Whats the most meaningful way to celebrate Europe Day? For most citizens, including the majority who are well-disposed toward the European Union and appreciate its benefits, the first question that comes to mind may well be, Why should I celebrate? Whats in it for me? Exactly how can the EU help me through these difficult times?
These were precisely the questions that guided Cedefops first major celebration of Europe Day at its premises. On May 8, we opened our doors not to policy-makers, our immediate target groups, but to some of the beneficiaries of the EUs focus on education and training: pupils, students and their teachers.
Around 300 young people from 12 senior high schools and three universities attended our event. We concentrated on showing how the European Union and Cedefop in particular helps drive policy-making in education and training and, more importantly, what impact the European dimension of education and training has on young peoples lives.
Besides offering data on lifelong learning, skills forecasting, demographic trends, and the concepts of learning outcomes and validation of non-formal learning, we urged the youngsters to consider several aspects when choosing a professional path: their own inclinations, the need for generic as well as specific skills, and wider labour market trends.
Our guests participated enthusiastically in the presentations, asking challenging questions such as how much leeway young people really have under circumstances of financial crisis and demographic crunch; whether it is meaningful to speak of occupations per se, given the increasing volatility of the labour market; and what the proper role for employers is in developing curricula. They also pointed out some of the difficulties of applying European concepts, tools and principles in varied national and cultural settings.
|Maite Santos of the Cedefop Library guides visitors |
One of the main focuses of the event was a workshop which guided our young visitors through the Europass site. Here, they learned how they could create their own European CV online, and how to present and assess the entire range of their skills. Participants also had the chance to test their knowledge of Europe with a quiz on culture, geography and the EU institutions.
Cedefop staff were on hand to talk about mobility programmes that allow people to learn in other EU countries, including the study visits programme; and on how to work for the European Union. The presentation on Erasmus by the State Scholarship Foundation (IKY), which is responsible for the programme for Greece, also attracted much attention from the audience.
Staff from our Library and Documentation service - the largest on VET in Europe - explained how to obtain information and explore bibliographies from the Librarys online sources, and gave students and teachers guided tours of the Librarys premises.
Public Relations manager Corinna Frey, who planned the event, was pleased by the response: What Ive seen from the feedback we received was that our guests considered their day at Cedefop well spent, including in terms of their own future choices. It was also gratifying to see that though we had not focused the presentation strictly on Cedefops work, our audience actively sought out this information in the course of our discussions on EU policy, and European tools for training and mobility. Head of Communications Gerd-Oskar Bausewein added: "The excellent results of the survey have led us to the decision to make this an annual event for Cedefop."