At a meeting at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in Berlin on 2 September, Federal State Secretary Cornelia Quennet-Thielen and Cedefop Director James Calleja discussed Cedefop’s future role and synergies on validation of informal and non-formal learning, acquisition of digital skills for new jobs, governance of EU skills anticipation and matching systems.

Also taking part were Peter Thiele, Head of Division Policy Issues of Initial and Continuing Vocational Training at the BMBF, Cedefop’s Head of Communication Gerd-Oskar Bausewein and Cedefop expert Kostantinos Pouliakas. 

The delegations shared insights into how vocational education and training (VET) could become a more attractive learning sector to help more people acquire skills needed to make them employable, but also to ensure that Europe supplies a competitive workforce to the labour market to generate more new jobs, continuous training and better matching between qualifications and skill needs. Unemployment and lack of basic skills still severely undermine competitiveness and social cohesion.

Another topic was the ongoing discussion about the New skills agenda for Europe and Cedefop’s future role. The skills agenda will provide new and diverse challenges for VET stakeholders. Cedefop will support the frameworks that will make implementation in Member States easier by striking a balance between its strategic multi-annual objectives of creating new knowledge, sustaining policy analysis and brokering knowledge among stakeholders.

Increased communication outreach activities are important to support more attractive VET systems. Both sides agreed that Cedefop’s role as a catalyst on a European level is crucial, and sharing expertise, good practice, common tools and activities a step towards supporting European VET in the areas of skills, qualifications, outreach activities and advocacy.

Meeting with social partners

Left to right: Barbara Fabian, Konstantinos Pouliakas, James Calleja, Christian Sperle, Barbara Dorn, Mario Patuzzi, Gerd-Oskar Bausewein

The Cedefop delegation also had an exchange of views on the skills agenda and Cedefop’s strategic multi-annual objectives with Barbara Dorn, Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA), Mario Patuzzi, German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), Christian Sperle, German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH) and Barbara Fabian, Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK). The meeting was held at the BDA premises in Berlin.

As a tripartite agency, social partners play a key role in Cedefop’s Governing Board and in the activities that the agency organises in Thessaloniki and in Member States. The high-level delegation of German social partners was briefed on Cedefop’s proposed new tasks as a result of a revised Founding Regulation, the project on governance of EU skills anticipation and matching systems as well as the ongoing outreach activities, particularly the communication support of the European VET skills week in close collaboration with the European Commission.

The special relationship between Cedefop and social partners offers added value in the promotion of VET systems that bridge the divide between education and training and the labour market. Cedefop is at the interface between education and employment, and social partners have a pivotal role in encouraging learning in workplaces, in sharing innovation with education and training institutions and in making work-based learning a reality in processes leading to qualifications. More Erasmus+ funding will enable employers, particularly SNEs and training providers, to establish a closer rapport that could lead to more work experiences for young people in industries closer to their community.

The German social partners reiterated their support to Cedefop’s work which is now more visible and addressing more closely their needs to make VET more attractive and relevant to employment.

Mr Calleja said: ‘Meetings such as the ones we had today confirm my belief that working together we will make VET systems more attractive. Closer cooperation among all European and national stakeholders will accelerate a more contextualised European response to VET reform and skill proliferation. But capacity-building of policy-makers and training providers cannot be ignored if they are expected to act on VET issues without delay. Evidence shows that in countries where VET systems are strong, unemployment is low, employers become more entrepreneurial and reskilling and upskilling a lifelong learning process.’