THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- welcomes the achievements to date in European cooperation in vocational education and training (VET) supported by the Copenhagen process and wishes to stress that the main focus in the forthcoming period should be on swift implementation, simplification and consolidation of the most effective existing instruments, initiatives and programmes;
- shares the Commission’s view that given the future changes in jobs and social structures, such as the move towards a low-carbon economy and an ageing population, education and training, including VET, must adapt accordingly. Furthermore, VET must play a dual role: as a tool to help meet Europe’s immediate and future skills needs; and, in parallel, to reduce the social impact of and facilitate recovery from the crisis. These roles call for urgent reforms in order to ensure excellence and equity;
- stresses that effective cooperation in VET and implementation requires continuous political and administrative interaction between, and sustained commitment from, all tiers of government. The Commission should ensure, therefore, that meaningful engagement with local and regional authorities (LRAs) takes place, properly reflecting their essential role as key partners in education and training in Europe;
- endorses the aims of the Communication to increase the relevance of VET in order to promote an increase in the skills base of the labour market in Europe, and also acknowledges that, in addition, education and training are a means to foster and further develop social participation. Not least in the context of the year for fighting poverty and social exclusion 2010, VET is an important element of any strategy to reduce social and economic disadvantage. It has been shown that relatively small improvements to labour force skills can have a substantial impact on the future well-being of a nation state.