EfVET Annual Conferences gathers every year more than 200 delegates from different countries, not only from the European Union but also from Asia and America.
This event is an excellent opportunity for members and non-members to discuss hot VET topics with key policymakers, stakeholders and VET professionals. As we always say, the EfVET network is all about our members. That is why Annual Conferences are designed to be a network platform where they could meet other country fellows, present their Erasmus Plus projects, find Erasmus+ project partners and, the most important learn more about the latest VET policy issues.
All in all, EfVET Annual Conferences are a milestone for VET professionals in Europe and beyond.
“The Future Skills Revolution for VET and CVET in Europe”
Twenty years ago, the Copenhagen Process opened a new era for vocational and professional education and training. In July 2020, the European Commission launched the new skills agenda as a follow up to the original Skills Agenda of 2016. It defines 12 actions for upskilling (improving existing skills) and reskilling (training in new skills) for the coming five years. EfVET is always in the forefront not just to support initiatives taken by the EC but also to ensure that member states and in particular training providers in VET and CVET are kept au courant with these developments. In addition, EfVET supports training providers to reflect on the need to update, re-write and connect with key stakeholders to ensure that skills acquired at School, College or Applied University levels are industry driven.
The objective of the 2022 EfVET Annual conference is to give training providers the opportunity to share their experiences in the learning and teaching of new skills in their educational set-ups and to design ways of collaboration between them. Many education institutions across Europe are witnessing an increased pressure from workplaces to revisit skills. Technology particularly after the experience of COVID 19 has taken centre stage on issues related to improving skills, upskilling and reskilling as well as the introduction of new skills. It is the knowledge and experience that training providers generate in their lecture rooms, classroom, laboratories and workshops that can truly inform policy even on the European stage. VET training providers are front liners and key players in VET design and implementation. It is with this spirit of sharing of knowledge, collaboration and networking through projects, mobility of Faculty and students as well as participation in various forums such as the EfVET annual conference that new insights are explored and transformed into new policies.
EfVET annual conference is the meeting place of theory and practice par excellence. It is a unique opportunity where the world of education and training meets the world of employment. This combination of experiences is giving EfVET’s annual conferences higher visibility among policy makers. The mixture of experiences and contexts which employers require learners to possess when they set foot for the first time in work places or change jobs is invaluable. Speakers will be sharing their experiences from different perspectives and from various cultural, social and political angles. Skills today may be obsolete tomorrow and therefore besides the required soft skills including the so-called 21st century skills, learners and workers are expected to be lifelong learners, adaptable and ready to learn while they work and work while they learn. The future skills revolution for VET and CVET in Europe is characterised by the use of AI, close relationships with industry and a work-based learning. approach at all levels of education and training. Are we prepared to take on this revolution and ensure that all learners and workers are successful?
The 2022 EfVET annual conference will address this overarching question.
“Shaping the future: Sustainable and Innovative VET”
Virtual Conference 2021
Vocational and professional education and training is in constant change as education in general. Due to the pandemic, our working life has been under rapid changes for a long period and change seems to become even stronger now that we have experienced a year of adjustments in education. Occupations, for instance are changing or disappearing; new occupations are created. Not only rapid technological development but also changes affecting our environment are the major drivers of change. Global climate change is a fact, and our societies are facing increasingly challenging problems.
Changes in working life and in occupations also create a major opportunity for vocational education and training system. If we are proactive, we can develop education and training systems that can answer the needs of the labour market. New learning and teaching methods and technologies enable students to study and learn effectively, regardless of time and place.
Closer co-operation with the world of work in training creates better opportunities for students, teachers, educational institutions and companies to develop skills and knowledge needed in the future. The EU and national governments are gearing up to meet the upskilling and reskilling of workers. The goal is driven by the common ambition to support the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and contribute to building a more sustainable, and resilient European Education Area.
Rapidly changing working life will also challenge education systems, educational institutions and teachers. How can we evolve and innovate a sector which has tradition and innovation in pedagogy constantly together? The rapid development of technology has also enabled new learning models where the acquisition of skills and competences is already partially disconnected from the educational institutions. How can we reform management, leadership and working practices in educational institutions in the post-COVID19 period? What new approaches in education and training do we need to take in a context where knowledge can be acquired anytime, anywhere outside the formal educational structures? How can we identify best practice through EfVET members that can inspire new initiatives in other countries? Is there equal access to the new approaches of education and training for all?
The focus of the conference is therefore on sustainable and innovation VET and how these indicators shape our future and that of next generations. The objective is to empower our members to indicate opportunities for development and solutions, not only from the viewpoint of changing working life but also of environmentally friendly practices in different countries. Our societies will continue to need industries whose activities will burden our environment, but with the help of new technologies and new innovative ways of learning and working, we can reduce the burden on the environment.
At the conference, we will also look at the changing operating environment from the social, educational, business and student perspective. The conference focuses on the interface between new technologies in learning and the links between working life and the requirements of sustainable development through innovative VET.
“COVID-19 beyond 2020: A new generation of VET?”
Virtual Conference 2020
The COVID-19 is a health hazard of global proportion and also a wake-up call to unprepared policy makers who have been faced by unprecedented circumstances. Notwithstanding the enormous investment in research and in international organisations, humanity has been caught on the wrong foot when faced by such a deadly enemy. While health care systems have had to increase their capacity overnight, other systems including education and training had to switch to remote work with all its challenges and opportunities. This conference will bring together practitioners’ members of EfVET and other stakeholders to share their experiences in the face of COVID-19 and the impact on educational institutions focused on Vocational Education and Training. Online teaching and learning has had its problems and its advantages. Many have experienced difficulty in making sure that the class meets at a particular time, on a given platform and with the same state-of-mind that normally takes place when people meet face-to-face. Accessing a platform, downloading material, sharing texts and interacting is not the same as when a normal classroom or lecture room is being used. What will be the impact of such a change in the mode of operation? Will technology prove to be more effective than human being parting knowledge, skills and competences or the reverse? How can teachers partner with technology and remain in command of the learning process? Will social distancing in education and training trigger a new generation of work-based learning? Which digital solutions should be adopted by VET Providers to face the challenges of new learning scenario? How online education can smoothly complement and integrate with classroom and work-based learning? Online learning also carries a financial burden which many countries were not prepared to cover to the extents that it required. Delays in the provision of learning slots and material has been experienced in many countries. Postponement of European projects, meetings and conferences, the halt in mobility programmes will certainly have an impact on the way we view European cooperation in the future. What will happen now that European projects, particularly those supported by the ERASMUS+ programme, will face when Europe gets back to its “new normal” mode of living? How will this change in programmes impact students, teachers and the academic year which will start in a few months’ time? How will the restrictions on the entry and exit of citizens of any origin affect internationalisation of education and training? And also, how can we have a totally new organisation with the same old financial budget and rules? Are these worlds connected or parallel? Coupled with these challenging impacts of COVID-19 on education and training is the issue of economic recession which inevitably will bring a new wave of unemployment and the need for re-skilling and up-skilling of workers of all ages. Is this an opportunity to invest seriously in promoting Vocational Education and Training among the wider spectrum of a country’s workforce? Will businesses invest in E&T during times of recession or will they distance themselves from providing opportunities for work-based learning including apprenticeships until they recoup their momentum prior to COVID-19? Will international organisations and governments increase or decrease budgets for education and training when it is most needed in times of recession? Data protection issues are also in agenda, with some experiences being quite intrusive in the lives of citizens and with schools and business having to deal with a whole new world of organisation and digital rules that, until now, were enough. If the data is the new fuel, many questions and restrictions will pose severely from now on. Likewise, the protection and health of workers will also have to be ensured in a different way from what we have had so far. These and other questions will be asked during the online EfVET Annual Conference. Participants will be invited prior to the conference to share their experiences and to alert the organisers whether they wish to intervene in the exchange of views that will take place online. The online chat will be open throughout the conference so that participants can intervene with their statements and questions. It is planned that the outcome of this conference will be an EfVET Declaration on VET in the post-COVID-19 era. Other topics will be discussed during the Conference.
“Robots, Human Capital and Digital Learning. Managing Transition and Inclusion”
If one day robots were to be entrusted with managing EfVET annual conference, the organisers and members would simply sit back, relax and enjoy the event.
Robots today are already capable of designing programmes, writing, speaking, walking, cooking, preparing drinks, navigating cars, ships, airplanes and a million other activities! Will they be able to take all our routine jobs? Will we be able to cope with and tolerate their artificial intelligence? Will employers invest in robots or in skilling, upskilling and reskilling of their human capital? If cost-effectiveness is an indicator to go by, then in several jobs’ robots are cheaper, ‘loyal’ servants and hard-working, efficient and highly productive. How will this phenomenon impact on vocational education and training?
No matter how hard it is to imagine such a situation in workplaces or in learning institutions, the truth is that technology, robotics, artificial intelligence and the internet of things are presenting several challenges to human beings particularly those in charge of skilling young people. The rapport between robots, human beings and vocational education is imminent and perplexing. On the one hand employers and businesses are investing heavily in equipment which makes productivity faster, precise and with fascinating gadgets and artificial intelligent responses. Take modern transportation and logistics. More than ninety percent of the activity that takes place in moving objects is in the hands of “intelligent” machines that can navigate in the dark, take rockets to the moon, finds files in a data base in seconds and analyse and compose legal documents in real time!
While acknowledging that vocational education has made significant strides towards parity of esteem with other educational sectors yet exploring the potential of work-based learning in an age of technology may not have had enough visibility that impacts policy, financial resources and the image of VET itself. By associating robots with human beings and vocational education, the scope of this conference is to reflect on how VET colleges and schools can manage the necessary transition from school-based to reality-based learning. In this context, the borders of our VET institutions will be challenged by the advancements that are taking place in work-places. Teachers will be challenged by the knowledge and the foresight of employers and high-tech employees. Policy-makers will find their action as too slow and financially too little to be relevant to the labour market of today, let alone that of tomorrow. The EC can only allocate 1.25% of its total budget to ERASMUS+. Of these funds only 16.25% is allocated to VET when compared to 50% mobility to higher education. The budget will only be doubled in 2027 when the planned cycle for VET 2030 will be almost over.
If these are some of the challenges we face, then it is necessary to pool resources from the world of employment and the world of vocational education and build enough momentum to claim a share of the governance of VET from current stakeholders. We need enough predictive capacity not only to image the future of VET but also to accomplish predictions. Facts such as education is accessible anywhere anytime, technology brings reality to life and employment is not exclusively for those with formal qualifications cannot be ignored.
No matter how far one stretches his or her imagination, the value of the human teacher remains undisputable. However, nothing is certain unless human teachers, policy-makers, researchers find ways and means to work side-by-side with robots; use robots to attract learners and make their lives more meaningful; create work-based learning in real life or in simulated environments.
This conference explored what roadmap vocational education leaders, managers and practitioners (teachers, tutors and expert in international mobility) must design to enable them to lead, manage and practice education and training that matches as close as possible the world of work. Furthermore, beyond the conventional pleas for quality, transparency, mobility, permeability, inclusion and recognition of qualifications lies the challenge of relevancy and effectiveness. A further challenge is to speed up reform, the image of VET and transform talking into action! This conference aimed at establishing a new paradigm shift that could take vocational education to its next level of excellence based on targeted action, systemic implementation and targeted impact.
“Rethinking VET for Inclusive Excellence”
In the daily global challenges of educational and training activities, the importance to help students, mainly young Persons, to develop a personal resilience is paramount. Entrepreneurial, digital skills, and creative thinking are only some of the key competencies required in today’s, and the future, labour market as highlighted in recent EU policy documents, including the EU Skills Agenda in 2016.
As mentioned in the Skills Agenda, an ageing population will impact on European economic growth, increasing the need for higher productivity and higher skills (CEDEFOP, 2016). Global competition is dramatically affecting local markets and the sustainability of many enterprises. Technology is changing habits, consumption, production and ways of working (industry 4.0, internet of things): the future jobs of 65% of children starting their primary school today do not yet exist and will provide goods or services which are not yet requested (WEF, 2016). Innovation has become one of the key drivers for the future sustainability of both societies as a whole and people’s daily life (Chatzichristou, 2017).
Skills are the keystone for the future. The need to rethink VET has come:
- Overcoming current dichotomies between theory and applied training, HVET and academic systems, formal vs. informal or non-formal training. Professional competences, literacy and numeracy and soft skills are all crucial.
- Incentivising a lifelong learning attitude in students and adults, promoting more flexible pathways. “One-size-fits-all” training can be neither effective nor sufficient for a whole lifetime career.
- Strengthening stakeholder engagement, in terms of business-education relationships for internships, apprenticeships, training needs assessment and for promoting “educational pacts”, is crucial to creating quality training for Learners. Stakeholders should include parents, voluntary organisations and institutions, to drive a cultural shift in the perception of VET
“Work and Education aligned to the Future”
The World Economic Forum, in its 2016 publication “The Future of jobs”, states we are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is not only a technological revolution, as there are also socio-economic, geopolitical and demographic changes influencing the new scenario.
Today’s job markets and in-demand skills are vastly different from the ones of ten or even five years ago, and the pace of change is only set to accelerate. Governments, businesses and individuals alike are increasingly concerned with identifying and forecasting skills that are relevant not just today but that will remain or become so in the future to meet business demands for talent. Skills mismatches are then not only about today but between today’s skills and future skills requirements. Some studies forecast 65% of children in today’s primary schools will work in jobs not existing yet. So we must look at those skills people will need in order to face a rapidly changing labour market.
To tackle future challenges, all stakeholders – governments, companies, education providers and others – have to work closely to develop the 21st-century curriculum. It requires new and collaborative approaches – to support individual talent, innovation, and entrepreneurship and to facilitate new incentives and opportunities. The New Skills Agenda, launched in June 2016 by the European Commission, encompasses also a number of actions to ensure that the right training, the right skills and the right support are available to people in the European Union; reskilling and upskilling of our workers is critical too.
According to CEDEFOP’s Director, Mr James Calleja, one of the priorities for the next years is “to look at the world of work and the world of education and to see how we can align them to build the right workforce for the future”. So what is better other, than to explore in our 26th Conference in Thessaloniki how to bring closer those two worlds to face together this uncertain future?
“Quality in Action: Putting the learner at the forefront of everything we do”
This conference celebrated the Quality of VET in action and explored how quality can be further embedded in all aspects of our activities – both at strategic level and operational/delivery levels. Quality takes many forms and should form the driver for improvements in VET. Quality starts by putting the Learner first; at the heart of everything we do.
How do we raise the Learners experience? There are so many aspects to this debate but all have an influence on quality; on perceptions; on learners motivation. Conference will encourage participants to share good practice in a range of areas.
- How do VET institutions promote high esteem and attractiveness of VET opportunities?
- How do VET institutions implement new teaching and learning methodologies to create a stimulate ing, motivating and inspirational learning experience e.g.: Co-creation as a methodology; innovative learning environments ; harness digital technologies; build partnerships with stakeholders to promote Aprrenticeships and meaningful work related opportunities?
- How can Internationalisation assist in promoting quality and opportunity in the learner experience – what is the value added?
- How can ECVET; EQF and other European tools support quality in VET?
- How can VET institutions support and up skill their teachers and trainers – they are our most valuable resource? Let us share approaches to Continuing Professional Development?
“Excellence in VET. What makes VET an attractive pathway to success?”
Labour markets are in constant change; demands for a higher skilled and flexible workforce are paramount; employability, entrepreneurship and digital skills are pre-requisites to those seeking to enter the labour market.
In several European member states, participation rates in Vocational Education and Training are significant but have the potential to grow more. According to EU research (CEDEFOP 2015) the EU average participation of young people who follow an IVET pathway compared to the more traditional ‘academic’ pathway into employment or Higher Education is 50.4%, with some member states being over 70%. In others, rates are relatively low. What makes the difference – how has the academic/VET divide been addressed? There is increasing recognition across Businesses and employers that there is increasing value afforded to them through VET, especially with the increasing shift toward Apprenticeships and work based learning.
Vocational Education and Training, based as it is on practical skills development, offers a very attractive route to success for many. The emphasis of Apprenticeship opportunities in partnership between training providers and business is a good example of this, whereby young people gain relevant skills and transferable skills in a work environment.