European Vocational Skills Week

Daily Highlights

Daily Highlights

The Week in Helsinki is now over. For those who couldn't attend this year's European events of the EVSW, here are the day by day highlights of everything you missed. 

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Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Wednesday 16th October began with the VET Expo exhibition, which showcases the introduction of new, technology-based, educational tools and programmes in vocational education and training (such as virtual and augmented reality). 

The day continued with the ‘VET for All, Skills for Life’ plenary conference, which took place in Finlandia Hall. 

Mr. Mika Tammilehto, Director of Vocational Education and Training, Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland, opened the conference by highlighting the crucial role of VET in enabling young learners to enter the labour market by gaining new skills. At the same time, VET will need to respond to increasing needs for upskilling and reskilling of the adult population at all levels. Whilst discussing apprenticeships, entrepreneur and EVSW 2019 Ambassador Ms. Margaret Reilly stated that parents must learn to appreciate the great educational potential of apprenticeships within the EU. 

A crucial topic for discussion in the conference was how Vocational education and training can evolve to include the three key elements of Excellence, Inclusion and Lifelong Learning. The conference also discussed which skills are going to be needed in the near future to tackle these challenges and how VET can progress to address critical skill gaps. In order to do this, in the near future VET is expected to reposition itself within the future mix of a strong foundation of basic skills, generic, soft, transversal and professional competences. The session ended by talking about how VET can embody the three key elements of excellence, inclusion, and lifelong learning. This goal can be achieved by enhancing the partnership between VET and the world of work.

The day concluded with an ‘Open Minds’ and ‘Meet the Ambassadors’ session, where participants could network and further discuss the key topics of the day.

Photo: Mr. Jürgen Siebel, Executive Director of Cefefop
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Thursday, 17th October 2019

"The European Vocational Skills Week has become a forum to discuss and tackle global challenges” – exclaimed Joao Santos, Deputy Head of Unit, in his opening speech at the ‘VET In and For the World’ plenary conference’ on the fourth day of European Vocational Skills Week 2019. 

Earlier, Commissioner Marianne Thyssen had remarked in her welcome speech that "VET is a first choice, not a plan B”. She added: “European Vet Skills week is already a continental showcase for VET talent. And this week, but especially today, we go global.”

The conference discussed more crucial issues and ambitions for VET in the coming years, such as the need for skills and global action, the focus on building bridges between education and business, and the recent launch of the Erasmus Pro programme for international workers mobility. On the latter, Commissioner Thyssen recalled the objective to have 2 million VET learners taking part in Erasmus+ mobility programmes in the next 7 years. The common denominator of these efforts is not only to increase learners’ involvement in VET,, but also to increase the impact of VET on a global scale.

The conference was followed by parallel workshop sessions to better explore the theme of ‘VET in and for the world’. These sessions were entitled:

  • The role of TVET in the Sustainable Development Goals
  • VET for local development and inclusion
  • International mobility of learners and staff
  • International qualifications and standards
  • International cooperation on VET research.

Photo: one of the ‘VET in and for the World’ Conference parallel sessions

Thursday was also a big day also for the VET Excellence Awards ceremony! During the prestigious ceremony, 13 winners were presented with awards by Commissioner Thyssen and were recognised for their commitment and outstanding achievements in the field of vocational education and training. “The best VET has to offer” in the Commissioner’s words. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

The list of winners are as follows:

Companies & Learners Awards

European Alliance for Apprenticeships Awards (EAfA)

  • Large company: Hidromek A.Ş. - Hayri Akgus, Turkey
  • SME: Limerick Strand Hotel, Tom Flavin, Ireland
  • Apprentice: Samuel Gilmore - Company Mark Pollock Joinery, Kilrea, Co Londonderry, Northern Ireland UK

Training at Work Award: Hot &Cold Therm Kft. - Benkő Zoltán & István Győre, Hungary

VET Innovators

  • Innovative VET Provider: Akademie Deutsches Bäckerhandwerk Weinheim - Bernd Kuetscher, Germany
  • Teacher and Trainer: Mr Markku Vengasaho - Edusampo, Finland
  • VET Researcher: Prof. Fernando Marhuenda, University of Valencia, Spain
  • The Entrepreneurial School Awards – TES / JA Europe: Gradia Vocational Institute - Pirjo Kauhanen, Finland

European Agencies Awards

ETF Entrepreneurship award: University of Alexandria - Essam A. Elkordi, Egypt

#CedefopPhotoAward: Ortweinschule - College of engineering, art and design and Institute for research and technology Graz, Austria

European Funding for Excellence

European Social Fund Award (focus on digitalisation and technological change): Empleando Digital - Belén Sánchez-Rubio & Carmen Cárdenas, Spain

Erasmus+ project:

  • Vet and Skills for the Future: Developing Work Based Learning Model for VET - John Hurley, Ireland
  • Social Inclusion: New didactical models for initial VET training of young disadvantaged persons to reduce drop out - Maria-Luise Leitner, Austria

International Awards (Guests of Honour)

International Skills Competitions Awards-WorldSkills 2019: Stefan Planitzer, Austria

UNESCO-UNEVOC Skills in Action Photo Competition: Ruth Pemisola Oluniyi

Photo: some moments of the VET Excellence Awards 2019 nominees ceremony
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Friday, 18th October 2019

The last day of the Week featured the Closing, opened by the passionate words of Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, who expressed her satisfaction: “After four years of European Vocational Skills Week, I know I can expect the best VET has to offer”. She was then gifted with a specially-made silk scarf, produced by Finnish VET student Emma Lepistö as a part of her studies, using a particular technique.

The audience erupted in cheers and applause when she announced that the European Vocational Skills Week 2020 will take place from 9-13 November in Berlin, Germany, and the theme will be excellence and digitalisation in VET. Really exciting!

The conference continued with a panel discussion and a session with testimonies from past contributors to the Week: Angeliki Filippidou, David Rozvanyi, Gisela Valdera and Alagib Maki Al Tahir. They shared their personal experiences and explained how the Week had made a difference to their life and career.

The testimonials also highlighted VET’s strong contribution to personal development and how it fosters democratic citizenship and European values.

Then there was a session with some of the European Vocational Skills Week Ambassadors, who explained how they pass the message in their own countries, inspiring people to get involved in vocational education and training.

“The EVSW is a wonderful initiative, and one that speaks to me personally. With VET you can better yourself, you are taking a journey that could change your life” said Belgian ambassador Mr. Pierre Kompany.

Photo: Commissioner Marianne Thyssen takes a group photo with the Ambassadors

The ceremony concluded with the closing speech of Commissioner Thyssen, who thanked all the organisers and delegates for putting together another successful European Vocational Skills Week and praised its growth from the first edition in 2016. She also remarked on the important role of women in VET.

 “I have become part of this wonderful community, this VET community. VET is a community that shares love for your work, joy in your skills and pride in your profession”. The Commissioner then reminded that  “VET is the first choice to a great job and great career” and gave her farewell at the end of her mandate by saying: “I am happy to end my current job on such a high note. I know that you will continue to carry the banner for VET”.

A final surprise was the musical rendition from Week volunteers and others, who sang a song they composed especially for this occasion.

Photo: The Commissioner with the volunteers of the fourth European Vocational Skills Week