Work in 2015-17 signals continuity with earlier national strategies and initiatives. It confirms the recent focus on apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning, and increasing attention to widening access to VET and qualifications, two areas that have been reinforced by EU-level policy packages. The report also presents measures taken in: VET teacher and trainer professional development, key competence provision, and quality assurance, including actions to make use of information on skills intelligence. Complementing this report, individual country chapters offer more detailed information on national developments. Though their long-standing collaboration, countries aim at achieving common objectives set for 2020. As policy-makers are reflecting on their vision for VET and collaboration beyond 2020, this interim report also discusses these trends from a forward-looking perspective.


On the road to 2020: what this report is about

The focus of this report is an overview of what European countries have done mid-way to 2020 to address five priority areas for VET agreed by their ministers in Riga in 2015. Rather than presenting these developments in isolation, it recalls the state of play at that time and puts them into a wider policy context. Looking back at countries’ activities over 2015-17 also helps look ahead by linking its findings to the ongoing debate on the future of VET.

Covering the EU -28+ (Member States plus Iceland and Norway), and the candidate countries, this interim report can support European cooperation towards a common ambition for VET. Known as the Copenhagen process, this cooperation started some 15 years ago. Over the current decade, a long-term vision for high-quality competitive and inclusive VET has guided this joint work in two cycles of shorter-term actions until 2020.

The report flags common trends across the EU-28+ and candidate countries. At aggregate level, countries’ policy measures may look rather similar but their VET does not start from the same point and policy actions need to suit their contexts. Purpose, speed and progress vary: country examples illustrate the diversity within this apparent unity. Complementary country chapters present more in-depth information (Cedefop (2018c). National policy developments in vocational education and training in 2015-17. Country reports).

Fewer and broader priority areas than in the previous cycle up to 2014 form so-called medium-term deliverables (MTDs).This approach was agreed for the current period to give countries the chance to prioritise among the MTDs and/or address different aspects of these as needed.

When asked which MTD(s) they would assign high priority, a clear trend emerged across the EU-28+ and the candidate countries: work-based learning, with specific attention to apprenticeships.

Among the others the result was less clear, with up to three being ranked equally high in the EU-28+. While the sequence of the others between the EU-28+ and the candidate countries varied, overall, the following pattern emerged.

(a) access to VET and qualifications for all; and teacher and trainer development;

(b) quality assurance and feedback loops; and key competences.