1. Presenting the results of a research project, part of the Leonardo da Vinci Programme, reminds me of an important stage in which 1 had the privilege to participate: that of the conception, elaboration and launch of the new generation of European Union programmes, "Socrates" for Education and "Leonardo da Vincl" for professional training.
This phase was part of the new normative framework defined since the coming into effect of the Maastricht Treaty, and also in the climate ofa strong commitment which inspired the preparation of a white paper on "Growth, competitivity. employment: the challenges and ways forward into the XX1 Century". To this effect Education and professional training were assigned a central role in relation to the challenges introduced by social and economical changes and by new innovative and globalisation processes.
To define the objectives of Socrates and Lconardo, the choice of operational tools, structures and priorities, we inspired the need to support innovation, to face the problems of passing to a life-long Education and training and to contribute to the construction of a common area.
These general themes all emerge in the UUU-Link project, whose results will be presented in the following documents. The project confronts themes relative to innovation through the analysis of new professional profiles as well as life-long training through the examination of the problems of the unemployed with a high-level of technical experience.
The project has developed through comparison, and international co-operation and therefore favours the growth of training in an European dimension.
2. In the variegated and complex ground explained in the UUU-Link project, numerous contributions can be singled out due to the methodologies used as well as the specific thernes dealt with. However the most important contribution is in the deepening, through fields research, of a central question in the actual phase of product changes, processes and training systems.
It is a question which intersects two phenomenon: the change of the goods and services production system, and the speed of this change in relation to working life. The first induces a "change in professional profiles" and the second shortens their "life span". The impact is clear of the achievement of a training system substantially characterised by the institutionalisation of an offer mainly directed at initial training. Therefore the relationship between the offer and demand for training is neither direct nor clear. This is the result of accumulated experience and gradual evolutional processes and adjustments.
If the change in demand and its rhythms modify, this relationship enters a crisis, and the problems of singling out the demand and its evolution, the definition and organisation of the offer, and the mays to link them together emerge. In which way does this affect the degree institutionalisation of the offer or the degree of "flexibility" in the planning and production of training for a dynamic market made up of young people and adults? Which balance between commitment to initial training and to that of continuous training?
The analyses developed for new professional profiles in management sectors, innovation, environment, and on the problems of the re-qualification of adults with a high level of technical training offer an interesting think tank and experimentation for a better definition and comprehension of the challenges which ease the passage to a "flexible systern". They not only, clearly, show that the relationship between the offer and demand is destined to become more articulated and more direct, but also offer an indication on the ways to construct a new relationship. The fact that the research is developed through three parties in this report, indicated by the three U's, is symbolically represented by the fact that this worry is at the roof of the inspiration of the project.
3. The complexity of the questions in the Education and training systems dedicates them to a commitment to research and experimentation. As with any innovation, in this specific system, they must be led by research and experimentation. They cannot be abandoned under the direct pressure of every specific and contingent need, and to the accumulation of various experiments that they are going to develop.
The Education and training system is central to the quality of the society, and productive system, it is destined to involve everyone not only in the initial phases of its own life. The innovation of it must be able to count on an adequate research development. It was this demand that inspired the introduction of a fourth research programme by the European Union, a specific programme also favours the sector of European co-operation.
The arrangement with the information society which modifies ways of communication and transmission of knowledge, makes it an even stronger requirement.
4. UUU-Link is a good contributor as regards the changes that are maturing. This is the reason why material offers and results that have an independent interest (in the dialogue between the three U's, professional profiles in fields of emerging interest, continuous training and superior training) as it enriches the understanding of the evolution tendencies of the system. It also shows the need for research in this sector; because not only are they investing more, but they are investing better.