According to the Bruges Communiqué, initial and continuing VET should appeal equally to women and men.
The table below illustrates enrolment in initial VET at upper secondary level of education. The indicator considered is the number of upper secondary students enrolled in the vocational stream of education as % of all upper secondary students. It is calculated generally (total figures) and specifically (separately for male students and female students).
- In 2009, in the EU, about 50% of upper secondary students were enrolled in the vocational stream of education. The proportion among male students (55%) was significantly higher than it was among female students (44%).
- Among female students, enrolment in the vocational stream of education was lowest in Lithuania, Hungary and Cyprus. In those countries, less than 20% of girls in upper secondary education had opted for the vocational stream. The highest proportions (65% or more) were found in Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland and the Netherlands.
- Only in Belgium and the UK was the proportion among female students very similar to the proportion among male students, and only in Ireland was it higher.
- In all other EU countries, the proportion of students enrolled in vocational education was lower among girls than among boys. Particularly in Malta, Italy, Poland and Estonia the proportion of students enrolled in VET was much lower among females than among males (by more than 20 percentage points).
- Between 2000 and 2009, different trends can be identified from the available data:
- Trend 1: The proportion of students in VET increased among females (in percentage points) and more than it did among males (Belgium, Finland, Romania, Portugal and Ireland). This led to an increase in VET participation among females and reduced the differentials with males.
- Trend 2: The proportion of students in VET among females increased but less than it did among males (Sweden, Malta and Spain). This led to an increase in VET participation among females but did not reduce the differentials with males.
- Trend 3: The proportion of students in VET among females was relatively stable but it decreased among males (Netherlands, Bulgaria, Latvia and Cyprus). This did not lead to an increase in VET participation among females but it did reduce the differentials with males.
- Trend 4: The proportion of students in VET among females decreased and decreased more than among males (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Poland and Greece). This led to a decrease in VET participation among females and to increased differentials with males.
- Trend 5: The proportion of students in VET among females was relatively stable as was the proportion of VET students among males (Austria and Estonia). This led to overall stability.
The data originate from the UNESCO-OECD-Eurostat (UOE) data collection on education systems and are subject to its methodology. Data were extracted from the Eurostat database on 4 July 2011.
In interpreting the data, possible differences in the structure and characteristics of national VET systems should be taken into account. More information on each country’s VET system can be found in Cedefop’s VET in Europe database.