The Final Conference of ICARO – Innovative Curriculum on Soft Skills for Adult Learners (Project no: 2017-1-ES01-KA202-038271) “From Home to Work” took place on 12 June at the European Committee of the Regions. The event was co-organised by the Belgian partner EfVET and the Murcia Region Office in Brussels.

The event was opened by Thomas Wobben (Committee of the Regions, Director Commission for Social policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC). He stressed the importance of bringing the EU policies into the ground, local and regional contexts. Though, he recognised, the adult education, is not on the top of the agenda at the European Council level, projects like ICARO shows the relevance to boost the adult education, especially for long duration unemployed adults. Even more, when the future of work will be focalised on the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce.

The ICARO project has developed an Innovative Curriculum on Soft Skills for Adult Learners which has designed a customised training path adapted to the needs of each adult learner in order to get their (re)integration in labour market. ICARO partners have worked with long-term unemployed adult learners, low-skilled and people facing difficulties to access to the labour market in Murcia (Spain), Heraklion (Greece), Hamburg (Germany), Kaunas (Lithuania) and Dublin (Ireland). As Francisca Munuera Giner (Regional Service of Employment and Training, Murcia Regions) stated the leitmotif of the project is that “is never too late to learn” and that’s the main motivation for the partners involved.

The online course “From Home to Work” was introduced by Iñigo Magdaleno (Regional Service of Employment and Training, Murcia Regions). He clarified that the project is not yet finished and some adjustment is made after the first pilot testings. Heike Kölln-Prisner (Hamburger Volkshochschule, Germany) explained that an online assessment tool for adult learners on soft skills did not exist in Europe. Therefore, the ICARO project introduces a new innovative tool to asset soft skills, but also to set up a goal mapping of the skills.

All the panellist speakers acknowledged the fact that the ICARO project is a really valuable tool as has been developed around the learner needs and is taking into account their feedback. Alexia Samuel (European Commission, DG-EMPL) emphasised the stakeholders’ collaboration, overcoming the national adult education complexity systems. Likewise, Michele Mombeek, Erasmus+ National Agency, CFWB, who said that is really important to exchange Erasmus+ good practices such as ICARO in other to further collaborate.

“How can we support learners to learn in another direction?” questioned Gina Ebner, Secretary General, European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA). The ICARO project has answered this question offering training around digital competences, cultural awareness, entrepreneurship, in a nutshell, life skills.

The exploitation question seemed pretty natural to Ian Clifford from ALL DIGITAL, who said respecting the project that “is useful and useable”, bringing this to the digital centres all around Europe.

The panel discussion revolved around the importance of life skills and bringing the learner into the centre of the development of the training platforms. Not only that but as Gina Ebner, we need to stress the “self-confidence” and the “life skills” of the target participants of a project such as ICARO. In fact, as Ian Clifford, mentioned “we live a moment where we will pass by multiple educationals periods” quoting the recommendations of the European Commission Future of Work research paper. Even more in all that context, lifelong learning becomes more relevant than ever.

The Electronic Adult Learning Platform (EPALE) is one of the European Commission initiatives to gather all the good practices, partners search and raising awareness about Adult Learning topics. Rumen Halachev, EPALE Central Support Service invited ICARO final conference participants to join the community.

Concluding the conference, Agustin Mihalache, Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, stressed the trio commitment on “Connecting Europe” and move forward with the new Erasmus+ programme which will open the possibility to more students to go abroad and finance more projects, such as ICARO.

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