Investing in new skills, competences and knowledge
In these times of austerity measures, SOLIDAR calls for the Commission’s “Agenda for New Skills and Jobs” to be used in a more prominent manner as a way out of the crisis, in which skills, competences and knowledge learnt through non-formal and informal learning are better recognised.
SOLIDAR shares the Commission’s objective of bringing people into employment by investing in the development of skills, competences and knowledge - which includes investing sufficient means - but stresses that social, health and education services and infrastructures, providing personal professional and vocational training, non-formal and informal learning, counselling and careers guidance, are crucial to empower people to participate fully in society. In addition, to reduce poverty and social exclusion and promote social cohesion, it is essential that everyone has equal access to quality ‘public’ education and training, without distinction between cultural or social origin.
In SOLIDAR’s view, more attention must be given to non-formal and informal adult education and training (prior learning) and to specific educational provisions for socio-economically vulnerable groups such as working poor, young people, migrants, women etc.
In this respect, it is essential that skills, competences and knowledge acquired through non-formal and informal learning are recognised as part of the strategy to bridge education ‘gaps’ and hence contribute to increasing people’s life opportunities. New legal structures and policy frameworks have to be developed, in full cooperation with the social partners, which take into consideration both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills. This helps reduce the risk of unemployment for those that have skills but not the paper qualifications and avoids the repetition of learning which has already been done. But above all it is about guaranteeing to individuals the chance to fully participate in society and play an active role in it; this increases people’s life opportunities.
SOLIDAR’s members are workers’ education associations, trade union education institutes and popular education movements; powerful actors promoting learning for adults on local and national level and working together for socially cohesive Europe. To give examples ABF (Sweden) organised in 2009 alone over 90,000 study circles for more than 750,000 people; AUSER (Italy) has 260,000 members with 40,000 volunteers providing continuous learning through the Università Popolare (UNIAUSER); DGB Bildungswerk (Germany) has 30 years of experience in vocational training to trade unionists; and La Ligue de l'Enseignement has been working for over 140 years for everyone to be able to access education, encouraging popular education and permanent education all over France.