The network of European vocational training providers, EUproVET, met in Brussels on September 12 and 13 for a working session that brought together representatives of educational institutions and organizations dedicated to vocational training in Europe.
The meeting was attended by Jan Varchola – team leader in Vocational Education and Training Policy DG Employment – and Anna Barbieri, team Leader for Apprenticeships and Erasmus+ bij European Commission, who highlighted the importance of vocational training in achieving European objectives.
The active role of vocational training in European education policies
During the first day, the representatives of the European Commission emphasized the importance of vocational training in the European context. Vocational Training is considered a key actor for the development of policies and initiatives that promote the improvement and updating of the skills of the European workforce, the transition to a green and sustainable productive system, digitalization and the strengthening of the international dimension of training, as stated in the Osnabrück Declaration.
Joe Bresser, as host of the meeting at the Netherlands House of Education and Research (Neth-ER), highlighted the changes and new challenges facing the European Union in the coming months. Among them, the upcoming elections of the European Commission, which will entail the reconfiguration of positions and the need to strengthen new relationships to boost the dialogue between VET providers and the European Commission. Bresser emphasized the need for cooperation between VET providers to make their voice heard in Europe.
The European Year of Skills: May 2023 – May 2024
Jan Varchola spoke about the European Year of Skills and the challenges facing Europe in terms of the shortage of skills required by the productive system. According to data presented, in 2019, 77% of European companies found it difficult to find staff with the necessary skills. Despite this, the participation rate in adult learning remains low, with only 37% participation.
The objective of the European Year of Skills is to promote the reskilling, upgrading and upskilling of the European workforce. To achieve this, more effective and inclusive investment, promotion of skills, alignment of personal aspirations with job opportunities and attraction of talent from third countries are required. Varchola concluded his speech with the initiatives that are being launched from Europe, which include spaces to collect proposals for the development and improvement of digital skills or an updated framework for learning mobility.
Collaboration and upcoming challenges of the EUproVET network
On the second day, the six EuproVET partners discussed how to face the upcoming challenges in European vocational training. The importance of collaborating and communicating effectively with EU Vocational Training policy makers was highlighted.
It should not be forgotten that EUproVET will take over the coordination of the work of the VET4U2 network in the coming months. This network, which brings together 4 European associations of VET providers (VTA, EfVET, EUproVET, EVBB) and two higher education associations (eucen and EURASHE), is since 2010 a reference interlocutor of the European Commission. As a liaison with EU VET policy makers, this is a key moment for the network to influence policies and achieve the set objectives.
As a starting point, the EUproVET network agreed on three key messages to convey to the European Commission in view of the upcoming elections:
- Identifying Vocation education and training as a key working package in the EC implementation plan consolidating the areas of policy to support life time, adult learning and skills training and development.
- Positioning VET as a viable education pathway and an equal partner to Higher Education as part of the united eco-system with parity of esteem supported through vision and resourcing of the sector.
- Allowing VET to become a key deliverer in enhancing the community cohesion, Inclusion and being part of the social structure leading to more inclusive, collaborative and prosperous lives supporting economic and conflict driven migration.
EUproVET is the representative association of European VET providers. Created in 2009, the association is currently composed of 6 actors committed to the promotion of VET: AMKE (Finland), MBO Raad (The Netherlands), ETBI (Ireland), SZKSC (Slovenia), AOC (United Kingdom) and Ikaslan Bizkaia.