Internationalising vocational excellence with help from ETF’s tools, case studies, partnerships, and networks


The ETF’s final conference of the ‘International Dimension of Centres of Vocational Excellence’ project, 9-10 November 2023, is underway in Turin focussing on the outcomes of the ETF project including the International Self-Assessment Tool for Centres of Vocational Excellence (ISATCOVE) and specific initiatives on ‘entrepreneurial centres of vocational excellence’ and the ‘digitalisation of teaching and learning’. 

Centres of Vocational Excellence can play a crucial role in driving forward reforms in the vocational education and training sector as recognised by the European Skills Agenda.

Representatives from Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) and policymakers from ETF partner countries, as well as partners from the European Union and beyond have come together to share and learn from each other and discuss the merits of ISATCOVE to support the development and recognition of CoVEs, developed by the ETF and funded by the EU, which is currently in a pilot phase.

“Fascinating, demanding, bringing everyone together with a mixture of excitement and responsibility, and a lot of questions,” was how Tjaša Petelin Bačar from Solski Centre, Nova Gorice in Slovenia described ISATCOVE based on her experience as the first school to complete the self-assessment with learners, teachers and employers. 

Watch the video to know more about ISATCOVE.

Over the next few months, the ETF will work together with vocational education and training institutions within and outside of the EU to pilot and finalise the ISATCOVE tool in the English, French and Spanish languages.  Other translations will follow.

“As a self-assessment tool and indicator of quality,” says Julian Stanley, ETF senior expert who led the development of ISATCOVE, “the tool needs to be used wisely to have the maximum value in terms of understanding where to focus improvement efforts.”

Participants praised the way that the ISATCOVE tool could be used to support different regional and national improvement strategies.  ISATCOVE offers a wide range of criteria and indicators to choose from, giving flexibility and adaptability to different settings internationally.

ETF will also be making recommendations, as part of a feasibility study, to show how VET centres that self-assess using ISATCOVE could gain formal recognition in the form of a label or an award. Different labels could recognise the commitment to improvement and the level of excellence achieved.

Research - case studies

The first day of the event also saw the presentation of a number of case studies undertaken within the research element of the ETF project giving participants the chance to engage with leaders in the field.

Case studies on good practices of applied research in VET from the Netherlands, Spain, Canada and Türkiye based on ETF’s international mapping highlight the crucial role of these institutions in bridging the gap between training and future employment through applied research and contribution to skills ecosystems at national and regional levels. The report and summary can be found here.

Another study featuring at the event is about CoVEs response to the green transition, how they are managing the whole-institution change and what are the success factors. Five CoVEs were selected for the case studies of the green transition from the USA, Australia, Singapore, Morocco and Denmark. The report and summary can be found here.

A study on how CoVEs respond to the digital transition and how they manage the whole-institutional change, the factors important for a successful digital transition based on four CoVEs case studies from China, France, Finland and Singapore also informed discussions. The report and summary can be found here.

Partnerships and future opportunities

The event will continue for a second day with attention given to providing opportunities for greater engagement of VET providers in the CoVEs network whether through exchanges, trainer programmes as assessors or mentors in the self-assessment of VET providers and recognition for excellence.

More information on the event, background information, and outcomes can be found on OpenSpace, the ETF website and social media channels.


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