Employment and vocational training in the context of the economic crisis was the subject of the European Economic and Social Committees (EESC) plenary session of 30 September, which gathered all 350 of its members (trade unions, employers and civil society organisations) as well as the presidents of the national Economic and Social Councils.
The EESC invited Aviana Bulgarelli to participate in this panel discussion a first for a Cedefop director along with Commission President Manuel Barroso; Eva Uddn Sonnegrd, State Secretary in the Swedish Ministry of Employment; Bruno Coquet, President of the EU Employment Committee, Eurofound Director Jorma Karppinen and John Martin, Director for Employment at the OECD.
As Ms Bulgarelli argued, to achieve a lasting recovery Europe must be able to anticipate the demand and supply of skills and better match peoples skills to jobs. Summarising the main evidence from Cedefop medium-term forecasts, she said vocational education and training has emerged as the main way to acquire and update skills. But she also pointed out that a successful skills and training policy cannot be created in a vacuum. For a lasting economic recovery and for social cohesion, all stakeholders especially the social partners must be closely involved in identifying challenges, establishing goals, and developing solutions.
Ms Bulgarelli highlighted the excellent relationship that Cedefop enjoys with the European Economic and Social Committee. The Centres evidence and analyses on skills and lifelong learning help the EESC to shape opinions on these issues. Conversely, Cedefop learns much from the EESC, whose members face the real challenges of reforming vocational education and training.
Concluding the discussion, EESC President Mario Sepi maintained that Europe must invest in long-term solutions. Only a general stimulus plan, he said, not separate plans in the 27 Member States, can provide a lasting recovery. Moreover, this plan must include both environmental and social investments as indeed Cedefops work also shows.