Glimpsing the Future in the Past: VET in Europe

  • Glimpsing the Future in the Past
  • Jean Gordon
  • European Journal of Education, October 2015, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/ejed.12151

What can we learn from the last 25 years of VET in Europe for shaping & formulating new policy?

What is it about?

What do we expect from Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems? Is it different from 25 years ago? This article argues that the focus has increasingly been placed on strategies for lifelong and life-wide learning that seek to reinforce continuity among the subsystems of learning, but that VET systems are, nevertheless, still expected to address many and sometimes conflicting agendas, needs and priorities.

Why is it important?

A key theme concerns the role of the Europe Community (and subsequently the EU) as a change agent supporting bottom-up exchange and top-down stimulus for reform through an increasing integration of education and training in the socio-economic strategy of the EU.


Jean Gordon
european journal of education

In recent decades, the role of the (now) EU in stimulating, supporting and shaping change in VET has expanded and shifted from creating a space for exchange, cooperation and criteria-setting through funding towards playing a more extensive role in setting and monitoring priorities within the Lisbon Strategy through the use of benchmarks and instruments. The interest expressed in the 1980s in finding out how the neighbours were tackling new problems has been substantially supported through bottom-up cooperation initiatives, development interventions and support for peer learning. At this point in time, data nevertheless remain limited about the extent to which these processes are actually improving the experience of learners, opening up access to learning and qualifications for those who need them most and allowing young people and adults to build their competence today to live, learn and work in tomorrow's world.

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The following have contributed to this page: Jean Gordon