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Vocational education and training in a nutshell

As a young jobseeker, aspiring apprentice or potential employer, you’ve probably come across the term ‘VET’ before. It’s a popular acronym within the world of employment, but what does it actually mean for young people and businesses? In honour of EURES’ 25th birthday, we’re going to answer that question.


What is VET?

VET stands for ‘vocational education and training’. Simply put, it’s education and training in specific job-related and technical skills.


What are the benefits of VET?

For young people, VET opportunities can be fun, hands-on and creative. They put academic ability to one side and focus on practical skills that can help people discover their talents. Vocational education and training looks great on a CV too.

For businesses and organisations, VET creates potential employees by providing learners with skills that match industry needs. Investing in VET also allows current employees to boost their skills, helping businesses or organisations to grow.




What careers are classed as ‘VET’?


  • Traditional VET careers: Vocational careers date back to ancient times, when early farmers, cooks, builders and carpenters were already perfecting and passing on their skills. Other vocations with a long history include butchers, nurses, bakers, tailors, blacksmiths, hairdressers, florists and foresters. Despite industrialisation, most of these careers remain widespread today.
  • Modern VET careers: The industrial revolution and early technological developments gave rise to many new vocations, particularly in manufacturing, engineering, medicine and information technology. These industries can all be accessed through VET and have become popular choices for trainees. 

    While many VET careers have traditionally been workshop-, factory- or lab-based, there are various office-based programmes available today in areas such as accountancy, sales, graphic design and software development. There are also opportunities in the retail and hospitality sectors, where VET can lead to a career as a hotel manager, chef or event planner.
  • Future VET careers: In the digital and global age, many jobs are emerging that didn’t exist half a century ago. It’s thought that if technology develops as expected, there will soon be trainee self-driving car mechanics, space travel agents and even robot counsellors.


What types of VET are available?

Many schools, colleges, universities and organisations offer VET opportunities. Some mix classroom-based learning with practical work, while others place greater emphasis on gaining experience in real-life situations.

Online courses have become increasingly popular thanks to their flexibility. Being able to choose when, where and at what speed you study makes them a good option for people with prior commitments or travel limitations.

Apprenticeships and traineeships within businesses or organisations can also be classed as VET, as they equip people with the skills they need in order to excel in a specific industry.


How is the EU supporting VET?

The EU has long championed VET as a way to boost employability, develop skilled workforces and strengthen Europe’s economy. A great illustration of this is European Vocational Skills Week, which was launched in late 2016 to celebrate and promote VET.

Another initiative in support of VET and opportunities for youth is the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. This platform brings together governments, VET providers and other organisations to strengthen the quality and supply of apprenticeships in Europe. The European Solidarity Corps also provides opportunities, traineeships or apprenticeships in a range of sectors for young people.


How can I get involved with VET?

For young people, local education providers or training centres are a great place to start. Searching on portals like EURES can also bring up a range of opportunities, both at home and abroad.

For businesses and organisations, programmes like Erasmus+ offer and support a number of VET-related opportunities.


Related links:

European Vocational Skills Week 2019

European Alliance for Apprenticeships

European Solidarity Corps



European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET)


Read more:

European Job Days


Find EURES Advisers

Living and working conditions in EURES countries

EURES Jobs Database

EURES services for employers

EURES Events Calendar

Upcoming Online Events

EURES on Facebook

EURES on Twitter

EURES on LinkedIn


Disclaimer: Please note that neither EURES nor the European Commission endorse any of the third party websites mentioned above.


непоемане на отговорност

Статиите „В обектива…” са предназначени да предоставят на потребителите на портала EURES (Европейски служби по заетостта) информация относно актуалните теми и тенденции и да стимулират обсъждания и дебати. Те не задължително отразяват гледната точка на Европейската комисия.