VENHANS Peer Learning Review “Fostering Excellence in VET: Best Practices” presented PoVE Water Scale-up
Held on June 29, 2022, this PLR gathered 30 participants coming from 13 different European Union’s (EU) and non-EU countries, representing Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers and public and private EU entities and institutions.
The main purpose of this PRL, consisting of a plenary and three discussion sessions, was to showcase best practices from multiple VET players active in Centers of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) across Europe, while framing the context of how Excellence in VET may influence systemic development, raise the quality and innovation of VET provision and impact local or regional skills eco-systems.
The Plenary Session started with a presentation of the aim and the main purposes of the VENHANS project by Giulia Meschino, Director of EVTA – European Vocational Training Association and VENHANS project coordinator, and a short presentation of EfVET by Susana Nogueira, EfVET Policy & Project Officer.
After the initial presentations, four different CoVEs projects and one project focused on vocational excellence were presented by their respective coordinators. One of these was the PoVE Water Scale-up project.
PoVE Water Scale Up, focused on the Water sector, was presented by its coordinators, Ms. Erna van der Werff (Learning Hub Friesland, NL) and Mr. Pieter Hoekstra (CIV Water, NL). PoVE Water has 23 EU and non-EU partners that will work for the acceleration of regional strategic connections between VET and industries through knowledge sharing and exchange of experiences, focused on water storage and irrigation (challenges brought by the climate changes). According to Mr. Pieter Hoekstra, PoVE Water project aims to “make the Water sector sexier”, addressing it in a wider perspective. Ms. Erna van der Werff explained that the project will use a bottom-up approach to vocational Excellence, and its activities will include securing a central role of VET in regional innovation ecosystems, ands and the development of innovative Virtual Reality (VR) materials for VET for skills and competences’ development of future and current Water workforce.
Discussion Room 2: Water at regional level – How to engage with socio-economical ecosystems?
Moderators: Erna van der Werff, Learning Hub Friesland & Pieter Hoekstra, CIV Water
Considering that cultural differences are a challenge when it comes to make the connection between education and businesses at regional level in the Water sector, two questions were made to the audience to understand their perception on how to engage with social-economical ecosystems: “What are the challenges in your region in engaging with the regional innovation ecosystem?” and “What tips and tricks would you give to people who want to integrate their VET college in this regional innovation ecosystem?”.
One of the participants shared his experience with his VET college, in Finland. He mentioned a project called “Process Academy” in which his VET College was involved, together with two HE institutions, i.e., collaboration between VET and HE sectors. Together, they developed a system that provides information about industry’s skills needs coming directly from industry, with which they have a close connection. As for the creation of an innovation ecosystem, the project also used a vocational network to search certain qualifications that were not part of partners’ educational offer.
Regarding the connection with industry, the participant stated that his VET college has a good level of connection with companies in the region due to the fact that students go to those companies to have training. Moreover, the regional/local authorities have a role on those ecosystems through specific Councils focused on the implementation of strategies to engage with industry.
As for tips and tricks to create those innovation ecosystems, the participant suggested to start with contacting with policy makers responsible for education policies, search for funding opportunities for supporting local economies for the creation of jobs and align VET initiatives with industry’s strategies and needs.
As conclusion, it was possible to find similarities between the Finish and Dutch approaches to the creation of regional innovation ecosystems: it is necessary to create direct connections with industry to check its current and future demands, allowing to create a vision of how the future craftsmen of the Water sector would look like. By doing that, VET and Industry can work together, not only at regional but also at national and international levels, on the necessary steps to educate students to be future high skilled workers. This connection would also allow to provide VET students with the opportunity to work in companies from the Water sector at national and international levels, part of the ecosystem.