MCAST Principal and EfVET President seeks closer collaboration between VET training providers and the world of employers.
In two separate events held in Brussels and Padua, MCAST Principal/CEO and EfVET President Professor Calleja intensified his plea for more structured and long-term collaboration between VET training providers and employers. Speaking at the European Commission High-Level conference on Skills for Industry Strategy 2030, Professor Calleja said that industry and vocational education and training of the future have to work hand-in-hand not as stakeholders but as permanent partners. Employees and employers are feeling threatened by the speed of change and the advancements in technology. Industry 4.0 is an opportunity to merge the two traditionally separate sectors into a process of work-based learning for a wide spectrum of learners.
Digitalisation, globalisation and demographic changes are having negative as well as positive impacts on VET as well as on work-places. The two contexts cannot operate anymore in isolation from each other. On the contrary, Professor Calleja firmly believes that the two sectors should operate as one with two distinct roles: businesses must ensure that VET environments remain up-to-date in curriculum design, infrastructure, quality assurance and relevancy to new jobs; on the other hand, VET schools, colleges, and Universities have to intensify their role of producing a workforce which is equipped with soft skills, flexibility and the readiness to learn while working and working while learning. The future of work, Professor Calleja said is the future of education and training. “There is only one future for the two sectors and employers and educators should be sitting on the same desk and planning and executing education and training together but in separate contexts: the workplace and the learning home – colleges, schools and higher education institutions.
The High-Level conference had a plethora of distinguished speakers from the world of education and training and the world of businesses with high profile speakers coming from Bosch, IBM Europe, McKinsey and Company, Cisco Systems, the University of Luxembourg, Google, the EIB, AVAESEN Cluster, Le Forem and others. EfVET President insisted that the time is ripe to convene a European summit for VET Providers and Businesses to establish a set of criteria to join the two sectors in permanent statutory roles in different national and regional settings.
At the Archivio Antico, Bo Palace of the University of Padua, MCAST Principal intervened during a panel discussion on the return on investment and mobility. The discussion was part of the concluding session of the ERASMUS project on the ROI for VET International Mobility co-funded by the ERASMUS+ Programme of the EU. In his intervention, Professor Calleja said that we live in a culture of mobility both in a physical and virtual manner. As a result of technology, connectivity today is easier, more effective but equally challenging and constructive. Young people have been brought up connecting ideas and interests in a manner which any education and work establishment cannot ignore. Hence mobility has become a valuable learning process according to Professor Calleja. However, he said “the ultimate objective of mobility in the context of learning and working is employability coupled with social inclusion and a nurturing of European identity. In this respect, cooperation between businesses and training providers as well as the larger community is a step towards creating more opportunities for young people to broaden their experiences”. In an environment in which work-based learning is increasingly becoming a new way of learning, mobility will play an important part in people’s lives. Referring to the new Programme Generation ERASMUS 2021-2027 proposal by the EC, MCAST Principal/CEO said that budgets must reflect priorities.
He feels that there is still a deficit in supporting mobility (and VET in general) when considering the high levels of unemployment in Europe and the high percentages of lamenting employers and people with low skills and others not in E&T. “Mobility” Professor Calleja said, “is a win-win learning process, an opportunity to take in response to the enormous development in traveling, in connecting with different cultures and working places and in the development of quality standards in production and service provision in the various sectors”. Mobility according to the speaker is the most efficient way of producing workforce readiness, soft skills (particularly language speaking) technical skills and entrepreneurial culture. MCAST and EfVET will be at the forefront to connect businesses with VET training providers and promote mobility across all sectors of education and training. The latest introduction of Degree Apprenticeships at MCAST is a case in point.