Craft and SMEs VET NET
International Online Conference of SMEs Vocational Education Training Providers (VET)



16-17 September 2021 –Thessaloniki – Greece

The Conference will take place as an online event at 16- 17 September 2021 during the week that Thessaloniki International Fair will be organized as well.


New challenges faced by Craft/Micro-Small-to-Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are increasing as well as uncertainty in the existing business environment, especially after the COVID-19 crisis. Some of them are related to global changes that increase competition or to new skills needs and new Market conditions require adaptability and awareness on the recovery and growth potential of Digital and Ecological transformation.

Moreover, the risk of Internal Market fragmentations, due to not converging and unprecedented market competition conditions for craft and SMEs, will need to be addressed with specific support programs by EU/ National/regional policymakers.

There are also societal issues, like climate change, or fewer opportunities for third countries that increase SMEs concerns.

Taking all the above challenges under consideration, National Recovery and Resilience Plans approved in July 2021 by the European Commission should be geared, exploited, and monitored to the emerging sector training and new competences needs of craft and SMEs.

Main Conference objectives

Continuing Craft SMEs VET providers impact on these challenges as a key element for deal and respond with these challenges: a crucial activity for the future of European SMEs that require a deepened analysis on the training needs and a rapid cross sector business process transformation of upskill and reskill in order to deal with the new markets and SMEs global value chains, new products/services, demands and issues of a mutated world.

The Conference will focus on:

  • Main national and regional obstacles and entrepreneurship models, sector based best practices exchange and SMEs VET solutions and future opportunities for European and not European CRAFT and SMEs providers and will confront on.
  • How EU/national/regional third policies on C-VET could facilitate and support new role and meaning that SMEs C-VET providers is going to assume for SMEs and in general for the whole society.
  • How to further promote and capitalize the results emerged until now during the exchange of Know-how and experiences took place in the framework of the CRAFT AND SMEs VET NET Community Platform.
Main target groups

The main target groups for the Conference are composed of EU and international Craft and SME training bodies offering in adult education, continuous VET national providers and trainers, business and industrial cultural Foundations, specialized media, invited Social Partners (SMEunited and ETUC), EU/National /sector based Representative Organizations of SMEs (Digital Alliance, UETR, EBC, Coiffeur EU, CEPEC), Chambers, HEI, Cedefop, ETF and EACEA but is as well opened to Schools and Universities, Students, learning, Civil Society Organizations and consumers organizations

Themes & Round Tables

1-Digitalization and SMEs

Specifically, in order to address current challenges, C-VET providers and networks have to follow the Craft and SMEs needs and the incoming request that technology brings. New educational opportunities and digital learning technologies and methods for upskilling and reskilling should be provided to companies and employees. The range and nature of opportunities and the challenges faced by SMEs, in the context of digitalization and technological developments, will be discussed in “roundtables”.

2-Climate Change

Most SMEs say that their actions cannot influence the environmental issue such as climate change. However, this topic remains a significant concern for everyone, and especially, for many businesses, resulting changes which will present both challenges and opportunities. Thus, this is Existing Best practices and future actions will be included in the Event’s Agenda.

3-SMEs & CVET in third countries

SMEs are a fundamental part of the economy in all countries, and they play a crucial role in furthering growth, innovation and prosperity. However, there is a significant necessary for reforms of the CVET systems in the third countries (e.g., West Balkans, non-EU Mediterranean Countries) in order to support their modernization. Reasons and solution will be discussed during the Event.

4-Recovery and Resilience

A significant topic of the Event will be regarding the National Plans for Recovery and Resilience that aim to mitigate the economic and social impact and make SMEs economies and societies more sustainable, resilient and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transitions.

Background CVET material

A list of background documents dealing with vet policies at EU level are available in the Craft VET NET Community Platform Repository. Please register to the platform to have access to this repository for your better information via the following link:

The Craft and SMEs Community platform

Craft and SMEs VET NET Community platform is dedicated to build the first European Community of Practice (CoP) focused on C-VET. The objective is to create a space for a common European perspective about C-VET. A bottom-up process that involves all the possible interested members: C-VET providers, professional trainees, institutions at regional, national, and European levels. A place to discuss and meet others, to share resources, issues and ideas, a place to attended courses, to improve skills.

In the Community’s platform there are tools, contents, information’s, debates, new maps of the changing landscapes of Continuous VET: a place to discuss and learn but more than all a place to build with us through your participation.

More specific, the Conference topics will be anticipated some days before the conference and will continue to be debated on the Craft VET NET Community Platform Forum as a follow-up in view of the 3rd project event: FINAL CONFERENCE at 9 – 10 December 2021 in Brussels. Please register to the platform to participate in the above-mentioned dialogue via the following link:

The organizer

The Conference is organized by the Small Enterprises Institute of the Helenic Confederation of Professionals Craftsmen & Merchants (IME GSEVEE) in the framework of Crafts and SMEs vocational and educational training network, that is an EU innovative network supported by the EC ERASMUS+ Program.

Five distinct training, research and representative bodies at National and European level (ECIPA CNA, EFQBL, IME GSEVEE, PIMEC, SME ACADEMY) participate in a European project consortium which aims to establish a network for the development of value added continuous vocational and educational training to support Craft & SMEs in their cross sector digital transition.

International Online Conference of SMEs Vocational Education Training Providers (VET): Topics and schedule

International Online Conference of SMEs Vocational Education Training Providers (VET): Agenda

First day Thursday 16th September 2021: 10.15 – 17:00 (CEST) 

10:00 – 10:15 Technical set-up and login of the participants

10:15 – 10:45 Welcome open introduction

Mr Georgios Kavvathas – Small Enterprises Institute of GSEVEE (IME GSEVEE), President

Mr Alban Maggiar – SMEunited,  President

10:45 – 13:30 Opening Plenary Session: New EU programme period 2021-27 – New Challenges & opportunities for Continuing VET

10:45 – 11:00 Dr Charles Dannreuther – Professor in European Political Economy, Research, Expert at SME Academy Avignon

11:00 – 11:10 Ms Malgorzata Kozak – DG Education & Culture (EAC), Policy Officer responsible for Adult Education (AE) / Erasmus+ Strategic Partnerships

11:10 – 11:20 Mr Loukas Zahilas, – European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) Head of Department for VET Systems and Institutions

11:20 – 11:30 Mr.  Christopoulos Georgios – Representative of European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) for the Executive Committee of Cedefop

11:30 – 11:40 Mr Panagiotis Gkofas – European Economic and Social Committee (EESC),  Member of Group III

11:40 – 12:00 Q&A

12:00 – 12:15 Short Break

12:15 – 13:00 Panel Discussion

Mr Rob Versteeg – European Vocational Training Association (EVTA),Treasurer

Mr Theodore Grassos – European Association of Institutes for Vocational Training (EVBB), Secretary General

Mr Stefano Tirati – European Forum of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (Efvet), Vice President

13:00 – 13:10 Ms Marieke Vandeweyer, – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Labour Market Economist – Skills & Employability Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs

13:10 – 13:20 Mr Fotios Athanasopoulos – State Scholarships Foundation (IKY), General Director

13:20 – 13:30 Ms Isabelle Le Mouillour – Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Bibb), Head of area 3.1 VET in international comparison, research and monitoring

Moderator: Mr Vassilis Siomadis, IME GSEVEE, Responsible for EU projects

13:30 – 14:00 Break

14:00 – 15:20 Roundtable 1: Digitalization of SMEs & CVET

14:00 – 14:15 Mr Marco Bettiol – University of Padova, Professor in Economic and Business Management

14:15 – 14:25 Mr Antonis Angelakis –  Small Enterprises Institute of GSEVEE (IME GSEVEE), Expert on digital transition

14:25 – 14:35 Mr Juan José Berbel – Petita Mitjana Empresa de Catalunya (PIMEC), President of PIMEC Innovation and Digitization Commission

14:35 – 14:45 Mr Roberto Corbelli – Italian Confederation of Craft Trades and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (CNA), President of CNA Riccione.

14:45 – 15:15 Discussion

Moderator: Mr Luca Reitano, Foundation ECIPA CNA,  Craft and Smes Project Manager, e-learning expert

15:15 – 15:30 Short Break

15:30 – 17:00 Roundtable 2: Green Skills / Climate Change & CVET

15:30 – 15:45 Ms Irene Terzidou – Institute of Energy of South East Europe, Researcher

15:45 – 15:55 Mr Carlos León – Petita Mitjana Empresa de Catalunya (PIMEC), Commission Member at Pimec

15:55 – 16:05 Ms Barbara Gatto – Italian Confederation of Craft Trades and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (CNA), Expert from the Green Sector Department of CNA

16:05 – 16:15 Mr Leonidas Vatikiotis – Small Enterprises Institute of GSEVEE (IME GSEVEE), Expert on Climate Change

16:15 – 17:00 Discussion

Moderator: Mr Dimitris Bimpas –  Economist / SMEs expert at SME Academy Avignon

17:00  End of the 1st day

Second day Friday 17th September: 9.30 – 14.00(CEST)

09:15 – 09:30 Technical set-up and login of the participants

09:30 – 11:15 Roundtable 3: CVET & SMEs in third Countries

09:30 – 09:45 Mr Georgios Zisimos – European Training Foundation (ETF), Head of Policy Advice and EU Programming Unit

09:45 – 09:55 Ms Aggeliki Bouziani – Head of the Managing Authority of European Territorial Cooperation Programmes

09:55 – 10:05 Mr Aleksandar Stevanovic – Serbian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (SASME), President of the Economic Council

10:05 – 10:15 Ms Mirsada Mehremic – International University of Sarajevo, Professor

10:15 – 10:25 Ms Charo Cuart – Petita Mitjana Empresa de Catalunya (PIMEC), Head of European educational innovation projects at the company STUCOM

10:25 – 10:35 Mr Yaman Ömer Erzurumlu – Bahcesehir University International, Professor

10:35 – 10:45 Mr Antonio Franceschini – Italian Confederation of Craft Trades and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (CNΑ), National Secretary of CNA Federmoda

10:45 – 10:55 Mr Grigoris Zarotiadis – Association of Economic Universities of South and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea Region (ASECU), President

10:55 – 11:20 Discussion

Moderator: Mr Vassilis Siomadis, IME GSEVEE, Responsible for EU projects

11:20 – 11:30 Short Break

11:30 – 12:30 Roundtable 4: The role of CVET & SMEs in NPRRs

11:30 – 11:45 Mr Francesc Colomé Montserrat – Associated expert of Jaume Bofill Foundation  & Former Secretary of Educational Policies in the Department of Education of Generalitat de Catalunya

11:45 – 11:55 Mr Claudio Cappellini – Italian Confederation of Craft Trades and Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (CNA), Head of European Office CNA

11:55 – 12:05 Ms Ioanna Makri, Small Enterprises Institute of GSEVEE (IME GSEVEE), CVET Expert

12:05 – 12:30 Discussion

Moderator: Ms M. Angels Benitez,  PIMEC, Training & Employment Policies Technician

12:30 – 12:40 Short Break

12:40 – 13:30 Closure Plenary Session: Synthesis of the main Conclusions/ Findings from the roundtables

12:40 – 12:50 Mr Luca Reitano, Foundation ECIPA CNA, Craft and SMEs Project Manager, e-learning expert

12:50 –13:00 Mr Dimitris Bimpas –  Economist / SMEs expert at SME Academy Avignon

13:00 –13:10 Mr Vassilis Siomadis, IME GSEVEE, Responsible for EU projects

13:10 –13:20 Ms M. Angels Benitez,  PIMEC, Training & Employment Policies Technician

13:20 – 13:30 Q&A

Moderator: Mr Luca Reitano, Foundation ECIPA CNA,  Craft and Smes Project Manager, e-learning expert

13:30  End of the Conference

Format: Due to COVID 19 and social distance obligations both days will be organized online: people from all parts of Europe could connect and discuss with us during the foreseen Questions time from all over Europe. The speech will be held through a webinar platform.

Organizing Committee:

Giuseppe Vivace, Luca Reitano – Foundation ECIPA CNA; Dimitris Bimpas – SME Academy Avignon; Vasilis Siomadis – IME GSEVEE; M. Àngels Benítez – PIMEC; Peter Mazohl – EFQBL


Mr. Vassilis Siomadis