Starting in 2012, responsibility for the implementation of the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training will lie mainly with the Member States. The co-organisers of the third annual ECVET Forum demonstrated how useful communities of practice can be for the smooth implementation of the system by setting up the event itself as just such a community of practice.

Speaking at the Forum, Antonio Silva Mendes, Director at the European Commission, said that the challenge is to close the gap between the supply and demand for skills. One important way of doing this is to foster mobility. “We need to encourage companies to take on a bigger role in developing emerging skills. For this we should help to make an individual’s learning – however and wherever acquired – clear to prospective employers. At present, only about 3 % of initial vocational education graduates do part of their training in another EU country. Our aim is to double that percentage by 2020.”

Cedefop’s Acting Director Christian Lettmayr pointed out that this effort is driven by the pressure of rising unemployment. “Typically, European tools are not a quick-fix solution for immediate problems; they take time to develop and implement. But we are facing a crisis, and need to act now so that people see concrete results in terms of employability.”

ECVET makes it easier for anyone undertaking vocational education and training to move across countries by enabling people to accumulate credits from different training providers in different countries. Credits are validated by each institution and recognised by the awarding body of the final qualification.The system was designed by the European Commission in cooperation with Cedefop, which continues to monitor how it operates across Europe.