project points to a number of policy failures in education
and training and puts forward suggestions for a minimum
learning platform for Europe.
failures in education and training
learning platform for Europe
following policy failures need to be addressed:
Schools in all European countries are continuing to produce young people
inadequately equipped or prepared to take advantage of further education
Some of those who leave initial education have developed an aversion to
learning as a result of their school experiences and the disastrous results
of this are seen in the reluctance to ‘go back to school’ to acquire further
education and training in later life.
The period of basic (usually compulsory) education should not be primarily
concerned with selection for higher levels of education. Schools need to
focus more on ensuring a minimum level for all and on maintaining high
levels of self-esteem during the period of compulsory education
With regard to the level of education and training for mature adults, few
older people have improved their qualifications. Most improvement in the
qualifications of the labour force have occurred as a result of the entrance
of better-qualified young people. The formal adult education system fails,
because it replicates the school system and is not appealing to low-skilled
individuals already in employment (McIntosh
1999, p. 12).
recommendation of a minimum learning platform, outlined in the project
and discussed with social partners, includes the following features:
In view of the substantial differences between European countries there
can be no simple ‘blueprint’ for a minimum platform. Instead, we need a
set of policies that are flexible enough to enable the different European
countries to produce policies ‘tailor-made’ to address their own set of
problems and challenges.
A minimum platform should not just be concerned with the set of skills
currently defined as ‘employability’. It deals with all aspects of the
human condition and it should be informed by the set of values that individuals
in all countries share by virtue of their European citizenship, in particular
respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic decision-making.
Policy also needs to take account of the current state of transition of
European societies from an industrial mode of production to a knowledge-based
society with the new skill requirements and new learning and information
infrastructures that accompany that transition. Evidence suggests that
failure to develop certain personal qualities and social skills can be
barriers to employment as well as handicaps in everyday life.
A minimum learning platform should be open to all. This is perhaps the
area where policy needs to be most radically rethought since the traditional
approach to education has been characterised in a number of countries by
successive exclusion at different stages of education and selectivity based
need to ensure a learning entitlement for all citizens which will make
access to a minimum platform a
possibility regardless of conventional institutional constraints. This
means that learning must be provided and supported not only during the
early years of life but throughout life; it must not only be available
in ‘school’ settings but outside the conventional settings, for example
in the workplace, the home and the shopping centre (McIntosh
1999, pp. 12f.).