BILT Asia-Pacific Conference

From 26-28 June 2023, the regional conference of the “Bridging Innovation and Learning in TVET” (BILT) initiative was held in Singapore. The event focused on the impact of digitalisation and greening on technical and vocational education and training (TVET), particularly for the hospitality and tourism sector.

BILT Asia-Pacific Conference
Peter Lam, CEO Temasek Polytechnic

BILT is a joint initiative of the UNESCO International Centre for Vocational Education and Training (UNESCO-UNEVOC) and the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). BILT supports peer learning and innovation transfer between TVET stakeholders from Europe, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

The conference on "TVET for Hospitality and Tourism: Solutions for the Digital and Green Transition" was BILT's first on-site event in the Asia-Pacific region. It was hosted by Temasek Polytechnic, a UNEVOC centre, together with the Singapore Ministry of Education in their current function as Chair of the ASEAN TVET Council.

Around 80 TVET stakeholders gathered in Singapore and over 100 participants joined online to discuss TVET responses to the dual transition. With a focus on the hospitality and tourism sector, experts shared innovative approaches in vocational training from the three regions of the BILT project: Asia-Pacific, Africa and Europe.

Three days of international exchange: innovation in TVET policy and practice

The first day of the conference was dedicated to networking among the participants. New project partners, especially from the Asia-Pacific region, introduced themselves to the BILT community in so-called "matchmaking sessions" and explored opportunities for international cooperation. Among others, institutions from Vanuatu and the Maldives, Thailand and Viet Nam contributed insights into their TVET policies and practices. The slides as well as other conference materials are available for download on the event website.

The official opening of the conference on the second day was marked by welcome words from the hosting institution Temasek Polytechnic, the German Embassy in Singapore, the United Nations Resident Coordinator as well as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), as sponsor of the BILT project, and UNESCO-UNEVOC, as implementers of the BILT project together with BIBB.

Keynote by BIBB President Esser: Inclusive, flexible, excellent TVET

With a focus on TVET governance, the keynote address by the President of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Prof Dr Friedrich Hubert Esser, outlined the challenges faced in vocational education and training in Germany: Demographic change and the educational trend towards academisation are exacerbating the shortage of skilled workers. Esser underlined three tasks on policy level:

  • Strengthening the equivalence of vocational and higher education
  • creating flexible and inclusive education and training opportunities to address individual needs and make career paths more transparent;
  • promoting excellence in vocational education and training in order to be competitive with higher education pathways, including through attractive continuing and further VET, higher TVET, and improved recognition of prior learning.
President Esser on flexible and inclusive vocational training
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Panel discussion on future-proofing TVET systems

In the panel discussion that followed the keynote, Catrin Hannken, Federal Ministry of Education and Research, as well as Karen Chong, Singapore Ministry of Education, and Nicholas Ouma, African Union Commission, contributed their respective regional perspectives on "Future-proofing TVET systems for the dual transition".

The discussion with conference participants focused on core skills, flexible and shorter training offers for up- and reskilling, collaboration with industry partners and the universal issue of the attractiveness of vocational education and training. A graphic recording that captures key moments of the discussion is provided in the downloads section below.

BILT Expert Group: initial recommendations and examples of innovative practice

The third day of the conference focused on digital and green skills. Fittingly, it started with a keynote by SkillsFuture Singapore on the importance of critical core skills and lifelong learning.

The international BILT Expert Group on the dual transition in the hospitality and tourism sector held their first in-person working meeting at the conference after months of virtual collaboration. To the wider audience, the Expert Group leads from the Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training (SFUVET) presented an overview of relevant trends in hospitality and tourism with implications for TVET, including circular economy, energy and resource efficiency, smart mobility, automation, platform economy, and virtual or augmented reality. The Expert Group addressed the identification, integration and implementation of digital and green skills in vocational training for the sector. The Expert Group’s finalised recommendations will be published later this year.

Examples of successful TVET responses to the dual transition in hospitality and tourism as well as innovative TVET practices that foster digital and green skills were presented. The presentations, and a graphic recording of the session, can be accessed via links at the bottom of the page.

Hybrid conference: one BILT community

For on-site participants, the conference programme was rounded off by insights into Singaporean TVET programmes for hospitality during a guided tour of Temasek Polytechnic’s campus as well as a study visit to the Institute of Technical Education. Online participants were invited to browse a virtual gallery of further innovative TVET practices on the conference platform.

Study visit: students of Temasek Polytechnic
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The lively exchanges during the three days of the conference underline BILT’s role in supporting policy and peer learning in the global TVET community. Through innovative and successful examples, the conference encourages BILT partners to identify new opportunities for international and regional collaboration that can support digital and sustainable TVET transformations in their respective contexts.

Outlook: BILT Learning Forum 2023 in Bonn

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Visualisation of the discussion results

From 24 – 26 October 2023, the global BILT Learning Forum will take place on the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany. In addition to presentations by high-level representatives from the three project regions, one highlight of the event will be the presentation of the results from the BILT Expert Group.

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