The Lifelong Learning Programme: Education and Training Opportunities for All
The European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme enables people at all stages of their lives to take part in stimulating learning experiences, as well as helping to develop the education and training sector across Europe.
With a budget of nearly €7 billion for 2007 to 2013, the programme funds a range of actions including exchanges, study visits and networking activities. Projects are intended not only for individual students and learners, but also for teachers, trainers and all others involved in education and training.
There are four sub-programmes which fund projects at different levels of education and training:
- Comenius for schools
- Erasmus for higher education
- Leonardo da Vinci for vocational education and training
- Grundtvig for adult education
Other projects in areas that are relevant to all levels of education, such as language learning, information and communication technologies, policy co-operation and dissemination and exploitation of project results are funded through the "transversal" part of the programme.
In addition, the programme includes Jean Monnet actions which stimulate teaching, reflection and debate on European integration, involving higher education institutions worldwide.
The Leonardo da Vinci Programme
The Leonardo da Vinci Programme funds practical projects in the field of vocational education and training. Initiatives range from those giving individuals work-related training abroad to large-scale cooperation efforts.
Part of the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme, this programme funds many different types of activities of varying scales. These include ‘mobility’ initiatives enabling people to train in another country, co-operation projects to transfer or develop innovative practices, and networks focusing on topical themes in the sector.
The people able to benefit from the programme range from trainees in initial vocational training, to people who have already graduated, as well as VET professionals and anyone from organisations active in this field.
Leonardo da Vinci enables organisations in the vocational education sector to work with partners from across Europe, exchange best practices, and increase their staff’s expertise. It should make vocational education more attractive to young people and, by helping people to gain new skills, knowledge and qualifications, the programme also boosts the overall competitiveness of the European labour market.
Innovation projects are key to the programme. They aim to improve the quality of training systems by developing and transferring innovative policies, courses, teaching methods, materials and procedures.
The Leonardo da Vinci Programme funds several types of projects (“actions”) related to vocational education and training.
Mobility - ‘Mobility’ actions enable people to travel abroad to have a learning or training experience. There are various types:
- People in Initial Vocational Training ("IVT") can do work-related training abroad. Participants can still be at school or college or in alternative VET schemes (apprentices).
- People in the labour market (“PLM”) actions enable people after graduation in vocational training or higher education to have a work-related training abroad in order to improve their employment potential.
- Professionals in vocational education and training (“VETPRO”) can exchange experiences abroad to improve their skills and knowledge.
- Mobility certificates are given to organizations that have shown a particular quality in carrying out Leonardo da Vinci mobility projects (knowledge, experience and resources) and have developed an internationalization strategy.
- Preparatory visits enable people working in the vocational education and training sector to travel abroad to visit partners and plan a project under the programme.
Partnerships - Organisations working in the vocational education and training sector from different European countries can work together in various types of small-scale partnerships. Partnerships should involve the business side.
Multilateral Projects - These are larger-scale actions, with organisations from different countries working together to develop working practices in the vocational education and training sector.
- "Development of innovation" projects improve training systems by producing innovative approaches to vocational education and training such as teaching materials, courses and methodologies;
- "Transfer of innovation" projects help to spread the most promising new developments;•Thematic networks work on priority areas;
- "Accompanying measures promote the results of other projects funded by the programme.
Multilateral Projects: Development of Innovation
Leonardo da Vinci Multilateral Projects ‘Development of Innovation’ are transnational cooperation projects that aim to improve the quality of training systems through the development of innovative contents, methods and procedures within Vocational Education and Training (VET). Innovation is a matter of doing new things or finding new ways of doing familiar things. For Development of Innovation Projects it means that something innovative is developed (contents, methods, procedures etc.) as the end result of the project.
Proposals for innovation development should respond to an innovation pressure (gaps in VET systems or processes) that several countries have in common and should lead to brand new solutions and therefore result in a clear benefit in VET of European scope.
The teamwork of a variety of European partners will bundle different approaches, lead to cross fertilisation and creativity, and will facilitate the development of new solutions and know-how. Development of Innovation projects typically plan a lot of time for development but will also foresee enough time for testing. They will have to consider international property rights (IPR) during the project so that there is an agreement amongst partners before the project has finished. An innovation development can come from any organisation that is innovative.
Therefore Development of Innovation projects will rather involve specialist developers. Thus, these projects can be the vehicle for improving quality and for promoting innovation in vocational training. Both aims should be integrated in the proposal in such a way that tools, methods or concepts, and also concrete materials which are developed during the project can be used in, or adapted for, changing environments.
The principles for the implementation of Leonardo da Vinci Development of Innovation projects are given below:
EU support is intended for the production of tangible materials, products, methods and approaches in the field of vocational training and guidance, and not for training activities as such.
Proposals must put the innovative dimension of the project in context and in relation to the needs of the target groups or the problem to be solved.
The development of innovation may apply equally to institutional contexts and to formal, informal or non-formal practices, as well to initiatives promoted at the local, regional or sectoral level.
Maximum benefit must be drawn at European level from the results by making use of the expertise and experience of the various European bodies and/or other qualified organisations active in this field.
In order to make best use of the results and obtain feedback enabling the product, material, approach or method to be adapted and transferred, valorisation (= dissemination and exploitation of results) must be an integral part of the project’s work programme.
In disseminating and exploiting the results of projects, the European dimension must be enhanced by making vocational training and guidance materials, products, methods and approaches available, where possible, in the languages of all partners.