This year, responsibility for the implementation of the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training passes mainly to the Member States. The third annual ECVET Forum demonstrated how useful communities of practice can be for the smooth implementation of the system in each country.
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 each country. Credits are 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.
To give impetus to implementation, Cedefop and the European Commission co-organised the event in a way that illustrated the usefulness of creating communities of practice. These allow all interested parties to share information, discuss issues, and convey messages to decision-makers, and can therefore be of vital importance to the good functioning of the system.
The open question sessions and workshops of the Forum allowed room for creative solutions and brought together the many participants, some of whom were attending the ECVET forum for the first time. This created the nucleus of communities of practice to aid implementation not just within each country, but across sectors and themes.
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. “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. While European tools generally don’t function as quick-fix solutions for immediate problems he said, the crisis means that “we need to act now so that people see concrete results in terms of employability.“ Most countries have already embraced ECVET and some are well on the way to full implementation, the conditions for which are spelled out in Cedefop’s recent booklet.
The significance of the credit system to the labour market was underlined by Stéphane Rivière, President of ANFA (the automobile services training organisation in France, which leads the ECVET secretariat): “ECVET”, he said, “is of crucial importance to developing and adapting qualifications to the needs of employers and employees”.
Taking the next step: Building the ECVET community of practice
3rd Annual ECVET forum
Brussels, 31 May -1 June 2012