Training for a successful professional life: Exchange of good practices

A seminar on the subject of "Training for a successful professional life: Exchange of good practices" took place from November 3th to November 5th 2017 in Amarante, Portugal, organised by FIDESTRA (Associação para a Formação, Investigação e Desenvolvimento Social dos Trabalhadores) with the support of the EZA and the European Union.

The seminar was attended by 64 representatives of workers' organisations from five European countries, as well as 14 vocational students who had been specially invited by FIDESTRA to share their expectations and experiences.

The seminar had the following objectives:

To learn about the expectations that entrepreneurs have in their capacity as employers with regard to the vocational training offered in various school careers.

To assess whether young people with vocational training have the vocational skills to facilitate their integration into the labour market.

To determine whether the level of integration in the labour market is higher if the adaptation of vocational training to the actual circumstances and needs of the labour market is higher.

To inform oneself about the situations and to get an idea of the existing circumstances with regard to the cases in which the rate of employability has increased, when there has been a particularly intensive connection with the companies in order to find answers to their needs in the field of education and to train and qualify them for the profession - both in the field of young and adult job seekers.

To present vocational training/courses which train for work by means of a close networking of the given resources and the needs of the labour market, both nationally, regionally and locally.

To assess the capacity of education systems in order to adapt to rapid changes in the labour market and to assess the capacity to respond to the needs of this labour market in a timely manner.

In order to achieve the set goals, FIDESTRA has enriched the current seminar with a visit to a thermal spa/health resort, where some of the employees have completed their school careers in the context of vocational education, and with 4 hall panels, in the sense of the programme items listed below:

Training for the profession, in the context of economic competitiveness

Presentation of national experiences by the present organisations

Portugal – CIFOTIE; LOC; CFTL; FIDESTRA

Spain – CEAT; USO – CCFAS

ITALY – Feder-Agri

Poland – NSZZ Solidarnosc

Romania – Cartel Alfa

Europa – IPCM (International Platform for Cooperation and Migration)

The speakers presented various reasons on the importance of vocational training, which is/are the matrix/central points of their organisations. The concern about the presentation of their key points, although the speakers came from different countries and their experiences, shows processes with common characteristics with regard to the orientation of education to the new entrepreneurial challenges, especially from the point of view of an ever stronger, daily, economic competition, which is reflected in the increasing restriction of families. The organisations raised worrying questions about the flexibility and availability demanded by employers' organisations towards workers and the social and family obligations, often with the sacrifice of the family taking on proportions that go so far that there is no longer time for dialogue and for family enlargement, which is important for future generations.

Vocational training and reorientation, an essential tool and an efficient response to the structural challenges of the labour market

Example of a student of vocational education

Example of an employee with a vocational background

Example of an association - FIDESTRA

The importance of vocational training in the lives of people currently active and those who will be employed in the future was clearly demonstrated by the example of a schoolgirl and a former student from the vocational school who hosted us. With 26 years of experience, this school has already trained hundreds of students, some directly and others in indirect or complementary employment, in the various professions related to the courses they attended. All these students have made their experiences over the years, and this is well known through the continued monitoring of their careers and development.  The eloquent, clear and motivating example of the school-leaver was proof that the choice of this teaching system includes a preceding selection, a vocation, with the aim of continuing the training at a higher level, but always with the guarantee that the training, the specialization in a certain profession ensures. It enables its addressees to pursue a particular professional activity while at the same time continuing their training, as, furthermore, is the case with the following speaker, who spoke about his experience of attending a vocational school and is now enrolled in a Master's programme at university, since he has decided to continue his training and because he also has the opportunity to pursue his profession as a management expert.

Examples of young people who know that they must have sufficient skills that only continuous education can provide and that they must acquire the tools to secure their jobs.

When we say that we do not understand the changes that society is imposing on us, nor the need to equip ourselves with the necessary skills to be an active part of change, we are on the side of the problem and with our back to the future.

The importance of continuous vocational training and the added value of work

Rui Mendes – Sociologist - President of FTDC Évora

Susana Freitas – Architect and entrepreneur

Jozef Mozolewski – Vice-resident of the EZA

The different opinions on the importance of continuing vocational education and training in terms of the added value of work left common traces in the various education systems. Reforms are often implemented but only partially, since one thinks of different layers and not of the overall problem, and thus the problems are dealt with in a horizontal and vertical way. There are several similarities between some countries, the case of Poland and Portugal for example, and that is why there must be a constant exchange of knowledge between them and the other countries of the Union. The competences must be brought together, taking into account the particularities of each case, but at the same time they must be treated equally in order to create the same problems in different places.

This century has brought with it a number of approaches to industrial relations between the various actors. If, on the one hand, countries are looking for a model that is better suited to their objectives, there are others that are a little less advanced in terms of their rights and obligations.

Employees have been working longer and longer, but in return have not been given a stronger contractual position, legal position or security for the future. If the same profession for life has been an illusion over the last two decades, the passing, the precarious and change are becoming more and more widespread. The market has changed, it is increasingly subject to structural changes in terms of supply and high demand.

The new models for industrial relations are a current and consolidated reality. One is looking for different instrumental paradigms that should have the same effect. We are looking for the social balance that will allow the employee to maintain his or her important role, whether he or she occupies the role of employer/businessman or employee.

The paradigmatic and ideological component remains fundamentally important in defining the paths to be followed, by proposing models to respond to the globalised era, which also brings new concepts, particularly with regard to the progressive digitisation of work tools.

Among other things, Josef Mozolewski expressed this concern about the differences between the labour markets of the various countries; the contributions of the various actors, the information and awareness raising of workers, the moderation of liberal expansionism, the need for compromise in response to the social challenges of the global, digital era.

Economic Growth/Professional Requirements: Balance between the acquired knowledge and the knowledge necessary for the new world of work

Alda Barbosa – Head of the Amarante Employment Agency

Pedro Ferreira da Cunha – President of the Amarante Business Association

Alírio Costa – Executive Secretary/CIM (Comunidade Intermunicipal - Community between Communities) Tâmega e Sousa

In terms of economic growth/occupational requirements: The balance between the knowledge acquired and the knowledge necessary for the new world of work was marked by different opinions, but had a common guide, that of the importance of specialised sectoral training, this as the means to unlock the potential of the economy and as an added value for the different areas of employability.

The training of young people and adults, both employed and unemployed workers, all of them have a place in the world of work and all contribute together to the common good.

We must try to minimise the gap that often exists between education systems, education and training, which is important for the world of work. The various entities must sit around a table in order to clarify the needs of the supply in order to better anticipate the requirements of the labour market in the medium and long term.

More generally, here in this last panel, we are forced to look at the need to clarify concepts, new standards and models of behaviour, to see the future in a critical, daring and innovative way - as it is, as we think it is and as it is currently designed.

The compelling changes in the organisation and management of the companies, together with the professional changes, show us a profile of the employee that clearly stands out from that known from the past. The adaptability of each individual, the opening up of new opportunities, the ability to rethink are forms that are always present, in any case, and that correspond to the new paradigms in the labour market. In addition to this series of changes, there are the new professions, and at the same time the professions that used to be important have simply disappeared.

All these factors count when measuring sustainable economic growth, which is inextricably linked to knowledge, skills, value assessment, education and training.

Happiness at work is an increasingly important factor and determines whether the economy continues to grow in a sustainable manner. Human resources must always be motivated and, in this world of insecurity, workers must trust in the future and feel secure when they think of it.

Work must be a means of individual and social self-realization, and, since we are not all equal, everyone must find their own way of motivating themselves and getting their reward, provided they then feel self-realized.

There are no formulas, there are no better ways, there are value assessment processes and processes of strengthening and consolidating knowledge.

Work must be a factor of social integration, a factor of self-realisation and a means of achieving prosperity and personal and social satisfaction.

Vocational education and the advantages of vocational integration

A success story: visit to a spa/health resort

João Cardoso – EPALC (Amarante Vocational School) – Portugal

During this international seminar, we wanted to find out more about the reforms implemented in the education systems.

An attempt was made on site to get to know the labour market, through visits by some companies that have entered into partnerships with schools to support vocational training courses, and which today employ these young people as workers.

A visit to this thermal spa has achieved this goal.

We know that throughout Europe there is a lack of balance between the qualifications provided by education systems and the training and skills required by the labour market.

But we also know that it is possible to overcome this lack of congruence if the education system is in line with market requirements and if the training programmes/curricula themselves are developed by the school, taking into account the professional profile that companies/the labour market need/needs.

The objective of congruence between training and labour market requirements is essential to train skilled workers, workers needed by the labour market, and we can therefore see a fall in the unemployment rate, both in the youth sector and in general.

The visit to this vocational training institution allows us to consider this situation confirmed.

When the co-president of EZA, Piergiorgio Sciacqua, spoke at the opening session about dignified work, about the need to develop a common model that can serve the various players in labour issues, workers, employers and political decision-makers, and also about the obligation to develop a training and education plan, to exchange and share knowledge, with the aim of creating more suitable instruments, and also about the different professions, the participation of employees in the economy and this also in all other social areas, calling for more democracy in companies and institutions, he also underlined the insight that we are on the way of transition, a constant process of change of habits and paradigms and this on a global level, Fernando Moura e Silva, President of FIDESTRA, pointed the following out in the closing session:

“I have no solutions to offer, I can only make contributions. But I do know one thing: whoever has better knowledge and better vocational training is better equipped to cope with the many adversities that globalisation and new technologies will continue to bring to the markets and will continue to do so in the future.”

He also referred to the following consideration, which he called the pentaconflict of the future:

Globalisation / Competitiveness - new technologies

Exclusion and education

Wealth / Income / Sustainable development of the welfare state

Geographic mobility and terrorist fundamentalism

Family and poverty

Summary

The seminar was intended to be a place for the exchange of good practices in the field of "vocational training" and to contribute to the consolidation of vocational training at European level, which has been carefully adapted to the realities and requirements of the labour market in Europe, particularly with regard to the labour market as a means of combating youth unemployment.

Statistical reality tells us that:

  • throughout Europe, young adults are the most qualified people, compared to previous generations, and yet they find themselves facing great difficulties in their profession from this point of view.
  • ¼ of young people in the European Union have no jobs;
  • in 11 of the last 20 years, youth unemployment has been higher than or equal to 20%.

In view of these facts, it is necessary to adopt active policies in the field of employment aimed at combating youth unemployment and to encourage the exchange of successful experiences, within the framework of dual education/training, in the various European countries, in order to quantify the integration of young people into the labour market, which is the result of this vocational training.

The exchange of good practices, which have already been implemented and as a result of which we are familiar with the working life and life of companies with young workers who have emerged from vocational education, occupy a central position within the organisations of the EZA network, because in this way the multiplier effect of information is achieved, also through the hosting of such seminars.

With regard to the conclusions, this important demand should also be mentioned:

  • to establish a particularly close link with companies in order to find answers to their needs in the field of education and to train and qualify people for the profession - both young and adult job seekers.

This is a demand that FIDESTRA is responding to by continuing to work on this issue, aware that training for a successful professional life is one of the greatest challenges facing today's employee organisations.

After all, the best social and employment protection they can offer a worker is to fight and help to ensure that the adoption of the tools that enable the worker to cope with the adversities of unemployment is successfully implemented.

These are tools that are acquired through appropriate training or with regard to the requirements of the labour market.

 

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