Welcome to Cedefop policy learning forum “VET as a solution to leaving education early”  #VETearlyleaving that will take place on 16-17 May 2017 at Cedefop headquarters in Thessaloniki.

This policy learning form (PLF) will involve the participation of approximately 80 national, regional and local policy makers, institutional level actors and social partners from different countries, as well as representatives from European and international organisations involved in the design and implementation of measures to tackle early leaving from education and training (ELET).

Event rationale and aims

The PLF will focus on the contribution that VET can make to reducing early leaving from education and training.

VET institutions in some countries tend to be faced with high rates of drop outs. However, high quality, inclusive and flexible VET provision may prevent and remedy leaving education early. Cedefop study Leaving education early: Putting Vocational Education and Training (VET) centre stage shows that VET can be a safety net for those at-risk learners in general education offering an alternative pathway and securing their retention in education and training. Also, VET offering a more practical, work-oriented route towards a qualification can magnetize early leavers back to education and training.

Facing up to early leaving from education and training requires a better understanding and close monitoring of the phenomenon; streamlining of existing initiatives; and a strategic alliance between policy-makers, educators, employers, trade unions and civil society. To this end, Cedefop supports evidence-based policy making through research and peer learning, and launches a new Europe-wide toolkit to support the design, implementation and evaluation of VET policies to tackle early leaving.

The aims of the policy learning forum include:

  • learning from the findings of the above mentioned Cedefop study and pilot the associated web-based toolkit;
  • enabling participants to use Cedefop evaluation tools to assess strengths and weaknesses of their policies (at national, regional or institutional level);
  • providing an opportunity to learn from others who are working in the same field through a poster exhibition on good practices from different European countries as well as panel discussions with key international experts;
  • identifying common strengths and weaknesses and recommending possible training needs or areas for further research in the future;
  • committing those taking part to disseminate the toolkit at national and international levels;
  • creating a network of high level experts working on inclusive VET policies.


The PLF will require active participation from all participants involved in dialogue, good practice description in the form of a poster exhibition and exchange of experiences in the plenary sessions as well as in working groups.

The event will be organised around plenary and parallel working group sessions according to the three following aspects of ELET:

  • Identification: identifying those at risk of early leaving and identifying and monitoring those who have already dropped out;
  • Intervention: measures to tackle early leaving;
  • Evaluation: evaluating measures to identify what works and for whom.

During the event, participants will have the opportunity to pilot the new electronic toolkit, inspired by VET practices, providing guidance, good practices and tools to help tackle ELET.

We hope that you enjoy and find this event fruitful,

Dr Irene Psifidou Irene Psifidou

Cedefop expert responsible for this event


Event rationale and objectives

The economic downturn has led to a marked increase in long-term unemployment. In 2015 there were almost 4 million more European citizens out of work for over one year compared to 2007. Although recently employment growth has somewhat improved, in 2015 nearly half of the jobless in the EU were long-term unemployed (LTU), affecting almost 11 million people (4.5% of the active EU population). Close to two-thirds of them (6.8 million) have been out of work for over two years (very long-term unemployed, VLTU).

Addressing long-term unemployment is one of the key challenges of the EU’s jobs and growth agenda, as its persistence and higher risk of skills deterioration are barriers to labour market integration and lead to social exclusion. The recent Council recommendation on the labour market integration of the long-term unemployed and the European Commission’s New Skills Agenda for Europe call for a multi-faceted strategy that combines macroeconomic policy with better activation and skills policies. Such policies should include better skills profiling and validation, identification of skill needs in the local economy and targeted training combined with individualized career guidance and counselling. They depart from ‘work-first’ approaches to activation.

The aim of the policy learning forum (PLF) was to inform approaches to VET within activation measures that put upskilling and skill matching centre stage. The forum sought to ‘put policy into practice’ by moving beyond theory and empirical analysis and towards a deeper understanding of features, mechanisms and triggers underpinning effectiveness of innovative practices from across the EU. The PLF served as a platform for debate and mutual learning for key stakeholders involved in the design and delivery of VET and skill matching programs as part of activation policies.

Methodology of the policy learning forum

Following a similar format to other successful PLFs organised by Cedefop, the PLF on ‘Vocational training for the long-term unemployed’ required active participation from all participants, both before and during the forum:

  • case study presenters submitted a short written input summarising features of vocational training measures for the long-term unemployed in their organisation or country and lessons learned from practice;
  • case-study presenters were asked to deliver more in-depth information to Cedefop to be used for short (one page) schematic summaries of the initiatives they will present at the forum;
  • during the forum, participants were expected to contribute to the debate and exchange experiences.

The PLF was build on Cedefop’s publication on ‘Tackling unemployment while addressing skill mismatch: Lessons from policy and practice in EU countries

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