Agriculture has been recognised as a sector of utmost importance to the EU since its inception following the World War II when food supplies could not be guaranteed. Agriculture remains high on the EU’s priority list due to its contribution towards a rural economy in the majority of EU countries. The agricultural sector is the principal source of income for 20% of its population, and constitutes approx. 15 million jobs. Additionally, a strong agricultural sector is vital for the highly competitive food industry whereby the EU is the leading world exporter of mostly processed and high value added agricultural products. Agriculture also has a positive contribution on the natural environment.
For the EU to strengthen its agricultural sector, it requires knowledgeable workers in the field. Training is essential in the agricultural sector as any other economic sector. However, employees within the agricultural sector are at present finding obstacles to pursue further training due to lack of recognised qualifications in the field of agriculture. Moreover, employees within the agricultural industry are unable to reap the full benefits from their work experiences as these are also not being recognised.
Description of Project
The project thus aims to activate and implement ECVET in the European agricultural sector. Such a system would encourage mobility amongst employees and would encourage exchanges of best practices. Increased European mobility would result in a better skilled and highly experienced workforce rendering positive results for the competitiveness of the EU’s agricultural sector. The project brings together various actors within the field of education and the agricultural industry. The project partners include VET providers, enterprises, social partners and non profit associations operating in the agricultural sector, and also public authorities having legislative competence on agriculture and on VET.
The project’s outputs will include:
1) Guidelines for the implementation of ECVET in agricultural sector
2) Drafting and formalization of Memorandum of Understanding
3) Design of experimental training courses for farmers in ICT, sustainable agriculture, and organic farming
4) Establishment of test quality standards – the ECVET quality label
5) Establish a procedure for the accreditation
6) Mainstreaming and multiplication of results
It is expected that these activities will contribute to the emergence of accepted qualification and training standards, which will enhance mobility of agricultural workers; generating new opportunities for farmers to take up training programs, attend training periods abroad, and pursue new opportunities. The foreseeable impact of the project on target groups is 100 individuals across Europe, of which 25 are from Malta. This will eventually contribute towards a higher educated agricultural sector, which will continue to place this sector in Europe at the forefront in importance and quality.