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EURES (EURopean Employment Services)
News article22 March 2017European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

What is VET and why should it matter to me?

As a young job seeker, aspiring apprentice or potential employer, you’ve probably come across the term ‘VET’ before. It’s a popular acronym within the world of employment, but what does it actually mean for young people and businesses.

What is VET and why should it matter to me?

What is VET?

VET stands for ‘vocational education and training’. Simply put, it is education and training in specific job-related and technical skills. Industries where VET is particularly common include hospitality, retail, engineering, accountancy and office work.

What are the benefits of VET?

For young people, VET opportunities can be fun, hands-on and creative. They put pure academic ability to one side and focus on practical skills that can help people discover their talents. Vocational education and training looks great on a CV too, which can open doors when it comes to finding a job.

For businesses and organisations, VET creates potential employees by providing learners with skills that match industry needs. Investing in VET directly also allows current employees to boost their skills, helping the business or organisation to stay competitive and grow.

What types of VET is available?

Many schools, colleges, universities and organisations will offer VET opportunities in a variety of areas. Some will mix classroom-based learning with practical work, while others will place greater emphasis on gaining experience in real-life situations, such as cutting hair in a college salon or cooking for customers in the college restaurant.

Online courses are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their flexibility. Being able to choose when, where and at what speed you study makes them a particularly good option for people with prior commitments or travel limitations.

Apprenticeships and traineeships within businesses or organisations can also be classed as VET, as they equip people with the skills they need in order to excel in a specific industry.

How is the EU supporting VET?

The EU has long championed VET as a way to boost employability, develop skilled workforces and strengthen Europe’s economy. A great illustration of this is the first European Vocational Skills Week, which was launched in late 2016 to celebrate and promote VET.

Another great initiative in support of VET and opportunities for youth is the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. This platform brings together governments with VET providers and other organisations, with the common goal to strengthen the quality and supply of apprenticeships in Europe. The European Solidarity Corps is another initiative which provides opportunities, traineeships or apprenticeships in a wide range of sectors for highly motivated and socially minded young people.

How can I get involved with VET?

For young people, your local education providers or training centres are a great place to start if you’re looking for a VET course. Searching online on sites like Droppin@EURES can also bring up a wide range of opportunities, both at home and abroad.

For businesses and organisations, programmes like Erasmus+ offer and support a number of VET-related opportunities.

Where can I find out more?

The European Commission Education and Training website has some useful information about what the EU is doing for VET.

CEDEFOP is the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training and supports the development and implementation of European VET policies.

The European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) supports studying and working abroad by making it easier for people to get recognition for their work-related skills and knowledge.


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