At the 25th anniversary conference of the European Forum of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (EfVET) on 26-29 October in Valencia, Cedefop Director James Calleja said that ‘quality of VET provision will largely determine the quality of jobs in the labour market.’

Mr Calleja addressed over 250 training providers from all Member States, candidate and partner countries.

In his keynote presentation, the Cedefop Director stressed the need for a ‘better dialogue between the worlds of education and employment based on the quality of learning and of the work environments.’

He said that employers and training providers are challenged by innovation, technology and new skills that employees need to learn to keep up with the demands of the constantly changing workplaces. But more needs to be done in training provision and in workplaces to ensure that lifelong learning is sustained within and beyond a person’s education and training periods.

The issue of quality in training provision and employment, or the lack of it, is a major obstacle to vocational education and training (VET) attractiveness and often makes VET a second or no option. ‘Quality builds trust,’ noted Mr Calleja, ‘and this confidence shapes a culture of excellence at all VET levels and spills over in the job offers.’

Cedefop’s evidence clearly shows that many countries are enhancing the continuous professional development of VET teachers, trainers and mentors, but professional training must not be short, intermittent and only during the years of teaching. According to Mr Calleja, ‘it should come before teachers are engaged in VET provision so that a passion is nourished over a number of years of preparation for teaching; the New skills agenda for Europe, launched by Commissioner Thyssen last June, attempts to foster quality VET through better labour market information systems, qualifications based on learning outcomes, recognition of learning using European tools and policies, open pathways to learning and therefore a drive towards inclusivity and social cohesion.’

Mr Calleja said that, to ensure quality of provision, VET providers need a stronger voice at the policy level. ‘On its 25th anniversary, EfVET is a mature platform upon which this voice could be heard clearer, louder and wider,’ he concluded.

Other keynote speakers at the conference included European Commission’s Dana Carmen Bachmann, OECD Deputy Secretary-General Mari Kiviniemi, and Peter Hodgson and Santiago Garcia Gutierrez, former and current EfVET Presidents respectively.