The first best practice exchange workshop under the #S4Stride project’s umbrella (Stride for stride for skills adaptation/anticipation in European regions) was held online on 17 June 2021. #S4stride is coordinated by Brittany Region and co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union. The goal of the event, hosted by Tuscany Region and IRPET, was to identify innovative actions and programmes in the field of skills anticipation and forecasting as a first step into the skills intelligence process. The session was divided in two parts, first featuring the Italian experience, and then gathering regional best practices from six European regions.
Project partners were welcomed by Olivier Gaudin, Director of Employment and Training at Brittany Region, and the workshop was moderated by Miriana Bucalossi, Head of Apprenticeship Policies and EU Project Management Unit at the Tuscany Region. An overview of the Italian labour market and skills matching technologies was offered by Roberto Trainito, Director at PwC Italy, providing Technical Assistance for Inapp, National Institute for Public Policies Analysis. He introduced the Atlas of Work and Qualifications, its legislative framework within the Italian lifelong learning policies, case schemes and stakeholder engagement in it. Then, Giampaolo Montaletti, from PoliS-Lombardia, research centre of Lombardy Regional Government, provided an overview of this institution’s DATALab, a joint effort to exploit data science, machine learning and AI tools to support change in regional policy monitoring and planning, as well as in public service provision.
Then, a tour through regional experiences featured how regional and local administrations work towards efficient and effective skills anticipation systems. Kate Clarke, Senior Advisor at Vestland County Council, introduced how inter-sectoral worker mobility is analysed in the region, the link between skills intelligence and smart specialization, and how these challenges are tackled by the region through inter-regional cooperation. In this sense, she introduced the RIGHT Interreg project (Right Skills for the Right Future) and the region’s expectations from #S4Stride. Her presentation was complemented by the local perspective from Jostein Eirtheim, CEO at Hardanger Council, who zoomed into the regional and local stakeholders to be involved in #S4stride.
Inge Gorostiaga, Head of Unit at the Basque Vice-Ministry for VET, and Juan Carlos Molinero, Technological Innovation and Intelligence Systems Director at TKNIKA (Basque VET Applied Research Centre), introduced the Basque VET Innovation System. The regional strategy is anchored in the European Commission’s recommendations and regional legal instruments have been developed, such as the Basque VET Law (2018) and the V Basque VET Plan. Skills innovation in the region is managed through network hubs, strongly connected with VET centres and aligned with the region’s smart specialization strategy (RIS3).
The partnership approach for prospective analysis of employment skills in Brittany Region was introduced by Isabelle Cupit, Project Manager, and Rachel Montier, responsible person for economic intelligence at the “Cellule économique de Bretagne,” a sectoral observatory in Brittany. This strategy is supported by the regional employment and training observatory and aims at creating synergies through a skills approach between the action of the regional council, the National Education and Labour Administrations in Brittany, employer associations and trade unions.
Then, the Catalan experience was presented by Irma Núñez, Project Manager at Catalonia’s Department of Education, and Amador González, teacher at Manolo Hugué VET Centre. The Catalan VET system develops innovation through its networks, among which the most relevant ones for skills anticipation are FPdual, empresaFP, innovaFP and futuraFP. Furthermore, a learning agreements and work placement statistics are key data provided to the region through its integrated database (Banc Integrat de Dades), the council of chambers of commerce, and the work observatory (Observatori del Treball). A key example of cooperation is the common project between Manolo Hugué VET centre and the company Simon.
The Tuscan strategy is led by IRPET, the regional institute for economic planning. Silvia Duranti, researcher dealing with educational training and social policies, offered a vision of the use of data to plan the training offer of regional VET courses (IeFP) in the region. She introduced the different analysis tools available in the regions and how the path is traced from qualifications to occupations.
Lastly, Nicolina Vlahek, from the Vocational High School Varaždin, and Petra Martak, from Varaždin County, presented the methods and tools used in detecting labour market needs in Varaždin. Skills forecasting is generally developed and carried out by local and state agencies, governance and sector councils in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Schools. A key example of this system is Lepeza VŽ, a local employment partnership co-financed by the European Social Fund.
More information about the workshop and useful documents available at the workshop’s webpage.
The BRIDGE+ conference “Skills for the future: regional initiatives now!” gathered more than 50 experts from the European level and from European regions, as well as essential stakeholders in the field of lifelong guidance such as companies, guidance institutions, and educational actors. The online event took place on 9 June 2021 and was hosted by EARLALL and the BRIDGE+ consortium.
Moderated by Dr. Michaela Marterer (STVG), who highlighted the ever-growing importance of guidance in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and a constantly changing labour market, the event welcomed during its first part keynote speakers from the European Commission, Baden-Württemberg’s Regional Ministry of Education, and the company AVL. Koen Nomden (Team Leader for Transparency and Recognition of Skills and Qualifications at the European Commission, DG EMPL) introduced the current needs and future developments of EU skills policies and lifelong guidance. He remarked that “we cannot underestimate the importance of career guidance in the rapidly changing labour market that we are in” and that career guidance will be “critical to smooth transitions.”
His presentation was followed by Anita Halasz (Economic Analyst at the European Commission, DG EMPL), who provided a deeper insight into the EASE Recommendation, a tool to provide long-term effective active support to employment in the context of the COVID-19 crisis recovery. One of the three priorities reflected by this document refers to upskilling and reskilling opportunities and support measures, which puts (adult) education at the centre of labour market recovery.
Then, the regional perspective was provided by Christiane Spies (Centre for School Quality and Teacher Training, Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Culture, Education and Sport). Main trends in skills development in Baden-Württemberg are activities related to digitalization and artificial intelligence, close links to companies and public employers, and basic skills provision and upskilling for people with lower qualification backgrounds. Her inspiring words were complemented by the perspective of the companies, provided by Dr. Markus Tomaschitz (Vice President of Human Resources at AVL, Austria). He underlined that working and learning is a combination whose internal delimitation cannot be distinguished anymore, and companies’ skills management strategies need to reflect this.
The keynote introductions provided a rich context to the BRIDGE+ activities, which were presented by the project coordinator Andrea Bernert-Bürkle (vhs Baden-Württemberg). BRIDGE+ is a forward-looking initiative that has future skills and regional strategies at its core. The project has developed a set of results that include a training concept for guidance counsellors with a digital component, skills analysis tools for companies, and strategies for regional skills development. All these results were discussed by a panel of experts from some of the project partners: Dr. Tobias Diemer (Director, Volkshochschulverband Baden-Württemberg e.V.), Dr. Peter Härtel (Content & Development, Steirische Volkswirtschaftliche Gesellschaft), Bittor Arias (International Project Manager, TKNIKA, Basque VET Applied Research Centre), Johan Nordberg (Validation and Certification CNC Technology, SKTC), Kees Schuur (Board member, Foundation European Center for Valuation of Prior Learning) and Magnus O. Andersson (Director, Lärcentrum Östersund).
The final touch was provided by Jasmina Poličnik (coordinator of PSEU, Slovenian Ministry for Education, Science and Sport), who introduced the main priorities of the upcoming Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, among which adult education and learning (ALE) and the revision of the European Adult Education Agenda will play a key role. She welcomed the insights and perspectives provided by the BRIDGE+ project and encouraged the partnership to further engage in European policies and activities.
On 3 and 4 June 2021, a two-day high-level conference on the role of Regions and Cities in delivering high quality apprenticeships for all was held online. This event was organised by the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA, European Commission) and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in close cooperation with EARLALL, the Basque Government and the German delegation at the CoR.
The Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, opened the first day of the conference highlighting the importance of Vocational Education and Training (VET) to help young people integrate in the labour market and find quality jobs. His speech was followed by Anne Karjalainen, Chair of the SECEC Commission (Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture) at the CoR, who underlined that “reskilling and upskilling has become an urgent need in the context of the green and digital transition.”
The first session of the day was introduced by Jorge Arévalo, Basque Regional Vice-Minister for VET. He referred to the quick changes that technological transformation is bringing and how it will alter our relation to the planet. Then, a panel discussion was held on delivering high quality apprenticeships for all in such a context. Panelists discussed on the importance of helping regional and local authorities to increase the attractiveness of apprenticeships in order to build more inclusive labour markets. In this sense, Cristina Grieco, Special Advisor for Relations with Regions at the National Italian Ministry of Education specified that “apprenticeships can also be a good tool for inclusion: because of the pandemic, some workers have left the job market and need to reinter it with improved abilities and skills.”
The panel discussion was followed by two parallel thematic sessions on empowering adults through upskilling and reskilling and promoting the international dimension. They counted on the participation of CoR Members and the European Training Foundation, OECD and Cedefop, as well as regional actors from Bremen and Flanders (the latter was represented by Ben Bruyndonckx, Coordinator International Mobility Projects in VET, Connectief).
The second day of the conference started with some insights into the Implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Chiara Rondino, from the European Commission’s DG EMPL, reflected on the future of the labour market: “if we look at job forecasts, we can expect one million new jobs by 2030 created in the context of the green transition and two million by 2050 in the European Union.”
Her inspiring speech was followed by two parallel thematic sessions: the first one focused on mobilising local and regional actors with distinguished speakers coming from several European regions. Georgette Bréard, Vice-President in charge of training, learning and guidance in the Brittany Region pointed out that “digitalisaton needs to be introduced in a responsible way, taking into account the its environmental and social impact”. She was followed by Anders Carlberg, Head of the Research, Development and Education Department from Region Västra Götaland, and Rasmus Flick, from the same region’s Chamber of Commerce. They explained how apprenticeships could help industries from the territory to finds skilled workers. Then, Rikardo Lamadrid Intxaurraga, Director General for advanced New Technologies and Advanced Learning at the Ministry of Education of the Basque Government described the Basque VET system with Iñigo Araiztegui Arraiz, Director of Internationalisation at TKNIKA (Basque VET Applied Research Centre), who also presented the EXAM 4.0 (Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing) project.
At the same time, the second parallel thematic session was moderated by Noelia Cantero, EARLALL Director. The session focused on encouraging cross-border cooperation. Petra Jendrich, Head of department of Vocational Schools and Securing the Supply of Skilled Workers at the Rhineland-Palatinate’s Regional Ministry of Education, highlighted that 18 vocational schools had reached the“European school” label in Rhineland Palatinate in 2020. She was followed by Ilaria Mascitti, public officer and project manager of the DUALPLUS project, and Francesco Pisanu, Head of “Evaluation of educational policies Office” and scientific reference of the DUALPLUS project, both coming from the Autonomous Province of Trento. Their project aims at increasing the attractiveness of dual education in the Alpine area.
Thematic discussion on promoting the international dimension
Rasmus Flick (left) and Anders Carlberg (right)
The last session of the two-day high-level conference, moderated by Norbert Schöbel, from the European Commission’s DG EMPL was entitled “One year after the Covid-19 outbreak: Good practices that will remain”. The session was composed of speakers coming from Cedefop, the OECD, the City of Rome and the Policy Learning Platform. Closing remarks followed, acknowledging the latest developments of EAfA and the relevance of its upcoming activities, and the event was officially closed by Thomas Wobben, Director for Legislative Works at the European Committee of the Regions, who thanked all event co-organising partners, including EARLALL, for a good cooperation.
On 28 April 2021, EARLALL organised a training course on the new Erasmus+ programme for its member regions’ staff dealing with vocational education and training (VET) and adult learning and education (ALE) both at administration and teaching levels. Around 50 participants coming from the Basque Country, Baden-Württemberg, Catalonia, Tuscany, Asturias, Rhineland-Palatinate, Trento, Västra Götaland, Vidin, and Borås, took part in the event.
With the title “Erasmus+ What is in it for you?,” the course was led by four different speakers with complementary expertise: Suzanne Jenner (Swedish Erasmus+ National Agency), Noelia Cantero (Director of EARLALL), Andrea Bernert-Bürkle (Head of EU Project Unit, vhs Baden-Württemberg), Camilla Winter (International Project Coordinator, Borås City Council – Adult Education) and Maria Pascual (Project Manager, Department of Education, Government of Catalonia).
Ms. Cantero introduced the session followed by a presentation from Ms. Jenner, who showed the different possibilities available within the new Erasmus+ programme 2021-2027. She was followed by Ms. Winter and Ms. Pascual, who presented the steps that need to be taken before writing a project proposal. Then, participants were split into breakout rooms where they had the opportunity to interact with each other and with the workshop speakers. The topics raised during this exchange were the challenges faced by the organisations, the interest of working at European level and the different priorities within the Erasmus+ programme. After insightful discussions with the participants, Ms. Cantero and Ms. Bürkle introduced them into the process of writing a successful project proposal. The morning finished with the examples of successful projects and quick tips from each of the speakers.
The EXAM 4.0 partnership has published a set of publications dealing with the “Learning Dialogues” and “EXAM 4.0 labs” project strands. The documents have been jointly produced by project partners and tackle key aspects of Industry 4.0, advanced manufacturing, skills and stakeholder engagement. They will provide the basis for the other project strands (EXAM 4.0 hub and VET 4.0 for advanced manufacturing), aimed at developing and implementing vocational excellence ecosystems in the advanced manufacturing sector.
A revision of the state of art regarding the Advanced Manufacturing (AM) sector and its links with the Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Higher Vocational Education and Training (HVET) systems in Europe has been carried out. Key research outputs are reports on this revision and insights into the key trends within the AM sector. Furthermore, methodologies for skills anticipation and analysis are provided, along with a list of promising practices and a declaration on the importance of cooperation to achieve a successful skills intelligence ecosystem.
On another note, a description is proposed for the HVET/VET centre 4.0 as a key element to provide the skills required by the AM industry. A model for describing institutions in a humble and time-efficient way has been developed to make it possible to compare and discuss institutional approaches. Moreover, a framework is offered to describe existing and future labs on which the HVET/VET centre 4.0 proposal is based.
All documents are now freely accessible in the project website (http://www.examhub.eu). Project partners will continue their work in the coming months to develop a cooperation platform model and facilitate the implementation of innovative LABs that foster learning and skills development.
On 13 April 2021, Cedefop (European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training) held an online high-level conference on Labour Market and Skills Intelligence (LMSI). Cedefop has been working on skills trends in the labour market and organised this conference to discuss about skills intelligence and further develop its research and tools in the field for the coming years. This event provided insights about how the future LMSI can contribute to understand current challenges and prepare the post-COVID-19 recovery to be more digital and greener. This conference was chaired by Antonio Ranieri (Head of Department for Learning and Employability, Cedefop) and featured presentations from Cedefop’s experts working at the organisation’s departments for Skills and Labour Market. Furthermore, two important tools were introduced during the event: the Insights from Cedefop’s European Skills Forecast, and the OVATE tool for online vacancy analysis.
The conference was introduced by Jürgen Siebel (Cedefop Executive Director) with these inspiring words: “We, Cedefop, want to get the future right, we want to shape a new generation of skills intelligence with you and for you.” It was also introduced by Commissioner Nicolas Schmit (European Commissioner for Jobs and Social rights) who highlighted the fact that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has widened the skills gap in Europe, not only in the health sector but in every other sector as well. That is why active labour market policies must play a central role for the recovery. Following this introduction, Marju Lauristin (Professor at the University of Tartu) made a keynote speech related to digital skills in Estonia: “The future is not tomorrow, the future is today.” She highlighted the fact that the pandemic revealed a lack of digital skills for teleworkers and warned about the need to find a way to implement such skills by including other aspects – combining for example digital and communication competences.
The second part of the conference was moderated by Jasper Van Loo (Coordinator of the Department for Skills and Labour Market, Cedefop) and was shaped as a round table. Cedefop experts reflected on LMSI’s development opportunities of. They also discussed how to use different skills anticipation methods as a basic component to build a new generation of labour market and skills intelligence. According to the panellists, skills intelligence should focus on green skills as a priority. A greener Europe will provide with new types of “green jobs” even though it is hard to foresee the kind of skills that will be needed for the green transition. In this context, a massive upskilling and reskilling effort will be needed.
The last part of the conference, moderated by Maria Brugia (Deputy Director at Cedefop) reflected on how to shape the conditions for developing, promoting and disseminating a people‑centred LMSI, and discussed the role of different actors in this process. The third panel was composed of Manuela Geleng (Skills Unit Director, DG EMPL, European Commission), Maria Jespen (Deputy director of Eurofound), Agnes Roman (ETUCE), Robert Plummer (Business Europe) and Albrecht Wirthmann (Eurostat). All panellists insisted on the importance of developing strong partnerships to develop an effective LMSI that helps companies and people to manage and shape the transition. Maria Brugia stated that “skills intelligence development on a large scale will not be a one-off response to the current situation; it is here to stay. It will help us understand trends, skills needs and gaps, but also point the way to suitable training and learning solutions.”
YESpecialists project partners met online for their second official transnational meeting, hosted by the Principality of Asturias, on 7 and 8 April 2021. During these two days, partner representatives embarked on a digital trip to Asturias that allowed them to familiarise themselves with best practices in the region for boosting entrepreneurial spirit among young people. Best practices were introduced by representatives of the Tourism Office, Valnalón, and two VET schools (IES Luces and IES Pando) in the region of Asturias. Furthermore, the case study of Varaždin’s European Talent Centre was presented by a representative from the county, followed by internal project discussions on its work-in-progress outputs and further steps.
On the first day, Delfina García, from Asturias’ Tourism Office took the partners on a digital journey through Asturias, presenting its landscapes and local traditions. Then, best practices were introduced by Iván Diego Rodríguez, from Valnalón (Ciudad Industrial del Valle del Nalón), who presented of the incuVET’s project (2014-2016), aimed at supporting and promoting an innovative role for VET schools as local or regional hubs for entrepreneurship. Mr. Rodríguez also presented the TRACKTION program, which focuses on improving the tracking of VET graduate at institutional level. The goal of this initiative is to record information on graduates, regarding their learning progress and employment pathways.
This second transnational meeting also showcased interesting initiatives by two VET schools (IES Luces and IES Pando), aimed at developing new skills; incorporating new technologies; encouraging creativity, talent and entrepreneurship; and setting up relationships between schools and companies. In particular, the interesting case study of spirulina algae cultivation was introduced by M. Soledad Martínez (IES Luces) in the context of its agriculture innovation projects.
Furthermore, in a more project-specific context, the case study of Varaždin’s European Talent Centre was presented by Robert Kelemen from Varaždin County, followed by internal project discussions on its work-in-progress outputs and further steps. Finally, Eva María Gómez Castaño, the YESpecialists logo designer and young creator from IES Pando selected among a competition held between students in project partners’ regions and VET centres, explained its meaning and narratives.
The next transnational meeting is expected to take place in Ringkøbing-Skjern in the summer-autumn 2021.
The DAMAS (Digital Apprentices Mobility in the Automotive Sector) project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ program (KA2) was launched through an online kick-off meeting on 29 and 30 March 2021. The meeting was hosted by Vuxenutbildningen Borås (Adult education Borås), project coordinator. This innovative project will have a duration of two years, and will be developed by 6 partners from 5 countries: Adult education Borås (Sweden), Training 2000 (Italy), EARLALL (Belgium), GO! Education of the Flemish Community (Belgium), Education Department of the Government of Catalonia (Spain) and Bildung und Berufliche Qualifizierung (BBQ, Germany).
The aim of the DAMAS project is to test virtual training and mobility in the automotive sector. The project will support the development and use of digital applications for Vocational Education and Training (VET) teachers, boost the digital facilitation of learning processes and integrate supportive, innovative technologies along with digital applications including gamification and virtual reality. In this purpose, a digital platform that motivates different types of stakeholders in VET will be built.
The industry is currently under extreme pressure to innovate especially regarding e-mobility. One of the most pressing problems that VET is facing in this sense, also taking into account the COVID-19 context, relates to apprenticeships and Work-based Learning (WBL), especially abroad. A commonly asked question by VET providers at the moment is if future mobility will be physical, virtual or blended. Partners opted for the automotive sector as a pilot branch because it is an important industry in most of their regions, particularly in Baden-Württemberg and Catalonia.
The Further Education Act Rhineland-Palatinate came into force 25 years ago. Since then it has formed the basis for a wide range of future-oriented education opportunities in Rhineland-Palatinate. The Ministry of Further Education and the State Advisory Board for Further Education celebrated this anniversary with an online conference in January 2021. Speakers were Minister for Science, Further Education and Culture Rhineland-Palatinate, Professor Dr. Konrad Wolf; Professor Dr. Henning Pätzold, University of Koblenz-Landau and Harry Hellfors, chair of the State Advisory Board for Further Education and managing director of LAG anders lernen e.V., a State approved organisation in Rhineland-Palatinate.
The online discussion with stakeholders from all over Rhineland-Palatinate focused on important future topics, such as the development of new educational approaches for literacy and basic education or for programmes that lead to school completion certification. Discussions also tackled how to address and attract new target groups or how digital participation in further education and training needs to be designed in order to reach as many people as possible. More than 100 participants, stakeholders and others interested in further education took part in the event.
In his welcoming address and the subsequent discussion, the Minister for Science, Further Education and Culture of Rhineland-Palatinate, Konrad Wolf, emphasized: “The Further Education Act enabled us to strengthen equal access to education and to offer everyone a pathway to education”. He stressed that the further education landscape in Rhineland-Palatinate will be continuously developed building on the foundation of the existing legal basis and in a co-creation process including all partners.
The keynote speaker of the event, Professor Dr. Henning Pätzold, explored which social developments prompted the Continuing Education Act 25 years ago and which entered into it. He also elaborated on the newly arising challenges and their consequences for the further education system in Rhineland-Palatinate: “The Continuing Education Act proves itself for 25 years and gives also room for innovations in the future. In this way, it creates the basis for stable structures in further education and transparent funding conditions. However, the law also allows for new topics, such as the area of digital skills in literacy work.”
Harry Hellfors, chair of the State Advisory Board for Further Education and managing director of LAG anders lernen e.V., commented on the role of the Further Education Act in implementing the human right to education and stressed the role of further education providers. Furthermore, he highlighted the advantages that follow from the adaptation to new technologies in the area of further education.
“The future of further education lies in the successful linkage of digital possibilities with face-to-face teaching and learning. We must not juxtapose the two forms of learning but have to combine the advantages of regional integration and personal contact with the advantages of digitization. Hybrid formats in particular open new possibilities for risk groups, people who suffer from illnesses, people with disabilities or other groups who have difficulties taking part in face-to-face courses” concluded Minister for Science, Further Education and Culture, Konrad Wolf. “Here we have the chance to create more fairness in education,” he said.
Delegation of Rhineland Palatinate to the European Union
Picture originally published by Rhineland Palatinate
The KEYMOB project, funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union (KA2), has delivered four reports dealing with different aspects of mobility in VET and the skills acquired by students through it. The is ending in March 2021 after two and a half years of intensive work by 8 partners from 5 countries under the leadership of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce. Its main goal has been to develop curricula for the acquisition of transversal competences, based on a dual learning approach and mobility across countries in order to assure that respective competences are actually acquired.
An analysis of the transversal skills that can be acquired when in mobility is provided by the “Transversal Competences in Mobility Situations” report (part 1). It provides KEYMOB’s own modelling proposal for the development of such competences, along with examples from a regional and territorial governance perspective. Then, a “Curriculum of Transversal Competences in the Context of Transnational Mobility” (part 2) offers a methodological framework that provides insights about how to design learning and assessment activities and tools that will support the recognition and validation of the transversal skills acquired in mobility periods.
In order to facilitate its implementation, a “Guidebook for the development of transversal skills in transnational mobility actions” (part 3) provides a guide for teachers of training centres and company tutors on how to apply quality criteria for the development of transversal skills for the apprenticeships during their stay of transnational mobility. Lastly, complementing the rest of reports, the research study “Analysis of Transnational Mobility of Apprenticeships” at regional and local level (part 4) has been produced. The study results “confirm that mobility placement for Vocational and Educational Training students helps to develop the professional competencies of participants, both transversal and technical and, therefore, contributes to improving employability levels.”
The four reports can be downloaded from EARLALL’s website: www.earlall.eu/project/keymob.
On 5 March 2021, EARLALL Secretariat and representatives from its Member Regions, associate members and regions that are considering membership (Basque Country, Brittany, Catalonia, Trento, Baden-Württemberg, Asturias, Varaždin, Västra Götaland , Vestland, Borås , GO!, Movetia, Occitanie, Pays de la Loire and Centre val de Loire) met online with several experts of the European Commission (DG EMPL, DG GROW) to discuss about regions’ involvement in the Pact for Skills.
The Pact for Skills, recently launched in November 2020 is a central element of the European Skills Agenda. The goal of the Pact is to bring together industries, employers, social partners, public authorities, employment agencies and education and training providers. By bringing these parties together, it aims at leveraging the impact of investing in upskilling and reskilling for all people in working age across the European Union.
Both private and public organisations, including regional or local partnerships and industrial ecosystems or cross-sectoral partnerships, can join the Pact for Skills. All the stakeholders who want to take part in it need to sign the Charter and its principles:
EARLALL Member Regions showed high interest in taking part in the Pact for skills during the meeting, as many of their projects are directly linked to the reskilling and upskilling of workers. Moreover, regional authorities, given their proximity to the territories, are best placed to involve local stakeholders to take part in the Pact.
The meeting was chaired by Adrienn Csanyi (European Commission, DG EMPL, Unit E2 Skills and Qualifications), responsible for the Pact, and opened by Rikardo Lamadrid (EARLALL Presidency and Director General for New Technologies and Advanced Learning at the Basque Vice-Ministry of VET). Ms. Csanyi and Anna Nikowska (European Commission, DG EMPL) presented the Pact for skills and the possible involvement of regions in it. Indeed, the experts insisted on the need of a joint European action to build a strong partnership in reskilling and upskilling so that employers that are struggling to invest are able to find workers with the required skills.
According to the Commission, 70% of companies report that the lack of skills hampers their investment. Ms. Csanyi and Ms. Nikowska highlighted the fact that the Pact encourages joint proposals by regions and cities for recovery strategies regarding upskilling and reskilling in the value chains of key ecosystems. The Pact for Skills provides to the signatories a Networking Hub to support the technical help, along with a Knowledge Hub to share best practices and a Guidance & Resources Hub to identify financial possibilities. The Pact of Skills is structured around the 14 industrial ecosystems identified by the European Commission (DG GROW), being the Automotive one the best developed example of cooperation at regional level and of the setting up of regional hubs.
Jakub Stolfa (Programme manager and Assistant professor at VSB – Technical University of Ostrava, and Partner and Consultant at SCOVECO) and Marta Conti (Advisor, Trade and Parliamentary affairs at European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturer’s Association) presented the work that they are carrying out under the Automotive Skills Alliance (ASA). The ASA implementation is running since January 2021 with more than 65 stakeholders from all over Europe with a key focus on regional and cross-regional cooperation. The goal of this initiative is to build a responsive workforce through the upskilling and reskilling of employees within the automotive sector. ASA has put a solid emphasis on better targeted training offers, linked to the specific needs identified at regional level.
Ovidu Ene (European Commission, DG GROW) presented another of the industrial ecosystems within the Pact: the Skills Partnership in Tourism. This ecosystem represents a sector dramatically touched by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which clear support strategies and input from different stakeholders is requested. The area of investments concerning the Skills Partnership in Tourism concerns: soft skills (cross-cultural communication, languages, customer handling), digitalisation (digital awareness, e-marketing and social media), business planning (entrepreneurial and business management, crisis management) and sustainability (environmental management skills, sustainable forms of tourism that considers well-being of local communities). The European Commission welcomes the participation of local and regional authorities in this partnership to boost the dialogue and mobilise the main stakeholders in the sector.
Our dialogue with the European Commission on the Pact for Skills will continue as increasing the participation of regional and local authorities in the Pact is key to achieve a sustainable and inclusive recovery in Europe.
The VET’s CLIL partnership (Erasmus+ KA2) introduced their achievements within this innovative project aimed at introducing the CLIL methodology in VET at an online conference held on 3 March 2021. The event was jointly hosted by Provinciaal Onderwijs Vlaanderen (POV), project coordinator, and EARLALL. It consisted of an expert conference on the benefits of content and language integrated learning (CLIL) and Vocational Education and Training (VET), followed by a practical workshop. A very engaged audience took actively part in it, and both expert presentations and on-hands training were provided.
The conference was welcomed by Griet Mathieu, Director at POV: “What brought [the project partnership] together was our interest in Vocational Education and Training (VET) pupils and our commitment to provide them with the best possible future prospects.” Her opening words were followed by a lively introduction to the CLIL methodology by Amanda van Dijk-van ‘t Noorende, CLIL teacher trainer and researcher at the NHL Stenden University College. “A young child learns a word by seeing, smelling, hearing and experiencing what the word means […] Language is all about the meaning that is given to it,” explained Ms. van Dijk-van ‘t Noorende. “CLIL education is not just about learning a second language: it not only activates languages but it also activates ideas, and it does so by engaging students with content they already know and linking into new knowledge while improving skills both conciously and inconciously,” she continued.
Amanda van Dijk-van t’ Noorende
From an institutional perspective, Oana Felecan, Policy Officer at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), presented key initiatives by the European Union to foster language learning. The goal set by the Commission is for young people to be able to fully use the language of schooling, fully use another European language and confidently use a third language at the end of upper secondary school. In order to achieve it, the new Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027) will offer opportunities to educational institutions to implement their own projects. Furthermore, recent publications by the Commission compile best practices in language learning and Erasmus+, such as the Compendium of 2019 European Language Label Projects and the Building language competences for Europe leaflet.
Last but not least, Maria Pascual, Head of Unit at Catalonia’s Department of Education, introduced the achievements made by the VET’s CLIL project, which has produced a MOOC for VET teachers, a European forum and a European platform. Her presentation was followed by a video with examples of best practices in implementing the project at partner organisations, as well as experiences from both teachers and students in the Basque Country, Catalonia, Seinäjoki and Flanders.
After the conference, a practical workshop was hosted by Kitty van Haperen (teacher at Da Vinci College in Dordrecht) and Kaat van Hoecke (CLIL teacher trainer at POV). They introduced they main features and opportunities offered by the VET’s CLIL MOOC, and solved questions from the audience regarding the CLIL methodology, the course and its applications.