Education International
Education International

VET vital in times of crisis, say European education unionists

published 16 March 2012 updated 21 March 2012

EI European region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) organised, in cooperation with the European Trade Union Institute, a Seminar on Inclusive Vocational Education and Training (VET) during the Economic Crisis, held in Sesimbra, Portugal, from 8-10 March. This event aimed at providing education unions with information on how to maintain and improve quality in VET.

The 30 participants, VET teachers, education unionists responsible for the VET sector, international secretaries and Presidents of trade unions, represented 13 European Union (EU) and six non-EU countries.

Education unions' crucial role

Loukas Zahilas, key speaker from the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), gave a comprehensive overview about how CEDEFOP policies can contribute to counter the crisis, and about the social partners' role in implementing the EU quality assurance tools in VET. He highlighted that education unions have a great role to play in modernising VET, for instance as part of a tripartite representation in the CEDEFOP Governing Board.

He also highlighted the European tools and principles intended to bring together the education systems, the labour market and individuals, focusing on learning outcomes. All VET teachers and trainers should be involved to use these tools in order to improve quality in VET.

Campaign against the crisis

ETUCE Director Martin Rømer then gave a presentation about the recent economic, financial and social crises. He emphasised that EU governments have not shown solidarity towards each other to save Europe and the Euro.

The ETUCE campaign against the crisis, he noted, goes beyond demonstrations and strikes: it is based on raising awareness among the public. Social partners must be involved in creating effective educational initiatives, to tackle inequality, social tension, and xenophobia. Educators can make a difference by discussing these issues with students.

Draft ETUCE VET policy paper

ETUCE Coordinator Agnes Roman also presented a summary of the draft ETUCE VET policy paper, highlighting its main elements and recommendations, to be submitted for adoption to the ETUCE conference in November. The draft paper is a result of the ETUCE VET working group's active work during the year. The presentation was the basis for further discussion within three working groups on possible changes in the policy paper, and on the first steps to be taken by education unions to implement this document.

Rømer closed the seminar by underlining that "focusing on equality is more important in times of economic crisis, as the crisis contributes to social inequality. Education and improving VET education by teachers' trade unions can make a change!"

To read the full report, please click here

To learn more about the ETUCE campaign against the crisis, go here