Belgium?s Francophone community signs a vocational education agreement with Catalonia

Catalonia has begun an initiative with Belgium?s Francophone part to make studying abroad applied technologies easier. The agreement is similar to that of Erasmus, and is designed to aid in student?s vocational education and training.


July 3, 2010 12:30 AM

Brussels (CNA).- The Catalan Minister for Education, Ernest Maragall, signed this Thursday an agreement with the Minister for Obligatory Education of the Francophone community of Belgium, Marie-Dominique Simonet. The agreement will make it easier for Catalan and Belgian students to continue their vocational education and training in another country. “It is a confirmation of a collaboration line that already existed between the two administrations, and also the region’s determination to open up the students professional environment to not just their own neighbourhood, but the whole of Europe,” said the Minister. She was in Belgium this week to promote a professional European mobility initiative similar to that of Erasmus.
The agreement signed is similar to one Catalonia already has with other regions in France, Italy and the United Kingdom. It enables the exchange of vocational training students on such diverse fields as the chemical industry and cuisine. The principle is that for a period of 2 to 3 months, the students could go to the another region to pursue their studies and follow a professional internship as well. Currently, Catalonia sends up to 1,000 students with this kind of initiative and receives about 700. “The initiative is in an embryonic process but it has already shown its added value”, stressed Maragall. He expects that the current 1% of vocational training students who participate in international exchange programmes will reach 10% before 2020.

The encounter with Francophone Minister Simonet was the end of Maragall’s two-day visit to Brussels, where he also participated in the Education Commission of the Committee of the Regions. There he presented the Barcelona Declaration on the contribution of regions to the organisation and promotion of vocational education and training. Minister Maragall also met with the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilinguism and Youth, Androula Vassiliou. They have both agreed to promote a European mobility space for vocational training. “The Erasmus programme is not only an academic success but also an icon of European identity; it is what has most pushed the idea of the European citizen”, said Maragall, who hopes that the new programme focused on vocational training will have even a greater success as it creates “an authentic European labour market linking education and jobs”.