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The purpose of this project is to improve our understanding of how VET is changing in the 28 member states of the EU as well as Iceland and Norway. It takes as a starting point that traditional VET at upper secondary level is under considerable pressure in some countries. At the same time we observe that vocationally oriented education and training is frequently delivered by institutions outside the traditional VET sector – pointing towards a broader and more diverse definition of VET being applied.

The increasing importance of VET in higher education and the extensive and important role played by continuing vocational education and training adds to this complexity and makes the task of judging the character and boundaries of VET in Europe increasingly more difficult. The project will, over a 3-year period, analyse how vocationally oriented education and training has developed and changed in the last two decades (1995-2015) and on this basis point to the main challenges and opportunities facing the sector today. This will be addressed from two angles: First, VET is defined by its position in the overall education and training system. The expansion of general and academic education has in some countries created an imbalance potentially undermining the ability of the VET system to serve the labour market and society. Second, VET is directly influenced by external factors, notably demographic developments and labour market trends driven by technological and organisational change. Combining these two angles of analysis, the research will clarify how VET is defined and understood by stakeholders at national level, how this understanding has evolved over time and, notably, how it has been translated into political strategies, institutional solutions and didactic approaches. The work builds on and contributes to previous and ongoing work of Cedefop. Work is divided into six separate but interlinked assignments: (a) the changing definition of VET; (b) external drivers influencing VET developments; (c) pressure on upper secondary VET; (d) VET from a lifelong learning perspective; (e) the role of VET at higher education levels; (f) scenarios outlining alternative development paths for European VET in the 21st century.

Project contacts

Jens Bjornavold
Hanne Christensen