Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

The Commission is supporting Member States in their efforts to modernise vocational education and training, in order to equip people with the skills to support a fair transition to a green and digital economy as well as the post-COVID economic recovery.

Based on a Commission proposal, the Council has adopted a Council Recommendation on Vocational Education and Training for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience, which defines key principles for ensuring that vocational education and training is agile, adapts swiftly to labour market needs and provides quality learning opportunities for all age groups.

To promote these reforms, the Commission supports Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) that bring together local partners to develop “skills ecosystems”. Skills ecosystems will contribute to regional, economic and social development, innovation, and smart specialisation strategies.

Osnabrück Declaration

The Osnabrück Declaration on vocational education and training for transition to digital and green economies complements the Recommendation by short-term actions, structured in four objectives, to be achieved by 2025:

  • resilience and excellence through quality, inclusive and flexible vocational education and training
  • establishing a culture of lifelong learning
  • promoting sustainability through vocational educational and training
  • a European education and training area and an international dimension of vocational education and training

The Declaration was endorsed on 30 November 2020 by the Ministers in charge of vocational education and training of the Member States, the EU candidate countries,  the EEA-EFTA countries, the European social partners and the European Commission. It is supported by European level VET providers’ associations (VET4EU2) and learners representatives.

Countries participating in the Copenhagen process have submitted in 2022 their National Implementation Plans (NIPs) for the Council Recommendation on VET and/or the Osnabrück Declaration highlighting the main actions planned for the implementation of the two policy documents.

Monitoring of the NIPs is undertaken by Cedefop and the European Training Foundation (ETF) in cooperation with the European Commission.

EU governance bodies for cooperation in VET

Member States, social partners and the Commission discuss initiatives relating to VET in the meetings of the Advisory Committee on Vocational Training (ACVT) and of the Directors-General for VET (DGVTs).

Since 1963, the ACVT has assisted the EU with the implementation of its VET policy. The ACVT in practice covers the broader field of VET and adult learning, reflecting the fact that VET policies are typically embedded in the wider education and training systems.

DGVT meetings bring together high-level representatives from ministries in charge of VET from 35 countries, together with the European social partners. The DGVT regularly discusses strategic VET policies and country-level reforms and takes a forward-looking role to provide direction for European VET cooperation.

Since 2002, DGVT meetings have contributed to enhanced cooperation in the field of VET between Member States, candidate countries, EFTA/EEA countries and European social partners as part of the Copenhagen Process. This is a voluntary process undertaken by countries with the aim to improve the performance, quality and attractiveness of VET in Europe.

European Quality Assurance Reference Framework in VET (EQAVET)

The Council Recommendation on VET of November 2020 replaces the previous Recommendations on EQAVET and the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET), which were adopted in 2009.

EQAVET sets out a reference framework to support Member States to improve the quality of their VET systems and increase transparency regarding quality assurance arrangements in VET.

During its 10 years of implementation, EQAVET stimulated reforms in national quality assurance systems, although it did not contribute significantly to improving transparency around quality assurance arrangements. In addition, it was mostly applied in school-based initial VET.

Additional useful information

The Community of European VET practitioners of the Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe, for example, aims at strengthening the VET community across the EU.

With a focus on online/distance learning, green skills, social inclusion, and learner mobility, it helps practitioners such as teachers, trainers and in-company tutors to be aware of policy initiatives at European level and cooperate among themselves to find interesting tools and resources for VET provision.

VET Graduate tracking

The Council Recommendation on tracking graduates was adopted in November 2017 in order to enable policy makers and stakeholders to improve the employability of graduates, to tackle skills gaps and mismatches and ensure social inclusion, as well as to allow prospective students to make informed choices about potential career paths.

Graduate tracking is an important governance tool for VET management as a key source of information feeding into skills governance systems.

To further enhance the capacities of national VET graduate tracking systems, the Commission organises peer learning activities (PLA) between 2021-2023. A study to explore the potential in linking administrative databases is ongoing (results by 2023).


A micro-credential is a record of the learning outcomes that a learner has acquired following a small volume of learning. The Council Recommendation on VET calls on the European Commission to ‘explore the concept and use of micro-credentials’.

Micro-credentials allow for targeted, flexible acquisition of skills to meet new and emerging needs in society and the labour market, while not replacing traditional qualifications. Micro-credentials can be designed and delivered by a variety of providers in diverse formal, non-formal and informal learning settings.

The Council has adopted in June 2022 a Council Recommendation on a European Approach to micro-credentials.

The European Vocational Skills Week

Since 2016, the European Vocational Skills Week (VET Week) has brought together local, regional, and national organisations to celebrate VET achievements across Europe.

The annual event raises awareness of the potential of VET to create jobs and support careers; it provides opportunities to exchange information and good practices, which recognises the importance of VET and skills.

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