There is a substantial body of research showing that vocational education and training can bring considerable benefits and similar rates of return as general education. Education and training are not just about developing human capital – someone’s knowledge, skills and competences. They develop social, cultural and identity, as well as human capital. These four types of personal capital combine in different ways to influence the extent to which that person will learn and subsequently use the skills acquired. Vocational education and training is used, also, as a tool to promote social inclusion and equity, as well as contribute towards wellbeing. Taking full account of all the aforementioned benefits, research findings indicate that except human capital, organizations and countries benefit from quality vocational education and training strategies and policies (CEDEFOP, Benefits of vocational education and training in Europe for people, organizations and countries, 2013).
At the European level, opening access to and raising adult participation in quality vocational and education programmes lies at the heart of current EU policies on education and training, as well as economic growth and social cohesion. Vocational education and training is relevant to key objectives set within the context of the Europe 2020 strategy and the EU Social Investment Package for Growth and Cohesion, while is crucial in reaching the target of 15% average participation by adults (age 25-64) in lifelong learning by 2020.
At the international level, within the OECD skills strategy, skills are considered the global currency of 21st century economies and societies. What is stressed is that for skills to retain their value, they must be continuously maintained and upgraded throughout life so that people can collaborate, connect and strive in ways that drive economies forward. In parallel, international organizations depending on their scope they establish in practice the importance of vocational education and training, namely, IMO, ILO, UNESCO, Education International and other organizations.
At the national level, policy-making and strategies followed depict the importance that nation states place on vocational education and training. Differentiation on policies adopted exists based on different governmental priorities and national culture but in parallel common principles, practices and tools are put forward by DG Education and Culture, European Commission.
Scope of the SeaofSkills Project:
Continuing Vocational Education and Training in particular lies within the scope of the SeaofSkills Project. According to Cedefop (2004), Continuing Vocational Education and Training (CVET) can be defined as all ‘education or training after initial education and training – or after entry into working life – aimed at helping individuals to:
- Improve or update their knowledge and/or skills
- Acquire new skills for a career move or retraining
- Continue their professional development (Cedefop; Tissot, P., Terminology of vocational training policy: a multilingual glossary for an enlarged Europe, 2004)