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Purely occupation-specific skills are not enough for vocational education and training (VET) learners to adapt to new life situations and career shifts, manage change, take initiative and risk, innovate, and engage in further learning; they also require key competences.

The 2020 European skills agendaCouncil recommendation on VET and Osnabrück declaration on VET emphasise the importance of key competences that lay the foundation for resilience, lifelong learning, employability, social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development, and support green and digital transition.

The overall objective of the project is to promote key competences in VET in Europe through research and evidence-based policy advice.

A distinctive feature of key competences in VET is that they are not directly linked to a specific qualification but can be used flexibly in different situations, including lifelong learning and the labour market. In practice the lines are often blurred and vary by economic sector. For example, using foreign languages (multilingual competence) may not be a standard requirement for road construction technicians, while most qualifications in the tourism industry require knowledge of at least one foreign language. In the former case, multilingual is a key competence sensu stricto; in the latter, it is a key competence that overlaps with vocational competence.

While all key competences are important, Cedefop research focuses on key competences in line with the EU priorities.

Study on key competences in initial VET: digital, multilingual and literacy (completed)

In 2020, Cedefop presented the results of its research on key competences in initial VET: digital, multilingual and literacy. This comparative study provides insights into the extent the three selected key competences are embedded and promoted in initial upper secondary VET. The analysis covers three levels: national policies, qualifications, and curricula, including four main areas of policy intervention: reference documents, programme delivery, assessment standards, and teacher/trainer competences.

Study on entrepreneurship competence (ongoing)

The overall objective of the study is to shed light on how entrepreneurship competence is embedded in initial VET (school-based and work-based, including apprenticeships); it will also analyse continuing VET leading to formal qualifications. The findings will support policy-makers, social partners, VET providers and other stakeholders in promoting entrepreneurship competence.

Using the following research questions, the study will map and analyse how national (regional) policy translates into VET practices, 

complementing existing knowledge about methods, tools and approaches that support learning, teaching and assessing the entrepreneurship competence:

  1. To what extent and how do the dimensions of entrepreneurial learning ecosystems facilitate acquiring entrepreneurship competence in VET in Europe?
  2. What policies, methods, tools and approaches best support embedding entrepreneurship competence in VET?


Project contacts

Dmitrijs Kulss
Iraklis Pliakis
Chryssa Zekou

Project details