Ministers from the European Union (EU) Member States, candidate countries, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein have endorsed the new medium-term deliverables for vocational education and training (VET), known as the Riga conclusions. At a meeting hosted by the EU Latvian Presidency in Riga on 22 June 2015, the ministers renewed their efforts 'in raising the overall quality and status of VET in the context of the Copenhagen process.' They aim to meet the education and training 2020 strategic objectives and reaffirm their support for the wider European growth and jobs agenda.
The conclusions include five priority areas for 2015-20 aiming to:
- promote work-based learning in all its forms, with special attention to apprenticeships, by involving social partners, companies, chambers and VET providers, as well as by stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship;
- further develop quality assurance mechanisms in VET in line with the European quality assurance in VET recommendation and, as part of quality assurance systems, establish continuous information and feedback loops in initial VET and continuing VET systems based on learning outcomes;
- enhance access to VET and qualifications for all through more flexible and permeable systems, notably by offering efficient and integrated guidance services and making available validation of non-formal and informal learning;
- further strengthen key competences in VET curricula and provide more effective opportunities to acquire or develop those skills through initial VET and continuing VET;
- introduce systematic approaches to, and opportunities for, initial and continuous professional development of VET teachers, trainers and mentors in both school and work-based settings.
Project SHINE, even if conceived well before the above so-called “Riga conclusions”, has a lot to do with them. In fact SHINE:
- is focused on EQF 5 and higher VET programmes, proposing either in-company training periods and multi-stakeholder co-operation in all programme phases, from inception to evaluation and review;
investigates ways for quality assurance improvement in the delivery of such programmes, basing quality on employability of students;
- includes validation of non-formal and informal learning among basic criteria for selecting best practices that will guide the development of policy spillovers and recommendations;
- considers HVET from a true LLL perspective, putting in high value key- and cross-competences;
- has a special eye on teacher/trainer professional development in all settings.