S3 Skills - Vocational Excellence

  • 30 Jan 2020 to 30 Jan 2020
  • EIT House, Rue Guimard, 7, Brussels

This workshop explored how the approach of vocational excellence can help to implement smart specialisation strategies.

Read more 

Agenda and Presentations




Registration and welcome coffee


Opening remarks

  • Joao Santos, Deputy Head of Unit, European Commission, DG Employment Social Affairs and Inclusion
  • Fernando Hervás, Deputy Head of Unit, Territorial Development, JRC


Panel: [what] Vocational excellence and smart regional transitions

Moderator: Peter Berkowitz, European Commission, DG REGIO

  • Jonathan 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)
  • Anastasia Fetsi, European Training Foundation (the Skills Lab, skills needs and anticipation)
  • Reinhard Pittschellis, EIT-KIC Manufacturing (Knowledge Triangle)


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

Moderator: Joao Santos, European Commission, DG Employment Social Affairs and Inclusion

  • Rikardo Lamadrid, Spain, (Basque Country RIS3)
  • Pieter Moerman, Netherlands, (the Katapult initiative)
  • Georgis Zisimos, European Training Foundation (ETF led Network of CoVEs)
  • Reinhard Pittschellis, EIT-KIC Manufacturing  (the Knowledge triangle)
  • Isabelle Le Mouillour, Germany, Federal Ministry of Education and Research (the German INNOVET initiative)


Panel: [how] Funding and support

Moderator: Richard Tuffs, Friends of Smart Specialisation


Coffee break


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

  • Soo Hyang CHOI, Director of UNESCO-UNEVOC
  • Dana Bachmann, Head of Unit, European Commission, DG Employment Social Affairs and Inclusion

Practical Information

30 Jan 2020 to 30 Jan 2020
EIT House, Rue Guimard, 7, Brussels


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.

Target audience

Participants included the new and potential CoVEs, other Erasmus+ projects such as the Sector Skills Alliances, as well as S3 managers who wish to learn more about the contribution of vocational excellence to the implementation of their strategies. 


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 came 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.