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European Vocational Skills Week
News article20 December 2019Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

The V in VET is also for value


Vocational education and training (VET) is becoming a more attractive choice for learners across EU member states.

Employers, stakeholders and training providers in European countries have already recognised the value of this approach, with over 1,800 events and activities that took place throughout 2019 as part of European Vocational Skills Week. What are the multiple benefits of VET, and what value can it provide to the different actors involved?


VET is not a second choice

“The apprenticeship for me, was probably the best thing I’ve done in my life” – Margaret Reilly, European Vocational Skills Week ambassador for Ireland and owner of Grand Designs In previous years, there have been misconceptions that apprenticeships and other VET programmes are as not as valuable as classroom-based learning, such as university qualifications. In fact, vocational training certifications are widely recognised throughout Europe and contribute towards the learners’ years of on the job experience. A study by Eurostat showed that 81.7% of VET graduates found employment soon after completing their training in 2018. There is another common fallacy that VET is only for certain, usually manual career paths, such as construction or manufacturing. It is true that there are some great opportunities for learners to begin such careers through VET, however VET is also a valid option in many other professions, such as communications and creative arts.

Benefits to young learners

Undertaking a Vocational Training course provides a wealth of benefits to young learners. On-the-job training allows young people to gain first-hand experience in their industry. This means the individual is more accustomed to a workplace environment when entering full-time employment.

The on-the-job nature of vocational training can also help students in securing a first job. Whereas in a university environment the student has to build their own contact base and compete with fellow students, a student of VET will gain access to contacts, clients and employers throughout the duration of their training. This allows for a much more direct line into the workplace and can provide the student with a cutting edge when applying for jobs, in comparison to those with a university or classroom-based education.

Additionally, because the VET students get exposed to the workplace earlier than those coming from classic secondary education, the VET student is afforded more time to understand the culture and values of the company. Finally, most apprenticeships don’t impact the student or his family with tuition fees, so that young learners can go into full-time work debt-free. Margaret Reilly, explained: “You start off on €255 a week as an apprentice and when you’re qualified you get about €700 a week, or €750, up to €1500, or €2000. You earn while you learn and it takes the pressure off parents putting kids through college as well.”

Benefits to adult learners

Another common misconception is that vocational education and training is solely aimed at young people. VET gives learners of all ages the chance to improve, widen or add to their current skillset. A Eurostat study showed that 11.1% of people from the age of 25-64 undertook some form of adult learning in 2018, a figure that is on the rise.

VET presents adult learners with the opportunity to upskill in their current career by developing new talents and gaining new qualifications. By upskilling, adults across Europe are able to progress in their current roles, as well as apply for external roles in more senior positions.

Alternatively, adults are able to use VET as a springboard to reskill. Reskilling can allow people to alter their career path and work in industries they did not gain the skills or qualifications to enter at a younger age. Adult workers may wish to move into new industries to pursue careers they feel will be more rewarding, or that they will get more enjoyment from. This shows that VET can present adults with a chance to change the outlook of their working life.

Due to the on-the-job nature of VET, adults are able to continue to earn an income whilst learning new skills and qualifications. Those who have dependents and regular outgoings may struggle financially if they were to go back to college or university, so vocational training provides the perfect opportunity to increase working capabilities whilst earning a salary.


Benefits to employers

Vocational Training gives the chance for employers to handpick their staff and develop them into a valuable member of their workforce, tackling critical skill gaps. Businesses offering VET opportunities to their workforce will receive benefit in terms of competition, productivity and innovation capacity. This can lead to a vibrant and productive place of work in which apprentices and learners can thrive and reach their potential.

The European Network of Public Employment Services as well as other organisations are hosting Employers’ Days in cooperation with European Vocational Skills Week 2019.

Employers’ Days are an effective way of both finding the right talent to meet specific business requirements and raising awareness of available opportunities.

These events and activities showcase the benefits of investing in human resources, as well as the value of vocational skills in the workplace – including the provision of initial skills, reskilling and upskilling for young people and adults. You can find out about Employers’ Days near you, or register your own here.

The value of VET

In conclusion, it is clear VET provides great value and real benefits to young learners, adult learners and their employers. Statistics from Eurostat show that vocational training is becoming a more popular form of education by the year, with 49.3% of upper secondary students in Europe participating in vocational training in 2016.

Are you involved in vocational education and training? You can still take part in European Vocational Skills Week! Register your own event or activity or share your success story on the Week website. Don’t forget to join the conversation on your social channels by using the hashtags #DiscoverYourTalent and #EUVocationalSkillsWeek.