During the months of May and June 2023, the ENE Sharing Innovation for Social Inclusion initiative (SISI), aiming at drafting a roadmap to social inclusion in Vocational Education and Training by bringing together the collective experience of VET centres from Africa, Central Asia, Middle East, and Europe, entered the core of its second phase.

Harvesting from the peer learning activities conducted both in presence and on-line during the first phase of the initiative, the ENE SISI team proposed a series of three online thematic meetings open to the public, which findings were wrapped up during a final workshop meeting reserved for the ENE Network members.

The aspects of technology, pedagogical innovation, and work-based learning in the profiles linked to social inclusion have been addressed during these thematic meetings, with the technical assistance of ENAIP NET’s team and with the intervention of valuable speakers both from the CoVEs participating to the initiative and from European-level entities.

The three open thematic meetings were greeted with great participation in terms of public and involvement, confirming an increasing interest on these topics in the VET world, demonstrating how the social vocation of VET can be increased and strengthened through innovation in the three addressed fields.

Technology innovation and its application to social inclusion in VET was addressed during the first thematic meeting, held online on May 4th, 2023.

As first, Lev Berman and the AMAL CENTRE team (Israel) addressed the question: how can conflicts and social challenges be solved using metaverse technologies? They brought their experience in carrying out innovative workshops with the AMAL Centre students through the help of these technologies. They simulated possible solutions to conflict-related topics, starting from current events, such as the conflict in Ukraine.

Then, Ainhoa de la Cruz and Alfredo Garmendia of Centro San Viator (Spain) spoke about the experience of their centre in employing virtual reality as a tool of inclusion, in particular as it has been used as an aid to train students with Special Education Needs in their school.

Finally, Marc Cloostermans of the Public Employment Service of Flanders – VDAB (Belgium) developed an in-depth reflection on how to strengthen the position of people marginalised by the labour market through the aid of technologies, in particular addressing operator assistive technologies.

For more information and the recording of the event, please visit the Open Space page of the webinar: ETF NETWORK FOR EXCELLENCE - SISI: SHARING INNOVATION IN SOCIAL INCLUSION- Technologies for Social Inclusion in Education and Work -  first thematic meeting | Open Space (europa.eu)

On May 11th, 2023, the second thematic meeting was held, focusing on pedagogical innovation for social inclusion. The webinar highlighted the perspectives of DAPP Mikolongwe Vocational School (Malawi) and DAPP Ponesai Vanhu (Zimbabwe) on the above mentioned topic. In particular, HUMANA’s representative,  Ana Ramos, introduced the two national contexts and their peculiarities regarding the VET world, and how Humana is working with these schools. Then, Mikolongwe Vocational School’s Enock Jumah and Charles Salema focused on their centre's “mobile training programme”. They tackled the conditions leading to its success in reaching marginalized communities in rural areas of Malawi, by answering to the question: how can pedagogical innovation contribute to reach the hardest to reach?

Terence Makumbe and Kingdom Chipupururu of DAPP Zimbabwe VET centre have then brought their experience on the collaborative pedagogy approach, through the involvement of all of local stakeholders revolving around the institute, along with the process to adopt new pedagogies to promote social inclusion. The collaborative pedagogy approach in this context has been interpreted as mean to catalyse social inclusion in a VET system.

For a cross-continent perspective on the topic, Centro San Viator’s Ainhoa de la Cruz and Alfredo Garmendia, along with Christopher Anso from JOBITECH (Nigeria) talked about their experience with the SAAM program (Supporting Alliance for African Mobility) and how it is developing innovative approaches with partners and stakeholders by piloting an action in educational mobility of VET students and professionals between Africa and Europe.

For more information and the recording of the event, please visit the Open Space page of the webinar: ETF NETWORK FOR EXCELLENCE - SISI: SHARING INNOVATION IN SOCIAL INCLUSION: Pedagogical Innovation for Social Inclusion - second online thematic meeting | Open Space (europa.eu)

The third thematic meeting, focused on work-based learning for social inclusion, took place on 18th May, 2023. Besim Xhaja (Head Department of Quality Assurance, Employers’ Representative, Students/WB Learning, Erasmus WBL Mobility of Tirana Tourism School, Albania) introduced the Albanian perspective on the subject Mr Xhaja and some Tirana Tourism School students shared precious insights on how the institute has been creating solid partnership with other organisations on the territory (about 270 enterprises are in partnership with them), granting impressive employment rates for their graduates. Mr. Gid Shaqir, general manager at MK Hotel in Tirana explained that one of the “win win” achievement consists in joining efforts between business sector and VET schools providing high level skills.

This first part of the meeting was followed by the intervention of Inovinter’s (Portugal) Alexandre Teixera, who explained different examples of his institute’s projects in Work Based Learning in the Portuguese context. In particular, he highlighted results of a project dealing with migration providing specific training courses. The main strength was involving many different stakeholders (communities of employers, associations, schools, companies, local and national policy makers, etc.)

Ana Zacharian, from Albanian Skills highlighted the awareness of private sector of the importance of VET schools, which are becoming more attractive and appealing, and, in many cases, students are contacted for a job even before they finish their study path at school.

Finally, Dioniso Parise, educational consultant at PARISE Educação & Inovação (Brasil), shared its organisation’s experience in bridging students from school to work through the WBL approach.

For more information and the recording of the event, please visit the Open Space page of the webinar: ETF Network for Excellence - SISI: Sharing Innovation in Social Inclusion - Work Based Learning and Social Inclusion | Open Space (europa.eu)

During the fourth and conclusive meeting, held on 28th June 2023, Ms. Tiziana Ciampolini, expert on innovation processes for poverty reduction and implementation of anti-poverty systems, presented the S-nodi association (Italy) and its experience in designing projects dealing with social impact.

It is agreed with the members that the development of action plans for social innovation in VET education should encompass several key areas of focus. These areas provide a framework for addressing the evolving needs and challenges within the education and training sector. The members emphasise that the continuation of this rewarding cross country/continent partnership will be sustainable if it is followed up/financially supported by the implementation and rolling out of the international/European developed tools and methodologies to explore and design innovative approaches that address social challenges within the realm of VET and to support the development of each institution. The members will use some selected methodologies and tools and adopt a participatory approach to experiment with their application. The activities will facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the scope of social innovation in VET education, allowing them to identify successful initiatives and areas requiring improvement and actions.

At the end of the meeting, planning tools prepared by the ENAIP NET’s team and inspired by the design thinking methodology for drafting an action plan for social inclusion have been shared with the participating CoVEs, bridging towards the conclusion of the initiative. The last phase of ENE SISI will see the drafting of a compendium for Social Inclusion in VET systems, starting from the experience raised during the peer learning activities and the thematic meetings implemented under the ENE SISI initiative.

For more information, please visit: ETF Network for Excellence - SISI Webinar: Sharing Innovation in ROADMAP TO SOCIAL INCLUSIONS | Open Space (europa.eu)

This blog has been jointly produced by ENAIP NET and the ETF.