Transnational Evaluation of social and professional re-integration programmes for young people

Scientific Study, 2005

279 Pages

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1 Executive Summary Gerald Heidegger
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Objectives of the project
1.3 Results of the Project
1.3.1 Common understanding for a multi-level exploration of the quality of learning processes and learning arrangements
1.3.2 General preconditions for successful situated learning processes
1.3.3 Construction of lists for criteria for the evaluation and further development of adequate conditions for situated learning and training/educating concepts and processes
1.3.4 Assessment and improvement of the validity of the sets of criteria to be systematically constructed
1.3.5 Long term effects of participating in re-integration schemes on autobiographical action competence
1.3.6 Design of a transnational (European) tool for self-evaluation, which is culturally adaptable and allows for critical reflection on the principles of evaluation
1.3.7 Transcultural recommendations for the improvement of the quality of re-integration programmes

2 Introduction Beatrix Niemeyer
2.1 Partnership
2.2 Background of the project – From Re-Enter…
2.3 … to Re-integration
2.4 The context of the project– What does Re-Integration mean in the participating countries?
2.5 Challenges to Research – methodological reflections
2.6 Milestones – how did we proceed?
2.7 Results

3 Cultural and historical contextualisation of integration approaches
Dimitra Kondily and Beatrix Niemeyer
3.1 Our globalised world and the place of youngsters
3.2 Globalisation and the impact on the different traditions of the welfare state
3.3 Change of concept: From poverty to social exclusion
3.4 Social policies against social exclusion: the integration measures
3.5 Common features in relation to the employment and function of the labour market of the 6 countries
3.6 Excursus: EU most important policy suggestions to tackle youth unemployment
3.7 Re-Integration programmes
3.8 As a conclusion
3.9 Appendix

4 Contextualisation of evaluation: International and national evaluation discussion Wiebke Petersen and Eva Lamminpää
4.1 Defining contextual evaluation
4.2 Transnational evaluation measures
4.2.1 Three international missions of evaluation: search for all covering indicators, quality management, and best practices
4.2.2 The need of soft outcomes
4.3 National evaluation contexts
4.3.1 National paradigm according to six aspects- Case Finland
4.3.2 Evaluation of Re-integration initiatives (in Belgium, Germany and Finland)
4.4 The discussion context, reconstruction of national context in international research collaboration

5 Research Methodology Beatrix Niemeyer and Lieve Ruelens
5.1 Research question
5.2 Methodological approach
5.3 Research design
5.4 How we proceeded
5.5 Example: Insight into the research process: the Belgian case
5.5.1 Research questions
5.5.2 Selection of the cases
5.5.3 Methods
5.5.4 Intake interviews with youngsters
5.5.5 Follow-up interviews
5.5.6 Participative observation
5.5.7 Project group
5.5.8 Formal interviews/informal contacts with trainers, teachers, route counsellors
5.5.9 Overall framework: TRDM
5.5.10 Questionnaires
5.5.11 Meeting with trainers
5.5.12 Transnational Research and development methodology -TRDM

6 Quality through Self-Evaluation and Development
Gerald Heidegger and Wiebke Petersen
6.1 Existing Evaluation approaches: examples
6.1.1 The EFQM
6.1.2 Q2E as an example for an evaluation tool for schools
6.1.3 EVIT
6.1.4 The EFQM and the Q2E include good and challenging aspects – nevertheless a different evaluation tool is necessary
6.1.5 Learning from the EFQM, Q2E for the development of an European evaluation tool for Re-Integration schemes
6.2 (Self-)Evaluation for Re-Integration schemes
6.2.1 Transnationality as European added value for the QSED
6.3 Introduction to the QSED and it´ s relation to the “Transcultural Recommendations”
6.4 Relation between the QSED-tool and the transnational recommendations

7 Text version of QSED Gerald Heidegger and Wiebke Petersen
7.1 Self-Evaluation and Reflection
7.2 Collaborative Networks of Actors (External and Internal)
7.3 Inclusiveness (Integration into Society, Education-System and Labour Market)
7.4 Funding /Administrative structures
7.5 Situated Learning
7.6 Recognition and Assessment of Qualifications and Competences

8 Measuring the long term effects of situated learning
Sue Cranmer and Wiebke Petersen
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Background
8.3 Situation and perspective after the programme
8.3.1 Personal action competence
8.3.2 Vocational action competence
8.3.3 Social action competence
8.3.4 Autobiographical action competence
8.4 Conclusions

9 Evolvement of Trans-national Reflection and Development Methodology – TRDM Anja Heikkinen and Lieve Ruelens
9.1 Unwrapping the package: the diversity and complexity of re-integration
9.2 Wider landscape: contextualisation of re-integrative activity and research
9.3 Revisiting evaluation: no simple answers to complex questions
9.4 Role of research and researchers
9.5 Trans-nationality
9.6 Summary of the characteristics of TRDM

10 European practitioners’ voices regarding evaluation
Minna Herno, Wiebke Petersen and Lieve Ruelens
10.1 Practitioners’ voices from Belgium
10.2 Practitioners’ voices from Germany
10.3 Practitioners’ voices from Finland
10.3.1 Finnish collaboration
10.3.2 International level
10.3.3 Finnish Conclusions
10.4 Conclusions

11 Collaboration across Professional Paradigms Beatrix Niemeyer
11.1 Introduction
11.2 How do professional paradigms impede or enhance re-integration?
11.3 Transprofessional collaboration as a regular challenge –Lessons from the German case
11.4 Training for transprofessional collaboration – a Portuguese case study
11.5 A real example in practice
11.6 Collaborative networks – lessons from the Finnish case
11.7 How can the QSED help in growing the LCCP for new learning professionals?

12 Transcultural recommendations for the improvement of the quality of re-integration programmes Beatrix Niemeyer
12.1 Which lessons can be learnt from the Re-Integration project?
12.2 CRIS – Collaboration, Reflexivity, Inclusiveness and Situated Pedagogy
12.3 Collaboration
12.4 Transcultural recommendations to improve collaboration
12.5 Reflexivity
12.6 Transcultural recommendations to enhance a continuous process of reflection
12.7 Inclusiveness
12.8 Transcultural recommendations to improve inclusiveness
12.9 Situated Learning
12.10 Transcultural recommendations to enhance situated learning

1 Executive Summary Gerald Heidegger

1.1 Introduction

The project „Re-Integration – Transnational evaluation of social and professional re-integration programmes of young people“ was funded by the European Commission through the programme „Leonardo da Vinci II“, Reference Material strand, and lasted from the year 2001 till 2004. It dealt with a severe difficulty to be realised in all European countries. Youth unemployment is unbearably high and the transition from school to work is often hampered by strong obstacles that are due to restricted opportunities in the labour market and not well installed systems of vocational education and training. These problems are exacerbated for young people who are at disadvantage with respect to various features. Among them are troubled families with the concomitant restrictions in developing social and personal competences, in general the strong stratification of society which leaves the lower strata with insufficient opportunities for education and gainful employment, language difficulties for migrants etc. That often results in difficulties in coping with the personal, social and also educational challenges during childhood and adolescence, resulting in problems with maintaining stable social relations and also low achievement in school. This again sets a vicious circle in motion so that the opportunities for these disadvantaged young people to move on in (personal and occupational) life are more and more diminished.

Therefore in all European countries, although to a varying extent, measures have been put into place to re-integrate these young people into the mainstream: schemes for re-integration. However, the success of these measures is usually low which is of course mainly due to the unfavourable general conditions. Still the challenge remains to also improve the quality of these programmes, through evaluation which is aiming not only at selecting examples of good practice, but even more at supporting the respective institutions in further developing their schemes.

For this a transnational perspective can be very useful because it shows, for the individual cultural settings, possibilities of how this endeavour can be pursued in a completely different way. Of course it is not feasible to copy the solutions found in another country because those are closely interwoven with the general societal conditions. Even so new ideas can be generated from getting acquainted with those foreign frameworks by way of what is now generally called mutual learning.

To support transnational reflection, evaluation and development for re-integration programmes was the overarching aim of this project. It could build on the outcomes of a previous Socrates project (Studies and Analyses) called “Re-Enter- Improving transition from school to vocational education and training for low achieving school leavers” (1999 – 2001). But while the latter project was explicitly restricted to secondary analysis of existing analytical descriptions, including a meta-analysis, the new Leonardo project carried through primary analyses of the whole “landscape” of re-integration programmes, aiming at innovative methods for reflection, evaluation, development and improvement.

A great advantage was that the partnership remained the same for both projects. Partners were the Institute of Education, University of London, Great Britain, the Laboratory of Sociology and Educational Studies, University of Patras, Greece, The Department of Education, University of Jyväskylä, Finland, the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Lisbon, Portugal, the Higher Institute for Labour Studies, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, coordinated by the Institute of Technical Vocational Pedagogy, University of Flensburg, Germany.

In the following section, the objectives of the Leonardo project are explained in some detail. In the third section, the outcomes of the project are presented, following the sequence of the objectives although of course there is sometimes some overlapping of the research steps.

The main outcome is an interactive tool on CD-Rom called “QSED – Quality through Self-Evaluation and Development”. As a transnational tool it represents the European dimension, but through true interactivity it is adaptable, to the highest possible degree, to the respective cultural conditions by the users themselves. This feature was made possible through an innovative way of programming the tool and represents a result of the project which is much more far-reaching than declared in the proposal. It has been distributed so far in English and German. Greek and Portuguese versions are in the making.

A further outcome is “CRIS – Transcultural recommendations for the improvement of the quality of re-integration programmes”, available in English and to be translated into German soon. The Scientific Report explains the research process which led to these outcomes, including an extensive critical reflection on the principles of evaluation and concomitant recommendations.

1.2 Objectives of the project

The objectives are outlined in the justification of the proposal, including the envisaged results. In the workpackages, they are put into a sequence which governed the progress of the project although of course the actual research and development process had to combine the various steps. They can be summed up as follows.

1. To develop a common understanding for a multi-level exploration of the quality of learning processes and learning arrangements in re-integration programmes, at the same time refering to the socio-economic preconditions and the socio-cultural peculiarities in the participating countries.

This applies to the elaboration of the relation of the three levels (macro-level, meso-level, micro-level), including the interaction between them, that is socio-economic conditions, institutional arrangements and learning and teaching/training/educating processes. In addition, the respective research methodology had to be consented on.

2. To identify, by comprehensive qualitative field research, the general preconditions for successful situated learning processes of the participants where learning is understood in a broad sense (development of occupational, social and personal competences, leading to autobiographical action competence).

For this the concept of situated learning, as specified for the target group in the previous Socrates project “Re-Enter” , is of central importance. Other dimensions like particularly collaborative networks and inclusive organisational structures have proved, during the course of the project, to be equally relevant.

3. To construct lists of criteria for the evaluation of adequate conditions for situated learning and training concepts and processes and their further development, with special regard to the three levels (macro, meso, micro).

These lists of criteria had to be generated in a self-reflective way, based again on extensive field research, employing the method of “Grounded Theory” (Glaser, Strauss). In this way, they are specific to the socio-economic and cultural peculiarities of the participating countries although exchange between the partners introduced new theoretical aspects by way of mutual learning.

The macro-level is especially important since not only the conditions for models and processes in the single schemes are of relevance. Rather the “landscape” of the programmes implemented in a country has to be analysed as a whole.

4. To assess and improve the validity of the lists of criteria developed according to objective 3 by applying them to different schemes, including in this way new criteria; to design on this basis sets of criteria which are systematically constructed so as not to leave out important features.

The main aim here was to assess the validity of the criteria by finding out if the respective list is comprehensive and to construct a theoretically founded set of dimensions to which they are to be related. In this way an analytical tool was developed which can be used for systematic evaluation

5. To research into the long term effects of participation in re-integration schemes which are based on situated learning and the other features detected as especially important, by investigating the autobiographical competences of former participants; to draw conclusions from that for improving the sets of criteria.

Obviously a causal dependency of the development of biographical competences with respect to the features of a re-integration course which someone has participated in before cannot be detected in a valid way. Nevertheless this touches an issue of extraordinary importance and should therefore be included in the reflection and evaluation of any re-integration scheme.

6. To design a transnational (European) tool for evaluation, allowing for critical reflection on it’s principles; to elaborate it particularly for self-evaluation of the schemes in the various countries, thus representing the European dimension; to construct it in such a way as to make it adaptable, as easily as possible, to the respective specific cultural circumstances, thus taking into account the wide variety of cultural, regional and institutional conditions, in this way clinging to the European principle of subsidiarity in the field of (vocational) education and training.

This had to be done through combining the respective national sets of criteria, detecting commonalities and eliminating overlapping criteria.

In order to make the tool as easily adaptable as possible a truly interactive IT-tool on CD-ROM was developed. This feature – connecting directly the European dimension with stressing cultural specifities – has been emphasised much more than originally envisaged in the proposal because an innovative way of programming true interactivity into the IT-tool was invented during the progress of the project. In this manner a completely new approach towards this connection could be pursued while also taking into account attitudes critical to evaluation in principle.

7. To develop and disseminate recommendations for the improvement of re-integration programmes, based on a theoretical framework of innovative approaches towards re-integration measures in the participating countries and at the same time representing the European dimension.

This was based, on the one hand, on a systematic theoretical reflection of the historical and cultural contextualisation of integrative measures in Europe. On the other hand it was made use of the criteria of the (self-)evaluation tool for the structural, socio-economic and political level, but also for the meso- and micro-level, which had been developed in the course of its construction, following the principles of “Grounded Theory” (Glaser/Strauss).

1.3 Results of the Project

The results are ordered according to the sequence of the objectives which are in the following outlined in an abbreviated version.

1.3.1 Common understanding for a multi-level exploration of the quality of learning processes and learning arrangements.

This turned out to be rather difficult on the practical and on the theoretical level alike.

On the practical level the vast differences of the scope and the approaches of re-integration schemes in the various countries were the main obstacles. This becomes obvious through a cultural and historical contextualisation of systems of welfare provision and concomitant VET structures (chapter 3) which were classified in a typology of four main approaches in Europe. Re-integration e.g. into a school-based VET-system, typical for the Nordic countries, is obviously very different from measures advised by a career counsellor in a flexible, strongly market dominated system. That applies particularly to the high degree of inclusiveness which is aimed at in the former case, in contrast to the factual societal acceptance, although not approval, of a considerable degree of possibilities of social exclusion in the latter case. Other distinctions exist to the Central European “dual system of VET” and the non-formal provision of VET in much of Southern Europe.

But of course all over Europe schemes can be found which aim at supporting the most disadvantaged young people in “moving on” in their life, within VET, gainful employment and in their social relations and personal development.

On the theoretical level, the differences concern the justification of evaluation as such. In a strongly actor-based approach evaluation, even self-evaluation, is seen as an instrument of external control which introduces criteria that can not catch the peculiarities of a very specific course. In a strongly market-based society the question of “value for money” has of course a much higher esteem, and therefore external evaluation according to objectified, measurable indicators is viewed as self-evident. Even if the researchers from the different countries did not, of course, represent the respective dominating approaches it was still indispensable to take into account the opposition between these two approaches which are more or less in variance.

Nevertheless, a remarkably great area of commonalities could also be detected and consented on. First this concerns the importance of the three levels

- macro-level: structural conditions due to socio-economic factors, taking into account cultural diversities;
- meso-level: institutional features of the respective re-integration schemes;
- micro-level: the way practitioners and learners communicate and work together.

Second, six dimensions of criteria which are always of relevance could be commonly defined, even if a lot of the criteria themselves depend heavily on the particular scheme and the cultural setting. For that it was also decisive if the criteria were defined according to a nearly exclusively actor centred approach or following a more generalising method which let more overarching theoretical structures evolve like the one mainly employed in the project, according to the “Grounded Theory” of Glaser/Strauss. The six dimensions mentioned will be explained later, in connection with the tool for evaluation, mainly self-evaluation, called “Quality through Self-Evaluation and Development” (QSED), as described in chapter 6. In order to open up this approach to the highest possible degree of influence by the actors a “Transnational Reflection and Development Methodology” (TRDM) was developed at the same time which emphasises action research in the strict sense. It avoids the concepts of even self-evaluation and quality management and stresses even more than the QSED the relevance of reflection by the actors. In this way, it may be perceived as a methodology which can be employed for critical reflection on the first mentioned concepts, thus making the users of the QSED aware of the implicit assumptions underlying these concepts.

In this way the two basic approaches mentioned were not superficially reconciled but brought explicitly to the fore. Nevertheless, a very close mutual interaction of them is represented in the results.

The concomitant research methods, also sometimes in variance but at the same time directly related to each other, are outlined in the following sections.

1.3.2 General preconditions for successful situated learning processes

The partnership was also able to consent on a qualitative field research methodology, as envisaged in the proposal, for investigating this issue. If learning is understood in the broad sense of fostering occupational, social and personal competences, leading to autobiographical action competence, then obviously “hard” indicators which can be measured in an objectifiable way are not adequate. This is very important because funding agencies make the support of the schemes usually dependent on those hard outcomes, like transition rates to the labour market or to “normal” VET-courses, or at least achievements regarding (mostly occupational) competences which can be easily measured. But the development of social and particularly personal competences does not belong to these.

Consequently, the field research employed a host of different qualitative methods, like learning logs or accumulation of opinions of trainers etc., but mostly participative observation, including “shadowing” the learners at their work, and interviews. Because the participants have often difficulties with self-reflexive oral expression, the interviews were carried through in an informal way. Sharing the participants’ work/training experience by co-working with them has proved to be an especially effective approach.

Apart from that it was clear from the beginning that no theoretical presuppositions should be forced upon the investigation of the research field. Therefore a combination of action research and more “observing” research was employed. Action research can be understood as a special version of the “interpretive approach” in the Humanities. It deliberately tries to reduce the distance between the researcher and the “object” because the latter, being a human being, is not objectifiable. “Observing” research, on the other hand, whilst also acknowledging the individual as a human actor, still tries to find out about regularities in human behaviour. This is, in its distinct form, called the “conventional approach”. It is easy to see that the two approaches quoted in No. III. 1 are to be detected here. Accordingly, some partners were inclined more to the one or to the other. But because the conventional methods were applied in an attenuated version common results could be achieved. Although at the outset the focus was more on learning processes of the participants of the schemes the multi-level approach was also dominant from the beginning. Nevertheless, very soon, during the progress of the project, it became clear that the interaction between the three levels was of even higher importance than envisaged. This resulted in applying the three-level approach always and for all inquiries, and laying particular stress on the interaction of the levels from the beginning.

That was in accordance with the research plan in the proposal which set out to investigate processes and only to a lesser degree “products” of situated learning, and that means here above all processes of interaction between the three levels. The progress of the project led in this way to a wider concept of adequate conditions for effective re-integration measures which was implemented in the methods for reflecting, evaluating and further developing the whole endeavour of re-integration of young people at risk. The criteria for appropriate prerequisites for situated learning in “Learning Communities Centred on Practice” (LCCP’s), as defined in the former Socrates project “Re-Enter”, have been expanded accordingly. They now include more explicitly the dimensions

- “Collaborative networks of actors” (internal and external);
- “Inclusiveness” (going beyond “re-integrative measures”);
- “Recognition of skills” (thus avoiding to neglect the great influence of assessment).

In addition, the criteria for situated learning in the now more expanded understanding were designed so as to take more explicitly into account the furthering of the combination of occupational, social and personal competences which are supposed to support autobiographical action competence. For instance leisure activities as a main means for developing social and personal competences were now stronger emphasised. “Autobiographical action competence” means the capability of people on the one hand to reconstruct their lives as a sensible succession of stages even if difficult breaks have been experienced. On the other hand, this means that the next thresholds to be surmounted can be viewed as a sequence of challenges that can be met instead of only unsolved problems which linger on in the future.

Representing the important influence of external (political, economic, societal) conditions on the macro-level the dimension “Funding/Administrative Structures” was explicitly constructed, the mentioned influence being very determining also on the meso-level (institutional) and the micro-level (interaction of practitioners and learners). In addition, funding for the participants’ individual surviving was stressed as an important criterion, including assistance for gaining the necessaries of life.

Finally, providing opportunities for situated learning in LCCP’s was viewed even more than before as a development process for the whole learning community. This led to implementing “Self-evaluation and Reflection” as the foremost dimension of criteria for situated learning.

1.3.3 Construction of lists for criteria for the evaluation and further development of adequate conditions for situated learning and training/educating concepts and processes.

The indicators which had been gained through the extensive field research had to be assembled to construct lists which could fit in well with the respective cases. On the other hand, they had to be based on theoretical foundations which, however, should not impose assumptions made beforehand. The obvious choice was to employ the method of “Grounded Theory” which was developed by Glaser/Strauss for ethnographic research and has already for some time expanded it’s field of application from ethnomethodology to areas like work research. Indeed similarities can be found between researching into the behaviour of an ethnic tribe and the rites prevailing in a working group or, for that matter, in a Learning Community Centred on Practice (LCCP). The theory is then built up from the bottom and generated through continuous loops of reflection on empirical evidence gained in the participative, collaborative, observing field research that has employed all the methods mentioned above.

Thus, however, it is not only inevitable but also desirable to arrive at lists of indicators which are specific for the case concerned. This is valid even if the indicators are “enriched” and transformed through theoretical deliberations. These transformed indicators were henceforth called “criteria”. In addition, the partners laid different stress on the various indicators leading to a great variety of lists. Most important for that was the fact that it had turned out that from the outset the institutional conditions (meso-level) and the economic, societal and cultural framework (macro-level) needed the utmost attention, particularly the latter being very different for the participating countries.

To expand, from the start, the lists of indicators for evaluating the conditions of processes of situated learning so as to include all three levels at the same time led to the construction of a set of dimensions of criteria where each dimension is subdivided, although in a strongly interactive way, into the three levels.

As a further consequence, it appeared not to be adequate to judge the respective scheme mainly from outside by researchers applying the elaborated criteria. Instead it was seen most appropriate for this task to present the criteria as an instrument which allows all people concerned - practitioners, planners, researchers but also policy-makers and even in part the participants themselves, too – to assess the outer prerequisites and the quality of the processes and concepts for learning and teaching/training/educating themselves. This should be done according to the basic structure of the six theoretically grounded dimensions of criteria with the three levels each, but should be as adaptable as possible to the specifities of the case concerned. That led to the construction of the interactive tool QSED (Quality through Self-Evaluation and Development) and its critical, although closely with it interwoven counterpart, the TRDM (Transnational Reflection and Development Methodology).

1.3.4 Assessment and improvement of the validity of the sets of criteria to be systematically constructed

The main method for pursuing this task was the construction of the six dimensions of criteria which have been mentioned already in connection with objective 2 and will be explained under the heading of objective 6. The lists of criteria developed for the individual schemes had to be matched with the dimensions so as to find out about missing criteria and to change and expand the scope of the dimensions. This included transnational comparisons, in this way considerably widening the content of the dimensions and revising, through going repeatedly through loops of reflection, their internal arrangements. In this way a systematic structure of dimensions of criteria for concepts of and appropriate preconditions for processes of situated learning in “Learning Communities Centred on Practice” (LSSP’s), focussing on the re-integration issue, could be arrived at. This represents one of the main outcomes of the project and can be regarded as truly innovative. The structure of the six dimensions allows for the complexity of the transantional re-integration “landscape” as much as possible. This was achieved by bringing the connections between the dimensions to the fore (“horizontal” complexity). In addition the interaction of the macro-, meso- and micro-level for each dimension represents the “vertical” complexity.

The extensive field research has shown that it is more sensible to combine the tasks of evaluating the schemes and developing criteria for their improvement.

After all, besides the strong points it is particularly the weak points of a scheme which should be detected by evaluation and which at the same time should be the focus of improvement.

In addition, the professionals of the schemes themselves are the ones who have to carry through the improvements, in the first place, even if their influence on the overall framework is very limited. Those are determined, on the macro-level, above all by the specific features of welfare provision and the systems of vocational education and training.

Therefore the partnership decided to construct a method which supports particularly the practitioners in discovering the features of their scheme which may need improvements. That is, the method starts off from the institutional or meso-level. But this self-evaluation by the practitioners themselves – always with the conscious aim of (self-)development – has of course to take into account the outer conditions into which the scheme is embedded (macro-level) as well as the situations, interests and wishes of the individual participants (micro-level). The three-level approach therefore makes sure that the method can also be used by planners and decision-makers. It could and should also lead to reflections about general improvements on the macro-level by policy-makers who, however, have so far often prefered external evaluation to self-evaluation. Obviously, however, this kind of self-evaluation can be combined also with external evaluation. Indeed, this is the method which is mainly employed in evaluation of social work, at least in countries where market forces are still restricted in this field.

There external evaluation which is not connected with self-evaluation of the institution, usually representing the centre of a quality management system, is not viewed as being in concordance with the state of the art. Similarly, methods of quality management which have been adapted for non-profit organisations in the field of social or personal services, like the one of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), always consider self-evaluation to be the basis of all forms of external evaluation which is supposed to take place every fourth year or so. Similar methods have been developed for (self-)evaluation of (also vocational) schools, like the Swiss model “Qualität durch Evaluation und Entwicklung” – Q2E. No similar method has been, however, devised so far for the field of the re-integration activities investigated by the project. Such a specific method, to be described in more detail under the heading of objective 6, is actually the main outcome of the project, thus representing a truly innovative result.

1.3.5 Long term effects of participating in re-integration schemes on autobiographical action competence

Although it proved very difficult to track participants after they had left the schemes a considerable number of cases in different countries could be analysed. Nevertheless, the sample was too small for arriving at conclusions which could have been generalised on the individual level. But anyway, it was clear from the outset that no valid causal connexions could have been achieved, due to the host of intervening variables. This does not mean, however, that this issue could not be included in the methods developed for the self-evaluation of the schemes.

The main outcome of this part of the research was exactly that in most cases no tracking mechanism was found to be installed by the planning bodies on the political/societal level. An exception is given by the career counselling service in the UK, but even there it does not function well in the long run. But to be able to track the former participants is the main precondition for supporting them after they have left the schemes. And the cases analysed showed that all young people who had not managed to return to the mainstream needed this support very urgently. Thus an important criterion for self-evaluation, here for the decision-markers, was established.

This support, called “after-care”, needs however not to be left to the administrative level. Some schemes had constructed a support network on their own, thus representing examples of good practice. Even is these networks comprehend usually only rather loose connections they provide in incentives for other re-integration measures to reflect upon the possibilities found there in place and to try to develop similar initiatives. Among the “nodes” of such a network are not only labour agencies and career services etc. as well as institutions responsible for social care. Equally important are more informal partners like sports clubs or youth groups maintained by e.g. churches. In this way after-care is a very relevant criterion on the meso-level where the practitioners can, via self-evaluation and reflection, try to change things for themselves.

But also on the micro-level after-care is an important issue because it turned out that very often the participants did not feel enough support for getting into contact with the institutions providing social care, and even more so with the informal groups to which they might wish to belong.

Thus this part of the research gave important clues as how to include long term effects into a self-evaluation method. In addition, it provides an example of how the results of the field research were incorporated into the self-evaluation tool.

1.3.6 Design of a transnational (European) tool for self-evaluation, which is culturally adaptable and allows for critical reflection on the principles of evaluation.

The main outcome of the project is a self-evaluation tool, which is to be used, in the first place, by practitioners in re-integration schemes: QSED – Quality through Self-Evaluation and Development. It aims at supporting the practitioners in improving their scheme, relying on common discussion and reflection on features which should be changed. Obviously this process of continuous quality improvement can also be used in connection with external evaluation in a way which was outlined above. In addition, because the tool employs the three-level approach described, it also relates to the structural level and contains statements which point out power relations in society that on their part strongly influence the setting of the whole “landscape” of re-integration schemes in a country, but also the conditions under which each single scheme has to operate. Therefore the tool can also be used by planners and policy-makers for reflecting about improving the framework conditions of the re-integration schemes in their region or their country. Because the tool has emerged from transnational research and has deliberately retained the different cultural roots it contributes strongly to transcultural mutual learning, thus representing a decisive European dimension. This is true for all three levels, the structural or macro-level, the institutional or meso-level and the individual or micro-level.

On all these levels practitioners, planners and policy-makers can get an overview of the different approaches in the various cultural settings or countries, respectively, and in this way they may get incentives to reflect on rather fundamental changes for their own schemes. This must not, of course mean just copying the solutions of other countries because the respective features are usually closely linked to the whole structure of the educational and particularly the VET system, representing different traditions especially of the pathways of school-to work-transition. Rather, mutual learning means to grasp the underlying ideas of the measures in another country and employing them for transforming the structures and practices in one’s own country.

During this process of reflection it will turn out that some statements and questions do not fit in with the conditions of one’s own country and have to be adapted or completely altered.

In order to allow for that the tool is presented as an interactive IT-tool on a CD to be used on a conventional PC. In contrast to the usual programmes which are also called interactive this tool makes it possible to change it nearly completely, by altering the questions themselves, not only selecting different answers. The only feature to be retained is the basic structure, that is the three levels (macro-, meso- and micro-level) and the six dimensions of the criteria employed. In this way, starting from a common European evaluation framework, representing the European dimension, a special tool for each country and indeed for each single institution can be created by the users themselves. That appears to be a very innovative feature of this result of the project.

The dimensions of the criteria were developed from the field research in a spiral of repeated interpretation of the issues detected, thus employing the methodology of “Grounded Theory” elaborated by Glaser and Strauss, as described in the chapter 5 and 6 about methodology.

The six dimensions are:

- Self-Evaluation and Reflection:

Here the basic aims, possibilities and limitations of evaluation (self-evaluation, perhaps combined with external evaluation) should be reflected upon.

- Collaborative networks of actors:

Here the importance of networking (internal, within the institutions, and external, among different institutions) should be discussed.

- Inclusiveness:

At issue are here the opportunities and limitations of retaining the young people at risk of dropping out as close as possible to the mainstream (including assistance for gaining the necessaries of life).

- Funding/Administrative structures:

This relates to the general funding and administrative rules for re-integration schemes as well as far each single measure; in addition, the question of how the individual participants can be supported through adequately organised funding should be dealt with.

- Situated learning:

This has been elaborated as the main means for providing the most adequate learning opportunities for the disadvantaged clients; in particular the task is to design re-integration programmes in such a way as to promote vocationally oriented competences in close connection with furthering social and personal development.

- Recognition of skills/Assessment:

This regards the possibilities and limitations of officially recognizing the often small steps of progression of the participants as well as the balance between the evaluation of progress in personal and social competences and the demands of the funding bodies for assessing objectifiable results.

How to use the tool is explained in the CD at the beginning. Also the main principles which led to it’s construction are shortly outlined.

The content is reproduced in chapter 7 of this report. In order to experience the true value of the high interactivity and adaptability the readers are, however, strongly advised to try out the tool on the CD directly for themselves. This outcome of the project transcends considerably the objectives which the partnership had announced in the proposal.

Nevertheless, as is described in the chapter about the critical reflection of the methodology (chapter 5.2) there exist also strong reservations against every form of even self-evaluation the methods of which are prescribed from outside.

Therefore the partnership developed, together with the QSED tool, a methodology which puts the practitioners’ views even more into the centre and leaves the way how to deal with the situation of their scheme completely to them as the main actors. It is closely connected to the QSED in applying the same three-level approach where now, however, the individual and the structural level come into view nearly exclusively from the perspective of the practitioners while reflecting upon and further developing their respective re-integration scheme. This is called the “Transnational Reflection and Development Methodology” (TRDM), described in chapter 9. It is based on the above mentioned “interpretive approach” of evaluation and employs the action research methodology in the strictest sense with which this was originally developed. The TRDM can and should be understood as a methodology for critically reflecting upon a tool like the QSED which, although also strongly actor oriented, still retains the claim of having elaborated objective quality criteria based on scientific research.

But because the development of the QSED and the TRDM proceeded in parallel, at the same time and based on the same outcomes of the field research, the basic dimensions for reflection used in the TRDM are identical with the six dimensions for self-evaluation and development employed in the QSED as outlined above.

The TRDM stresses even more than the QSED the critical and emancipatory aspects of reflection and development; for instance with respect to the dimension inclusiveness practitioners often feel in a particular intense way that the mere existence of re-integration schemes which are separated from the mainstream education may lead to the stigmatisation of the participants as low achievers who are to be blamed individually for their failure.

Similarly, for further developing their scheme the practitioners often consider advice from outside as being inadequate for the extremely specific features of their situation. Therefore the role of researchers, even if they are committed to action research in the strict sense mentioned, is regarded as problematic and should be called in question, and an intensive continuous exchange of the views of the practitioners and the researchers should be established. In this sense the TRDM represents a methodology which stresses particularly the emancipation of the practitioners from influences of external power centres.

The second main feature of the TRDM is that it emphasises a phenomenological and hermeneutic approach also even more so than the QSED does. This means that any criteria, not to speak of indicators of quality, are supposed to be forced upon the real situation which is regarded as much too complex to be grasped through so called simplistic criteria. Rather the practitioners and the action researchers, in close co-operation, should try to gain a view of the situation which is as little distorted by suppositions made beforehand as possible. These undistorted perceptions should then be interpreted according to the tradition of hermeneutics, thus being equally as free as possible from assumptions usually accepted as obvious.

The third main factor, making use of methods developed in the tradition of deconstructivism, is linked to the other two but even more radical. Employing the ideas developed in connection with the critical reflection of the methodology the whole discourse about normality of a biographical pathway (here of young people) is called in question. This is embodied in the vocabulary (e.g. “low achievers”) and in the “measures” (like re-integration) which aim at drawing back those young people to the mainstream. These discourses are formalized in sociological, psychological and last not least pedagogical theories which means that the whole issue of re-integration poses serious questions about power relations and democracy.

Of course, these deliberations have also influenced the construction of the QSED. Therefore the two approaches should be perceived as mutually complementary and not as standing in opposition to each other.

For practical purposes, it is recommended that particularly the practitioners, but also planners and decision makers may use the QSED for evaluation and development. But especially when external experts can be employed for assisting in this procedure they may introduce the critical aspects represented through the TRDM, even more so if they are researchers who follow the principles of action research. The tool QSED is available in English and German while Greek and Portuguese versions are in the making.

1.3.7 Transcultural recommendations for the improvement of the quality of re-integration programmes

In view of the great diversity of re-integration programmes within the individual countries, but particularly between them, recommendations must be of a more general characteristic which is valid for the more basic features. On the other hand, the transcultural diversity represents also a great advantage because it opens up, by way of mutual learning, the horizon of the single cultural settings for approaches which differ completely from the ones one is acquainted with.

The recommendations are based on the typology of welfare regimes and their concomitant structures of VET and school-to-work transition. This is worked out in chapter 3 (Cultural and Historical Contextualisation of Integrative Approaches). In addition, they are strongly influenced by the results of the empirical field research for the cultural, societal and socio-economic (macro-)level which has been incorporated into the self-evaluation tool QSED. From the latter recommendations also for the meso- and micro-level are reconstructed.

In order to combine the European dimension with the requirement of valuing the cultural differences, a three-dimensional transcultural framework of recommendations has been developed in chapter 12.

The first dimension or direction of analysis is designed according to the typology of welfare regimes and structures of VET and school to work transitions. Four types have been defined:

- the Nordic universalistic welfare regime with a concomitant school based VET structure;
- the employment based welfare regime of Central Europe where VET-systems of alternance between companies and VET schools are prevailing;
- the liberal welfare state, mainly to be found in the UK, where VET provision and school-to-work transition are strongly based on market principles;
- the less institutionalised welfare regimes of the countries of Southern Europe where non-formal ways of school-to-work transition are dominant, at the same time supported by still strong family ties.

The second direction of analysis is identical with the six dimensions constructed for the QSED tool, apart from the fact that “Funding/Administrative Structures” and “Recognition of Skills/Assessment” are here integrated into the other four dimensions. Therefore the main dimensions of the recommendations are:

- Collaboration (of actors and institutions),
- Reflexivity (self-evaluation possibly combined with reflective external evaluation),
- Inclusiveness (as in variance with separating the disadvantaged young people from the mainstream),
- Situated Pedagogy (as defined before).

Thus the basic focus of the recommendations is abbreviated as CRIS – Collaboration, Reflexibility, Inclusiveness and Situated Pedagogy.

These four dimensions depict the most important concerns emphasised by the recommendations for the various cultural settings, but always retaining a transcultural perspective for these fundamental centres of interest. The third direction of analysis is given through the application of the three-level approach: recommendations

- on the macro-level, to be espoused by politics and planning,
- on the meso-level, to be enacted by institutes and programmes,
- on the micro-level, to be realised in educational practice.

Through the second and third direction of analysis 12 “building blocks” of European recommendations are defined. They are applied to the four cultural settings, always employing the transcultural perspective, resulting in altogether 48 areas of recommendations.

The details are to be found in the respective chapter 12 of the report.

The Transcultural Recommendations are available as a separate booklet in English and German.

2 Introduction Beatrix Niemeyer

At both European and national levels much emphasis is put on the reduction of youth unemployment and the improvement of school to VET transition. A wide range of interventions have been designed and implemented in the majority of European countries, aiming to help young people to follow on with learning or broader forms of skills development, in order that they can 'reconnect' with the social mainstream of further training and work. These programmes aim to promote the trainability and the employability of the young and to support their social integration, to re-motivate them for training and education, to qualify them for the labour market and to enable them to participate as citizens. In general these programmes are understood as bridges between education and labour market entry. In the following publication these programmes will shortly be called Re-integration programmes. Many of them have developed innovative approaches to vocational education, including new methodologies and didactical means. Quality development, evaluation and self-evaluation in this field are challenging and sensitive topics for practitioners as well as for researchers. By a mutual reflection process, the Leonardo project RE-INTEGRATION – TRANSNATIONAL EVALUATION OF SOCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL RE-INTEGRATION PROGRAMMES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE has developed an analytical tool for the evaluation of Re-Integration programmes at the European level, taking into account that evaluation criteria cannot neglect national and cultural conditions and may not be imposed against the wishes and expertise of practitioners.

This final report will present the outcomes of the Leonardo-project Re-Integration, focusing on the QSED – Quality through self-evaluation and development tool, which has been developed in close co-operation with practitioners from the field as a tool for reflective self-evaluation of practitioners, planners and decision makers of re-integration programmes for disadvantaged young persons in the participating countries. The following chapters will present and explicate the QSED as well as an extended version of it, the TRDM – transnational reflection and development methodology. They will be explained as a model of evaluation which is strongly stressing the idea of “self-experts”. It is based on the principle of self-reflection and as such can be applied in transnational contexts and on multiple levels of practice, planning and policy making in the sensitive and important field of support of school to VET transition. This report will further relate the QSED to the ongoing discourse of evaluation in the participating countries as well as to the social and cultural context of re-integration programmes and will provide a framework for transnational application. Furthermore it will discuss specific challenges arising from this subject-oriented approach of self-evaluation and will present implications resulting from this specific type of reflective evaluation on the micro- meso and Individual-level.

This first chapter will inform about the background of the project. It will explain how it has emerged from a continuous process of mutual European research and will contextualise the focus of research in the field of European educational and social policies as well as with reference to educational theories. An overview on the progress of the research community will be given and specific challenges in developing a transnational evaluation tool for re-integration programmes will be identified. Practical and theoretical results will be introduced.

2.1 Partnership

The project could profit from a stable and very active partnership of researchers, which has been working together over a period of 5 years now, since all partners had been active in the previous Socrates project, Re-Enter - Improving Transition from School to Vocational education and Training for low achieving school leavers (Evans / Niemeyer 2004). Partners were the Department of Education, University of Jyväskylä, Finland, the Institute of Education, University of London, Great Britain, the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Lisbon, Portugal, the Laboratory of Educational Studies, University of Patras, Greece, the Higher Institute for Labour Studies, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, co-ordinated by the Institute of Technical Vocational Education, University of Flensburg, Germany. All partners being engaged in a variety of research projects on the EU-level made it possible to profit form a long continuity of the project partnership, which has helped to achieve an extraordinary analytical depth. In addition a continuous link between research and practice was at the core of the project, becoming part of a constant process of formative evaluation within the project partnership. This was achieved in two ways:

1. It has become a habit to have a visit to practical activities in the research field and of the “cases” studied regularly on the agenda of the workshop meetings, which provided a lively experience and insight in complex educational contexts.
2. The partnership was enriched by the collaboration of partner organisations from the practical field of re-integration programmes.

2.2 Background of the project – From Re-Enter….

The Socrates project Re-Enter – Improving transition from school to vocational education and training for low achieving school leavers (11/1998 – 11/2000) was dealing with troubled school to VET transition for people with learning difficulties. Access to vocational education and training is of crucial importance for social integration and a preliminary condition to participate in work and citizenship. All over Europe however a growing number of young people fails to enter the vocational pathway at the first try, for various reasons. Without accomplished training and qualification measures these young bear a high risk of getting disengaged and being excluded. Their integration or re-integration therefore is a major challenge for educational as well as for social politics. Apparently the various specific programmes which have been designed to enhance re-integration of disengaged young are situated in a political field influenced by economy, educational and labour legislation. The target group is a rather heterogeneous one and may reach from teenage mothers to asylum seekers. Consequently programmes are challenged to support biographical development and to enable social and not only economic participation of the young. In spite of the outstanding importance of adequate educational approaches re-integration programmes so far have been exclusively evaluated against their effectiveness. To concentrate on job-placement rates neglects the importance of a holistic, subject oriented competence oriented support.

The Socrates project had focused on concepts of situated learning as adequate pedagogical approach, helping school weary young people to find their way back to education and training. The central research question was: How does situated learning help to improve school to VET transition for young people not adequately prepared for vocational education? Situated learning has been understood as a specific combination of learning while participating in a meaningful practical activity. During the course of the project a specific framework for situated learning had been developed, which was based on an “expanded” definition of the central features of learning to be

- situated in a meaningful context
- building on practical work experience
- allowing legitimate participation in a community centred on practice
- strengthening competences not deficits in an holistic approach,
- hence being socially, culturally and practically well situated.

These features have been elaborated in a mutual process of learning, different experiences from the participating countries having contributed from different angles with each contribution having as its focus a special feature of the common concept of situated learning and elaborating it against the background of the specific national experiences. During the work process it had become evident that existing programmes and their pedagogical approaches cannot be understood without knowing the educational system and the cultural background against which they have emerged. E. g. what is considered to be “normal” in transition is differing from country to country, depending amongst others on the status of VET in society. E. g. in some countries the pull of labour market is hard and it is easy to find low skilled jobs at an early age, so that vocational education and training seems to be unnecessary from the perspective of the young. In others the educational system establishes hurdles even for the mainstream. The results of re-enter can be summed up:

- target groups are very heterogeneous, differing from country to country
- programmes are socially embedded
- social integration has become more important than the enhancement of employability
- socially culturally and practically well situated learning promotes this type of integration by offering learning opportunities in meaningful contexts of learning communities centred on practice
- outcome oriented evaluation which is concentrating exclusively on job-placement-rates is not considered to be an appropriate means to value the quality of re-integration programmes
- cultural and regional specifities are forming exclusion and integration strategies to a large extent, they need to be sufficiently considered by evaluation tools

2.3 … to Re-integration

The Socrates project Re-Enter by means of secondary analysis has identified the target groups, and the educational approaches of programmes which have been designed to prevent their drop-out, showing the absolute necessity to develop adequate methods for primary research and qualitative evaluation of re-integration programmes on multiple levels. Statistics refer to the target group quantitatively, although by rather formal definitions, showing the pressing need for improved reintegration schemes. But how can the improvement of re-enter programmes through situated learning be assessed? How can a learning process, including development of soft skills and social skills be assessed?

While the Socrates project was restricted to secondary analysis in Re-Integration it was now possible to explore directly the effects on learners and to assess deeper the factors promoting and impeding the implementation of learning communities centred on practice, which during the Re-Enter project have been identified. Based on the commonly developed concept of situated learning Re-Integration has aimed

- to assess the effects of situated learning on the individual (micro) level
- to explore into the long term effects of situated learning in Re-Enter schemes
- to determine factors promoting and impeding situated learning by a multi-level approach.

The declared aim was a systematic evaluation of Re-Integration programmes applying situated learning on a transnational basis, including the development of an appropriate tool for a primary evaluation as a preliminary step. The underlying hypothesis states that the quality of Re-Enter programmes is expressed by the learning success of its participants. Presuppositions are that concepts of situated learning are applied in the learning arrangements of a programme and that learning includes the development of biographical competences – thus valuing the development of social and of vocational competences. Learning is understood in a broad sense including personal development of self and social competences in informal contexts far more than the accumulation of cognitive knowledge.

To improve or, in some cases for the first time, devise methods of evaluating re-integration initiatives for disadvantaged young persons, and supporting operators in the field (policy-makers, personnel in labour agencies, practitioners, etc.) aiming at improving the initiatives has been a complex task, which included to devise a set of qualitative indicators appropriate for the target group where each young person has to be dealt with according to his/her specific biography as well as to work out for each cultural setting, specific advice as to how to improve the initiatives. By way of "mutual learning" between the different countries with their fairly differing training systems the specificity of the Leonardo programme was of great help in achieving the objectives.

2.4 The context of the project– What does Re-Integration mean in the participating countries?

What are the main features, characterising and shaping the field of integration programmes in the countries which participated at this project?

In Germany structural difficulties shaping the problem zones are guidance and counselling systems, strongly oriented towards the labour market and not sufficiently taking into consideration young persons` individual abilities and needs. There are hardly any links between school and labour market, the school does not teach enough about work life and teachers do not feel adequately prepared for the target group. In addition in-built hurdles work against inclusiveness of the mainstream. Young people who have dropped out from the mainstream pathway of vocational education and training are offered a chance to reconnect either by special classes in vocational schools or – more prominent – by a variety of programmes combining work experience and general and theoretical vocational education, aiming to enable the young to take up and complete an apprenticeship.

In Britain personal attributes and competences often count as much as credits or qualification. Furthermore, there is a strong pull of the youth labour market; well-paid low skilled jobs are available, which draw people from training schemes. The consumer culture also contributes to drop-out from training to take up better paid casual jobs, while status and quality of many of the schemes remains low and they are criticised for abuses which use low cost workers and forget about the training aspects.

What choices do young people with no qualifications have in Portugal? In the big cities they survive within a marginal economy system, they can work in family or small enterprises or in low qualified jobs without any permanent or regular work contract. In the countryside the agriculture is an alternative. The motivation to chose VET is not very strong, because there are many alternatives to make a living without undergoing a special vocational training. While in the big cities young males have the chance to earn a living with unskilled or even illegal occupations, the problem is to motivate them for training and education and to reach them by training schemes.

Greece is characterised by a high participation rate in secondary education, but there is a large group of students that have completed the general secondary level education, without any technical or vocational training, and they have not passed the University entrance exams. These young people have no qualifications to enter the labour market, therefore there is a great need to re-enter the educational and training process and acquire qualifications.

Since programmes do have an inner link with the respective national VET systems their structures are of influence on their contents and learning concepts to a large extent. Where work based training is a central element of the VET system (e.g. Germany) programmes offer support for those young who cannot keep pace without additional help, be it for personal or social reasons. They provide a substitute for the training places lacking in the labour market, offer alternative routes or help to continue with VET by showing a comparably caring approach. Where VET is strongly school related (e.g. Finland) another intention of programmes is to promote the work based route as a valuable alternative, with high potential for learning and social integration. But as the case of Finland shows, it is of importance to consider how Re-Enter programmes are linked to the existing VET structures, if and how they can be integrated in the national system of vocational education, if and how their specific educational approaches can become part of the mainstream education. In countries where it is popular to enter the labour market on the direct way (e.g. Greece) the idea of training and learning as a possibility to escape the trap of poverty and low skilled, low paid jobs is of higher importance. Still, there are very few programmes in Greece, where many small enterprises offer job opportunities without training, thereby integrating young people during a stage of career orientation rather than excluding them. In Portugal education and training is also strongly linked to vocational schools, which shapes the approach of teachers and trainers and educational planners towards the problem of (re-) entering VET. In Great Britain however many options in the big variety of training programmes on offer continue to suffer from a lack of co-ordination and low standards of quality, despite the efforts to mainstream them through the 'foundation apprenticeship' model of youth training.

2.5 Challenges to Research – methodological reflections

Comparative research aiming to assess the quality of re-integration programmes in Europe has to adequately consider the varying integration strategies and how they are rooted in specific social politics as well as the heterogeneity of programmes (concerning differing modes and sources of funding, responsibility, relation to the VET system, duration) and the heterogeneity of target groups themselves and the heterogeneity of the ruling discourses on “disadvantages” and “risks” in the varying national contexts. In this field primary research on European level is still scarce. Especially qualitative explorations regarding the connection of socio-economic circumstances and adequate methods of guidance, training and general support of school to VET transition are lacking. Little is known about the long term effects of VET preparation programmes, the influence of socio-economic and cultural context of modes of school to VET transition, the learning effects on the individual level and about obstacles preventing the implementation of innovative education and training methods. The specific challenges which were faced by the research partnership can be illustrated by the following questions which have been discussed during the first workshop and continuously pooped up again on the agenda of reflective meetings.

- Evaluation

How can soft outcomes be measured? How can long term results be attributed to programme’s intervention and distinguished from other factors of influence throughout the course of biography?

How to deal with the fact that evaluation can be perceived as control?

- Practice

How is the relation of researchers and practitioners? How is assured that the outcomes of the research are of relevance for practitioners?

- EU policies and practices

How to handle the challenge to develop a transnational tool, knowing well about the cultural and structural differences of our nations’ VET systems? What is European about our work? How can differences and similarities be adequately taken into consideration? What is the European added value? How is the research field influenced by financial support from the EU (e. g. ESF-funded programmes)? Importance and influence of European money? How are national and international activities connected? In developing an evaluation tool how can unification of cultural differences be avoided?

- Theorie of situated learning

Is the focus of research on vocational or on social integration? How is the tension between leisure and labour market acitivites expressed by different integration practices? How do professional paradigms work against collaboration in re-integration programmes?

- Subject orientation

How to find out about how young people live/experience different pedagogical “treatments” (e.g. from different teachers, in different sections of the educational system), about critical incidents influencing/ stimulating learning or development processes, about the soft outcomes and learning gains of a programme from the subject’s perspective?

Table 2.1: Outcomes of the Socrates – Project “Re-Enter”

The intention became to develop an instrument which was useful for practitioners as well as for planners and which was self-applicable. During the course of the project and due to the close collaboration with actors in the field it became clear that we were to meet the need of practitioners for an instrument, which could help to improve their practice by reflecting on the quality of their professional work, which consequently implied to avoid to impose quality criteria but to help to have them elaborated resp. modified in the process of application of the instrument. During the reflective meetings and expert discussions with actors in the field it was made obvious that practitioners needed and wanted support and reflection, and that researchers could help to strengthen their arguments, and to develop strategies and supportive mechanisms helping to have their work better valued.

In summa the project community consented on the following criteria which were to be met by an instrument for the evaluation of re-integration programmes: an adequate tool or procedure had

- to value individual processes of development
- to value subject oriented strategies and forms of support which enhance competences instead of deficits
- to go beyond employability as exclusive quality criterion
- to enhance processes of (self-) reflection
- to develop an instrument which can be applied by all groups concerned on all levels (participants, pedagogues, trainers, decision makers, planners, etc.)
- to develop an instrument for qualitative not for quantitative evaluation
- to value processes instead of outcomes
- to enhance self-evaluation instead of imposing control norms.

The solution was a tool for self-evaluation which can be applied by practitioners, politicians and participants likewise to enforce reflection on programmes and processes of how they are organised and put into practice and ruled on.

Conceptually the project had a double focus and was actually dealing with two levels of evaluation: 1. the evaluation of programmes and 2. the assessment of learning progress. Empirical research in this field faces the problem, that the individual progress or success with learning or development can only be grasped in relation to the individual starting conditions , which are once again quite heterogeneous. Consequently the success of a programme is not only depending on the way how the general intention to enhance trainability and employability is transformed into target-group specific aims and how these aims are realised (organisational, institutional conditions) but also on the individual starting conditions of the participants. In-depth case studies which systematically and analytically grasp the phenomenon on the level of the acting individual were the methodological answer to this challenge. Apart from this in practice more questions arise: how can weak criteria be made assessable/hard? How can persons with low language skills be heard? How can we make them “talk”? How can progress in personal development be detected? What is considered to be progress?

The methodical approach which has been taken was one of a multi-level analysis. Focussing on the evaluation of processes of situated learning on the individual level, the institutional and socio-economic framework conditions influencing and shaping this learning process were systematically assessed, the findings on the individual level were linked back to the other two levels by expert discussions and by means of formative evaluation as has been explained. The methodological choice therefore was the framework of grounded theory (Glaser/ Strauss) which builds theory generating on continuous loops of reflection of empirical evidence gained in participative, collaborative, observing field research. A more detailed description will be given in chapter 4, however milestones of the research process shall be briefly introduced here.

2.6 Milestones – how did we proceed?

In a process of constant mutual reflection we developed and continuously elaborated, tested and refined an analytical framework, which was again tested and improved in expert discussions and criticised by practitioners.

1. Starting point: The criteria for well situated learning as they have been elaborated by the Socrates Re-Enter Project:

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Table 2.2: Criteria for situated learning developed in the project “Re-Enter”

2. Questions left open by the Re-enter project: Although it has been possible to develop this comprehensive list of criteria for situated learning in re-integrative programmes for persons at the risk of getting disengaged in theory as in practice the Socrates project left us with a another list of new questions for the further research:

- How are learning contexts arranged in a way that they provide meaning to learners?
- What are the assumptions made in the programmes we research into about cognitive and social processes?
- What is the balance between instruction given by teachers and trainers and the construction of competences by the learner?
- Do social and activity learning theories help to overcome the distinction between formal and informal learning?
- How do the power and authority relations in the community of practice influence learning?
- To what extent is co-operation and mutual learning of teachers, youth workers and vocational trainers really possible and how does it affect the learning of the trainee?
- What are the selection mechanisms (explicit and implicit) and how do they influence learning success?
- Is there an outreach service fitting in with the lifestyle of young people?
- How does the programme deal with strategies of avoidance?
- Are there structural co-operative links to other institutions concerned with re-enter, e. g. in the local labour market?

The Leonardo re-integration project was not designed to solve all these questions, but had to concentrate on those regarding the individual learning success (perceived as a holistic process of development of biographical competences) and how it could be enhanced by the context conditions. With the experience of the importance of cultural differences in the first period research and field access did not only concentrate on interaction but included meso- and Structural-level activities as well. Aiming at the development of methods to assess the positive impact of situated learning approaches on the target groups and to proof the quality of programmes applying situated learning and thereby to enhance this approach to strengthen individual shaping abilities and to strengthen empowerment for participation a first framework of criteria was elaborated in a common process of evaluation of data and experiences from the participating countries.

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Table 2.3: Features for a common three-level evaluation approach

3. Towards a common analytical framework for situated learning

During the following work period we were searching for situations giving evidence about the impact and effects of situated learning, which can be described in a way (precise and condensed) that they might serve as an analytical tool for evaluation and self-evaluation of actors in the field on themacro-, meso- and Individual-level. At that point of time the sociological term “indicator “ seemed to narrow the focus of our analyses. In another mutual process of reflection a list of commonly identified problems had been collected instead ..

4. List of commonly identified problems

Principles of good practice - Commonly found problems

1) Problems rather, but not exclusively referring to the Structural-level:

- What does integration mean in each country?
- Inclusiveness: make trajectories more inclusive / provide alternative trajectories / make mainstream more inclusive / avoid stigmatising projects / find and support heterogeneous pathways
- age: at which age is a young person expected to make an occupational choice?
- cultural traditions of inclusive / integrative practices: in comparison between professions: e.g. in Finland hairdressers are more integrative than car mechanics
- Macro: competition between systems, institutions or programmes
- policy level: accept alternatives, encourage alternative work sites
- funding: the majority of the programmes chosen is co-funded by the ESF!
- How can social stereotyping be avoided?

2) Problems rather, but not exclusively referring to the Institutional-level:

- How do participants come to a project?
- Valuing and rewarding competences required for effective teaching this target group
- develop networks of providers of jobs sympathetic with programmes
- networks for assessing support structures and resources
- co-operation with other systems of support, e.g. vocational school AND families
- level on which programmes are acting on the labour market
- which corridor of freedom, how much space do teachers have or take themselves to interpret curricula, how flexible are they, how much space do they take for creativity and interpretation?
- specialist training defined by clusters of pedagogy rather than by deficiencies of target groups
- overcoming loops
- conflicting, even contradictory ways on which incentives operate (e.g. UK)

3) Problems rather, but not exclusively referring to the Individual-level:

- How do participants come to a project?
- give young persons a voice
- different national ways of treating or reacting to strategies of avoidance:

e.g. exclusion from programme / reduction of payment / self-control-instruments

- language problems in two dimensions: foreign language and other social world
- approach towards students – demands put on them by teachers resp. trainers
- “people are really shy”
- importance of presentation sessions for learning success
- feed back/ self-evaluation, e.g. by filming stilt activities
- to give meaning also includes to give insight to the hidden curricula, to the work being done, e.g. explain what horse riding activities are good for
- Perspective on drop outs / what happens with drop-outs? significance of drop-out rate is very relative, drop out is not necessarily bad
- What is considered to be success? / broadening definition of what counts as success
- how is progress / moving on to next step initiated, if students feel too comfortable in the programme (re-interpretation: continuity is already a success compared to fragmented life before or compared to dropping out)
- recognise different cultural and ethnic backgrounds in practical ways: prepare different language material!

The next step was to integrate these complex and context depending quality criteria for situated learning into an instrument for evaluation that met the above mentioned challenges. During the process of the re-interpretation of the perception of the evaluation concept during the following work period the central importance of reflection and self-reflection for a sensitive evaluation became clear. Reflection is understood as a specific subject oriented not normative approach of evaluation, and was the chosen way to answer the question: who should use and command on programme’s evaluation and the strong pull of practitioners as experts in the field to create something of relevance for their actual work. The QSED- Quality through self-evaluation and development tool (cf. chapter 6) as one of the primary results of the project is an analytical, not a normative tool. It provides a framework that can be used to examine (and improve) re-integration measures in all national contexts. By analysing and linking the different levels, indicators for ‘good practice’ shall be detected and can be further developed and/or adapted to the specific contexts. Another advantage of this tool is it’s multifunctionality. It can be used by practitioners as well as by researchers and policy makers or planners. It presents a way of understanding programmes as a part of macro structures and in connection to the experiences and activities of different practitioners. Thus it is a way of constructing a holistic, interconnected understanding instead of a table consisting of disconnected pieces. The model is a contribution to evaluation practices. The aspects of re-integration processes and activity systems should be re-defined during the evaluation process. Thus the QSED presents an analytical tool to assess re-integration measures. Firstly it distinguishes three different levels (cf. macro, meso, Individual-level):

1. Context: Does the context allow good practice? Does it support it?
2. Activities (programme): How are the activities tuned into the needs of the youngsters, given the context?
3. Actions and experiences: What conditions do the first and second level have to deal with? And: what is the result of the activities?

The QSED is constructed as a complex set of indicators to be applied and further developed by those who use it. It is transformable to multiple levels and contexts and can be used even for transnational comparisons. In addition to the QSED the TRDM – transnational reflection and development methodology was developed as a result of and a tool for further action research in the field of re-integration.

2.7 Results

The Leonardo project Re-Integration has led to innovative results in practice and theory, which will be presented in the following chapters. In accordance with the aims indicated in the application it has led to

- QSED-Quality through self-evaluation and development – a multilevel and transnational interactive instrument to enhance a sustainable process of quality assessment of re-integration programmes by practitioners, planners and decision makers which is build on and includes a comprehensive set of indicators for learning success of participants of re-enter programmes and is regarding the socio-economic context of programmes and learners.
- TRDM-Transnational Reflection and Development Methodology as an abstract constructivist model for this type of self-evaluation which can be further applied and refined in the evaluating practice of practitioners.
- information on the effects of re-enter programmes on career biographies over a mid term period .
- recommendations for the improvement of the quality of re-integration programmes based on Collaboration, Reflection, Inclusiveness and Situated Learning - CRIS as a guiding framework for transnational evaluative comparison of re-integration policies and practices.
- Thus the project has contributed to the further development of theories of situated learning in communities centred on practice.


Evans, Karen; Niemeyer, Beatrix (2004), Reconnect – Countering Social Exclusion through situated learning, Drodrecht NL: Springer

Niemeyer, Beatrix, Re-enter – Improving transition form school to vocational education and training for low achieving school leavers. Executive summary of the Socrates Project. Flensburg 2001.

Glaser, Barney G. ; Strauss, Anselm L. (1967), The discovery of Grounded Theory. Strategies for qualitative research. New York.

Glaser, Barney G. ; Strauss, Anselm L. , Die Entdeckung gegenstandsbezogener Theorie: Eine Grundstrategie qualitativer Sozialforschung. IN:Hopf,C.; Weingarten, E.(Hrsg.): Qualitative Sozialforschung. 2.Aufl., Stuttgart 1984, S.91-111.

3 Cultural and historical contextualisation of integration approaches

Dimitra Kondily and Beatrix Niemeyer

3.1 Our globalised world and the place of youngsters

At the beginning of the 21st century we face and live rapid changes which affect the way citizens, values and rights have been conceived till know. The European welfare states havea more consumer oriented relation which is influencing fundamental rights as education, employment and social protection. The citizens’ situation within the above mentioned rights determines in a decisive way its own perception of society and determines the inclusiveness or exclusiveness of the individual in the given sociopolitical environment he/she lives in.

The economic, political and ideological context of European welfare states were altered by the globalization of economy and the relative decline of the nation state

(R. Mishra 1990) and by changes in the labour market (growth of the service sector) and in the family structures (women’s entry into the labour market, demographic tendencies ) along with technological development (G. Esping-Andersen 1990).

Between the last quarter of the 19th century and the middle of the ‘70s industrial societies through Europe and North America developed a range of social programmes and services which further became known as welfare states. By the 60’s, across the advanced capitalist world, the state had taken responsibility for a wide range of activities that had previously been provided either by the market or by unpaid labour within the family. These elements of the welfare state tented to include unemployment payments, family benefits, healthcare, pensions etc.

The welfare tradition of each country has an impact on the historical and cultural context concerning Re-integration measures to combat unemployment, and there from to respond to the particular needs of our target group with regard to the inclusion process. A key word of the youth situation regarding the troubled process of transition from school to vocational education and training is precariousness. Feeling precarious can steem from different experiences:

a) in relation to the placement into the labour market
b) from failure of family ties
c) from leave or exclusion from the educational system /compulsory education

3.2 Globalisation and the impact on the different traditions of the welfare state

Employment policies and Re-integration schemes are interpreted within the overall social protection system and the tradition of welfare provisions. For the purpose of our analysis we will use the typology of the so –called three welfare regimes in the book on“ the three worlds of welfare capitalism” by G.ESPING-ANDERSEN (1990). Welfare state is a complex of legal and organizational features that are systematically interwoven. It is a label for a certain class of democratic industrial capitalist societies, which are characterized by the state playing a principal part in the welfare state mix alongside with the market, civil society and the family. The author claims that welfare systems in advanced capitalist societies are well classified according to three main types as following:

- liberal, (including the welfare system of countries such as the USA, Australia and Canada) which embodies individualism and the primacy of the market, social benefits are not generous and do not offer an alternative to the labour market. The social benefits are directed at low-income categories and are provided on the basis of means-tests. This type of welfare state requires a kind of redistribution but also creates a class of stigmatized and marginalized welfare recipients. There are no strong interventions of the state in ensuring social security while private insurance or pension schemes operate the social insurance system.
- conservative or employment based (including most European continental countries such as Austria, France, in our case Germany), which is shaped by the twin historical legacy of Catholic social policy, on the one side and corporatism and etatism on the other side. Distribution of social benefits is regulated on the basis of social needs, the state is the central provider of welfare benefits. Social policy programmes vary greatly according to occupational groups, where each category possesses its own welfare program (health insurance, pension etc) and defends it as the mark of its special status. In that sense, this welfare system does not redistribute income or has an impact on the existing social hierarchy.
- universalistic or social democratic type (including all Nordic countries, in our case Finland) directed towards achieving a system of generous universal and highly distributive benefits not dependent on any individual contributions, generally dedicated to full employment.

The criticism on ESPING –ANDERSEN’s analysis is focused on the absence of the gender dimension of the welfare system (women’s employment, family support) (Lewis 1993) and on the neglection of peripheral systems. It is worth mentioning that ESPING-ANDERSEN refers to the social state-market nexus not to the family and it is based on “social security” programmes. The analysis does not deal with social services as such. Social security represents the male side of social welfare, in the form of income transfers, participation in the labour market etc. Social services are more likely to involve women. As to the concept of income transfers it already involves a gender dimension since it ignores under which conditions women experience welfare institutions as well as to which extent they provide welfare services within the frame of the family (Lewis 1993).

Some authors have further developed typologies with the so-called “Southern or Latin Rim model” in order to include Spain, Portugal and Greece. FERRERA (1996) has introduced a properly European typology, which is based on three dimensions of social security systems:

1. rules of access
2. conditions under which benefits are granted
3. organizational-managerial administration.

This typology responds better to the countries which participate in our project (Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Portugal, United Kingdom) and serves the purposes of our specific project. Accordingly four types of states can be distinguished:

1. The liberal model

It is presented in the Anglo-saxon fairly high welfare state covering the following features: Social policy is centred on the individual working in a flexible economy. An important challenge towards modernization is the investment on human /social capital. Social policy is led by the idea of “situations of high risk“ and the principle of social justice rather than social equality. Globalisation, decline in the fordist mode of production and its replacement by more dynamic fragmented post-fordist methods, the associated decline in the importance of “class” and the increasing importance of the “new individualism” flexibility and knowledge society, emphasis on technology and service sector are further features. Unlike neoliberalism, this does not restrain the role of the state to an absolute minimum. But it does imply an important shift which is directed from the traditional social democracy in favour to decentralization, a “social investment state” and a concern for social inclusion rather than equality per se.

2. The employment based model

It is shaped by a strong link between work position (and/ or family state) and social entitlements. Benefits are related to income. Social support systems are financed through contributions; they provide reasonably substantial social benefits. These insurance schemes are mainly governed by unions and employers organizations (Germany, Belgium). E. g. in Belgium, the mainstream designs a social or welfare active state (Vandenbroucke 1999 et adopted by the government declaration September 1999) instead of the traditional. This active social state is a society with active citizens, a state expecting the active participation of every citizen and “tailored” social protection. It is not an authoritarian state but is characterized by a strong demand for participation. It leaves more space for the mobilization of the social actors. People have rights and duties as well, but the social protection is reformulated by the notions of participation and responsibility. It is similar to the idea of Gidden’s Social Investment State (1998). A main argument is based on the idea that the traditional welfare state deals with allowances instead of providing new chances.

3. The universalistic or Nordic type

Here social protection is perceived as a citizenship right. It is characterized by universal coverage and relatively generous fixed benefits for various social risks, which are mainly financed through fiscal revenues.It shows a strong organizational integration (Finland).

4. The Southern type

It is characterized by a fragmented system of income guarantees related to work position. There are relatively generous benefits without an articulated net of minimum social protection. Health care is presented as a right of citizenship whilst the services provided remain rather poor and underfunded. We can state a selective distribution of cash benefits and financing, financing through contributions and fiscal revenues, neglection of the gender dimension in social policy (Portugal, Greece)[1]. Widespread clientelism in these countries derives partly from the importance of the family the interests of which often override any other considerations. There is a strong presence of middle-class strata of petty-traders, self-employed professionals whilst a differentiation with regard to the culture and practice of voluntarism is reflecting differences in religious values and the role of the state.

In Portugal Catholicism has played an important role as a provider of welfare services and promoted the subsidiarity pole within society. As a matter of fact it has enhanced the role of the family in welfare delivery. At the same time, it has facilitated the institutionalisation of voluntary action in social protection (Petmezidou 1996). This involvement partly explains the relative strength of the Catholic Church vis-à-vis the state at least until the end of dictatorship regime (1974). The Catholic Church is involved in re-integration activities for young people as well as in VET in the country.

On the contrary the Orthodox Church in Greece, has a strong link with the state (economic and administrative dependence). Its fragmental involvement in the welfare provision conserves the “attitude of a philanthropic assistance”. Another example of this kind of welfare state are the strong clientelistic forms of social organization. Through this function individuals or families can obtain resources through political pressure, so family bounds can be seen as well not only as a traditional characteristic of the southern culture but also as a main component of the statistic/clientelistic forms of social organization consolidated in the post war period. At the same time family ensures the most important role in welfare services for all social groups: older people, unemployed youth, youngsters in educational curricula etc. Another important element is the fragmentation of social insurances with a mixture of compulsory and supplementary funds.

With regard to the unemployment strategies: both countries lack well designed social assistance schemes for young unemployed people. With regard to active employment measures (vocational training youth schemes and subsidized employment) a very low percentage of the GDP in comparison with other EU countries has been spent by Portugal (1999 0,84%) and Greece (0,39%).[2]

We deal with different traditions and social transformations. The challenge for the states of the European Union is to deal with these different experiences of welfare in order to reduce social inequalities within Europe and enhance social Europe through a new social contract involving civil society and the states. Paradigms, good practices, negative experiences to interpret are present and they are going to be taken into account by the European nation mosaic. Opening up channels of exchange involves not only the incorporation of such social experiences but also a different vision of welfare.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

A synopsis of this chapter is a table which presents the inefficiency of the percentage of social expenditures to combat social poverty and inequality in Greece and Portugal in comparison to the other four countries.

Table 3.1: Source: Eurostat «The Social situation in the European Union” Brussels, 2002/ newspaper Kathimerini, 7/02/04

3.3 Change of concept: From poverty to social exclusion

Social policy discourses in the European Union shifted from “poverty” terminology to a “social exclusion concept” since the early 90’s in combination with the slowing down of economic growth and the full employment, causing an increasing pressure on the welfare state ( Evans 1998). In particular the social exclusion terminology emerges in relation to problems of the modern welfare states such as long-term unemployment and poverty, changes in the family structure, retrenchment of the welfare state. These elements shape the “new poor’ of Europe.

The concept of social exclusion appears in France in the early ‘70s as a response to the problem of sustaining social integration and solidarity (Glossaire comparatif, 2002)[3]. It referred to those who could not benefit from social insurance programmes. Young drop-outs were part of the excluded. During the ‘80s the Mitterand´s government introduced the Minimum Income for Social Integration (RMI), a minimum income floor transfer for people who could not benefit from social programmes (Cousins 1999) in order to maintain social cohesion in France and facing the «new problems» ( family structures change, unemployment, gettos etc).

In the UK, during Thatcher’s government the discourse was centered on the “underclass debate” moving towards the term “social exclusion” imported from France by the New Labour government in the ´90s. The connotation changes according to the political, academic and ideological context in which it is being used.

The term of social exclusion was first used on the European level in 1989 by the E.U linking social exclusion with the inadequate realisation of social rights in the Green Paper for Social Policy (1993 under the presidency of Jacques Delors). According to this definition, a part of the population is excluded from the social and financial opportunities. In 1990, the European Observatory on national Policies for Combating Social Exclusion was set-up to examine the «social rights of citizenship to a basic standard of living and to promote the participation in major social and economic opportunities in society» (Cousin 1999).

The current definition of the excluded reflects sweeping economic and social changes which took place in Europe during the last 20 years. It is connected with the significant changes in employment structures, perturbation in the traditional life-work trajectories of the individuals, rise of long term unemployment and poverty, a considerable number of people relying on assistance from the state, youth problems etc. The social exclusion framework emerges at a period where the welfare states on the one hand are criticized since they did not succeed to address poverty and social problems, while on the other hand they have created a number of dependent people, relying on welfare benefits. Welfare states were established on the basis of full-employment. The current changes in the employment structure decrease the possibility for the existence of a stable full-employment. The social transformations sustain fragmentations which lead people to the margins of society by breaking links. Social exclusion does not focus on equality of outcomes but on the equal freedom to enjoy the rights of citizenship (Klasen, 1998) such as education, employment, social insurance etc.

3.4 Social policies against social exclusion: the integration measures

According to WILLIAMS (1999), the most important political and philosophical issue of our era is: “How to bridge the commitment to universalism while upholding respect for particularity and differences?” How do we reassert the social in terms of themarket-centered society?

The European Union argues in a problematic way, when continuing to perceive social exclusion rather as an individual deficit than as an institutional or a socially constructed obstacle. Positive steps have been made through the implementation of European Programmes such as “Leonardo da Vinci”, “Adapt” etc. The White Paper on European social policy deals with integration in terms of paid work, need for flexible work, as well as reduced social expenditures. Emphasis was given at work, thus in recent years a turning point was reached through coordinated actions and supportive measures related to the project. Apart from helping people to find a job, they were also provided with social assistance, education-vocational training, skills etc. since job creation may not be sufficient to move from the status of social exclusion to social integration.

Integration approaches should not face poverty and social exclusion phenomena as individual problems. As an example, unpaid-voluntary-work, especially for young people should be connected with the social insurance system of each country.

The Structural Funds Framework (ESF) also deals with integration processes in terms of providing opportunities of employment and education for various groups of unemployed people including young people. In the following section we will present the basic elements of the function of labour market in the countries involved.

The operations of those labour markets could contribute to a great extent to solve the social problems which have been previously presented.

3.5 Common features in relation to the employment and function of the labour market of the 6 countries

In the context of the new information society or the knowledge-based society, the introduction of the need for continuing education and on-going enhancement of human capital into policies of the EU points to fruitful links between education and training schemes in order to ensure the social integration of individuals through the access to the labour market. During the latest years, middle 80’s till now, continuing education and training systems have led to the promotion of improvement and revitalization of human capital skills and capabilities. Reforms of the education and VET systems in the EU and, of course, the six participating countries have influenced learning methods to a great extent, but without considerably influencing the different traditions. Each country is tackling with youth unemployment in accordance with EU directives, National Action Plans, ESF and other initiatives. And according to the Lisbon meeting an important emphasis has been given on education and training, modernizing social protection and on a call to all social partners to be more actively involved in the elaboration of Action plans (Lisbon meeting

Given the wide structural diversity of European educational systems the transition process from general education to VET does not start at the same age for all six countries. In Belgium, the entrance age of young people in initial training is close to the European maximum. According to the extension of the compulsory education up to the 18th years of age, a large number of young people are trained in schools, which they attend after the end of full-time compulsory schooling. VET in Belgium orientates the government to the development of institutions which will operate between school and enterprise, which means the existence of professional integration bureaus. Beyond the age of 24, on the other hand, the proportion of students is lower than elsewhere. In Portugal the proportion of young people under 20 in education is lower than the European average. After 20, the proportion of young people in VET is intermediate. In Greece because of the high level of participation in higher education, the proportion of young people in VET is intermediate up to 22 and lower beyond this age.

Germany and Finland have a high proportion of young people in VET at every age. It is due to the dual system in Germany and the strong linkage between employers and schools who jointly are involved in the provision of training. Another factor are the agreements between social partners in order to define the educational/vocational prerequisites the local markets need.

In Finland however the high proportion of young people participating in VET is due to the fact that training in the school environment predominates. In the UK the philosophy of young people’s access to the labour market is the transition from school to work. Finland, Germany and the UK lay emphasis on the certifications and diplomas of VET. Authorities involved in VET deliver such certificates and employers use them in their recruitment decisions.

The impact of networks which is very strong refers to the success of vocational measures and policies in all countries. The difference between the countries is the kind of these networks: networking of the social partners concerning the northern countries, family bounds and social networks in the South. The UK is a special case, dealing with a big variety of networks and problematic coordination among them.

3.6 Excursus: EU most important policy suggestions to tackle youth unemployment

Based on previousPrevious and current experience of the implementation of the programmes against youth’s unemployment through the Structural Funds Framework, White Papers on Social policy (1994), Medium Term Social Action Programme (1995-97) as well as research findings, expert committees[4] recommend these elements which must be taken into account:

1) Pioneering new thinking, which means active measures through various support services, education, training and work experience. The ESF programmes (20% of the total budget from 1994-99) were designed partly for the occupational integration of young people. The Youthstart strand has implemented diverse projects for young people under 20.
2) Bridging the gap between education and work: the EU initiatives focus on three groups of youngsters a) early school leavers, b) young people with no skills or qualifications and c) unemployed.

Emphasis must be given for education and training. Action must be taken for establishing work experience schemes in order to set up counseling systems for individuals. Youth unemployment problems prevail despite higher educational standards in Europe than ever before. Approximately 70% of the young Europeans who do not have jobs enter the upper secondary level of education. 20% of the young Europeans have attained university degrees. On the other side many young people fail to complete compulsory education.

3) One in five leave education without qualifications. Over 40% of Europeans SMEs report a shortage of adequate skills as an obstacle to recruitment. Potential employers complain that education is too far removed from the world of work.

Looking to the future, there are two important factors, which will affect youth unemployment. The demographic trend goes towards fewer births, more people over 60 than young people under 20. This fact does not per se solve the probem of demand and supply if the skills are not adequate for the labour market demands.

3.7 Re-Integration programmes

Although the question of social integration of a growing number of young people who are in trouble with established transition routes from school to work is of overall concern in all EU member states, the approaches to face this challenge are interrelated to the respective historical, economic and political structures and the specific cultural concept which has emerged from these. The political and educational responsibility for re-integration programmes and moreover the pedagogical approach they promote are shaped by two main factors: by the reigning welfare policy on the one hand and by the established mainstream routes, i. e. the system of vocational education and training on the other.

Building on the above elaborated socio-political contextualisation which distinguished between the Nordic, the employment-based, the liberal and the southern European type of welfare state, four different types of systems for vocational education and training (cf. Heidegger 2004) which are closely corresponding can be identified. They are shaped by the following structural features:

- the school-based VET-system in the Nordic countries with a close relation between theory and practice, but little enterprise experiences, which is constructed and perceived as part of the educational system and consequently claiming a general integrative function but leaves a high risk of youth-unemployment after school;
- the dual system, providing strict structural pathways of alternating in-company training and learning at school. It is situated in between economy and education; because of strictly defined standards and because of a direct dependency on the employment market the access thresholds as well as drop-out rates are comparably high;
- a market based VET-system in the Anglo-Saxon countries which is closely corresponding to market needs and offers a flexible learning and training situated in authentic work contexts, but provides little general education for citizenship and no secured pathways of transition;
- a broad mixture of non-formal access to labour and training in the southern countries rooted in a strong tradition of informal learning in an economy shaped by small and medium sized companies and strong family networks.

Both factors – welfare and VET- structures – reign on the way how alternative trajectories from school to VET and work are provided for young people who are at the risk of social exclusion and determine the definition of disadvantages as well as the pedagogical approach of support programmes. In accordance the following typology of re-integration programmes can be deducted (cf. Pohl/Walther and Evans/Niemeyer 2004), which refers to

1. how the programmes are generally situated in the landscape of education and labour
2. how programmes are legitimised, which are the prevailing paradigms of disadvantages
3. what are the dominating expectations of youth and how youth-unemployment is perceived:

- programmes aiming to open up alternative individual experiences and to broaden the mainstream pathway of schooling, building on the idea of individual personal development with high options for occupational choice to be achieved by general education;
- measures aiming to compensate structural deficits and shortcomings of the apprenticeship market, ascribing individual deficits to participants and with long-term-effects on social participation because of the highly allocating function of the apprenticeship system;
- workfare programmes oriented towards the improvement of employability with a varying part of general and technical education, building on the paradigm of early economic independency leading to a comparably short period of youth;
- by way ofextension of schooling and emphasis on work placement, programmes aim to address the shortage of workplaces as well as a lack of training.

As a summary of this chapter an overview of the relation of welfare, VET systems and the social perception of youth is presented in the following table.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Table 3.2: Typology of re-integration programs in relation to VET and welfare contexts in the participating countries

3.8 As a conclusion

In a knowledge basedsociety education and training are among the highest political priorities. Updating and upgrading a high level of knowledge, skills and competencies is considered to be a prerequisite for the personal development of all citizens, and for participation in all aspects of society from active citizenship to labour market integration. The Lisbon European Council (March 2000) set the strategic goal for Europe, of becoming by 2010 “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge based society in the world with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. People are Europe’s main asset and should be the focal point of the Union’s policies”.

However progress will onlycome about as EU policies and funding achieve better educational and training standards. All the mentioned factors are essential if we want to build a healthier society based on strong democratic and egalitarian European traditions.

3.9 Appendix

In the following appendix we have elaborated some data provided by Eurostat (March 2002, latest wave on employment and labour market). We are presenting some numbers for further reflection with regard to young people´ expectations concerning employment, entrance to the labour market, priorities and life attitudes. The elaboration of data include the six countries of the Re-Integration project: Belgium, Germany, Greece, Finland, Portugal, United Kingdom.

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[1] In W. Arts and J. Gelissen “ Three worlds of welfare capitalism or more? A state –of- the-art report” article in Journal of European Social Policy , Vol 12 (2) :137-158, 2002 SAGE Publications, London

[2] Other authors argue that Mediterranean countries can be situated in the conservative model of Esping Andersen’s classification, although they constitute an underdeveloped version of it (for instance Katrougalos 1996 “The South European welfare model: the Greek welfare state, in search of an identity”, Journal of European Social Policy , vol. 6,1:39-60). Their welfare underdevelopment is caused by the underdevelopment of their economy , located, as it is, at the periphery of Europe and the instability of democratic regimes.

[3] Vocabulaire européen autour de la précarité et de la délinquance des jeunes, term social exclusion. Pays concernes Allemagne,/Belgique/Grèce /Pays Bas, Prototype Mai 2002

[4] Among others the “ European Report on Quality Indicators of Lifelong Learning” based on the work of the Working Group on Quality Indicators . It has already set up 15 Quality Indicators with respect to the quality of education, training and lifelong learning “ fully respecting the responsibility of the Member States for the content of teaching and organization of educational systems and their cultural and linguistic diversity”.

279 of 279 pages


Transnational Evaluation of social and professional re-integration programmes for young people
University of Flensburg  (biat (Berufsbildungsinstitut Arbeit und Technik))
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ISBN (Book)
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Berufspädagogik, Benachteiligtenförderung, Re-Integration Eu-Project, Selbstevaluation, Universität Flensburg, biat, Final Report
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Wiebke Petersen (Author)Gerald Heidegger (Author)Beatrix Niemeyer (Hrsg.) (Author), 2005, Re-Integration, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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