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A new impetus for cooperation in vocational education and training
This communication aims to re-launch European cooperation in vocational education and training (VET). In response to the Europe 2020 strategy, it contributes to the modernisation of VET to reinforce its attractiveness.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 9 June 2010 – A new impetus for European cooperation in Vocational Education and Training to support the Europe 2020 strategy [COM(2010) 296 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Building on and contributing to the Europe 2020 strategy and the ET 2020 strategic framework, this communication proposes a new vision for vocational education and training (VET) in the European Union (EU). It focuses on elements central to the Copenhagen process, drawing on the ET 2020 strategic objectives.
Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality
Access to all levels of training must be maximised, which might entail significant changes to the current provision of VET. It is essential that the manner in which learning outcomes are acquired, assessed and lead to qualifications is made more flexible. This includes an enhanced role of, and the need to improve the provision of continuing VET by, employers, traditional initial training providers and higher education institutions. An outcomes-based approach for vocational qualifications based on the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the European Credit systems for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) can help validate skills acquired outside of formal education and training. At the same time, the pathways between VET and higher education must be opened up and tertiary VET programmes should be developed. The transition from training to employment as well as between jobs must also be facilitated, to which end guidance and counselling services should be provided.
Transnational mobility must become the norm in VET pathways, particularly in initial VET, for both learners and trainers. It is also essential that mobility periods are recognised via the ECVET. Appropriate support structures should be established to facilitate training placements, and virtual mobility (through eLearning) should be used to complement physical mobility.
Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training
The quality and efficiency of VET, the high standards of VET teachers and trainers, the relevance of VET to labour market needs and the pathways VET opens to further learning contribute to its attractiveness. To improve the quality and efficiency of VET:
- quality assurance systems must be implemented at national level on the basis of the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET;
- the continuing development of skills and competencies of teachers and trainers must be reviewed in light of their evolving roles;
- the continuing development of key competences together with vocational skills that are relevant to labour market needs must be ensured, in particular through different forms of work-based learning;
- forward planning tools to match skills and jobs should be developed and partnerships with relevant stakeholders should be created to strengthen labour market relevance.
Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship
VET systems have an important role in combating social exclusion and promoting inclusive growth. Disadvantaged learners may profit more from non-classroom work-based learning that is relevant to the local labour market. Integrated in mainstream VET, training should be flexible and modularised, providing individualised learning pathways. Upward social mobility can be strengthened by facilitating the transition from VET to higher education. At the same time, accessible and targeted guidance services must be provided. The constant monitoring of VET learners’ employment rates, particularly those of disadvantaged learners, is also essential.
Enhancing creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship
The framework in which VET is provided should foster creativity and innovation, encouraging risk-taking and experimentation. To provide accessible and flexible training, experience-based and active learning should be promoted, including through eLearning. Education for entrepreneurship should also be promoted in order to instil a sense of initiative and creativity and the ability to concretise ideas. Entrepreneurship should also form part of VET teachers’ and trainers’ competence framework.
Dialogue and mutual learning on EU VET policy should be further developed with the international community. With the support of the European Training Foundation (ETF), structured cooperation on VET should be strengthened with neighbourhood and enlargement countries, with a view to improving:
- transnational collaboration;
- regional development;
- the management of legal mobility;
- the fight against illegal migration.
In particular, cooperation in research activities and evidence-based policy making should be further strengthened with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The way forward
At the end of 2010, cooperation in VET should be re-launched in close partnership with relevant stakeholders in EU countries and the Commission. An ambitious modernisation agenda for VET must be set out with priorities for the next 10 years, including reviewable short term objectives. The Europe 2020 national programmes should implement this VET reform.
- European Commission Directorate-General for Education and Culture website on VET