European Union Member States and social partners have benefited from Cedefop’s work throughout its 40-year history, Director James Calleja told guests at an event (at Cedefop premises on 10 February) marking 40 years from the Founding Regulation which established the agency.

‘Cedefop came at a time of students’ unrest when many European systems of education were in crisis,’ said Mr Calleja, adding: ‘The world at that time was quite different from today, but the pressing issues then and now are very similar. Reading some old articles, I noticed that Cedefop’s key objectives at the time were youth unemployment – which is something we hear talked about every day now – equal opportunities for men and women, the situation of foreign workers and the rise of new technologies, issues we still talk about even today.’

As for Cedefop’s current objectives: ‘For me, the three key responsibilities we have as an organisation are to make vocational education and training (VET) more attractive, to match skills with the labour market and to link more intimately employability with lifelong learning.’

In a video message, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen stressed: ‘Cedefop remains as relevant today as it was 40 years ago.’ She added: ‘No organisation understands better how Europe’s vocational education and training systems are struggling to meet 21st century expectations. As an expert centre, Cedefop knows the substantial effort invested by the Commission, Member States and social partners to improve VET systems. These efforts are delivering results.’

Addressing the event, Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris told current and former Cedefop staff: ‘When our group took over the municipality, the connection between the municipality and Cedefop was almost non-existent. We tried to get more involved and get Cedefop more involved with the different professional organisations of the city so that we could profit as much as possible from the presence of this European centre here. I’m not satisfied with what we have done up to now. But I can tell you I have appointed two people, one is a consultant and the other is an elected municipality board member, who will be more involved in the relationship with Cedefop. They will come with suggestions.’

Mr Boutaris promised to ‘stand by the side of Cedefop for whatever activity you have in your mind.’

Following the speeches, Cedefop Deputy Director Mara Brugia cut the 40th anniversary cake/vasilopita.

You can see more pictures of the event here.