Module 4 - Developing an alignment action plan
Aligning current quality assurance (QA) approach(es) with the EQAVET Framework can sound complex but, in reality, it is about understanding VET, labour market development (the needs and expectations of individuals and enterprises), economic development and sector policies and making use of that that understanding to improve VET and ensure success in the long term. Ultimately, it is about working together (at national/regional and European levels) to achieve larger ambitions for VET. Moreover, in these days of fast globalisation, change is inevitable and VET systems (and VET providers for that matter) must choose to be either ahead of the curve or to play catch up. While no one can predict the future, effective systems can be prepared, or at least better positioned for it.
OUTLINING PHASE 4: OBJECTIVES, TASKS, OUTPUTS
Phase 4 of the process of aligning national/regional or VET providers approach(es) with the EQAVET Framework is outlined in this Table - Outline PHASE 4.
The left-hand column of the template contains a general description of the phase and the right-hand columns are for you to fill with information you consider relevant to your context either at national/regional or at VET provider level. Tasks 1 and 2 offer specific guidance tools that are referenced in the outline.
TASK 1 - THINKING THINGS OVER
Alignment initiatives are influenced by such factors as formal structures, practices and coordination processes. The set of seven interrelated factors that are key to achieving policy alignment in distributed governance environments are shown below:
Institute on Governance ( 2012).Policy Alignment: A Study of the Public Governance Exchange http://iog.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/policy_alignment_pdf_84580.pdf
Understanding these key factors will help the implementation teams to lead the exercise of aligning their national/regional or VET providers’ QA approach (es) with the EQAVET Framework and to achieve broad policy outcomes. There are probably some elements of this process that you do very well but other dimensions that need attention:
Use the results of your readiness assessment (see Module 1 Step 3) and as you work through them, think about the core factors of policy alignment above in order to select those that would need deeper reflection and/or a specific intervention.
The literature on action planning describes action plans as detailed work plans that guide implementation processes. Moreover, authors tend to agree on both the functions and components of an action plan and describe them as follows:
ACTION PLAN FUNCTIONS - An action plan:
- Provides a framework for planning the work needed to achieve objectives through individual strategies
- Justifies why funds are needed and how they will be used: imparts credibility
- Provides a guide for carrying out the work within the given time period
- Contributes to transparency, as it can be shared with all who have the need or right to know what you are doing and why you are doing it (legislators or other funding sources, the implementers, target populations, committees, etc.).
ACTION PLAN COMPONENTS - An action plan: At a minimum, the action plan should contain the following information
- The goal, objective, and strategy to which the activities pertain
- What activities or changes will take place
- Who will perform each activity
- By when and for long activities will take place.
More detailed actions plans might contain the following information about each of the scheduled activities:
- Resources needed ( people and money)
- Outputs (what will be produced)
- Outcome measures (how success will be evaluated)
- Communications (how specific audiences will be informed).
Bower, Carol E ( 2009). Guide and Template for Comprehensive Health Improvement Planning Version 2.1Hartford CT: Connecticut Department of Public Health ; Planning and Workforce Development Section. 119 pp.
ASK 2 - CREATING A DETAILED ACTION PLAN
In implementing the alignment of current national/ regional or VET providers’ QA approaches with the EQAVET Framework, a number of events need to take place as mentioned earlier:
- Convening an alignment team, comprised of a balanced representation of key VET stakeholders;
- Creating a mission statement for the group;
- Exploring VET QA issues at national/regional and /or VET provider level (see Modules 1 and 2);
- Roadmapping the alignment initiative (see Module 3);
- Developing a detailed action plan;
- Reviewing the plan at regular intervals.
The Table - Illustration of a detailed action plan is a sample of a detailed action plan on one of the possible objectives defined to achieve the goal of aligning a current QA national approach with the EQAVET Framework. The table is populated with the details of a hypothetical case and the purpose here is to illustrate how to plan for action, i.e. to implement the alignment initiative. This table can be used as an illustration of a template for action planning and can easily be adapted by National Reference Points for their unique planning purposes.