With the award of 4 million euros of European money the PoVE Water consortium can continue to build on the vocational education/training of future water professionals in the coming 4 years. Following the pilot project, parties in Europe and South Africa will work towards a strong integration of VET knowledge networks, such as within the Water Campus in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. In these next four years, junior college students from each of the partner locations will have plenty of opportunities to go on an international voyage of discovery.

The project, called Platform of Vocational Excellence Water (PoVE Water), is a transnational project that draws on the needs of existing and emerging vocational competences and skills. It is a joint initiative by a total of 23 partners, including vocational schools, universities and companies in the water sector from the Netherlands, Malta, Czech Republic, Latvia, and South Africa. The European Commission recognised that working on a theme such as Water requires an intercontinental approach, not just a European one. That is why South Africa’s participation in the project was also approved.

The starting point of PoVE Water is to train VET students to become agile, digitally proficient and sustainably oriented water sector professionals. The partners will do this by further integrating the vocational training into the water sector. Virtual Reality teaching materials will be developed and students will work on assignments from the professional field in an international context. Furthermore, the water company partners, each bring a network including hundreds of partnerships between education and business.

Pieter Hoekstra, programme manager of CIV Water (NL), is one of the founders of the initiative. Together with Erna van der Werff, co-initiator of Learning Hub Friesland, they have seen the pilot project grow from 2018 to what it is today: an example of excellent vocational education in the water sector for the whole of Europe.

“Whereas international mobility is a given for students of higher education (research universities and universities of applied sciences), an international experience is not standard in junior colleges. We have found that when VET students work together in international groups, competences such as agility, a proactive attitude, openness to new experiences, entrepreneurialism and intercultural sensitivity are strengthened. These are competences that are extremely important for young people in this rapidly changing world” says Erna van der Werff.

Pieter Hoekstra adds: “Vocational Excellence can contribute to innovation in the water sector. With its mostly local base and practical attitude, vocational trainers/educators/colleges/VET can understand like no other what is needed on the ground to realise green and sustainable growth. The water professionals being trained are in a unique position to act as linking pins between different parties. Innovation often stems from the intrinsic need to address emerging problems and not necessarily from scientific research.”

The four-year project has the ambition of building EU and global recognition for PoVE Water as a worldwide point of reference for VET in the water sector.

Background
The PoVE Water project builds on a successful foundation that was prepared, tested and implemented in 2020-2021 in the Erasmus+ project Pilot Platform of Vocational Excellence Water (Pilot PoVE Water).

About the partners
PoVE Water Scale-up is a joint initiative of 8 VET schools, 7 water industry professionals, 4 academic partners and 4 support partners in Europe and beyond. Cooperation with Vocational Institutions are crucial as they are the linking pin between innovation and research and the water industry.

Project partners form autonomous regional teams (Centres of Vocational Excellence, CoVE) in West Europe, Central Europe, the Baltics, the Mediterranean, and South Africa. They are united in their vision and ambitions under the umbrella of PoVE Water. Each CoVE expands by including neighbouring countries in the partnership.

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