On 10th December 2018 the Director General of the European Commission for Employment and Social Affairs, Joost Korte, visited Da Vinci College and the Sustainability Factory in Dordrecht, The Netherlands.

Da Vinci College (The Netherlands)

The visit was intended to enable him to get a good overview of the Dutch VET system and the workings of the system in relation to stakeholders from Business and Industry and local authorities. The director of the Dutch VET Council (MBO Raad), Paul Oomens, presented a short introduction about the Dutch VET system. The director of the Sustainability Factory, Rein Meester, described the way in which education and companies work together closely in a hybrid approach in order to respond to the requirements and challenges of the labour market. The combination of learning, working and innovation has been a successful one over the past few years.

During a tour of the Factory, representatives of business and industry provided a good overview of innovative approaches and of the interaction between the various partners. This was followed by an interesting discussion of the Director General with representatives of the Dutch VET Council, business and industry, NethER, Da Vinci College and ROC van Twente on topics such as life-long development, the delicate balance between excellence and inclusion, public appreciation of professions and the global struggle to get people interested in VET as opposed to general education.  Business representatives, among whom some start-ups, were quite positive about the way hybrid education works in the Dutch VET system in general and at Da Vinci College in particular.

Mr Korte was also interested in what Europe could mean for VET. Topics that came up for discussion here were the comparability of VET in different European countries, the use that may be made of for instance Erasmus+ subsidies and the possible dilemmas between standardised training and the need for flexibility and the interests of the manufacturing industry. Mention was also made of the pilot projects concerning Centres of Vocational Excellence that may provide great opportunities for international VET cooperation in curriculum development and the creation of centres of excellence.