‘Good fences make good neighbors’ says Robert Frost’s protagonist in ‘’Mending wall’. Frost himself was not so sure. Barriers in education – like barriers between people - are not what cities and regions need in our time: rather what they need is better collaboration between the vocational and the university sectors for social and economic development. A very good example of this is the area of lifelong learning. Lifelong learning does not fit well with a system based on barriers and divisions even when they are pragmatic and blurred. Learners need to move from one sector to another in different moments of their life and tertiary education systems don’t always allow that.
Vocational and the university sectors can collaborate through updating and upgrading workers’ skills in firms, sharing business links for apprenticeships and internships, establishing dual programmes with the business sector, to name but a few. The range of possibilities for collaboration is very large and it goes from lifelong learning and skills development to creating partnerships to boost innovation in their cities and regions.
Institutional divisions between vocational and university education are unlikely to disappear, but the OECD through its reviews on Higher Education for Regional and City development provides international evidence of increased blurring of the boundaries. Last week we jointly hosted an International Seminar on the “Collaboration between Vocational and University Education for Regional Development” in San Sebastian in Spain. During the seminar we had the opportunity to see that some experts still claim a clear separation between institutions providing vocational skills and institutions providing academic knowledge, which has been traditionally the role of universities. In contrast, and during the same seminar, practitioners, policymakers and the business sector pushed universities to play other roles and to collaborate with other stakeholders.
Universities today need to be prepared to leave the ivory tower. The capacity to compete in the global knowledge economy depends on whether countries and regions can collaborate together meet the demand for high-level skills. There is room for the pines as well as for the apple orchard.
Photo: OECD/IMHE International Seminar “Collaboration between Vocational and University Education: Building Partnerships for Regional Development.” Left to right: Bernard HUGONNIER, Deputy-Director for Education, OECD; Isabel CELAÁ, Basque Minister of Education, Universities and Research, Basque Country; Iñaki GOIRIZELAIA, Rector of the University of the Basque Country, ES; Màrius RUBIRALTA, General Secretary for Universities, Ministry of Education, ES; Cristina URIARTE, University of the Basque Country, ES. Credit: UPV/EHU University of Basque Country.
by Dirk Van Damme Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, Directorate for Education and Skills
The label “21st -century skills” is being increasingly used, and sometimes misused, to indicate that the rapidly changing economic, social and cultural environment of the current century demands a revision of what we think are crucial subjects for the next generations to learn. Examples include creativity, innovation, critical thinking, curiosity, collaboration, cross-cultural understanding or global competence. Some people wonder whether these skills are truly new, or whether education has always been about fostering these capabilities. But stakeholders – not least employers and the business sector – continue to complain that they don’t find candidates leaving the education systems who have the skills they think matter for the jobs they have to offer. And they claim that this is the case because current education systems do not sufficiently prioritise the development of such…
Elisabeth Villoutreix Communications Officer, Directorate for Education
The link between education and social benefits has long been recognised, as far back as Ancient Greece when Aristotle and Plato pointed out that education is central to the well-being of society. More recently, in the past few decades, research has supported this conventional wisdom, revealing that education not only enables individuals to perform better in the labour market, but also helps to improve their overall health, promote active citizenship and contain violence.
So how can education predict social outcomes such as life expectancy, civic engagement and general life satisfaction?
The latest issue of Education Indicators in Focus seeks to answer this question by comparing the social benefits of education in selected OECD countries.
Data show that life expectancy is strongly associated with education. On average, among 15 OECD countries with available data, a 30-year-old tertiary-educated man can expect to liv…
by Andreas Schleicher Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills
Schools nowadays are required to learn faster than ever before in order to deal effectively with the growing pressures of a rapidly changing environment. Many schools however, look much the same today as they did a generation ago, and too many teachers are not developing the pedagogies and practices required to meet the diverse needs of 21st-century learners.
In response, a growing body of scholars, educators and policy makers around the world is making the case that schools should be re-conceptualised as “learning organisations” that can react more quickly to changing external environments, embrace innovations in internal organisation, and ultimately improve student outcomes. Despite strong support for and the intuitive appeal of the school as a learning organisation, relatively little progress has been made in advancing the concept, either in research or practice. This lack of progress partly stems from a lack …