Vocational Education and Training to develop skills, know-how and competences for social inclusion

Vocational education and training (VET) is a valuable and practical form of education that can play a key role in providing and increasing skills, know-how and competences to those who are experiencing difficulties when it comes to actively participating in society. In many places, development and reforms of national VET structures have been long awaited.

The SOLIDAR Foundation works closely with its members on promoting VET in the European Union and calls on the Member States to reform VET systems in a sustainable way in order to support learners in the long run instead of finding short-term solutions to the needs of the labour market and economic development.

In the recently published Background paper on Vocational Education and Training, we recommend that Member States should:

  • ensure equal access to training and apprenticeships;
  • increase permeability between education systems, higher education and the labour market;
  • and promote a personal development approach.

We urgently call for VET providers to permanently and sufficiently adapt and update their quality VET offer thus increasing outreach of VET to people coping with social inclusion. Better social participation consequently facilitates integration into the labour market.

Additionally, in our Education and Lifelong Learning Watch (LLL Watch) initiative, we monitor the development and commitment of 13 national governments towards learning societies. The Watch focuses among others on the main features of the vocational education system in place and the biggest challenges facing VET, work-based learning and apprenticeships. Out of these 13 case studies, Bulgaria’s, Greece’s and the UK’s efforts are noteworthy. Most of these countries have a rather poor or average performance in the other education benchmarks included in this report but have made substantial legal reforms to restructure their VET systems. Greece and the UK were able to increase participation rates in VET. Bulgaria has achieved a participation rate that is above the EU average.

In the light of the economic crisis and rising unemployment, which hits young people hardest, European countries increasingly believe that VET and the validation of acquired skills, know-how and competences would be a solution for those young people on the verge of social exclusion. Next week the SOLIDAR Foundation is organising the final conference of the World of Work for youth project (WOW project) on 22 March 2016. In the course of this project young NEETs, youth workers and volunteers became empowered through peer-to-peer learning to engage in social and democratic processes in their local communities to better advocate for youth rights and access to quality employment opportunities.

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