02 SES 13 B, Transitions in Partnerships in VET
Economic crisis, introduction of new technologies or new products, requirements for new skills and new qualifications bear conflicts between the interests of the employers and employees which calls for applying the instruments of dialogue and harmonisation of interests. Long-term socio-economic changes make collective organisation more difficult: deindustrialisation and the growth of private services; white-collar, atypical, and part-time employment; changes in normative orientation from collectivism towards individualism. (Ebbinghaus, 2002).
The ever accelerating economic and environmental changes require faster and faster responses from companies. By eliminating hierarchies in the organization's, responsibility moves to the lower level of the companies in many cases. The emergence of flat work-organisations and the empowerment of employees represent the answers of many innovative companies to the new and rapid challenges (Bakacsi, 1994).
The new types of contracts with employees and the new forms of work-organisations raises the question of partnership in a broader sense and in a new dimension. Also, the wish to increase the level of democracy demands new forms of partnerships and new actors to represent the wider interests of different parts of society. Since many large companies do not permit employees to organize unions or work councils, it is a widely unsolved question how to ensure the representation of employees' interests related to the issues around the world of work, among others on vocational education and training.
There are two kinds of definitions of ‘social partners’ in the literature. The more traditional approach defines social partners as representatives from the government (local, regional or national); employer’s organisations; and employee’s organisations. And there is another definition of social partners that includes representatives from various community groups or organisations from ‘civic’ society, as well as those involved in the more traditional sense of partnership (Office of the Chief Researcher, Scottish Executive, 2002).
As the result of research emerged a new definition or description of a social partner, emphasising process rather than structure, and information rather than force. The final characteristic is that a new social partner is an actor, not just a voice. Mobilising, organising, delivering and solving problems (with others), seem to be features of effective social partners. (O’Donnell, 2001)
According to the policy paper of The Copenhagen Centre, TCC definition of New Social Partnerships has 6 key principles, as societal aims, innovation, multi-constituency, voluntary, mutual benefit and shared investment and achemical effect. The TCC paper emphasises the importance of learning how to build unfamiliar approaches to working with different people and organisations; and also the importance of building synergy from diverse cultures, networks, and competencies (Nelson, Zadek, TCC).
My proposal is based on research started in the end of 2014, aiming to examin the role of social partners in the management and development of VET in the European level and to find out the extent to which social partnerships targeting VET can be considered as ‘new social partnerships’ according to the concept of the TCC.
The main research question is, how and if old and new actors of social partnerships work together in order to achieve the best results in that fields of VET where social partners had traditionally significant role in the past. Research is planning to answer also the question that under what circumstances ’new social partnerships’ can emerge related to VET in country, regional and local level.
My hypothesis is, that we can find the new forms of partnerships vigorous and efficient in countries with strong traditional social partners. But strong centralisation of power does not provide supporting environment for the new partners, with the exception of those who have been established by the central governments.
Benke, Magdolna (2003): A szociális partnerek szerepe a szakképzésben az EU nyolc országában. A kutatás legfontosabb eredményei és tanulságai. Szakképzési Szemle, 2003/4 (The role of social partners in VET. The main outputs and lessons of research. Vocational Training Review) Benke, Magdolna (2010): ‘Towards Innovative Apprenticeship. The Evaluation of the Development of Integrated Regional Vocational Education and Training Centres in Hungary’, in: Re-discovering Apprenticeship’ (Eds.: Rauner, F./Smith, E.), Springer, 75 - 89 p. Billett, S. & Seddon, T. (2004) Building community through social partnerships around vocational education and training. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 56(1), 51-67. Ebbinghaus, Bernhard (2002): Trade unions’ changing role: membership erosion, organisational reform, and social partnership in Europe. EU Paper Series, The European Union Center, University of Wisconsin — Madison Ennals, Richard (2002): The Existing Policy Framework to Promote Modernisation of Work: Its Weaknesses. Centre for Working Life Research, Kingston Business School, Kingston University McQuaid, R.W. (2000) “The Theory of Partnerships - Why have Partnerships”, in: S.P. Osborne (ed.), Managing public-private partnerships for public services: an international perspective (Routledge, London) pp. 9-35. (Draft version) NYHAN, Barry (2007): Building learning regions for innovation in Europe: a challenge for education and training. In: Gustavsen, B. – Nyhan, B. – Ennals, R. (eds): Learning together for local innovation: promoting learning regions. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, (Cedefop Reference series: 68) 16-45. Nelson, Jane and Zadek, Simon,: PARTNERSHIP ALCHEMY. New Social Partnerships in Europe. (TCC) O’Donnell, Rory (2001): TOWARDS POST-CORPORATIST CONCERTATION IN EUROPE? in: Helen Wallace (ed.): Towards Post-Corporatist Concertation in Europe? Basingstoke: Palgrave, 305-22. PARTNERSHIP WORKING: MODELS AND EXPERIENCES OF SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP IN DEVOLVED REGIONS OF EUROPE (Scottish paper) Office of the Chief Researcher, Scottish Executive, 2002 Preston, John and Green, Andy (2008): The role of vocational education and training in enhancing social inclusion and cohesion. In: CEDEFOP (ed.) Modernising vocational education and training. Fourth report on vocational education and training research in Europe: background report, Volume 1. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities VET Partnership between Schools and Companies – the Role of Teachers and Trainers Lessons from a Peer Learning Activity. DANISH TECHNOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, March/2007. Winterton, Jonathan (2007): Building Social Dialogue over Training and Learning: European and National Developments, European Journal of Industrial Relations, SAGE, Volume 13 Number 3 pp 281–300, Workplace social dialogue in Europe: An analysis of the European Company Survey 2009, Eurofound
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