Events Events


S3 Skills - Vocational Excellence

General Information

Please not that this workshop is now fully subscribed


Vocational excellence is a new policy concept that aims to maximise the contribution of VET (including at higher level) to innovation and smart specialisation at local and regional level. It is the basis for the Erasmus+ initiative on Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE), but to be most effective the concept needs a wider application. This should be through the modernisation of the education and training system-itself. Indeed, CoVEs are intended to have an impact beyond the project lifetime, but pursuing vocational excellence can be helped through other national and European funds, such as the EU Cohesion Policy and its centrally managed programmes. At the same time, smart specialisation has been implemented through one of the thematic objectives of the European Structural and Investment Funds, but to have an impact it needs to be mainstreamed in a wider range of policy areas, including industrial and skills policies.

The Joint Research Centre has started to work with DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion to explore how vocational excellence and smart specialisation can strengthen each other. Following a Science for Policy Report published in October 2019 the aim now is to explore how its recommendations can be operationalised through the CoVE initiative and by working with managers of Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3). This workshop comes at an important moment when the five pilot CoVEs are being launched and while the second call remains open. Furthermore, the next Erasmus programme is currently being finalised, in which the CoVE initative is expected to be considerably strengthened. Equally, other funding programmes both centrally and co-managed are being designed.

Workshop objectives

  • Widen the understanding and purpose of vocational excellence within and beyond the VET community, especially S3 managers.
  • Increase the awareness of smart specialisation within the CoVE projects and the broader VET community, as well as among policy makers responsible for employment and skills policies, especially at local and regional levels.
  • Explore how different European funding programmes can help to implement vocational excellence, when linked to innovation and smart specialisation.
  • Consult participants on what types of tools and support at EU level can help to operationalise vocational excellence and increase the impact of VET on innovation and smart specialisation.

Targeted audience

The workshop will be targeted at the new and potential CoVEs as well as other Erasmus+ projects such as the Sector Skills Alliances. It will also target S3 managers who wish to learn more about the contribution of vocational excellence to the implementation of their strategies. Finally other stakeholders in the areas of VET and regional development will be invited to participate.

Agenda and Presentations




08:30– 09:00

Registration and welcome coffee


Opening remarks

  • Alessandro Rainoldi, Head of Unit: Territorial Development, JRC
  • Dana Bachmann, Head of Unit: VET, Apprenticeships and adult learning, DG Employment Social Affairs and Inclusion


Panel: [what] Vocational excellence and smart regional transitions

Moderation by Peter Berkowitz, DG REGIO tbc

  • Marian Belko, EIT (VET and the Knowledge Triangle)
  • Jonathon Barr, OECD (Industrial transition)
  • Stéphanie Carretero, JRC (Changing Nature of Work)
  • Dimitri Pontikakis, JRC (non R&D innovation)
  • Jens Björnavold, CEDEFOP (understanding future skill needs and ensuring VET responsiveness)
  • Joao Santos, DG EMPL (Vocational Excellence)


Coffee break


World Café I: Challenges and Opportunities

How can Centres of Vocational Excellence work with local and regional authorities to align skills with Smart Specialisation and regional development strategies?




Panel: [how] Examples

Moderation tbc

  • Ricardo Lamadri, Basque Country RIS3
  • Pieter Moerman, Katapult, Netherlands
  • Georgis Zisimos and Anastasia Fetsi, European Training Foundation
  • EIT-KIC Manufacturing tbc


Panel: [how] Funding and support

Moderation by Richard Tuffs, Friends of Smart Specialisation

  • Resa Koleva Demonty – DG EMPL
  • Michele Grombeer – EACEA/Erasmus+
  • André Richier – DG GROW
  • Laoura Ntziourou  – European Investment Fund


Coffee break

15:15- 16:45

World Café II: Solutions

How to make the most of funding programmes and synergies:
Tools and instruments to support CoVE project implementation


Wrap-up and reporting from World Cafés


Concluding remarks and way forward

Head of UNESCO-UNEVOC, (name to be confirmed)

Manuela Geleng, European Commission, DGEMPL, Director



EIT House, Rue Guimard, 7, Brussels