EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Partnership-based approaches to learning in the context of restructuring - case studies from the European steel and metal sectors

The aim of learning partnerships is to increase workers’ skills, based on the cooperation of public, private and voluntary organisations, usually by means of further training.

This paper introduces the concept of learning partnerships and describes how these partnerships can help increasing workers’ employability and how restructuring has acted as an impulse for their establishment. Different forms of these partnerships are reported from seven European countries: Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK). By investigating the ‘leading-edge partnership-based approaches to learning’, which have emerged in response to restructuring in the steel and metal industry in these countries, the authors identify three types of learning partnerships: institutional, responsive and reactive. Each type has different characteristics, goals, and results (learning outcomes).

The paper further presents four successful learning partnerships and questions whether there is a one single, European model of best practice. The four cases are: a company-level partnership in Germany; a regional partnership in Germany; a tripartite partnership in Norway, involving employers, unions, and the government; and a network of partnerships in Britain. The authors summarise the constituent elements of good practice regarding learning partnerships; they conclude that while it is possible to identify a number of constituent elements of good practice, it is not possible to develop a single ‘best practice model’ of partnership-based approaches to learning in the EU, basically because of different national contexts.

Access information:
The article is currently not available online. The print version is available in the journal Career Development International, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2004, pp. 45-57, which is searchable through 'Emerald Fulltext' website.

Assessment
The paper shows that the concept of learning partnerships can be a viable and successful way to address the skill needs which have resulted from restructuring within the European steel and metal sector. Furthermore, it analyses the factors behind successful learning partnerships and shows that different concepts work in different countries.

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