The Copenhagen Process has highlighted the significance of vocational education and training (VET) in Europes endeavour to achieve the Lisbon goals. Its now time to implement the tools and priorities agreed and to build on the achievements so far.
This was the conclusion of the informal ministerial meeting held in Helsinki on 5 December 2006. The meeting, which was intended as a follow up to the Copenhagen Declaration (2002) and Maastricht Communiqu (2004), adopted the Helsinki Communiqu which outlines reviewed priorities for the European cooperation in VET. Finlands Minister for Education and Science Antti Kalliomki, Commissioner Jan Figel and Cedefops Director Aviana Bulgarelli reflected on the impact of the Copenhagen process, in particular the significance of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the envisaged European Credit System for VET (ECVET).

Reducing the number of low skilled and ensuring skills development for young and older people were among the challenges underlined by Aviana Bulgarelli. She also pointed out the need to adequately invest in VET and to value teachers and trainers as change agents. The presentations led into a discussion on progress and on ways to ensure high-quality training that is attractive to young people and their parents and to adult learners alike. The ministers congratulated the Finnish Presidency on the Communiqu, which highlights the achievements of the Copenhagen process and reaches out to all VET stakeholders, from policy-makers to teachers and trainers and learners.

The Helsinki Communiqu confirms the priorities set in Maastricht, with an added focus on improving the attractiveness and quality of VET. Work on developing and implementing common tools to support transparency and recognition of vocational qualifications should continue. The document calls for more exchanges and mutual learning and improved statistics on VET by the next follow-up meeting on the process scheduled in 2008.

The Ministerial meeting brought together participants from the EU Member States, EFTA/EEA, acceding and candidate countries, as well as European social partners, the Commission, Cedefop, ETF and the European Parliament. A meeting of the Directors General for Vocational Training (DGVT) and an award ceremony for 10 Leonardo da Vinci projects related to the Copenhagen objectives had preceded the event.

Helsinki Ministerial meeting