VET qualifications must be relevant at national and local levels while opening the door to international comparability
Pressure on European education and training systems has increased in recent years, with technological and demographic trends reshaping demand for skills and qualifications and making lifelong learning a necessity, for both individuals and countries. Vocational education and training (VET) provision has to respond to rapidly changing labour market needs and to match qualification supply to skills demand. Improving its quality, relevance and agility is, therefore, at the heart of the European VET policy framework 2021-25, which emphasises the importance of international cooperation, learner and worker mobility and recognition of learning outcomes.
To support the implementation of policies strengthening cross-country transparency and comparability of qualifications, Cedefop has conducted a study into methods for analysing and comparing the profile and content of VET qualifications; these still largely differ between European countries (2). This briefing note outlines the two main objectives addressed, as well as the solutions identified and their implications for researchers and policy-makers.
1. Better comparison of VET qualifications
Traditionally, VET qualifications are developed by country authorities addressing mainly their own na- tional and regional needs. This allows for direct dialogue between the users and suppliers of qualifications, ensuring overall relevance of training. In recent times, however, this approach has been challenged by sweeping technological changes and ever more globalised labour markets and supply chains. Skills and competences, while used locally, are increasingly shaped by global trends and the calls for wider comparability of the content of VET programmes and qualifications are multiplying (3). Cedefop’s study addresses the challenges posed by the tensions between local needs and global demands, and opens possible ways forward to be discussed at political level.
2. Better feedback between work and VET
In the past few years, Cedefop has built up its skills intelligence capacity through the analysis of online job vacancies, offering the capacity to generate fast and detailed information on labour market trends and European companies’ skill needs as they unfold. At the same time, Cedefop has looked at the supply of knowledge, skills and competences, forecasting likely future developments of VET systems as they face new challenges and demands.
Good VET governance and quality assurance require strong feedback mechanisms between VET providers and labour market stakeholders. While a lot has been done to optimise the match between VET needs and supply, there is room for more targeted and ‘granular’ feedback at the level of single qualifications/programmes. More systematic dialogue between VET providers and labour market actors in this field can help ensure that:
- the learning outcomes expressed in curricula closely reflect labour market needs;
- the intentions of VET providers have been translated into traceable individual VET graduate skills;
- experiences at the workplace with the graduates are being fed back to VET providers.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Briefing note – Analysing and comparing VET qualifications