University – Business Forum should concentrate on issues relating to degree level or above. Only when they gained this experience, should they expand their influence to other educational institutions.
The engagement with businesses and the creation of Forum has to be meaningful and not become a mechanism which has little value other than to raise more money for present university activities.
The EESC would encourage a more equal partnership between universities and businesses where both are encouraged to become ‘drivers’ for change and both have valued contributions.
Life Long learning - Empirical research needs to be done to clearly identify what tasks are done in businesses and the identified outcomes before the Forum develop any objectives concerning vocational education and training.
Businesses have to take responsibility in defining any outcomes in relation to what is done or needs to be done, in the workplace.
Access to Life Long Learning programmes must not be limited to previous academic achievements or the attainment of specific qualifications. Life Long Learning must be based upon the practical needs of the employee and their workplace. All workplace training should be outcomes based. The attainment of qualifications should not be the main objective of Life Long Learning.
In business there is no substitute to practical experience. Forum should therefore include proposals on how academics can get hands on experience with both large and small businesses.
SMEs and micro businesses should be encouraged to become more active in the Forum.