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Title NEWSKILLS
Education and training, new job skill needs and the low-skilled
Aspect
Concept Trends Findings Practice Challenge
Synopsis The project points to a number of policy failures in education and training and puts forward suggestions for a minimum learning platform for Europe.

(1) Policy failures in education and training
The following policy failures need to be addressed: 
(a) Schools in all European countries are continuing to produce young people inadequately equipped or prepared to take advantage of further education and training.
(b) 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.
(c) 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
(d) 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).

(2) Minimum learning platform for Europe
The recommendation of a minimum learning platform, outlined in the project and discussed with social partners, includes the following features: 
(a) 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.
(b) 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.
(c) 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.
(d) 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 on performance.
Conclusion:
Policies need to ensure a learning entitlement for all citizens which will make access to a minimum platform a
realistic 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.).
Reference The social partners' discussion on the 'minimum learning platform' summarised in the final project report (McIntosh 1999) took place at AGORA IV hosted by CEDEFOP in October 1998 (Fries Guggenheim 2000). 
See also project info on NEWSKILLS.
Descriptors D-CDO  D-CVT  EP02        E07c
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO