MEPs Anne Sander, Siôn Simon and Emilian Pavel, members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), visited Cedefop on 12 and 13 February and had a fruitful exchange of views with management and staff.

The European politicians found the two-day visit useful and praised Cedefop’s quality work and expertise.

On the first day, Cedefop Director James Calleja and Deputy Director Mara Brugia presented the agency’s work and vision.

Mr Calleja talked about Cedefop’s values, multiannual objectives and strategic areas of operation, i.e. shaping vocational education and training (VET) systems and qualifications, valuing VET to empower people, and informing VET by offering labour market intelligence. He also mentioned the results of the 2017 staff engagement survey where Cedefop ‘came on top among 20 EU Agencies for totally favourable opinions’.

Ms Brugia referred to Cedefop in the European policy context and gave an outlook for 2018-20, when some of its tasks will be modified (e.g. Europass) and others will grow (policy monitoring, EAA, VET for migrants, real-time market intelligence, support to policy implementation). For that reason, she added, we aim at a reclassification from an agency at cruising speed to an agency with new tasks.

The visiting MEPs were also briefed by the Cedefop Heads of Department, Loukas Zahilas (Department for VET Systems and Institutions), Antonio Ranieri (Department for Learning and Employability), Pascaline Descy (Department for Skills and Labour Market), Gerd-Oskar Bausewein (Department for Communication), Isabelle Thomas-Kollias (Acting Head, Department for Resources and Support) and Head of Finance and Procurement Michalis Christidis.

On the second day, Cedefop experts presented work in specific areas: Konstantinos Pouliakas talked about automation and digital skills, Alena Zukersteinova introduced Skills Panorama, Lisa Rustico gave an outline of the thematic country reviews on apprenticeships, Ernesto Villalba-Garcia focused on upskilling pathways and Philippe Tissot presented Europass.

At the final session, Mr Calleja thanked the MEPs for coming to Thessaloniki and called for their continued support. British MEP Mr Simon said that it was an excellent visit and that he enjoyed the various presentations, especially the one on the future of work with new evidence-based information. Romanian Mr Pavel, an IT engineer by trade, was also interested in the impact of automation on skills and jobs. He too found the visit fruitful. Ms Sander was impressed with the insights she got, especially on cross-border mobility, an issue she said is close to her heart as she comes from border region Alsace in France.