EU News
Printable version

EC organises first European Vocational Skills Week

From 5 to 9 December 2016, the European Commission is organising a first European Vocational Skills Week to inspire people to discover, use and improve their talents and abilities through vocational training.

© European Union 2016

From 5 to 9 December 2016, the European Commission is organising a first European Vocational Skills Week to inspire people to discover, use and improve their talents and abilities through vocational training. It is one of the ten key actions proposed by the Commission under the New Skills Agenda for Europe, presented in June this year. 

During the European Vocational Skills Week, the Commission showcases high-quality initiatives in the field of Vocational education and training (VET) - ultimately to equip people with the skills they need in a fast-changing labour market. More than 750* events are taking place across Europe – in all 28 EU Member States, EFTA and EU Candidate countries – demonstrating the crucial role of VET in supporting skills, jobs, innovation and competitiveness. The list of events per country can be found online

The Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "This European Week is showcasing excellence in Vocational Education and Training. VET gets young people faster into jobs and can be a wise career choice for anyone. Making VET a first choice and not a second option is at the heart of the European Commission's New Skills Agenda for Europe. " 

Pursuing vocational skills can lead to quality employment, an entrepreneurial mind-set, attractive and challenging careers, and opportunities for continuous upskilling and re-skilling. The Commission invited all stakeholders to take part: students, parents, companies, business organisations, social partners, education and training providers, adult learning organisations, researchers, career counsellors, public authorities, and society at large. 

Events at European level include a European Business Forum on VET, a Conference on "Adult Skills", a European Alliance for Apprenticeships Stakeholder Meeting, a VET Researcher Community Forum, a VET/Professional Higher Education Providers Forum, and a Forum of Sector Skills Alliances & Councils. The closing of the Week will include the giving of prizes highlighting excellence and quality in various VET categories, and dissemination of great projects that have received both EU and national funding. 


Under the New Skills Agenda for Europe, the European Commission has given new impetus to the need for awareness-raising of young people, their parents, and all sorts of other learners, that VET can be as attractive as a career as the traditional learning pathway from secondary school through to university. Through its European Vocational Skills Week, the Commission is putting the spotlight on VET as an option which offers good employment quality, salary, and progression in working life. As such, VET contributes to the Commission's strategic priorities on competitiveness, growth, and employment. Making VET a first choice is a key element of the Commission's New Skills Agendafor Europe, presented in June 2016. 

The Commission has encouraged stakeholders across Europe to organise events and activities, such as Open Days, promoting successful VET programmes or other awareness raising activities during this period. 

Here are a few examples:

  • The "German Skilled Crafts Performance Championship" in Münster, DE (closing ceremony 10/12/2016), is jointly organised at Federal Level by the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH) and a different Craft Chamber every year in over 130 craft professions. It showcases in-company training, promotes professional work, raises awareness of training services and supports gifted apprentices in their career development. In total, up to 3000 young craftsmen take part each year and about 800 of them have the opportunity, as Land winners, to compete at Federal level for the national Awards.

  • VET students photo, blog and essay contest "Mobility to Europe and back“ by the Archimedes Foundation, Estonia, Tallinn(31/10-15/11/2016). The contest “Mobility to Europe and back” is an annual contest for Estonian VET students. It aims to show the excellence of VET through stories, blogs and photos about their placement period. It has gained in popularity,. Previously VET stories were gathered into small books and published in the Archimedes blog and the news portal Delfi. This year there is also a contest for school education and adult education.

  • "Orient'Actions" (1/10-20/12/2016), organised by the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles - Chambre Enseignement Bassins Huy-Waremme-Liège - Cité des métiers de Liège. The purpose of these events is to enable young children to discover the world of companies and entrepreneurship and inform them about the jobs in these areas. This is important in the context of their choice of studies orientation at secondary school. In order for them to make a positive choice, the idea is to give them a positive image of manual jobs, and visiting companies is one way to achieve that.

  • See Inside Manufacturing at MINI Plant Oxford - BMW Group UK, Oxford, UK (8/12/2016). On 8 December, the MINI Plant in Oxford will open its doors to head teachers and career advisors and offer visits to the manufacturing site and the on-site training centre. Current MINI apprentices will provide insights into their apprenticeship programme and guide the guests around the plant. The aim is to change people's perceptions and help them ‘see behind the scenes' of the UK's manufacturing success, and learn more about the successful apprenticeship schemes of BMW Group in the UK. 

The week has been organised with the strong involvement and support from the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) and the European Training Foundation.

For more information


News item on the EMPL website

Follow Marianne Thyssen on Facebook and twitter, #EUVocationalSkills

Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email


Share this article

Latest News from
EU News

The UK Public Sector Deserves a Better Way to Pentest