What is it?
Sector Skills Alliances are an initiative designed to promote European cooperation within a specific sector of the economy.
Building on the lessons learned from the Leonardo da Vinci programme, SSAs develop vocational skills from the perspective of labour market needs, ensuring cooperation between education and employment.
Why is it needed?
The European Union is currently facing an increasing mismatch between the supply and demand of skills.
Compounded by the current economic crisis, this mismatch contributes to increasing levels of unemployment in Europe and, as such, represents a priority area of action.
The SSAs therefore aim to close this gap, ensuring that vocational education and training is better equipped to respond to labour market demands, and that more individuals are able to acquire marketable skills.
What is being done?
The Bruges Communiqué called for a reform of vocational education and training to ensure better alignment with market needs, which the SSAs continue to do.
These aims are, initially, being supported by initiatives such as public consultations, tools and systems to support the transparency and recognition of qualifications, such as the European Quality Assurance Framework and the European Credit System for VET, and through the Erasmus+ programme.
What has been done so far?
Building on the experience of Leonardo da Vinci sector based projects, in 2012 the Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) launched a call for proposals for pilot projects to form SSAs in expectation of the launch of Erasmus+.
The SSAs were designed to promote cooperation between three core groups of stakeholders; VET providers and researchers, sector stakeholders (i.e. VET beneficiaries), and VET authorities and decision-making bodies.
Of the 75 applications received, 4 project proposals were selected, covering the following sectors:
The projects are scheduled to end in 2014.
In April 2014 a conference on the pilot projects(359 kB) provided project leaders with an opportunity to receive a wide-ranging feedback on their projects, to raise the profile of the future Sector Skills Alliances in the new Erasmus+ programme, to draw conclusions for European sector skills policies and for European stakeholders to develop a sense of ownership for the Alliances and their results.
What are the next steps?
The aims and goals of the various communiqués and strategic frameworks will continue to be pursued by DG EAC, notably through the VET activities of the Erasmus+ programme.
These will continue to be supported by evidence-based policy development, VET-oriented initiatives, public consultations, and the expert groups.