For workers to remain competitive and secure life-long employability, it is crucial to invest in their reskilling and upskilling.

This article was authored by Stephan Howeg, Chief of Staff & Communications Officer at the Adecco Group.


This week marks European Vocational Skills Week 2020. As a current European Commission Ambassador for Vocational Educational Training (VET), and a former apprentice, I know how vocational training can help create a positive future for young people, the existing workforce, and companies alike.

But with COVID-19 changing the world of work more rapidly than any other event in living memory, there is now perhaps no better time to look at VET in terms of the role it can play in developing skills and careers.

As we transition to a post-COVID-19 world of work, I see the following VET areas of particular relevance:

  • VET and apprenticeships are not the same. Yes, an apprenticeship is a form of VET, but VET can, and should, be part of continuing skills development throughout a person’s career
  • Countries that ‘do VET well’ have established a true partnership between schools, colleges, employers, and industry, to establish the supply and demand needs. They support this by encouraging people to access skills-related education and training at multiple points in their lives – not purely at 16-20
  • VET and apprenticeships programmes are fast and flexible enough to support the needs of new sectors finding new skills, especially digital. Upskilling and re-skilling programmes fit well into this environment, both for people who are looking for a job, as well as those who have jobs and need to stay relevant
  • Visibility of VET programmes must be highlighted in schools and colleges. In some countries, this is done automatically, but in others, people leaving school are often not even aware that an apprenticeship is available to them. We cannot waste talent by allowing school leavers to become unemployed when there are training and work opportunities that could transform their life prospects

From my own perspective, I encourage VET as a first choice in career planning and development. I trained as an apprentice, and, through my own efforts, coupled with the support of employers through training and further education, I am now on the executive committee of a Fortune 500 company. For me, VET was an excellent and rewarding transition between school and a career and I’m very grateful for the path it has enabled me to take.

As a further contribution to the discussion around VET, apprenticeships, and bridging the skills gap, The Adecco Group, has released its “Employability, not only employment” report. If you’re a policymaker, educational institution, company, job-seeker or employee I would encourage you to read it, as it offers useful and interesting perspectives and a range of suggestions for action.

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