On the last day of the Portuguese EU Presidency (30 June), Cedefop organised its 10th Brussels seminar with the Presidency to discuss future-proofing vocational education and training (VET) skills and competences.

Opening the seminar, Portugal's Deputy Minister for Education João Costa thanked Cedefop for giving him the opportunity to participate in ‘a farewell moment’ discussing the future of skills and competences. He added that Porto’s EU Social Summit set a goal of having 60% of citizens involved in lifelong learning: ‘It may sound too ambitious, but it isn’t. Lifelong learning is as important as elementary school.'

Mr Costa noted that ‘we must make sure that adults find the right opportunities for up- and reskilling so they can thrive.’ He also argued that, while digital skills are now more important than ever, ‘we need to focus on other types of skills too; we need to train for adaptability, creativity and critical thinking.’

Cedefop Executive Director Jürgen Siebel said that the Agency is carrying out extensive work responding to the need for future-proofing VET systems: ‘Cedefop has over the past two decades invested heavily in skills forecasting and intelligence. Increasingly using big data, the analysis of European job vacancies gives us insights into changing demands and priorities.’

Mr Siebel added that Cedefop’s focus is on VET supply and on ensuring that VET institutions develop and provide programmes that allow learners to address the, partly unpredictable, challenges facing them in tomorrow's working life.

Balancing technical and transversal skills and competences as well as the VET feedback loop were the themes explored by expert speakers.

Bertelsmann Foundation’s Martin Noack talked about ways of unpacking transversal skills and competences.

Cedefop expert Dmitrijs Kulss presented the challenges in implementing the EU key competences framework. He also outlined Cedefop’s recent study on three key competences in initial VET: digital, multilingual and literacy.   

Ana Cláudia Valente, Deputy Director of the Portuguese National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education, shared reflections on the role of key competences in VET and lifelong learning. She summed up the results of the Portuguese Presidency in the field.

Cedefop expert Jens Bjørnåvold and Ockham IPS' Simon Broek presented the Cedefop research findings on the review and renewal of VET qualifications, with a focus on closing the feedback loop by looking at the learning outcomes.

Ana Olim, Director General of Portugal’s DG Employment and Industrial Relations, discussed future-proofing VET qualifications and programmes from the Portuguese perspective.

Cedefop Head of VET Systems and Institutions Loukas Zahilas closed the seminar with an outlook on forthcoming Cedefop research on the future of VET, learning outcomes, terminology and comparing qualifications.