Given the changes in the demand for employment and skills expected to materialise over the period to 2030, we ask ourselves what is the role of Vocational Education and Training in meeting those skill needs and what is the investment needed to make sure those needs are met. It is impossible not to see the connections with the ongoing developments around the Green Deal, the expected reforms of the EU fiscal policy and the updated Recommendations on VET and on achieving a fair transition towards climate neutrality. The results of the FIELDS project are clear examples of how investment in VET can deliver human capital solutions to supply food systems and bioeconomy chains. In this way supporting the overarching goals of the Green Deal and the European Pillar of Social Rights, as well as the European Education Area and the Skills Agenda. To be more concrete, the analysis of skill gaps, the development of European and national strategies as well as training programmes and apprenticeship schemes developed within the project have strong linkages with both Education and Training policies at EU level and broader sectoral and thematic policies.
Investing in Education and Training benefits all policy areas!
The project partners represent over 10 Member States and several EU networks as well as different stakeholders in the education and employment sectors such as training providers, farmers, food industry and civil society representatives. Together they have worked on creating occupational profiles, curricula and training programmes to close the skill gaps in the agri-food sector. As an EU funded project, their work was underpinned by the different tools and policies available which supported connecting the results of the project at EU level (i.e. ESCO). The latest VET Recommendation provides partners with guidelines which support not only developing the training programmes and apprenticeship schemes but also the creation of mobility opportunities for VET students and staff. By cooperating across countries on joint programmes and making use of EU tools (such as EQAVET, ESCO, ECTS, EFQEA & EQF) the transferability of the learning outcomes are expected to be simplified while maintaining the overall quality of the training programmes and their different modules.
The holistic approach to skills taken by FIELDS means that the learners will be developing hard technical skills alongside transversal skills to allow them to navigate the green transition and adapt to the changes in their fields and in society. The skills and competences to be built by the FIELDS training programmes take into account the different competence frameworks developed at EU level such as DigComp, EntreComp, GreenComp, the work on transversal skills and competences as well as the Key Competences for lifelong Learning as overarching guide.
Through the funding to FIELDS activities, partners can support the EU in implementing key EU policies as mentioned previously but this work is also linked to the various initiatives within these policies such as the Pact for Skills – in which several partners are continuing and furthering the work of FIELDS – as well as the Micro-credentials initiatives through the modularity of the training programmes. On a more macro level, the work of FIELDS is closely linked to the Green Deal goals of innovation and investment while reducing emissions, creating jobs and improving health and wellbeing. In terms of thematic and sectoral policies, the activities implemented as part of the FIELDS project are guided by key EU files in several areas such as bioeconomy, digitalisation, sustainability which include but are not limited to Council Recommendations, Communications and Actions Plan such as on Learning for the green transition and sustainable development, Ensuring a fair transition towards climate neutrality, the Circular Economy and Digital Education Action Plans, the Environmental Action programme, A sustainable Bioeconomy for Europe and the Biodiversity strategy. On a more sectoral level, partners identified FIELDS’s connections to policies such as the CAP, Farm to Fork Strategy and the EU Forest Strategy.
Agriculture and education sectors uniting to deliver on the Green Deal & the European Education Area
Taking into account the current skills context and the many interlinkages of the FIELDS project with EU policies and education and training tools, the project partners exchanged last week with policymakers and practitioners to highlight investing in VET as a way of ensuring the EU achieves its social, environmental and economic goals through a just transition. The meeting took place in the framework of the 12th LLLWeek and gathered representatives from the European Commission (DG AGRI), practitioners from VET schools and companies, civil society representatives from education and training and regional public bodies as well as FIELDS project partners. The discussions focused mainly on the importance of properly funding VET providers and investing in learners and trainers as well as ensuring different actors from the agriculture and education sectors work together to guarantee effective implementation and efficient use of public funding.
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Read LLLP Policy Recommendations on Investment in Education and Training here