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    ISSUE 1 / ΜΑΥ 2014






    9085 EN – TI-AQ-14-001-EN-C

    Europe 123, 570 01 Thessaloniki (Pylea), GREECEPO Box 22427, 551 02 Thessaloniki, GREECETel. +30 2310490111, Fax +30 2310490020, E-mail: [email protected]

    European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training

    www.facebook.com/Cedefopvisit our portal www.cedefop.europa.eu



    FOCUS ShOULD BE ON ExISTING EU TOOLS 4Barbara Dorn, Chair of Cedefop’s Governing Board,

    Director Education and Training, German Employers (BDA)


    WE NEED TO mAkE A CASE FOR QUALITy VET 5Xavier Prats Monné, Deputy Director General, DG Education and Culture


    INVESTmENT IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING 6kEy TO ExIT CRISISAndroulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education,

    Culture, multilingualism and youth


    WORk IN CLASS 8more initial vocational education and training should combine school and work-based learning


    GREEk EU PRESIDENCy 10Working together to prevent skills mismatch and NEETs


    A LOT mORE REQUIRED TO REACh 12EmPLOymENT TARGETSLászló Andor, European Commissioner for Employment,

    Social Affairs and Inclusion


    AT ThE INTERFACE OF TRAINING, 14SkILLS, QUALIFICATIONS AND EmPLOyABILITyCedefop's work presented to the European Parliament


    ThE ITALIAN WAy 15Using vocational training to boost employability


    VOCATIONAL TRAINING 16IS FIRST RATE EDUCATIONChristian Lettmayr, Cedefop Deputy Director




    The European Centre for theDevelopment of VocationalTraining (Cedefop) is theEuropean Union's referencecentre for vocational educationand training.

    We provide information on andanalyses of vocational educationand training systems, policies,research and practice.

    Cedefop was established in 1975 by Council Regulation(EEC) No 337/75.

    Publications Office of theEuropean Union, Luxembourg ISSN: 2363-0175Cat. No: TI-AQ-14-001-EN-CNo of publication: 9085 EN

    Free of charge© Cedefop, 2014

    All rights reserved.

    Cover photo: © iStock / SkynesherDesigned by [email protected] in the European Unionon Elemental Chlorine-free bleached paper (ECL)

    Cedefop: Europe 123, 570 01 Thessaloniki (Pylea), GreecePostal address: PO Box 22427,551 02 Thessaloniki, GreeceTel. +30 2310490111Fax +30 [email protected]

    ISSUE 1 / MAY 2014

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  • MAY 2014 | 03

    Vocational education holds the key to the wellbeing ofpresent and future generations. During economic crisisor growth, no other sector in education can claimlegitimacy over all levels of qualifications as much asvocational education and training (VET). Citizens of allages, abilities and aspirations may find their commoneducational home in VET. This legacy must besustained and rendered more visible. Our objective in publishing this magazine is to promotevocational training in European initiatives taken by theCommission, member States and social partnersthrough Cedefop’s work programme. We believe thelink between the various stakeholders working on VETin Europe can serve as a catalyst for making lifelonglearning more attractive and for setting up learningenvironments in workplaces.Embedded in Cedefop’s objectives are two overarching goals. The first is to help reduce youthunemployment, early leaving from school and VET institutions, and skills mismatches. The second isto increase participation in lifelong learning,apprenticeship programmes and wider use of work-based and workplace learning using European tools.

    Through this publication, we wish to reach a wide spectrum of people frompolicy-makers in the public and private sectors to governors and principals ofvocational colleges, employers, employee representatives, VET teachers andlecturers, university professors and researchers. But we are also keen on beingread by curriculum planners, guidance and career counsellors and hopefullystudents and parents. As a European agency, our key priority is to ensure that our research, policyanalysis, learning and peer activities lead to the creation of a workforce, which isconstantly employable and guarantees economic growth, competitiveness andsustainability. Our ambition is to make VET a natural choice for those seeking a professional or vocational career, a balance between practical and theoreticalapplications in learning, the highest level of qualifications and the best-paid jobs in the market. ■

    A magazine forall things VET



    We hope this magazinewill send inspiring

    messages to stakeholdersto drive vocational training

    to higher levelsof attractiveness

    and relevance to the labour market“


    Focus should beEU tools



    on existing

    Cedefop today is recognisedworldwide as a leading centre ofexpertise on VET systems,comparative analyses, investigationon skills demand and supply andqualifications frameworks. Withyouth unemployment in manyEuropean countries at worryinglyhigh levels, demand for Cedefop’ssupport and know-how on therelationship between education andtraining and the labour market ismore important than ever.

    Vocational education andtraining (VET) is high on the policyagenda in member States as wellas at European level as a means toimprove competitiveness andstimulate employment and jobgrowth. Greater emphasis onlearning outcomes andemployability in education andtraining systems at all levels isnecessary to ease recognition ofqualifications, improve quality andfoster mobility in Europe.

    Rather than looking to createnew concepts and initiatives, thefocus should be on appropriateimplementation and, wherenecessary, on adaptation ofexisting EU tools for recognitionand quality assurance, such as theEuropean qualifications framework,the European quality assuranceframework for vocational education,the Europass diploma andcertificate supplements and manyothers, as well as developingsynergies between them.

    Special attention should begiven to strengthening work-basedlearning elements in memberStates and in existing vocationaltraining systems.

    young people’s transition fromeducation to employment can beeased by expanding access todual-learning systems, such as inapprenticeships.

    Cedefop deserves everysupport to consolidate its financialand personal resources, which arethe basis and necessary conditionfor its ongoing excellence andsuccessful performance assupporter and adviser of VETpractice and policies.

    Close and equitable cooperationbetween member States, socialpartners and EuropeanCommission in Cedefop’sGoverning Board guarantees asingular merger of expertise of allkey VET stakeholders to advise theCentre’s work and strengthen itsoutput.

    This is Cedefop’s unique sellingpoint and a major pillar of itssuccess. As current Chair of theGoverning Board and employers’group member for 18 years, I cansay that social partners are thankfulto the staff, management andDirectorate for a long tradition ofclose cooperation and commonsupport and enrichment. ■

    young people’stransition fromeducation toemployment can beeased by expandingaccess to dual-learning systems

  • MAY 2014 | 05


    We need to makequality VET


    a case for

    We all know how important it is tobe able to rely on excellentprofessionals – a physiotherapist ifour back is blocked, a mechanic ifour car breaks down, or ICTspecialists for basically all workand fun facilities around us.however, we often underestimatethe role that vocational educationand training (VET) plays inensuring that we have suchprofessionals to turn to, and theimportance it has for the welfare ofour societies, especially in thecurrent context of rapid change.

    Cedefop’s skills forecasts showthat almost half European jobs by2025 will be for the medium-skilled.Preparing Europeans to fill thosejobs is largely a responsibility forVET. Even now, half of Europe’syoung people are enrolled in VET.keeping VET attractive for youngpeople, ensuring good employmentprospects for them, equipping themwith the right skills, represents ahuge responsibility for the VETcommunity and for publicauthorities.

    Still, VET is not only aboutyoung people. Continuingvocational education and trainingshould also help adults developand maintain their skills throughouttheir lives and prepare them for lifetransitions: today we live longerand experience several transitionsin our lifetimes, going from workback to education, or working andstudying simultaneously.

    VET is also developing athigher qualification levels, drivenby demand from advancedeconomic sectors. These higher-level VET skills play an essentialrole in fostering technologicalchange and innovation, and alsoincrease employability: the higherthe qualification level, the morelikely the person is to find a job.

    We need to make a case forquality VET in Europe. This meansgreat expectations for the VETcommunity: embracing meaningfulreforms, reaching out to non-traditional learners, seekingcredible partnerships with otherlearning providers, from businessto university to civil society andsocial partners, taking advantageof innovative learning systems andnew technologies.

    It is a big challenge, andCedefop’s support is needed morethan ever. Cedefop has become aunique VET centre of expertise andI am convinced that it will continueto provide much-needed supportfor developing and improving VETsystems in Europe. ■

    It is a big challenge andCedefop’s support is needed more than ever

  • In her role as EuropeanCommissioner for Education,Culture, Multilingualism andYouth, Androulla Vassiliou

    has been instrumental inurging Member States to invest

    in education and training. Her policy priorities includeimproving skills, focusing on

    market needs, increasinglearning mobility and

    opportunities for young people.In an interview for the Cedefopmagazine Ms Vassiliou talked

    about vocational education andtraining (VET) priorities and

    the Commission’s latestinitiatives.

    The European alliance forapprenticeships and the youthguarantee are two EuropeanCommission initiativeslaunched last year to helpcombat unemployment inEurope. How are theyprogressing?Both initiatives are progressingwell. In the European alliance forapprenticeships, we havemanaged to mobilise not only theCommission and member Statesbut also social partners, trainingand education providers,companies and youthorganisations. Broad cooperationand peer-to-peer learning arehelping to develop qualityapprenticeships, and theCommission is encouraging andfacilitating such cooperationthrough working groups, eventsand funding. Cedefop is playing a key support role both inpromoting cooperation betweenmember States and monitoringVET and apprenticeship reforms,initiatives and results.Apprenticeships are also one ofthe four elements of the youthguarantee scheme, together witheducation, traineeships and work.By now, the large majority ofmember States has submittedplans for implementing the youthguarantee and we will supportimplementation in themember States and regions withhigh youth unemployment throughthe EUR 6 billion youthemployment initiative.

    What can be done to preventthe risk of newly introduced orrevamped apprenticeshipsystems failing when trying totransfer successful modelsfrom countries with a traditionin work-based learning?First of all, it is important to beclear about the fact that noeducation and training system isperfect, and also thatapprenticeship systems cannot be copy-pasted from one countryto another. however, it is veryclear that models which combinein-school education with in-company training deliver betteremployment results than othersystems. This point is borne outby the relatively low youthunemployment rate of countriesthat have such systems. Austria and Germany are twoexamples, but there are also verygood examples from othermember States, and all countries have something to learn. So what we are encouragingmember States to do is toexchange ex periences and bestpractices, to find inspiration andsee how key elements can beimplemented efficiently andeffectively in their home contextwhile respecting and building onnational and regional systems andtraditions. One should alsoremember that systemic changes take time, and that it isimportant to plan for long-term,incremental developments ratherthan quick fixes.


    Investment in education



    and trainingto exit crisiskey

  • You have been asking EUMember States to invest morein reforming education andtraining at times of economiccrisis and budgetaryconstraints. What can you sayto convince them that investingin education and training cancontribute to recovery?Investment in education andtraining is a key stepping stone onour way out of the crisis. Within sound fiscal policies, wemust prioritise investments in ourcitizens, mainly young people thatare going to build tomorrow’sEurope. Today, we are confrontedwith the fact that there are 2 million jobs available in the EU,which employers cannot fillbecause they cannot find peoplewith the right skills. At the same time, one in fiveyoung people are unemployed.We must therefore invest inproviding people with the skillsthat they and their prospect iveemployers need. All investments must be wellthought through to ensure thatthey adequately address localchallenges and that they operateeffectively and efficiently in theparticular national situation. For this, we need to make surethat employers and schools workcloser together. If we fail to do so, the lack of employableskills will continue to hampergrowth and competitiveness ofbusinesses and development of society.

    Erasmus+ is another new initiative that has started lifethis year. How can it supportactiv ities for reinforced VET,apprenticeship and work-basedlearning?Through Erasmus+ we aresignificantly strengthening oursupport to VET, apprenticeshipsand work-based learning. First ofall, between 2014 and 2020,Erasmus+ will provide 650 000vocational students with a learningexperience abroad. We will also befunding mobility for teachers andtrainers. In addition, we are scalingup support to VET-businesscooperation through so-called‘strategic partnership’ projects, andwe will fund over 150 sector skillsalliances involving 2 000 VETproviders and enterprises aimingat de veloping new curricula andtraining methods.How can European toolsincrease people’s chances offinding a place in the labourmarket?European tools play a crucial role in supporting quality,transparency and recognition ofskills, credits and qualificationsbetween European countries. This is an import ant benefit forlearners because it improves theiropportunities for mobility ineducation and work. One of themain obstacles to free movementof people remains mutualrecognition of skills andqualifications – or lack thereof.European tools like the European

    qualifications framework, theEuropean credit system for VET(ECVET), Europass and theEuropean quality assuranceframework (EQAVET) can helpovercome these barriers. While the most immediate benefitswill be felt by people who want tomove to another EU country, in thelong run everybody stands to gainfrom increased clarity andtransparency of their qualifications.To make the most out of theseEuropean tools, we intend todevelop them further in acoordinated, synergic way. What we are aiming for is a fully-fledged European area of skillsand qualifications. We have beenconducting a public consultationand a specific Eurobarometersurvey on this important initiativeto obtain the input of stakeholdersand citizens on how best to servethem through European tools. ■

    MAY 2014 | 07


    We must invest in providing people with the skills that they and their prospective employers need

    Ms Vassiliou at Cedefop’s 2013 skills conference with then Acting Director Christian Lettmayr (r) and DG EAC’sDirector António Silva Mendes

  • In 2012, just over half, some 50.3%, of the EuropeanUnion’s (EU’s) upper secondary students were ininitial vocational education and training (IVET). But,according to Cedefop’s core indicators (see box) only27% of them were in vocational courses combiningschool and work-based learning.

    There are wide differences between countries,both in terms of numbers of young people in initialVET and those that blend school and work-basedlearning.

    In counties such as Belgium, the Czech Republic,Austria and Slovakia (see table) more than 70% ofupper secondary students were in initial VET in 2012– the highest rates in the EU. Other countries, suchas Denmark with 46.1%, Germany (48.6%) andFrance (44.5%), are nearer to the European average.

    In Denmark, however, almost all initial VETstudents are in some form of combined school andwork-based learning. In Germany, the proportion,

    some 88.2%, is also very high. In the CzechRepublic, Austria and Slovakia the figure is more than40%. France, with around 26.9% of its initial VETstudents combining school and work-based learning,is very close to the European average. however,Belgium, despite having a high proportion ofvocational students, has only 4.3% combining schooland work-based learning.

    This is not to say that teaching in school-basedsystems is not good quality, that students do not learnpractical things, or that they have worse jobprospects. According to the latest data (from 2009),the employment rate of initial VET graduates aged 20to 34 in Belgium is 85%, one of the highest in Europeand some 11.2 percentage points higher than that forgeneral education graduates of the same age. InFrance, the employment rate for vocational andgeneral education graduates is about the same ataround 72%.






    Statistics on vocational education and training are not always easy to find or interpret. Consequently, Cedefop hascompiled a concise set of 32 core statistical indicators relevant to the Europe 2020 strategy objectives and Europeanpolicies for VET and lifelong learning. The indicators are published as ‘statistical overviews’ for each EU MemberState and, where data are available, for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Norway, Switzerlandand Turkey. The overviews enable countries to be compared with one another and with the EU average. The formatis easy to use and data are supplemented with a commentary highlighting interesting points for each country.

    The overviews are snapshots of progress in key areas of education and training policy in Europe. Data used for theindicators come from several sources, including the European labour force survey, UOE (Unesco/OECD/Eurostat)data collection on education systems, the continuing vocational training survey, the adult education survey andCedefop’s skill supply and demand forecasts.

    The core indicators do not assess national systems or policies. Detailed monitoring requires more data and thoroughanalysis of the context. Cedefop publishes the overviews collectively in On the way to 2020: data for vocationaleducation and training policies: country statistical overviews, which can be downloaded from Cedefop’s website athttp://www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/publications/22388.aspx


    More initial vocationaleducation and trainingshould combine school and work-basedlearning


  • however, students in vocational learning without astrong work-based element may have lessopportunity to acquire work-related skills that canimprove their job-readiness.

    There is also growing evidence that young peopleon high-quality apprenticeships and internships aremore likely to acquire useful skills and attitudes tofind suitable work and that they have a smoothertransition to the labour market than general educationgraduates.

    Recognising these benefits, the European alliancefor apprenticeships, launched by the EuropeanCommission in July 2013, aims to improve the quality,

    supply and image of apprenticeships across the EU.Some member States are already engaged inbilateral cooperation on VET reform, apprenticeshipsand apprentice mobility.

    however, the success of extending combinationsof school and work-based learning depends heavilyon employers’ commitment to provide opportunities.Given that employers continue to stress the need for‘soft’ skills such as teamwork, ability to adapt and tocontinue to learn, all of which can benefit from havingexperience in the workplace, it is in their interest todo so. ■

    MAY 2014 | 09


    Indicator Belgium Czech Rep. Denmark Germany France Austria Slovakia EU

    IVET students as % of all upper secondary students 72.8 73.0 46.1 48.6 44.5 76.1 70.9 50.3

    IVET work-based students as % of upper secondary IVET 4.3 43.6 96.8 88.2 26.9 45.7 40.8 27.0

    Employment rate for IVET graduates (20-34 year-olds) 85.0 (*) 78.7 (*) 88.5 (*) 83.5 (*) 72.2 (*) 88.0 (*) 74.7 (*) 79.1 (*)

    Employment premium for IVETgraduates (over general stream) 11.2 (*) 10. 6 (*) 6.0 (*) 26.2 (*) 0.6 (*) 5.1 (*) 3.8 (*) 5.6 (*)

    (*) Data are the latest available and relate to 2009.





    / Di




  • Partnerships between education and training andsocial partners are not an option but inevitable toprevent skills mismatch and having people not inemployment, education or training (NEETs), arguedCedefop Director James Calleja at the Greek EUPresidency’s flagship conference on vocationaleducation and training (VET).

    The conference, held on 26 march in Athens, gavemember States an opportunity to get acquainted withsuccessful VET policies and practices which tackleskills mismatches, focusing on how work-basedlearning can meet contemporary challenges.

    In his keynote speech, Greek minister ofEducation Constantine Arvanitopoulos said that ‘ithas to be a strategic choice of the Commission andnational governments, especially the southernEurope ones, to make school-to-work transitioneasier through apprenticeships, traineeships and ini-tial work experience programmes, and to restructureour educational systems so that they match labourmarket needs and offer lifelong learning.’

    highlighting the contribution of education ‘toeconomic growth, jobs and social cohesion’ has beenone of the Greek Presidency’s priorities and, togetherwith an event on apprenticeships, the conference hasput the focus on VET.

    The Cedefop Director noted: ‘VET covers almostthe whole spectrum of the qualifications framework. Ittriggers innovation; we need VET policy-makers andinstitutions that believe in its potential at allqualifications levels and implement measures to raisequality and excellence with urgency.’

    he stressed that ‘the worlds of education and

    work are not/have not been talking to each otherenough,’ which is why ‘we need to strengthen initialvocational education and training (IVET) bycoordinating efforts from governments, socialpartners, the labour market and education andtraining providers. Without a strong IVET base, it isimpossible to have quality continuing VET and VET athigher education.’

    Presenting the challenges VET faces when itcomes to skills mismatch and work-based learning,mr Calleja argued that ‘before you reform educationand training, you need to know what kinds of jobsthere are, where and which skills they require; reformin education must go hand-in-hand with economicand social strategies and must be supported by skills




    Cedefop’s new report provides an insight into the GreekVET system. You can download it here


    Source: Eurostat, website database, 2013.

    2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

    EU-28 GREECE










  • intelligence.’ One of the workshops at the conferenceconcluded that skills intelligence and stakeholdercooperation are crucial in building new qualificationsfor emerging sectors.

    According to mr Calleja, ‘the European tools are asolid foundation to build a culture of learning bydoing; adapt them to your national, regional, localcontexts and they will make a difference.’

    Cedefop supports the work of the EuropeanCommission and member States based on itsexpertise on labour market issues, qualifications andVET policies. The envisaged Cedefop policy-learningworkshops in 2015 will enable knowledge sharingtowards strategic, prioritised and citizen-centredinitiatives in VET institutions.

    Policies and strategies to increase work-basedlearning should focus on action: the role of trainerswho work with young people should be takenseriously and the necessary support should beprovided. But initiatives cannot be copy-pasted fromone country to another.

    ‘Countries need to identify their growth potentialand skill needs, develop training schemes to suit their specific contexts and use the potential of work-based learning. This requires comprehensivestrategies, which include competence development of teachers and trainers, and commitment of allactors,’ concluded mr Calleja. ■

    MAY 2014 | 11


    Skill mismatch: more than

    meets the eye

    The 2014 Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU takes place inthe context of major economic and social challenges, as the crisiscan be felt all over Europe, hitting Greece especially hard. During therecovery process, education and training policies, especiallyvocational education and training (VET) policy, can play a major role inempowering people and enterprises to be competitive.

    In Greece, VET is in transition. The 2013 legislation on secondaryeducation aims to promote VET and strengthen its work-basedcomponent. The action plan for youth employment intends to betterlink education with work, upgrade VET, boost apprenticeship andbroaden career guidance offered to young people.

    But legislative reforms alone are not enough. To makequalifications relevant requires closer communication betweeneducation and training and the world of work. Enterprises need to

    understand that training young people is an investment in their ownfuture. Young people and their families also need to realise theadvantages of work-based learning. This is a challenge in a countrywhere university education enjoys much higher prestige than VET. Butunemployment among university graduates, though still lower thanthat faced by people with lower qualification levels, has been risingduring the crisis.

    Evidence from other countries shows that cooperation in shapingattractive and relevant qualifications can help increase ownershipand commitment. Greece officially presented the Hellenicqualifications framework in February 2014. Fully implementingchanges will take time. Achieving sustainable results will requirecommitment from all partners in education and training and thelabour market.


    Trainers in continuing VET:

    emerging competence profile

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  • European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairsand Inclusion László Andortalks to Rosy Voudouri about

    the youth guarantee, the European alliance

    for apprenticeships, other waysof boosting employment

    in Europe, andthe North-South job divide

    Good vocational education andtraining systems are crucial foremployment, according to theEuropean Union (EU) jobs official.Commissioner László Andorvisited Cedefop on 4 march,addressed the staff and wasinformed about the agency’s work.

    An economist from hungary,mr Andor served as a member ofthe board of directors of the Euro-pean Bank for Reconstruction andDevelopment before beingappointed EU Commissioner forEmployment, Social Affairs andInclusion in 2010. Amid theeconomic crisis that affectedEurope, he made helping ‘thejobless back to work, preventingfurther poverty and social exclu-sion’ the focus of his work, as hisonline profile suggests.

    One of the European Commis-sion’s central initiatives in the fightagainst unemployment is theyouth guarantee, and mr Andorassesses the project he and histeam are overseeing:

    ‘The member States imple-menting the youth guarantee canalready draw from EU resourcessince September last year and assoon as they have their operationprogrammes in place, they cancover it directly from EU funds. Ibelieve that there is a lot of good

    progress. however, sometimesyou feel, as in the case of Greecefor example, that the implementa-tion plans are uneven, some ofthem are limited in terms of timehorizon, not going beyond acertain time period, or othersperhaps not elaborating suffi-ciently on the necessary partner-ships between, let’s say, policyand business. There are certainweaknesses, which pop up in thecross-country comparison. This iswhat the Commission is trying todo now – to compare the imple-mentation plans.’

    The scheme aims to ensurethat all young people under age25 receive a good-quality offer ofemployment, an apprenticeship ortraineeship or the chance tocontinue their education withinfour months of becoming unem-ployed or leaving formal educa-tion. And, although a ‘good-qualityoffer’ sounds vague, mr Andorbelieves it was very important toadd this element to the guarantee:‘We don’t want zero-hourcontracts; we don’t want trainee-ships without a clarified remunera-tion. So, obviously there arecertain elements, especially, whenwe speak about young people, thelearning content, even if it’s not acourse but a job or an apprentice-


    A lot more required



    to reach employmenttargets

  • ship. It has to be a decent learningcontent, so we need to emphasisealso the quality and ensure thatthis becomes a reality.’

    The youth guarantee is oneway of boosting employment inEurope. A lot more needs to bedone to make sure we reach the75% employment target by 2020,says the EU official:

    ‘We have to see the longer-term trend of working longersimply because we live longer inthe European Union and we haveto achieve what is called activeageing, to avoid early retirement,to avoid loss of skills and competi-tiveness of the ageing workforce.The European workforce is ageingand shrinking. Because of thedemographics, there is a neces-sity to invest more in workingconditions, to invest more in oper-ational safety and health, to investmore in lifelong learning, to investmore in the capacity of the Euro-pean labour market, EURES forexample, to connect better supplyand demand and thus help peopleto have a more fulfilling career andto work longer in their lives.’

    When it comes to job opportun -ities, the North-South divide inEurope is growing. We asked mrAndor for the Commission’s view,taking into account labour mobility.

    ‘mobility is an important opportun -ity and a fundamental right,’ hesays. But it can also be perceivedas brain drain by countries withbig unemployment or as unwantedimmigration by countries in anunstable economic situation:

    ‘The North-South divide, or theasymmetries between the coreand the periphery of the Euro-zone, has become deeper in thepast few years. Even now, asEurope is emerging from a longrecession, it is emerging withthese serious asymmetries andthat also results in increases ofoutward migration from countrieslike Spain, Italy, Portugal orGreece. So, mobility is in a way aconsequence of not having jobs incountries in recession, not havingjob growth, and Europe will needto do a lot more to restore thegrowth potential and overcomethese asymmetries in the monet -ary union. This of course cannothappen without reforming themonetary union.’

    Commissioner Andor gives hisverdict on another new initiativeaimed at tackling youth unemploy-ment – the European alliance forapprenticeships: ‘This is indeedabout spreading a model, boostingthe prestige of apprenticeships butalso inviting companies to

    contribute. When we launched thealliance last summer in the city ofLeipzig, we already had a numberof big companies announcing thecreation of apprenticeships inlarge numbers. And since lastsummer, we’ve had more andmore learning about this andjoining this European alliance.Apprenticeships can be created insmaller companies as well. Thekey question is to find a linkbetween education and vocationaltraining on the one hand andindustrial development, industrialpolicy on the other.’ ■

    MAY 2014 | 13

    As Europe is emerging from a long recession, it is emerging with serious asymmetries and that also results in increases of outward migration from countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal or Greece


    Mr Andor with Cedefop Director James Calleja at the Centre’s premisesin Thessaloniki

  • high-quality vocational education and training (VET)relevant to labour market needs is a policy priority forthe European Union. The economic slowdown hasled to worryingly high levels of unemployment andunderemployment, particularly among young people.

    Presenting Cedefop’s work at the EuropeanParliament earlier this year, the Centre’s DirectorJames Calleja said that all its activities ‘aim atemphasising the inescapable link between training,skills, qualifications and employability.’

    ‘Cedefop’s work is at the interface betweeneducation and training and the needs of the labourmarket,’ stressed mr Calleja. ‘Employability is crucialfor the future of the Union and it is necessary toensure the economic crisis is tackled by a responsiveand skilled workforce,’ he added.

    Cedefop’s role in supporting European VETpolicy-makers between 2007 and 2012 has recentlybeen evaluated for the European Commission. In itsfindings, the evaluation noted that the agency ‘washighly successful in implementing the objectives in itsfounding Regulation,’ during the review period.

    mr Calleja told the European Parliament that thechallenge now is ‘to keep up the high standardsachieved but also to ensure that Cedefop continuesto provide answers to policy-makers dealing withunemployment, preventing people leaving vocationaleducation and training early and unqualified, helpingthose who lack skills and competences for today’sand tomorrow’s labour market, ensuring that all typesof skills are recognised, and supporting businesseswho wish to provide work-based learning.’

    The Cedefop Director highlighted three facets of acommon challenge that will define the agency’s workin 2014:• adult education and learning – an area which

    Cedefop is strengthening so more people findacquiring skills and competences closer to theirwork experiences;

    • European alliance for apprenticeships – Cedefopwill fully support the Commission in its work on thealliance, and member States working together tocreate an attractive apprenticeship culture withinthe 2020 education and training targets;

    • technical support to member States in all aspects ofEuropean tools and synergies between tools – notall member States are cruising at the same altitudeon European initiatives and tools, and Cedefopproposes to intensify its support to help memberStates come closer to the 2020 education andtraining targets. ■


    At the interface


    training, skills,qualifications




    Read the briefing note on Cedefop’s achievements in 2013 and plans for 2014www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/publications/22296.aspx

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  • Italy will take over from Greece the Presidency of the Council of theEuropean Union on 1 July. The country is dealing with structural problemsaffecting its economic system by attributing a key role to quality vocationaleducation and training (VET) as a driver to increase employability andpromote social inclusion. The strategic objective is to strengthen VETbecause of extremely alarming youth unemployment data.

    Italian government initiatives will focus on increasing youth employment,facilitating international mobility of workers and enhancing the ‘socialdimension’ of the economic and monetary union.

    Special attention will be given to the national plan implementing theyouth guarantee, which is designed to ensure supply of information,guidance, work experience, training, apprenticeships and youthentrepreneurship. These measures are targeted to people not inemployment, education or training (NEETs) and are offered according tothe specific profiles of those most remote from the labour market. The planconnects relevant institutions and stakeholders at national, regional andlocal levels. In addition, the government will launch a reform of theemployment services through partnerships between businesses, publicinstitutions and non-profit organisations to match demand and supply oflabour and promote entrepreneurial initiatives.

    With respect to education and training policies, the government willfocus on supporting European and international mobility of students andteachers, preventing and combating early school leaving, integratingsystems of education/training and labour market, raising key competencesof students and improving quality of education and training. The ItalianPresidency’s priorities will aim at strengthening the most significant‘systemic’ innovations recently introduced.

    The new types of training pathways currently being designed to ensurerecognition of competences and professional profiles (including innovativeones) at national level are noteworthy. The process is facilitated by theimplementation of legislation defining a national system of certification ofcompetences and validation of non-formal and informal learning, which islearner-oriented and in tune with local labour market needs. Financialresources allocated to training activities, other than those provided bystructural funds, will be pooled together.

    Increasing investment in VET is important, with surveys showing thatlearners who completed their pathways in accredited VET centres performbetter, in terms of training and employment outcomes, than learnersexiting the school system.

    Optimising and integrating various funds is considered relevant also tocontinuing VET. The push towards integration represents a reverse trendin recent years; this, however, seems inadequate given the limitedresources and small number of firms and local contexts involved. It willtherefore be increasingly important to move away from the logic of meretesting and to scale up successful experiences at system level, whileidentifying priority actions, which may cover essential topics such asinnovations to be implemented in different areas and sectors and theability to internationalise small businesses. ■

    MAY 2014 | 15

    Using vocational

    trainingto boost



    by REFERNET ITALYwww.isfol.it/isfol-europa/reti/refernet


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    Christian Lettmayr,Cedefop’s Deputy Director

    since 2005 and Acting Directorbetween October 2010

    and October 2013, speaks passionately

    about vocational education and training.

    He will retire in the summer,but wants to see VET

    as the natural link betweenthe world of education and the world of work.

    In a few months, Cedefop willcelebrate its 40th anniversary. It isone of the first two Europeanagencies, founded in 1975together with Eurofound. mrLettmayr reflects on howCedefop’s work has contributed toVET policies throughout thisperiod:

    ‘The Council at the time recog-nised that VET was a very import -ant part of some of thefundamental principles of theUnion, because it is the labour-market-related side of education,which is a necessary condition forcreating a unified labour market.Ιn the beginning, Cedefop wasmore like an information platform.It took a while before it estab-lished itself more closely as asupport to European policy-making, which has evolved, afterthe Lisbon strategy in 2000, inwhat we call an open method ofcoordination, meaning the wilfuland voluntary cooperation ofmember States in a policy areawhere the competence alwayshas been and still is with them.But, and I think this has beenclearly underlined in the years ofcrisis, there is a paramount needfor closer cooperation and further

    development of a truly Europeansystem. Otherwise the economicunion will not work in the longrun.’

    In a drastically changingworking environment, mr Lettmayrbelieves there are particular chal-lenges ahead for vocationaleducation and training: ‘We havethe influences of the whole ITrevolution, major trends like theageing population or the need todevelop our economies in regardto sustainability, to make themgreener, which impacts on jobs.Then, there is a question whichcomes to the fore of the policydiscussion more and more – thedistribution of income and wealth.All this is drastically changing theworking environment and thenumber and types of jobs avail-able. It obviously has an impacton the skills and qualificationspeople will need in the future andon the way of living. The old paradigm of the informationsociety and knowledge societywith its constant need of updatingknowledge and skills, meaning atruly lifelong learning approach,becomes even more important.’

    Cedefop supports the Euro-pean Commission’s initiatives to




    is FIRSTVocational


  • MAY 2014 | 17

    combat youth unemployment and,in particular, the Europeanalliance for apprenticeships. Thisis a subject close to the heart ofthe Centre’s Deputy Director:

    ‘The trend towards work-basedlearning is, to some extent, acorrection of mistakes we havemade in the past. With the trendtowards higher qualification levelswe believed that we needed moreschool-based learning to send ahigher proportion of the popula-tion to university, and haveforgotten a little bit that in theformative years, after 15 or 16,work-based learning and experi-ence of real working life helps toteach people soft skills, which arevery important for their employ -ability. We are not trying now torevive any romantic and tradi-tional form of apprenticeship. Thisis an attempt to combine theelements of apprenticeship withthe need for higher qualificationlevels, which makes this trend soimportant and so interesting. Itconcerns not only those countriesthat do not have a good appren-ticeship system. Of course, forthose countries the challengesare bigger because they need todo a lot of institution-building and

    to change perceptions of thepopulation, education providersand employers. But it also relatesto countries which already havevery good apprenticeship systemsbecause they need to developthem and include the necessaryfeatures which can respond todemands of the modern labourmarket. We are working veryclosely with the Commission andmany other institutions. Cedefopis particularly well-placed in thiscontext because member Statestrust the Centre to be a know -ledgeable broker in monitoring andaccompanying their efforts. I thinkwe have a lot to contribute there.’

    mr Lettmayr concludes with aword of advice for those con -sidering whether or not to followthe vocational education and

    training path: ‘I once talked to aman in a village who was taughtto become a plumber. he was anintelligent man who could easilyhave gone to university. he saidto me about his choice: “I willhave a job, the possibility to setup my own enterprise and I will beindependent.” VET is not second-rate education. It often corre-sponds much more to the talentsand inclinations of people andoffers a lot of possibil ities forprofessional development. In theend, you will be much happierdoing something which corre-sponds to your talents, and if youdo it well, you may get further inlife than with a university degreein a field of study that offers occu-pations which may not make youhappy.’ ■

    In the end, you will be much happier doing something which corresponds to your talents


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    ■ Spotlight on VET series published in 2014: Norway, Latvia, Finland, Estonia,United kingdom, Slovenia, Poland, hungary, Greece, the Netherlands,Luxembourg, malta, Romania

    ■ Vocational education and training in Greece – Short description

    ■ Attractiveness of initial vocational education and training: identifying what matters

    ■ On the way to 2020: data for vocational education and training policies –Country statistical overviews

    ■ monitoring ECVET implementation strategies in Europe in 2013

    ■ Cedefop work programme 2014

    Download the publication you wish by clickingthe cover and/or the corresponding title


    Improvements in workforce skills are essential for European countries to attainhigher economic growth and to compete effectively on product markets. Literatureindicates a positive relationship between levels of education and productivitygrowth. This report, published in January 2014, builds on and expands this body of research in two ways. First, it investigates the differential impact of various skilltypes – higher (academic), upper-intermediate vocational, lower-intermediatevocational, lower-intermediate general, and low – on labour productivity. Then it accounts for the stock of uncertified skills (those built through training). Analysisis carried out in six EU member States – Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the Uk – representing different modes of VET. The analysis suggests that general and vocational skills complement each otherand that the effect of (certified) skills on productivity is stronger when they arereinforced by training.

    CEDEFOP PUBLICATIONSnewYou can browse and/or download all Cedefop publications at: www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/publications.aspxby scanning this QR-code


  • www.cedefop.europa.eu

    Cedefop is helping to bring togethertraining, skills, qualifications and employabilityto support Europe’s recovery

    by skill supply and demand in EuropeEuropean training policieshow to improve adult learning and continuing training

    guides to training systems in every EU Member State

    for more and better apprenticeships

    on reforms to European training systems

    qualifications easier to understand

    mobility for learning and working

    statistical data on training













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