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Priorities for vocational education and training (2011-2020)

Priorities for vocational education and training (2011-2020)

The Council defines the priorities for vocational education and training for the period 2011-2020, as well as the national objectives to be achieved in the shorter term and the support to be provided by the European Union (EU).


The Council sets the priorities of the Copenhagen process for the period 2011-2020. The Copenhagen process aims to improve the quality and attractiveness of Vocational Education and Training (VET) by strengthening cooperation at European level.

These updated objectives will help to achieve the priorities and initiatives of the Europe 2020 Strategy. VET is crucial in achieving two of the strategy’s objectives: by 2020, to increase the percentage of 30-34 year olds graduating from tertiary education to at least 40 %, and to reduce the proportion of early school leavers to below 10 %.

A global vision

The Council estimates that, to be completely effective, VET policies must opt for a global approach taking into account social and employment policies.

By 2020, VET systems should be more attractive and accessible to all, providing quality education with high labour market relevance. They must be flexible enough to allow permeability between the different education systems (school education, higher education, etc.). Continuing VET must be easily accessible and more career-oriented. Options for undertaking part of one’s vocational education or training abroad must be increased.

2011-2020 objectives

Several strategic objectives to be achieved by 2020 are defined. Each of them is accompanied by short-term deliverables (2011-2014) to be pursued at national level, together with details of the support provided by the European Union (EU) to achieve them. Six strategic objectives have been identified, namely:

  • making initial VET an attractive learning option. In the short term, national authorities are requested to promote the attractiveness of VET, but also to support activities which enable students to become acquainted with the different vocational trades and career possibilities available.
  • fostering the excellence, quality and relevance of VET to the labour market. Between 2011 and 2014, progress should be made in establishing national quality assurance frameworks. Cooperation between VET institutions and enterprises should also be strengthened, particularly by organising traineeships for teachers in enterprises. VET institutions should receive feedback on the employability of their graduates.
  • enabling flexible access to training and qualifications. At national level and in the short term, it would be necessary to review the use of incentives for participating in VET and the rights and obligations of the stakeholders involved. National authorities should also take appropriate measures to encourage participation in continuing VET. Referencing between the levels of the European Qualifications Framework and those of the national frameworks should be established by 2012.
  • encouraging international mobility in VET. To do so, EU countries should specifically encourage students and professionals to participate in a mobility programme, and also encourage local and regional authorities and VET institutions to develop internationalisation strategies. Language learning should be integrated into curricula.
  • promoting innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, and the use of new technologies. At national level, partnerships between VET institutions, higher education establishments, and design, art, research and innovation centres should be encouraged. VET institutions should be provided with the necessary equipment in terms of new technologies. Promoting practical experience should also encourage entrepreneurship.
  • making VET accessible to all, in particular by improving its contribution to tackling early school leaving. The participation of low-skilled and other ‘at risk’ groups should be encouraged through the use of appropriate guidance and support services, new technologies, and existing monitoring systems.

The Council also defines 5 transversal objectives:

  • increasing the involvement of VET stakeholders and making the results obtained through European cooperation better known;
  • coordinating the governance of European and national instruments in the areas of transparency, recognition, quality assurance and mobility;
  • intensifying cooperation between VET policy and other relevant policy areas;
  • improving the quality and comparability of data for EU policy-making in VET;
  • making good use of EU support.


The objectives defined in the conclusions have been endorsed by the Bruges Communiqué of 7 December 2010 adopted by the Education Ministers of 33 European countries, social partners and the European Commission.


Conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on the priorities for enhanced European cooperation in vocational education and training for the period 2011-2020 (OJ C 324 of 1.12.2010, pp. 5-15)

last update 24.09.2015