The ministers in charge of vocational education and training (VET) in the EU Member States, candidate countries and EEA countries, the European social partners and the European Commission endorsed on 30 November the ‘Osnabrück declaration on VET as an enabler of recovery and just transitions to digital and green economies’.

The document, which replaces the Riga conclusions of 2015, sets out new policy actions in VET for the period of 2021-25 to complement and operationalise the vision and strategic objectives of the ‘Council recommendation on vocational education and training for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience’.

In the declaration, the ministers vow to contribute to the post-COVID recovery and to further develop the European education and training area through future-oriented and innovative education and training systems to support the digital and green transitions and improve employability and competitiveness, stimulating economic growth.

They stress that a strong partnership with social partners is vital for achieving the objectives and deliverables set out in the declaration, noting also the value of the support shown by European-level VET providers’ associations and learners’ organisations.

German Federal Minister for Education and Research Anja Karliczek, who chaired the virtual ministerial meeting in the context of the German EU Presidency, said: ‘By adopting the Osnabrück declaration we want to give vocational education and training a fresh boost all over Europe. VET is key to the economic recovery in the EU in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.’

She argued that ‘continuing training is the linchpin of innovation; with the declaration we want to support people and provide an excellent framework and conditions for their development.’

Cedefop Executive Director Jürgen Siebel, who was invited to the ceremony, noted: ‘It is a great honour and pleasure to represent Cedefop and participate in today's endorsement ceremony. The Osnabrück declaration puts a focus on continuing VET, a digital and sustainable VET, and on VET as an enabler to shape transitions, rather than being shaped by them.’

Key objectives

Taking into consideration the proposal for a Council recommendation on VET, as well as the updated European skills agenda, the Osnabrück declaration focuses on four main areas:

1. Resilience and excellence through quality, inclusive and flexible VET

2. Establishing a new lifelong learning culture – relevance of continuing VET and digitalisation

3. Sustainability – a green link in VET

4. European education and training area and international dimension of VET.

In support of the successful implementation of the agreed actions, Cedefop and its sister agency ETF are asked to monitor the Osnabrück declaration and report annually to the institutions.

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Osnabrück declaration on vocational education and training as an enabler of recovery and just transitions to digital and green economies