Vocational training to improve worker mobility

The renewed goals of the EU action in the field of vocational education and training (VET) aim to remove the sector’s obstacles to mobility to allow a European VET area to be in place by 2010.

The second follow-up conference of the Copenhagen Process took place in Helsinki on 4-5 December 2006 and brought together education ministers, the Commission and social partners to discuss ways to ease the comparison of vocational qualifications across Europe and to remove obstacles to mobility so that people can acquire vocational qualifications in any member state and have them recognised in all. This is expected to lead to improved mobility on the European job market.

The conference adopted a Helsinki Communiqué on Enhanced European Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training defining the common VET objectives for member states for the next two years. The Communiqué calls for a “more focused approach with a limited number of priority areas and clear targets that should be ensured”. 

The reviewed priorities highlight the need to improve the attractiveness and quality of VET and call for the continuous development of common European tools “to pave the way towards a European area of VET and to support the competitiveness of the European labour market”. The aim is to have the agreed tools in place by 2010. 

The new priorities also underline the importance of mutual learning and the active involvement in the Copenhagen Process of all stakeholders, in particular social partners, sector organisations and VET providers.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC): "The key message from the ETUC is simple: The EU needs to invest more on education and training at national and European level. As there are 72 million non-qualified or low-skilled workers in Europe and new jobs will require higher qualifications than before, investment in education and training is a necessity, not a luxury," said Confederal Secretary Joël Decaillon.

The ETUC emphasises that "enhancing the skills and qualifications of the 100 million workers who are at risk due to their level of qualifications, and 20 million unemployed, is crucial for Europe's competitiveness". The confederation is also calling for member states to draw up national lifelong-learning strategies and for companies to shoulder their responsibilities in this area.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) prepares learners for careers based in manual or practical activities. 

The Copenhagen Process was launched as the contribution of Vocational Education and Training (VET) to the Lisbon Strategy - it is the counterpart of the Bologna Process in higher education. The aim of the Copenhagen Process, launched in 2002, is "to improve the effectiveness, quality and attractiveness of vocational education and training, to promote development of the European job market and, consequently, to improve the competitiveness of the member states". 

The process involves a ministerial follow-up meeting every second year. The first took place in Maastricht in 2004.

  • The next ministerial follow-up meeting will be held in 2008.

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