There is an immense variety of Vocational Education and Training systems in Europe, varying from country to country, even from region to region. In such a diversified context, the definition of a common development agenda and objectives represent a challenge for decision makers.
VET providers and stakeholders try to influence the decision-making process. These actors are aware of their ability in shaping the political debate around VET. Nevertheless, to successfully convey their messages, they need to join forces and use recognised intermediaries who can bring their opinions and expectations to the attention of the EU institutions and advocate on their behalf. Mediating between aims, needs and expectations of training institutions, teachers and trainers, civil society organisations and stakeholders on one side, and European policies and initiatives on the other side, requires permanent dialogue and exchange that only proficient networking activities can ensure.
Many VET providers, especially those working at the local and regional level, have decided to be more active in the international dimension and have joined European associations to fulfil their needs in terms of representativeness, capacity building, promotion.
Currently, the policy dialogue on VET at the EU level is being supported through several joint initiatives. Among these, the VET4EU2 Platform is definitely one of the most active. Established in 2014 by four recognised European networks of VET Providers (EVTA, EVBB, EfVET, EUproVET) and two networks that represent Higher Education institutions (EURASHE, EUCEN), VET4EU2 aims to take joint objectives, as far as possible, in assuring quality and parity of esteem in VET, contributing to disseminating, mediating and supporting EU policies EU policies, bringing them to the grass root level: the training centres.
In the past two years, the VET4EU2 platform has undertaken a more professional approach in its activities. To support this upgrade, the platform has devised a specific work programme composed of three clear pillars of actions summarized in the VENHANS project.
VENHANS stands for VET European Networking Enhancement. Funded by the Erasmus + programme, through the Key Action 3 call “Networks and Partnerships for Vocational Education and Training providers”, the project aims to strengthen and enhance cooperation among the six networks, members of the VET4EU2 platform, by developing activities, aiming at:
- increasing representativeness of VET providers at the national/regional level, promoting the memberships to intermediary bodies and stimulating VET networking, with a special focus on countries usually less represented in the definition of VET policies;
- exploiting synergies and joint efforts to sustain and support decision makers in the VET policies development and deployment in all EU member states;
- promoting the quality improvement of the training provision, spreading out the concept of excellence in VET, advertising the use of valuable learning tools and practices, promoting the concept of benchmarking as a reference to set up development strategies and adopting bottom-up approaches to promote local contributions.
VENHANS consists of three main pillars of activities, all oriented to the development of concrete results for the end users (VET providers, professionals, teachers and trainers, etc.).
- NETWORKING (WP2): activities necessary to foster cooperation among VET providers, VET providers’ networks, companies, and other VET stakeholders, thus strengthening the contribution and support that the VET4EU2 platform provides to the decision makers in defining and implementing sound VET policies;
- CAPACITY-BUILDING (WP3): activities aimed to grow VET providers’ capacity building processes, capable of empowering VET organizations’ and professionals’ knowledge and skills and stimulate the interest of VET centres towards excellence and quality in the training provision, internationalization and transnational cooperation.
- PROMOTION (WP4): activities aimed to boost the image of VET “as a first choice” and promote the engagement of VET4EU2 members in the development of valuable learning tools, methods, practices to improve the attractiveness and quality of VET provision.
VENHANS, currently in its 19th month, directly addresses some of the main paradoxes/challenges characterizing the European VET networking framework through a coordinated approach within the VET4EU2 platform, showcasing the added value of this cooperation and scaling up its presence in the EU scene.