Policy Informing Workshops Reaching Out to Stakeholders

In the EduMAP project, policy informing workshops were organized in autumn 2016 in Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Turkey and the UK, and one was in Germany in February 2017. The purpose of these workshops was to deliver information and to plan future research work in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

In Finland we planned the programme for the workshop in collaboration with the members of the Finnish  advisory board. Our national advisory board includes, in addition to some researchers, representatives from the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, the Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the Federation of Special Welfare Organisations (EHJÄ ry), NVL – Nordic Network for Adult Education and Tampere Adult Education Centre.

An invitation letter was sent (by email) to Finnish Refugee Council, Criminal Sanctions Agency (RISE),  the Finnish Centre for Pensions (Kela), National institute for Health and Welfare, Public employment service in Finland (TEM), adult education centres, and to many other  places. As one of the aims of EduMAP is to identify and review educational initiatives, policies and programmes proved to be successful in training vulnerable young adults.  We had in mind some concrete questions which the workshop could help to work with: How should ‘good practices’ be identified? How to measure whether or not the learners really will be active in society and working life? How is adult education policy implemented in the field?

The workshop ‘Active Citizenship, Education and Inclusion’, which took place in Helsinki, gathered some 60 participants. The keynote speaker was Ms. Astrid Thors, who recently (2013-2016) acted as the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. Her speech focused on participatory citizenship with perspective of adult education traditions in Nordic welfare states and on the current trends of social exclusion among migrants in some countries. The presentation gave a setting to reflect upon other discussion themes. One of them focused on the ongoing reform of vocational education of Finland, one on the appreciation, or lack of it, of vocational degrees from special school and their educational programmes. Two other discussion themes underlined the challenges of integration programmes with young refugees and their integration into the labour market.

The workshop permitted fruitful discussion and exchange of ideas at both domestic and supranational level. The atmosphere was enthusiastic and we all shared the view of the need and will to continue the discussion.   After the workshop, the project researchers have collaborated with some participants related to specified research tasks. Also, we have contacted the participants with the request to get additional information on the databases the participants use in their work.  We asked, where they get information, do they have enough information, and whether they have had difficulties in getting up-to-date information needed in their work? This inquiry aims to help to identify information needed in planning and implementation of adult education for young people in vulnerable positions.