New qualifications and competencies in Europe

The European Qualifications Framework enables the mutual recognition of qualifications and the labour market mobility required to fulfil the four freedoms embodied in the single market (labour; goods; services; and capital)

Since the signing of the Copenhagen Process in 2002, there has been an EU dimension to VET in the EU Member States, including the creation of common tools, policy documents and learning targets.

Common tools such as the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning improve the transparency, comparability and portability of qualifications and competencies across Europe as well as cross-border mobility. (European Union 2018)

EU-wide policies and strategies such as the European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience, which sets ambitious quantitative objectives for upskilling and reskilling from 2020-2025, ensure that EU citizens have the right skills for employment and access to tools and initiatives to support their lifelong learning pathways. (European Commission 2020)

The European Education Area strategic framework for 2021-30 likewise supports collaboration between EU Member States in education and training, including TVET. TVET-related targets include the aim that, by 2025, at least 60% of EU VET graduates should have some work-based learning during their studies. The resolution calls for more cohesive, inclusive, digital, sustainable, green and resilient TVET systems to help Europe’s citizens find personal fulfilment and well-being, to be prepared to adapt and perform in a changing labour market, and to engage in active and responsible citizenship. (European Union 2021)

The Council Recommendation on Vocational Education and Training (VET) for Sustainable Competitiveness, Social Justice and Resilience defines several key principles for ensuring that TVET is agile in adapting to labour market changes, while providing quality learning opportunities and flexible progression pathways. The Recommendation acknowledges TVET’s role as a driver for innovation and growth and for preparing learners for digital and green transitions and for occupations in high demand. (European Union 2020)

The respondents of a 2020 BILT study identified 'information and communication' and 'manufacturing' as the main sectors where new qualifications and competencies (NQCs) in TVET are needed in Europe.

While the survey results suggest variations in the perceived demand for NQCs across different economic sectors, ICT and manufacturing were identified as priority sectors by stakeholders across all (macro, meso and micro) levels. 

BILT survey respondents were also asked to cite examples of occupations where high demand for NQCs has led to updated or new occupational profiles. The key areas that they identified were digitalization and the greening and sustainability of TVET. (Trends in New Qualifications and Competencies for TVET - Perspectives of the European UNEVOC Network, UNESCO-UNEVOC 2020)

“Excellent and inclusive European VET is more than a response to developments and challenges that individuals and organisations face; VET is an enabler of innovation and an essential foundation for green, digital and sustainable growth.”

(Osnabrück Declaration on vocational education and training as an enabler of recovery and just transitions to digital and green economies)

The BILT project is implemented by

International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training

with support of

Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training

and sponsored by

Federal Ministry of Education and Reserve

UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre

for Technical and Vocational Education and Training

UN Campus, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1

53113 Bonn, Germany


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