The Annual ECVET Forum 2016 “Flexible pathways to vocational skills” was organised by the European Commission with the support of the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET). The aim of the Forum was to gather information and exchange views and experiences on how ECVET principles can help to provide people with opportunities for open, flexible and individualised pathways to develop vocational skills and to get recognition for them. The event was held Rome (Italy) on the 11thOctober and it gathered around 220 people with different backgrounds, such as nominated representatives of countries, national coordinators, experts, ECVET users’ Group Members, ECVET Secretariat, representatives of the European Commission and OBESSU representing the European school students.

The activity was divided in three thematic sessions: the first session provided background information in order to meet the challenges that ECVET wants to address; the second session provided the opportunity to take stock on what solutions still need to be developed using the ECVET principles; the third one focused on how we can step up the efforts and how ECVET can help to ensure success. During these sessions, we had the opportunity to listen and to discuss different challenges, experiences, practices and success stories across Europe on vocational education and training (VET). Interesting workshops were also organised to lead participants to some concrete conclusions, which will help ECVET to reach the objectives of developing vocational skills through flexible pathways.

Within the event, OBESSU was also invited to take part in a high-level panel discussion, together with panelists Laetitia Beckers (UEAPME), Viktoria Kis (OECD), Stylianos Mavromoustakos (EFVET), RutaPorniece (ETUC) and Claudia Villante (ISFOL). On behalf of the OBESSU VET Working Group, I represented VET school students, given opinions on the outcomes of the workshops and expressing our demands and immediate needs. In this context, I had the chance to stress the importance of having school students at the centre of the decision making process: who better than students themselves know their needs?! For example, regarding one of the most important tools of ECVET, the Learning Agreement, these were my words.

It was mentioned often today and it says that the learner is one of the partners, right? Then, for us it is very important to include students in the development of this agreement, not just giving them a paper to sign based on the country needs. If we want to be successful, we have to watch as well after student dreams and goals for the future”.

“Therefore, to conclude I would tell you that just by including students in every stage of the decision-making process and by working together with them, we would make the ECVET system successful and useful for young people all over Europe!”

We want to thank the organizers for having invited us to this important meeting: it gave us the opportunity to make school student voice heard! But now that they listened to us, what is next? Are they going to follow our suggestions and fulfill our demands, for real?!

For more information about the event or VET, feel free to contact the VET Working Group vet@obessu.org.

Written by Agnesa Qerimi, VET WG member