The Future of Vocational Education and Training in Europe


Jörg Markowitsch und Günter Hefler

Future deve­lo­p­ments in Vocational Education and Training in Europe: Report on res­kil­ling and ups­kil­ling through formal and voca­tio­nal education training

JRC Working Papers Series on Labour, Education and Technology No. 2019/07. Seville: European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC)

This working paper written by Jörg Markowitsch and Günter Hefler for Joint Research Center of European Commission sum­ma­ri­ses key trends in Vocational Education and Training in Europe and reflects upon future developments.


Contrary to general education, voca­tio­nal education and training (VET) has been an area of coope­ra­ti­on from the very beginning of the European Union. Over decades, however, the concept and reality of VET has changed sub­stan­ti­al­ly. VET as a dead-end edu­ca­tio­nal pathway preparing exclu­si­ve­ly for direct labour market entrance has prac­ti­cal­ly faded out. The VET systems of the EU member states have become more open and have developed their access routes to higher and further education. Since 1995, common drivers for deve­lo­p­ments in VET across EU member states have included struc­tu­ral ones as shrinking birth-cohorts or changes in skill demands induced by new tech­no­lo­gies and digi­ta­li­sa­ti­on as well as insti­tu­tio­nal ones, for instance, a new emphasis on learning outcomes or the intro­duc­tion of qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on frame­works. However, common drivers have resulted in different tra­jec­to­ries taken by the various national VET systems, per­pe­tua­ting the

diversity of VET in Europe. The paper discusses long-term struc­tu­ral changes and recent trends within VET (such as voca­tio­nal drift in education, hybri­di­sati­o­nof general and voca­tio­nal education, incre­a­sing per­mea­bi­li­ty of edu­ca­tio­nal pathways in initial VET) and how they might play out in the future. Given that the trends are expected to continue, it can be expected that by 2030 national qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on frame­works in most EU members states will be firmly estab­lished thereby orga­ni­s­ing a diversity of voca­tio­nal qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons ranging from EQF level 1 to 8 – including pro­fes­sio­nal doctorates.