James Calleja, who took up his duties on 16 October, outlines Cedefop’s central role in promoting European vocational education and training.

I am thoroughly committed to working hard for this European agency at a time when the economic crisis is destabilising the quality of life of so many European citizens, particularly those who are unemployed or lack skills to re-enter the labour market.

I am also happy to join an organisation with a very solid research and administrative backbone, and which has been of great support to the European Commission to whom we report.

Since joining Cedefop in mid-October, I have had the opportunity to meet all the members of staff and I must say that I have been impressed with the dedication and commitment towards the objectives of this organisation and those of the Commission. Cedefop’s publications, conferences, seminars and newsletters have been inspirational for vocational education and training (VET) providers, learners and trainers across Europe.

Cedefop has been at the forefront of promoting a new era in European vocational education and training. At the core of the activities Cedefop has sought to promote are, in no small measure, the Copenhagen process, the Bruges communique and other landmark communications by the Commission on the future of education in Europe.

The work at Cedefop has been a constant point of reference for Member States on change and innovation in VET. It has provided learners, employers and social partners with new insights into mobility, quality assurance, qualifications frameworks, validation of informal and non-formal learning and the use of transparent credit systems linked to a learning outcomes approach. 

These tools are an important factor in bringing systems of education across Europe closer to each other so that their contiguity will serve to enrich complementarity, build trust and inspire permeability between VET and higher education.

On the other hand, the research on skills analysis provided new indicators for the future of the labour market. The publications on skills analysis have been instrumental in opening up debates on VET provision among governments, sectoral agencies, competent authorities, training providers, social partners and civil society.

Results have shown that visions and plans for VET provision have to be well calibrated to respond not only to emerging realities in the labour market but also to new developments particularly as a result of information and communication technology and the rationalisation of resources.

The challenges for a smart, sustainable and competitive Europe lie within the parameters of a workforce that is well educated during compulsory education and has the capacity to embark on lifelong learning.

In many aspects, the research conducted by Cedefop has shown that lifelong learning has its foundations in a school system that prepares young people not only for the world of work but also for the world of lifelong education.

Cedefop’s mission is multifaceted but at the core of our business is the task to assist the Commission in encouraging at Community level, the promotion and development of vocational training and of in-service training and to facilitate a concerted approach to vocational training problems (Regulation n.337/75).

Implementing the Bruges communique gives us the opportunity to do so. The research capacity of Cedefop is up to this challenge. The administrative and managerial structures of the agency are efficient and effective enough to make this happen.

I am confident that the Cedefop team will achieve these goals so that as an agency it can continue to support the European Commission and European citizens in initiatives that promote lifelong learning, employability and mobility.