The Cedefop seminar on 10 and 11 December discussed the needs and priorities of learning providers in relation to flexibility and the role quality is playing in it.

The seminar was addressed to education and training providers, accrediting and labelling bodies, teachers and trainers, quality and e-learning specialists, learners’ associations, social partners, European and national policy-makers, and researchers in the field of learning quality.

Opening the event, Cedefop Deputy Director Mara Brugia said that it fitted 'very well into our reinforced efforts to foster mutual learning and support Member States and vocational education and training (VET) providers.' She added that 'people will increasingly be responsible for their own skills development and will look for suitable programmes in a variety of institutions and on platforms all around the world. They will need to know which offers they can trust in terms of quality and which programmes and certificates will be trusted when they want to use them within their own country context.'

Keynote speaker Denise Amyot, President and CEO, Colleges and Institutes Canada, enthused about the role of institutes in equipping students with the necessary tools to be successful in the labour market and even be part of applied research. She said that 22% of college students across Canada come from university: 'They do post-graduate diplomas to get a job.' Ms Amyot added that in her country they changed the name VET to professional and technical education and training over 20 years ago 'to avoid negative perceptions.'

Cambridge Professor Geoff Hayward, also a keynote speaker, was more sceptical about VET's role. He argued that 'knowledge developed in VET doesn't support progression to higher education.' He doubted whether investment made by the European Union has changed employer behaviour and stated that, as an educator, he thinks 'the aim is always to address the  needs of the learners and not of the economy.'

Cedefop Director James Calleja, who chaired the final session, said he was happy to be among the people who are delivering vocational education and training and that providers will be among Cedefop's priorities in the next few years. He stressed that product quality is needed to overcome the disadvantage of being second choice.