The crucial role of vocational education and training (VET) at the current historical juncture, with the energy crisis looming and the greening of the European economy becoming an urgent priority, was highlighted during the meeting of Directors General for Vocational Education and Training (DGVT).

The meeting took place on 16 and 17 May 2022 in Versailles, France, under the auspices of the French EU Presidency and in cooperation with the European Commission (EC).

The organisers hosted directors general for VET from 23 EU countries, five applicant countries and Norway, as well as representatives of the EC, European social partners (Confederation of European Business, SME United, SGI Europe, European Trade Union Confederation), Cedefop and ETF.

Among the topics discussed were inclusive mobility in VET, cooperation and internationalisation strategies in VET, VET and the green transition.

The EC announced a forthcoming European Council recommendation on fair transition towards climate neutrality, which is in the final stage and will comprise employment and social actions and a specific package on education and training.

Cedefop Executive Director Jürgen Siebel pointed to the combination of short- and mid-term demands made upon EU Member States as a result of the war in Ukraine and the concomitant energy crisis:

‘There are things beyond the immediate need to integrate millions of refugees, enabling, among others, their access to education and the labour market. Our European green deal skills forecasts show huge transitions in the energy sector, and reaching energy independence means that these transitions will need to be achieved even faster. This, in turn, requires accelerating our efforts to give citizens skills for the green transition via VET, apprenticeships, upskilling and reskilling.’

Expanding on the greening challenge for vocational education and training, Cedefop’s Ramona David said it was both an incentive and an opportunity for repositioning VET, as well as a possible strategy to redefine professions and make them attractive again.

‘For several sectors, such as construction, agriculture and energy, greenification is also a marketing strategy for the related professions, a tool to attract learners and an opportunity to further expand VET at higher levels.’

‘Besides adapting training courses,' she added, 'teachers and other staff members need to be informed and retrained, to have the training materials. They need to become ambassadors of sustainability. Only if they truly live by these attitudes will they really influence their students in that direction.’

ESI - transition performance

Mr Siebel also presented findings of Cedefop’s third edition of the European skills index, which evaluates the performance of European skills systems during the rapid transition period of the last few years. The survey captures three dimensions: skills development, skills activation and skills matching. As Cedefop’s Executive Director noted:

  • In skills activation, the performance of low achieving countries deteriorated, mainly due to the pandemic’s impact and the less resilient labour markets and economies.
  • In skill development and matching, the trends shown are somewhat more positive, with low performers improving their performance at a higher rate than the leaders; this should be taken as a sign of some convergence.

DGVT participants had the opportunity to visit one of the French VET campuses. In France, there are currently 116 campuses in 12 leading sectors of the future, such as mobility, aeronautics, land and maritime transport, chemistry and biotechnology, digital, telecommunications, energy transition, eco-industry.

A campus is a network that brings together all the stakeholders in a business sector of the future at a regional level with the purpose to develop the skills demanded by industries of today and tomorrow. They involve schools (general, technological and vocational upper secondary schools), higher education institutions, training organisations, research laboratories, companies and associations.

By offering initial and continuing education in cutting-edge sectors, the campuses help improve vocational opportunities both for young people and adults.