Vocational education in a lifelong perspective and the VET systems in Germany and Austria were the themes of two interventions made by Cedefop Deputy Director Christian Lettmayr at the Global HR Forum 2013 in Seoul, South Korea (5-7 November).
Mr Lettmayr said that there is ‘a sense of failing education systems and increasing mismatch between qualification levels and skills required’ with a new European Union (EU) report indicating that 76% of recent graduates with at least upper-secondary education now find employment compared to 82% in 2008. And one in five of the EU working population with tertiary qualifications are in jobs that usually require lower qualifications.
To address this skills mismatch, added Mr Lettmayr, we need to increase the labour-market relevance of education and training, create a transparent, flexible system of qualifications and skills, and improve labour-market intelligence.
Speaking about Germany and Austria’s VET systems, the Cedefop Deputy Director said that those two countries are the best-performing in the European Union when it comes to youth unemployment, and that it has been widely accepted that ‘functioning apprenticeship systems are a major factor in their performance’. He added that ‘constant adaptation is one of the strengths of these systems’.
Mr Lettmayr argued that ‘contrary to other countries, Germany has responded to rising qualification needs by upgrading and continuously expanding its apprenticeship system’.
Austria, on the other hand, has extended its school-based vocational education, and this strategy ‘has also been successful and helped keep youth unemployment rates low’.
Cedefop senior expert Slava Pevec Grm contributed to a session on national qualifications frameworks at the same forum. She also presented qualifications frameworks in Europe at a seminar on mobility, organised by KRIVET, the Korean Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training.
Ms Pevec Grm noted that, in order to fulfil the European Union objective of mobility for jobs and lifelong learning, there is a need to understand and compare qualifications throughout Europe. She added that the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) is a translation grid for all types and levels of qualifications across countries, based on learning outcomes and supported by quality assurance.
Cedefop has a memorandum of understanding with KRIVET and the two organisations exchange working visits. Following the visit of the President of the institute Young-bum Park to Thessaloniki in July, Cedefop Head of Area Research and Policy Analysis Pascaline Descy was invited to Seoul in October.
As South Korea is preparing to introduce an apprenticeship system in response to youth unemployment and skills mismatch, Ms Descy’s visit focused on presenting European experiences and models of apprenticeships and dual systems.
She met with officials from KRIVET, other organisations, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Education, and made a presentation on developing apprenticeship: European perspectives at the vocational skills development forum (23 October).