Chapter 5. Strengthening the governance of adult learning

The chapter presents diagnostic evidence on the governance of adult learning in Flanders, the factors that affect the governance of adult learning and specific policies and practices to strengthen the governance of adult learning. Flanders can strengthen its adult learning governance by taking action in four areas. These are: 1) developing a long-term vision for adult learning; 2) promoting a whole-of-government approach to adult learning; 3) using networks to promote collaboration between government and stakeholders at the local level; 4) consolidating information sources on adult learning for greater transparency.

    

Introduction

Why the governance of adult learning matters

Governance refers to the processes by which responsibilities are distributed and decisions made and implemented through collaboration1 between national government, sub-national governments and stakeholders (OECD, Forthcoming[1]). Governance is particularly important for the effective functioning of the adult learning system, which concerns a number of bodies within the public administration whose policies and actions are inherently intertwined and require co-ordination at both the vertical (across ministries) and horizontal (across levels of government) dimensions. Strong governance helps to minimise policy gaps and overlaps, improve the likelihood of successful policy implantation, leverage the strengths of all involved bodies and stakeholders, and generate policy complementarities. Without the effective governance of adult learning there is a risk of wasting collective efforts and investments, and, most importantly, not serving well the needs of all adult learners.

The governance of adult learning in Flanders is complex. While the federal government is responsible for the legal framework for certain kinds of adult learning policies, the regional and community level, which in Flanders is represented by the same government, is responsible for most labour market and education policies. Several departments in the Flemish government have some responsibility for the planning and delivery of adult learning, including: Education and Training; Work and Social Economy; Culture, Youth & Media, and Sports; and Finance and Budget. In addition to government departments and agencies, many stakeholders have an important influence on participation and success in adult learning. This includes sectoral training providers, employers, unions and academics. It is also critical to engage the adult learners themselves and place them at the centre of policy design.

The governance of adult learning is a priority for Flanders. The Flemish government made clear in their Vision 2050 strategy that a whole-of-government approach involving all relevant ministries and levels of government, as well as the engagement of social partners, will be key in making this vision a reality. Adult learning is part of one of the seven critical transitions featured in this document (Vlaamse Regering, 2017[2]).

Overview of chapter

This chapter presents available data and evidence on the governance of adult learning in Flanders and discusses the factors that affect the quality of governance. It explores relevant generic policies and practices to make the governance of adult learning more effective, existing specific policies and practices of governance of adult learning in Flanders, and policies and practices from other countries that could be of interest for Flanders. The chapter concludes with recommendations of how to improve the governance of adult learning.

Governance of adult learning in Flanders

This section assesses the quality of adult learning governance in Flanders and provides an overview of the roles of different levels of government. It also examines the role of key stakeholders.

There are a range of actors involved in adult learning in Flanders

Responsibilities for adult learning are dispersed across the government. Flanders is part of the Federal State of Belgium, which divides policy competences among the federal level, the regions (i.e. Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels) and the communities (i.e. Dutch-speaking, French-speaking and German-speaking). Provinces, cities and municipalities implement mostly federal and regional decisions. While the powers exercised by each level are exclusive to each level, there are some thematic overlaps. For example, in adult learning policy, the federal government is responsible for the legislative framework affecting adult learning, but community government oversees the implementation of adult learning policies and related issues, such as civic integration. Regional government is responsible for the implementation of active labour market policies, which constitute an important part of the adult learning system. Provinces and municipalities can also implement local initiatives that relate to local education, labour market and social welfare issues (OECD, 2015[3]).

Similar to compulsory education, adult education programmes (such as Centres for Adult Education, CAE) are organised within three educational networks. The first is at the provincial and local level, where an umbrella organisation of provincial authorities (POV, Provinciaal Onderwijs Vlaanderen) co-ordinates CAE in the provinces of Eastern Flanders, Antwerp and Limbourg; in parallel, an umbrella organisation of local authorities (OVSG, Onderwijskoepel voor steden en gemeenten) co-ordinates CAE in the cities of Antwerp, Bruges, and Ghent (Flanders, 2018[4]). The second educational network is under the Catholic Church, where CAEs are publicly financed, but privately managed. The third educational network is overseen by the “Go! Education of the Flemish Community” (GO! onderwijs van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap) body, which works independently from the Flemish Department of Education and is also publicly financed. Overlapping responsibilities makes the governance of adult learning a complex space. In addition, there are private providers of adult education, which are explained later. Given the complexity of how powers overlap and are distributed, effective governance arrangements are especially important in Flanders.

Different departments play a role in adult learning policy in Flanders. There are 11 policy domains in the Flemish government, which, with the formation of each new government, are distributed as portfolios across nine minister positions. Each policy domain has a corresponding department. Since the composition of the portfolio under each minister can change with each new government, it is custom not to refer to “ministries”, but rather to the policy domains or departments. There are a number of departments responsible for providing adult learning opportunities (Table 5.1). The main ones are the Department of Education and Training and the Department of Work and Social Economy. To a lesser extent, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Department of Culture, Youth, and Media are also involved (Vlaams Ministerie van Onderwijs en Vorming, 2008[5]). In addition, the Department of Finance and Budget can determine the budget available for adult learning.

Table 5.1. Departments and their roles in providing adult learning opportunities

Department

Adult Learning Programme

Department of Education and Training

  • Adult Basic Education

  • Part-time artistic education (Deeltijds Kunstonderwijs – DKO)

Department of Work and Social Economy

  • Vocational education for jobseekers and employees (Public Employment service – VDAB)

  • Entrepreneurial Training (Flemish Agency for Entrepreneurial Training – SYNTRA)

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

  • Training in agriculture

Department of Culture, Youth, and Media

  • Socio-cultural adult work

Source: Vlaams Ministerie van Onderwijs en Vorming (2008[5]), National report on the Development and State of Art of Adult Learning and Education, http://uil.unesco.org/fileadmin/multimedia/uil/confintea/pdf/National_Reports/Europe%20-%20North%20America/Belgium_Flemish_Community.pdf.

Stakeholders play an important role in adult learning policy in Flanders. The government cannot provide adult learning opportunities alone. Since a significant share of adult learning takes place in the workplace, employers, unions and sectoral training providers are important partners. Private education providers also provide adult learning courses (Flanders, 2018[4]). Academics who conduct research on adult learning policies are an important voice and can generate evidence for policy design. The role these diverse stakeholders play varies, as does their degree of involvement (e.g. funding, implementation, information). It is the challenge of governance to foster collaboration among these diverse actors who have different interests.

There are two independent advisory councils (Box 5.1) that exert a strong influence on the government’s approach to adult learning policy. The Flemish Education Council (VLOR, Vlaamse Onderwijsraad) provides the Department of Education and Training with advice on all preliminary decrees related to educational matters. VLOR has different councils for different levels of education, including one for lifelong and life-wide learning. Each council is composed of a wide range of stakeholder representatives (e.g. students, socio-cultural organisations, principals, VDAB, SYNTRA). The second advisory council is the Flanders Social and Economic Council (SERV, Sociaal-Economische Raad van Vlaanderen), which negotiates agreements, conducts research, drafts reports and provides advice to the Flemish government a wide range of policy issues, including adult learning. SERV is composed of representatives of social partners (employers, unions). While the advice of these councils is non-binding, they have considerable influence on policy decisions.

Box 5.1. Practice examples from Flanders: VLOR, VESOC and SERV

Flanders – Flemish Education Council (VLOR)

The Flemish Education Council (Vlaamse Onderwijsraad, VLOR) is a strategic advisory council for education and training policy of the Flemish Community that provides advice on matters of education. VLOR can also provide practical implementation support to new government educational initiatives. It also functions as a knowledge centre for education and conducts analysis on topics such as adult learning. There is a general council and a council for each of the four levels of education: primary, secondary, higher and adult learning. Additional commissions deal with specific themes, for example: vocational education and training, adult learning, special needs education, guidance, and counselling. In total, several hundred people are members of one of the councils, commissions or working groups (Flanders, 2018[4]).

Flanders – VESOC and SERV

The Flemish Economic Social Consultative Committee (VESOC, Vlaams Economisch Sociaal Overlegcomité) and the Social-Economic Council of Flanders (SERV, Sociaal-Economische Raad van Vlaanderen) are consultation and advisory bodies. SERV is the advisory board for Flanders on work, economy, energy, education and other general policy issues as well as budget. In the SERV, the social partners consult, negotiate and conclude agreements with each other, e.g. the agreement and action plan on workable work. The SERV has a research department, the Stichting Innovatie & Arbeid, which carries out research about the labour market, innovation, careers, workable work at the request of the social partner. It also organises the secretariat of VESOC (high level dialogue between social partners and the Flemish government) and the VESOC Working group. It provides an ongoing forum for policy debate between social partners and the government (Flanders, 2018[4]). This can result in official agreements, like the recent agreement on the reform of training incentives (Vlaamse Regering and SERV, 2017[6]).

Sources: Flanders (2018[4]), OECD Skills Strategy for Flanders Questionnaire; Vlaamse Regering and SERV (2017[6]), Agreement between the Flemish government and the Flemish social partners – Reform of training incentives for employees, www.serv.be/serv/publicatie/vesoc-akkoord-opleiding

Indicators on governance strength paint a mixed picture

There is room for improvement in executive capacity. Executive capacity can be broken down into a number of indicators (Figure 5.1). Overall, Belgium (including Flanders) ranks higher than the OECD average in interministerial co-ordination and strategic capacity. In Flanders, this may be explained by the many different committees and councils and the strategic plans, such as Vision 2050. However, Belgium falls slightly below the OECD average in certain aspects of executive capacity, including implementation, adaptability, societal consultation and policy communication. It performs particularly poorly in organisational reform and using evidence-based instruments (Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2017[7]).

Figure 5.1. Sustainable governance indicators
Executive Capacity
picture

Note: The following definitions are used:

Evidence-based instruments: government applying regulatory impact analysis; organisational reform: government monitoring own institutional arrangements and reforming them if necessary; policy communication: government co-ordinating policy communication to ensure statements are aligned with government strategy; societal consultation: government consulting with economic and social actors in the course of policy preparation; strategic capacity: government decision-making backed by strategic planning and the advice of scholars; adaptability: government co-operating with other states, while adapting to new developments at home; implementation: government implementing policies effectively; interministerial co-ordination: co-ordinating government decision-making across institutional lines

Source: Bertelsmann Stiftung (2017[7]), Sustainable Governance Indicators, www.sgi-network.org/2017/

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933891946

Interministerial co-ordination is ranked relatively highly in Belgium. Interministerial co-ordination occurs at the highest level of ministers via the weekly council of ministers, which is composed of 14 line ministers and the prime minister. In Flanders, a council of 8 line ministers and the minister-president also meet weekly. The councils debate every policy proposal and to what extent it is in line with the coalition parties’ agenda. Prior to being discussed in the council of ministers, each policy proposal is discussed through formal and informal inter-cabinet meetings, where experts and senior officials of the relevant ministries discuss the main content. Co-ordination seems to work well, as long as the proposals are in line with the government agreement signed when the government forms. However, it is important to note that ministers are nominated by party presidents, after having negotiated how to divide control over the different policy domains, and not the prime minister. This means, in practice, that ministers have a strong incentive to promote their own specific party perspectives, rather than the government’s, which can lead to some friction (Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2017[7]).

Implementation of policies in Belgium is slightly below the OECD average. This could be partly due to Belgium’s complex governance system, which has a diverse party landscape and a government usually composed of a coalition of parties at the federal and regional level. The capacity to co-ordinate across levels of government is facilitated when the composition of coalitions at the federal and regional level overlaps. This is particularly relevant when approval is needed across levels of government for a policy proposal to proceed. Party discipline tends to be strong and party presidents can enforce co-ordination across government levels when the same parties are in power. The federal government must have the same number of Dutch- and French-speaking ministers (Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2017[7]).

Regional and federal ministers meet to discuss issues that affect them both at inter-federal councils, however, these meetings happen on an ad hoc basis and are largely political. For each policy domain, regional ministries collaborate with federal agencies when there is a policy overlap. For example, jobseekers who want to study to be nurses can do so while retaining their unemployment benefits. Since these benefits are paid by a federal agency, the regional ministry would have to negotiate this with the federal ministry. However, there are some challenges. For example, the Flemish government has a labour market activation policy, werkplekleren, which includes individual vocational training (IBO, individuele beroepsopleidingen). The employer's contribution is based on the future salary of the trainee. The wages are divided into five tranches. Depending on the tranche, the employer will pay a fixed monthly amount to VDAB. KIBO (IBO for vulnerable groups in the labour market) is now completely free for the employer. IBO is calculated as the difference between the normal salary and the unemployment benefit that the trainee receives currently. If the trainee is entitled to additional compensation, VDAB will not reclaim this from the employer. Since September 2018, every trainee receives the same amount during training. The training is free for every jobseeker. The costs for travel or childcare are reimbursed by VDAB. Second principle: compensation for the training effort of the trainee. Third principle: the income of the trainee is replenished to 80% of the guaranteed average minimum monthly income.

Policy communication is relatively low in Belgium. With a broad coalition government at the federal and regional level, it can be complicated to have coherent policy communication. Citizens often face challenges in finding government information. This is partly due to the complex multilevel governance structure and challenges in aggregating information across federal, regional/community, provincial and local levels, and then making it publicly available (Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2017[7]).

Societal consultation in Belgium is around average. In general, there is a tradition of stakeholder engagement, with specific consultative bodies (e.g. SERV, VLOR) facilitating such processes. However, the current government has found it challenging to engage some stakeholders (e.g. trade unions) in reform efforts in unemployment, pensions and taxes (Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2017[7]). Stakeholder engagement in developing regulations is around the OECD average and falls behind other countries such as Great Britain, Estonia and Canada (Figure 5.2). While the methodologies of stakeholder engagement (e.g. minimum periods for consultation) and systematic adoption (e.g. engaging stakeholders in early and later stages) of stakeholder engagement are relatively widespread in Belgium, oversight (e.g. monitor and evaluation of stakeholder engagement) and transparency (e.g. reaching the widest spectrum of stakeholders) of stakeholder engagement can be improved (OECD, 2017[8]). Stakeholders during the OECD Diagnostic Workshop in May 2018 mentioned that vulnerable groups, those who are least likely to participate in adult learning, are often not sufficiently engaged in the policy design of adult learning: adult learning programmes are designed for them rather than with them. Placing the learner back at the centre of adult learning policy design emerged one of the key themes for Flanders to focus on (Flanders, 2018[9]).

Figure 5.2. Stakeholder engagement in developing regulations, 2014
picture

Note: Systematic adoption: investigates if there are formal requirements for stakeholder engagement and to what extent stakeholders are engaged in practice both in the early and in the later stages of the regulation-making process; Methodology looks at methods and tools used for stakeholder engagement, including minimum periods for consultations and the use of interactive websites and social media tools, and examines the existence of guidance documents for stakeholder engagement; Transparency looks at the extent to which the processes of stakeholder engagement are made open to the widest spectrum of stakeholders and how and if stakeholders’ views and comments are taken into account; Oversight and quality control measures whether there are mechanisms in place to externally control the quality of stakeholder engagement practices, to monitor stakeholder engagement and whether evaluations are made publicly available.

Source: OECD (2015[10]), Indicators of regulatory Policy and Governance (iREG), www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/indicators-regulatory-policy-and-governance.htm.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933891965

Open government data is below average. Based on the OECD Survey on Open Government Data in 2016 collecting information about current practices and procedures regarding open government data from chief information officers across OECD countries, Belgium is doing relatively well in data availability, which means that a significant amount of information is made available by default and that stakeholders are engaged for the data release (Figure 5.3). Belgium could improve in increasing the accessibility of its government data, so that the data exist in disaggregated and electronic form as well as stakeholders are engaged to ensure the quality and completeness of the data. Another area for improvement is the government support for the re-use of the data. This refers to data initiatives and partnerships (e.g. hackathons and co-creation events), data literacy programmes in government (e.g. training and information sessions for civil servants), and monitoring impact (economic and social impact of open data; open data impact on public sector government) (OECD, 2017[8]).

Figure 5.3. Open-Useful-Reusable Government Data Index (OURdata), 2017
picture

Note: Data availability: making data openly available by default, stakeholder engagement for data release, implementation; Data accessibility: content of the unrestricted access to data policy, stakeholder engagement for data quality and completeness, implementation; Government support to the re-use of data: data initiatives and partnerships, data literacy programmes in government, monitoring impact.

Source: OECD (2017[8]), Governance at a Glance, table 10.11, https://doi.org/10.1787/gov_glance-2017-en

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933891984

Factors determining the quality of adult learning governance

This section presents some governance gaps that can undermine effective collaboration across levels of government, between departments and with stakeholders in Flanders.

A common vision. When priorities and perspectives on the same policy challenge vastly differ across government and stakeholders, it makes collaboration and the alignment of policy responses complicated. When a vision is drafted with all relevant parties, it creates ownership and commitment to work together towards implementing the vision. A vision should include clear goals, spell out the values, and identify the actions to be taken. It should also allocate responsibilities to all relevant stakeholders.

Level of trust between institutions. A lack of trust between institutions undermines collaboration. Trust is needed between the government and stakeholders, as well as between different stakeholders. Negative past experiences of stakeholders interacting with government, for example government unresponsiveness to stakeholder demands, can make stakeholders less willing to engage. Government may lack trust in stakeholders’ feedback on policy design when they make unsustainable and unrealistic demands that primarily serve their own interests.

Time for collaboration and engagement. Collaboration across institutions takes time, whether within government, between government and stakeholders, or among stakeholders themselves. It requires regular engagement to maintain the dialogue and have a constructive feedback loop. Through this process, institutions can establish a shared narrative working together on a common goal, where every actor has a specific role to play and contributions to make.

Resources and capacity for collaboration. Additional success factors for stronger collaboration are the individuals at the frontline of collaboration efforts. The level of support they receive could impact their effectiveness. A clear mandate and back-up from leadership enable and empower collaboration efforts. Staff members should also be given the time and financial resources needed (Charbit and Michalun, 2009[11]). Efforts should be publicly recognised and adequately appreciated in performance reviews and when considering promotions. Collaboration requires skills and may thus require relevant staff to be trained in how to engage in effective collaboration. Training could include aspects such as managing networks, negotiations and conflict resolutions. There may also be the need to raise awareness about the benefits of increased collaboration, which include: higher probability of successful implementation of policies, better serving end users, minimising a waste of resources through overlaps, and filling gaps.

Institutional mechanisms for collaboration. Institutional bodies can also foster collaboration. Mechanisms employed in other countries include: incentivising horizontal and vertical collaboration within government through performance measurement that takes into consideration the amount of collaboration, and introducing co-ordinating bodies such as groups, committee, and councils. Other possible mechanisms include legal instruments, such as legislation, regulation, constitutional change, contracts, agreements, and pacts. A more radical approach would be sharing a budget for adult learning policy, or even merging the parts of government that deal with the same issue. As a backdrop to this there needs to be a long-term vision that goes beyond short-term political considerations and is shared across government.

Information sharing across institutions. An integrated information system supports collaboration across institutions to align policies and ensure coherence and complementarity. Such systems collect and disseminate information so that policy makers and stakeholders have accurate, timely and tailored information to identify where there are gaps, duplications and areas for collaboration.

Policies and practices to improve governance of adult learning

Strengthening the governance of adult learning is possible through relevant policies and practices, which are discussed here and presented in the following section. This section is based on the input from the stakeholder workshops, bilateral meetings, site visits and OECD analysis of international and national data sources and literature. Stakeholder perspectives on specific recommendations are indicated where they appear.

During the two OECD Skills Strategy workshops in May and September 2018, stakeholders in the groups assigned to the topic of the governance of adult education discussed a wide range of issues and proposed recommendations. The OECD has carefully considered each of the perspectives and recommendations and incorporated them, as much as possible in the following section. However, due to the large number of ideas and in order to go in-depth and provide concrete and elaborated recommendations not all could be featured here. An overview of all the ideas that Flanders may wish to consider in the future can be found in Annex A.

Develop a long-term vision for adult learning

A long-term vision for adult learning that is shared across government and stakeholders would strengthen policy alignment and collaboration in adult learning. Only with a shared vision can there be shared commitment and ownership. A shared vision would provide a common language and clarity about the respective responsibilities of involved parties, and make the successful implementation of policies more likely.

The need for a horizontal strategy across policy portfolios to strengthen collaboration towards a common vision in Flanders is widely known (Baert, 2014[12]). Vision 2050 aims to be a horizontal strategy that brings together different policy domains to foster collaboration. However, even here the various policy domains are still presented separately, with each having its own vision (Vansteenkiste et al., 2018[13]). A number of long-term visions and strategies (e.g. spearhead cluster strategies, Box 5.2) exist for specific clusters, but Flanders currently lacks a comprehensive vision for adult learning.

Stakeholders in the OECD Skills Strategy workshops recommended launching a process to develop such a vision. The stakeholders who participate in such a process would need to have sufficient mandate to make commitments. All relevant sectors should participate, and the government could initiate the process by setting a date and location for stakeholders to meet and engage for this purpose. It would be important to have an independent interlocutor who could facilitate such a meeting and be the single contact point between government and stakeholders for efficient communication. There was even a suggestion of setting up a dedicated agency to fulfil this responsibility.

This vision for adult learning should be aligned with Flanders’ overarching Vision 2050. While one of the seven transition areas in Vision 2050 focuses on adult learning, it should also be explicitly referred to in the other six transition areas, since adequate human resources are needed to implement these transitions. The vision for adult learning should also be consistent with Flanders’ ambitious agenda to implement the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030, which features specific targets for adult learning. These targets include: adult learning for sustainable employability; training courses provided outside regular education and aimed at both lifelong and life-wide learning that offer a solid foundation of knowledge, skills and attitudes through which the mobility and social participation of learners can be promoted; three times as many adults following formally or non-formally education or training compared to 2015; recognition of competences and qualifications, regardless of where they were acquired; and all companies and organisations having a strategic policy on skills (Vlaamse Regering, 2018[14]).

If possible, Flanders’ vision for adult learning should also be consistent with the vision for adult learning at the European level. For example, the Europe 2020 strategy identified the goal of 15% of adults aged 25-64 participating in adult learning (European Commission, 2018[15]).

The government and stakeholders should establish a comprehensive and concrete shared vision for adult learning. It should include clear goals, spell out the values and identify the actions to be taken, as well as allocate responsibilities to all relevant stakeholders. The funding mechanisms to implement the vision would need to be determined and specify how the expenditures would be covered and by whom. There should also be agreement about performance indicator milestones. Measures should be included to track the implementation of the vision and to report progress publicly to ensure transparency and build trust. Moreover, target groups should be identified to ensure that the vision leaves no one behind. A pact between the government and stakeholders could help to ensure implementation of the vision. This pact could be modelled on the existing pact for training in Flanders (Box 5.2). In order to spread the vision and strengthen its implementation, “champions” could be identified from among the stakeholders to promote the vision and its wide adoption.

Box 5.2. Practice examples of developing a vision for adult learning

Flanders – Spearhead clusters

Spearhead clusters are partnerships between companies, knowledge institutions and the government that develop a long-term strategy to remain competitive. The cluster plays an important role in identifying skills needs. With support from the European Social Fund they can initiate skills prognosis exercises and co-operate with innovation and education partners. Each cluster negotiates a cluster pact, which can include initiatives to increase training. There are currently six clusters that have been approved by Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO): Catalisti (chemistry), Flux50 (energy), VIL (logistics), Flanders’ Food (agri-food), SIM (materials) and Blue (North Sea economic development).

Flanders – Training Pact

In July 2017, the Flemish government and Flemish social partners made a training pact (VESOC-akkoord) on the reform of training incentives for employees. The goal is to have an integrated training incentive policy with three instruments: Flemish educational leave, training vouchers and Flemish training credit. The training pact focuses on five building blocks:

  1. 1. From September 2019 only labour market oriented training (basic skills, job specific skills and general labour market skills) will be eligible for new training incentives. Furthermore, the new system will include new and flexible ways of learning, such as distance learning, blended learning and work-based learning.

  2. 2. The parties agreed to establish a single quality framework for the recognition of training providers.

  3. 3. The Flemish government will provide a digital easy-to-use Flemish training database for the “labour market relevant” training courses that are eligible for the training incentives.

  4. 4. There is a need for more transparency and uniformity in monitoring and evaluation. Each year, a report on the evaluation of recognised training (e.g. number of participants, labour market relevance) will be published. In order to make this possible, the training providers will need to provide the necessary information.

  5. 5. Transparency and digitalisation will be increased. The training pact wants to put an end to the current administrative complexity by digitalising the application process for training incentives.

The training pact forms the base of the decree on training incentives, proposed by the Flemish government in 2018.

Estonia – Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020

The Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 is the guiding instrument for education policy in the country, including funding. It covers the formal education system (early childhood education, primary, lower secondary, upper secondary, vocational schools, higher education institutions and other education institutions), as well as non-formal education (including on-the-job education and retraining) and informal learning in all its diversity. The development of the Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 involved the participation of a diverse group of stakeholders, including the Ministry of Education and Research, the Estonian Co-operation Assembly, the Estonian Education Forum, civil society organisations, and the Central Government of Estonia.

Ireland – Further Education and Training Strategy

The “Further Education and Training Strategy 2014 – 2019” (FET) sets the direction of adult learning and training for adult learners, employees and employers. The strategy establishes a comprehensive set of education and training programmes according to the needs of different adult populations. The implementation of FET is under the co-ordination of the Irish Further Education and Skills Service (SOLAS), and involves close collaboration between the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, employers, and education providers, among other stakeholders in the adult learning sector.

Sources: Flanders (2018[4]), OECD Skills Strategy for Flanders Questionnaire; Vlaamse Regering and SERV (2017[6]), Agreement between the Flemish government and the Flemish social partners – Reform of training incentives for employees, www.serv.be/serv/publicatie/vesoc-akkoord-opleiding; Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (2018[16]), Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020, www.hm.ee/en/estonian-lifelong-learning-strategy-2020; Irish Department of Education and Skills (2014[17]), Further Education and Training Strategy, www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Further-Education-and-Training-Strategy-2014-2019.pdf.

Promote a whole-of-government approach to adult learning

A whole-of-government approach is very relevant for adult learning policies due to their multidimensional nature. As described in this chapter, various departments and different levels of government are involved in the diverse aspects of the adult learning system, with adult learning taking place in both formal, non-formal and informal environments. This diversity can result in gaps and misalignments between objectives and policies of different actors, creating the need to abandon the traditional “silo” approach to policy making. It is essential for countries to promote co-ordination, co-operation and collaboration across different entities for the design and implementation of adult learning policies. This could eventually result in complementary policies that are mutually reinforcing, meaning that they generate better outcomes when combined and co-ordinated than when implemented separately or in piece-meal fashion (Braga, Joaquim and Martins, 2006[18]; Chang, Kaltani and Loayza, 2005[19]).

The division of tasks and responsibilities in Flanders and Belgium creates a complex system where different actors are involved in the field of adult learning, including all levels of government – from federal to local – and different departments of the Flemish government. To support a whole-of-government approach, the Flemish government has introduced various governance arrangements. Good examples of such arrangements are the Joint Policy Council and Management Committee that oversee the co-ordination of policies related to qualifications, skills and spending on education and training (Box 5.3), and a recently introduced Strategy for Inter-regional Mobility, where the Flemish and Walloon Ministers of Work agreed to formalise and reinforce the matching of vacancies in Flanders with jobseekers in Wallonia in 2019 (Muyters, 2018[21]).

However, there is not yet a holistic approach for the co-ordination of adult learning policies in Flanders (Vansteenkiste et al., 2018[13]). Within the Flemish government, adult learning is often seen as either a responsibility of the Department of Education and Training (e.g. adult learning provision) or the Department of Work and Social Economy (e.g. job-related training). Some policies (e.g. dual learning) are shared responsibilities between the two departments. However, governance arrangements fail to consistently align policy objectives across vertical levels of government. For example, in 2017, the federal government added the requirement that employers need to provide on average five training days, but this requirement did not mention or take into account various existing active labour market policies implemented by the Flemish government (for instance individual vocational training (IBO, Individuele Beroepsopleidingen) (VOKA, 2018[20]).

To promote a whole-of-government approach, the government should introduce arrangements to co-ordinate and clarify responsibilities of the different entities and actors. A government could put in place one co-ordinating institution that connects all relevant government actors to generate synergies between adult learning policies, as is the case with Skills Norway (Box 5.3). Co-ordination can also happen more informally, for instance through making adult learning a national priority to ensure continuous policy dialogue across different policy portfolios. Government officials with the right set of skills to ensure effective co-ordination are essential. For continued relevance, it is crucial that governance arrangements for the co-ordination of adult learning policies have tangible benefits; to achieve this, governments should continue to monitor and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of these arrangements.

The government should work towards promoting coherence and complementarity between levels of government in adult learning. Policies and reforms need to go in the same direction so that they can strengthen each other creating synergy effects. As this process takes time and resources, it is critical for all to agree upon the shared vision (as discussed previously), have a clear plan of how to move forward and have open and transparent communication to maintain trust and commitment. In addition, the government should provide training to equip government officials with the skills needed to engage effectively with one another. In particular, there may be challenges when there are strong diverging opinions across ministries and levels of government. How to negotiate those differences to reach a compromise that works for all involved, and then to move forward to implementation, requires skills.

Box 5.3. Practice examples of promoting a whole-of-government approach to adult learning

Flanders – Joint Policy Council and Management Committee

The Joint Policy Council (Beleidsraad) (including ministers) and Management Committee (Managementcomité) (not including ministers) on Education, Training and Work are two joint management committees of policy domains of Education & Training and of Work & Social Economy. They co-ordinate policies regarding qualification and development of competences, as well as spending for education and training. They also provide ministers of education and labour with advice on matters that overlap education and labour. The committee is composed of leading civil servants from the policy domain of education and training, and work and social economy. The council is composed of the committee and the relevant ministers. The council is a decision-making body.

Norway – Skills Norway

Norway has created a dedicated body for the oversight of skills and lifelong learning. Skills Norway is a national agency created by and tasked with the overall implementation of the 2017 – 2021 National Skills Strategy. It is part of the Ministry of Education and Research and has a commission from the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. Its role is to co-ordinate and oversee the priority areas highlighted in the National Skills Strategy, such as provision of basic skills training, upskilling for teachers and trainers, Norwegian and socio-cultural orientation for adult immigrants, and the recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning in Norway. As the national lifelong learning body, Skills Norway is also responsible for international co-operation and acts as national co-ordinator for the European Agenda for Adult Learning, representing the sector and implementing the agenda. The National Skills Strategy includes the establishment of a Future Skills Needs Committee, and Skills Norway also serves as the secretariat for this body. The committee is composed of a broad range of ministries, as well as social partners and researchers, and has a key role in co-ordinating between different ministries and stakeholder bodies.

Portugal – upskilling of government officials

Portugal has put in place a multidimensional governance framework of policies and institutions to improve the skills of civil servants. The Directorate-General for the Qualifications of Public Servants (Direção-Geral da Qualificação dos Trabalhadores em Funções Públicas, INA) is responsible for establishing a new model to co-ordinate and improve professional training in the public administration. This legislation involves important governance aspects, as it creates two new bodies with consultative and co-ordinating roles to strengthen professional training in the public service. These are the General Council for Professional Training (Conselho Geral de Formação Profissional, CGFP) and the Commission for Co-ordinating Vocational Education and Training (Comissão de Co-ordenação da Formação Profissional, CCFP). The CGFP is presided over by the minister in charge of public administration and includes the heads of relevant public services and agencies. Its role is to advise government on the definition and ongoing improvement of professional training in the civil service. The CCFP has a co-ordinating role and involves the heads of services responsible for training in the public service at the national, regional and local levels.

Ireland – National Skills Council

Ireland adopted a national skills strategy as part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2015. Within this framework, the country created a National Skills Council (NSC) to oversee research, advise on the prioritisation of identified skills needs, and secure the delivery of these needs. Membership of the council is a mix of private and public representatives. Three members are appointed from an enterprise/employer background, with one chairing the council. The chief executives of the main agencies active in higher education, vocational education and training (VET) and lifelong learning are also members, as well as representatives of the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The chairs of the council of presidents of the universities and institute of technologies are also invited to be members of the council. The National Council has absorbed the Expert Group of Future Skills Needs and has the function of advising on skills priorities. It also has a key role in orienting education and training providers towards labour market needs at the regional level.

Sources: Flanders (2018[4]), OECD Skills Strategy for Flanders Questionnaire; Dalbak, K. (2018[21]), Mandate of Official Norwegian Committee on Skill Needs | Kompetansebehovsutvalget, https://kompetansebehovsutvalget.no/mandate-of-official-norwegian-committee-on-skill-needs; INA (2016[22]), Avaliação do Impacto da Formação na Administração Pública: abordagem metodológica, www.ina.pt/index.php/component/docman/doc_download/1318-documento-avaliacao-de-impacto-da-formacao?Itemid=; Ireland Ministry for Education and Skills (2016[23]), Ireland's National Skills Strategy 2025, www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/pub_national_skills_strategy_2025.pdf.

Use networks to support collaboration between government and stakeholders at the local level

With so many different actors across government and stakeholders engaged in adult learning, it is important to clarify different roles and responsibilities so that everyone understands what everyone else is doing. Consultative bodies, such as VLOR, SERV and the Joint Policy Council and Management Committee (Box 5.4 below) that provide advice to the government from various stakeholder perspectives seem to be going in the right direction and, therefore, there is no apparent need for additional consultative bodies. However, stakeholders in these bodies should feel that they are co-ordinating policies in the form of equal partnerships (VLOR, 2016[24]).

While these consultative bodies include representatives of the major stakeholders, it may be important to go further and include end users, as frequently raised by participants in the OECD Skills Strategy workshops. In particular, policies that seek to target the marginalised (e.g. low-skilled, long-term unemployed, immigrants) often do not involve these groups as part of the conversation. However, including them directly in policy design and implementation is important to ensure effective policies. As discussed in Chapter 2, the needs and perspectives of the target group should be at the centre when designing the curriculum, adapting the pedagogy and planning the assessment. Their feedback about the programme effectiveness should also be continuously solicited during policy implementation in order to adjust quickly where needed. In Flanders, some existing initiatives manage to achieve this, such as the Strategic Literacy Plan 2017-2024 (see Table 1.1. in Chapter 1) introduced in 2017 that involved relevant stakeholders who participated in workshops and writing sessions in order to design the plan. Input was also solicited from people with low literacy skills through a survey of participants in the centres for adult basic education (CABE, Centra voor Basiseducatie). More of this type of stakeholder engagement is needed.

Adult learning takes place in the local context and local actors are often the most aware of the needs of adult learners. They should thus play an important role in implementing Flanders’ long-term vision for adult learning at the local level. Involving them is critical for impact and the coherence of adult learning policies, and makes better use of the limited available resources.

Currently, collaboration at the local level occurs mostly between local agencies. For example, VDAB has “city managers” who specifically co-ordinate public employment service activities with all local partners and stakeholders in the largest cities. Some policies aimed at the long-term unemployed focus on temporary work experience to help them update their skills and reacquaint themselves with the world of work. Some of these long-term unemployed will be on unemployment benefits and registered with the public employment service; however, others will be on social assistance and registered with local agencies for social welfare, which requires collaboration between local governments and local agencies for social welfare.

In Flanders, local perspectives are represented by the Association of Flemish Cities and Communities (VVSG, Vereniging Vlaamse Steden en Gemeenten). In educational matters, the umbrella organisations of the schools of Flemish cities and communities (OVSG, Onderwijskoepel van steden en gemeenten) and of the provinces (POV, Provinciaal Onderwijs Vlaanderen) represent those views. Collaboration in education occurs mainly through the OVSG and the POV.

There are also a number of decentralised initiatives. For example, the Regional Technological Centres (RTC) financed by the Flemish government promote collaboration and information exchange between education and the business community at the local level to support the 3rd stage of vocational and technical secondary schools. There are 5 RTCs, one in each Flemish province. RTCs facilitate agreements between schools and businesses about using infrastructure and equipment, adapting the curriculum to labour market needs and providing teacher training, among others. However, a challenge is reaching all VET schools and having them take up RTC offers. On the other hand, some VET schools rely too much on some RTC offers, which makes it difficult to replace existing actions with new and more innovative initiatives. Another initiative are the sectoral partnerships in dual learning where education providers and social partners discuss about workplaces for dual learning. There are currently 16 sectoral partnerships active in sectors ranging from the car to the food industry. Syntra participates in these sectoral partnerships and organises monthly meetings where the different aspects for dual learning are being discussed.

The government should consider supporting local community organisations to foster, host and co-ordinate local networks of stakeholders that work to improve adult learning. Government could provide funding for these networks and initiatives, with funding linked to relevant performance indicators on adult learning. Since adult learning providers are often fragmented, the government could select a single organisation that helps to co-ordinate the different initiatives. The government could pilot innovative approaches to adult learning in two or three local areas for a certain amount of time. These approaches could then be evaluated before expanding the model and embedding them in national policy plans and objectives. Such initiatives have existed before, such as EDUFORA, which ran from 1999 to March 2003 and then merged into a more permanent and centrally managed Service Information Training and Alignment (Dienst Informatie Vorming en Afstemming, DIVA) structure with a similar objective (which also no longer exists). These were former consortia of adult education (2007-2015). There are currently no comparable local alternatives specifically aimed at adult learning. Since collaboration across sectors is often weak, the government could play a more active role in fostering collaboration across sectors, similar to the role it plays within a sector through the sector covenants (Box 5.4) (Baert, 2014[12]).

Box 5.4. Practice examples of supporting collaboration between government and stakeholders

Flanders - Sector covenants

Sector covenants are collaboration agreements between sectors and the Government of Flanders (e.g. Minister of Work, Minister of Education). They provide a framework that commits all social partners of a sector to targets in the fields of: 1) increasing diversity; 2) synchronisation of education and labour; and 3) lifelong learning. When the Flemish government approves sectoral covenants, the sector receives funding for the recruitment of sectoral consultants who assist social partners in the implementation of their sectoral plan. The number of sector consultants depends on the size of the sector. Sector covenants are agreements for two years. After each year, the industry provides a progress or final evaluation report to the Flemish government. The Flemish government monitors and evaluates all sector covenants annually. The covenants are negotiated between sectoral social partners and the government (e.g. Minister of Work and Social Economy; Minister of Education and Training). Other stakeholders such as VDAB, SYNTRA Flanders, VLOR and SERV are involved, but do not co-sign the agreement.

Germany

Against a background of promoting national policy priorities at the local level, The German federal government established the Learning Locally Programme (Lern vor Ort, LvO) in 2009. The aim of the programme was to support local governments to create sustainable network structures and develop capacities in educational monitoring, management and consulting. The programme ran from 2009 until 2014 and had a total budget of EUR 100 million, jointly financed by the federal government and the European Social Fund (ESF). In total, 75 districts and municipalities received funding, selected by a competitive process. Proposals were chosen based on how the local government would include local stakeholders and how it would implement the main goals of LvO. By adopting this competitive process for local governments, the LvO programme secured political commitment and sustainability of the structures afterwards. A structural innovation of the LvO programme was the requirement to involve philanthropic foundations, with the aim of increasing the involvement of civil society associations. As LvO was seen as a “learning programme”, the structures and processes were flexible enough to allow for changes and adaptations in the management of the programme after first experiences. The programme also contained an evaluation component that constantly monitored the evolution of LvO and gave feedback to localities and the central level.

Denmark

To ensure that local needs are adequately addressed, Denmark relies on local committees affiliated with local providers of VET. These include representatives of local employers and employees appointed by the national committees, and of students, staff and managers of institutions that provide instruction. These local committees have an active role in adjusting the curricula of programmes supplied by local providers, as well as the duty to maintain quality standards and ensure an adequate number of traineeship vacancies for students.

Sources: Flanders (2018[4]), OECD Skills Strategy for Flanders Questionnaire; Busemeyer and Vossiek (2015[25]), “Reforming education governance through local capacity-building: A case study of the ‘learning locally’ programme in Germany”, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5js6bhl2mxjg-en; Andersen and Kruse (2016) (2016[26]), Vocational education and training in Europe – Denmark, http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2016/2016_CR_DK.pdf.

Consolidate information sources on adult learning for greater transparency

When institutions responsible for adult learning do not sufficiently share information with one another, collaboration between them cannot thrive. Governments across all levels need to improve how they share information internally and with stakeholders when designing and implementing adult learning policy. Sharing information regarding objectives, capacities and needs would allow the other parties to identify common objectives and opportunities to generate synergies. This would also help to avoid policy gaps, so that no adult learner falls through the cracks.

There is a significant amount of informal exchange across departments in the Flemish government, which results in official positions and decisions in the joint management committees and policy councils. However, differing political views between responsible ministers or different stakeholders in each policy domain can be a constraint on collaboration. Some formal information sharing also exists, such as the annual school leaver report drafted by VDAB that uses information from the Department of Education and Training (VDAB, 2018[27]).

Information sharing between the government and stakeholders could be improved. There are many adult learning providers that could benefit from better information sharing, including: Agencies for Integration, Public Centres for Social Welfare (OCMWs), Centres for Adult Education, sectoral training funds, employers, professional organisations, VDAB and SYNTRA (VLOR, 2015[28]). Information shared could be about the provision of adult learning courses to allow individual institutions to clearly differentiate themselves from others. Currently, adult learning courses may appear the same, but may in fact aim for different learning outcomes, which is confusing to the individual adult learner who has to make a decision. Information about the quality of these courses within a comparable framework would allow learners to make informed decisions about which adult learning courses they would like to take. For the government, up-to-date, easily accessible and consolidated information on adult learning programmes, expenditures and outcomes would facilitate and improve adult learning policy design. In particular, information on adult learning quality through monitoring and evaluation results would allow the government to design policies to improve existing practices.

Information sharing between individual adult learning institutions could also be improved. For example, there is lack of information sharing between CABE and centres for adult education (CAE, Centra voor volwassenonderwijs) (VLOR, 2015[28]). Ideally, a low-literate adult who went through a CABE gaining some basic skills would be able to move to a CAE or other dual learning opportunity to continue to upgrade their skills and eventually find employment. However, this transition is still difficult and highlights the need for more collaboration and exchange of information. This is something that the government could co-ordinate and support through financial means.

Stakeholders at the Skills Strategy workshops emphasised the importance of sharing information on adult learning between institutions and end users. While a lot of work is going into crafting a vision and document like Vision 2050 for Flanders, they highlighted that not enough effort is being put into disseminating this vision with the public at large. If Flanders were to develop a long-term vision for adult learning as suggested above, it would be important to raise awareness about it through diverse communication channels to reach the different end users. Stakeholders also highlighted the need to have information available in a consolidated format on different adult learning opportunities, the quality of adult learning programmes and how to participate in them through the diverse incentive mechanisms (e.g. paid education leave). This information is currently dispersed and difficult to find. Having an online platform combined with guidance counselling for marginalised groups could help disseminate the information effectively (see Chapter 3).

Information sharing between diverse adult learning providers could be enhanced through a coherent quality assurance framework. This would also help make the programmes comparable and ensure quality across all providers. The Department of Education has created a common quality framework (Gemeenschappelijk kwaliteitskader, GKK) to assess the quality of training provided by institutions outside the formal education system (e.g. VDAB, SYNTRA, private organisations). A preliminary draft was approved by the Flemish government on 1 June 2018 and is based on the Flemish Qualification standards and in line with the European Qualification Framework. It is also related to the framework for the validation of acquired skills (erkenning van verworven competenties, EVC) to ensure that skills obtained within and outside formal education are recognised. The intention is to develop one central external supervisory body with representatives from all relevant policy domains to verify the quality of all professional qualifications. Regular quality inspection would ensure that the standards are being met and that the same curriculum is being followed for each qualification. Whether this is feasible remains to be seen.

Government should closely collaborate with all relevant stakeholders (e.g. VLOR, SERV, SYNTRA, education institutions, sectoral training providers) to establish a common knowledge and evidence base, which will inform continuous efforts to promote lifelong learning within Vision 2050. The introduction of a coherent quality assurance framework for adult learning is still work in progress, but a step in the right direction. Further efforts will be needed to ensure that stakeholders are aware of the framework, understand how to interpret what it means, and use it in practice. Moreover, the impact and effectiveness of adult learning policy measures should be assessed more systematically through monitoring and evaluation practices to continue to improve policy design and implementation (Box 5.5 provides an international example). Based on their research, academics could provide feedback on the soundness of the assessments. Findings should also be made widely accessible, so that stakeholders and end users can make informed decisions.

Box 5.5. Practice example of consolidating information sources on education

In recent years, Illinois state agencies responsible for economic and workforce development and education have come together to ensure stronger linkages between education and workforce data. Indiana and Maryland each have legislation establishing the membership and duties of governance councils for management of information systems. These bills aim to ensure that longitudinal data systems help answer policy questions that are important to stakeholders by requiring participation from stakeholders across the education and workforce spectrum.

Illinois

As part of efforts to strengthen data used to promote training in high-demand sectors and occupations, the office of the governor and seven state agencies teamed up to create the Illinois Longitudinal Data System (ILDS). This federated system matches data from multiple agencies for specific tasks, while keeping data stored in individual agency databases and leaving agencies to administer separate intake systems. Agencies with responsibility for initial and higher education, as well as for labour market outcomes, share data through the ILDS. Linked data sets can assist government and qualified third parties with performance management and reporting, research and analysis, and consumer information initiatives. The ILDS uses an identity resolution system at Northern Illinois University to match data and return information to agencies. To ensure privacy and security, ILDS aligns security protocols across agencies. ILDS also developed a standardised vetting process for external researchers to access data with agency approval.

Indiana

Indiana’s cross-agency council is legislatively mandated to oversee the state’s longitudinal data system, the Indiana Network of Knowledge (INK). Among those duties are: implementing a detailed data security plan; ensuring compliance with privacy laws; establishing INK’s research agenda; creating policies to respond to requests from state and local agencies, the general assembly, and the public; and developing public access to aggregate INK data. The governance committee must include representatives from the Department of Education, Department of Workforce Development, the Commission for Higher Education, private colleges and universities, and the business community.

Maryland

The Maryland Senate Bill 275 established the Governing Board of the Maryland Longitudinal Data System Center (MLDS). The board includes members representing kindergarten to 12th grade, higher education, and labour; five members appointed by the governor, one of whom must be a data systems expert; and three at-large positions filled by a workforce development professional, a teacher, and a parent. The board’s responsibilities include: providing general oversight and direction to MLDS; establishing its research agenda; approving the annual budget; ensuring adherence to relevant privacy laws; creating an annual report to the Governor and General Assembly; and setting policies for the approval of research requests from the legislature, state and local agencies, and the public. Since the bill’s passage, the Governing Board has emerged as a model for transparency. It holds public quarterly meetings, with agendas and minutes available on the MLDS website.

Sources: Leventoff, Wilson and Zinn (2016[29]), Data Policy Toolkit. Implementing the State Blueprint, www.workforcedqc.org; Peña (2017[30]), From Patchwork to Tapestry Collaborating to Maximize Data Utility, www.nationalskillscoalition.org/resources/publications/file/WDQC-Tapestry-Brief-final-web-compressed.pdf.

Summary of policy recommendations

Drawing on the evidence presented in this chapter, Flanders could consider the following recommendations to strengthen the governance of adult learning:

  • Establish a vision for adult learning that is comprehensive and concrete. The government and stakeholders should draft the vision together and include clear goals, spell out the values and identify the actions to be taken, allocating responsibilities to all relevant stakeholders. The funding mechanisms to implement the vision would need to be determined and specify how the expenditures would be covered and by whom. There should be agreement about performance indicators milestones. Measures should be included to track the implementation of the vision and to report progress publicly to ensure transparency and build trust. Moreover, target groups should be identified to ensure the vision leaves no one behind. A pact between the government and stakeholders could help to ensure implementation of the vision. This pact could be modelled on the existing pact for training in Flanders. In order to spread the vision and strengthen its implementation, “champions” could be identified from among the stakeholders to promote the vision and its wide adoption.

  • Promote coherence and complementarity between levels of government in adult learning. The government should ensure that policies and reforms go in the same direction that strengthen each other creating synergy effects. As this process takes time and resources, it is critical for all to agree upon the shared vision, have a clear plan of how to move forward and have an open and transparent communication to maintain trust and commitment. In addition, the government should provide training to equip government officials with the skills needed to engage effectively with one another. In particular, there may be challenges when there are strong diverging opinions across ministries and levels of government. How to negotiate those differences to reach a compromise that works for all involved and then to move forward to implementation takes skills.

  • Support local community organisations to foster, host and co-ordinate local networks of stakeholders that work to improve adult learning. The government could provide funding for these networks and initiatives with funding linked to relevant performance indicators. Since adult learning providers are often fragmented, the government could select a single organisation that helps to co-ordinate the different initiatives.

  • Establish a common knowledge and evidence base. The government should closely collaborate with all relevant stakeholders to have such a common knowledge and evidence base, which could inform continuous efforts of promoting lifelong learning within Vision 2050. Introducing a coherent quality assurance framework for adult learning is a step in the right direction. Further efforts will be needed to ensure that stakeholders are aware of the framework, understand how to interpret what it means and use it in practice. Moreover, the impact and effectiveness of adult learning policy measures should be assessed more systematically through monitoring and evaluation practices to continue to improve policy design and implementation. Based on their research, academics could provide feedback on the soundness of the assessments. Findings should also be made widely accessible, so that stakeholders and end users can make informed decisions.

References

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[12] Baert, H. (2014), Het leren van volwassenen: stimulansen voor het komende decennium [Adult learning: incentives for the next decade], Vlaamse Onderwijsraad (VLOR), http://www.vlor.be/blijvenleren.

[32] Belgium.be (2018), Over België: Overheid [About Belgium: Government], https://www.belgium.be/nl/over_belgie/overheid (accessed on 21 November 2018).

[31] Belgium.be (2018), The powers of the Regions, https://www.belgium.be/en/about_belgium/government/regions/competence (accessed on 26 November 2018).

[7] Bertelsmann Stiftung (2017), Sustainable Governance Indicators, http://www.sgi-network.org/2017/.

[18] Braga, J., M. Joaquim and O. Martins (2006), Growth, reform indicators and policy complementarities, http://www.nber.org/papers/w12544 (accessed on 20 November 2018).

[25] Busemeyer, M. and J. Vossiek (2015), “Reforming Education Governance Through Local Capacity-building: A Case Study of the “Learning Locally” Programme in Germany”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 113, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5js6bhl2mxjg-en.

[19] Chang, R., L. Kaltani and N. Loayza (2005), Openness can be good for growth: the role of policy complementarities, http://www.nber.org/papers/w11787 (accessed on 20 November 2018).

[11] Charbit, C. and M. Michalun (2009), “Mind the Gaps: Managing Mutual Dependence in Relations among Levels of Government”, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 14, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/221253707200.

[21] Dalbak, K. (2018), Mandate of Official Norwegian Committee on Skill Needs | Kompetansebehovsutvalget, https://kompetansebehovsutvalget.no/mandate-of-official-norwegian-committee-on-skill-needs/ (accessed on 26 November 2018).

[16] Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (2018), Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020, https://www.hm.ee/en/estonian-lifelong-learning-strategy-2020.

[15] European Commission (2018), Strategic framework – Education and Training 2020, http://ec.europa.eu/education/policy/strategic-framework_en.

[33] Eurydice (2015), Belgium, Flemish Community: Adult Education and Training, https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/fpfis/mwikis/eurydice/index.php/Belgium-Flemish-Community:Adult_Education_and_Training (accessed on 22 February 2018).

[9] Flanders (2018), OECD Skills Strategy Diagnostic Workshop - 15 May 2018.

[4] Flanders (2018), OECD Skills Strategy for Flanders Questionnaire.

[22] INA (2016), Avaliação do Impacto da Formação na Administração Pública: abordagem metodológica, INA, Lisboa.

[23] Ireland Ministry for Education and Skills (2016), Ireland's National Skills Strategy 2050, https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/pub_national_skills_strategy_2025.pdf.

[17] Irish Department of Education and Skills (2014), Further Education and Training Strategy, SOLAS, https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/Further-Education-and-Training-Strategy-2014-2019.pdf (accessed on 26 November 2018).

[29] Leventoff, J., B. Wilson and R. Zinn (2016), Data Policy Toolkit. Implementing the State Blueprint, Workforce Data Quality Campaign, http://www.workforcedqc.org.

[8] OECD (2017), Government at a Glance 2017, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/gov_glance-2017-en.

[3] OECD (2015), Employment and Skills Strategies in Flanders, Belgium, OECD Reviews on Local Job Creation, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264228740-en.

[10] OECD (2015), Indicators of regulatory Policy and Governance (iREG), http://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/indicators-regulatory-policy-and-governance.htm (accessed on 11 December 2018).

[1] OECD (Forthcoming), OECD Skills Strategy Update.

[30] Peña, C. (2017), From Patchwork to Tapestry Collaborating to Maximize Data Utility, Workforce Data Quality Campaign, https://www.nationalskillscoalition.org/resources/publications/file/WDQC-Tapestry-Brief-final-web-compressed.pdf.

[13] Vansteenkiste, S. et al. (2018), “Toekomstverkenningen arbeidsmarkt en onderwijs 2050 - Rapportage interviews [Forecasting for the labor market and education 2050 - Reporting interviews]”, Werk.Rapport 2018, No. 1, Steunpunt Werk, Steunpunt SONO - KU Leuven, http://www.steunpuntwerk.be/node/3760 (accessed on 04 October 2018).

[27] VDAB (2018), 31ste schoolverlatersrapport – editie 2018 [31st school leaver report - edition 2018], http://www.vdab.be/sites/web/files/doc/schoolverlaters/schoolverlatersrapport2018.pdf.

[5] Vlaams Ministerie van Onderwijs en Vorming (2008), “National report on the Development and State of Art of Adult Learning an Education”.

[14] Vlaamse Regering (2018), “Vizier 2030. Visienota.”, https://do.vlaanderen.be/sites/default/files/atoms/files/Visienota_Vizier2030.pdf.

[2] Vlaamse Regering (2017), Visie 2050. Een langetermijnstrategie voor Vlaanderen (Vision 2050. A long-term strategy for Flanders), https://www.vlaanderen.be/nl/vlaamse-regering/visie-2050#publicaties.

[6] Vlaamse Regering and SERV (2017), Akkoord tussen de Vlaamse regering en de Vlaamse sociale partners - Hervorming van de opleidingsincentives voor werknemers [Agreement between the Flemish government and the Flemish social partners - Reform of training incentives for employees], http://www.serv.be/serv/publicatie/vesoc-akkoord-opleiding (accessed on 13 November 2018).

[24] VLOR (2016), Advies over de conceptnota's Volwassenenonderwijs en NT2 [Advice on the concept notes Adult Education and NT2], Vlaamse Onderwijsraad, http://www.vlor.be/advies/advies-over-de-conceptnotas-volwassenenonderwijs-en-nt2.

[28] VLOR (2015), Advies over bouwstenen voor een slagkrachtig volwassenenonderwijs [Advice on the building blocks for effective adult education], Vlaamse Onderwijsraad, http://www.vlor.be/bouwstenenVO.

[20] VOKA (2018), Federale overheid werkt Vlaams activeringsbeleid tegen [The federal government works against Flemish activation policy], https://www.voka.be/nieuws/federale-overheid-werkt-vlaams-activeringsbeleid-tegen (accessed on 21 November 2018).

Note

← 1. Collaboration is used in a broad sense with a wide spectrum. A low level of collaboration would refer to processes of co-ordination, while a high level of collaboration would be refer to co-operation across groups.

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