500 guests from 80 countries gather in Winterthur, Switzerland, to discuss current VPET- related topics

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The Third International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training came to a close in Winterthur on 8th June 2018. Among the highlights of the event were numerous keynote speeches, exciting seminar sessions and practical insights into Swiss host companies and schools. The organisers consider the fully booked congress with its 500 participants from over 80 countries – the same as in 2016 and 2014 – to be a success once again.

Third International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training

With the aim of strengthening vocational and professional education and training at international level and further expanding the existing network, Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann opened the third International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training in Winterthur on Thursday, 7 June 2018. In his welcome address, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) referred to the congress motto ‘Skills for Employability and Careers’ and thanked the 500 congress participants ‘for their willingness to learn together’.

He pointed out that change was nothing new, but rather served as the basis for progress and prosperity. Vocational and professional education and training must not stagnate, Schneider-Ammann told the audience of education and private sector stakeholders from over 80 countries. He further emphasized that adaptability, flexibility and lifelong learning are essential for individual progress in education and training as well as for practical initial and continuing training.

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Bilateral meetings with the USA and Singapore

The Swiss side also used the VPET Congress as an opportunity to hold various bilateral meetings with country delegations. Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann discussed educational topics with Singapore’s Minister of Education Ong Ye Kung and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. These topics included the practice-based training provided at Swiss universities of applied sciences, which regularly draws interest from abroad.

On this occasion, Schneider-Ammann took DeVos on a visit to the ZHAW Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften, a major college within Switzerland’s university of applied sciences in Zurich, the Zürcher Fachhochschule (ZFH). There they observed practice-based teaching and research in the health professions at the ZHAW School of Health Professions. Representatives of the ZHAW School of Management and Law (SML) met with Singapore’s Minister of Education, Ong Ye Kung, to discuss training opportunities in business and law at the ZHAW. At the same time, the head of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, held ministerial-level talks with delegates from Iran and Saudi Arabia.

SDC holds VET symposium on 6 June 2018

At the behest of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), over 100 people from 26 different SDC partner countries also took part in the congress. These included representatives of ministries, partner organisations and the local private sector. On a separate day, the SDC also provided information about its global commitment to support vocational education and training. The SDC is involved in efforts to improve vocational education and training in over 80% of its partner countries and uses the Swiss VET sector as a frame of reference. Between 2013 and 2016, SDC projects in nine countries of the southern hemisphere enabled nearly eight million people to undergo training – more than the entire Swiss population.

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