From the 23rd to the 25th of September, 15 of our members participated in our meeting in Tirana, Albania. The objectives of the meeting were, to welcome the new members of the network, to ensure that all members of the network are up to date with the work of the EAN, to adopt Statutes and a Code of Conduct, to participate in the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA) plenary session, and to define a vision for the EAN.
On the first day of the meeting, we had a lot to work on. We started at 3 PM and finished at around 8 PM. We started the meeting with icebreakers and getting to know each other. This is an essential part in working together, and it is an important segment, as it ensures that the new members of the network are well integrated in the work. After the welcome session, we had an introduction/follow up session on the work of the network. In this session, we discussed our expectations for the network and played a game of Jeopardy on related topics to our work.
During a small break, we had a visit from a representative of the European Training Foundation, who held the seminar in Tirana. We hear about their work, and especially their aims to support candidate countries to the EU, in developing policies on VET and apprenticeships. Later on, we also had a visit from our contacts in the European Commission.
After the break, we had updates from the network members, and the SOFA. We heard about the special situation in Denmark, where the Danish government is continuing their financial cuts in the education sector, however, they plan on funding the VET sector with 300 million euros. We heard that in the Netherlands and in the UK, the School Student Unions have worked on removing the hidden costs in VET (tools, work clothes, etc.). In the Netherlands, they successfully ensured that it is the employer’s role to cover the costs, and in the UK they are still fighting. In Cyprus the VET system is now well established, however, there are still problems with remuneration for the apprentices, as it is only apparent in the private sector.
Between the meeting in Rome and this meeting, the SOFA had been hard at work. They had prepared Statutes, a Code of Conduct, and finished a youth-friendly version of our seven key priorities. At the meeting, we adopted the Statutes and the Code of Conduct. This is an important step forward for us, as it shows our continuous development.
We finished the day off by preparing for our plenary session on the 24th and evaluating the day.
On day two, we joined the EAfA plenary session and attended the opening session. After the opening session, we prepared for our own session an hour later. At our session, we chose to focus on the issue of gender stereotypes in VET and apprenticeships. We shared personal stories, asked questions for reflection to the stakeholders, and showed some good and bad examples of advertisements for different vocations. Even though our session was only 15 minutes long, we made our touch to the plenary session and gave the participants some food for thought.
The rest of the day we worked on our Work Plan and Implementation Plan. We brainstormed, worked in groups, and had long debates. We then finished up with choosing specific priorities for long-term and short-term goals. The priorities were chosen in the following categories:
- Young people and the broader public
- Institutional stakeholders
After making the preparations for the Work Plan and Implementation Plan, we split into three working groups, to prepare on drafting a Quality Charter for the next meeting in Vienna. The charter is based on our Key Priorities and should be a practical document with key questions/indicators for each of the seven priorities, in order to assess whether employers are complying with the Key Priorities.
As the last thing of the day, we discussed the Vienna meeting and went through what needed to be prepared or worked with before the meeting.
During the last day, we went on study visits together with the EAfA members. The study visits were to different VET institutions.
Overall, the meeting was a very productive and hasty meeting, as it can be seen from this article. Now we are prepared for the last meeting of the year, which as I stated before, will take place in Vienna during the European Vocational Skills Week 2018!
See you there!