Almost every organisation or company says it wants to innovate, yet few know how to create a framework to inspire it, drive it, fund it, measure it, and ultimately benefit from it. For many organisations even the task of defining innovation can be a challenge. In many business environments the benefits of innovation are evident on the company balance sheet or share price, however in sectors like Vocational Education and Training (VET) the benefits of innovation can be more esoteric and difficult to quantify. Limiting innovation to certain sectors is reductive and in the modern economy innovation in VET is essential for economic and social progress.
Demonstrable ability to innovate is important for VET organisations to copper-fasten the significance and relevance of VET in the modern economy. Innovation within the sector can also help to make VET more attractive to those who work in the sector and also those who engage with the training provided. It is widely accepted that the capacity for innovation and creativity within VET is vastly underdeveloped. Some of the principal reasons for this are:
(1) the dearth of any coherent and/or accessible initial or continuous professional development resources that address these specific topics for those working in the sector;
(2) the lack of support for innovative or creative teachers within mainstream provision;
(3) the reluctance of education administrations to embrace change;
Developing a robust, fit-for-purpose innovation ecosystem for VET can best be achieved with design and content inputs from a broad church of stakeholders including VET professionals and those more familiar with business and in particular entrepreneurship environments. The basic tenet on which this project is based is the need for greater cooperation between the worlds of work and education and this will be achieved through the establishing of the proposed multi-stakeholder partnerships in each partner country. These partnerships will comprise the corporal structure of the proposed innovation ecosystem.
The project proposes a bottom-up approach to policy change which existing research indicates is essential for eventual up-take and up-scaling. The project will begin by instigating and supporting processes of innovation at a local or regional level. The participation of 2 key partner organisations with different perspectives in each partner country ensures that multi-stakeholder teams can be established to define and drive the process and to add weight to the outcomes where feeding the policy development process is concerned. The multi-stakeholder involvement will also ensure that potential cooperation between VET policy and other policy areas like employment, economic affairs, social affairs, etc. is identified and harnessed in support of the project objectives. While instigating change in VET is a considerable challenge, project consortium members are convinced that the proposed work-plan will be able to harness the specific strengths of each individual stakeholder for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders.