With more than 900 events across Europe and more than 650 000 people involved, the first European vocational skills week, organised by the European Commission with Cedefop as one of the partners, came to an end on 9 December in Brussels.

European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen branded the activity ‘a huge success,’ adding that she favours its continuation next year.

Speaking at the closing event, Ms Thyssen repeated the Commission’s aim to make vocational education and training (VET) a first choice for parents and young people in Europe, and stressed that it works to achieve that goal ‘with expertise from our agencies, Cedefop and ETF.’

The winners of the #CedefopPhotoAward second phase, Nico Conti from Malta and Raquel Pereira Sousa Pinto from Portugal, received their awards from the Commissioner at the closing event.

They both said they were inspired and grateful for the experience. Nico Conti, an artist, urged participants to explain to their children and grandchildren the advantages of a VET career.

At events during the week, European Commission Vice Presidents Jyrki Katainen and Valdis Dombrovskis spoke of VET’s importance in the fight against unemployment in Europe and for the continent’s competitiveness.

Ministers, MEPs and other high-level speakers, as well as adult learners, representatives of social partners, teacher and trainer organisations, youth forums etc, made the case for VET, work-based learning and cooperation between the worlds of education and business. Examples from countries outside Europe were also presented.

Speaking at the European business forum on VET on 8 December, Cedefop Director James Calleja noted that ‘if we look closer at the world of work and the world of education, they have one common goal: employability.’

He added that countries where apprenticeships are strongly rooted in society have low youth unemployment, and encouraged all actors to work together offering Cedefop’s support.

Cedefop contributed to the European vocational skills week with work behind the scenes and a communication campaign. It also organised five related activities (how to make learning visible conference, policy learning forum on professional development of teacher and trainers, ReferNet annual plenary meeting, second policy learning forum on learning outcomes and the #CedefopPhotoAward competition ‘youth in education and training’).

In Brussels, the mobility scoreboards for initial VET, developed by Cedefop, and for higher education, developed by EACEA/Eurydice, were launched by the Commission during the business forum.

Cedefop expert Lidia Salvatore chaired a workshop on costs and financing at the adult skills conference on 6 and 7 December.