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Modernising vocational education and training in Europe


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — A new impetus for European cooperation in Vocational Education and Training to support the Europe 2020 strategy (COM(2010) 296 final of 9 June 2010)


The European Union (EU) aims to modernise Vocational Education and Training (VET) to enhance its appeal and role in the EU’s overall growth and jobs agenda.


It proposed the re-launch of EU-wide co-operation in VET as it contributes to the Europe 2020 strategy objectives and the Education and Training (ET) Strategic Framework.


The communication outlines the key VET priorities of the ET strategic framework.

Lifelong Learning (LLL)*

  • Access to training opportunities must be maximized as more people change careers.
  • Greater flexibility is needed regarding how learning outcomes are acquired, assessed and how they lead to qualifications.
  • Employers, training providers and higher education institutions must also play an enhanced role in improving VET provision.
  • Skills acquired outside formal education and training can be validated via an outcomes-based approach for vocational qualifications based on:

The Communication also highlights the urgent need for transnational mobility in VET.

Improving VET

  • Measures proposed to improve the quality, efficiency and attractiveness of VET include:
    • implementing national level quality assurance systems based on the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET;
    • reviewing trainers’ and teachers’ skills;
    • developing key competences through work-based learning;
    • developing tools to match skills with available jobs to strengthen labour market relevance.

VET helps combat social exclusion and promotes inclusive growth. Disadvantaged learners may profit more from non-classroom work-based learning that is relevant to the labour market.

The Communication also calls for the fostering of creativity and entrepreneurship.

Subsequent developments

The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) released a monitoring report in 2015 on progress on VET from 2010-2014.

It states that two-thirds of EU countries had made VET reforms, especially regarding key competences, work based learning, with stronger interaction between VET providers and employment stakeholders.

More progress, however, is needed in areas such as

  • LLL promotion,
  • mobility and
  • validation of non-formal learning*.

In 2015 EU Ministers drafted the Riga Conclusions. These propose new medium-term priorities for VET. These include:

  • increased promotion of work based learning,
  • extending access to VET and
  • further strengthening key competences in VET curricula.

The importance of VET was also highlighted in the European Commission’s Re-Thinking Education Communication and the Council’s 2013 Youth Guarantee recommendation.


The Communication is central to the 2002 Copenhagen Process, which aims to improve the performance, quality and attractiveness of VET in the EU. It was followed later in 2010 by the Bruges Communiqué that contained a number of short-term proposals for VET.


* Lifelong learning: learning throughout a person's lifetime to improve skills, abilities, knowledge and qualifications.

* Non-formal learning: learning in ‘non-formal’ situations (such as in sports clubs or youth clubs) in contrast to ‘formal’ learning (school, university, etc.).

last update 14.10.2015