On Wednesday, 14 October 2020, the Centres of Vocational Excellence worskhop was jointly organised by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), DG EMPL, PEEP and EARLALL (EXAM 4.0 partner) in the context of the European Week of Regions & Cities 2020. The event was aimed at analysing how platforms of centres of vocational excellence (CoVEs) contribute to create skills ecosystems that drive regional innovation, development and smart specialisation, along with social inclusion.
EXAM 4.0 was introduced by Iñigo Araiztegui, project coordinator, who underlined the importance of strategic partnering between regional actors. He explained the rationale behind the project, pointing at ageing population as a key challenge: “many workers are retiring and we’re losing their experience, but there are also workers who need reskilling & upskilling and are not retiring any soon.” He also highlighted the need to pay attention to the “human side” of technological development, focusing on human-oriented skills that will be needed in the future that the digital and green transition will render.
His presentation was held during on of the five discussion group sessions that were organised within the session, during which also the rest of Erasmus+ CoVE initiatives were presented both from the 2019 and the 2020 calls. Before them, high-level speakers also offered their views on the role of CoVEs and regional development. João Santos (European Commission, DG EMPL) introduced the background in which the CoVEs initiative is being developed at the European Commission, highlighting milestones such as the new Skills Agenda (July), the proposal for a Council Recommendation on Vocational Education & Training (VET) (July 2020), the Communication on the European Education Area (September 2020) and the European Digital Education Action Plan (September 2020).
Fernando Hervás (European Commission, Joint Research Centre) introduced their support for the “embeddedness of CoVEs in the regional innovation ecosystems so they can contribute actively to the sustainable economic transformation agenda of the region,” highlighting that “VET is at the core or regions’ needs for reskilling and upskilling.” Finally, his research point of view was complemented by the political perspective of MEP Eva Meydell (PPE), who introduced three key initiatives within the European Parliament (EP) to support skills: the position aiming at the extension of the scope of areas eligible for funding (youth funding and access to education) under the Technical Support Instrument, within the EP’s ECON Committee; a paper on education within the EP’s PPE group with emphasis on supporting dual education in VET, lifelong learning for all generations, and adult learning; and the European Education Alliance, jointly developed with MEP Victor Negrescu (S&D).