Designed to complement existing European data sources and statistics, the first CEDEFOP opinion survey on VET in Europe is aimed at providing unique comparative information on what EU citizens think about VET in their country. Launched in 2016, more than 36.000 face-to-face interviews have been conducted among citizens over 15 years old and resident in EU Member States, providing key insights into their awareness and perceptions of attractiveness and effectiveness of VET in the EU. The survey report has just been published – available at this link -, showing its main findings and analysing all the data and information collected through the various interviews.

According to the results (summarised in this short video), 86% of EU citizens have heard of VET, but only half (48%) of respondents whose education was primarily general stated that they received information about VET when making a decision about their upper secondary education.
Two thirds of Europeans (68%) think that VET at upper secondary stage has a positive image in their country. Despite the challenges VET systems are facing in the EU, including budget constraints in a labour market still recovering from a long period of economic crisis in many Member States, EU citizens overall show a positive attitude towards VET’s quality and effectiveness. People value VET as a way to find jobs, strengthen the economy, help reduce unemployment and tackle social inclusion. However, in too many EU Member States, the perception of VET is poor when compared to general education, with a tendency to still consider VET as a second choice.

Three out of four EU citizens (75%) agree that students with low grades are directed towards vocational education in their country, but 87% of VET students are happy with the work-related skills they developed and 6 out of 10 said they found their first long-term job before or within a month of finishing their studies. Just over half of Europeans (54%) agree that it is easy to continue into higher education such as university after vocational education at upper secondary level. However, only 39% of respondents who had vocational education at upper secondary level goes on with higher education.

James Calleja, CEDEFOP director, remarked about the survey: “VET can play a strategic role in providing the EU with a workforce ready for the challenges lying ahead. Improving and maintaining high-level workforce skills and competences is essential to ensuring that Europe remains competitive and innovative against increasing global competition, fast-changing labour market needs and demographic challenges. However, participation in both upper secondary and continuous VET differs greatly among Member States and overall is still far from EU targets. This survey helps us understand why.”