The Regional Conference “Enhancing cooperation between employers and education institutions in Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training in the European Union and Central Asia countries“, took place in Warsaw on 14-16 March.
Organised by CAEP in collaboration with the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the 3-day event was attended by 80 participants from all five of the Central Asia countries, from Bulgaria, Germany, Latvia, Romania and Poland, as well as from the European Commission, the EEAS, EACEA and the ETF. Participants included high-level government representatives, including ministers and deputy ministers for education and labour from Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, education specialists and practitioners, and representatives from business, business associations and chambers.
In his opening speech, H.E. Emil Savov Yalnazov, Ambassador of Bulgaria to Poland, discussed how the priorities of the current Bulgarian EU Presidency, “The Future of Europe and Young People” and “Digital Economy and Skills for the Future” relate to the theme of the Conference and emphasised the importance of life-long education and building relevant skills for the future.
Mr Jürgen Heimann, Development coordinator for Central Asia at the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), outlined how DEVCO is supporting skills development and employment in Central Asia through both bilateral programmes and regional programmes such as Erasmus+ and CAEP. He highlighted the importance of private sector participation and the need to foster links with labour markets to ensure that education systems respond to the needs of learners and job seekers as well as employer demand.
The first day of the conference focused on the benefits of business-education cooperation. CAEP experts presented the findings of a stock-taking report on best practice in the field in the EU and CA countries and HE and VET representatives from CA countries shared their experiences of cooperation between businesses and educational institutions at both system and operational level.
Mr Marcus Braunert from ABB in Germany presented an insightful case study on ABB’s approach to cooperation with education institutions as part of the “classical” German dual system, including their innovative involvement in the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative (Dual) State University (DHBW), offering a unique synthesis between theory and practice at university level.
The second day of the conference opened with two keynote speeches from Poland, on major reforms of the country’s HE system and the Polish Graduate Tracking System, and participants then took part in one of two parallel workshops. The first looked at cooperation at system level, such as the use of Sector Qualification Councils in the development of National Qualification Systems, and the second engaged participants in a diagnostic exercise to identify and evaluate the various forms of cooperation between business and education institutions. The day concluded with examples from Torino Process countries of how HE and VET can interrelate with regards to enhancing the employability of graduates, from ETF Expert Christine Hemschemeier, and a discussion on the permeability between VET and HE.
The third and final day gave participants the opportunity to visit two Polish HEIs, Warsaw School of Economics (SGH) and Kozminski University, and discuss opportunities for potential cooperation.
The full programme, materials and photo gallery can be found on the Regional Conference webpages.