The aim of the Changing nature and role of vocational education and training (VET) in Europe project is to improve our understanding of how VET is changing in the European Union countries (including Norway and Iceland). Over a three-year period (2016-18), the project will analyse how vocationally oriented education and training has developed and changed in the past two decades (1995-2015) and, on this basis, point to the main challenges and opportunities facing the sector today and in the future.
The project has distinguished three, partly overlapping, main perspectives: an epistemological and pedagogical perspective; an education system perspective; and a socio-economic or labour market perspective (see Figure below).
The epistemological or pedagogical perspective is the view usually taken by educationalists, psychologists and philosophers with a focus on issues of VET pedagogy, and the learning and development of individuals including their learning environment. From this perspective, it can be argued that the identity of vocational education is rooted in distinctive modes of production, representation, use and transfer of knowledge, which can be associated with particular ways of teaching and learning.
An education system perspective is the view taken by people in educational administration, sociologists of education but also educational statisticians. It looks at the way VET as an institution has evolved and continues to evolve over time. It focuses on system and VET provider characteristics and is reflected in the way VET is represented in international statistics or country reports, the sort of ‘VET at a glance’ reports. In this perspective, the variety of forms of VET, types of providers, levels, pathways and the nature and scale of VET in the initial (compulsory) phase of education and for adults, come to the fore. The relationship with other sectors, such as general education and VET teachers’ status, education and qualifications, are also of particular interest.
Using a socio-economic or labour market perspective, the wider societal functions of VET are considered. This is the view often taken by economists, labour sociologists, political scientists, but also historians, who will be interested in, for instance, the ways in which VET contributes to social stratification by providing access to particular career pathways and to the skills, competences and attitudes demanded by companies and their work systems. It is the status of learners (whether students in education or apprentices holding employment contracts with employers), the funding sources and mechanisms as well as the types of governance which are of particular interest in this perspective.
Source: Cedefop (2017). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 1: Conceptions of vocational education and training: an analytical framework. Luxembourg: Publications Office. Cedefop research paper; No 63
The project work is divided into six separate but interlinked themes:
|Definitions of VET||
Vol. 1 VET conceptions
|VET at upper secondary level|
|VET and lifelong learning||
Vol. 5 Education & labour market outcomes for graduates
|VET at higher levels||
Vol. 6 Vocationally oriented education & training at higher education levels
|Synthesis report - future scenarios|| Vol. 7 VET in Europe 1995-2035:
Future scenarios in the 21st century
Starting point for the project
Vocationally oriented education and training in Europe is changing. While traditionally associated with education and training at upper secondary level, VET is currently expanding and diversifying. In many countries, vocationally oriented education and training is being delivered by institutions outside the traditional VET sector, such as higher-level institutions (EQF 5 and above), companies and sectors. Operating at both national and international levels, todays’ VET is increasingly addressing the challenges of lifelong learning.
Aim of the project
The project attempts to take one step back and gain a deeper understanding of the VET system itself, its characteristics and dynamics, and its relationship to other education and training sectors. It aims to shed light into existing differences across Europe (EU + Norway and Iceland) and improve our understanding of change and developments over the past two decades. The project findings feed into the ongoing debate on European VET cooperation strategies post 2020.
How Cedefop supports the project
Cedefop has organised events on the topic of the changing role of VET, allowing policy-makers and practitioners to compare practices and exchange experiences.
- 2015: Cedefop organised the workshop: ‘The changing nature and role of VET in Europe’ to kick off the project.
- 2017: Cedefop organised the workshop: ‘VET in the 21st century – New pressures and changing expectations’
- 2018: A workshop on future trends and priorities was organised in February and a scenario workshop took place in Vienna (Austrian presidency) on 11 July 2018. A VET conference in cooperation with the European Commission and the Austrian Presidency was organized in Vienna, Austria, on 7 and 8 November 2018. The event was linked to the European vocational skills week 2018 of which Cedefop was a partner.
The project’s work builds on, and contributes to, previous and ongoing Cedefop work. You will find more information on related projects in the links below:
- Opinion survey on vocational education and training in Europe
- Cedefop conference on the impact of globalisation on VET
- Forecasting skill demand and supply
- Apprenticeships in work-based learning e.g. 'comparative overview of apprenticeship schemes'
- Vocational education and training in Europe: taking stock and looking ahead - Jens Bjørnåvold, Jörg Markowitsch, Anastasia Pouliou (November 2018)
- The changing role and nature of VET in Europe - Anastasia Pouliou (October 2018)
- The changing role and nature of VET in Europe - Jens Bjørnåvold (July 2018)
- The changing role and nature of VET in Europe: overview and findings from ongoing Cedefop research (ppt with audio) - Anastasia Pouliou (June 2018)
- How do vocational education and training systems respond to change? Initial findings from Cedefop project on the changing role of VET - Jens Bjørnåvold (December 2017)
- Changing jobs work and skills - Konstantinos Pouliakas and Jiri Branka (December 2017)
- Technology Innovation, New Professional Qualifications: the role of EU policies and tools – Loukas Zahilas (November 2017)
- Changing role of VET – Anastasia Pouliou (November 2017)
- The future of VET: 2018 onwards (MP3 Duration: 16:17) - Loukas Zahilas (November 2017)
- The changing nature and role of European VET: common challenges and their responses (ACVT Note December 2017)
- The Changing role and nature of VET in Europe: Findings from ongoing Cedefop research (DGVT October 2017)
- The changing nature and role of European VET – implications for European policy cooperation post 2020 (DGVT Note May 2017)
- VET: from past to future - Loukas Zahilas and Jens Bjørnåvold (Cedefop SkillSetMatch January 2018)
- The European vocational skills week 2018 - addressing the future of VET - Jens Bjørnåvold and Anastasia Pouliou (ECVET Magazine n 33 December 2018 p.4-5)