My name is Kornél Dőri. I am a 16-year-old student from Hungary invited by EFVET to the Vocational Skills Week. He spent 3 days in Brussels on that event where it was discussed how they should make Vocational Education the first choice for students rather than the second. Also, how companies use different methods of Vocational Education to train their apprentices and that they train their employees for lifelong learning.
Kornél Dőri – Hungary
On the first day on the opening address, it was explained why the VET Skills Week was created, why it is so important, and the audience was given an overview of the last years VET Skills Week and its achievements. The speakers also spoke about students dropping out of school and how they (VET providers and the companies) have solved this issue. The speakers also mentioned that both lifelong learning (CPD) and entrepreneurship are essential for employees and they should be taught in schools alongside with soft skills and technological skills. The next speakers talked about how the students in VET systems get a job in about 1-3 months. It was made clear that VET education is seen as the second choice by students and their parents because it is seen as an education for lowest performing students although this is not true. Also in VET education, the dropout rate is much lower, and the employability higher when compared general education.
On the first panel, it was discussed why mobility is important and how much time should be spent on learning and working abroad. It was made clear by the panel that lifelong learning has become very important and that 21th-Century skills should also be taught in the VET schools because without them it is tough to find a job.
On the second day, the 1st Business – Education Summit was held with the participation of Commissioners, National VET Ambassadors and CEOS of well-known companies having good VET practices. The first panel was about the “invisible wall” that is between the students who finish in education and the jobs they want to work in. The “invisible wall” is the gap between the skills of the graduate students and the skills which are requested by the jobs offered by companies. The youth unemployment rate is very high, but there are many unfilled jobs. It was revealed that the “invisible wall” is because the soft skills, which are required, are missing. This is because soft skills are not taught by the schools, and the students have not mastered the digital skills which are necessary when they try to find a job after finishing school. The Pact for Youth tries to solve this problem by teaching digital and soft skills for students from the second, until the last year of secondary school.
Pact for Youth was introduced by CSR Europe. The Pact for Youth is a mutual engagement of business and the European Union leaders. Stakeholders organise programmes in elementary schools which make it possible for students to meet their role models. They believe that by showing the students that it is possible to reach their dreams they are less likely to drop out of school. After implementing this idea, the percentage of students who drop out of education has lowered. Stakeholders on Pact for Youth develop a joint proposal containing 3 plus one element: 1) “Make business-education partnerships the new norm” 2) “Make VET/Apprenticeships an equal choice for youth” 3) “Mainstream entrepreneurship and soft skills in learning” 4) “The way forward: Better education, better business”. I would like to highlight only the first, second, and fourth part of the joint proposals.
(1) A study showed that two-thirds of the graduates who learned in VET education could find a job almost immediately.
(2) How to make apprenticeship an equal choice for youth: it was noted that it is tough to convince students to go work abroad as apprentices and that students do not know what they are interested in. The lack of knowledge regarding work could be solved by companies going to schools and presenting what they are doing. It was explained that it is not enough to convince the students, the parents also need to be convinced because often the parents decide how their children learn. The second days last part was about how the school curriculum should be changed.
(4) It was mentioned that schools should teach entrepreneur skills and enable the cooperation between the VET education and companies. One of the best ways to develop entrepreneur mindset of the students is by making them create and operate their own little company in school with the teachers help. When implemented it could lead to graduates who have an entrepreneur mindset. A big importance was given to the idea that VET should be made the first choice for students. That’s why this idea was repeated so often.
The last day was mainly focused on the awards that were won in different fields regarding VET education and the conclusion of the VET Skills Week. As an example, I would like to name the winner of the best VET Innovator school award was given to Da Vinci College.
I would like to recommend to the organisers of the VET Skills Week that they should invite more students because then the students will have a better insight on this topic. The organisers could also get an immediate feedback from the students regarding the topics of the meeting. I also think that the advantages of VET education should be presented in secondary schools. Maybe primary schools should have some sort of an introduction to VET based learning (how it works, what you get from it, how do you benefit from it). I have this opinion because when I arrived at the event I knew close to nothing form VET education and if the goal is to make VET education the first choice for the students, in my opinion it is very important to have the students informed about their opportunities when it comes to education.