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Our mission is to help transition and developing countries harness the potential of their human capital through the reform of education, training, and labour market systems, in the context of EU external relations policies.

We support 28 countries bordering the EU to improve their vocational education and training systems, analyse skills needs, and develop their labour markets. By doing so, we help them to improve social cohesion and achieve more sustainable economic growth, which in turn benefits Member States and their citizens by improving economic relations.

We collaborate on a country-specific as well as multi-country basis, building frameworks for continuity in policy and promoting the design of evidence-based policy and implementation. We frequently operate in uncertain and, at times, unstable contexts. Yet we are one of the few agencies called on by successive governments with changing policy priorities, because of our reputation for independent, high-quality work and positive engagement.

Our activities with partner countries cover a range of related areas:

  • Skills and employment needs analysis
  • System governance, including stakeholder engagement
  • Social dialogue and private sector participation
  • Qualification systems and quality assurance
  • Work-based learning
  • Teacher training
  • Entrepreneurial learning and core competences, and
  • Career guidance.

Before commencing work in a country we carry out a detailed analysis of EU human capital policies, social values, and external priorities, and link that to partner country needs and development aspirations in as part of overall country assistance in the domain of human capital.

We cooperate with the European institutions, the business community, social partners and other civil society organisations at the EU level. We support the European Commission and the European External Action Service in their programming, so that EU assistance is accurately targeted and matches country capacities and priorities. We work closely with Eurofound andCedefop to ensure that analysis and good practice from EU Member States are shared beyond the EU, and used to support reforms in partner countries.

We also work with a range of international stakeholders, and with relevant international organisations and donors. This is framed by the European Consensus on Development and the human capital dimension of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda, which identifies two specific goals on education and employment for all partner countries, and which drives the strategy and activities of the Inter-Agency Group on Technical and Vocational Education and Training, in which we are active participants.

The European Training Foundation was established by Council Regulation No. 1360 in 1990, recast as No. 1339 in 2008. The recast regulation specifies the ETF’s role in contributing to human capital development in the context of EU external relations policies. In this context, human capital development is defined as work that supports countries to create lifelong learning systems providing opportunities and incentives for people to develop their knowledge, skills, competences and attitudes throughout their lives to help them find employment, realise their potential and contribute to prosperous, innovative and inclusive societies.