At the meeting of Directors General for Vocational Education and Training (VET) in the framework of the Estonian EU Presidency, in Tallinn on 9 and 10 October, Cedefop Director James Calleja argued that the future of VET is bright despite a range of factors which could potentially destabilise the sector.

Mr Calleja presented one of Cedefop’s flagship projects, ‘the changing nature and role of vocational education and training.’ In an age in which technology and automation, work organisation, the role of stakeholders and the structures providing VET are constantly changing, the future lies in a speedy response by policy-makers and VET providers.

According to Mr Calleja, the project ‘takes a step back to gain deeper understanding of the various VET systems in Europe and help improve measures for change and development.’ It covers a wide range of VET perspectives, such as the definition and conceptualisation of national VET, the external factors influencing it, and VET at upper secondary level, from a lifelong perspective and in higher education.

In November 2018, Cedefop will present possible development scenarios for a European VET in the 21st century proposal with a 2030 horizon.

Cedefop’s project was accompanied by a presentation from the Presidency. Yngre Rosenblad, chief analyst at the Estonian Qualifications Authority, argued that ‘the perfect future worker is IT-skilled through knowledge in at least one field, is able to understand and combine different fields and has high-level general skills.’

Positive contribution

Cedefop expert Guy Tchibozo presented, together with the European Training Foundation, the preliminary findings of the interim report of the commonly agreed Riga objectives, which was followed by a discussion that revealed the two agencies’ contribution is well-received in current European VET reform and development.

Parallel country-specific peer reviews on various aspects of teachers and trainers in apprenticeships and work-based learning gave an opportunity for more in-depth exchanges between Member States and social partners.

The Cedefop Director chaired a workshop, while Cedefop Head of Department for VET Systems and Institutions Loukas Zahilas and Mr Tchibozo contributed to the exchange of ideas and specific recommendations on the way ahead.

The European Commission gave an update on VET and adult learning policy development with a focus on the Upskilling pathways recommendation, the quality framework for apprenticeship, the ET 2020 working group and the upcoming recommendation on graduate tracking.

Commenting at the end of the first day, Mr Calleja noted: ‘It is important for such meetings to be future-oriented; looking back is essential but only in the context of a future in which VET provides transversal, behavioural but also sectoral and job-specific skills in a lifelong perspective. In a dynamic labour market environment the distinction between learners and workers and between teachers and employers is becoming increasingly blurred – workers are learners and vice-versa, and social partners must play a more proactive role to close the gap between the speed of change in the labour market and the response in education and training reform.’

School visits

On the second day of the meeting, the Estonian Presidency organised visits to three VET schools. The Cedefop delegation visited the Tallinn construction school and had a hands-on experience of the training provision in this sector.