Placed at the centre of European cooperation, Cedefop aimed at improving vocational education and training (VET) through effective policy-making. Grounded in its 2019 recast Founding Regulation (Repealing Regulation (EEC) No 337/75 as amended by No 2051/2004) and reflecting the tripartite principle that underpins successful VET, the mission defines Cedefop’s main partners.
Support the promotion, development and implementation of the Union policy in the field of vocational education and training (VET) as well as skills and qualifications policies by working together with the Commission, Member States and social partners. To this end, enhance and disseminate knowledge, provide evidence and services for policy-making, including research-based conclusions, and facilitate knowledge sharing among and between Union and national actors.
Cedefop’s mission reflects its evolution as an organisation and the expanding portfolio of activities. Since its foundation in 1975, Cedefop’s expertise has deepened and widened as cooperation on VET policy, skills and qualifications between the European Commission, Member States and social partners has become stronger and more sophisticated. To set the stage for future strategic priorities, insight into the development of VET and Cedefop’s role and contribution is a prerequisite.
The launch of systematic European VET cooperation in 2002 (the so-called Copenhagen process) has led to agreement on common policy objectives supported by indicators and regular monitoring. A set of European tools supporting mobility of learners, quality of VET programmes and the understanding of qualifications have been implemented. Countries have worked on common priorities to make VET more relevant and attractive to people and employers. Overall, European cooperation has raised VET’s profile, enabling it to support the transformations in the economy and society, including the digital and green transitions.
Cedefop’s contribution to these developments has been substantial. It has proposed and directly supported development and implementation of key European tools. Its expertise helped shape the European qualifications framework (EQF) and supported the national frameworks (NQFs) linked to it, making it easier to compare qualifications from different countries. Supporting the move to basing curricula and qualifications on learning outcomes, Cedefop has helped open new ways of validating non-formal and informal learning and new pathways to qualifications. Its policy reporting has monitored, reviewed and advised on implementing European VET policy priorities, helping shape policy direction.
Cedefop’s analyses and research have improved understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of VET systems and provided insights into VET’s social, economic and personal benefits. With its evidence base and analyses, Cedefop has supported countries’ and social partners’ efforts to expand work-based learning, including quality and effective apprenticeships. Drawing on its analytical capacity and its expertise in lifelong guidance, validation of skills and VET financing, Cedefop has backed their endeavour to devise upskilling strategies for people with low skills and implementing the social rights pillar.
Aiming to help inform VET policy and provision and, more broadly, people’s education and career choices, Cedefop has developed EU-wide approaches to understanding current and anticipating future skills demand and supply. This work on labour market and skills intelligence and relationships between jobs, skills and qualifications, allows improving VET governance and modernising VET proactively, in the pursuit of building and maintaining employability for learners and workers, and competitiveness for businesses. It has helped raise the profile of VET beyond education and training and employment policies, not least through its work on green skills and its activities dedicated to digitalisation, artificial intelligence and the future of work.
Cedefop’s knowledge broker activities bring together policy-makers, social partners, researchers, experts and other VET and labour market actors from all over the EU, Iceland and Norway representing national, regional and sectoral interests to strengthen and expand knowledge in VET-related areas. Cedefop’s networks provide and help validate evidence and information on different areas of VET policy, monitor developments in their countries, and support the Agency’s wide and diverse dissemination activities. This work supports the Commission in the European Semester process.
The 2019 recast regulation formally recognised that, over time and in response to demands from its partners, Cedefop broadened its perspective by looking at skills and qualifications beyond traditional VET boundaries. The work on EQF and European tools, the analysis of VET systems and policies, apprenticeships and upskilling pathways for adults, and skills forecasts and intelligence are examples of activities that gradually have become key strands of the Agency’s work.
The ability to bring together a European and multidisciplinary perspective on VET and labour market analysis to help address national issues is Cedefop’s unique selling point. As an exceptional European forum for sharing and debating experience and ideas to improve VET, Cedefop has been a key player in European cooperation on VET, skills and qualifications. The Agency has also left a clear mark on the evolving EU policy agenda for VET in the past two decades and will continue to do so in the coming years.