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Future of vocational education in agriculture, rural economics discussed

Farmland in Estonia
Farmland in Estonia Source: (Arno Mikkor)

EUROPEA International is holding a four-day conference titled "From Rural to Digital" in Tartu in the framework of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the European Union, attended by representatives of vocational educational and training institutions for agriculture and rural economics from 20 countries.

According to Minister of Rural Affairs Tarmo Tamm (Center), education in agriculture and rural life has to serve a purpose as well as be based on the needs of employers, forward-looking and ready to react to rapid changes in society.

"The question is, what are the things we have to teach, and how, so that they would suit the changing labor market and future jobs while being attractive to students?" the minister said according to a presidency press release.

On Friday, a day of presentations and discussions was held at Science Centre AHHAA, where an overview of Estonian agriculture was provided by Ants-Hannes Viira of the Estonian University of Life Sciences (EMÜ), who is also moderating the conference. Rain Leoma and Karin Jõers-Türn from the Estonian Qualifications Authority discussed the objectives of the occupational qualifications system (OSKA).

The results and conclusions of a forestry and timber industry study and an ongoing agriculture and food industry study were also introduced, and Kerli Požogina from the Information Technology Foundation for Education (HITSA) intrduced the activities of HITSA, discussed the Estonian e-Vocational School consortium, indroduced the digital capacity assessment model for vocational schools as well as provided an overview of the results of the self-assessments of vocational schools from last year. Listeners were likewise given an overview on the possibilities of teacher education in Estonia, and also in the focus were the education technology standards for teachers (ISTE), HITSA's ProgeTiiger program, and the eTwinning project.

Meit Jürgens of agricon, Vallo Visnapuu of Timbeter and Robin Saluoks from eAgronom introduced smart solutions of the sector, and Helen Põllo, head of the Vocational Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Research, gave a presentation on the current situation of vocational education in Estonia.

Following the presentation, Margus Muld of Väätsa Agro AS, Haana Zuba-Reinsalu of Luua Forestry School, Marge Kusmin of Smart Education System, Siim Krusell of the Estonian Qualification Authority and Helen Põllo of the Ministry of Education and Research discussed the expecations on the workers of the future in agriculture and rural economics.

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

The EUROPEA International conference is organized by the nonprofit EUROPEA Estonian Centre and Estonia's Ministry of Rural Affairs.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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