The VEThealth Project is aimed at nurturing and improving vocational education and training (VET) in the field of healthcare while setting up a solid career path. It is based on the following major objectives and strategic activities: skilling, reskilling and upskilling participants through the digitalisation of learning by creating an online healthcare assistant training course; increasing work experience opportunities aimed at the validation of participants in the labour market through a 2-month work placement in Germany and practical training sessions in Malta; validating non-formal and informal knowledge and competences through the electronic accreditation of prior experiential learning; expanding the functional skills of participants broadening the mobility options and communication potential of participants by providing them with online language courses — English, German—, specific to VET needs in healthcare.

Our project is to be developed and implemented in three interrelated locations: Malta, Spain and Germany.

Malta can certainly be regarded as a frame of reference when it comes to the VET sector and VET policy development since 2001, when the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) was established and a radical reform was successfully brought about. In fact, MCAST has been contributing to boost economic growth and promote social inclusion in the Maltese scenario thanks to a flexible and sustainable VET system, including a convenient process for the validation of informal and non-formal learning (VINFL), which appeals to both local and foreign learners.

Tenerife is one of the seven islands that make up the Canary Islands region, which is currently facing major challenges to fulfil societal needs, especially when it comes to providing adequate and consistent VET programmes and creating employment opportunities. Unfortunately, when it comes to VET in the field of healthcare, there is no programme available through which certified qualifications (Level 4 EQF) can be awarded to qualified healthcare assistants who can help to cope with the future social demand. Moreover, the multilingual reality of the Canay Islands, which are a relevant tourism destination with a considerable percentage of foreign residents, is not matched by a population with a high competence in foreign languages. On the contrary, according to the Eurobarometer published by the European Commission on Europeans and languages, only 22% of the Spanish respondents said they were able to communicate in English, and more than 54% of them said they were unable to speak any foreign language at all. It is then inconvenient but safe to say that this situation is irretrievably calling for a change that prevents it from becoming unsustainable.

According to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) and the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), by the year 2025, the German socio-economic fabric will have 112,000 positions in the field of healthcare which will not be possible to fill with national human resources alone. As a matter of fact, due to demographic change, there is a tremendous shortage of workers in the field of healthcare and caregiving professions, which inevitably creates a demand for healthcare assistants expected to rise in the coming years.

Our project is addressed to a target group made up of three different profiles:

(1) young participants who want to embark upon their first VET experience (I-VET learners);

(2) experienced participants who may have non-formal or informal knowledge and want to access formal qualification (C-VET learners);

(3) experienced or inexperienced participants who seek new employment opportunities, a personal development plan or a new career path (C-VET learners).

The transnational scope of our project is then fairly justified by the valuable synergy and networking between partner institutions as a bridge built on equity, social cohesion and inclusion, which caters for the international dimension of VET and the acquisition of transversal competences, while encouraging language learning adapted to the specific needs of VET and promoting European transparency to face up to the challenges of our time, i.e. globalised competition, a persisting economic crisis and alarming unemployment.