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The purpose of the 'changing nature and role of vocational education and training (VET) in Europe' project is to improve our understanding of how VET is changing in the countries belonging to the European Union (as well as Iceland and Norway). The project will, over a 3-year period (2016-2018) 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 and in the future.

The project’s work is divided into six separate but interlinked assignments:

  1. The changing definition and conceptualisation of VET. (Research paper 1 and 2 will soon be published)
  2. The external drivers influencing VET developments.
  3. The role of traditional VET at upper secondary level.
  4. VET from a lifelong learning perspective.
  5. The role of VET at higher education levels.
  6. Scenarios outlining alternative development paths for European VET in the 21st century.

Starting point of the project

Vocationally oriented education and training in Europe is changing. While traditionally associated with education and training at upper secondary level, VET is currently expanding and diversifying. In many countries we can observe that vocationally oriented education and training is being delivered by institutions outside the traditional VET sector, for example by institutions at higher levels (EQF 5 and above) and by companies and sectors. Operating at both national and international levels, todays’ VET is increasingly addressing the challenges of lifelong learning.   

Aim of the project

The project attempts to take one step back and get a deeper understanding of the VET system itself, its characteristics and dynamics and its relationship to other education and training sectors. It tries to get a better understanding of differences across Europe (EU + Norway and Iceland) and improve our understanding of change and developments over the last two decades. The findings of the project feed into the ongoing debate on European VET-cooperation strategies post 2020.

How Cedefop supports the project

Cedefop has organized events on the topic of the changing role of VET, allowing policy makers and practitioners to compare practices and exchange experiences.

Notes presenting the project to European and national policy makers have been prepared and can be consulted.

Related projects

The project’s work builds on and contributes to previous and ongoing work of Cedefop. For more information on related projects click the links below.


Project contacts

Jens Bjornavold
Senior expert, project manager
Anastasia Pouliou