Social Partners

The role of the Social Partners in implementing the European quality assurance reference framework for vocational education and training and lifelong learning is crucial.

Social Partners - managing and representing national trade unions, employers’ organisations, private enterprises, chambers of commerce, industry or craft, and technical or vocational training - participate in and are an essential part of the EQAVET Network.

Within the work of the Network, Social Partners emphasise the need to address:

  • The training of people in the labour market (adults, older workers and other vulnerable groups), with vocational training in specific economic sectors
  • The provision of equitable approaches to education and training for workers, focusing on developing essential skills as well as job-specific skills
  • Vocational training as an attractive option for learners, parents and other stakeholders involved
  • The labour market skills gap

Participation of Social Partners in the Network provides an excellent opportunity for the exchange of information and experience on their roles and involvement in VET policies and systems in their countries with their colleagues and other VET experts from Member States.

Network members representing Social Partners

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUCE) was set up in 1973 to promote the interests of working people at European level and to represent them in the EU institutions. At present, the ETUC has a membership of 83 National Trade Union Confederations from 36 European countries, as well as 12 European trade union federations, making a total of 60 million members, plus observer organisations in Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Other trade Union structures such as EUROCADRES (the Council of European Professional and Managerial Staff) and EFREP/FERPA (European Federation of Retired and Elderly Persons) operate under the auspices of the ETUC. In addition, the ETUC coordinates the activities of the 44 IRTUCs (Interregional Trade Union Councils), which organise trade union cooperation at a cross-border level. The ETUC is one of the European social partners and is recognised by the European Union, by the Council of Europe and by EFTA as the only representative cross-sectoral trade union organisation at European level.

Contact persons:

Agnes Roman: [email protected]

BUSINESSEUROPE - in 1949 the Conseil des Fédérations Industrielles d'Europe (CIFE) was started by the national industrial federations from the six member states of the European Coal & Steel Community. This body become the Union des Industries de la Communauté européenne (UNICE) in March 1958. In 2007, the organisation changed its name into BUSINESSEUROPE, the Confederation of European Business. The members of BUSINESSEUROPE are 40 member federations, representing 20 million companies from 34 countries. Its main task is to ensure that companies' interests are represented and defended vis-à-vis the EU institutions with the principal aim of preserving and strengthening corporate competitiveness. BUSINESSEUROPE is active in the European social dialogue to promote the smooth functioning of labour markets.

Contact person:

Susanne Mueller: [email protected]

SMEunited is the employers’ organisation representing the interests of European crafts, trades and SMEs at EU level. SMEunited is a recognised European Social Partner. It is a non-profit seeking and non-partisan organisation.As the European SME umbrella organisation, SMEunited incorporates 82 member organisations from 34 countries consisting of national cross-sectorial SME federations, European branch federations and other associate members, which support the SME family. SMEunited represents more than 12 million enterprises, which employ around 55 million people across Europe.

Contact persons:

Christian Sperle: [email protected]

Arnold de Boer

Liliane Volozinskis: [email protected]

CEEP, the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public services, is the European association representing enterprises and employers’ organisations with public participation and enterprises carrying out activities of general economic interest. CEEP members are enterprises and associations from and across Europe both public and private at national, regional and local level. CEEP is one of the three general cross industry Social Partners recognised by the EU Commission, i.e. it represents the public employers in the European Social Dialogue. CEEP sends representatives and observers to a large number of committees and consultative bodies of the European institutions, and through its involvement is kept up to date with developments at European level which are of interest to its members.

Contact persons:

Angelo Caragiuli

[email protected]

Stephen Cooper

[email protected]

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