Vocational training, a strategic tool for Catalonia

Today, the II VET Congress in Catalonia was held in Barcelona, co-organised by PIMEC and DIPLOCAT

Today, Wednesday, 1st June, the Pedralbes Palace in Barcelona hosted the II Vocational Training (VET) Congress in Catalonia, organised by PIMEC with the co-organisation of DIPLOCAT. The first edition of the congress took place with great success in November 2019.

The President of the Government of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, opened the congress and stressed that the Government, "is and must be the legislature that supports VET", which must be valued and that it is "a first option as valid" as the other training options. Pere Aragonès has emphasised that the Government is creating more places and new training cycles for VET, investing more resources and betting on dual training, "but, above all, we are strengthening VET with an unequivocal commitment to dialogue and consultation with the business partners, because it is clear that this is a leap forward that involves all of us".

Antoni Cañete, the president of PIMEC, has defended the VET system of governance in Catalonia, through the Steering Committee that must find great consensus in eliminating the shortcomings of this training system, such as the fact that companies cannot find professional profiles for certain jobs. For her part, the Spanish Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Pilar Alegría, connected from Madrid and presented the good results achieved through vocational training in terms of employability, but she also acknowledged that "there is a long way to go".

The international block of the congress began, coordinated by DIPLOCAT and presented by its general secretary, Laura Foraster i Lloret, who underlined the importance of looking forward when discussing the great issues of the country, such as VET, and learning from those who are more advanced. Ms. Foraster recalled that international dialogue is one of the entity's hallmarks.

Foraster gave the floor to Ramona David, coordinator for the Learning and Employment Area of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop). She was in charge of presenting the policies that the EU is carrying out to promote VET and spoke about the four priorities for the period 2021-2025 set out in the Osnabrück Declaration: achieving high-quality, inclusive and flexible VET; strengthening the culture of lifelong learning; including environmental and sustainability criteria; and creating a European area for VET.

The next speakers were the Danish Charlotte Romlund Hansen, Special Adviser to the Vocational and Adult Education and Training Section of the Ministry of Education and Children; and the Irish Rory O'Sullivan, Director of the Killester and Marino College of Further Education. A German representative was also scheduled to participate, but was unable to attend due to a late cancellation due to health issues.

The Danish representative said that the three major challenges of VET in her country are: adapting to the growing digitisation and innovation; transmitting the skills and knowledge in terms of sustainability required by the labour market; and promoting adult education and its continuous professional retraining. For his part, the Irish representative explained that the model in his country is based, above all, on the learning of skills and traineeships in companies. In this regard, he underlined that in addition to the classic learning spaces, classrooms and workplaces, we must add online learning for a few years, and that only if the three processes are well coordinated can quality learning be achieved.

The other speakers at the congress have agreed to consider vocational training a strategic tool for the country, designed to provide a flexible and high-quality response to the training needs of people and companies, while promoting employment, competitiveness and social inclusion. Its objectives must include the ability to bring out talent and the ability to take on labour market challenges, thus favouring a high-quality and competitive economy.

The congress is also an invitation to form a consensus for a great social pact in regard to VET, which expands and deploys those key elements that act as real levers of progress: guidance, prospecting, innovation and networking. The organising committee of the congress includes PIMEC, National Employment Promotion Council (Foment del Treball Nacional), Workers Commissions of Catalonia (CCOO) and General Workers' Union of Catalonia (UGT). It was agreed today that CCOO of Catalonia will be responsible for organising the next edition of the Congress.