The Leonardo da Vinci programme is an international programme which supports the trans-national collaboration programmes that deal with vocational training and general youth education and development (EU, 2008). The programme has existed for more than 20 years.
However, it is important to note that the programme is non-profit making and besides it, there are other programmes that offer support for vocational training and therefore the commission that runs the programme develops a working partnership arrangement with the social partners at the community level and has efforts going on to develop synchronization with the European organ on social dialogues of course besides other efforts at sectoral level.
All these are in a bid to harmonize, standardize, operationalize and streamline the programme’s resolve to deal with support for vocational training in the participating countries Aims and Objectives of the Leonardo da Vinci Programme The Leonardo da Vinci Programme has three major general objectives which serve to give direction to its activities (European Commission, 1996). The objectives are listed below: ? The program aims at promoting and improving skills and competencies of all people especially the youth in multilevel vocational training.
It purposes to achieve the embrace of work linked vocational training so as to improve the employability and apprenticeship of the youth. This goal is achieved through cooperation with other key players in the field of vocational training which will help incorporate and re-incorporate vocational training. ? The programme aims at consolidation of change both at the organizational and technological arena. This, the programme projects to achieve through the improved quality, accessible and continued vocational training bearing on lifelong acquisition of skills and competency particularly amongst the youth.
? From the skills gained in vocational training, the programme aims at fostering a positive contribution of the vocational training to the general innovative process that can possibly improve competitiveness in entrepreneurial ventures as a form of new employment opportunity for the youth. This can be achieved through active cooperation between the institutions that offer the vocational training and those that use the skill such as the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s)
The above aims positively guide the execution of all the activities of the Leonardo da Vinci Programme and as far as the first two objectives are concerned, the programme always offers guidance and counselling on innovation to help the youth who undergo the training venture into worthwhile entrepreneurial ventures. Further, in the enforcement of the entire lot of the objectives enumerated above, the programme has special arrangements to pay special attention to proposals which specifically address the following:
? Specific development of arrangement that will facilitate the access of vocational training to the labour disadvantaged such as the disabled ? Arrangements that facilitate equal opportunity for all regardless of sex or gender and strong focus on arresting gender based or any form of discrimination in the provision of vocational training. In this way, the programme calls for proposals whole spelling out the kind of proposals that receive priority of attendance based on the objectives and aims of the programme.
Areas of Funding The programme funds the provision of vocational training and ensures that those undergoing the training are able to get the tools they need to effectively reach the competency required such that in case the so trained individual wishes to transfer the innovation in starting something like and entrepreneurial venture or look for employment. The programme gives specific funding priority to proposals that demonstrate practical transfer of innovation.
The trained individual may come up with original pilot project or better an already existing innovation and may wish to venture into entrepreneurship using the innovation. In this way this individual gains funding priority from the programme (European Commission, 1999). Who Can Apply and How? The programme welcomes all applications provided the applications are from the participating countries which include all the members of EU such as Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, UK and Spain among others (Leonardo UK National Agency, 2008).
Secondly, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member countries which are also members of the EEA such as Liechtenstein Iceland and Norway can also participate but subject to the EEA agreements. Finally, the EU candidate countries such as Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria are also allowed to participate in the programme (European Union, 2006). Having managed to belong to the participating countries makes one to go through the first hurdle towards applying for the Leonardo da Vinci programme and the second hurdle entails a presentation of a practical and workable proposal.
Calls for proposals occur at the community level and then published in the Journal of the European Communities in which the deadlines for calls, selections of proposals, priorities and operational arrangements are also included in the publication. The promoters interested in presenting their proposals are supposed to fill out the specific application forms for the programme which vary depending on the measures such as the mobility measures or the other remaining measures such as the pilot projects, language competencies, and thematic actions among others.
This application can be done by downloading the word version of the application forms or via encoding of the proposal online through the programme’s web tool. The question that remains is who are these potential promoters who can present proposals for funding considerations by the programme? The proposals can only be submitted by public, private or semi public establishments, organizations and institutions which are engaged in vocational training. In as far as the submissions of proposals are concerned; private individuals are not allowed to submit.
These promoters include: vocational training institutions e. g. universities, vocational training analyses and survey research centres and organizations, SME’s in the craft Trade Sector and other private public establishments actively involved in vocational training, professional bodies such as chamber of commerce, social partners in vocational training and NGO’s (Evans M, 2004). Leargas as an Example of a Promoter For instance, Leargas is an example of a promoter.
Leargas is am Ireland based national agency which deals with both national and international cooperation programmes not only in education and youth community work but also in Vocational Education and Training (VET) (Leargas, 2007): It operates under the aegis under the science and education department and represents the Department that manages the European national and international cooperation and exchange programmes in youth community work besides education and training and has managed these programmes for more than 20 years now.
Leargas also works in collaboration with the departments of trade and employment, Enterprise and foreign affairs department. Currently, Leargas has a Dublin based office staff of more than 40 and a North South Consortium based in Dundalk which is made up of a staff of two. The staffs are multinational and come from Poland, Ireland UK, Spain and even Jamaica. The staffs are also highly experienced in a myriad of areas such as IT, Education, Community Youth Development Work, Training and finance (Leargas, 2008).
A number of proposals have gone through and examples of such proposals ranging from pilot projects to thematic actions such as the enhancing of access to employment by the labour disadvantaged individuals such as the disabled. The thematic actions that border on or involve the plight of the disabled gain favourable attention and they are given priority not only in consideration but also in funding. Such examples of proposals that gained priority in consideration and funding were either talking about training and education of the disabled or social networking to enable easy access of the disabled to employment and ventures in entrepreneurship.
Such examples of proposals can be seen in the programme’s website. In conclusion, the program has done a lot to promote the education and training of the youth with and aim of enhancing their competence in SME’s but also to enhance their employability and competencies in multifarious skills in technology, trade among other various areas of expertise especially in the participating countries in the EU (Hodgson, 2000).
The programme emphasises seriousness and attention to relevant detail and this is explained by the programme’s orientation to national and international cooperation and exchange programmes to help it achieve its goals and objectives. Further, its staff is drawn internationally besides them having formidable experience in education and training, IT and community development work