Cedefop’s ReferNet, the network of institutions which provides information on national vocational education and training (VET) systems and policies in the EU Member States, Iceland and Norway, welcomed its new and reappointed partners at its 17th annual plenary meeting, on 6 and 7 February in Thessaloniki.

Opening the event, Cedefop Executive Director Jürgen Siebel said that the national partners’ work is indispensable to the agency as they are closer to the work going on in the Member States. He added: ‘ReferNet supports some of the backbone of Cedefop’s work, helps us understand VET systems and contributes to shaping the European policy agenda.’

European Commission’s Joao Santos expressed his delight to be addressing the ReferNet members for the first time and presented the new Commission’s VET-related priorities, including the soon-to-be-updated European skills agenda.

Cedefop’s ReferNet coordinator Sylvie Bousquet introduced the thematic sessions and various experts outlined Cedefop’s work and exchanged views with participants.

Areas covered included the future of VET in Europe, findings from reporting on national policy developments 2015-19, VET policies and systems work plan for 2020, hands-on training on the new approach to VET policy reporting, Cedefop’s anti-fraud strategy, VET for the future of work, international mobility in apprenticeships with a focus on long-term mobility, the European skills index and communication opportunities.

There was also time set aside for individual talks, mentoring and networking.

Closing the plenary meeting, Cedefop Head of Department for VET Systems and Institutions Loukas Zahilas stressed that it signals the start of a four-year work from old and new partners, and referred to the partnership forums that are coming up to shape this work.

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