On 7th September 2007 EfVET and Euracademy Association co-organised a one-day Conference in Brussels as a final Project conference. The conference was organised in the context of the EUROPEAN OBSERVATORY OF LIFELONG LEARNING IN RURAL AREAS, a transnational project financed in part by the European Commission in the context of Leonardo Da Vinci's Community Vocational Training Action Programme.
The Conference encouraged the exchange of ideas in the field of lifelong learning in rural areas, with a focus on SMEs and micro-enterprises, provided a forum for exploring and promoting best practice in this field, presented the activities and results achieved by the Observatory so far, and expanded its network. Key representatives and stakeholders involved in implementing Lifelong Learning from across Europe (e.g. policy-makers, Members of European Parliament, academics, practitioners, researchers, etc) participated in the Euracademy Observatory Transnational Conference.
The Observatory supports the creation of an online resource centre and databank of research findings concerning the lifelong learning uptake by SMEs, micro-enterprises and the self-employed in rural areas, placing emphasis on the role ICT can play in meeting the learning needs of these target groups. The project brings together representatives from 8 countries under the banner of the Euracademy Observatory on ICT supported Lifelong Learning for SME's in rural areas as part of an EU funded project (Greece, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Spain, Poland, Hungary and UK) and the Conference will disseminate the outcomes and result of these to other stakeholders (e.g. training providers, individual learners, certification agencies, social partners, policy makers and researchers) and share good practice. Underlining the project research is the drive to support sustainable rural communities throughout Europe.
At present it delivers three on line questionnaires in seven languages, publishes the research reports of the surveys, sets up and continuously updates databases of best practice, issues quarterly newsletters with summaries of the research progress and interim results, and publishes comparative statistics. Also, the Observatory has started a library of relevant publications and hosts virtual workshops and discussion fora on the subject of lifelong learning in rural areas. There are plans by the University of Helsinki and the Euracademy Association to continue the operation of the Observatory beyond the life of this project, and expand the present network of training providers and social partners that are providing access to the necessary samples.