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Cedefop undertakes research and develops tools to empower the role of VET to the fight against early leaving from education and training (ELET)

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 research brings new evidence on:

  • Protective factors to prevent early leaving from VET
  • Mechanisms for measuring and monitoring ELET at national and EU-level
  • Successful policies and practices in Europe to tackle ELET
  • Good practices for policy impact evaluation

Highlights on Cedefop findings

Cedefop data 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. VET offering a more practical, work-oriented route towards a qualification can magnetize early leavers back to education and training.

Read more: New Cedefop two-volume study Leaving education early: putting vocational education and training (VET) centre stage

15 new country reports available for: Austria, Belgium-Fr, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal and United Kingdom.

For more publications see here

VET toolkit for tackling early leaving

Cedefop launched new web toolkit for tackling early leaving ( aimed for policy makers and VET practitioners involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of VET policies and practices to tackle early leaving.

The toolkit is based on an extensive evidence of research published recently by Cedefop (see above). It provides with practical guidance, tips, good practices and tools in three action areas:

  • 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.

Moreover a new 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.

Why is tackling early leaving from education and training important?

Leaving education early entails multi-faceted costs to individuals and society. Early leavers, young people between 18-24 year-old with less than upper-secondary qualification, have:

  • low income levels
  • high unemployment rates which grew markedly during the recent economic crisis
  • poor health outcomes, generating high costs to the state welfare systems
  • high risk of social exclusion

Fighting ELET as a key element of Europe 2020 Strategy 

Europe 2020 strategy  targets ELET rates below 10% to enhance employability and facilitate social inclusion. A series of EU-level policy documents and initiatives support this objective. Although progress towards this target is on course, still, in 2015, Europe counted 4.4 million early leavers. The severity of this problem differs greatly among countries and regions.

For more data see Education and training monitor


Cedefop’s events on the role of VET in reducing early leaving

International Workshop “Preventing Educational Dropout in Secondary Vocational Education” (18-19 December 2017, Palma de Mallorca)

Council of Europe Dialogue with Roma and Traveller Civil Society: FROM EDUCATION TO EMPLOYMENT, 4th meeting (18-19 September 2017, Strasbourg)

Policy learning forum: VET as a solution to leaving education early (16-17 May 2017, Thessaloniki)

Cedefop-World Bank knowledge exchange seminar on early leaving from education and training: lessons from Romania (25 May 2016, Thessaloniki)

Cedefop workshop on evaluating impact and success for VET policies to tackle early leaving from education and training (21 October 2015, Brussels)
Cedefop expert workshop on the role of VET in reducing early leaving from education and training (3-4 June 2014, Thessaloniki)
For more events, see here  

Press releases and interviews

Cedefop presents updated VET toolkit for tackling early leaving (in English)

VET helps people say YES to education and training (in English)

Cedefop and World Bank combine to tackle early leaving from education and training (in English)

Better vocational options lead to fewer dropouts from education and training (in English)

VET at the fight against drop out (in Greek)

VET against early school leaving (in Italian)

Work-based learning as an “antidote” to early school leaving (in Italian)

There are countries giving incentives to students to stay in VET (in Spanish)

The decision to abandon school is not taken from one day to another (in Catalan)

Other related Cedefop projects

Thematic perspectives complement general information on VET systems provided in VET in Europe country reports and Spotlights.

Cedefop’s monitoring report on vocational education and training policies 2010-14  Stronger VET for better lives synthesises progress towards the objectives of the Bruges communiqué including these related to early leaving from VET.

The European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning dedicates a thematic report on the use of validation for early school leaving. Read the report here: Validation and early school leavers: thematic report.

Other EU related projects 

Recent events: 



Watch the video

The role of VET in combatting early leaving



Project contacts

Irene Psifidou
Project Manager