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To support and complement the policies and activities developed by and in the Member States in the area of continuing vocational training.


Council Decision 90/267/EEC of 29 May 1990 establishing an action programme for the development of continuing vocational training in the European Community (Force).


The programme covers the period from 1 January 19 19to 31 December 1994.

Definitions of terms: "continuing vocational training": any vocational training engaged in by a worker throughout his working life; "undertaking": large, small and medium-sized undertakings, regardless of their legal status or economic sector, and all types of economic activity; "training body": all types of establishment engaged in vocational training, including autonomous economic organizations and professional associations; "worker": any person having active links with the labour market, including the self-employed.


  • to encourage investment in continuing vocational training and improve the return from it, in particular by developing partnerships;
  • to encourage measures in those economic sectors or regions where access to, or investment in, such training is inadequate;
  • to encourage innovations in the management of continuing vocational training, methodology and equipment;
  • to support transnational and transfrontier projects and the exchange of experience;
  • to identify better ways of forecasting requirements in terms of qualifications and occupations.

The programme comprises a common framework of guidelines designed to support and complement the measures adopted by the Member States, together with a number of transnational measures implemented at Community level. The aim is to contribute to promoting the convergence of initiatives by the Member States which seek:

  • to improve the conditions for workers' mobility;
  • to enable the least qualified workers to benefit from training;
  • to promote effective equality of opportunity for men and women and to ensure that all workers who are nationals of Member States are afforded equal treatment as regards access to continuing vocational training;
  • to strengthen incentives for undertakings, particularly small and medium-sized ones, to invest in continuing vocational training;
  • to seek to improve the forecasting of trends in qualifications.

The Commission must implement the transnational measures which are aimed at workers in undertakings, taking account of the differing needs and situations which exist in the Member States. Transnational measures include:

  • an exchange scheme to promote the rapid dissemination of innovations;
  • the design and development of transnational or cross-border pilot schemes;
  • establishment of a European network of transnational operations;
  • sectoral and statistical surveys and analysis of contractual policy and trends in qualifications and occupations.

The Commission ensures that there is consistency and complementarity between the Force and other Community programmes. It draws upon the assistance of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and is also assisted by an advisory committee, which it keeps informed about the development of the programme.

4) deadline for implementation of the legislation in the member states

Not applicable.

5) date of entry into force (if different from the above)


6) references

Official Journal L 156, 21.06.1990

7) follow-up work

Council Decision 92/170/EEC of 16 March 1992 (Official Journal L 75, 21.03.1992) amending Decision 89/657/EEC (Eurotecnet) and Decision 90/267/EEC (Force), setting up an advisory committee on education and continuing training covering both Force and Eurotecnet.

On 27 July 1997, the Commission adopted its Final Report on the Force Programme [COM(97) 384 final, not published in the Official Journal]

This report complements the interim report prepared by the Commission (document COM(94)418 final of 13 October 1994) that set out the development of the FORCE Programme from 1 January 1991 to 31 December 1993.

This final report, while summarising the overall implementation of the FORCE Programme between 1 January 1991 and 31 December 1994, focuses more specifically on the issues related to outcomes: evaluation, exploitation, monitoring and dissemination of the results, and the conclusions to be drawn for the development of Community policy in the field of continuing vocational training (CVT).

The programme was made up of two sets of measures:

  • a "common framework of guidelines" aiming at the promotion of common targets between the Member States;
  • secondly, the transnational measures backing up the Member State initiatives

At the core of the transnational measures is the principle of the transfer of knowledge, innovation, experience and know-how throughout the Community, on the basis of active partnerships between companies, the social partners and research and training institutes. FORCE provided the first testing ground for a collaborative approach to the development of Community continuing vocational training policy and practice.

The report focuses on the results of the transnational measures, i.e. pilot projects and research projects.

Three calls for proposals were announced during the life of FORCE, resulting in the selection of 720 projects (out of a total of some 2400 submitted). Priorities for the projects were their contribution to investment in continuing vocational training by companies and access to it for all groups of workers; the direct involvement of companies in priority, particularly SMEs, and of the social partners; the design, development and implementation of training plans as part of companies' business strategy; the significance of the transnational partnerships. Some 56% of the results of the transnational projects received a 'Transnational Product' label for their training product.

The 720 projects selected under the three calls created a highly significant transnational network of companies, social partners, training institutes and public authorities for the transfer of expertise and innovation in continuing vocational training. The network comprises over 7000 members of which 50% are companies, in large part SMEs or groupings of SMEs, and some 15% represent the social partners.

The 'research' projects comprised the four Sectoral Surveys of continuing vocational training plans, the analysis of contractual policy on continuing vocational training, the Statistical Survey of company continuing vocational training, the Reporting System - access, quality and volume of continuing vocational training in Europe - and the European Continuing Training Report. Together these activities provide a concentration of data on national systems and practices and a substantial fund of information for both sides of industry, companies and policy-makers at all levels.

The report summarises the programme's approach towards dissemination of the project results, the main findings of the continuing vocational training statistics (CVTS), and the links between continuing vocational training and other Community policies (structural policy, transport policy, industry). It also contains an overview over the funds allocated during the lifetime of the programme amounting to 83.4 MECU and a list of main publications.

Finally, it repeats the main conclusions of the final external evaluation highlighting many of the undoubted strengths of the FORCE Programme. In particular:

  • Project contractors and partners were overwhelmingly positive about the benefits they enjoyed from participating in the programme.
  • New CVT knowledge was generated through project-based needs analyses, networks and surveys and studies.
  • Innovations occurred in the way training was delivered in many projects, in particular through a new focus on work-based learning.
  • The transnational dimension of FORCE has been strong both with regard to transnational goals and awareness and in terms of co-operation between partners.
  • Most projects reported that they achieved their immediate objectives and dissemination activity was among project partners.
  • The programme was able to involve large numbers of SMEs, either through intermediary bodies or as pilot "test sites".
  • The structuring of the publications ensured comparability at a European level about national CVT policy and enterprise CVT practice.
  • FORCE was perceived to have reinforced and supported Member State CVT policies and to have been one of the most important sources of experience for a number of successor European programmes including LEONARDO and ADAPT.

The FORCE Programme was inevitably less successful in achieving some of its objectives and its potential results were not always fully realised. In particular:

  • Knowledge from FORCE surveys and studies was not widely taken up by FORCE partners.
  • There is a lack of evidence so far of uptake of training outputs and products by intended beneficiaries.
  • There was an under-representation of beneficiaries with labour market disadvantage.
  • FORCE experience tends to confirm that the European training market is not yet well developed.

As a conclusion it can be said that the FORCE Programme has achieved certain tangible results in relation to the investment made and the available resources. In particular, enterprises have featured prominently in the projects, genuine transnational training partnerships have been set up, a systematic policy for comparable information on national continuing training systems and arrangements has been devised, and a substantial contribution has been made to the development of knowledge on training practices, especially through the sectoral surveys and networks. This is due mainly to the fact that the Programme formed part of the strategy for the development of continuing training, encompassing national policies and Community activities (Social Dialogue, Access, Objective 4, etc.).

8) commission implementing measures