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European Commission - Press release

Vocational education and training in the European spotlight: Second European Vocational Skills Week launched

Brussels, 20 November 2017

From 20 to 24 November 2017, the European Commission is organising the second European Vocational Skills Week, building on the success of last year's initiative.

The objective is to inspire people to discover, use and improve their talents and abilities through vocational education and training (VET). Encouraging people to consider VET as first choice in their career path is one of the ten key actions proposed by the Commission under the New Skills Agenda for Europe, which has been rolled out since June 2016.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "In a smart working world, vocational education and training is a smart choice. The perception that VET is the "poor neighbour" of a university education is mistaken. It is not a poor neighbour, it's an equal! The Second European Vocational Skills Week will put a wealth of opportunities and experiences from across Europe in the limelight to show that VET and apprenticeships are a great first choice."

During the European Vocational Skills Week, the Commission showcases high-quality initiatives that aim at equipping people with the skills they need in a fast-changing labour market. More than 1000 events are taking place across Europe – in all 28 EU Member States, as well as in Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland and EU Candidate countries. The events will demonstrate not only the crucial role of VET in supporting skills, jobs, innovation and competitiveness but also in terms of personal fulfilment. The European Pillar of Social Rights, proclaimed only a few days ago by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission at the Social Summit in Gothenburg, recognises the importance of acquiring the right skills, by putting education, training and life-long learning as very first principle of the twenty principles under the Pillar of Social Rights.

Events include a conference "Promoting the Vocational Skills Agenda –Together", a European Business-Education Summit and the 4th meeting of the European Apprentices Network, a network of apprentices and youth representatives from across Europe which contributes to policy discussions at the European level. The closing event on 24 November will include a ceremony for the 2017 VET awards highlighting excellence and quality in various categories. The events per country can be found here.


Choosing vocational education and training can lead to attractive and challenging careers, and opens the door to opportunities for upskilling and re-skilling at high levels.

The Commission therefore invited all stakeholders to take part in the second European Vocational Skills Week: learners of all ages, parents, companies, business organisations, social partners, education and training providers, adult learning organisations, researchers, career counsellors, public authorities, and society at large. The Commission has encouraged these stakeholders across Europe to organise events and activities, such as Open Days, promoting successful VET programmes or other awareness raising activities during this period. Here are a few examples of events that take place this year:

  • The Belgian Master Talent Foundation organises internships for culinary talents in Belgium and abroad, with chefs, chocolatiers, bakers, pastry chefs and butchers in the top segment of gastronomy in Belgium and worldwide. The founders of this project are Jan Buytaert, chef at Njam TV and president of the jury of Flanders Kitchen Rebels, and Krispijn Yperman, member of Flanders Food Faculty and expert in Work Based Learning. On November 20th, 2017 they will present the project and invite partners and interns to bring a testimony about their experience.
  • The Orientamenti Fair in Genoa, Italy, is a big event dedicated to Vocational Guidance, Education and Training, Labour Market (including debates on future trends). 60,000 participants take part in the Fair between 14-16 November, including national, regional and local policy makers, experts, VET providers, companies and trade unions, teachers and student associations as well as civil society representatives.
  • The Budapest Centre of Technical Vocational Training is hosting on 23-24 November 2017 the final of the 5th National Vocational Training Competition. The competition is built around the IT Essentials knowledge base. The competition allows IT students between 9th and 14th grade to discover their potential through competing and discussing their experiences with their teachers. Last year there were 400 participants.
  • The Tallinn Construction School is a vocational training centre in the fields of construction, woodwork and electricity, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. Further to organising open days through different workshops, the students are also preparing 100 chairs for children as a gift to SOS Children's Village during November and December 2017.
  • Internship Fair in Ludwigshafen am Rhein (Germany): On 11 November, about 30 students in dual training (apprentices) will present their internship experiences abroad to younger students, who may participate next year, as well as to teachers and to trainers from local/regional companies. The students will prepare exhibition stands with posters and presentations. They will also personally inform visitors of the "internship fair" about their experiences in English. All these actions aim to promote VET and educational mobility among students.
  • Employers are opening their doors across Europe to show the opportunities and benefits of on-the-job training. As an example, Nestlé is organising events in 16 EU Member States. In Slovakia, the Nestlé factory in Prievidza is organising an Open Doors Day for students of 14-15 year olds, who will soon be deciding on their future education and training. Career-counseling events for youngsters will be organised to present them VET programmes and to discuss what modern employers expect from graduates. Nestlé trainees will be engaged in this part – to present real experience to visitors/youngsters.

The week has been organised with the strong involvement and support from the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) and the European Training Foundation.

For more information

MEMO: Questions and Answers on the second European Vocational Skills Week

News item on the EMPL website

Follow Marianne Thyssen on Facebook and Twitter, #EUVocationalSkills


Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

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