Forthcoming Osnabrück Declaration: The true value of Vocational Education and Training (VET)

On the occasion of the informal meeting of EU Education Ministers on 16-17 September in Osnabrück (Germany), hosted by the German Presidency of the EU Council, Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Europe is in the spotlight: the expected Osnabrück Declaration aims at modernising the crucial pillar of the European Education Area; an area put under unprecedented strain by the Covid19 crisis.

CESI and its members have been underlining for years that better quality and a focus on a better reputation of VET is needed allover Europe as it can play an important role in keeping youth unemployment at bay and in giving young people the opportunity to access quality jobs.

Translated in trade-union’s words, this means also that the status and working conditions of VET teachers should be improved, especially in these past difficult times. VET has particularly suffered from the switch to remote learning and teaching, very hard to apply when it comes to practical classes on the workplace during the pandemic.

Stefan Nowatschin, CESI’s Spokesperson for VET, on the future Osnabrück Declarationwhich is to be adopted by the EU Council on November 30:  “It is very important that the new multiannual financial framework of the EU does not foresee cuts, but investment in the area of VET – so fundamentally crucial for the European labour market and the future of our youth.”

Also in his function as Deputy Federal Chairman of the German Trade union BvLB (Federal Association of Teachers for Vocational Education and Training), Nowatschin has been working for years to develop vocational training based on the sustainability goals of the United Nations, and also manages a European vocational training network project gathering vocational schools, universities and other vocational training experts in several EU countries.

“If we want to finally tackle the problem of youth unemployment – which is currently not getting any better in the Corona crisis – under control, we have to establish high quality vocational training in Europe in a networked and strategic manner”, Nowatschin said. “Digitalisation and sustainability are the core issues that we have to adjust to across Europe, and for which a joint development and funding strategy is needed.”

The Osnabrück Declaration intends to establish concrete measures to strengthen VET, and to improve the valorisation of VET among young people, workers, political decision-makers and the general public – hence paving the way to VET being a full-fledged pillar in the European Education Area 2025.