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Brussels, 7 December 2010

Bruges Communiqué: Education Ministers back Commission strategy for vocational training

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, welcomed today's adoption of the 'Bruges Communiqué', a package of objectives and actions to increase the quality of vocational training in Europe by making it more accessible and relevant to the needs of the labour market. Meeting in Bruges, Belgium, Education Ministers from 33 European countries (EU-27, Croatia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey), together with representatives of employers and unions and the European Commission, confirmed shared objectives for vocational education and training for the next decade and an action plan for the coming four years. The Bruges Communiqué is the latest revision of the Copenhagen Process for European co-operation on vocational education and training.

Commissioner Vassiliou said: "Vocational training needs to fulfil two central objectives: to contribute to employability and economic growth on one hand, and to respond to larger societal challenges, in particular social cohesion, on the other. I am delighted that 33 European countries, employers and unions are backing the Commission's strategy to make vocational training a more modern and attractive learning option."

Vocational education and training enables people to acquire the knowledge, skills and experience they need to succeed in the labour market, whether for a particular job or for a broader range of occupations. At present, about half of all students in upper secondary education in the EU choose vocational programmes. There are, however, significant differences between countries, with enrolment rates ranging from less than 15% in some to nearly 80% in others.

The measures agreed today aim to ensure that young people are offered the highest quality courses so that vocational training is recognised by students and policy-makers alike as an effective option for boosting educational and career prospects.

Bruges Communiqué: a vision for the next decade

The Bruges Communiqué presents a vision of a modern and attractive vocational training system which ensures:

  • Maximum access to lifelong learning so that people have opportunities to learn at any stage in life and by making routes into education and training more open and flexible

  • More opportunities for experience and training abroad to boost language skills, self-confidence and adaptability

  • Higher quality courses, providing the right skills for specific jobs,

  • More inclusion and access for disadvantaged people,

  • Creative, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking.

Action plan 2011-14

The Bruges Communiqué includes a mid-term plan aimed at encouraging concrete measures at national level and support at European level. This calls for countries to::

  • Review the use of incentives, rights and obligations to encourage more people to take up training

  • Implement the 2009 recommendation on quality assurance in vocational training.

  • Encourage the development of vocational schools, with the support of local and regional authorities

  • Introduce internationalisation strategies to boost international mobility

  • Increase cooperation with business to ensure training is relevant, for instance by giving teachers the possibility of practical training in companies.

  • Launch communication strategies to highlight the benefits of vocational training.

European associations of training institutions also supported the plans in a declaration at the Ministerial meeting.

To find out more:

Full text of the Bruges Communiqué

Full text of the Declaration of the joint Vocational Education and Training providers on the contribution of Vocational Education and Training to the EU 2020 strategy

Commission's website on the Copenhagen Process;

EU policy on vocational education and training - Frequently Asked Questions. See MEMO/10/245

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