No 2007/03
  Tracing issues of HRD in R&D projects across Europe
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  Dear Colleague

On the occasion of the 8th International Conference on HRD, taking place in Oxford next week (homepage), this newsletter offers a short review of HRD issues such as have been addressed in R&D projects across Europe. This review is based on latest findings of a Cedefop supported analysis of country reports produced by experts cooperating in the network ReferNet (see initial overview in L&W Newsletter 2007/02).

A sample of 221 R&D projects from 23 countries, selected by national experts as the most important ones in the area of HRD and VET, has provided the following outcomes:

(1) Next to VET, the second major area covered by the project sample is HRD related to the labour market and workforce at large (HRD-LM), while HRD related to organisations and personnel management (HRD-O) forms a relatively small part (a tenth of the total). The themes addressed by HRD-O related projects, however, reflect a broad spectrum which corresponds to the profile of European HRD identified in earlier investigations (see Areas of EHRD). The following topics are included:

    * continuing vocational training, key skills and management in SMEs;
    * development of HRD related staff;
    * personnel development in public services;
    * learning organisations and learning regions;
    * work process knowledge and knowledge management.

The HRD-O related projects are distributed across a wide range of countries and regions, with only minor concentrations (Poland and Spain). The UK selection, however, includes only VET related projects, focusing on skills.

(2) The projects of the Central and Eastern European countries are concerned, most of all, with the promotion of the state system of education and training in close relation to the needs of the labour market. These objectives are part of an overall HRD strategy in these countries. Business and enterprises, on the other hand, seem to play a less prominent role in promoting HRD. Partly, as the projects show, efforts are made to involve firms and social partners in restructuring the public VET programmes. Only a few projects refer to HRD activities carried out by private organisations themselves, in the context of human resource management.

(3) Evidence from case studies on European projects suggests that HRD and VET are extending in scope and role and converging, thematically and methodically, towards more interfacing and complementary activities within the enterprises. More specifically, there is an increasing tendency within the enterprises in Europe to consider HRD through investment in VET promotion as a strategic means for improving their performance, competitiveness and their ability to keep pace with requirements of change. Furthermore, a new generation of flexible vocational identities is emerging, with a relatively high access to socio-professional promotion by means of continuous access to VET, formal and informal work-based learning.

More details of the findings summarised above can be found in the following contributions which were prepared by a team involving M'Hamed Dif, Liliana Voicu and myself. The papers are available on-line as part of the Cedefop/WIFO project page (www.ero.vet-hrd.wifo-gate.org) under Selected studies.

1 - Thematic patterns of HRD and VET derived from a project analysis (Manning)
2 - Issues of HRD and VET addressed in Central and Eastern European countries (Manning/Voicu)
3 - Thematic and methodological aspects of the relationship between HRD and VET (Dif)

These studies link up with the earlier discussion of HRD and VET issues in Europe, carried out at last year's round table sessions at the International HRD Conference in Tilburg and at ECER/VETNET in Geneva (see Proceedings).

Issues of HRD in Europe have been a recurrent theme of debate at the International HRD Conferences since 2002. You may look up the annual proceedings of the discussions on the EHRD Portal under Debate.

Kind regards
Sabine Manning

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 Editor: Sabine Manning © WIFO