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Brussels, 9 June 2010

Commission encourages vocational education and training

The European Commission today presented its new vision for the future of vocational education and training. Vocational education and training is chosen by an average of around 50% of all students in upper secondary education. However, the sector needs to be modernised to make it a more attractive and high-quality option, so that it provides young people with the right skills to find a suitable job and adults with an opportunity to update skills throughout their working life. Therefore, the Commission wants to encourage more people to take up vocational education, to improve the quality of the training on offer and to make it easier to move between jobs and countries. EU ministers are expected to discuss and adopt the plan in the second half of this year.

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "We want to transform the image of vocational education and training across Europe and make it more relevant to today's realities. Vocational education and training is a vital link between the worlds of education and work. In the current economic climate, it's more important than ever that we pool our efforts and make it a more attractive option for apprentices, students and anybody else who wants to upgrade their skills."

A new impetus for European co-operation

The plans adopted by the Commission today outline several possible ways to give vocational education and training a new impetus. They include:

  • Ensuring access to training and qualifications is flexible and open at all stages of life

  • Promoting mobility to make it easier to gain experience abroad, or in a different sector of the economy

  • Ensuring the highest possible quality of education and training

  • Providing more opportunities for disadvantaged groups such as school drop-outs, the low-skilled and unemployed, people with migrant backgrounds and the disabled

  • Nurturing creative, innovative and entrepreneurial thinking in students.

10-year plan

The Commission's plans builds on the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart and inclusive growth, and will also link in with the upcoming 'Youth on the Move' initiative which will support wider learning and mobility opportunities for all young people.

They constitute the Commission's contribution to a new 10-year programme of reforms under the Copenhagen Process on enhanced European co-operation in vocational education and training. In December, Commissioner Vassiliou and EU Ministers in charge of vocational education and training will meet with representatives of employers and trade unions in Bruges, Belgium, to set an ambitious modernisation agenda for the coming 10 years, as well as shorter term objectives which will be regularly reviewed.

The Copenhagen Process on enhanced European co-operation in vocational education and training was launched in 2002 and is reviewed every two years. It has boosted the development of a common approach to evaluation based on results, rather than length of study or type of institution.

To find out more:

Full text of the Communication: A new impetus for European cooperation in Vocational Education and Training to support the Europe 2020 strategy:

Citizen's Summary:

More about the European Commission's policies on vocational education and training

More about the Copenhagen Process

See also MEMO/10/245.

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