Identifying Vocational Education and Training in Erasmus+ Programmes

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Vocational education and training, abbreviated as VET, sometimes simply called vocational training, relates to training in skills and teaching of knowledge in a specific trade, occupation, or vocation in which the student or employee wishes to participate. Vocational education may be undertaken at an educational institution, as part of secondary and tertiary education, or may be part of initial training during employment, for example as an apprentice, or a combination of formal education and workplace learning. The vocational education and training system offers further study to school-leavers at the end of compulsory secondary education, enabling them to embark on a three-year programme to obtain a vocational qualification.

European countries’ national legislation establishes that the school system – consisting of vocational institutes, technical institutes and high schools – may only award higher education diplomas at the end of a five-year programme.  Erasmus+ created the Vocational Education and Training System to offer different types of educational programmes in line with vocational requirements. These types of programmes offer specific features that relate to the local economic and production system.

The Erasmus+ programme ensures skill development in a wide range of occupational fields, through school-based and work-based learning. It plays a key role in reducing lower school dropout rates and facilitates the school-to-work transition. The purpose of career and technical education is to provide a foundation of skills that enable high school students to be gainfully employed after graduation–either full-time or while continuing their education or training.

The subject areas most commonly associated with career and technical education are: business (office administration, entrepreneurship); business & administration; trade and industrial (e.g., automotive technician, carpenter, computer numerical control technician); health occupations (nursing, dental, and medical technicians); hospitality & tourism (cookery, kitchen operations, patisserie, wine industry); agriculture (food and fibre production, agribusiness); family and consumer sciences (culinary arts, family management and life skills); marketing (merchandising, retail); and technology (computer-based careers); floristry; plumbing; electronics; computer assembly and repair and more!

These programmes teach broad skills that are applicable to many occupations. This preparation for the world of work is anchored through strong academic skills, which students learn how to apply to real-world situations. These academic skills include the competencies needed in the contemporary workplace as well as the knowledge and skills valued by academic education.

Research suggests that the ability to apply knowledge requires experience in using that knowledge in a variety of ways over a period of time, drawing on the same knowledge base. With this in mind, career and technical education do a good job. Skills and knowledge are taught and reinforced through hands-on activities and real-world applications thanks to the Erasmus+ experience.

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