UNESCO hosts 2021 International Conference on Technical and Vocational Education and Training for successful and just transitions

“Inclusive and sustainable economic growth and access to decent work is strongly reliant on quality education and training opportunities”, expressed UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, Ms Stefania Giannini in her opening remarks during UNESCO’s International Conference on Transforming Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for successful and just transitions held on 7 and 8 December 2021.

The online conference brought together over 700 participants, representatives of governments, private sector, development partners, experts, and testimonies from around the world to discuss TVET in a world undergoing multiple transitions and explore different directions for the new Strategy for TVET 2022-2029. The conference was part of a series of consultations that were held during this year with UNESCO Member States and TVET stakeholders aiming to capture key challenges facing TVET and ways to move forward.

Challenges, opportunities and new directions for TVET

The COVID-19 crisis has triggered major disruptions across the world by impacting every aspect of our life and of our work. It accelerated ongoing transitions the world of work was already undergoing, adding layers of uncertainty of which skills and competencies will be in demand in the future.

Mr Oliver Liang, representative of the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), delivered an important remark during the opening session. “The global call to action for a human-centred recovery underlines the importance of quality education training and decent work, especially for young people to maximize their potential”.

Youth learner and WorldSkills Champions Trust from Morocco, Ms Yousra Assali, shared her experiences as a former TVET student and highlighted the “great importance of TVET for everyone’s professional development, both in terms of learning in the workplace and improving skills by learning”.

Day one of the conference consisted of a high-level segment involving ministries’ representatives and high-level panel discussions.

Ministers shared their interest and experience in different TVET programmes and national prospects for future developments. During the high-level panel, discussions revolved around the needs of TVET systems to change in order to support transitions to green economies and the importance of adapting upskilling and reskilling to respond to constant changes.

Members’ representatives from the IAG-TVET, including Cedefop, European Commission, ETF, GIZ, ILO, OECD and the World Bank participated as speakers in different sessions during the conference providing their insights and reaffirming their shared partnership and commitment with UNESCO on TVET.

Partnerships to build skills for future jobs

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many challenges but also new opportunities, including the implementation of the Global Skills Academy initiative, under the umbrella of the Global Education Coalition, which aims to equip one million youth with digital skills. The initiative provides students from disadvantaged backgrounds with training and mentoring through collaboration with companies.

Partners shared values and importance in collaborating with UNESCO to continue equipping young people with skills needed, especially digital skills, to successfully place them in labour markets and develop a bright career path. Partners who participated in the discussion included Fundación Telefónica Colombia, Huawei, and Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA).

Transforming TVET for successful transitions

Mr Chakroun opened the second day of the international conference by enhancing the significance of teachers and the critical role they play in the TVET community. “Teachers are the center of TVET systems. They are key for quality and inclusiveness and relevance of TVET.”

Ms Huyen Thi Thuy Pham, TVET teacher from Hanoi College for Electro-Mechanics in Viet Nam shared, “TVET teachers must change paradigms for the skill sets to better integrate students into the labour market and modern societies”.

The conference followed by Mr Hervé Huot-Marchand, Chief of the Section of Youth, Literacy and Skills Development at UNESCO introducing the draft of the new UNESCO Strategy for TVET 2022-2029. He presented key trends, notably digital and green transitions, which TVET systems will need to respond to.

Four sessions, including two parallel sessions based on the three main pillars of the new Strategy for TVET led the remaining discussion of the conference. These included Skills for individuals to learn, work and live, Skills for economies to transition towards digitalisation and sustainable development, and Skills for inclusive and resilient societies.

The fourth session was on Data and monitoring of TVET. The objective of the panel sessions was to engage an expert and technical discussion to each of the elements of TVET. UNEVOC Centres’ representatives also contributed positively as moderators and speakers during the panel sessions.

Key findings from the sessions included the importance to remain adaptable and flexible to change, and ensure youth and adults develop technical and life skills to become empowered citizens and lifelong learners.

The conference was concluded by Mr Chakroun kindly thanking the TVET community for their support and the critical role each stakeholder has to advance the TVET agenda to leave no one behind.