by Deborah Roseveare
Head of the Skills Beyond School Division, Directorate for Education and Skills
Last night I got a taxi home and as often happens, the driver and I got chatting. Then he asked me a rather strange question – “Do you like the smell in my car?” Well, I have to say the smell was a very subtle one but it led to a fascinating conversation.
With some pride, he told me that he was trying out a new product for cleaning car interiors developed by a friend of his. His friend already had his own business selling these products and then came the big surprise – this friend is only 17 years old. But isn’t he still in school? I asked. Yes of course, he was doing a professional baccalaureate (a vocational programme here in France).
This talented young man, who was smart enough to have skipped a class in primary school, had a passion for chemistry and had been doing experiments – more or less successfully -- in his mother’s kitchen from a young age. So why had he chosen a professional baccalaureate? Apparently, he wanted hands-on learning, get practical experience and develop the skills that would help him succeed in his business ventures.
It’s not often that a taxi gets me home too quickly, but I ran out of time to ask more questions. It’s always great to hear stories about young people discovering their talent, finding an education pathway that supports them in following their passion and gaining the skills to succeed in life. So I’m looking forward to hearing many more success stories that show young people and adults how you too can “discover your talent!” during European Vocational Skills Week 2016, which runs from 5-9 December 2016.
Why focus on vocational skills? In a changing and more competitive job market, Vocational Education and Training (VET) delivers specific skills and knowledge for the jobs of today and tomorrow, leading to great careers and good life prospects. Pursuing VET can lead to quality employment, an entrepreneurial mind-set, attractive and challenging careers, and opportunities for continuous upskilling and reskilling.
Sometime in the coming years I expect to hear about a successful young entrepreneur putting innovative cleaning products on supermarket shelves and I’ll remember how vocational education and training helped him discover and develop his talent and gave him the skills to succeed.
European Vocational Skills Week 2016
OECD Policy Reviews of Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Adult Learning
Twitter hashtags: #EUVocationalSkills #discoveryourtalent
Photo credit: © European Commission