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Future of vocational education in agriculture and rural economics discussed in Tartu

22. September 2017 - 11:01
Grain harvest.
Photo: Katrin Press / Ministry of Rural Affairs

As a part of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, EUROPEA International will hold a conference titled “From Rural to Digital” on 21–24 September in Tartu, with representatives of vocational education and training institutions for agriculture and rural economics from 20 countries participating in the event. The main topic of discussion will be skills needed in the 21st century and the expectations for future workers.

According to the Minister of Rural Affairs, Tarmo Tamm, education in agriculture and rural life has to serve a purpose, be based on the needs of the employers, be forward-looking and ready to react to fast changes in society. “The question is, what are the things we have to teach and how, so that they would suit the changing labour market and future jobs, while being attractive to students,” minister Tamm said.

A day of presentations and discussions will be held today, 22 September at the AHHAA science centre, where an overview of the Estonian agriculture will be given by Ants-Hannes Viira from the Estonian University of Life Sciences, who will also be the moderator for the conference. After that, Rain Leoma and Karin Jõers-Türn from the Estonian Qualifications Authority will talk about the objectives of the Estonian occupational qualifications system (OSKA). The results and conclusions of the forestry and timber industry study and the on-going agriculture and food industry study will also be introduced. Kerli Požogina from the Information Technology Foundation for Education (HITSA) will present the activities of HITSA, talk about the e-Vocational School consortium, introduce the digital capacity assessment model for vocational schools and give an overview of the results of the self-assessments of vocational schools from last year. In addition, listeners will be given an overview on the possibilities of teacher education in Estonia. The education technology standards for teachers (ISTE), the ProgreTiiger programme and the eTwinning project will also be focused on.

The smart solutions of the sector will be introduced by Meit Jürgens from Agricon, Vallo Visnapuu from Timbeter and Robin Saluoks from eAgronom. After the lunchbreak, Helen Põllo, Head of the Vocational Education Department at the Ministry of Education and Research, will give a presentation on the current situation of vocational education in Estonia. After the presentation, Margus Muld (Väätsa Agro AS), Haana Zuba-Reinsalu (Luua Forestry School), Marge Kusmin (Smart Education System), Siim Krusell (Estonian Qualifications Authority) and Helen Põllo (Ministry of Education and Research) will be talking about the expectations on the workers of the future in agriculture and rural economics.

At the end of the day, after all the presentation, representatives of 20 countries will meet to discuss the future actions of EUROPEA International. Listeners will have an opportunity to visit local two businesses in the Tartu area - Grüne Fee and Plantex tree nursery.

EUROPEA international conference is organised by the non-profit organisation EUROPEA Eesti Keskus (EUROPEA Estonian Centre) and the Ministry of Rural Affairs of Estonia.

The EUROPEA International network is an organisation of institutions providing vocational education and training for agricultural, horticultural and forestry professions. It was created in 1992 and currently has 25 member countries. The goal of the network is to raise the levels of vocational education in agriculture, organise student and teacher exchange, help develop international cooperation projects, organise and support professional competitions and promote vocational education.

Estonia became a member of EUROPEA International in 2005. Estonia is represented in the EUROPEA International network by the non-profit organisation EUROPEA Eesti Keskus (EUROPEA Estonian Centre) that is a network for cooperation between representatives of the Järva Country Vocational Education Centre, Olustvere School for Services and Rural Economics, Luua Forestry School and Räpina Nursery.

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