The Representation of the European Commission in Slovakia, in cooperation with the Slovak Governance Institute (SGI), organised an opening conference ‘Europe 2020’ on 10 March 2010 in Bratislava to boost discussion about the EU growth strategy for the coming decade.

During this conference, attended by Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission Vice-President for Inter-institutional Relations and Administration, Ivan Mikloš, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Slovak Republic (SR), and Ivan Štefanec, Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the National Council of the SR, all seven Europe 2020 flagship initiatives were presented in detail.

ReferNet Slovakia presented the results of the monitoring of the development in VET and liefelong learning (LLL) in 2002 to 2010, done in cooperation with Cedefop, as well as challenges induced by the Europe 2020 strategy and in particular its flagship initiative Agenda for new skills and jobs. Seven follow-up workshops and a closing conference in November 2011 should assist the government in redefining national strategies, including the national Europe 2020 targets that are seen as controversial. It is hoped that the conference will inspire national authorities to rethink provisional national targets and to set more ambitious targets within the National Reform Programme to be submitted in April 2011.

Lessons learnt from the slow pace in implementing the Copenhagen tools in Slovakia indicate the need to revisit the institutional backing of change management in Slovakia. The conference showed how important public discussions of strategic priorities are and how activities similar to the conference organised by SGI are needed. No doubt, the follow-up workshops are widely expected. ReferNet Slovakia will substantially contribute to the programme of the workshop on VET/LLL to be held on 14 June 2011. 

The priorities of this workshop are as follows:
- renewal of the National System of Qualifications aligned with the European Qualification Framework, with a strong focus on a shift from content-based to learning-outcome-based designing VET/LLL and validation of non-formal and informal learning;
- revision of the current practice in fighting gaps between supply and demand in the labour market and anticipation of skill needs; and
- revision of current mechanisms for financing VET/LLL, including incentives for private entities to invest in human resource development.