Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 28/11/2022

Building global partnerships at the first Forum on Vocational Excellence

The 2022 Forum on Vocational Excellence has taken place on 15 and 16 November 2022 in San Sebastian (Spain). This first international meeting of partners involved in initiatives on Vocational excellence included panel discussions and parallel sessions on some of the most pressing issues going from smart specialisation to social inclusion.

Forum group picture

The Forum counted 735 registered participants from 88 countries, with 285 physically present in San Sebastian, and 450 following the event online. 

The event took place in San Sebastian (Spain), and was co-organised by the Basque government, the European Commission, and representatives of the Community of Practice (CoP) on Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE), with the support of the European Training Foundation, and the European Education and Culture Executive Agency.

The participants were partners of ongoing Erasmus+ CoVE projects, as well as other Vocational Excellence initiatives currently being developed in Europe and beyond, that form part of wider partnerships and networks in VET.

The hosts

The hosts from the Basque government showed their strong commitment to the cooperation on CoVEs and presented their advanced approach on vocational excellence, aiming at a transformation of VET centres into intelligent organisations to prepare their learners for future disruptive changes and the 5th Industrial Revolution.


The participants in the event, had the opportunity to get a hands-on understanding of the Basque approach during two inspiring site-visits to the VET centres Tknika, the research centre on applied research and innovation in VET of the Basque country, and the Miguel Altuna VET centre, which is leading the CoVE LCAMP (Learner Centric Advanced Manufacturing).


Commissioner Nicolas Schmit highlighted in his speech at the forum the importance of skills for transforming our societies, the pressing labour shortage in the EU, as well as the challenge of preparing the youth and adults for the twin digital and green transitions. In this regard, he mentioned the European Year of Skills 2023 as a key initiative to drive forward the vision for skills as presented in the 2020 European Skills Agenda, with VET as an important building block.

Member of the European Parliament, Ilana Cicurel, underlined the role that CoVEs can play in fostering the mobility of apprentices, also as a form of supporting social mobility and the development of soft skills.


The sessions took place in a dynamic format, including a high level of participation from the audience giving room for important discussions. In the session on “skills for the future”, four International Organisations presented their different views on the most important skills for the future and the important role of skills forecasting, despite its high cost in practice.

In the session “Vocational excellence in practice”, the French education ministry presented their approach to vocational excellence in their Campus de Metiers initiative. The German federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training introduced their initiative “INNOVET” aimed at developing new qualifications in the areas NQF 5-7 with a strong focus on innovation and digitalisation. Turkey presented their VET approach of offering a job guarantee for students after their VET degree. Finally, the LCAMP CoVE highlighted that their VET centres are closely linked to SMEs and their ecosystems supporting them with strategic knowledge and actions.

In the “VET fit for the future” session, all speakers and the audience agreed that VET will continue to be even more relevant in the future, while digital technologies, faster updating of curricula, and lifelong learning will play a stronger role, as well as permeability with higher education. Looking into the role of vocational excellence in National Implementation Plans (Council recommendation and Osnabruck Declaration), Spain and Poland presented their initiatives of national networks of vocational excellence highlighting the importance of both EU funding and policy drive.

In the session on social inclusion, the ETF presented their work with non-EU countries within their ENE network. Speakers discussed their approaches to fight exclusion in VET, ranging from ending stigma of VET in Turkey through international cooperation between schools, to inclusion of disabled persons and women in Zimbabwe, digital inclusion in Malawi, inclusive entrepreneurship and start-up support in Turkey, to gender inclusiveness in Albania’s tourism branch.

Regarding green and digital skills, the European Commission highlighted the multiple ways it supports action in this area through the Council Recommendations on ensuring a fair transition towards climate neutrality, the proposal for a Council Recommendation on learning for environmental sustainability, Council Recommendation on individual learning accounts, and the Council Recommendations on micro-credentials.

CoVEs play a crucial role in this regard, with the CoVE GREENOVET presenting their approach of “Brain-greening” in which they focus on how all citizens can develop green skills and how they can contribute to a greener society.

The next Forum on Vocational Excellence will take place in 2023 in the Netherlands.

Photos and Videos

Check-out the video recording (non-edited) of the 2022 Forum: 1st day and 2nd day 

Further material including the event photos, the presentations, and videos of the parallel sessions as well as the summary cartoons for each session will be published soon by the Community of Practice on Centres of Vocational Excellence.

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