In 2018, 17.7 million pupils were studying at upper secondary level in the European Union (EU), out of which more than 8.5 million (or 48%) were enrolled in vocational education.
Students usually enter upper secondary school programmes (ISCED level 3) between the ages of 14 and 16. These programmes are typically designed to complete secondary education in preparation for tertiary education or provide skills relevant to employment, or both. In particular, vocational education programmes are designed to provide learners with the knowledge and the set of skills specific to a particular occupation or trade. Such programmes may have work-based components (e.g. apprenticeships, dual-system education programmes). Successful completion of such programmes leads to labour market-relevant, vocational qualifications acknowledged as occupationally oriented by the relevant national authorities and/or the labour market.
Source dataset: educ_uoe_enrs04
Vocational education at upper secondary level was somewhat dominated by males, who accounted for 58% of pupils studying this type of programme.
Highest share of upper secondary pupils enrolled in vocational education in Finland
In 13 EU Member States, more than half of all upper secondary pupils studied vocational programmes in 2018. Finland registered the highest proportion of pupils at upper secondary level enrolled in vocational education (72%), ahead of Czechia and Slovenia (both 71%), Croatia (69%), the Netherlands, Austria and Slovakia (each 68%).
At the opposite end of the scale, shares of less than a third were recorded in Cyprus (17%), Lithuania (27%), Greece and Malta (both 29%).
Source dataset: educ_uoe_enrs04
The proportion of upper secondary students enrolled in vocational programmes varies considerably across EU regions. In 2018, a peak of 76% was recorded in Severozápad (Czechia), more than four times the lowest share recorded in Cyprus (17%).
Source dataset: educ_uoe_enrs06
In 2018, this share was at least 65% in 37 (out of 218) NUTS level 2 EU regions (see notes). All regions in Croatia and in Slovenia had shares above 65% and this was also the case in all Finnish regions except Åland and in the regions outside the capitals in Czechia, Austria and Slovakia.
This news item marks the European Vocational Skills Week (9 - 13 November).
For more information:
- Overview of statistics on education and training
- Statistics Explained article on vocational education and training statistics
- Relevant updated information on UOE data collection and Quality reports compiled at country in the Education administrative metadata file
- Education chapter of the new digital publication Regions in Europe
- Education and training chapter of the Eurostat regional yearbook 2020, as well as in the corresponding maps in Statistical Atlas
- In this news item, the regional data are presented at NUTS 2 level with the exception of Germany and the United Kingdom (NUTS level 1).
- Italy – includes post-secondary non-tertiary education – vocational.
- The European Union (EU) includes 27 EU Member States. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Further information is published here.
To contact us, please visit our User Support page.
For press queries, please contact our Media Support.