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2010 - Foster VET Mobility

The European Economy is in transition. The current crisis is accelerating changes and is hopefully also accelerating innovation in all economic sectors. This process of change will have an impact on technology, production processes and the work organisation but also on the qualifications and specific skills required. As a consequence, the system of vocational education and training (VET) will be strongly affected. Against this background, the European social partner organisations from the furniture and the woodworking sectors decided to run a project, aiming at improving the conditions for increased and improved mobility action for apprentices and other learners in both sectors mentioned.
The project partners were:
EFBWW (European Federation of Building and Woodworkers);
CEI-Bois (European Confederation of Woodworking Industries);
EFIC (European Furniture Industries Confederation);
UEA (European Furniture Manufactures Federation) and
HMC (Hout- en Meubileringscollege).

Being aware of the fact that national VET systems not only differ strongly in structure and practices, but also in its foundations, based on cultures, traditions and concepts as well as the connotations of the respective concepts, the project partners decided to obtain, in a first step, a better mutual understanding. Therefore, the main goal of the project was to network between social partner organisations and training centres, active in the sectors concerned.

It was planned to invite people from different countries to a seminar at the Dutch HMC (Hout- en Meubileringscollege – Training centre for the Wood and Furniture sector). The seminar aimed at six aspects:
• Giving an in-depth insight in the Dutch vocational education system and the specifications of the vocational education in the furniture and wood sector.
• Presenting the EU-policies in the area of VET, the Social Dialogue activities and the project itself.
• Giving participants the opportunity for increased cooperation, both on a bilateral level or on multilateral/EU level.
• Presenting more generally the national VET system or aspects of this system for the involved sectors from 9 other countries.
• Visiting the Hout- en Meubileringscollege to have the stimulus of seeing VET in practice.
• Visiting a company, specialized in wood-working for ships, to have a practical example for a holistic work organisation.

For the preparation, the project partners developed a “conceptual framework”. This tool included a list of questions on different aspects of the VET system and a short description of some keywords and was aiming at giving people some guidance and mutual understanding of what we are talking about.
Finally, 36 people from 10 different countries met in Rotterdam at the HM-College. Participants originated from social partner organisations, training providers, companies and the scientific world. All in all, the VET-systems from 10 countries were presented. These presentations were framed by other speeches, among others one dealing with the future of the furniture sector. This contribution provoked a lively and interesting debate and clearly showed that how the sector will be shaped is not simply depending on technology and other external factors, but is also based on many political and other decisions the present stakeholders can influence.

The participants agreed that the networking, initiated by this seminar, should be continued on different levels. On bilateral level, which indeed continued after the seminar and for the further duration of this project. On European level, by using the opportunities of the European Social Dialogue for increased activities related to VET. In the form of joint projects, between the social partner organisations and training providers as well as other stakeholders in the framework of a sectorial skills council.

As a consequence of the project we notice a stronger activity of the European Social Dialogue in the Furniture and the Woodworking sectors. On the one hand a specific working party for the Social Dialogue Wood was installed and in the work programmes for both European Social Dialogues you will find more specific activities directed to the area of vocational education. The Social partner organisations, in collaboration with representatives from training institutes agreed on launching two further projects. One will be a feasibility study on the state of play regarding the role of sector skills councils on national level, dedicated to the furniture sector. The established network of training institutes and social partner organisations will strongly facilitate the information search. The second project is a cross-sectoral project for the furniture and the woodworking sectors and is aiming at an in-depth investigation in the national practices of two professions. Based on the outcome of the research and an evaluation of similarities and differences in curricula and practices it is foreseen to go further to the creation of “Zones of Mutual Trust” or, as was said in preparatory meetings, towards “European Core Qualifications”. Also for this project the further cooperation between the social partners and the training providers is considered as substantial.

The deliverables of the project are.
- The presentations from the Rotterdam seminar (see right hand column)

- The final report including conceptual framework
Brochure “Foster VET Mobility”
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- A joint declaration of the project partners
Joint declaration

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