Europe’s deep financial and economic crisis has worsened the mismatch between skills people have and those the labour market wants. EU Member States struggle with high unemployment, shrinking GDP and budget constraints. Yet difficult circumstances can also bring opportunities for bold change and action. Cedefop will explore these opportunities at a conference on 12 and 13 June.

Experts on vocational education and training (VET), policy-makers from the European Commission and Member States as well as social partners’ representatives will debate how:

  • VET can be improved by information on labour market needs;
  • various forms of apprenticeship can address youth unemployment;
  • peer learning and alliances can help develop work-based learning.

EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou will address the conference before launching the European alliance for apprenticeships in July.

Education and training that reflect more closely labour market needs will benefit individuals, enterprises and society. Improving information on labour market changes reduces mismatch and is important for adapting education and training curricula. Better information means people can make informed decisions about their careers.

Member States are reforming their education and training systems as a result of reduced funding, but also to make them more flexible and open to other ways of learning – including work-based learning.

According to Ms Vassiliou, vocational education and training is one of the sectors that deserve ‘full attention in this modernisation effort’.

Europe faces challenges such as rapid organisational and technological change and the need for a greener economy, all of which demand new skills from an ageing labour force.

Many of our skills are acquired at work. Work-based learning and apprenticeships provide high-quality training for young people and give access to medium-level qualifications.

Research shows that most job opportunities over the next decade will require such qualifications. It is essential that these vacancies are filled.

Work-based learning is also important in education and training for high-level qualifications, for which demand will continue to rise.

Watch Cedefop Acting Director Christian Lettmayr’s invitation to take part in the conference.

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