The final conference of the eduLIFE project has taken place on 23-24 May 2016, gathering more than 80 experts from 12 countries. The conference has been an occasion for the eduLIFE research team to present the key results of the four phases of the eduLIFE project:
(1) childcare, early education and social inequality,
(2) models of secondary education and social inequality,
(3) gender, education and employment,
(4) adult learning in modern societies – patterns and consequences of participation
Eight well renowned external experts have discussed the phases of the project: on the first day of the conference, Fabrizio Bernardi (European University Institute) and Ingrid Schoon (University College London) provided insightful comments on the project’s findings on childcare, early education and social inequality. Rolf Becker (University of Bern) and Hyunjoon Park (University of Pennsylvania) expressed their views on the project phase dealing with secondary education and social inequality. On the second conference day, Claudia Buchmann (Ohio State University) and Haya Stier (Tel Aviv University) discussed the project findings on gender and school to work transition. Finally, Hermann van de Werfhorst and Rudolf Tippelt (Munich University) commented on the phase about adult learning. The discussions tackled many interesting and crucial topics, such as the role of institutions in reducing educational inequalities, the ways to measure the returns of training participation over individual careers, and the multifaceted nature of gender differences in the labor market in different countries.
The concluding comments by Ulrich Mayer (Director Emeritus, Max Planck Institute for Human Development) underlined the innovative nature of the eduLIFE project, in combining competencies and other variables related to personality with “structural” data on educational trajectories. Mayer also highlighted the effectiveness of the eduLIFE research structure, kindly labelling as the “Blossfeld model” (from the name of the Principal Investigator of the project, Hans-Peter Blossfeld). In Mayer’s words, this research model is characterized (in each of its phases) by the selection of a wide network of experts on specific countries working on a common topic and research design to increase comparability of results, and by a fruitful combination of country-based case studies and comparative studies which form the basis for more general conclusions. The involvement of young post-doc scholars and Ph.D. researchers stands as another enriching characteristic of this model. Concluding his commentary, Mayer also gave his thoughts on the importance of European Research Council funding on research in the social sciences.
Overall, the conference has been highly appreciated for the stimulating debates and for inspiring new directions for further research on the eduLIFE topics.