The third EU Vocational Skills Week organized by the European Commission, in cooperation with the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union from the 5 to 9 November congregated more than 350 participants who joined this edition to discuss about the future of Vocational Education and Training (VET).  EfVET delegation included members of the Executive Team, Steering Committee and EfVET Members from different countries. The fourth EU Vocational Skills Week will take place 14-18 October 2019 in Helsinki (Finland).

EfVET is one of the supporters of the EU Vocational Skills Week since their first edition. The aim of the EU Vocational Skills Week is to show that VET is a good/first choice, for young people and adults, leading to excellence in education, high-quality jobs and increased employability. Even more, the EU Vocational Skills Week is actively contributing to the development of the New Skills Agenda for Europe.

During the three days of the EU Vocational Skills Week in Vienna, EfVET representatives, stakeholders, experts and others from European Member States and beyond discussed and worked intensively on the further development of VET in Europe.

VET in the Europe Union

According to the Eurostat data “Almost half of upper secondary pupils in the EU enrolled in vocational education”:

  • 49% of upper secondary students in Europe participate in upper secondary VET (2016)
  • The employment rate of recent VET graduates in Europe

EU VET Providers meeting

EfVET Vice-president Stefano Tirati represented EfVET network at the EU VET providers meeting. Mr Tirati highlighted the main three key elements for the future VET and EfVET network:

  • Bring all VET providers
  • EfVET Thematic Teams
  • Mobility+ project

Mr Tirati underlined that the challenges for VET in today’s labour market are huge as “VET playing a crucial role in the social and economic development of any country”. At the same time, VET providers are obliged to aspire to excellence and inclusion, two complementary values which every institution is forced to respect and put into practice. In order to give a response to the main VET challenges EfVET has launched a new approach with EfVET Thematic Teams which are focused on the following topics school-enterprises, social inclusion, VET internationalization, learning mobility, technology enabled learning, joint European qualifications frameworks and technologies and industry 4.0. Furthermore, EfVET is already f cooperation with industries via Blueprints – Sector Skills Alliances (Automotive, Maritime Technology, Space-geo information, Textile, clothing, leather and footwear and tourism).

EU Vocational Skills Week Plenary session: Vocational education and training in Europe: Taking stock and looking ahead

CEDEFOP Acting Director Mara Brugia opened the plenary session saying that “VET has gone in and out of fashion over time. The shock of the economic downturn lifted VET high up on the EU policy agenda and has led to a renaissance of apprenticeships”.  On his fist participation Director General of DG Employment Mr Joost Korte said that “The 1st principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights is on skills. Our Skills Agenda & EU budget proposals are further proof of our commitment to not only talk about social Europe, but make it real!.” He stressed that “Skills for life are the skills for jobs nowadays: creativity, curiosity, sense of initiative. It’s not only about technical skills” he followed saying that “Excellence in VET means that every single person can develop to the maximum and express their full potential.”

CEDEFOP: The changing nature and role of VET in Europe

Jens Bjornavold (CEDEFOP project coordinator) and Jorg Markowitch (CEDEFOP researcher) presented the main findings of CEDEFOP study on “The changing nature and role of VET in Europe. ” The European agency CEDEFOP has been supported by a big research consortium and expert from all 30 countries covered by the study.

Mr Bjornavold said that “Most studies look at the current situation, at least most of the studies he was involved in the last 20 years, there is little research on longer term trends. We should not reduce the development of VET to what happens at upper-secondary level”. As has been said, there has been significant growth of VET at higher level. For example, in many countries a sector of professional higher education has developed. To be able to analyse the changing nature of VET comprehensively CEDEFOP have developed an analytical model which looks at VET from three perspectives:

  • Besides the education system perspective, CEDEFOP also took a LM-perspective and a pedagogical perspective;
  • Borders between VET and GE have become blurred. Work-based and practice-based approaches are now more frequent in school -based VET, but also in general and higher education.
  • Transversal skills integrated in VET curricula. For example, Finland has reduced the number of occupational standards and also in Austria, Germany occupational standards have been merged.

Mr Shyamal Majumdar, Head, UNECSO-UNEVOC, International Centre, gave a global perspective of TVET and skills in the world. He highlighted the UNESCO strategy for TVET priority areas are:

  • Fostering youth employment and entrepreneurship
  • Promoting equity and gender equality
  • Facilitating the transition to green economies and sustainable societies

Mr Majumdar added that Europe and the rest of the world face similar challenges and Networking and Partnership are the new Strategic Resources.

After, parallel session, we went deeper into the themes in CEDEFOP’S study at the six workshops:

  1. Initial VET under pressure? Digitalisation, job polarisation and the future of mid-level skills
  2. Spotlight on continuing VET: the challenges posed by job transitions and longer working lives
  3. Governing VET: finding the right balance between change and stability
  4. VET at higher levels: the tension between academic and vocational drift
  5. Vocational learning in the 21st century: challenges for traditional pedagogies and learning methods
  6. European cooperation in VET: time to move up a gear in a globalized world

European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA)

The European Alliance for Apprenticeships set seven priorties at the heart of the debates right now around Apprenticeship:

  • Quality education
  • Rights
  • Contracts
  • Representation
  • Promoting apprenticeships
  • Anti-discrimination
  • Accessible info

The EAfA celebrates its fifth anniversary celebrating the achievements but also looking the future perspectives.

Day 2 Panel discussion

The second day was opened by a panel discussion to react to the presentation of the different scenarios and the challenges/opportunities ahead. This panel discussion gathered the views from Margarida segard (EVBB), Cesare Onestini (European Training Foundation), Loukas Zahilas (Cedefop), Frederic Piccavet (European Apprentecesihip Network), Robert Plummer (BusinessEurope) and Agnes Roman (ETUC).

Mr. Onestini, European Training Foundation (ETF) said that “the scenarios show end possibilities, but the staring points of VET systems are different. Also, Ms Margarida Segard from EVBB emphasized that “cooperation with companies and the economy is essential to bring Distinctive VET forward”.

Mr Frederic Piccavet, from European Apprentices Network’s ““we all agree that vocational education and training id the way forward but are different challenges and labour market is most important

CEDEFOP expert, Mr. Zahilas said that “the scenarios are more like trends and the future there will not be one model, but rather elements from the scenarios will be adapted even in parts of the same country”.

The VET Excellence Awards 2018

The VET Excellence Awards 2018 ceremony took place on 9th November. Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said “We want to bring great stories, characters and experiences in the field of VET to people across Europe and beyond. Whatever the results are tomorrow, for me all of you are winners!”.

EfVET members were awarded in two categories: VET Innovators awarded to Xabec Vocational Training Center (Spain) and European Funding for Excellence “Erasmus+ project” which was given to the project Mobile Learning in VET towards 2020, coordinated by EfVET Member Scuola Centrale Formazione. Under this category EfVET project, European Business Baccalaureate Diploma for All (EBBD+), coordinated by Helsinki Business College was as well nominated.

The EU Vocational Skills Week is not as you can keep organizing your events or activities until the end of 2018, be part of the EU Vocational Skills history and discover your talent.