In December, I attended the Munera 3 project conference with the above title in Laško. The event was organised by the Nova Gorica School Centre. It brought together the representatives of 86 vocational and professional high schools and vocational colleges, which form the project consortium, as well as employers, start-ups, project coordinators, and training participants. When I attended the Annual Adult Education Conference (LPoIO 2019) just a short month before, I knew almost all the participants, but at the Munera 3 Conference, there were very few familiar faces. That was fine by me, as I yearned to connect with less well-known people and activities related to adult education. The main goal of this VET-oriented ESF project is to allow as many as 17,640 employed adults to acquire the right competences in the 2018–2022 period.
I learned that the Munera 3 project offers employed adults additional training, qualifications, or re-qualifications, based on market needs and the individual job postings available, which is why good collaboration with businesses is very important. This way, employed adults can improve their competences and employability, and move to different fields of work. The programmes are aimed at personal development, and encourage involvement in our society. All this sounded familiar to me, as some other ESF projects presented on our Upskilling Pathways e-portal, as part of the EAAL project, deal with similar challenges. The difference is that this project focuses mostly on the fields of technology, biotechnology, and services.
Learn and make your dreams come true
Excellence in professional and vocational training on my lifelong learning career path
CEOs of some businesses and school managers, a lecturer on applicative robotics, and an inspiring training participant, were part of an excellent panel called, “Excellence in professional and vocational training on my lifelong learning career path”. They all agreed that changes should start with formal education. On one hand, competences should be adapted to the needs of individuals (career plan), and on the other hand, to the needs of the market and society (collaboration of schools and businesses). Soft skills, such as creative problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, embracing change, lifelong learning, and especially a desire to learn, are becoming more and more important. Lili, a representative of the learners, combined her desire to learn with a desire to take care of her health, in the Modern food preparation programme. Gregor, who trains and teaches others at the Arboretum botanic garden, also has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. They both reminded me that “in th next life”, I will get training for physical work, preferably in agriculture (without the drones). This also brought to mind an anecdote from a doctor of electrical engineering, who said that his father only allowed him to go to college after he trained for some manual work which is way he became a mechanic first. Because one never knows… and because mental work, especially if it is full of bureaucracy or without real purpose, can be very tiring, and often does not leave a worthy mark on life.
In the conference invitation, the organisers wrote that the Munera 3 conference (and project) wanted to raise awareness about the ways to close the gap between the further vocational and professional education services on offer, and the needs of the labour market and our society. This is similar to the goal of the EVSW (read more here – in Slovenian), which aims to present vocational education and training as a valid first choice, and not as a secondary, less desired option.
All of us who work in adult education area note that not many people in Slovenia are ready to participate in lifelong learning, especially among less-educated and older adults. “The responsibility for improving this situation lays mostly with the individuals and the government, who must take appropriate steps to encourage the improvement of knowledge and competences, but businesses and employers must also take on more responsibility,” said Elvira Šušmelj, Director General of the competent directorate at the MESS, in her introduction. This reminded me of what the entrepreneur Tanja Skaza said at a recent event, Meeting points, where she expressed the need for more synergy between professionals and adult educators. I strongly agree with that, as I believe we could all achieve better results with a more coordinated approach as far as VET and general adult education providers are concerned. Especially as we all have the best intentions!
Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik (firstname.lastname@example.org), SIAE