Created in 2016 by the European Commission, the European Vocational Skills Week has become throughout the years a platform for VET stakeholders all over Europe to exchange ideas and good practices.
Not only is VET a major part of lifelong learning, but it is essential to help young people to gain knowledge, skills and competences when entering the labour market and to give them all available tools to seize every employment opportunity, especially in times when globalisation and digitalisation constantly reshape the nature and the concept of jobs.
The coronavirus pandemic has seriously disrupted all forms of education and training but it turned out to be a real opportunity to take a fresh approach of VET making it more modern, attractive, flexible and fit for the digital age and green transition. In this light, the Commission has put forward an ambitious agenda to recover from the consequences of the pandemic in the field of employment and social policy including vocational education and training and skills.
In its European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience, 12 EU actions are proposed to support partnerships for skills, up- and re-skilling and empowering lifelong learning. It is essential that VET equips the workforce with the skills to support the COVID-19 recovery, as well as the green and digital transitions, in a socially equitable way.
Aware of the constant change of the world of work and the challenges faced by workers in our sectors, especially in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is of utmost importance for EFFAT to continue promoting the importance of vocational education and training, re-skilling and lifelong learning through more investments and stronger workers involvement and participation.
In this regard, EFFAT proposes actions for recovery in the field of qualification and training:
- Training and qualification of workers must be key elements of all recovery plans, to ensure that skilled staff is available when businesses reopen, and in future.
- Social partners (employers and trade unions) have to be involved in all training, qualification, up- and reskilling initiatives, as they know the reality in the sectors. In many EU Member States, social partners have been cooperating on vocational education and training (VET) for decades, e.g. in the development of job profiles and curricula, by sitting in exam/graduation committees, by jointly managing training funds, etc.
- Improving digital and sustainability skills, in close cooperation between governments, education establishments, companies/employers, trade unions, and social partners.
- Apprenticeships should be promoted amongst young people to allow a smooth entry into the labour market. Member States must give support to apprenticeship schemes, to avoid that vocational training is terminated and young people drop out. Member States should ensure that apprenticeships fully comply with the “Council Recommendation on a European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships”.
- Periods with less activities should be used by employers to substantially re-/upskill their workforce.
- Workers in non-standard forms of employment must have access to qualification and training; workers could e.g. be guaranteed a minimum weekly proportion of their paid contracted hours for training and upskilling purposes.
- Qualification and training initiatives at company level should be planned, implemented, and evaluated in close cooperation between managements, workers representatives and trade unions, and it should be ensured that acquired qualifications and skills are transferable to other companies.
- All newly acquired skills and qualifications have to be acknowledged and awarded, and should lead to job security.
- Any shorter, more targeted, training courses or modules which provide specific skills and lead to micro-credentials certainly give added value, they should be considered as complements to VET qualifications, but not replace them.