Annual ECVET forum: Trusting skills and qualification in the Europe of tomorrow
Vienna – 30/31 October 2014
The ECVET forum was organized by the European Commission with the support of the CEDEFOP and ECVET team. The forum was open to any interested member of the European ECVET network and interested parties. Over 250 participants and speakers representing the European Commission, national and regional authorities, labour representatives and VET providers took part. Mr. Antonio Silva Mendes, Director Education and Vocational Training DGEAC and Mr. Hanspeter Huber, General Director for International Affairs, Federal Ministry of Education and Women Affairs – Austria welcome and open the conference. The forum was very interactive and aimed to be a place for the exchange of views on how ECVET, along with other transparency instruments and principles (EQF, EQVET, ECTS, Europass and Validation of non-formal and informal learning) can contribute to support citizens develop vocational skills and have them recognized to study or work throughout Europe. To facilitate active participation and open discussions, the forum was divided into three thematic sessions with round tables and workshops supported by facilitators. Each participant was invited to attend two different workshops and the ECVET Market place.
Session 1: Taking stock to move to the future
The session was opened by an introductory roundtable followed by a set of workshops. During the roundtable, the European Commission CEDEFOP and representatives of EU Members states and sectors set the scene, 5 years after the adoption of the recommendation.
The workshops addressed the following questions:
- What are the most tangible results and impact of ECVET?
- What are the main lessons learnt?
- Based on this, what could be the development of ECVET to engage in priority?
Session 2: Preparing the future
This session was open by a keynote speech by Mr. Borhene Chakroun, Head of UNESCO VET. Mr. Chakroun presented the conclusions of a forthcoming UNESCO global study, providing a comprehensive review of the most current developments related to the use of levels and different ways in which learning is recognized, as well as key insights into how learning may be recognised in the future. The keynote speech was followed by a roundtable of people involved in the ECVET machinery and national representatives from the ECVET Users Group. They shared point of views about what is necessary to prepare the future from the current state of things. A Market Place with eight hubs gave the possibility to each participant to choose according to their own needs. The eight hubs were:
ECVET in 45 minuteswas an opportunity for «newcomers» to learn about the principles of ECVET, to be introduced into the technical specifications and to present their doubts and questions.
Erasmous+, organised with the support of the Commission and EACEA, provided potential project promoters and partners with information about the opportunities offered by the ERASMUS+ programme.
National Team of ECVET expertswas a reserved session for coordinators of the national teams of ECVET experts to allow them to network and share experiences.
Projects – Sectors offered participants the opportunity to learn more about results from successful projects related to sectors of economic activity. Disseminating useful tools and methodologies coming from these projects were part of this hub programme.
Networks gave the floor to members of networks, to present their activities and explain benefits and challenges of being member of the network, giving participants the opportunity to join the most suitable networks for their future activities.
ECVET for geographical mobility gave potential project promoters key elements about how ECVET can be used to improve the quality and effectiveness of geographical VET mobility.
Projects (different from the sector projects, hub 4) was a showcase for the results and the products, such as toolkit, portals, web platforms, methodologies from projects (not focusing on specific sectors needs)
ECVET for lifelong learning supported participants in appreciating how ECVET can be applied, beyond geographical mobility, in the perspective of lifelong learning, helping learners to take their skills along across different learning settings, form non-formal experiences to institutional programmes.
Session 3: Engaging with the future
These sessions, as with the previous sessions, was open with a roundtable discussion. Representatives from CEDEFOP, ETF, ANFA (Association Nationale pour la Formation Automobile) and Land of Hessen – Germany highlighted some of the key trends in Europe which relate to ECVET and its implementation.
The workshops were divided into the two parts.
Part 1 – Short term perspectives of ECVET. This part built on the results of Session 1 (taking stock to move to the future) and seeks to identify:
- What more can be done at a system level to promote or encourage the use of ECVET;
- What lessons have been learnt about how the use of ECVET can support learners and other stakeholders;
- So far ECVET has focused on mobility schemes;
How could it be more widely applied in VET, for instance with reference to validation;
Part 2 – Long term perspectives for ECVET. It looked at the emerging trends in VET and identify whether:
- a greater focus on the ECVET principles would help;
- it is timely to highlight the “bigger picture” of credit and units, rather than the more detailed focus on the technical aspects of implementation;
- a stronger case should be made to support VET leaders (particularly in the current economic and financial environment);
- a new strategic approach to the ECVET Recommendation would help and whether this would lead to a different set of short term tactical activities.
Overall the Forum was very interactive and participative. There were very few keynote speeches and more opportunities to express views and raise question. It was made clear that:
- ECVET should be linked to other tools and instruments, NQF/ECTS and EQAVET
- Greater National Political support is needed
- ECVET is instrumental for the validation of non-formal and informal learning
- EU recommendation calls for the implementation of ECVET up to level 7 of EQF.
The documentation of the ECVET forum will be made available at http://www.ecvet-team.eu/event/ecvet-annual-forum.
Dr Stylianos Mavromoustakos