Data from 2008 confirm that in the EU, upper secondary vocational education and training is mainly school based. But in some countries combined school and work- based programmes continue to play a major role.

The EU Employment Guidelines stress the importance of developing partnerships between the worlds of education/training and work. This can be done, inter alia, via the development of initial vocational education and training programmes that combine school and work environments in the presentation of the curricula.


Data source: Cedefop’s calculation based on Eurostat, UOE data collection on education systems, date of extraction 25.7.2010. Notes: In Slovenia, Sweden, Latvia and Cyprus, negligible shares are reported.


Key points

  • In 16 out of 19 EU countries for which information is available, vocational programmes combining school and workplace account for less than 50 % of students in the vocational stream of upper secondary education.
  • Combined school and work- based vocational programmes are particularly important in Denmark and Germany. In these 2 countries, such programmes absorb respectively 99 % and 74 % of all students in vocational upper secondary education.
  • But such vocational programmes are scarce in Poland, Belgium, Ireland and Spain. In these countries they absorb less than 12 % of upper secondary students in the vocational stream. Negligible shares are also observed in Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Slovenia and Sweden.
  • Compared to 2000, the share of students in combined programmes has registered significatnt changes in some countries: increases in Hungary and Poland (+20 and + 12 percentage points respectively) and decreases in Spain, Slovakia and Czech Republic (-13, -11 and -5 percentage points). The number of countries above a 50 % threshold has remained stable.
  • Data could be complemented with the share of students in upper secondary education that are enrolled in vocational programmes. For the countries considered here, the 2008 share is below 25 % of in 2 countries (Hungary and Cyprus), between 25 % and 49 % in 7 countries (Denmark, Poland, France, Spain, Latvia, Ireland and Estonia), more than 50 % in the other 10 countries.

The indicator presented here is the percentage of students in vocational upper secondary education by type of programme in which they are enrolled. According to the method adopted in the UOE data collection on education systems, vocational programmes may be defined as: a) school-based programmes (if at least 75 % of the programme curriculum is presented in the school environment); b) combined school- and work-based programmes (if less than 75 % of the curriculum is presented in the school environment). Data presented here originate from the UOE data collection on education systems and are subject to its methodology.

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