Investment in research and network building will be needed to tackle the challenges of the fundamental changes facing vocational education and training (VET) and turn them into opportunities, participants in an expert workshop concluded.

The workshop on the 'Future of VET in Europe: Pathways to vocational excellence' was organised at Germany's Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), in Bonn, on 8 and 9 September and brought together internationally renowned VET researchers to discuss key findings from Cedefop’s 'Future of VET' project.

Participants agreed that the next phase of Cedefop’s work on the Future of VET, starting in 2023, could play a significant part in taking research in the field forward.

Building on the rich evidence gathered by the project as regards the changing European VET landscape, particular attention was paid to the ongoing development of concepts and methods supporting comparative VET research.

Hubert Ertl, Vice President and Director of Research, BIBB, and Loukas Zahilas, Head of Cedefop's Department for VET and Qualifications, opened the event, followed by an in-depth presentation of 'Major trends in VET curricula, institutions and assessment practices in Europe: key results from the Future of VET project' by Jens Bjornavold, Cedefop expert, and J­örg Markowitsch and Monika Auzinger experts, 3s.

In-depth discussions took place in three break-out sessions, moderated by Cedefop experts Jens Bjornavold, Anastasia Pouliou and Jostein Kvisteroy, focused on:

  • The comparison of VET systems and curricula.
  • Changes in VET delivery.
  • The changing world of work and the future role of VET and continuing VET (CVET).

In a plenary discussion, Hubert Ertl, Loukas Zahilas, Chris Winch, Andrea Laczik and Elvira Gonzalez reflected on the way forward.

Participants in the workshop agreed that the perspectives developed in the 'Changing nature and role of VET' and 'Future of VET' projects provide a strong basis for further developing comparative methodologies.

Research should capture and analyse the fundamental changes currently occurring in VET, exemplified by the changing relationship between initial VET (IVET) and CVET, and the increasing importance of higher-level VET.

While this will require a change in the overall conceptualisation of VET, it will also require a systematic and long-term investment in research, by adding resources as well as by building networks and strengthening cooperation.