European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network
One of the main working areas for the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), set up during the Leuven Communique in 2009, is lifelong learning. The European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network (ELGPN) was established to support EU Member States, the neighbouring countries eligible for the Erasmus+ Programme, and the European Commission in developing European cooperation for lifelong guidance in both the education and the employment sectors. The EAIE, as one of the invited partner organisations, actively supported the various activities of the network through its Expert Community Guidance and Counselling – resulting in a wealth of resources for career guidance and counselling practitioners, policy makers, and teaching staff.
Over the years, this member-state driven network, supported by the European Commission with its relevant units (the Directorate General for Education and Culture and the Directorate General for Employment), developed a comprehensive range of reference tools and publications for European lifelong guidance policy and systems development at EU and national levels. These include a database, progress reports, concept notes and policy briefs, as well as tool kits (known as ELGPN Tools). The latter are envisioned to support policy makers and other stakeholders in reviewing existing lifelong guidance provision within their country or region, and to identify issues requiring attention, drawing from practices in other European countries. The outcomes were based on an open-minded, intensive and creative dialogue which encouraged the strong goal-oriented engagement of all participants.
In 2015, the network consisted of 30 member countries represented through governmental officials often supported by national non-governmental bodies or networks. Invited partner organisations were the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), the European Association of International Education (EAIE), the European Association of Regional & Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL), Euroguidance, the European Youth Forum, the European Training Foundation (ETF), the European Network of Public Employment Services (PES), the European Trade Union (ETUC), the International Association for Vocational and Educational Guidance (IAEVG), and the International Centre for Career Development and Public Policy, (ICCDPP).
Although the project has been finalised, the network continues to be influential at the level of national, European (eg CEDEFOP) and to some extent worldwide (eg ICCDPP) policymaking. For all those engaged in higher education at its various levels, the outcomes of the project may contribute to productive cooperation among teaching staff and guidance practitioners, enhance the governing practices of higher education institutions, and offer a valuable knowledge base for increasing the impact of academic learning for the individual student and society at large.