Quality assurance in vocational education and training (VET) is a key priority at EU level to improve the quality of VET systems, and increase transparency of VET developments between Member States, thereby supporting mutual trust, mobility of workers and learners, and lifelong learning.
In cooperation with the European Commission, Cedefop supports the implementation of the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET).
Cedefop has been monitoring developments on ensuring the quality of VET in the EU Member States. Its analysis shows that by 2019 all countries had developed a national approach to quality assurance in line with the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET). National developments focus mainly on ensuring quality in VET providers, promoting self-assessment in schools – mostly in initial VET – and on further developing external evaluation practices, introducing quality observatories, and making quality agreements with VET providers systematic.
Traditionally, quality assurance systems focus on delivery of education and training, for example on teaching and training quality. The shift to learning outcomes and diversified modes of learning now taking place across Europe, increasingly allows qualifications to be acquired through different learning pathways. The quality of these alternative pathways should be complemented by developing reliable ways of ensuring that the required/expected learning outcomes have been achieved.
To make this happen, the 2009 EQAVET framework was extended in the 2020 Council Recommendation on VET to address elements such as the quality of learning outcomes, certification and assessment, stakeholder consultation, the role of teachers and trainers, work-based learning and flexibility of vocational education and training.
Cedefop works on quality assurance in VET by:
- providing advice and expertise to the European Commission and the EQAVET network on the implementation of the EQAVET framework;
- reporting on trends and challenges in quality assurance mechanisms in the EU Member States line with the 2020 Council Recommendation on VET and the Osnabrück Declaration;
- carrying out research and analysis on topics such as the internal quality management of VET providers, the quality assurance of certification and other related areas.
The history of European cooperation on quality assurance in VET
European cooperation on quality in VET started as early as 2001 with the European forum on quality in VET (jointly set up by the Commission and Cedefop), which led to the definition of common principles, guidelines and tools for quality development and the establishment of a common quality assurance framework for VET (CQAF) endorsed by the Council in 2004. Member States, the European Commission and Cedefop continued exchanging experiences and knowledge, and building consensus to develop the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training (EQAVET) endorsed by the 2009 Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council. Since 2020 EQAVET has supported the implementation of the Council Recommendation on vocational education and training for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness, and resilience, to strengthen the quality of initial and continuing VET.