This research paper is the second in a series produced as part of the Cedefop project The changing nature and role of VET (2016-18).
It discusses national definitions and conceptions of vocational education and training (VET) in European Union Member States, Iceland and Norway and describes how these have changed over the past two decades.
In autumn 2016, Cedefop invited national VET experts to respond to a questionnaire regarding the way national VET systems are understood (in the form of official definitions and overall conceptions). While the survey demonstrates significant diversity across Europe, VET is largely perceived as occupations-specific education and training geared towards securing supply of skilled labour and inferior to general or academic education. The survey also identifies two major trends: significant diversification of VET (in terms of providers, levels and target groups), and strengthening of VET (in the form of renewed emphasis on apprenticeships and increased work-based elements).