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Skills Strategies for a Globalised World

The future of vocational skills was centre stage at the 2017 World Skills conference in Abu Dhabi. The ETF joined the global skills community to discuss challenges and opportunities posed by the fast-changing world of work.

The future of vocational skills was centre stage at the 2017 World Skills conference in Abu Dhabi. The global skills community gathered for the two-day event to discuss challenges and opportunities posed by the fast-changing world of work.

The ETF joined colleagues from the European Commission and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) in facilitating the ‘Skills and careers without borders - towards new coordination and governance approaches’ panel discussion. ETF Director Cesare Onestini highlighted the need for agile approaches to skills needs and anticipation, vocational education and qualification systems. ‘How can we keep up with the range of changes we are facing currently?’ He asked. ‘Are we doing enough?’

Mr Onestini was accompanied by representatives from ETF partner countries, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Turkey, who shared their experiences. Elnur Suleymanov from Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population, said the job market was not keeping pace with the high number of graduates making the transition into work. ‘The mobility of people is increasing. Borders of countries exist on political maps, but are not a real obstacle for labour mobility.’ ‘The key issue is not only about what skills need to be developed, but rather how is the education system operates. You have to keep people updated. This means you have to work on your skills continuously.’

Rodion Kolyshko, from the Confederation of Employers in Ukraine, said business needs to be the driver of change. ‘Education systems are conservative. We need to invent the future, ensure that our education systems provide basic skills and develop students for lifelong learning.’ Employers have been very active in the skills dialogue, particularly in the context of skilled migration,’ he said, noting that seven million Ukrainians are living abroad, a further 60,000 students study abroad and only 20% are likely to return. ‘Employers have taken a lead role in reviewing qualifications and developing occupational and educational standards.’

Osman Yildiz, General Secretary of Turkey’s HAK-Is Trade Union, discussed the important role of the Vocational Qualifications Authority in defining occupational standards and qualifications and in establishing vocational testing centres to validate skills obtained through non-formal and informal learning, such as on-the-job. The system has been developed with support of the European Union and in-line the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) – which aims to make qualifications more readable and understandable across countries, he said. ‘We are very internationally oriented. It is important that qualifications are developed according to common rules and principles.’

Improving the World With the Power of Skills

Skills to support youth employability and equality, and a global skills snapshot to shape vocational education provision, were other hot topics of the conference, held as part of WorldSkills, the largest and most prestigious international skills competition.

Laurence Gates, Chair of the Conference Coalition, thanked the ETF and all partners for ‘leading the conversation and providing unique networking opportunities’ He paid special thanks to the 'amazing young WorldSkills Champions' who took part in the sessions. 'They are crucial to the solution of the problems we face and we look forward to continuing the discussion with them.’

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Photo: WorldSkills