Vocational education and training consist in “the training in skills and teaching of knowledge related to a specific trade, occupation or vocation in which the student or employee wishes to participate” (Eurostat). In other words, it reinforces employability by preparing trainees to work in fields that require specific skills and knowledge. Often compared to general education, VET is generally considered as a second choice rather than an equal to general education. However, governments within the European Union are working to enhance the value of such certifications both collectively and individually.

Indeed, VET has been defined as a focus area under the European Education initiative for the period 2021-2030. The goal of this initiative is to display the benefits of work-based learning by pointing at its adaptability to market needs and its increasing quality.

Individually, countries are putting in place different systems and laws to democratise VET education. In Greece, the education system allows students to turn to VET education at any point of their curriculum from primary education to tertiary education, and even after getting out of the school system. Apprenticeship has also been brought into the system to increase attractiveness. This system allows for students with difficulties to get out of general education to join a more practical curriculum that still allows them to get certifications and skills.

In Slovakia, three ways to deliver VET education have been developed to allow for all types of learners to join the VET system: school-based programmes with practical training within the schools; dual VET which consists in the learner having a contract with certified enterprises for in-company training; and mixed scheme in which school-based learning is accompanied by in-company training. This choice is a bargain for families that may have preconceptions about VET education and may prefer general education.

In Spain, Law 3/2022 was approved in March 2022. This law implements a single system for students and employed or unemployed workers wishing to join a VET curriculum. This initiative promotes mutual recognition between university education and VET education.

These examples are drawn from the home-countries of some of the Erasmus+ project BEQUEL partners. They contribute to show that the Erasmus+ project BEQUEL is embedded in this drive to give more value to VET and is carried out by partners from European countries that are actively working on making VET education more attractive.