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Scenarios for European vocational education and training in the 21st century

A report summarising the findings of the Cedefop project Changing nature and role of vocational education and training (VET) in Europe (2016-18) has just been published.

Project research aimed at taking a step back and painting a comprehensive picture of VET developments in Europe, identifying challenges and opportunities.

First, a detailed analysis of VET developments since 1995 was carried out. Then, a series of potential future paths were developed.

Seeking to identify plausible and consistent pictures of how VET could evolve in the coming decades, these scenarios highlight the choices policy-makers and stakeholders face in this area. While not pretending to be predictions of the future, these scenarios and the methodology they build on can be used by national authorities and stakeholders to identify challenges and opportunities ahead.

The summary shows that European VET varies between countries and is changing in fundamental ways. It is becoming more diverse in its programmes and qualifications and expanding into higher levels, challenging the perception of higher education as exclusively academically oriented.

In some countries, this reflects a step towards making lifelong learning a reality; in others, traditional VET is coming under pressure from declining youth cohorts and a growing preference for general education and training. Such negative developments can be seen as a forewarning of future challenges.

This report concludes the first phase of Cedefop’s long-term research on the future of VET in Europe. A second phase (2020-22) will build on the work presented in the current report.