A new online toolkit for tackling early leaving from education and training was launched at Cedefop's policy learning forum on vocational education and training (VET) as a solution to leaving education early (16-17/5) in Thessaloniki.

The Europe-wide toolkit provides practical guidance, tips, good practice and tools to assist policy-makers and education and training providers in activities and policies. It is inspired by successful VET practices which help young people attain at least an upper secondary qualification.

The toolkit works in three ways by helping to:

  • identify learners at risk of early leaving or who have already left education;
  • intervene to keep them in or bring them back to the system;
  • evaluate the measures implemented.

A new self-reflection tool for policy-makers and two evaluation plans (one for policy-makers and one for VET providers) can be used to monitor and evaluate the performance of policies and practices.

Participants from European Union countries, Russia, Turkey and international organisations, including the World Bank, OECD and WorldSkills, had the opportunity to test the tools at the forum and give feedback.

Opening the event, Cedefop Deputy Director Mara Brugia stressed that, although the European Union target to reduce early leaving to less than 10% by 2020 is on course to be achieved, ‘early leaving still matters; and we need to understand which policies are likely to be effective in the specific regional or national context.’

Ms Brugia noted that ‘our research findings have given us a deeper understanding of how VET can help break the vicious cycle of early leaving, unemployment and social exclusion.’

Cedefop expert Irene Psifidou, who organised the forum and developed the toolkit, said that ‘we now have the evidence and tools to empower VET so that it becomes the solution to the early leaving problem.’

In his closing remarks, Cedefop Director James Calleja argued that VET must stop being an alternative pathway and become first choice, underlining the importance of the human factor in the fight against early leaving: ‘We must personify early leavers as some countries have succeeded in doing.’

He added: ‘Action has to come from the bottom to reach the ones at the bottom first. Cedefop’s new toolkit can be a powerful weapon in the quest to give young people opportunities to achieve their potential.’

Notes to editors