Call for proposals EAC / S01 / Pilot project for the development of Sector Skills Alliances. Frequently asked questions (updated on 22/06/2012)

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1 Call for proposals EAC / S01 / 2012 Pilot project for the development of Sector Skills Alliances Frequently asked questions (updated on 22/06/2012) 1 What is a "Sector Skills Alliance"? A Sector Skills Alliance is a new action proposed in Erasmus for All, supporting transnational partnerships to promote cooperation between three categories of partners representing respectively: the world of vocational education and training; sector-specific expertise (including social partners, sectoral federations, skills observatories, Chambers ); and public or private bodies or authorities responsible for / playing a role in education and training systems. A Sector Skills Alliance should address the challenges of vocational skills mismatches and shortages in a specific economic sector. It offers an opportunity to upscale sectoral cooperation in order to design and deliver joint curricula and methods targeting sector specific professions or occupations while providing vocational skills required by the labour market. The main goal is systemic impact on vocational training in the economic sectors concerned in order to boost the quality and relevance of VET provision and increase sector competitiveness. An Alliance depends on the willingness of three categories of stakeholders to develop a common vision of VET supply or provision at European sector level. 2 What is the difference between Sector Skills Alliances and Sector Skills Councils? European Sector Skills Councils are networks of national and sometimes even regional sector skills councils (or equivalent) under the steering of sectors' representatives, European social partners when existing, and with the participation of representatives of education and training providers. The purpose 1

2 of EU Sector Skills Councils is for their members to exchange information (both quantitative and qualitative) and good practices about the evolution of skills and jobs in their sector and to draw recommendations to the attention of policy makers and other stakeholders on sector specific skills issues. The decision to create an EU Sector Skills Council, its leadership and steering rests with the European social partners. Sector skills councils contribute to a better anticipation of current and future skills needs. 3 What is the difference between Sector Skills Alliances and ESCO? ESCO "European skills/competences, qualifications and occupations" is an EU instrument for a multilingual European classification linking Skills/Competences, qualifications and Occupations. In order to develop ESCO, sectoral reference groups have been constituted. They will review the ESCO classification and produce for each sector the following outputs: - List of occupations in the sector - List of skills/competences directly related to the occupation - Occupational profiles, i.e. lists of the skills/competences frequently required for each occupation - Certificates/qualifications relevant for the occupation/skills/competences, and their learning outcomes This meta-tool will be used for applications in the areas of online job matching, career guidance, and skills analysis and forecasting. 2

3 4 What is the difference between Sector Skills Alliances and Knowledge Alliances? Sector Skills Alliances focus on skills provided through vocational education and training. Knowledge Alliances focus on higher education. The need for greater communication and knowledge exchange between academia and the job market has been highlighted in several recent policy documents, including Innovation Union and the Agenda for Modernisation of Higher Education. Knowledge Alliances will stimulate the exchange and sharing of knowledge between business and academia in order to develop a more coherent relationship between the needs of the workplace and the training and teaching given through higher education. Knowledge Alliances support structured cooperation between universities and business through partnerships that work towards a specific objective that benefits both sectors. This cooperation will encourage innovation and a more broad minded approach within higher education institutions and foster entrepreneurial and innovative attitudes in staff (professors, researchers, students and employers and employees). 5 Is the application form provided in all EU languages? The application form is in English but applicants can fill it out in any official European Union language, provided that this language is the working language that the partners will use between them for the implementation of their work programme if their proposal is selected. 3

4 6 How many pilot Alliances does the Commission intend to fund? In 2012, the Call for proposals targets only five economic sectors : - Automotive - Health and social work - Tourism and catering - Energy saving technologies, including sustainable construction - Aeronautic industry The maximum grant per Alliance is Euros. Subject to quality, we aim to fund a balanced spread of Alliances among the sectors above. 7 Is there a Guide for Applicants for the Call for proposals? No. All relevant documents are published on the Call website. 8 Can the cultural and creative sector be addressed? Cultural and creative bodies can be involved as partners in an Alliance if they have relevant expertise. 9 Sustainable construction is specifically mentioned in relation with the sector energysaving technologies. Is an Alliance addressing the skills needs for energy-saving technologies in other sectors (not construction) eligible? Yes, an Alliance addressing energy saving technologies in any economic sector can be considered eligible. 4

5 10 Could you provide a definition of Tourism for this Call? Tourism means the activity of visitors taking a trip to a main destination outside the usual environment, the daily routine or current life routine, for less than a year, for any main purpose, including business, leisure or other personal purpose, other than to be employed by a resident entity in the place visited. Tourism includes leisure trips as well as business trips and includes trips with overnight stays as well as same-day visits. 11 Are the Sector Skills Alliances expected to address a specific target or level of education (e.g. secondary or tertiary education) or qualification (e.g. post-graduate) for funding? Alliances concern the skills provided through initial and continuing vocational education and training, whether provided at secondary, upper secondary or tertiary level. The Call for proposals does not mention specific levels of education or of qualification. 12 As the Alliance's maximum grant duration is 24 months, should an Alliance cover all eligible activities, or only curriculum design or delivery? The Alliance activities proposed should have a clear link with the objectives set out in section 2 of the call and should respect the "eligible activities" defined in section 5.3. Alliance activities should be seen as 4 steps completing an overall process. Alliances must build their activities on solid evidence from labour market intelligence to identify training needs. If the Alliance is focusing on curriculum design, the application form should specify clearly what happens when the project ends. What do partners plan as further stages of the project? How will necessary updating be funded and what provisions have been made for passing on the project results to other steps of the process? Curriculum design need not necessary be officially validated during the grant period by all competent authorities of the VET systems. 5

6 If the Alliance is focusing on curriculum delivery, organisations/ partners which have already designed sector-based curriculum should precisely describe this in the application form and explain how they intend to deliver this training through the Alliance. 13 Is there an optimum size for a project partnership? Alliance should involve at least 7 partners, from at least 5 participating countries, 4 of them being a Member State of the European Union. The 2012 Call for proposals is open to the EFTA and EEA countries and the candidate countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, Croatia, Turkey. 14 What types of VET providers can participate in an Alliance? What type of company? What should the role of SMEs be? Can all higher education institutions participate, including higher education institutions of applied sciences? Can adult education institutions apply? Eligible bodies are described in point 5.1 of the Call. Anybody which meets those criteria may be considered eligible. 15 How can we be classified in one of the three categories of body described in section 5.1 of the Call? Section 2 of the application form : "information on the applicant and partners" requires each partner to declare its principle field of competence in the framework of this call for proposals. This should be closely related to the tasks for which the body will be responsible in the proposed Alliance. 6

7 16 Can a cluster of bodies can apply to the call for proposals? Clusters of bodies with legal personality or legal status can be beneficiaries of the call. Eligible bodies are described in point 5.1 of the Call. 17 What would be the role of enterprises, including SMEs? Depending on their role in the Alliance, and on the national VET system enterprises, including SMEs, may typically consider themselves to be in category (A) or (B) of eligible bodies in section 5.1 of the Call. 18 Are European organisations considered to cover several countries (as is possible in the Lifelong Learning Programme call for proposals: see LLP Guide 2012, page 22, point 4)? For this Call, European associations with members established in several Lifelong learning participating countries who are participating in the partnership, can be considered to cover the number of countries where their members are established, provided the proposal demonstrates that these members take an active role in the implementation of the project. 19 How we can find partners or a coordinator for our proposed Alliance? The Commission cannot advise on this, potential applicants should use their own networks to build a strong partnership. Information on previous Leonardo da Vinci innovative projects can be found in the ADAM database : 20 Do you want general impact on the education system? What should be the level of action of Alliances - system, organisation, programme or module level? Alliances' main objective is to achieve systemic impact on training provision in the economic sector concerned. To reach this impact, activities will be necessary at different levels. 7

8 21 Should an Alliance focus on joint curriculum transfer, development or both? Alliances are not intended to simply adapt or transfer best practice in VET to new contexts. Based on identified skills needs, they should design or deliver new curricula which address the identified skills mismatch. To do so, they can adapt existing content or results, but also design or develop new material for use by public and/or private vocational training systems and companies. in the sector concerned or help partners to adapt existing practice for use in new settings, through working with transnational partners. 22 What should be understood by "guidance and counselling services"? Guidance covers a range of activities designed to help individuals to take educational, training and occupational decisions and carry them out before and after they enter the labour market. Guidance and counselling can be provided in schools, training centres, job centres, the workplace, the community, and other settings. 23 What should be understood by products and prototypes or any other kind of outputs of a Sector Skills Alliance? These are tangible and durable outputs in the form of learning products, curricula, qualifications, etc. They may include, for example: - reports and (comparative) studies; - curricula and qualifications; - events such as conferences, public awareness, campaigns, seminars, debates and symposia; - education and training modules or tools, which may include computer assisted training (game based learning, simulation, online material ). 8

9 24 Can products created within a Sector Skill Alliances be commercialised? Yes, but any profit generated during the project s lifetime must be declared and shall limit the financial contribution of the European Commission at payment stage. In addition, the Commission has the right to use the results produced by or deriving from the project for dissemination or demonstration purposes. Beneficiaries of funded Alliance shall inform the Commission of their commercialisation activities, by providing a commercialisation strategy, a copy of the agreements on intellectual property and a sample of the products. 25 How will sustainability be assessed? Proposals will be assessed using the award criteria published in section 8 of the Call. When evaluating proposals for sustainability, experts will consider questions such as: What happens when EU funding ends? What do partners plan as a new stage of the project? How will necessary updating be funded? Has provision been made for passing on the project results to other potentially interested organisations, and in particular to decision-makers and key stakeholders? How will the Alliance involve other actors in the sector? Will results be mainstreamed? 26 What should be understood by "dissemination activities"? Dissemination is a planned process of providing information on Alliance activities to key actors. Dissemination should commence at the start of the Alliance and continue throughout its implementation and beyond the end of the grant agreement, thus supporting the longer-term impact and sustainability of the Alliance. Dissemination activities need to target or involve intermediary 'relay' or multiplier bodies, as well as potential end-users such as learners and parents. Alliances need to craft the message and tone of disseminated materials carefully to suit the 9

10 audience. Information on dissemination is available on the following webpages : How will dissemination quality be assessed? Proposals will be assessed using the award criteria published in section 8 of the Call. 28 Do you plan another call for proposals for Sector Skills Alliances in 2013? The Lifelong Learning Programme call for proposals 2013 is expected to be published during August 2012 and may include an action similar to Sector Skills Alliances. 29 Can you confirm that each partner organization, whether public or private, must submit two documents, both: - a letter confirming their commitment to participate in the action (original signatures and organisation stamp required) - the mandate letter Yes, the mandate letter and the document confirming their commitment to participate in the action (letter of intention) are required, as mentioned in p.6 of the call for proposals. 30 Concerning the CVs of staff, is it obligatory to use the Europass cv format or can we use any format? Do we also have to submit the CVs of the partners' staff members? The Europass template is one Annex of the call, but CVs may be submitted in other formats. Commission provides this model so as to simplify comparisons between different CVs but the applicant may choose to use any other format. In accordance with point 7.1 of the call, the application should include "CVs of key 10

11 persons participating in the action, giving detailed information on their professional experience or qualification in relevant fields"; these key persons may indeed include partners' staff. 31 Are scanned version of certain documents acceptable (e.g. partners' commitment to participate, declaration on their honour, financial and operational capacity ) or are originals required? The scanned version is acceptable with the initial application. However originals must be provided before the signature of the grant agreement. 32 If it is possible to apply with 3 organisations from one country? If you proposed Alliance includes at least 7 partners from at least 5 participating countries, 4 of them being a Member State of the European Union, then three organisations from one country can be among the participating bodies. 33 Are Russian partners eligible? No, only countries listed in the footnote page 4 of the application form can be partners. Russian organisations can participate while financing their own participation. They should then be listed in "Section 6 Additional funding" in point 2 "other sources of external funding non European Union" of the application form of the call. 34 Should the Consortium be led by a VET provider? A VET provider may lead the consortium, but it is not obligatory. 11

12 35 The call asks for a bid or bids to cover the aeronautics sector. We represent and cover the space sector as well and there are significant synergies and similarities between the two in the issues raised by the call. Would a bid which encompassed both sectors be compliant? Yes, please refer to the NACE codes. 36 What should be understood by "VET decision makers"? Should this be ministries? Please refer to point 5.1 of the call for proposals. 37 Should the mandate letter to be filled in and signed by the Applicant Legal Representative or by the Coordinator one? Most of time the "applicant" is also the "coordinating partner", but sometimes they can be different bodies. In the Mandate letter, the coordinator has full responsibility for the Alliance vis-à-vis the European Commission. It acts as the legal co-signatory of the Grant Agreement and then plays the role describing in the article I.3.1 of the Model draft agreement : Each partner must sign the Mandate letter by which the signatory grants power of attorney to the "coordinator", responsible to act in their name to manage the grant payments from the Commission and allocate of funds to the rest of the partnership during the implementation of the Alliance. 38 In the lines of the budget file dedicated to staff, what types of workers can be inserted? Is it possible to insert project collaborators and/or consultants with a proven continuity of collaboration? Costs relating to the following categories of staff are considered: Statutory staff, having either a permanent or a temporary employment contract with a partner of the consortium. To be considered in this category, staff must 12

13 report to the relevant partner organisation as an employee. Temporary staff, recruited through a specialised external agency. Depending on national labour law legislation (in particular the definition of "dependent worker"), in certain cases self-employed persons working for the project can also be declared under staff costs. To assimilate "external" personnel as staff costs, certain criteria should be considered: Long consecutive duration of collaboration with the relevant partner organisation. The "external" collaborator her/himself must sign a contract with the relevant partner organisation on its own behalf. A contract with another company would be clearly subcontracting. Again it must be in accordance with national law and evidence will be required (copy of law). The fact that the recruited person is accountable to the relevant partner organisation. "Accountable" means that the "external" collaborator has to report on the hours worked, the tasks and results and consequently the relationship between the two parties is not "equal". Their relationships are the same as a company has with its own employees and not the ones the company would have with a subcontractor. It must fit with the national legislation. For instance, in Spanish law it is a legal status to be "semi"-self-employed working for a company whereas in Belgium the "semi"-self-employee would be considered as an employee and the taxes charged to the company. In this case, in addition to the other supporting documents, the Commission may request a declaration, issued by the competent authority, confirming that the selfemployed person has fulfilled his/her social and fiscal obligations. 13

14 Costs related to staff working through subcontracting shall be included under the appropriate category (see section "Subcontracting costs"). Staff members of project partners are not allowed to operate in a subcontracting capacity for the project. 14

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