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Vocational Education: a key component of education in the EU

More than 50% of European upper secondary students are enrolled in vocational education, but considerable differences persist between countries.

Recent socioeconomic developments such as globalisation, restructuring, innovation and the transition to a knowledge-based economy require a better qualified labour force. Initial vocational education and training is of fundamental importance to the supply of new professionals and an important means to improve competitiveness (Cedefop, Initial Vocational Education and Training -IVET- in Europe, Review).

The data presented here focus on participation in initial VET (IVET) at the upper secondary level of education (ISCED 3). This indicator shows the number of upper secondary students enrolled in vocational (and pre-vocational) education and training as a percentage of all students in upper secondary education. Data include all 27 EU Member States and refer to 2007, but can be complemented by other IVET-related indicators such as entrants or graduates.


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Key points

  • Based on 2007 data, 51.5% (about 11.4 million) of European upper secondary students are enrolled in the vocational stream of education.
  • Data reveal persisting differences between countries. The percentage of upper secondary students enrolled in the vocational stream ranges from 77.3% to 13.0%.
  • The highest values are reported in Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia (where the vocational component accounts for more than 70% of all upper secondary students).
  • The lowest values are reported in Cyprus, Hungary and Lithuania (all with percentages lower than 30%). This has not changed much in recent years (not shown in chart).

In interpreting the data, it is necessary to take into account the possible differences in the structure of national VET systems. More information on each country’s VET system can be found in Cedefop’s VET in Europe database.

The data originate from the UNESCO-OECD-Eurostat (UOE) data collection on education systems and are subject to its methodology . Data were extracted from the Eurostat database on 23 December 2009.

Statistics and graphs Details

07/01/2010
Cedefop