This post selects some key data on continuing vocational training (CVT) in European enterprises. It is based on Eurostat data from the latest - fourth - Continuing Vocational Training Survey (CVTS4). This is an enterprise survey where employers were asked to provide information on CVT in their firm.

In CVTS, CVT covers training of employee which is fully or partly paid by employers or takes place during paid working time. It does not include Initial Vocational Training (IVT) in favour of staff with a special initial training contract (e.g. apprentices, trainees).

Two thirds of companies provide training to their employees

In 2010, 66 % of EU companies provided training to their employees. Despite the crisis, this is a higher percentage than in 2005 (60%).

Figure: Percentage of enterprises providing any type of training (course or other forms), 2010 compared to 2005


Note: Croatia did not participate in the survey in 2005 survey but it did in 2010, although it formally became an EU Member State only in 2013.

Provision of corporate training varies greatly between countries ranging from about one fifth of companies in Poland to a staggering 91% in Denmark. Participation of employees in such training courses also differs across Member States (from 59% in the Czech Republic to only 14% in Greece; 38% in EU).

For developing employee’s skills, companies tend to prefer the provision structured CVT courses than that of informal learning (for example, planned learning through job rotation, exchanges or secondments; participation in learning or quality improvement groups, self-directed learning).  Learning through structured CVT allows for a more robust assessment of learning goals and impact on employees’ skills. This finding highlights the importance of validating the skills acquired through informal learning: this will help companies to assess the effectiveness of employee training, whether it is offered as strcutured courses or informally.

Pertinent to this, results show that a remarkable gap persits between large and small and and medium enterprises. The bigger the company, the more likely it is to offer training to its employees.

Technical, practical or job-specific skills, consumer handling and team working are the most important skills for employers

The survey allowed obtaining indicators on the skills that enterprises identify as the most important for their development in the near future and the respective share of companies that actually deliver training to promote these skills. Both job-specific and transversal skills are highlighted by employers.

Table: Companies identifying skills as important for their future and providing relevant training, EU-28, 2010

    companies providing training for specific skills  
Type of skill % of companies considering the skill important for future development % of companies providing trainin % of all companies
Technical, practical or job-specific skills 61 67 38
Customer handling 62 37 21
Team working 61 31 18
Problem solving 52 29 16
Management skills 42 31 17
General IT skills 46 26 15
Specialised IT skills 24 15 8


Source: CVTS, EUROSTAT, Cedefop calculation.

Oral and written communication, foreign language and literacy and numeracy skills, are indicated less often as important for future enterprises development (24% to 31%) and are less often targeted in training courses provided by employers. There are however differences at country level. For instance numeracy and literacy skills are ranked quite high in Bulgaria (60% of employers indicate them as important) and in the UK they are often subject of CVT courses (29% of training enterprises).

All in all, large enterprises are more likely than small and medium enterprises to mark nearly all skills items as important. This again stresses the need to support SMEs in better acknowledging the importance of skills and in engaging in employee training.


Eurostat Continuing vocational training statistics.

Cedefop (2015): Job related adult learning and continuing vocational training in Europe: A statistical picture.