At a high level meeting on the future of vocational education and training (VET) in Turin on 23 June, Undersecretary of Labour Luigi Bobba said that Italy has embarked on a process to bring the world of education closer to that of employment by promoting work-based learning and closer cooperation between school systems and labour market needs and economic growth.

The conference brought together employers, trade unions, teachers and policy-makers from education and the labour market, experts in VET, ISFOL officers as well as high political figures from the regions of Piedmont, Puglia and Lombardy and the national scene. 

Fondazione della Scuola and Associazione TREELLLE jointly support a roadmap for a reform system in initial VET at national and regional levels based on quality assurance, qualifications based on learning outcomes, work-based learning and labour market needs, recognised certification across the national territory and more structured social partner participation in the design and execution of educational programmes.

In his speech, Cedefop Director James Calleja said that European VET's key challenge is to recover 70 million low-skilled adults who may have abandoned education and therefore lifelong learning as a result of one-size-fits all systems of education.

Mr Calleja spoke about four overarching questions: problems facing Member States in VET, the issues at stake, the preferred solutions and the expected benefits if solutions are applied to VET reform.

VET's image across EU Member States continues to suffer. But European initiatives that started with the Copenhagen process should lead to attractiveness of systems of education and training based on quality, transparency and relevance to employment. There are increasing targeted objectives through the Riga Conclusions and the New skills agenda for Europe initiative which Commissioner Thyssen launched earlier this month. Both provide platform for VET reform, upskilling and reskilling of the workforce and a more focused service to European citizens to plan their education and training and achieve better guidance to preferred careers.

Facts and figures illustrated unemployment’s state-of-play, VET unattractiveness and the need for more work-based learning as a tool to recover young people from unemployment and provide skills for jobs and for life.

The need to bring education and employment closer together was stressed throughout the conference generating debates in a culture where practical learning is still gaining ground.  Mr Calleja said that ‘it is time to walk the talk; reform VET systems to attract learners to lifelong learning, ensure transparency and quality in qualifications, obtain stronger social partners’ participation and aim at employability, a certified workforce and that no one is left behind.’

President of Associazione TREELLLE Attilio Oliva, a former entrepreneur, and VET quality assurance expert at European level Giorgio Allulli presented the new roadmap for a VET system in Italy that diversifies education and training by engaging social partners and setting up nationally agreed quality assurance systems across Italy. In his concluding remarks, former Minister of Education Francesco Profumo said that in planning VET today we will reap the fruit in 2030. There should be a sense of urgency and not complacency to reform VET systems and give a better future to young people.