Challenges and Opportunities for VET in the next Decade

A European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and European Training Foundation 2020 discussion paper


This paper addresses the importance of being vocational to meet the need for the higher skilled and motivated workforce which is needed to rebuild the European economy. It discusses:

  • The role and benefits of VET. The growing awareness of the exposure in Europe to potential shocks is fuelling a deep sense of vulnerability, not only among the younger generations but among all Europeans hit by the crisis. The near- and medium-term outlook (in 2020) is enveloped in high uncertainty which is affecting consumer and enterprise expectations; this might easily lead to ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ effects.
  • VET as an enabler of transitions and recovery. The paper argues that investing in VET is the best option Europe has to inspire confidence in its citizens: to show them the future of European economies can be trusted and how their contribution is valued, whether they are students, workers, professionals, or entrepreneurs.
  • Challenges and tensions in VET and labour markets. Revolutionary changes in digital technologies, associated with artificial intelligence, robotics and biotechnologies, have the potential to create unprecedented business opportunities, job creation and sustainable economic growth in the EU. The development of these potentials also implies a transformation in the way people work, how work is organised, and, importantly, what, when and how people need to learn. Cooperation and learning from each other has never been as important as it is today. This calls for new, more attractive and accessible learning experiences, suited to all and especially those disengaged from learning and the labour market.
  • VET as policy driver for the next decade. Technology is not the only driver of change. Internationalisation of labour markets and value chains, greening of the economies, and demographic shifts also set VET and skills centre-stage. Human capital development is a strong determinant of how the inherent opportunities are taken and how underlying challenges are addressed.

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