The Basque Country hosts the International Forum on Excellence in Vocational Training
- With the participation of the European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Nicolas Schmit, the international forum aims to disseminate the European CoVE initiative of networks of Centres of Excellence in VET
- The European strategy is based on the creation of collaborative networks of centres of excellence, providing students with skills that respond to the challenges of the future and contributing to strengthening the competitiveness of the productive fabric
- FP-Euskadi currently has two VET Centres of Excellence: Miguel Altuna from Bergara and Tknika; both participate in a European project of excellence on Advanced Manufacturing 4.0
The Regional Minister for Education, Jokin Bildarratz, accompanied by the European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Nicolas Schmit, opened this morning in San Sebastian the International Forum on Excellence in Vocational Training. Organised together by the European Commission and the Basque Government, it is set to take place today and tomorrow in Tabakalera, with the participation of representatives from 88 countries, including all the EU member states. The forum has 735 registered participants. 285 of them will attend in person in San Sebastian, and 450 will follow the event online.
The holding of this forum in San Sebastian stems from the meeting that the Regional Minister for Education, Jokin Bildarratz, held at the end of June in Brussels with Commissioner Schmit, where this international forum and its main objective were defined: to disseminate the CoVE initiative of Centres of Vocational Excellence. The Basque Country collaborates very actively with the European Commission in this initiative, acting as a European benchmark in Vocational Training for the EU institutions.
The international forum will focus on excellence in vocational training. For two days (15 and 16 November), Tabakalera will be discussing the latest advances in the European initiative on networks of Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE), an initiative of enormous strategic importance for Europe. The main objective of the forum hosted by the Basque Country is to disseminate and raise awareness of this European initiative, in order to increase the number of centres and organisations that start working in it. To this end, examples of ongoing CoVE projects will be shared, including the experiences of Basque centres of excellence, as inspiring examples for other countries and VET centres. Thematic discussions will also focus on the core elements of professional excellence.
The Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu took part in the institutional opening through a video in which he welcomed all those attending a forum “that will place value on networking and excellence in Vocational Training”; and highlighted two aspects to be strengthened—”knowledge and behaviour”—to ensure well-being, progress and sustainable human development. “Vocational training is knowledge because we are moving towards a technological and intelligent future. And it is behaviour, because we promote the creation of wealth and attend to those who may be left behind,” he pointed out. In relation to the European CoVE initiative for centres of excellence, the subject of this forum, Urkullu assured that it "will strengthen vocational training and the competitiveness of the European productive fabric.”
Working towards the future
Following the institutional opening, Councillor Bildarratz and Deputy Councillor for Vocational Training Jorge Arévalo jointly gave the forum’s first presentation, entitled “The Basque model of Vocational Training of Excellence in a New Order.” In it, Bildarratz brought up the words of the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, in which he stated that “the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not going to change what we do, it is going to change who we are.”
Bildarratz described a near future in which digitalisation, robotics, intelligent systems, and cognitive intelligence “will transform millions of jobs and millions more new jobs will be created. The challenge lies in having the population prepared to take on these changes and transformations, so that they can adapt efficiently to the jobs that are going to be transformed and created,” he said.
“We, therefore, need a new way of understanding the present in order to live the future. We must transform the European productive fabric, reconfigure the employment context, and evolve and adapt training systems. And this is where vocational training plays a strategic and fundamental role since, in less than ten years, 65% of jobs in Europe will require people with vocational training qualifications, but with different preparation, knowledge and skills to those of today. This forces us to work in VET looking to the future and not looking to the past.”
In this context, Bildarratz called for “progressing towards an era based on the human dimension, prioritising people and promoting sustainable human development.” To this end, in the words of the councillor, it is necessary to reinforce a collaborative strategy of shared value creation, consisting of cooperation processes. “We are fully aware that collaborative networks [of centres of excellence] are the fundamental basis for responding to the future. In short, a great challenge that requires new disruptive strategies.”
CoVE initiative of networks of centres of excellence in VET
The Centres of Vocational Excellence participating in the CoVE initiative lead platforms in which other centres of excellence from different countries participate, working as collaborative networks. The aim is to promote innovative and excellent Vocational Education and Training, establishing various collaborative networks in key sectors for the development of Europe, thus acquiring a common strength. The objective is the transmission of knowledge between European VET centres of excellence, weaving different collaborative networks and addressing various priority sectors for Europe.
These platforms also share a common interest in the development of skills ecosystems, providing their students with the professional skills and high-level qualifications that the productive fabric demands, in order to respond to the challenges of the future. In this sense, the strategy represents a qualitative and quantitative leap of great importance for European vocational training and for the advancement of people’s skills. The centres of excellence thus contribute to the development of their environment and significantly strengthen the competitiveness of the European productive fabric.
EU target: 100 Centres of Excellence by 2027
The European Commission has set itself the target of creating 100 centres of excellence by 2027, allocating 400 million euros under the Erasmus programme for the period 2021-2027. There are currently 25 CoVE projects or platforms of excellence underway. Two Basque VET centres participate in them: CIFP Miguel Altuna, located in Bergara, and Tknika, the Basque VET Applied Research Centre. Tknika leads the European Platforms of Excellence EXAM 4.0 and LCAMP 4.0, in the field of Advanced Manufacturing 4.0.
Basque vocational training centres already have extensive experience in collaborative networking, which is the main feature driving the European CoVE initiative. The Basque VET model is mainly based on 70 training centres that work, in various collaborative networks and in an integrated manner, on issues such as high-performance training, strategic innovation and applied intelligence.
European strategy for employability and competitiveness
Back in 2018, the European Commission launched a well-defined strategy to strengthen the preparation of the professionals that European society will need in the very near future, in order to reinforce their employability and boost the competitiveness of companies in Europe. The CoVE initiative of Centres of Excellence in Vocational Education and Training is one of the most significant actions within this strategy.
For the European Commission it is of vital importance to publicise this initiative and to encourage the greatest number of vocational training centres in the different countries of the European Union to promote and consolidate this model of collaborative work between different European vocational training centres; a formula that places them at a high level of excellence, working and cooperating on different platforms that respond to different productive sectors.