'Excellence' driving education and skills development


What is excellence?

‘Excellence’ is most usually thought of as the summit of high standard and achievement, and the quality of excelling.

Aristotle is frequently attributed with having said that 'excellence is not an act, but a habit', or in other words something that can be achieved through repeated practice. Indeed, this viewpoint is increasingly gaining traction in education and skills development in the EU and its neighbouring regions where excellence is being fostered through networks, as a result of knowledge sharing, peer learning and the emulation of practice from high performing institutions.

The European Commission is advancing the EU as a centre of education excellence and supports countries throughout the world in improving their education training systems. Throughout February the ETF's communication will focus on what this means, and the ETF initiatives and policy advice to partner countries as outlined below. Join our conversations with a range of education stakeholders at national and international levels on all our media channels.

What is the ETF doing do support excellence?

Promoting Centres of Excellence

The ETF Network for Excellence mirrors the European Union initiative on Centres of Vocational Excellence under the Erasmus+ programme. Centres of vocational excellence are avant-garde and a driving force for education and training system reform. They contribute to regional skills strategies, promoting employment and regional development by working closely with employers, and responding to learners with personalised learning pathways and the latest technology. Within the ETF's ENE network they encourage the sharing of ideas, practices and experience between VET centres at both national and international levels. 

The ETF Network for Excellence is currently working on the following eight themes which are also relevant to other thematic domains of ETF’s work:   

A full list of the ENE project partners throughout ETF partner countries can be found here.

Fostering Quality Assurance in VET

Established in 2017 as a network of organizations involved in assuring the quality of vocational education and training, the Quality Assurance Forum is a key initiative of ETF to foster governments' capacity and excellence in vocational education. The concept of sharing knowledge and having a common platform for exchanging expertise is integral to the forum's organizational design. It works on a number of key themes developing a holistic national quality assurance system for VET and offering a vibrant atmosphere for learning through organizing peer visits, as well as other means of communication and interaction. It includes countries from the Eastern Partnership, the South Mediterranean region and South Eastern Europe and Turkey.

Upskilling and Reskilling

The European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience sets ambitious targets for upskilling (improving existing skills) and reskilling (training in new skills) to help citizens adapt to the fast-changing labour market. The ETF is supporting partner countries in this respect through support for Active Labour Market Measuresskills development for enterprises, and to ensure a post-Covid recovery is inclusive of all citizens through the building of digital skills and inclusion.  

The EU industry Days 2022 will focus on the needs and aspirations of industrial ecosystems on their green and digital pathways, to strengthen the resilience of EU companies and SMEs. It will hold discussions on how the young generation can shape the future of industry, in line with the 2022 as the European Year of Youth.

Smart Specialisation strategies methodology

The ETF has been undertaking extensive analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data in terms of the workforce in our partner countries and the skills for SMEs for smart specialisation strategies which connect vocational education and training to the broader drive for innovation.  Involving VET actors in the mechanism for stakeholder dialogue on smart specialisation helps connect VET and skills development to interregional and cross-border cooperation and VET excellence based on matching priority areas for smart specialisation.

The ETF is also promoting smart specialisation projects in our partner countries in the Western Balkans which can then seek support through cross-border applications to Horizon, Erasmus+ etc.

For example through its Excellence Hub the Horizon 2020 project aims to foster innovation ecosystems in better widening countries, creating better linkages between academia, business and government, in line with regional or national smart specialisation strategies. And through its European Excellence Initiative Horizon Europe’s support aims at the transformation of higher education sector and their surrounding ecosystems, including non-university research centres.


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