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Helping partner countries engage in EU policy debates

Year/Date: 04/12/2017

Helping partner countries engage in EU policy debates

How to make the most of your country’s involvement in EU cooperation in vocational education and training? How to find your way through the forest of acronyms: ACVT, DGVT, ET2020 VET WG, EAfA, ECVET, EQAVET? These were some of the questions addressed by representatives of government, business and trade unions from the five EU candidate countries who met in Turin on 30 November-1 December with experts from the ETF and the European Commission.

The twice yearly meetings of the Advisory Committee on Vocational Training (ACVT) and the Directors General of Vocational Training (DGVT) are key pillars of European cooperation on skills and VET. They are fora for the exchange of experience and good practice and for shaping EU policy in this area. Since achieving candidate status, Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey participate fully in discussions.

“Being at the ACVT and DGVT gives us impact at EU level, and motivates us to implement the good practices that we hear about, embedding them in our national framework” said Serdar Sayan, Director of the Turkish Centre for Social Policy Research.


From Copenhagen to Riga, via Bruges

The ACVT and DGVT play an important role in the Copenhagen-Bruges-Riga process through which countries agree on common objectives and monitor progress towards them. Alongside the EU Member States and EEA countries, all five candidate countries are working toward the Riga medium-term deliverables, with all focusing on strengthening apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning.

All countries are taking action to introduce - or reintroduce - formal apprenticeship schemes, or to enhance those already in place, and are at various stages of policy formulation from piloting, to legislation, to implementation.

The countries took stock of their progress so far, exchanged experiences and discussed shared challenges, such as the capacity of institutions to implement reforms, developing sustainable partnerships with businesses and the attractiveness of VET and apprenticeships for young people.


Future of VET

They took time to look forward to the future of VET beyond 2020, an issue currently on the agenda of the ACVT and DGVT. How can VET adapt to technological change, globalisation and the advent of industry 4.0?

VET systems will need to become more flexible and adaptable to the needs of fast-changing labour markets, as well as to the needs of diverse learners at different stages in their lives and careers. Close partnership between employers and VET providers will become even more important than it is today to ensure a close match between VET provision and the needs of industry.

People will need to be flexible and adaptable too, as they may need to change professions several times in their careers, perhaps towards jobs that don’t exist today. So it is important to balance job-specific skills with basic skills and key competences, such as team-working, learning to learn, entrepreneurship and digital skills.

The boundaries between initial and tertiary VET and general and higher education may become more blurred in order to provide the increasingly high-end skills that industry needs.

“Countries can sometimes feel a bit isolated in the face of such challenges” said Georgios Zisimos, senior EU policies expert at the ETF. “They came away from the meeting with a better appreciation of the role of the different bodies in EU policy cooperation and how they can use them to drive change in their own countries.”

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