Centres of Vocational Excellence

Centres of Vocational Excellence: An engine for vocational education and training development

The paper ‘Centres of Vocational Excellence: an engine for vocational education an training development has just been published by the European Training Foundation. The document brings clarity in the contested understanding of vocational excellence, in the diversity of institutions that present themselves as 'excellent', and in the varied and dynamic policy-making contexts in which excellence is developing.

The study confirms that different countries are using Centres of Vocational Excellence to pursue strategies that can be of help for policy-makers, and it clarifies how and under what conditions the centres can both deepen their engagement with the labour market and cooperate with other skills providers to form part of a comprehensive, inclusive, high-quality network.

The ETF – as an agency of the EU, helping EU neighbouring countries to reform their own education and training systems, in line with the EU’s external relations policies – can be a valuable broker for partnerships between Centres of Vocational Excellence from EU Member States and those from partner countries. To play this role and tap into the knowledge accumulated globally on this topic, in 2020 the ETF will launch an international network of Centres of Vocational Excellence. The network will reinforce the position of the agency as a knowledge hub for policy and practice, as envisaged in the 2027 ETF strategy”, said Cesare Onestini, Director of the ETF.

The document encourages to explore how the development and design of Centres of Vocational Excellence can be linked to human capital development  strategies, carried out at a national level - such as the improvement of lifelong learning, or the emergence of smart specialisation.

Moreover, the paper focuses on the ties between the policy-making context and the Centres of Vocational Excellence. In many countries, for example, policy-makers are seeking to optimise and modernise vocational education and training systems and networks: in such cases, the  Centres of Vocational Excellence offer a policy tool that is, at once, internationally credible, popular with stakeholders, incremental, and relatively ‘soft’ from a regulatory and political perspective.

At last, the analysis draws attention to the importance of governance and funding in the shaping and conceptualisation of Centres of Vocational Excellence. Support, partnership and cooperation are essential if vocational excellence is, over time, to be accessed by all. This implies a shift from the development of single vocational education and training schools or Centres of Vocational Excellence to the development of partnerships, clusters and networks of centres (regional, national or transnational).

The document will also be available in French and Russia as of next Autumn. Full paper here

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