. MAKING LIFELONG LEARNING A REALITY : THE TRADE UNION AGENDA FOR CHANGE

    The Partnership Approach


    1. It is clear that responsibility for lifelong learning goes beyond the role of central government. Other stakeholders, including the social partners must be involved in the design and implementation of policies for lifelong learning. The trade union movement calls this the "partnership" approach. Based on "good practice" initiatives from across the OECD, this should be the edifice on which to implement the differing reform programmes. In essence the government should work in cooperation with the social partners and others to analyse the current and future problems facing education and training systems, and then build consensus for policies to overcome them. Three case studies follow which exemplify the trade union "partnership" approach to educational reform.


    Case Study 1: The Australian "Partnership" Approach

    The Australian reform process stems from the October 1993 Teaching Accord between the Federal government and the teacher unions. It focuses on 10 priority areas for reform including commitments to: develop a national professional development strategy to manage teacher training and development; to encourage employers and unions to negotiate arrangements at the State/Territory level to ensure teacher/trainer access time in which to participate in the professional development programme; and to work together to develop agreed competency standards for all staff. It is a reflection of good practice implemented at federal level although it has not always been implemented at State level.

    The experience of the Australian "partnership" approach was discussed at the conference, "Partnerships in Education Reform", Canberra, Australia, June 1994. Co-hosted by the Australian Federal Government and Australian Education Union, the conference brought together a wide range of experts from governments, the OECD, UNESCO, and trade unions. Participants saw educational reform as a key factor in the societal and economic renewal of nations. They agreed on the need for dialogue between government and the teaching unions to create a catalyst for change while removing the likelihood of conflict inherent in the old system. It was also recognised that neither group would be successful by acting independently, and only by working together through a "partnership" approach would reform work. The following key areas for reform were identified :

    educational quality0 -- setting standards for teaching and student achievement, and implementing and monitoring them within schools ;
    securing a commitment -- to continuous change and improvements in educational practices ;
    reforms -- should be organised, initiated and sustained ;
    integration -- of education with other social institutions, for example, social welfare, health, early childhood education and other social services ;
    initial teacher training -- new and alternative forms should be explored ; and
    development of technology -- in particular the nature and use of computer technology in teaching.


    Case Study 2: The Norwegian "Partnership" Approach

    In August 1994 the Norwegian government and the social partners jointly initiated a reform process of the upper-secondary education and training system. Existing problems included: low achievement rates of school leavers combined with declining educational opportunities for adults, the declining status of vocational training and a general unavailability of apprenticeships, social and geographical inequalities, and a failure of educational content and methods to adapt to future needs, exemplified by an over supply of entry-points to further education and training.

    This example of the "partnership" approach found the following solutions within the Norwegian context :

    all students aged 16-19 have the right to three years of secondary education, and regional authorities are obliged to provide this. Plus, all pupils have the right to be admitted to one of their first three choices on entering upper secondary education ;
    "ports of entry" were reduced from over 100 to 13, and as pupils and apprentices move through the system, they branch off into more specialised choices. The new dual system of vocational training involves two years of school education combined with two years paid in-company training. Firms taking on apprentices are reimbursed for the educational element of the training ;
    teachers and their unions are involved in defining the curricula ; and
    a joint fund has been set up by the unions and employers which will focus on adult education and training.


    Case Study 3: The Irish "Partnership" Approach

    As part of a series of agreements between the government, employers and trade unions, including the teacher unions, since 1987, a process of the development and renewal of the Irish education system has been undertaken. Each of the agreements on social and economic policy included a section on education which was agreed between the teacher unions, the government Department of Education and the employers. These agreements addressed different aspects of the development and improvement of the education system including the link between education and employment and the stance that might be taken to develop the education system in such a way which would improve the opportunities for the employment of students. The agreements placed a strong emphasis on equity and access to educational facilities for all. They promoted adult and continuing education and the targeting of resources towards the education of the disadvantaged.

    Partly as a consequence of the progress made under these agreements, a process of review and renewal of the education system as a whole began which culminated in the publication in 1995 of a government White Paper on Education. This was the first major attempt at reflection, redevelopment and redirecting of the education system since the foundation of the Irish State. The White Paper was developed through a process of consultation with all of the educational interests and the social partners. This was an unprecedented attempt to gain support by consensus in society generally on the future of the education system. It involved the publication of a Green Paper to which all interested parties were invited to respond, a major National Convention on Education attended by all interested parties, further conferences on specific topics and finally, the publication of the White Paper based on the submissions and discussions. A further process of consultation is taking place currently on the implementation of various aspects of the White Paper, which contains a commitment that direct negotiations will take place between the teacher unions, the employers and the Department of Education regarding those aspects of the proposals directly affecting their terms and conditions of employment.

    Teachers are represented on all committees and working parties that address curricular issues. The White Paper is a wide-ranging document dealing with the philosophical principles underlying the Irish education service, the structures through which the service is delivered, the future of the teaching profession and developing systems for monitoring and evaluating all aspects of the education service.


    1. The Australian, Norwegian and Irish cases are just three examples of the "partnership" approach to reforming education and vocational training systems which have been implemented or are in the process of being implemented across the OECD. There are lessons to be learnt from this process as part of reform programmes for lifelong learning. However, to give the young and old alike the necessary confidence to play their part in this process, governments should help ensure that employment security is embedded within the concept of lifelong learning.

    2. This goes beyond the old concept of job security. In a rapidly changing world workers in all occupations are likely to change career paths more frequently than in the past. This will involve moving in and out of jobs and education and training systems on a scale never previously envisaged. To facilitate this governments should reject the negative agenda of labour market "flexibility" and adopt the trade union agenda of positive labour market "adaptability". A floor of positive employment rights, implemented with the agreement of trade unions, combined with the adoption of policies for economic and employment growth will ensure that the ladder of lifelong learning is anchored within an environment of confidence. At present the insecurity within labour markets means that many workers are just one pay check from poverty. This situation must be reversed to make lifelong learning a reality.

    3. The "partnership" approach also encompasses the issue of corporate governance and its impact on economic performance. The point has been often made that many countries are trapped in a "low skills equilibrium" where the problem is one of both supply and demand. Statutory systems of training are assumed to raise economic performance by forcing employers to train rather than poach other skilled workers. This may not increase demand for skills as an employer's decision not to train may be a rational response to a policy of going for low cost production and low labour costs. Government policy needs to increase demand for skills by encouraging company strategies which invest in training and invest for future industrial strategy. Reforms to corporate governance systems, especially those to promote the role of trade unions within this would encourage both the demand for skills and their formation.


  3. THE INTERNATIONAL DIMENSION

    1. Education systems presently reflect the social and cultural history of the nation state. However, as the global economy evolves so will our thinking on how to organise education systems. This means going beyond the provision of language training, to broaden the diffusion of new technology amongst the teaching community. Some schools are already experimenting with the information superhighway and its widespread use will revolutionise teaching methods and practices. Policy makers can instantaneously tap into the latest developments in other countries, and multinational companies transfer information and training programmes to their subsidiaries around the world. These factors alone mean that policy makers will need to take account of the international dimension when formulating policies for lifelong learning.

    2. Global financial markets exist already and product and services markets are increasingly international, yet labour markets are predominantly national. Education systems have a key role in facilitating cross frontier employment mobility. Learners and trainees should be able to transfer between institutions internationally, and then have the opportunity to take up employment in that country should they so desire. Policy issues will include. How to make national level qualifications transferable and transparent at the international level in order to facilitate education and employment mobility. This will require greater coordination between those who set standards at the national level. The role of the teacher/trainer may need redefining, and new training packages will need to be designed. This will require a dialogue and negotiations between trade unions and management. Questions of access will need to be addressed to maintain equity of access by all in society across international boundaries.

    3. At the international level education systems also have a role in promoting democracy, good governance, participatory development and human rights. Full access to education and training for all people will assist the democratic process, and where this is achieved people are more likely to promote and defend it. This includes the use of new technology. For example, the information superhighway could be harnessed to transfer "best practice" methods in education and training from developed to developing countries. Likewise, video and tele-conferincing facilities could be harnessed to educate and train children and adults alike, but with the teacher/trainer located in another country.

    4. To keep abreast of these developments education systems and their workers need to be part of that process. Technology and training in its operation will have to be diffused on a much greater scale and the "partnership" approach will facilitate this. As part of this unions can transmit to policy makers the latest developments from their partner organisations in other countries.


  4. FINANCING LIFELONG LEARNING

  5. Initial and Further Education

    1. Presently, OECD countries spend, on average, 6.1 per cent of GDP on education, with the lions share - 4.9 per cent - going to the public sector. By including support for educational institutions, and allowing for country differences, approximately 12 per cent of all OECD public spending is devoted to education. In terms of employment, education is a major sector in most OECD economies, accounting for up to 5 per cent of the labour force. The education sector as a whole is, therefore, a key industry underpinning wider economic development.

    2. It is not surprising, therefore, that finance ministers under pressure to cut back on public spending are looking to reduce the size and scope of the public resources devoted to education. But, such a policy at the present time would be profoundly misguided and the wrong signal to send out if governments are serious about lifelong learning and the extension of human capital. In many OECD countries, past budgetary tightening has already depleted the resources devoted to education and training, whether on transfer payments or capital investment. Faced with standstill budgets or cuts in resources, many institutions are responding by making teachers/trainers and support staff redundant, thus pushing up the teacher/pupil ratios. In addition, much needed capital investment is being deferred or cancelled indefinitely leading to a situation where many schools are falling into disrepair.

    3. Teachers and trainers at the forefront of these cuts are in some countries facing government imposed wage freezes, thus compounding the sense of demoralisation through ever increasing class room sizes and lack of support staff and infrastructure. Recruitment and retention of teachers/trainers is now a real problem. The picture is worse still in those countries which have opted to introduce a "massification" of education, but without a commensurate increase in expenditure. Here, the lag between the implementation of policy reforms and the manifestation of the problems resulting from this has closed. Evidence suggests that the problems outlined above are now manifestly worse in these countries.

    4. Some parents faced with a crumbling state education sector are increasingly turning to the private sector. In some countries private schools have played a role by catering to certain religious or cultural demands. However, this cannot be a generalised response to the crisis in our schooling system. Costs alone mean that private education will remain to a significant extent the preserve of the wealthy, thus raising equity questions. As important is the effect that "educational segregation" will have on the schools that remain within the state sector. Parents will increasingly believe that they no longer need to pay taxes to finance state education, further undermining the revenue base. There will be an exodus of families and resources away from state schools which in turn will lead to greater demoralisation of those children left behind. Evidence shows that those schools with a mix of educational abilities do better than those where the pupils are predominantly of a low educational standard. Educational "solidarity", will therefore be further undermined at the expense of the less well off.

    5. To alleviate this growing crisis, governments must first and foremost recognise the central role of the public education system in delivering lifelong learning. The most successful OECD economies have recognised this fact, as have the dynamic Asian tigers which underpinned economic growth with a mass expansion of publicly financed education systems.


    6. A key determinant of growth, namely technological development is determined by the skills of the workforce which are based on a platform of education and training. Moreover, the jobs of the future will be for the most part knowledge based, and will need an intelligent workforce able to solve problems as they arise. Those countries that recognise this simple truth, and the central role that a well funded state education system plays in this will prevail both economically and socially over those countries that cut back on spending for education. Economically, governments have no option but to invest heavily in the state education sector if their nation is to prosper and develop. A reliance on the private sector to offset cuts in public funding cannot, therefore, be a panacea for society as a whole. This applies equally to basic and further education.

    7. Within this there is scope for industry to play a role in financing further education, as is presently the case in some countries. But industry finance is normally geared towards science and engineering courses, and is often precarious. Therefore, while welcome it cannot be the basis on which to plan strategically for an extension of further education. The state should continue to play a leading role in this area.

    8. TUAC is concerned at recent developments in some countries where governments are forcing individuals to share the cost of further education, through for example, the phasing out of grants and their replacement by loans. Recent experience suggests that people from low income families and ethnic minorities are being excluded from further education because of such moves. This will reinforce the academic elitism endemic in many countries and further undermine moves to increase enrolment in further education.

    9. Government policy in this area should aim to reinforce the trend towards higher participation, accounting for the need to increase teaching and non-teaching staff to maintain standards. Teacher training in new working methods should also rank highly in the list of priorities, and curricula developed in full cooperation with teachers and their unions. The "massification" of further education should also take account of the need to ensure the widest participation from all groups in society and move away from past elitism. Governments should also design courses in such a way as to make it possible for students to move between academic based courses and those of a vocational nature.


    Initial and Ongoing Vocational Training

    1. The "partnership" approach to lifelong training and active labour market policies to lever the unemployed back into the labour market envisages a fresh look at the systems themselves and within this the responsibility for financing. This poses challenges and opportunities for governments, companies, individuals and trade unions. The respective roles of these actors will differ according to the issue.

    2. The role of government lies in several areas. First, governments have to play a key role in raising the status and prestige of vocational training as a pathway for young people into employment. This will require a convergence between vocational education and training (VOTEC) and general education, by breaking the lacuna between the two systems. A prerequisite for this is a need to plan the future systems in a strategic manner, and to ensure the provision of long-term finance.

    3. As regards the multiplicity of existing systems, there is no one country that has all the answers. However, as a starting point dual systems that combine work-based training and school-based learning appear to offer the best way forward. This does not mean that countries should adopt this system wholesale, but it could be flexibly adapted to suit the needs of individual countries. One advantage of the dual system is its ability to provide general training as opposed to other systems that provide firm specific training. As job turnover and worker mobility increases a dual based system will offer the best opportunity for the school-based element of this to be adapted to future needs.

    4. With VOTEC enjoying an enhanced status and a secure financial base, the supply of entrants will increase. In turn, companies will be induced to invest in company based training, secure in the knowledge that the existence of a large pool of trained workers will offset those free riders trying to poach their staff. The acceptance by employers of a levy system to help fund VOTEC will help to put a floor under the competitive system and remove an inflationary bias from the labour market. Moreover, this would help overcome the present inequities in company training. In Norway, for example, government research shows that only 15 per cent of unskilled workers receive work related training, while the corresponding figure for managerial staff is 44 per cent. Such inequalities in access to training are widespread across the OECD and employers must accept their social role in ensuring parity of access to training for all of their employees.

    5. Governments also have a role to play in providing incentives for companies and individuals to invest in VOTEC. The OECD should investigate ways in which tax incentives can be tilted towards investment in human capital. TUAC is ready to play a part in the process. Governments can also work towards reforming their systems of corporate governance to reward firms investing in VOTEC. At present, stock market investors are unaware of which companies invest in training for their workers. This should be changed: research from the United States suggests that over the long-term, those firms investing in their workers usually out perform those that do not. If investors are aware of this it will provide a further incentive to invest in these "best practice" companies. To assist this, companies could be encouraged or compelled to publish information about levels of investment in training in their regular company statements. Standard methods of measuring and accounting for investment in training should be developed so that disclosure is meaningful and comparable.


    Case Study 4: The Danish Approach to Active Labour Market Policies

    Following extensive consultations with the social partners, in January 1994 the Danish government introduced three labour law statutes initiating new active labour market policies to help combat unemployment. The new system is tilted towards the needs of the unemployed and the prevailing circumstances of local labour markets. The new system provides for :

    A series of regional councils composed of the social partners and local authorities. These set guidelines for the operation of the Employment Service. Each council has a fixed budget, which can be spent on vocational training, job training, education, job rotation schemes, etc., depending on the local labour market circumstances.

    The needs of the unemployed themselves are set out in a written "individual action plan" that provides basic rights for the unemployed.

    The 1994 legislation also made provision to extend and improve an earlier "education leave" scheme which assists the unemployed. Participating employers allow workers to take leave for education, training, or parental and sabbatical purposes for up to one year. The employer is then obliged to fill the vacancy created by employing a worker from the ranks of the long-term unemployed. In addition, the Danish LO (the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions) is to propose that an education fund be created, equal to one per cent of the total wage bill in the economy. This would be phased in over a period of five years and would allow more workers to take up educational leave, while allowing for greater numbers of the unemployed to be reintegrated into the labour market.


    1. Turning to the role of the individual. In many instances young people entering into apprenticeship schemes or traineeships do contribute by accepting a trainee wage that is lower than the wage of a skilled employee. TUAC is not therefore opposed in principle to the notion of workers collectively or individually making further contributions to their training, but certain conditions would have to be met before workers themselves would commit finance to such a venture. Such approaches should be negotiated, with a focus on quality. Furthermore, the training needs of the national economy will not be met by individuals financing their own training and retraining as argued for by many employers. Rather, the state, local authorities and employers have a responsibility to the individual to combat training exclusion as part of the social pact underpinning society.

    2. The introduction of "training banks" could help to raise the level of training in small and medium sized firms (SMEs). SMEs have a major role in job creation, yet the quantity and quality of their training is generally sub-optimal. Financial assistance for SMEs and their workers would overcome this and benefit the firm and the economy. A distinction should be made between TUAC's proposal for training banks to assist companies and individual learning accounts into which employees would contribute. Otherwise, individual learning accounts could be developed that assist careers guidance and employee development. A redefinition of the relationship between large firms and their small firm suppliers would also help here. Large firms could assign training "mentors" to their suppliers who would bring much needed knowledge of the latest skills techniques to SMEs. Measures to create clusters of SMEs could act as a catalyst to improve skill levels by raising the general awareness of training, bring them closer to publicly funded programmes, and further link them to local colleges and research centres that may be developing new production techniques.

    3. These activities could also assist in removing the barriers that currently exist between trade unions and SMEs. Much of the hostility expressed by these firms to the recruitment activities of trade unions is based on a misconception of their role at the workplace. Publicly funded programmes to help SMEs, and an increased utilisation of "mentors" from large firms could help to educate the managers of SMEs to the benefits of trade unions. Loans to SMEs from a "training bank" could be made conditional on the right to recognition and collective bargaining for workers. Measures such as these would help build a "high trust working environment" between management, workers and their unions. In Finland the government with the full support of the social partners (see page 14) has introduced a programme that will help to build such a "high trust working environment" in SMEs.


    Case study 5 : The Finnish Approach to Assisting Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

    In Finland it was recognised that SMEs face particular problems including a lack of professional staff and technological and economic know-how for development. To help overcome these problems, KEKO, a tripartite project has been initiated to promote cooperation between SMEs and develop the skills of unemployed professionals, educators and consultants with a view to their employment by SMEs. The partners in the project are the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, trade unions representing unemployed professionals and employers' organisations to which the participating enterprises belong. With full social partner support the activities are coordinated at the central government and regional government levels.

    Unemployed professionals and university graduates carry through a development project within an enterprise, while participating in further training programmes in universities and other training institutes that are planned to suit both their needs and that of the enterprise. The duration of a KEKO project is usually between six-nine months with up to 20 per cent of the training in an institutional setting. The training projects are normally built upon common issues, for example, the business line of the enterprise, their geographical location, quality related aspects of the project or the needs of the export market. With government support the trainees receive an allowance which is equal to the level of unemployment benefit, plus an allowance from the enterprise.

    Since its inception in 1994, almost 1,000 unemployed graduates have participated in the scheme, and most have found permanent employment in the enterprise where they were placed. Around 2,000 trainees are expected to participate in 1996, and to meet the demand the government has doubled the resources for the programme.


    1. Turning to the issue of training for the unemployed much more still needs to be done. Across the OECD most government assistance for the unemployed provides for passive rather than active labour market measures. Government policy should aim to tilt resources away from passive measures towards active measures, but in such a way that commands the support of the unemployed and does not seek to punish the jobless, as in the case of workfare. Policy makers could use the lessons of Danish example when redesigning their own systems.


  6. COMBATTING SOCIAL EXCLUSION

    1. Social exclusion, whereby workers are marginalised from mainstream economic and social activity is a major and growing problem across the whole of the OECD. As noted above this affects all age groups, but particularly those workers from ethnic minorities, who are more likely to suffer from unemployment and experience longer spells of joblessness. The reasons for this are complex and include depressed growth, employment discrimination, and of course lack of access to education and training. Overcoming this problem requires new thinking and policies: within this lifelong learning has a key role.

    2. The key role that lifelong learning has in combatting social exclusion can be seen by reference to the linkage between crime and educational attainment. Research in many countries highlights the linkage between social exclusion and attendant rising crime, increases in unemployment and the collapse in wages of the low paid. To reverse this process, governments should expand economic activity to reduce unemployment and job insecurity, and strengthen minimum wage systems and employment protection, within a medium-term framework of structural change through investment led growth in industry and public infrastructure.

    3. By itself, however, this will be insufficient, as in many instances it is those people without educational qualifications that are tempted towards crime. This is especially so in the United States where less than 25 per cent of the male population aged between 18 and 24 fail to finish school. However, research also reveals that almost 70 per cent of this age group in prison dropped out of school. The link to the labour market can be seen by the fact that income from criminal activity is often more attractive than the very low wages on offer.

    4. This will require policies to deliver quality schooling for all. The socially excluded who are generally located in estates in inner cities or suburbs, usually receive less funding for schools, and have worse conditions than their affluent counterparts in the wealthy areas. This anomaly should be addressed. In addition, schools themselves have a duty to reach out to the socially excluded and involve them in the setting of curricula and school policy in such a way as to make them part of the system, as opposed to being viewed as apart from the system. Feeling that they have a stake in the system will make the socially excluded more inclined to stay within the school system in order to gain qualifications.

    5. Upon leaving school young people will need to feel that the pathways into employment or further education are open to all. To assist the socially excluded careers counsellors and staff working in the Public Employment Service will need training to understand their problems in order to direct them towards a path which is suitable to their needs. These people should not feel that they are merely being directed into dead end jobs to serve the interests of others. Systems for the delivery of lifelong learning should be flexibly implemented to offer those leaving school without qualifications a pathway back into the system. It should be remembered that young people who fail the system are frequently the victim of a failed system.

    6. For the socially excluded lifelong learning can also become a tool to prevent their slipping into long-term unemployment. The Danish example outlined above shows that more can be done to prevent long-term unemployment from happening. Schools and colleges should be opened up to the unemployed and their confidence regained in lifelong learning as a means to reintegrate themselves into the learning process and the world of work. This will require a long-term commitment from workers themselves, and governments, therefore, will have to reciprocate by offering secure long-term financial support. Where governments offer financial incentives to firms employing the LTU, care should be taken to ensure that high quality training/access to education is offered by the prospective employer.

    7. The alleviation of working poverty can be assisted by lifelong learning. Workers with few or no educational qualifications are frequently shunted between unemployment and dead end jobs. Lifelong learning should offer a spring-board to escape from this cycle of despair. The proposed "training bank" and increased use of training "mentors" would if widely utilised help alleviate this problem.


  7. SUMMARY AND NEXT STEPS FOR THE OECD

    1. This TUAC statement has set out a road map for OECD Ministers of Education to follow in order to effectively deliver lifelong learning for all. Case studies have been provided where trade unions from across the OECD have worked with government and employers to reform their education and training systems. TUAC calls this the "partnership" approach to change. It is a pragmatic approach to effect change and open the gateway to implement lifelong learning.

    2. Multilateral institutions can play a key role in opening this gateway. The June 1994 Australian conference "Partnerships in Education Reform" discussed the future work of the OECD in promoting the "partnership" approach. The conference agreed that the OECD could initiate a shared dialogue between unions and governments, to study and articulate ways in which joint action can alleviate unemployment, contribute to more productive schools, and help meet the challenges of social diversity.

    3. TUAC endorses these recommendations and calls on this meeting of OECD Education Ministers to likewise endorse the "partnership" approach to lifelong learning as set out in this statement and to incorporate it into the Charter of the OECD's Education Committee at the time of the renewal of the mandate in 1996. The OECD should also act as a catalyst and work with TUAC and its affiliates and partner organisations in the education field to develop a framework for cooperation with the trade union movement to develop and implement policy proposals for lifelong learning.

(1) This TUAC statement has been prepared following extensive consultations with our affiliates and the staff and affiliates of the Education International. It follows on from past joint statements with the BIAC - in 1988 to the OECD Intergovernmental Conference on Education and the Economy, "Education and the Economy in a Changing Society" - and in 1990 to the OECD Meeting of Education Ministers, "Education and Training".


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