European vocational training – open, engaging, quickly responding to labour market

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The Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council is paying special attention to promoting vocational education and training (VET). Directors general responsible for VET in the EU member states, together with experts and social partners, have gathered in Vilnius to discuss how to enhance quality of vocational training, making VET directly meet the demands of the labour market, as well as promoting VET openess and inclusiviness to all.

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Quality assurance in VET Group in Linkedin

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This group aims to connect professionals working in the field of quality assurance in vocational education and training, managerial and administrative staff, teachers and trainers, consultants and researchers working in quality assurance.

The group members will exchange information, ideas and practices related to quality assurance, application of EQAVET and EFQM principles in their organisations, problems and pitfalls, suggestions for improvement, solutions.

While the group originates from the EU project BEQUAL, and its successors BEQUAL+ and EXPANDVET, it is open to everyone person working on the theme and wants to be part of our community.

Click here to get connected.

Evaluation of training: Lessons learned

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The evaluation of a training course is becoming a standard procedure; the training courses that are funded by European programmes or ESF have evaluation as a requirement, but it is expanding also in private funded training courses. Every training organization, more or less, has a procedure for the final evaluation of training courses. Typically, the evaluation is being done through an evaluation questionnaire. And then someone processes the questionnaires, analyses the results and provides suggestions and recommendations for improvement. Or at least, that is the way it should be…

I remember back in 2007, when we organized our first in-service training course for staff in adult education. Before that we had developed a large number of evaluation questionnaires for different purposes. But at that point, we decided to develop a standard questionnaire for our international training courses, one that we can use in every course and can help us improve ourselves. For the development of that evaluation questionnaire, we spent a lot of time. We worked in a team, to think about the aspects of the organization and delivery of the training course that we wanted to evaluate. There are so many things that we want to have the feedback of the trainees!! We want to know about the motivation of the trainees to choose our training course among so many others, we want to ask about the the quality of the training course and learning materials, for the trainers and for the social programme. We give particular emphasis to receive the comments of the participants, as with close questions we get the overall feeling but we cannot capture details. And we care very much about the details. We want to ask everything, but we also want a short questionnaire, so that people can fill-it-in in 5 minutes. We spent time to phrase carefully the questions, to revise the questionnaire again and again to make it short but comprehensive. And after using the questionnaire in that first evaluation course, we revised it once more.

Now, in every training course that we organize since then, we use the same standarised questionnaire. Therefore, we can compare results over time and improve our services continuously. With the time, we have improved many aspects of the training course and now we think that we have reached high quality standards.

Two weeks ago, we organized a five-days training course for a team of 10 women entrepreneurs and managers from the Kaunas Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Crafts in Lithuania. The group consisted of high qualified trainees; most of them had postgraduate degrees and extensive working experience in demanding positions. These women left their daily businesses for a week and they had high expectations from the training course. Our job was to deliver a high quality training course and provide also a social programme for first time visitors in Greece.

The evaluation showed an overall satisfaction, however, there were some points that were not so good and needed our attention. The points that were raised were not in our immediate influence: they complained about poor internet connection in the hotel and poor taxi services. The truth is that it was the first time to organize a training course in a hotel in Athens; we normally use our training room in Piraeus and we have a number of service providers including hotels, restaurants that we use and we trust. For this training course, we had selected a 4-star hotel in the centre of Athens, so that our hosts can minimize time spent on travelling and spend more time in sightseeing. The issue of the taxi drivers is known. We always inform our hosts that they should pay attention to taxi drivers.

Nevertheless, as a hosting organization, we need to keep our visitors satisfied in every aspect of their study visit. Therefore, following this experience, we have designed corrective actions for these two points, to minimize the same problems in the future.

  • Regarding the hotel, we have developed a check list and we will make sure that someone will pay a visit to the hotel to check everything before the organization of the training course.
  • Regarding the taxi services, we will provide our hosts information about taxi companies and the option to prebook a taxi waiting in the airport.
In a competitive and challenging market, we cannot afford to rest, we need to continuously improve our quality assurance procedures, focusing on the satisfaction of our clients. With this in mind, we have to take very seriously all comments and not-so-good evaluation rates, deal with every little detail and continuously improve our services.

Conference "Quality Assurance in Education and Training"

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Wednesday 25 September 2013

IDEC organised the conference "Quality in vocational education and training" in company's premises in Piraeus. 25 people from the field of education and training participated in the conference, representing private and public organisations. Participants expressed their interest for the evolutions in the field of education at European and national level and especially in the field of quality assurance, validation, accreditation and transparency of qualifications.

In the conference in was presented the European projects BEQUAL+ and EXPANDVET, the European and national framework for quality in lifelong learning, methodologies and tools for quality assurance, continuous professional development of staff and teachers in LLL and the development of generic skills and competencies needed in the labour market.

Relevant Documents


Final conference of BEQUAL + project successfully held in Sofia

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International conference put an end of two years of work for expanding BEQUAL benchmarking tool and community of practice for quality assurance in vocational education and training.  The BEQUAL+ project was financed under EU Leonardo Da Vinci Programme (2011-2013) and brought together partners from Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey and Greece to transfer innovative techniques for self-evaluation of quality assurance practices in vocational education and training, quality benchmarking and networking. The innovative content transferred consists of electronic benchmarking tool for quality assurance in VET, offering opportunity for VET providers to compare their performance with similar institutions, web based quality sharing network and good practice center and thematic portal as a reference point for practitioners, researchers and policy makers in VET.

The partners presented the project activities and achieved results at the final conference, held on 20 September 2013 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Among the participants were VET providers,  representatives of Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Economy and Energy, Office of the President of Republic of Bulgaria, educational experts, social partners, etc.

The functionalities of the BEQUAL Benchmarking Tool and Good Practice Center were demonstrated in details. The participants discussed the sustainability of the project results   and their potential to be embedded in the VET quality assurance policies and practices.

We also presented of  how our international cooperation provided opportunity for  synergy between two EU projects (BEQUAL+ and EXPANDVET) that use the same platform . Three representatives of EXPANDVET partners attended the BEQUAL + final conference and provided details on how we collaborated to learn from each other and to improve the innovative content.


Conference Leadership in Education

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• Conference
• EC Event
• Lithuanian Presidency Conference
• School Leadership Event
Monday, September 9, 2013 (All day) - Tuesday, September 10, 2013 (All day)
Vilnius, Lithuania
Organized by Lithuanian Presidency in close cooperation with the European Commission.

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Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2013. International Conference „European Higher Education in the World“

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About Conference

The international dimension of higher education has become a central topic of the European higher education policy agenda. Globalisation and technological development are radically changing the landscape of higher education. International student mobility will grow rapidly to an expected 7 million by 2020 in the context of an exponential growth in the demand for higher education: over the next twenty years, the number of higher education students is expected to increase fourfold, from 99 million to 414 million. The thirst for knowledge and social mobility of the expanding middle classes in emerging economies will put higher education within the reach of hundreds of millions of citizens of the world.

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Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2013: Priorities in Education

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The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council discusses issues of the quality of education and vocational education and training, youth activity and public health; it also submits proposals for the improved interaction of national education systems when providing for an environment favourable to economic growth, human health and cultural development. The Council discusses, and together with the European Parliament approves programmes that seek to share and improve European cultural and historical heritage, use cultural and audiovisual measures to increase the creativity and literacy of citizens, promote the mobility of students, teachers and lecturers, to improve the cooperation of education systems with business, and to ensure the earlier involvement of youth in the labour market.

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EfVET Newsletter June 2013

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The E-benchmarking tool is ready to be used by Lithuanian VET institutions.

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Lithuanian VET institutions may already use the electronic quality comparison tool on the site to evaluate themselves at national and European level. The site is now available in the Lithuanian language, so filling in an electronic questionnaire which enables a comparative analysis of the quality of the processes will not be difficult.

In a four-part questionnaire the planning, performance, evaluation, feedback and process improvement are evaluated. In the “My Statistics“ section each institution may view its own results, and compare their strengths and weaker areas with other training organizations in Lithuania and other European countries.

BEQUAL statistics summarise the data, categorising it by country or by type of organization and etc. If the answers from a VET institution place it among the best 20 percent, the institution may present their best practice example and for 18 months may advertise for free on the site, that operates in 11 different languages.

The operation of national versions of the site and opportunities of using all facilities of the site were discussed in the second meeting of the project TOI EXPAND QUALITY ASSURANCE IN VET (BENCHMARKING TOOL) LLP-LdV-TOI-2012-LT-0117 by partners from Lithuania, Poland, Austria and the United Kingdom on 23-24 May in Lodz.

Six months after the first meeting in Greece it was important to evaluate the performance of the first half of the year, to discuss the problems in adapting and improving the benchmarking tool in individual countries, to define a single set of best practice criteria, and to plan the tasks for the next six months.

According to the project’s coordinator Ausra Giedriene (VET chief specialist from Kaunas Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Crafts) , the project partners are Greek training and consulting company "IDEC" (who implemented the original BEQUAL project), Kaunas Vocational Training Centre for Service Business Specialists, Norton Radstock College (United Kingdom), The Faculty of Management of The University of Lodz (Poland) and the BEST continuing vocational training institute (Austria).

Brochures in all of the project partners' national languages ​​(including Lithuanian) have been published. These brochures present to VET institutions the EXPANDVET project’s innovative content, opportunities to evaluate themselves in a broad context and opportunities to estimate the strengths and weaknesses of their quality processes. It is also possible to connect to the European educational institutions network, to interact with colleagues from other countries, and to participate in discussions via social networking, to share the best practices.

Project EXPANDVET transfers innovation to Lithuania, Poland, Austria and the United Kingdom coming from Greece, France, Germany, Romania, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and Turkey. The quality assurance tool and e-platform are taken from the previous transfer of innovation project BEQUAL+, therefore it is planned for EXPANDVET representatives to participate in final conference of that project to ensure the continuity of innovation.


· To examine the existing approaches for quality assurance in participating countries

· To transfer, adapt and pilot the benchmarking tool in Lithuania, Austria, Poland and United Kingdom.

· To develop the Lithuanian and Polish language versions of the thematic portal.

· To enrich the thematic portal with various content, documents, links, articles, videos.

· To disseminate and promote the benchmarking tool at regional, national and European level.

· To collaborate in development of products and quality assurance practices.

The project is implemented by 6 partners from 5 EU countries. The consortium is based on the objective of using the best European practice in the field of quality assurance systems in VET.

The following outcomes of the project are expected:

- An on-line benchmarking tool, which offers VET institutions the possibility to compare their quality processes and practices and to identify their strong points and processes to be improved compared to competing institutions. The core of the benchmarking tool is a multiple choice questionnaire to be filled in by VET providers. Each institution has to self-assess its state of fulfilment of the indicator in question and to compare its results with similar institutions operating in the same country and/or in other countries. The tool offers VET stakeholders, policy makers and consultants information on which indicators have a good degree of fulfilment by the majority of VET institutions concerned and which points need to be further enhanced. The benchmarking tool is hosted in the thematic portal.

-  A web based quality sharing network and good practice centre establishing a Community of Practice (CoP) in the field of quality assurance in VET.  The establishment of the CoP also involves a series of networking activities for VET stakeholders and practitioners, blogging in the thematic portal, and creation of profiles on Facebook and Twitter.

- A thematic portal on quality assurance in VET, hosted at the address The portal includes the following functions: Online benchmarking tool, the good practice centre, statistics, blogs, news and news feeds, links, library, resources and articles, polls, the on-line login module and information on the project. The portal is multilingual. The national versions are not identical to the English one.

The project is funded by the Lifelong Learning Programme, managed by the Education Exchanges Support Foundation in the Republic of Lithuania. The material represents the grant recipient, but not the Education Exchanges Support Foundation, the European Commission or their institutions points of view. The European Commission is not responsible for the content of the material and the possible use of the information.

Learning a trade vs academic degree: Lithuanian vocational training regains lost prestige

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When secondary school pupils show a lack of diligence in their studies, teachers still sometimes use a somewhat old-fashioned disciplinary measure – threatening they will end up in a vocational school instead of a university. Nowadays, however, many a university graduate in Lithuania struggle to find a job and therefore flock to vocational schools to learn a trade.

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Solutions to the problem of Youth Unemployment in Lithuania

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'In Lithuania, the overall amount of structural funds reprogrammed is EUR 31 million. They have been mobilised recently for youth employment measures by amending programmes or making internal reallocations between measures. Labour market reforms to remove disincentives for employers to take on more staff are ongoing, in particular to facilitate temporary work contracts for up to two years; flexibility in setting working hours; teleworking; transparent and equal remuneration for work / terms of notification.
•  In April 2012, the ESF project “Integration into Labour Market” was refocused on youth, offering vocational training programmes to about 6,000 young people. From the ERDF, EUR 1.3 million was transferred to measure “Assistant-3” and EUR 12.45 million to “Invest LT-2” for actions dedicated to young entrepreneurs and various business services for young people.
• The Entrepreneurship Promotion Fund (ESF EUR 14.5 million), currently provides loans and training services for start-ups and self-employment, with youth among the prioritised focus groups under this measure. A new ESF measure (EUR 3 million), “Subsidies for entrepreneurship promotion”, has been approved recently by the government in order to increase the attractiveness of loan schemes provided for startups and self-employment.
• In August 2012, the project "Be active on the labour market" (providing first-job skills for young participants) was extended until 1 September 2013 and its budget was increased by EUR 6 million (ESF), with a view to supporting around 6 000 young people
• Another new ESF measure (EUR 9.3 million) “Support for the first job” has been recently approved, replacing the existing social security reduction scheme for the first job by wage subsidies.
• ERDF resources were reallocated to support youth to commercialise business ideas and improve accessibility of financial resources. Overall, some 12 000 young entrepreneurs would be mentored or coached and some 25 000 young people would be better informed on business financing opportunities.'

ERDF= European Regional Development Funds


Comparative study defined the adaptation of BEQUAL benchmarking tool for the Bulgarian, Turkish and Italian users

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The adaptation of BEQUAL benchmarking tool and Community of Practice that took place under the framework of BEQUAL + project had been based on Country Profiles fulfilling the role of background information for needs analysis and determining the main characteristics of VET systems in importing countries, existing approaches and gaps in quality assurance that needed be taken into account in the process of adaptation. They provided the basis for comparative analysis and for deciding the correct approaches for adaptation of the benchmarking tool.

Based on information provided by the partners from Bulgaria, Turkey and Italy, а comparative report has been elaborated to summarise the structure, content, and approaches for quality assurance in VET systems across the partner countries in order to identify the similarities, contrasts, and trends at national level that have to be taken into account in process of adaptation of the BEQUAL benchmarking tool.

The country studies and the comparative analysis reveal that the potential value added of the transfer of innovative instrument for benchmarking of quality assurance practices will be significant, as most of participating countries lack systematic national quality assurance approaches and established quality assurance practices consistent with the EQAVET recommendations. Only Italian VET providers seems to have access to mixture of well-established instruments for QA management, such as hetero-evaluation (ISO 9001-2000, the system of accreditation of training bodies (DM 166/2001) and the Model of accreditation ASFOR); self-assessment (system of indicators OECD-CERI, the CIPP Model, Model Self-Assessment Institute (Trento), the model evaluation of the Shares (ENAIP), the model for self-assessment Isfol structures of schools and training 34); mixed system (EFQM excellence and the Model Campus (CRUI), and accreditation.

The findings of the comparative analysis show that the potential users of BEQUAL benchmarking tool are quite diverse, as the institutions of VET systems in Bulgaria, Italy and Turkey are very different. This finding means that the benchmarking of different institutions from different countries requires agreement on common classification of the VET institutions that to be used in the adaptation of the tool.

The comparative analysis reveals also different progress in adoption of European Quality Assurance Framework for VET in the three countries. Bulgaria and Italy have established National Reference Points for quality assurance, while Turkey lags behind in this respect. Italy has adopted a National Plan for quality assurance in Education and Training, and Bulgaria has established an interdepartmental working group to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Science to elaborate quality assurance measures and actions in VET.
This means that project partners should elaborate their own strategy and to put different efforts to promote the use of EQAVET in their countries.

BEQUAL tool piloting successfully accomplished

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The piloting of the translated and adapted BEQUAL tool for benchmarking quality assurance in VET was completed successfully in April 2013. The purpose of the piloting actions was to test the application of the adapted benchmarking tool in the importing countries (Bulgaria, Italy and Turkey), to observe the feedback of the users in order to discover potential problems and/or errors, as well as to re-evaluate and improve the BEQUAL tool. We tested the technical performance of the BEQUAL platform, its functionalities, the relevance of the benchmarking methodology used, the need for further adaptations, as well as the exploitation potential.

In all, 139 VET providers from Bulgaria, Italy and Turkey participated in the trial. This was more than double in excess of the target numbers for the pilot and reflects the partners’ efforts for successful engagement and recruitment campaigns.

Partners designed the pilots in different format in order to reflect the regional specifics and to ensure the best working format of the trials. 3 piloting seminars have been held in Bulgaria in the period 15 February- 07 March 2013, with 76 participants - principals of VET high schools, colleges and managers of centers for vocational education and training. The locations – Plovdiv, Pleven and Sofia - have been selected to provide as much coverage of different types of regional VET providers as possible. In Italy, trials were designed as individual meetings with VET centers and Vocational schools, while our Turkish partner combined 2 workshops with face to face meetings. The venues were carefully selected to provide an access to large number of computers with internet connection, in order to allow for a large number of participants to test the BEQUAL tool online.

The feedback on the whole was very positive, although we identified some areas for improvement that were common to all partner countries. Among the best rated features of the BEQUAL tool was the structure of the benchmarking tool, quality of questions, instructions provided and convenience of using the tool. The main critics were related to the clarity and simplicity of questions, These issues have all been considered and will be addressed wherever possible.

The pilots provided clear indication for a significant long-term potential for utilization of the BEQUAL tool, as most of the VET providers have no experience of using assessment/benchmarking tools related to quality assurance in VET. At the same time, almost all of the participants in the pilots consider that the tool has a potential to encourage the involvement with the application of quality assurance in their VET organizations.

Project partners successfully used the piloting activities to building confidence in the final beneficiaries and to contribute for utilizing the significant potential for incorporation of quality assurance tools in VET.

You can follow the BEQUAL+ project on:

Members of the European Parliament and the Seimas: Lithuania must address unemployment and promote employment and vocational training in the context of the EU

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A delegation of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) of the European Parliament has met with Members of the Seimas and discussed unemployment, promotion of employment, the lack of qualified labour force, emigration and the events covering these issues to be held in the framework of the parliamentary dimension of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

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Great interest in piloting BEQUAL tool in Bulgaria

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3 piloting seminars have been held in Bulgaria in the period 15 February- 07 March 2013. Their purpose was to test the application of the adapted benchmarking tool in Bulgaria, to observe the feedback of the users in order to discover potential problems and/or errors and to define the areas for improve the benchmarking tool. The seminars were held in Plovdiv, Pleven and Sofia and were visited by 75 VET providers (principals of VET high schools, colleges and managers of centers for vocational education and training). Having the questions, reactions, and follow-up conversations with the managers of VET institutions, we consider that there is a significant potential for incorporation of quality assurance tools in VET.

Piloting of the Benchmarking tool in Italy

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From January till March 2013 the piloting of the Benchmarking tool was done in Italy.

15 individual meetings with VET centres and Vocational schools of Tuscany were fixed and fulfilled. The meetings had place partly in locations of the VET providers and partly in ASEV’s premises.

One VET institution was interviewed telephonically and then by mail.

So totally ASEV has managed to reach 16 VET centres and vocational schools from the following cities: Empoli, Florence, Pontedera, Pistoia, Livorno, Bagno a Ripoli, Prato, Colle di Val’Elsa and Genova, which belong to the following types of VET institutions: lower secondary vocational education and training – 4; post secondary non-tertiary vocational education and training – 2; higher vocational education – 4; further education and training – 6.


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On 6 February 2013 Ms Milda Spelyte-Letuliene, Education Attaché for the Permanent Representation of Lithuanian to the EU, presented the preliminary ideas on the priorities on education and training of the upcoming Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. This information note develops on the main directions the Council will head to for the 2nd semester 2013.

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Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) - call for proposals 2013

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The DG Education and Culture has announced the Lifelong Learning Programme call for proposals 2013. This year's strategic priorities are the same with the 2012 ones:

  1. Develop strategies for lifelong learning and mobility
  2. Encourage cooperation between the worlds of education, training and work
  3. Support initial and continuous training of teachers, trainers and education and training institutions' managers
  4. Promote the acquisition of key competences throughout  the education and training system
  5. Promote social inclusion and gender equality in education and training, including the integration of migrants and Roma

The deadlines to keep in mind are:

Comenius Individual Pupil Mobility 03/12/2012
Comenius, Grundtvig: in-service training 16/01/2013, 30/04/2013 and 17/09/2013
Comenius Assistantships 31/01/2013
Comenius, Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Grundtvig: multilateral projects, networks and accompanying measures 31/01/2013
Leonardo da Vinci: multilateral projects for the Transfer of Innovation 31/01/2013
Leonardo da Vinci: Mobility (including the Leonardo da Vinci mobility certificate); Erasmus: Intensive Language Courses (EILC) 01/02/2013
Jean Monnet programme 15/02/2013
Comenius, Leonardo da Vinci, Grundtvig: partnerships; Comenius: Comenius Regio partnerships; Grundtvig: workshops 21/02/2013
Erasmus: intensive programmes (IP), students mobility for studies and placements (including the Erasmus consortium placement certificate) and staff mobility (teaching assignments and staff training) 08/03/2013
Grundtvig: Assistantships, Senior Volunteering Projects 28/03/2013
Transversal programme: Key activity 1 — Study visits 28/03/2013 and 15/10/2013
Transversal programme: all other activities 28/02/2013

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