School to Work Aims to strengthen transnational cooperation between stakeholders in the Baltic Sea Region in the field of education and work in order to prevent early school leaving and develop support for vulnerable groups of students/youth. groupspaces.com/eusbsr-education/item/844928
Baltic Training Programme Supports the internationalization of vocational education and training as well as entrepreneurship and the internationalization of business www.baltictrainingprogramme.eu
Baltic University Programme Largest university network in BSR focused on sustainable regional development through cooperation in education, research and applied projects www.balticuniv.uu.se
Baltic Sea Labor Forum Aims to promote social dialogue, tripartite structures and cooperation as crucial elements of sustainable growth and social development in the BSR www.bslabour.net
Baltic Science Network Aims to provide science and research ministries of the Baltic Sea region states with an overall coordination framework to develop and implement science policy in a macro-regional dimension and to ensure a better representation of macro-regional interests on the EU level http://www.baltic-science.org/
Policy Area Education, Research, Employability
Policy Area (PA) Education contributes to strengthening the social dimension of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). It covers three policy areas:education, research, employability. Increased prosperity in the BSR presupposes access to good education and training for all, an effective and inclusive welfare system and a well-functioning labor marketsupporting geographical, professional and socio/economic mobility.
The 8th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region will take place at the premises of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on 13 and 14 June 2017. The general subject of the forum will be “Connectivity”. “Connectivity in a broad political sense highlights the necessity to further intensify contacts in the Baltic Sea region and to develop a better awareness of each other’s perspectives and sensitivities. It includes the totality of the Baltic Sea region. It is a prerequisite to enable confidence building with neighboring regions. It also concerns an efficient and comprehensive collaboration between all levels of government. Connectivity is essential for today’s research activities as well as for cultural exchange including tourism. Connectivity has an important infrastructural dimension - be it in the area of transport, energy or communication. It is the basis for modern business, which is network based and outward looking.” During the forum around 20 seminars will take place, with approximately 800 participants.
The 25th BSPC took place in Riga, Latvia and was opened by H.E. Mr Raimonds Vējonis, President of the Republic of Latvia. The focus of the conference, with around 200 delegates was, to pass a resolution on developing the Baltic Sea Region as a role model for future high quality education and labour. (http://www.bspc.net/25-bspc-resolution-final-eng/) The 26th BSPC will take place in Hamburg on 3-5 September 2017. The focus will be on sustainable tourism, democracy and participation and science, education and youth. Our flagship “Baltic Science Network” had been invited to the meeting of the Standing Committee in Hamburg, to present their flagship and to discuss their involvement in the next conference.
EUSDR PA9 | 4th International Stakeholder Conference - 5th October 2016 - Investing in People and Skills in the Danube Region: Towards a New Dynamic for Socio-Economic Development
The 4th International Stakeholder Conference “Investing in People and Skills in the Danube Region: Towards a New Dynamic for Socio-Economic Development” of PA9 took place on 5th October 2016 in Vienna. It was hosted by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection and was organised with technical assistance funding received from the European Union.
The 4th Stakeholder Conference aimed at discussing current European growth and development policies, how effective approaches to skills and competences impact their success and what challenges they face with regard to education and training, labour market and civil society participation. Workshops on relevant topics such as quality and efficiency of education and training, educational outcomes, labour market policies and social inclusion were held to exchange current policies and identify requirements and needs to face future challenges and developments. In this context participants were invited to find new opportunities for wider cooperation and closer collaboration. Furthermore, information on funding opportunities was provided by experts and lead partners throughout the conference.
Stakeholders from thirteen of fourteen Danube Region countries followed the invitation, 122 had registered and about 110 were actually present at the event. The following countries were represented (by number of registrations): EU Member States: Austria (54), Bulgaria (4), Croatia (4), Czech Republic (3), Germany (5), Hungary (6), Romania (8), Slovak Republic (6) and Slovenia (2), Accession Countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina (2), Montenegro (4) and Serbia (14), Neighbourhood Countries: Moldova (5) and Ukraine (0), International Organisations: European Commission and Danube Strategy Point (3), European Training Foundation (1), EUSBSR/Sweden (1). Participants’ working background is in ministries or other government bodies, educational institutions, NGOs, social partners or transnational bodies.
Highlights from the conference
Alois Stöger, Austrian Federal Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection emphasised the importance of communication and cooperation in an area incorporating 14 countries and 120 million residents. He is grateful for 5 years of fruitful cooperation with the Austrian Ministry of Education and the Moldavian Ministries, Partners and all other stakeholders. In spite of the recent crisis in Europe, it will be necessary to regain trust in politics, to strengthen solidarity and the social dimension to prevent Europe from the influence of right wing populists. The EU should not be regarded merely as economic union, but as social union.
Klaus Körner: Policy Officer at the European Commission in the Directorate for Education and Culture In his statement, he related the question of the added value of EUSDR as a macro-regional process for European cooperation in Education and Training to the five Europe 2020 targets (increase employment rate, invest in research and development, turn to green energy, raise education, reduce drop-out rates and decrease number at risk of poverty and social exclusion). While there is no doubt about the value of the numerous projects that have been carried out incorporated in the EUSDR, the challenge on how to get from projects to sustainability and to generate new and significant results remains. He encouraged stakeholders to give feedback to the EC about their needs and to bring their ideas to the fore. He mentioned peer learning activities in different fields, launched to provide space for exchange of good practice and experience. Körner concluded, that regarding the main challenges on the skills agenda as well as the migration agenda it will perhaps be necessary to review the definition of “key competences” (from 2006) and to put more emphasis on civic competences rather than on technical skills.
Anders Bergström, Policy Area Coordinator PA Education/Horizontal Action Coordinator HA Capacity (both within the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSBSR) The Baltic Sea Strategy was launched in 2009 as the first macro-regional strategy in Europe. It primarily affects eight Member States of the EU in the region (Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, counting 85 million inhabitants), but also non-EU countries are involved in Baltic Sea Region Cooperation, mostly Norway and Russia, as well as Iceland and Belarus. Apart from existing longer and being smaller, the EUSBSR shares some of the challenges and targets with the EUSDR. At present, refugees are a priority in primarily Finland, Germany and Sweden e. g., migration having been an issue for long, now the focus is on asylum seekers, their education and employability. Other priorities are the ageing population and lifelong learning, VET and work-based learning, excellence and entrepreneurship are key issues to be addressed in different education systems. Alignment of funding is a further key issue and at present networks exist for Managing Authorities in ESF, ERDF and EAFRD in the region. The tendency in the EUSBSR is less focus on projects but more on development processes gathering stakeholders in so called flagships. The flagships focus on societal challenges with thematic working groups where stakeholders in multilevel governance are working together, across borders. Projects are parts of the flagships concentrating resources for development and testing of new methods. Work on a local and regional levels are important as well as the integrated and coordinated governance of the Baltic Sea region. Success of the strategy also depends on the commitment by regional and local authorities and political actors in the respective countries.
Documents related to the conference under the title “Investing in People and Skills in the Danube Region: Towards a New Dynamic for Socio-Economic Development” are availiable on the website.
Here you can find a priliminary description of the new Action. It has already been revised by the the National Coordinators (member states). It is still a working document but the new Action will be adopted early next year.
Recognising potential – easing the way for newly arrived refugees
The inflow of refugees and migrants to the European Union has dramatically increased in 2015 compared to previous years mostly due to the civil war in Syria but also due to other conflicts in Africa and in the Middle East and from countries with no armed conflicts, such as northern and western Africa. The migratory influx has been reduced in 2016; however, the integration of third country nationals residing legally in the Member States continues to be a key challenge for Europe.
The number of first time asylum applicants in the EU in 2015 was in total 1 255 640. In the member states of the Baltic Sea Region, they vary notably: Germany 441 800; Denmark 21 316 (out of which 10.849 were granted residence permits); Estonia 225; Finland 32 150 (out of which 6 534 have so far been granted residence permits); Lithuania 275 (out of which 86 were granted residence permits); Latvia 328 (out of which 29 were granted resident permits, 6 granted refugee status and 23 subsidiary protection status); Poland 10 255; Sweden 156 110.
The increased number of refugees constitutes a challenge to those Member States where refugees choose to seek asylum. At the same time, many Member States struggle with demographic changes with an ageing population which within a decade will lead to a deficit of skilled workers – academic and non-academic - in for e.g. industry, health care and other sectors. This underlines the need for an effective integration of refugees in order for them to contribute to the building of inclusive, cohesive and prosperous societies which is of common interest to all Member States.
In particular, the refugees coming from Syria are young people, 90% under the age of 40 and 50% under the age of 20. Some of them are well educated and can take jobs in our countries.
Notwithstanding the work already undertaken through initiatives within the EU, such as the European Integration Network and the European Migration Forum, the Integration Action Plan and the Ministerial Conference on Integration, the rapid increase of migrants also calls for more cooperation between the national, regional and local authorities, organisations and civil societyentrusted with the responsibility of integrating refugees. Complementary to, and supporting already existing initiatives, an effective system of collecting and making good practice available is also needed. Besides mutual learning there is also much to gain from developing new methods and new organisations together with others, across borders.
This Action focuses on:
Exchange of best practice for the integration to the labour market e.g. through vocational education and training,
Exchange of best practice for increased employability, smoothening integration into the society, and
Developing and testing methods and systems, primarily to be used by local actors to facilitate integration on the labour market.
The foreseen actions are:
a knowledge platform for exchange of experiences and development of new methods for increased employability, and
development and testing joint trainings for key staff working with the target group.
The structured learning and development of new methods will take place in a so called knowledge platform. The platform will consist of thematic working groups where experts will gather for structured dialogue, learning from each other and joint development of new methods. The outcome of these processes will be documented and published on the website. Examples of thematic working groups are; civil society involvement (including the work with ethnic and religious communities and migrant NGOs), digital support (for example apps and games) and language training (focusing on methods for fast learning). In one of the thematic groups a joint training for key functions will be developed and tested. It is foreseen that key functions are coaches and mentors. Curricula’s with both theoretical parts and practical training will be developed and tested.
Solveg Schmidt is the successor of Christiane Schadow as Priority Area Coordinator and colleague to Anders Bergström. Ms Schmidt is representing the Land of Hamburg. She has been working as a teacher for Economics and English at a vocational school in Hamburg for 4 years. She is new at the the HIBB which exists since January, 1st, 2007 as an independent State Office of Schools and Vocational Training Authority (BOD). Before, it belonged to the Ministry of Education and Sport. It comprises the 39 state vocational schools in Hamburg and the central office.
Most important achievement in 2016
A new flagship initiative “BSR SMART LIFE” (BSR Lifelong Learning for Smart Specialization) in Action 4 “A society of longer lives” of the PA Education Action Plan, was initiated by Vidzeme Planning Region (Latvia). First initial meetings of the flagship have been held and the most important stakeholders have been gathered in order to share their experience and knowledges. The consensus among the involved stakeholders is achieved about the focus of the flagship and main issues to be tackled as well as specific aim of the flagship and necessary actions to reach it.
The demographic change with an aging population, calls for recruitment of personnel that can fill gaps when the present workforce reaches retirement age. Labor markets are changing and they demand workforce that shows constant growth and development of skills in order to keep up with the new technological and market advances. The availability of lifelong learning in a region is one of the most influential factors in its socioeconomic development.
The importance of working in partnership among all stakeholders has resulted in a common project concept note for Seed Money Facility. It was only the first step seeking for funding to realize the planned activities. The concept note focused on the lifelong education in the region of Baltic Sea that is closely linked to the concept of smart specialization. Adult education programs should be elaborated in coherence with the needs of labor market of the regional industries and according to the business environment and culture. A common understanding was reached that attention should be directed not only to education of employees, but also to education of business managers and human resources managers who are the ones that encourage their employees to further their skills and competences.
Flagship concept in practice
The initiative brings together partners from Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden and Germany working together to identify the necessary improvements in the lifelong learning domain and to implement them in the Baltic Sea Region. The “BSR SMART LIFE” is an emerging flagship initiative, so far process is ongoing and other stakeholders on local, regional and national levels, in public and private sector who are in some way related to the field of adult education are welcome to get involved to develop the initiative further. Next workshop will take place in the beginning of 2017 in Lithuania. All institutions interested to take part are welcome to join in by contacting Vidzeme Planning Region.
Challenges when implementing flagships
The first main aspect is - in all countries are different experience working with lifelong learning education and not for all countries is clear vision where to go by the lifelong learning education. Also to gather stakeholders from different countries with different experiences is of course challenging.
The contact person for the Flagship is Lelde Ābele, Project Manager at Vidzeme Planning Region. Contact information for further communication: (Phone) +371 64219022; E-mail: email@example.com