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“Technology is here to support us, but we are the ones to create”: International Encounters for Vocational Training, organised by the Basque Country


“Original human skills are mainly connected to emotional competence. There can be artificial intelligence, but never artificial emotions. Technology is there to support us, but we are the ones to create.”

Marc Vidal, expert in digital transformation and strategy, during his speech “Reworking,” at the International Encounters for Vocational Training 2018

Representatives from 47 countries took part in a Vocational Training and Education (VET) congress in San Sebastián to analyse the changes that will come with the development of the Industry 4.0. More than 1000 experts from different fields (including teachers and headmasters) discussed the adaptation to this new industry, including in-demand jobs and new training methodologies.

Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu inaugurated the event at the Kursaal palace centre, together with the Regional Minister of Education, Cristina Uriarte, and the Regional Minister for Economic Development and Infrastructure, Arantxa Tapia. The main goal of this initiative is to discuss and reflect about the development of Industry 4.0, taking into account the various points of view and realities featured at the Kursaal palace.

This revolution is becoming a reality, and it will create jobs tied with new skillsets; therefore the need to work in developing those skills and capacities. VET must carry out a deep transformation to meet these new requirements, and the Basque Country’s region Education Department, through the Deputy Ministry for Vocational Training, has been working for a long time to adapt as quickly as possible to this new reality. To this end, collaboration with the Economic Development and Infrastructures Department has been essential.

The conference and Tknika visit

The programme included ten presentations by experts from Europe, the United States, Asia and Latin America. Jorge Arévalo, Regional Deputy Minister for Vocational Training, broke the ice with his inspiring speech “When the Unlikely Occurs.” He highlighted the changes through which VET is going in the Basque Country and the excellent work that is being carried out by the teachers and heads of VET centres in the region, in close collaboration with the industry, namely SMEs. The event also hosted a presentation by Dana-Carmen Bachmann, Head of the VET, Apprenticeships and Adult Learning Unit at the European Commission, who offered her vision about a common path for the future of VET in Europe, and outlined the main action lines that are being considered by the Commission for the upcoming years.

On Friday, Annette Parker, ex-advisor of Obama’s government for advanced manufacturing partnerships, explained the US colleges’ strategy for industry 4.0, and Shymal Majumdar, Head of UNESCO-UNEVOC, closed the event with a speech about the relationship between industry 4.0 and sustainable development. 

During the encounters, participants also had the chance to visit Tknika’s facilities, a research and innovation centre promoted by the Deputy Ministry of Vocational Education and Training of the Education Department of the Basque Government. During the visit, Tknika presented its last progress in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, self-driving vehicles, as well as the classrooms of the future for Basque VET. Also, during the event, an EARLALL meeting took place, during which the Interim Activity Report 2018 was presented.

For more information, click here  (press release in Spanish and Basque).