German Presidency of the EU Council – strong vocational education and training in the coronavirus crisis


On 1 July 2020, Germany took its turn to assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for a period of six months. The motto adopted is: “Together for Europe’s recovery”. The only way in which the European countries will be able to meet the challenges of the future is to have strong and effective vocational education and training in place. The main thematic focuses of European cooperation over the coming six months will be digitalisation, sustainability and a post-2020 VET strategy.

German Presidency of the EU Council – strong vocational education and training in the coronavirus crisis

The role of vocational education and training in increasing the resilience of the European Union

The impact of the coronavirus crisis has left all countries in the European Union facing major education and employment policy challenges. The fear is that a deterioration in the economic situation right across Europe will lead to dire consequences for youth unemployment and in terms of the continent’s shortage of skilled workers. This makes it even more important to act now to strengthen vocational education and training and to offer companies the support they need to continue to commit to training. Europe can only emerge from the present crisis in a stronger, more inclusive and more sustainable position if strong and effective vocational education and training is in place.


Transition to a new phase in the European strategy on vocational education and training

2020 marks an important turning point in European VET policy. The Lisbon Strategy was adopted two decades ago and was followed ten years later by its successor “Europe 2020” Strategy and by the Commission’s strategy to support vocational training. The aim now is to present a post-2020 strategy for vocational education and training during the German Presidency of the EU Council. The expectation is that the topics of digitalisation and sustainability will be accorded a considerably higher degree of significance.

The von der Leyen Commission (2019-2024) is currently drawing up its future priorities. The objective is for VET systems to provide greater support for social justice, competitiveness and innovative approaches in Europe. The post-2020 strategy will include an updating of the Skills Agenda for Europe and a new Council Recommendation on Vocational Education and Training. A draft of the latter was published on 1 July 2020. This EU Recommendation is set to be negotiated and adopted over the course of the next few months. The aim is that cooperation between the European Commission, the German EU Council Presidency and European VET stakeholders will secure a smooth transition between previous and future vocational education and training priorities.

The European Vocational Skills Week returns

The annual European Vocational Skills Week (EVSW) is being staged right across Europe for the fifth time from 9 to 13 November 2020. The guiding motto for this year’s event is #DiscoverYourTalent. The week will feature Europe-wide activities at a local, regional and national level. The goals are to illustrate positive aspects of vocational training and to showcase specific examples of excellence and quality. The European Commission is calling upon VET stakeholders everywhere in Europe to organise events and activities during this period. These may include open days, the announcement of successful vocational education and training programmes and other awareness measures. Activities can be registered on the campaign site of the European Commission with immediate effect.

The highlight of the European Vocational Skills Week (EVSW) will be a European VET conference entitled “VET Excellence for Green and Digital Transitions”. This will be held in Berlin on 11 and 12 November 2020. The conference is being staged in conjunction with the BMBF and within the scope of the German EU Council Presidency. The intention is to broadcast the event live in order to ensure the greatest possible participation both right across Europe and worldwide. There are also plans for a conference on the role of the chambers and the social partners in Germany in Europe and for online events dealing with various initial and continuing training topics. Online registration for these EVSW events will go live in the coming weeks.

The supporting role of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB)

“Working together to strengthen vocational education and training” lies at the heart of the cooperation that is taking place between the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and BIBB within the framework of the German Presidency of the EU Council. In this context, BIBB has been commissioned with the task of using its expertise to support the activities undertaken by the BMBF in the area of vocational education and training. The BMBF and BIBB are thus both in pursuit of the dual goals of enhancing the esteem in which VET is held in Germany and Europe and of intensifying collaboration between national and European stakeholders.  A project team at BIBB, which is based in Division 3.1 - “International VET Comparison, Research and Monitoring”, will be on hand to provide the BMBF with guidance.