WORKAS- Workbased Care Sector Training Across Europe.
The primary target groups are those workbased trainers in the tens of thousands of Care Homes throughout Europe – such care homes are either SMEs or in the public sector. Such trainers are unlike other people who fulfil this training function in that they are also deliverers of care themselves alongside the people they work with. This makes this group quite unique in a European context. The trainers are themselves drawn from the same working class social backgrounds and are/have been manual workers. Across Europe such occupations have low skill entry requirements as the norm. Both the pattern of employment and type of work attracts a predominantly female workforce many of whom are drawn from the ethnic minorities, migrant workers, disadvantaged groups such as those with complex social/educational needs.
The target sector is the Residential and Domiciliary Care Sector which is one of the single largest employment sectors across Europe. Every Member State has significant numbers of people employed within the sector although the status and educational requirements vary significantly. In many Member states including Spain, UK, the status of such workers is low whereas in others such as Netherlands, Sweden and the Federal Republic of Germany such workers are high status. The numbers in the Target Sector are high with over 1.2 million in the UK and similar numbers in Germany, France and to a lesser extent Spain and Italy.
With Europes rapidly increasing ageing population workers and the skills they require have moved onto the political and vocational training adenda with legislation being passed in many Member states stipulating specific quality standards for qualifications.
The potential users will be trainers employed in the SME sector supporting the provision of Care for the Elderly, Learning Disabilities, Terminally ill, Intermediate Care and other users in the medico – care sector. The characteristics of the potential users have been described in the ‘target group’ section but additionally they will not be ‘teacher trained’ and will only hold industry specific ‘training’ qualifications which will not be of a high pedagogic standard.
The SME sector is already the largest provider of care in countries such as the UK and with the ever decreasing budgets of municipalities across Europe it is set to become so in all Member States within the next ten years. With each year that passes therefore the number of potential users of the proposed materials will increase. A stipulation of TOPSS England for example is that the materials produced MUST be applicable to all SME’s and their trainers. Similarly, the UEHP at its General Assembly in Geneva last February also made similar stipulations. On the basis of such pressure from national and supra national bodies representing the European Care Sector the number of potential users will be far greater than the number of partners who are active in this project.
Aims of the project.
Firstly, to fully investigate and collate the vocational training qualifications for Assessors and Verifiers within the European care workplace.
Secondly, to map such qualifications to the competence based vocational systems increasingly being adopted across Europe.
Thirdly, research has demonstrated quite conclusively that significant numbers of Europes care workers experience basic skills deficiencies. An aim of this project will therefore be to develop tools and techniques to enable Trainers / Assessors to both identify need and then provide support for fellow workers.
Fourthly, to evaluate the extent to which ICT learning approaches are employed in care sector training in different national contexts/ company / organisational frameworks from participating Member States.
Fifthly, to develop ICT based Trainer / Assessor training materials.
Sixthly, to pilot and trial in a European context the Trainer / Assessor open learning materials being specially developed for the project by project partners..
Seventhly, to pilot the training of representative cohorts of Care Sector workers in participating Member states. Such piloting will take place in all participating countries with a different emphasis being placed within each.
Eighthly, to disseminate on a continuous basis the findings both during the project and through contributions of papers and reports at conferences. Dissemination will be to project members, larger organisations related to the care sector, specialist journals and websites and other interested parties. A dedicated web site will be created for the project.
On-going dissemination, like on-going evaluation, forms an integral part of this projects internal dynamic. Key to the projects success will be the effective dialogue between the partnership’s members and other external organisations that work with us to ensure materials, processes, activities and products meet the needs of those for whom they are intended.
Key to the strategy, once the materials have been produced, is the gaining of the support of he SME’s without whose active support the materials will not be used.
The project is structured around the generation of a number of outcomes including the development of a new curriculum and supporting open learning materials for trainers within the care industry of Europe. The project will also produce case studies from an intentionally diverse set of situations and work contexts from around Europe, which will be disseminated through journals, conferences and seminars. Summaries of the case studies will be posted onto the project’s website which will identified as a ‘ link ’ on partner organisation and support organisations own websites.
Other outcomes will be transferred to the projects web site for immediate viewing and evaluation. This will be an essential activity for all members of the project and they will be expected to make serious comment on progress of outcomes throughout the whole life of the project.
Social partners will be crucial to the success of this strategy and with key trade unions from Europe involved the outcomes will be channeled through Workers Council representative in sectorial organisations such as the FSP in Spain, TOPSS England, BfKG in Germany etc.
Key activities will be the gaining of the support of the SME’s throughout Europe and in this sense it will vary from country to country. In many Member States the support of Europe wide Professional bodies such as UEHP, and EAPC, as well as Chambers of Commerce in each country.
This will be achieved through conferences, papers and articles in specialist journals. More specifically will be the generation of ‘Business Case’ arguments to persuade business of the need to invest in staff training.
Social partners such as trade union support organisations will ensure that the materials are disseminated throughout their industry, ensuring a greater take-up and usage.
A dedicated web site will be created at the outset which will facilitate active dialogue both amongst partners and key stakeholders in the success of the projects materials
The final report will be circulated through the UEHP to all participating members and Euroreso members will also be able to disseminate throughout Europe.
The partnership has a breadth of diversity that will provide a great deal of evidence to advance the debate and influence national and EU policy as regards the way to ensure that the many workers who are currently in receipt of limited trainig gain the right to share in vocational training and qualifications based programmes that at present are outside their grasp.
The backing and support for this project comes from nationally significant organisations such as TOPSS the NTO/SSC for the UK Care Sector as well as the UEHP which co-ordinates Member States Care Sector and lobbies directly at Brussels. Major trade unions, with responsibiulity for the representation and training of Care Sector workers will be willing to pronote the projects findings through a wide ranging series of networks previously described. The ability of these organisation to promote the outcomes of this project are extensive with the UGT in Spain able to inform many million trade unionists.
Euroreso, the EU wide network and support organisation that many of the partners belong to will also play an active role in ensuring that dissemination and dialogue is undertaken throughout the lifetime of the project. Euroreso is one of Europes longest surviving non sectorial networks and has members in every EU Member State, all Pre and Accession states – over thirrty countries
Care Sector Trust (United Kingdom) – coordinator
HipocausTo – Gabinete de Prestação de Serviços, Lda(Portugal).
TOPSS England(United Kingdom).