Vocational education and training (VET) is an enabler of the digital, green and fair recovery, not the repair shop of social and economic transitions. That was the key message Cedefop Executive Director Jürgen Siebel shared with the European Parliament's Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

Speaking at a virtual Committee session, Mr Siebel laid out the Agency's outlook for 2021 and reviewed its work during 2020, a year marked by the coronavirus emergency and the challenges it brought for VET and the world of work. He was joined in the exchange of views with the Committee members by his counterparts from ETF, Eurofound, EU-OSHA and the European Labour Authority.

Presenting the performance data for 2020, Mr Siebel noted that Cedefop accomplished a lot despite the coronavirus crisis, adding that ‘while the pandemic tested our resilience, it also gave us the chance to prove our agility and flexibility.’

Cedefop 2020 performance data

As he added, Cedefop adapted its research and outputs to analyse the impact of coronavirus on EU labour markets, workforces and VET systems, providing invaluable insight into ways to tackle the immediate crisis and the long-term effects of the pandemic on the world of work, career guidance and vocational education.

Cedefop, the EU’s port of call for VET, has always spearheaded developments and contributed to policy-making, and 2020 was no exception; Cedefop shapes the EU’s policy agenda and its strategy is shaped by it, he noted.

‘The Agency’s newly formulated values reflect our outward-looking stakeholder focus, our inward-looking mode of operation and our general mindset,’ stated the Cedefop Executive Director, 

Mr Siebel concluded that the work programme for 2021 is strategically based on the principle that VET is learner-centred and lifelong and, therefore, attention will shift to higher VET, continuous VET and, with up- and reskilling at unprecedented levels, on skills intelligence to support employers and citizens.

The Employment Committee Chair, Ďuriš Nicholsonová MEP, thanked the five directors for their input, adding that the agencies are very important to the committee’s work.

Cooperation between the agencies was one of the issues raised during the Q&A with MEPs. Mr Siebel said that Cedefop cooperates with its ‘family’ of agencies, and especially with ETF: ‘It is very clear that we have different mandates, but we combine our efforts, including for the joint high-level conference on the future of VET last June’ he said, noting also the joint European company survey with Eurofound as ‘another excellent example.’

Heinz Becker, the independent expert appointed by the European Parliament as a member of the Cedefop Management Board, was complimentary about the Agency’s work, in general, and response to the coronavirus crisis, in particular. He argued that Cedefop acts ambitiously and flexibly, aiming for the most effective implementation of VET.

Watch the presentation by Cedefop Executive Director Jürgen Siebel to the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee here.