The European Conference dedicated to “Vocational Education and Training – the choice of preference” was held on 24 and 25 April 2018 in Sofia. EfVET was represented by Santiago Garcia (EfVET President), Ute Schmitt (EfVET Secretary) and Paolo Nardi (EfVET Member/ on behalf of Cometa VET School). 

EfVET presence had a valuable relevance, as in words of EfVET President “Our network wants to contribute to give VET a higher visibility by sharing good practices and then achieved the goal of making, as the title of the conference states, VET a first choice.’

The event was regarded as a milestone in the framework of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU and featured the possibilities and advantages that vocational education and training provide.

Besides political evaluation, results of research on the topic and sharing of “Best Practice” for making VET a first choice, participants could also see VET in action in various vocational schools (“Henri Ford”, “M. Lomonosov” Vocational Secondary Schools, the Secondary School of Tourism and the Secondary School of Hairdressing and Cosmetics) demonstrating their skills in the course of the Conference.

Based on the CEDEFOP opinion survey on vocational education and training in Europe we came to realize that ….

  • There is a positive perception of vocational education at upper secondary education in Europe (on EU average 68%);
  • However, compared to general education it is still considered as a less attractive career path (on EU average 74 %) and;
  • Most people ( EU average 75%) still think that students with low grades are directed towards vocational education.

This image will only be further improved, if permeability to tertiary and HE will be facilitated, if VET is not a dead end. And in general – as James Calleja, director of CEDEFOP, pointed out “If VET is not a first choice for politicians, also financially, it won’t be a first choice for parents and students”.

EfVET members – Cometa (Como/Italy) and BBS Wirtschaft 1 (Ludwigshafen/Germany) presented Best Practice examples – School-Job Integration and EBBD (European Business Baccalaureate Diploma) – directly addressing the issues pointed out by the Commission and CEDEFOP providing important elements that help making VET a first choice, such as internationalization, permeability to tertiary and higher education, real work experience and entrepreneurial skills.