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Cooperation strengthened between business and vocational education and training

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The first European Business Forum on Vocational Training took place on 7 and 8 June in Brussels. It was focused on "challenges and trends in skills and career development of the European workforce". Among 330 stakeholders there were representatives of businesses (such as Air Liquide, Danfoss, Deutsche Bank, Goodyear, Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, Philips, Siemens, Unilever), business associations, sectoral organisations, chambers, research, VET providers and policy makers at European, national and regional level.

The opening of the event was done by Mr. Jan Truszczyńnski, European Commission, Director General for Education and Culture and by Mrs. Christine Antorini, Danish Minister for Education who set the scene of the current situation faced by the European economies which can achieve the goal of smarter, more sustainable and inclusive growth only through a better qualified and adaptable workforce. They stressed the role of companies in development of skills and competences as well as necessity for a greater cooperation between VET providers and employers.

The three key note speeches provided an insight into a company approach to continuing development of skills (Christian Sanchez - Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), research perspective on skills development in the global context (Phillip Brown, Cardiff University), as well as a governmental view on the role of VET in a regional economic development (Patrizio Bianchi, Regional Minister, Emilia-Romagna Region). Parallel workshops were organised and discussed the identification of skills needs by companies, the role of formal learning and of work-based learning in competence development, the role of companies in promoting youth employment and the EU support of vocational education and training. The workshops were a good platform for discussion, better acquaintance and peer learning for the participants.

The closing panels debated challenges and the way ahead for policy making putting emphasis on more permeability between the education sectors, flexible learning provision, entrepreneurship, up-skilling of low skilled people quality assurance aspects. Antonio Silva Mendes, Director of Lifelong Learning: policies and programme, European Commission closed the event highlighting the need to accelerate reform efforts at all levels.

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