Academic journal article Journal of Research in Educational Sciences

Creating Markets out of Nothing: The Case of the Continuing Education System in Greece

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Educational Sciences

Creating Markets out of Nothing: The Case of the Continuing Education System in Greece

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The vocational training policy in Greece was introduced due to the pressure exercised by the E.U. but it was implemented in such a way that it served the domestic political economy. The seven (7) laws and the dozens of ministerial decrees issued from 1989 to 2004 reflect the effort made by the state to control but also foster the development of that particular market, the conflict of interests among the main actors, as well as, the tensions generated by the constant pressure of the European Union. The aim of the paper is to critically assess the creation and development of the continuing education market in Greece by focusing on the logic underlying the state's regulatory actions, as well as on the political economy which these actions have engendered. It will be argued that the development of this market can be seen as a three stage process:

§ The period of initial capital accumulation (1989-1994) marked by the absence of effective regulation which, along with a dramatic increase in funding for training, allowed for an initial accumulation of capital in benefit of the newly-founded private firms.

§ The period of the controlled clearing of the market (1994-2004) which was characterized by an intensified state regulatory action with two dimensions; market-clearing but also guaranteeing a market-share for the remaining companies.

§ The period of the liberalization of the market (2005-to today) during which the state interventions focused on the liberalization of the market since the legal restrictions of the past were cancelled.

In every stage the interests of the main actors -namely those of the state, the private training centers and the social partners-, were accommodated accordingly, but unfortunately at the expense of the continuing training system's efficiency.

2. The period of initial capital accumulation (1989-1994)

The context in which this process of accumulation took place had the following basic features: the entrance of private companies in the sector and consequently the creation of a "market"; the unprecedented increase of the public expenditure on vocational training; and the absence of any effort by the state to regulate the market or at least to monitor the way the available resources were used.

From 1989 to 1996 there was a significant increase in the funding of vocational training programs. Namely, the vocational training expenditure rose from 0.04% of GDP in 1987 to 0.24% in 1990. This rise can also be detected in the number of the trainees that increased from 360.000 during the first CSF to 550.000 during the second one (OAED 1994, Vretakou and Rouseas 2002). Nevertheless in spite of this unprecedented increase in the funding and in the number of trainees no systematic effort was made to create an official register of the institutes/centers implementing these programs. Actually, the legislative framework made no provision at all for the basic requirements on infrastructure, training equipment or human resources (Karalis 2003). As an outcome even sport clubs and Holy Metropolises implemented vocational training programmes within the framework of the first CSF (General Secretariat for the Management of Community and Other Resources 2007: 28). However, this did not generate any problem at all in the absorbency of the EU funds. On the contrary, the relevant Operational Programme of the second CSF ("Ongoing Vocational Training and Promotion to Employment") demonstrated the highest rate of absorbency of all the operational programmes of the CSF (Ministry of Labour 2001).

In short, the absence of any system of control or certification led to the emergence of a large number of companies operating in the field of vocational training. The precise number of these "institutes" is unknown. The Economic and Social Committee of Greece (1988: 2) states that there were 3.500 Not-for-Profit Organisations whose object was the ongoing training. According to more moderate estimates, in 1993 about 200 Training Centers and 1. …

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