Fræðslumiðstöð atvinnulífsins (FA) (e.The Education and Training Service Centre (ETSC)) is owned by the Icelandic Confederation of Labour (ASÍ), the Confederation of Icelandic Employers (SA), the Federation of State and Municipal Employees (BSRB), the Ministry of Finance and the Association of Local Authorities in Iceland. In connection with the collective agreement between ASI and SA in 2002, the Icelandic government issued a statement of intent which led to the establishment of FA. Operation began in 2003.
In 2010 Parliament passed the Adult Education Act. The aim of the Act is to meet the needs of adults with short formal education and also to meet the needs of the labour market for staff with increased knowledge and skills. On the basis of the Adult Education Act, studies outside upper secondary schools and universities will have increased weight.
A service agreement with The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, provides state budget funding for the operation of FA. The service agreenent includes serviceing the Educational Fund which finaces education and training courses, counselling, and validation by accredited educational providers.
The board of the Education Fund is responsible for the allocation of funds and for establishing rules and policies for the Fund’s operations that are approved by the Minister.
The Education and Training Service Centre (ETSC) operates in accordance with the service contract with The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Its main responsibilities include:
- Writing curricula and programme descriptions and collaborating with ETSC’s contracted partners in their development.
- Ensuring the development and dissemination of methods to validate non-formal and informal learning, as well as monitoring their implementation and providing training and feedback to specialists.
- Supervising the development of guidance and counselling for ETSC’s target group in cooperation with educational providers and specialists in Iceland and abroad, and sharing this knowledge with professionals in the field.
- Identifying the educational needs of the target group in cooperation with the employment sector and educational providers in order to develop an inventory of long- and short-term courses to meet those needs.
- Developing methods in the field of accredited adult education in cooperation with educational providers and communicating both national and international innovations to specialists.
- Enhancing the quality of educational activities and guidance by accredited educational providers through the development of quality standards in consultation with the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.
- Collecting, maintaining and sharing information on the target group and its educational needs.
- Administering The Education Fund and its finances.
- Developing and maintaining a student registry in cooperation with educational providers and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, taking into account the validation of informal study and non-formal learning.
The Education and Training Service Centre also undertakes various projects in adult education in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, the owners of ETSC and other partners. ETSC also hosts the Icelandic coordinator in the Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL).
Accredited educational providers are responsible for running the courses in accordance with these curricula, with funding from the Education Fund. The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture has evaluated the curricula for credit at the upper secondary school level.
ETSC programmes are of various types, for example, vocational courses in areas such as the tourism, office, fish processing and trade sectors. Some programmes are tailored for people with dyslexia, based in part on the methodology of Ron Davis.
Other ETSC programmes develop basic skills in subjects such as Icelandic, mathematics, English and ICT. These general curricula are often a starting point for adults with limited schooling who wish to re-enter education.
For every curriculum that ETSC has developed, it has published a promotional brochure with a brief programme description (as an appendix). These brochures are mainly used by the educational providers responsible for teaching the various programmes.
Career guidance and validation of prior learning
The Education and Training Service Centre (ETSC) coordinates the development of career guidance for the target group in cooperation with accredited educational providers around the country. Included in this cooperation are regular seminars organized by ETSC.
Initially the focus was on workplace guidance, where the counsellors visited companies and presented the value of lifelong learning and the benefits of seeking career guidance. Following the changes on the labour market after the economic crisis in 2008, the counsellors are servicing job seekers to a greater extent.
Over the years, the career guidance services have become better known and people are increasingly seeking guidance and counselling on their own initiative. For individuals belonging to the ETSC’s target group, guidance and counselling are free of charge.
Validation of prior learning is a systematic process whereby all knowledge and competencies an individual has gained through various activities – such as work experience, work-related learning, non-formal and informal learning, formal learning, social activities and family life – are formally documented and validated.
The Education and Training Service Centre has developed methods for validation of non-formal and informal learning. The role of the ETSC is to ensure quality and guarantee that the approved methodology is implemented in the sectors where the validation is being applied, as well as manage the implementation of the validation process in new sectors.
On continuing projects, ETSC provides counselling, but when initiating validation in new sectors, it is very actively involved: Representatives from ETSC are members of project steering groups, provide counselling to partners, coordinate training for validation staff and publish guidelines and checklists.
Centre for andragogy - Training of instructors
The Education and Training Service Centre (ETSC) is a centre for educational consulting and the development of adult education. The Centre develops courses for teachers in various areas of adult education on an on-going basis which are then available to its contracted partners, along with follow up and consultation.
These courses cover various basic elements in andragogy and also focus on specialized teaching methods, such as creative strategies, assessment and distance learning technologies.
ETSC keeps an up-to-date and extensive database of books and other materials relevant to the various fields of adult education which is available to our contracted partners.
The Education and Training Service Centre publishes an annual journal called Gátt. Its purpose is to strengthen the discussion on adult education in Iceland, collect and share experiences and promote the current trends in education, theories, data, tools and Web sites.
Included in Gátt are diverse approaches to adult education aimed at a broad group of interested parties: policy makers, leaders, teachers, participants and others interested in innovations in the field.
The publication of Gátt coincides with ETSC’s annual conference which takes place in the autumn. This conference provides an opportunity to discuss adult education from various perspectives. At the conference ETSC also presents awards to learners who have achieved results in their studies, by taking initiative and having the courage to overcome various obstacles.
Quality issues and other projects
ETSC has placed great emphasis on quality in learning by developing quality indicators for educational providers and by providing training courses for instructors. The quality indicators that ETSC has developed are based on Nordic and European quality assurance systems. ETSC has also developed a system for accredited learning providers in a European project called European Quality Mark (EQM). Further information can be found at www.europeanqualitymark.org.
The Education and Training Service Centre has in recent years undertaken several projects for its owners, partners, stakeholders and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. In addition, ETSC hosts a large project: the Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL)
The Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL) is a project initiated and financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers ETSC hosts the project on behalf of Iceland. NVL is a forum for Nordic adult learning where the focus is on disseminating experiences and innovations. NVL promotes dialogue between different networks, initiates new networks and creates new co-operation models in order to enhance Nordic cooperation. For further information, visit nvl.org