Increasing the involvement of women in the VET sector at regional & local level

Last Tuesday, 11th of October 2022, YouthProAktiv participated in one of the workshops of the European Week of Regions and Cities 2022: Increasing the involvement of women in the VET sector at the regional & local level.

This year, the European Week of Regions and Cities has celebrated its 20th edition, taking place from the 10th to the 13th of October 2022. It is considered the biggest annual Brussels-based event dedicated to cohesion policy bringing together regions and cities from all over Europe, including politicians, administrators, experts, and academics. Throughout this edition, the principal focus has been on cohesion policy, the EU programs for 2021-2027, as well as the EU’s financial instruments for tackling the COVID-19 crisis and how they can make a difference in supporting a socially fair recovery but also in successfully managing the green and digital transition. 

The workshop in which YouthProAktiv participated aimed to review the involvement of women in lifelong learning to overcome the significant gender gap. The session was moderated by Sylvia Liuti, Gender Equality Expert at FORMA.Arizone, and counted with the participation of diverse speakers: 

  • Maria Pascual Garcia: Head of the International Projects Unit for VET, from the Education Department of the Government of Catalonia. (Spain) Their Unit for VET focuses on co-education through a gender perspective by organizing projects such as OrientaFP Innovation, Connect with a Company project, and Dual Vocational Course TMB. For instance, with the OrientaFB Innovation project, they work with teachers to improve the accompaniment and guidance of their students in their educational and professional transitions. Their mission is to contribute to vocational trainings and its modernization. With these premises, we focus our work around three axes: supporting learner-centered methodologies, minimizing difficulties in the transition to VET, and promoting skills and potential for working life.
  • Kinga Szebeni: National Expert at the European Commission, DG EMPL, Unit E3. (Belgium). Her participation focused on the gender divide concerning digital and green skills, thus introducing diverse EU projects such as European Skills Agenda – gender equality -, Council Recommendation on VET National Implementation Plans, and Pact for Skills. For example, the European Skills Agenda is a five-year plan to help individuals and businesses develop more and better skills and to put them to use by strengthening sustainable competitiveness (as set out in the European Green Deal), ensuring social fairness (putting the European Pillar of Social Rights into practice), and building resilience to react to a crisis. 
  • Amila Suljevic Melle: Coordinator of the Integration at Career Center, Vestland County Council (Norway). She explained her role as coordinator for integration and career guidance for refugees. As Amila shared during her presentation, Career Vestland’s main vision is to provide career guidance to new immigrants so they can utilize the skills they have brought with them more quickly and adapt to work or education in Norway. Their center provides quality guidance and equality for better inclusion and integration – which can be truly profitable for promoting the involvement of immigrant women in the VET sector. 
  • Tanja Halttunen & Mikaela Voutila: Tanja (Expert of International affairs / Erasmus+ coordinator), Mikaela (Mentoring teacher). Axxell Utbildning Ab (Finland). Their center works according to values such as engagement, equity, and a positive general view of others. They aim to offer education that responds to the needs of the individual, working life, and society – already with 70 young students and 2300 adult learners -.

Concluding, each speaker shared their work, experience, and the projects they are developing with a specific focus on increasing women’s participation in the VET sector. The diversity of their fields enriched the discussion, as each brought a unique perspective according to their domain. However, the essence of their work, grounded on gender equality and empowerment, shared core principles and objectives. The experts shared their bottom-up approaches to the topic, and two of the main common grounds were the idea that a gender-sensitive approach to the labor market (which is dominated by men, 79.9% vs 67.3%, 2019, Eurostat) can better respond to the needs of capacities of all citizens; and that regional and local authorities can reverse the trend by including lifelong learning policies to encourage female leaders to fully benefit from education and training equal to their male peers.