Bill of demands for vocational training

The demands made in this bill have been drawn from the experiences of thousands of young Europeans.

These experiences make us think that it is possible to build a society with a more human face, a society of solidarity in which you, I and others can be happy and develop our abilities.

We are young people from working-class backgrounds, aged between 15 and 30. We invite everyone who wishes to contribute to designing better vocational training for the future to join us so that we can reflect on the subject together.

We wish to involve the people with political responsibility for vocational training in our discussions. We also want to involve youth organizations, who know how important it is that all should participate in building our common future.

 

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN EUROPE?

Our society is going through changes so profound that they are completely transforming the job market. If present trends continue, only a minority0will have access to stable, skilled and well-paid work, while the majority will go from one badly-paid temporary post to the next, with little security or social protection. A considerable proportion of the population will find itself in an even worse situation, completely excluded from the universe of production and consumption, with no social protection whatsoever.

The European Community Memorandum on Vocational Training for the 1990s starts out from the assumption that vocational training almost automatically leads to employment. Such an assumption creates exaggerated hopes which are quite out of step with reality. Though vocational training sometimes helps young people to enter the job market, we know that in many cases it does not. In other words, vocational training is not going to solve the whole problem of unemployment.

The main problem of our society is that its wealth is concentrated in ever fewer hands.

We believe it is urgent that wealth and work should be shared, in order to provide work for all. Working time should be reduced without loss of wages. We also need the introduction of a "social wage", based on the principle that everyone has the right to live in dignity.

 

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY VOCATIONAL TRAINING?

By vocational training we mean all types of training which help towards young people's integration in the world of work and foster their personal and social development.

We believe vocational training should have three functions:

  • Preparing us for work.
  • Educating us as people: fostering our creativity, our ability to form our own opinions, our skill in grasping situations and our sense of critical appraisal. Helping us to become mature, self-reliant and responsible.
  • Educating us to become active members of our communities, so that we can raise awareness and make people capable of taking their future (including economic, social, educational and political aspects) into their own hands.

 

IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT WE SHOULD CHANGE OUR SOCIETY

What kind of vocational training do we want?

We observe that we are obliged to make decisions affecting our professional future very early in our lives. We are also aware that in future, people are likely to have to change professions more than once in the course of their lives.

We therefore demand a sound general education and the possibility to specialize at a later age.

Career guidance should take account of young peoples' abilities and their social needs. This implies the following measures:

  • There should be teams of people to provide information about the different professions that exist and to follow young people's progress towards their chosen career and ensure that their choices are well-informed ones.{mosimage}
  • Prents must be given the information they need to help their children when they have to choose a profession.
  • Equal opportunities in career guidance. Children must be made aware earlier (at primary school) of the way roles are likely to be assigned to them, so that the girls have an opportunity to choose professions other than typical "women's jobs" and barriers between "boys' subjects" and "girls' subjects" can be broken down.
  • There should be European exchange programmes for young trainees and unemployed youngsters so that they can find out how vocational training works in other countries and discover other cultures, thus fostering the development of an intercultural society. These programmes should be part of the education and training system in each country.                             

We want education for all - not the creation of an elite

The way in which vocational training is presently designed and organized creates a highly-skilled elite to spearhead the European economy, while more and more young people are deprived of any chance of finding a useful place in society.We believe we all have the right to be happy, to develop our skills, to find fulfilment and a place in society.

We want a supportive society where no-one is marginalized. We therefore demand:

  • That vocational training should have a social function, i.e. that it should help us to situate ourselves in our social environment. This would require far-reaching changes in the contents of courses and a new pedagogical approach to educate us as human beings.

It is therefore necessary to improve teacher training in pedagogies to take account of the needs and values of the youth of today, the requirements of participative democracy, intercultural learning, etc...

The assessment systems used today instil a feeling of failure in young people. We therefore demand:-

  • Improvements in assessment systems by the provision of guidance, planning and counselling and joint decision-making by all the parties involved in training, including the young people themselves.

In order to evaluate training, one needs first to define its objectives.

Young people have objectives of their own, and these should also be taken into consideration in the general curriculum.

The objectives identified should then be used as assessment criteria. Thus exam marks would no longer be the only factor determining the final results.

All of the following should be assessed: the contents and objectives of training, the teachers, the pupils' attitudes and their own evaluation of their work.

Training for young people excluded from the job market

In the European Community, 16 million young people drop out of the school system without finishing their courses of study. Major flaws in the education system are leading to the marginalization of large numbers of young people at a very early age.

We therefore demand:

That national education and vocational training policies should pay attention to the needs of this large group of less privileged youngsters (under-qualified youth, immigrants, etc...) and take steps to help them overcome their difficulties and avoid dropping out of school.

Some measures which could help:

  • Reduction of the number of pupils per class.
  • New teaching methods and teachers with special training.
  • The assessment of teaching methods to see which ones best foster the development of individual skills.
  • The possibility for young people have dropped out of courses or have completed training to continue their studies so as to reach the same level as other young people.

To help to integrate these young people in the world of work, we need more of the following:

  • Pedagogical teams which take account of the realities the young people face, their personal situations, their environment and their abilities.
  • Measures to foster the integration of less privileged young people in companies, with the same rights as other workers.

Links between vocational training and employment

We observe that vocational training and the job market are not geared to each others' needs. We believe that to improve this situation we need to strike a balance between the fulfilment of social needs presently unmet in our society and the adaptation of the range courses on offer to demand on the job market.

We therefore demand:

Research into social and professional needs at local, regional and national levels. This research can then be used to foresee future employment needs.

The quality of vocational training must be improved. To do this it is necessary:

  • To create a fund for vocational training in which both large and small companies can invest so that young people can attend refresher and retraining courses.
  • To set up special workshops for apprentices in small companies, with modern equipment to give them the same training opportunities as apprentices in large companies using the most up-to-date technologies.
  • To have a system of "training credit points" for young people who have worked three or four years, so that they can further their vocational training in the area that most interests them.

Access to vocational training

All young people must have equal access to vocational training. Equality between native citizens, immigrants and political refugees.

Males and females should have equal opportunities in employment. Equal pay for equal work.

To ensure that all young people have equal opportunities in the context of mobility of labour within Europe, the learning of languages must be included in general education and vocational training curricula.

Development of human capacities

School must develop our personalities and help us to find a place in society.

We therefore demand that education should foster skills such as:{mosimage}

  • Expressing ourselves
  • Listening to others
  • Conflict resolution
  • Discovering other cultures
  • Respecting differences
  • Applying, analysing and linking acquired knowledge.

We also demand training in social skills:

  • Discussions on current affairs and politics should be included in our courses.
  • Teachers should receive regular refresher/retraining courses on pedagogies.
  • Teachers should receive training regarding the social situation so that they can react to it and take it into account when teaching.
  • Schools should be ready to collaborate with youth organizations of a social character.

Participation in education and vocational training

We observe that there is a lack of means to allow all the parties involved in education to contribute to defining the contents and the objectives of vocational training.

We therefore demand the following:

  • It is important that parents, teachers, pupils, youth organizations, governments, employers and trade unions should participate in decision-making on the contents and methods of vocational training and connected legislation, at regional, national and European levels.
  • All children should be taught a participative approach to education, starting at primary school.
  • Local planning and monitoring committees should be set up to assess the training given in companies and see that it fulfils the conditions set out in the apprenticeship contract. Trade unions and youth organizations should be represented on these committees.
  • Another task of these committees would be to examine teachers' pedagogical skills and their abilities in the field in which they specialize.
  • Financial support should be provided for structures fostering participation at school.
  • The European Community should inform and consult youth organizations about all planned legislation and projects related to vocational training before these are adopted.
  • There should be a public debate at European level on the subject of vocational training. This could take the form of a Young People's Parliament. In this way we could let the people and political bodies responsible for education and training policies know about the opinions and demands of the youth organizations working in the field.                                        

State responsibility for vocational training

There is a strong trend towards privatisation of vocational training. This will mean that in future less working class youngsters will be able to study, because students will have to pay more and the contents of vocational training courses will be determined by companies.

We believe that all young people have a right to high-quality education and training.

We therefore demand:

  • That the State should bear responsibility for education and vocational training and provide a good State education system.
  • That all the parties involved in vocational training should be involved in its planning, monitoring and management.
  • That funds should be provided for regional development projects.
  • That financial and technical support should be given to initiatives permitting young people to create their own jobs.{mosimage}

By "Training with a Future for a Europe of Solidarity" we mean that training should be designed to ensure the future of all citizens, so that they can build a Europe with a more human face, a Europe which is more supportive and democratic, open to the world and active in the pursuit of social justice.