14.07.2011 POLICY

European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network

The European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN) aims to assist the European Union Member States and the Commission in moving European cooperation on lifelong guidance forward in both the education and the employment sectors.

The purpose is to promote cooperation at Member State level on lifelong guidance and to propose appropriate structures and support mechanisms in implementing the priorities identified in the EU Council Resolutions on Lifelong Guidance (2004, 2008).

Role and mandate of the ELGPN

EU2020 is the successor to the Lisbon Strategy and has the challenge of proposing the EU's response to the fall-out of the economic and financial crises, globally provoked but with EU and national responsibility. The Communication of the Commission (2010) sets down three strategic policy directions/priority areas to re-invigorate economic growth:

Smart growth - developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation. Sustainable growth - promoting a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy. Inclusive growth - fostering a high-employment economy delivering economic, social and territorial cohesion.

These three priorities constitute the policy framework for European co-operation in the fields of the economy, employment, education and training, research and social inclusion for the next ten years. They will also be the political basis for the further financial perspectives from 2013 to 2018 with effects on the Lifelong Learning Programme and the cohesion policies (structural funds and, particularly, the European Social Fund). Each priority area has several Flagship Initiatives which include references to lifelong guidance.

The Commission, closely assisted by Cedefop and the European Training Foundation, has actively supported developments in lifelong guidance through commissioning studies, producing a handbook for policy makers jointly with the OECD, and promoting peer learning and the development of common reference tools with the support of a European expert group which met between 2002 and 2007. In 2007, the Member States decided to set up a European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN). The Commission currently provides financial support to the ELGPN under the Lifelong Learning Programme and takes part in meetings of the network.

The participating countries designate their representatives in the network, and are encouraged to include both governmental and non-governmental representatives. The Network meets twice a year and much of its detailed work has been conducted through smaller working groups. Field visits have enabled the host countries to inform and enrich their own policies and practices, and to involve key policy-makers within these processes. Through appropriate liaison arrangements, the network ensures regular contact with other relevant bodies and networks at national, European and international levels. With EU funding, international experts have been contracted to support the ELGPN's in-depth work.

As a Member-State-driven network, ELGPN also represents an innovative form of the Open Method of Co-ordination within the EU. The ELGPN aims to provide added value to participating countries, through actions which include:

Pooling of ideas on mutual problems and solutions.Testing of ideas and innovation. Showcasing of good practice. Streamlining practical operations and services by sharing insights across different countries, so as to boost performance and enable cost-effectiveness.

Added value of the ELGPN

The ELGPN aims to assist the European Union (EU) Member States (and the neighbouring countries eligible for the EU Lifelong Learning Programme) and the European Commission in developing European co-operation on lifelong guidance in both the education and the employment sectors. Its purpose is to promote co-operation at Member State level in implementing the priorities identified in the EU Resolutions on Lifelong Guidance (2004; 2008). Members report that participation in the network has enriched their awareness of possible responses to common challenges and given them a fresh perspective and new insights into their national provision. Specific issues where progress is considered to have been made include:

Support for improved co-ordination of services (currently all 30 countries have either set up or are in the process of developing a guidance forum or other mechanism).
Emergence of a common understanding of career management skills.
Appreciation of the potential of new technologies to broaden access to services by complementing face-to-face provision with telephone and interactive internet-based services.
Understanding of the need for a stronger evidence base, linked to quality assurance.
The ELGPN 2011-12 Work Programme will examine how guidance as an integral element contributes to EU guidance policy development in at least six areas: schools, VET, higher education, adult education, employment and social inclusion. The aim is to deepen the interfaces between the policy areas and shift the ELGPN activities from conceptual work to policy implementation with more structured co-operation with other sectors. This requires contribution from the all the Thematic Activities to the development of practical common reference tools. This work will be drawn from previous ELGPN phases with national examples.

Text: InfoNet