Cedefop’s first policy learning forum on professional development of vocational education and training (VET) teachers and trainers (21-22/11, Thessaloniki) made a good impression on the participants who engaged in hands-on discussions and activities. Here is what some of them had to say:

Eric Bosseler
Deputy Headmaster, Ministry of National Education, Luxembourg
I am pretty new in this domain, this is my first forum and I found it very well-organised. It was interesting to have exchanges with European colleagues and learn about our similar issues in VET. I was especially interested in learning about VET online exchange platforms because in Luxembourg we are not that connected, as far online initiatives go.

Sanna Pennttinen
Education counsellor, Finnish National Board of Education
This forum is very interesting because one gets to witness the developments. The European Union is now quite large. When I began working, there were not so many members. Now, the new members bring along their culture as they mingle with countries which have strong tradition in VET. So, it is very interesting to hear about the paths that the newcomers have taken in apprenticeships and other areas.

Egon Pipan
Director, School centre Nova Gorica, Slovenia
I participated in such an event for the first time. I understood that we share the same problems across Europe when it comes to VET. The main issue lies in training the teachers of vocational schools and best equipping the institutions themselves. As far as I am concerned, the future lies in web-based learning.

Joaquim Santos
FNE (National Federation of Education), National Secretariat, Portugal
I represent a federation of 10 unions. I plan on sharing with my network all the information I received in this forum. The most important part for me was the exchange of experiences. My country faces many problems in the area of continuing professional development due to the financial crisis. So, I got some suggestions on how to tackle these issues.

Ursula Scharnhorst
Head of Research, Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET)
I came here as a representative of a well-established apprenticeship system where many things are in place and regulated. One of the most interesting things for me was to meet people from countries where such systems are in different stages and who struggle with new developments. I realised that the solutions or elements that we can provide may apply to their situations only partially. It was vital for me to see how efforts like putting apprenticeships in place, getting companies to engage in training, keeping teachers up-to-date, ensuring labour market orientation, generate a lot of creative ideas. Those ideas can be useful for me because our system may be well-grown but it is also slow. We need innovation and I will profit from some of the ideas I heard from different representatives.

Maria Todorova
Policy Officer, European Commission (DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion)
The forum was a chance to gather participants from all over Europe and some candidate countries who represent not only the formal system but the social partners as well. The voices of VET teachers and trainers are also heard because there are participants from trade unions, leaders in education and school principals. Their presence shows the unity in the field of professional development. This is the beauty of the European cooperation: listening to different perspectives and learning from each other. What is especially important now is the task of the ongoing VET reforms, some more substantial than others. Without teachers working on these reforms and supporting them, we cannot be successful. That’s why I believe that the forum is important not only in terms of exchanging information but also because it gives a clear message to policy-makers that VET teachers and trainers are stakeholders and key actors, much needed to support the reforms and implement them.