Cedefop conducts research and develops tools to support policy-makers and practitioners to promote inclusion in Vocational education and training (VET). Cedefop’s work on inclusion has a dual focus: to tackle early leaving from education and training (ELET) and to empower young NEETs through VET.
Why is it important to tackle early leaving from education and training?
Early leaving from education and training (ELET) is a pressing issue in Europe with considerable costs for individuals and society.
Young people between 18 and 24 with a qualification lower than upper secondary, classified by Eurostat as early leavers from education and training are more likely to be unemployed or inactive; to be employed in low-paid jobs with few or no prospects for training and further career progression; more prone to social exclusion and poverty, including in-work poverty; and more likely to experience lower levels of health, wellbeing and life satisfaction.
For these reasons, fighting ELET is a key element of the Education and training 2030 strategic framework, reflected in the commitment of the EU countries to:
- reduce the average share of early leavers to less than 9% by 2030;
- implement the 2022 Osnabrück Declaration on VET; and
- the Council recommendation on Pathways to school success including policies to reduce ELET by developing coherent, comprehensive and evidence-based strategies.
Despite the success in bringing down the numbers of young people who exit education with a lower secondary education qualification at most, early leaving still affects one in 10 young people – in some countries or regions even more than that.
According to Eurostat, the ELET rate has steadily decreased from 13.8% in 2010 to 9.7% in 2021. Although there has been a significant improvement overall, progress has stagnated since 2016 with significant differences across countries, regions, genders and for specific population groups, such as people of migrant background. Tackling ELET remains a top policy priority in many European countries given also the effects that extended school closure during the Covid-19 pandemic may have on dropout rates.
What is the role of VET in tackling early leaving?
In some countries, VET suffers from high rates of dropout. This very much depends on the country, region and specific VET sector. Cedefop research shows that high-quality, inclusive and flexible VET provision may prevent and remedy ELET.
Read more about the role of VET in tackling ELET in our two-volume study ‘Leaving education early: putting vocational education and training centre stage’.
Volume I: investigating
causes and extent
Volume II: evaluating
For further reading, see our Publications section.
What is Cedefop doing to tackle early leaving from VET?
Cedefop team VET4youth supports the European Commission and member states in tackling ELET by:
Cedefop conducts research on early leaving from VET, collects and analyses national data on dropout rates, conducts surveys and publishes comparative and national reports. Check out our latest highlights:
- 29 Cedefop ReferNet thematic country reports on Teachers and trainers in a changing world - Building up competences for inclusive, green and digitalised vocational education and training (VET) include a specific section on inclusion.
- Cedefop's comparative synthesis report shows that making VET inclusive remains a top policy priority for all 29 European countries implementing national and EU-funded projects and initiatives to support teachers' and trainers' professional development in this field.
- Cedefop's working paper on The role of guidance and counselling in minimising ELET examines how national policies and practices in career guidance and counselling in EU Member States may support learners at risk and early leavers from education and training. It identifies common patterns and existing information gaps, and sets out future prospects.
- Cedefop briefing note on Empowering teachers and trainers to manage change.
For further reading, see our Publications section.
Cedefop VET toolkit for tackling early leaving
To provide VET practitioners and policy-makers with practical support, Cedefop launched the VET toolkit for tackling early leaving in 2017 and has been constantly updating and enriching it since then.
Cedefop VET toolkit for empowering NEETs
As early leavers from education and training are at greater risk of becoming NEETs (young people not in education, employment or training), Cedefop launched in 2021 the VET toolkit for empowering NEETs.
How can Cedefop VET toolkits be used?
The toolkits offer resources from several European countries and can be used to:
- promote reflection and dialogue among policy-makers and practitioners on current strategies to tackle early leaving from VET or to empower young NEETs;
- support decision-making processes through the development of action plans inspired by the toolkits' rich resources, tools and good practices.
Cedefop provides a range of suggested activities for using these interactive toolkits at national, regional and local levels.
How can I get involved?
- Go to the toolkits and discover around 300 resources relevant for different European countries.
- Become an ambassador to be part of our community of ambassadors actively contributing to tackling early leaving from VET in Europe.
- Submit your own good practices and tools to be published on the toolkit.
- Contact the team to give feedback on the toolkits or to send your enquiry.
Interviews and articles
Read here what Dr Irene Psifidou and other people say about the VET toolkit for tackling early leaving.
- “Making VET fit for young people's needs”. In Cedefop magazine promoting learning for work: Skillset and Match, Issue 25, May 2022, pp. 12-13. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
- “Cedefop toolkit helps tackling VET early leaving” In Cedefop magazine promoting learning for work: Skillset and Match, Issue 19, May 2020, page 6. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
- “Tackling early leaving from education and training? You need Cedefop's new toolkit!”. In EPALE, August 2019.
- “VET supporting the qualification of migrants”. In Skills panorama Blog article, 7 December 2018.
- “VET as a solution to tackling early leaving”. In Cedefop's policy learning forum on vocational education and training (VET) as a solution to leaving education early in Thessaloniki, 16 and 17 May 2017.
- “An unsolved problem: How to address early school leaving?” (interview in English) / “Un problema no resolt: com abordar l'abandonament escolar prematur?” (interview in Spanish). In International Perspectives on Education Conference organised by Jaume Bofill Foundation in Barcelona, 26 October 2016.
- “La formazione on the job è un «antidoto» alla dispersione scolastica” [On-the-job training as an "antidote" to early school leaving]. In Scuola 24. Sfoglia il Quotidiano Digitale. 18 November 2016.
- “La formazione-lavoro contro la dispersione scolastica” [Work-based learning against early school leaving]. In school website: In Tecnica della Scuola. 18 November 2016.
- “La decisió d’abandonar els estudis no es pren d’un dia per l’altre” [The decision to leave school is not taken from one day to the next]. In Diari de l'Educació, 4 November 2016.
- “Hay países que dan incentivos a alumnos para que no abandonen la FP” [There are countries giving incentives to students to prevent them from leaving VET]. In Diario de Mallorca, Spain, 24 June 2016.
- “VET helps people say yes to education and training”. In Cedefop magazine promoting learning for work: Skillset and Match, Issue 6, January 2016, page 8. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.
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