A new Cedefop briefing note highlights the double demand from policies on vocational education and training (VET) qualifications: they must be relevant at national and local levels while also internationally comparable.

Cedefop has conducted a study into methods for analysing and comparing the profile and content of VET qualifications to support the implementation of policies strengthening cross-country transparency and comparability. Improving VET quality, relevance and agility is at the heart of the European VET policy framework 2021-25, which emphasises the importance of international cooperation, learner and worker mobility and recognition of learning outcomes.

The study’s two main objectives are:

Better comparison of VET qualifications

Skills and competences, while used locally, in recent years are increasingly shaped by global trends, and wider comparability of the content of VET programmes and qualifications is becoming a necessity. Cedefop’s study addresses the challenges posed by the tensions between local needs and global demands, and opens possible ways forward to be discussed at political level.

Better feedback between work and VET

Good VET governance and quality assurance require strong feedback mechanisms between VET providers and labour market stakeholders, and there is room for more targeted and ‘granular’ feedback as well as a more systematic dialogue between actors in this field.

Cedefop’s study supports this feedback loop by focusing on learning outcomes as a crucial tool for understanding the profile and content of qualifications and for comparison. The research goes on to identify specific areas in which progress is required and to propose methods for collecting the views of labour market actors on qualifications’ fitness for purpose and promoting deeper understanding of the relationship between the learning outcomes intended by VET systems and actual outcomes as experienced in labour markets.

Cedefop’s study also lays the groundwork for analysing and comparing VET qualifications, pointing to both the opportunities and the challenges:

  • Highlights the need for a common format for describing qualifications: it would increase the overall transparency of qualifications and make it easier for learners, employees and employers to grasp fully the content and profile of qualifications.
  • Identifies the multilingual European classification of skills, competences, qualifications and occupations (ESCO) as the most suitable system to provide a common cross-border reference point for mapping learning outcomes.
  • Finds that a digital tool supporting the automated analysis and comparison of the learning outcomes of VET qualifications would add value, but not all conditions are currently met to realise this approach.
  • Has developed a prototype of an employer reflection survey focused on VET providers.

Check out Cedefop's latest briefing note in English. More languages will follow.

All Cedefop briefing notes can be found here.