How should Europe handle the globalisation? An educational perspective. Part III: Upper Secondary Education and Vocational Training Research Report

How should Europe handle the globalisation? An educational perspective Part III: Upper Secondary Education and Vocational Training Research Report V...
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How should Europe handle the globalisation? An educational perspective

Part III: Upper Secondary Education and Vocational Training Research Report

Volker Köditz Rainer Peek, University of Cologne Burkhart Sellin

May - June 2009

Content 1 Foreword by Pär Nuder....................................................................................................................3 2 Context.............................................................................................................................................4 3 Europe´s Performance......................................................................................................................8 3.1 Key Indicators...........................................................................................................................8 3.2 Quality of Provision................................................................................................................10 3.3 Transition to Employment or Further Education....................................................................11 3.4 Performance of other Countries..............................................................................................13 4 The Appropriate Age for Making Choices between General Academic and Vocational Tracks? . 15 4.1 Determination Issues...............................................................................................................15 4.2 System factors.........................................................................................................................16 4.3 Individual factors....................................................................................................................18 4.3.1 “Career Maturity” and the Role of Vocational Orientation and Guidance......................19 5 Opening-up Pathways and Removing Dead Ends..........................................................................21 5.1 What are Pathways?................................................................................................................22 5.2 Pathways: Dead-Ends.............................................................................................................22 5.2.1 What are Dead-Ends Pathways?.....................................................................................22 5.3 Reform Strategies...................................................................................................................24 5.4 “Opening-up” Practice............................................................................................................25 5.5 Quality Assurance...................................................................................................................28 6 Internationalisation.........................................................................................................................29 6.1 Language Learning.................................................................................................................30 6.2 Mobility and Exchange...........................................................................................................32 6.2.1 General Academic Education..........................................................................................32 6.2.2 Vocational Education and Training.................................................................................32 7 Policy Issues...................................................................................................................................34 7.1 Performance............................................................................................................................35 7.2 Splitting-up Ages....................................................................................................................35 7.3 Opening-up Pathways and Removing Dead-ends..................................................................36 7.4 Internationalisation.................................................................................................................36


1 Foreword by Pär Nuder Skills and human capital are of great importance for prosperity and social cohesion. All over the world, policy-makers have realised this and invest heavily in education to boost their competitiveness. This poses a number of questions for us as Europeans: 1

How is Europe performing?


What needs to be done to improve our human capital?


How should we make sure that investments in education improve social cohesion?

This has been the starting point for a project on Education and Skills that is being organized by FEPS with the support of Arbetarrörelsens Tankesmedja. Since last year I have been gathering information on different educational systems, both within and outside Europe. Meeting scholars, politicians, businessmen and representatives from different organizations have been valuable in the quest to understand where Europe stands and what needs to be done. One major part of our project is that we have assigned six scholars from different parts of Europe to write a about education: • Pre-School, Juana Maria Sancho, Spain, • Compulsory Education, Giorgio Allulli, Italy • Upper Secondary Education and Vocational Training, Volker Köditz and Rainer Peek1, Germany • Higher Education, Pavel Zgaga, Slovenia • Research and Development, Lars Geschwind, Sweden • Life Long Learning, Ari Antikainen, Finland The report you are holding in your hand is one of these. I am very happy that we managed to gather this eminent group to help in this immense task. All reports will be presented in the home country of their authors except for the reports on R&D and Life Long Learning, which will be presented in France and Great Britain, respectively. The conclusions in these reports are the authors’ own.

At the beginning of December a comprehensive report of the entire educational system will be presented. Pär Nuder


Prof. Dr. Rainer Peek (University of Cologne) *3/11/1958 31/05/2009, Burkhart Sellin joined as co-author


2 Context This report is about Upper Secondary Education which caters for students aged 15/16 to 18/19 and follows compulsory education. It corresponds to ISCED 3 level.2 The duration of upper secondary education varies according to the type of programme and institution. General academic education programmes at upper secondary level may last between 2 and 5 years. (In vocational education and training (VET) the variations may be even stronger.): 2 years

Spain, Ireland, England, Québec, Singapore, Germany (partially)3

3 years

Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany (most)

4 years

Switzerland, Austria

5 years


Upper Secondary Education is offered in (1) colleges that offer only upper secondary education (for example, some states in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Sweden ), and (2) colleges that combine lower and upper secondary education within the same institution (for example, England, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, the USA).

Integrated and Segregated Systems Upper Secondary education provides: • academic education leading to employment or preparing third level education; • vocational training within vocational schools and colleges leading to employment and opening under certain conditions the possibility of third level education; • apprenticeship training which may include schemes alternating between work and training. There are (i) integrated (comprehensive) systems, where colleges offer both general and (pre-) vocational education within the same institution and (ii) segregated systems, where colleges offer mainly one type of education or training. Integrated GSE and VET* DE

GSE: Gymnasium; VET: vocational Gymnasium, full-time vocational and part-time vocational (dual system) colleges


GSE: Gymnasium, Higher Preparatory Examination (DA: Højere Forberedelseseksamen or HF); VET: Higher Commercial Examination Programme, Higher Technical Examination Programme, Vocational education


GSE: Bachillerato; VET Ciclas Formativos de Grado Medio


GSE: Upper Secondary Schools; VET: Vocational Schools


GSE+techn.: Lycées d’enseignement général et technologique VET: Lycées technologiques Lycées professionels


2 3

Segregated GSE and VET*

Community and comprehensive colleges

GSE: (private) Secondary Colleges; VET: Vocational Education and Training Colleges

For a (critical) description of the ISCED classification see annex In Germany there are increasingly changes reducing the years to “Abitur” by one year (12 instead of 13 years)



GSE: liceo; VET: istituti professionali/tecnici




Upper secondary school (Videregående skole)


Gymnasieskola with 17 national programmes (GSE and VET)


Sixth Form/A-level (including Vocational A levels)

* GSE: Upper secondary general education; VET: Vocational Education and Training at Upper secondary level

Vocational education and training (VET) at upper secondary level takes quite different forms. They range from entirely full-time school based provision to entirely company based apprenticeships. In an analysis five types of provision in Europe were distinguished.4 Across Europe countries may be roughly grouped in relation to the importance and kind of VET as follows: • low levels of participation in vocational education (less than 30% participation): Estonia, Italy, Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary and Portugal; • medium participation in vocational education (between 30 and 60% participation): Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Spain and Sweden; • relatively high participation (more than 60% participation): Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and the UK, as well as Norway and Switzerland.5 In the latter group are also countries with strong apprenticeship systems (e.g. Germany, Austria and Switzerland).

Private Education and Tutoring There are no detailed international data on private education at Upper Secondary level. Out of all (ISCED 14 levels) schools in EU27 about 21% are private most of them highly state subsidised. Belgium and the Netherlands have the highest shares, above 50%. The lowest shares are in the Baltic States and South-East Europe.6 Another aspect of private expenditure in education is private tutoring which is particularly relevant for upper secondary general education. The rise of private tuition is particularly strong in Asian countries (e.g. Korea and Japan) and related to high-stakes in upper secondary final examinations. This “Shadow Education System”7 has so far been rather neglected by educational research. However, it has gained increasing importance in Europe. For example in Austria 21% of upper secondary general education students had private tutoring (subject proportions: 62% Maths., 50% English).8 In Poland 66% of students in the last year before the Matura exam got private tutoring (mostly foreign languages).9


5 6 7

8 9

See André Kirchberger: Overview of apprenticeship schemes in the European Union context, in European Training Foundation: Workshop on “Vocational education and training for economic development: models for effective apprenticeship schemes” , no year Initial vocational education and training (IVET) in Europe Review 2008, Refernet CEDEFOP Progress towards the Lisbon goals..., page 33 and 40 Mark Bray: The Shadow Education System – private tutoring and its implications for planners (second edition) Paris 2007 (UNESCO) December 2003 survey of LernQuadrat Bildungsmanagement GmbH among 6.000 parents and students Dieter Dohmen, Annegret Erbes, Kathrin Fuchs, Juliane Günzel, Co-workers: Anne Knauf, Andreas Kunzler, Andrea Schmidt, Bernadette Tirschmann: Was wissen wir über Nachhilfe? – Sachstand und Auswertung der Forschungsliteratur zu Angebot, Nachfrage und Wirkungen,for: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, Berlin, January 2008


Admission At the upper secondary level, colleges in most countries have a relatively high degree of autonomy in deciding whether they accept applicants and how they match students’ needs with qualification requirements and/or programme and course provisions. The OECD Upper Secondary Education Survey asked school principals which and how often they consider stated criteria for admission of students: • Major criteria for admittance were academic performance (“always” considered in schools attended by 51 per cent of students); their interest in specific programmes (46 per cent) and their residence in a particular area (32 per cent). • Criteria such as performance in entrance examinations; recommendations of feeder schools; parents’ endorsement of school philosophy; and preference given to family members of current or former students were cited less frequently, with between 14 and 20 per cent of students attending schools where they are “always” used as criteria.

Assessment and Certification In all countries, a certificate - normally a minimum requirement for admission to tertiary education - is awarded to students having met the set requirements and who complete general upper secondary education The way how assessment and certification is organised varies largely and/or depends of the specific education tracks: • In many countries, the certificate/diploma is awarded on the basis of results obtained in the final examination and their work assessed over the final year or more years. In Spain and Sweden, the certificate is awarded solely on the basis of a continuous assessment during the final year or years of general secondary education. • In other countries two certificates may be awarded at the end of general academic upper secondary education (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Finland). Mostly, the first certificate is based solely on the marks received for the work during the final year, whereas the second one is awarded on the basis of a final examination. This is is also the case in the German Dual System (apprenticeship). Apprentices are provided with a school certification based on continuous assessment and the Chamber certificate. • Mostly, the final examination is in two parts, written and oral. In Greece, Cyprus, Lithuania, Portugal, Finland and Bulgaria, it may be exclusively written. • Depending on the country concerned, the final grade is awarded by an examining body or persons from outside the school, or by teachers within the school who decide what marks students should get and whether the certificate can be awarded. 10

Curricula, Subjects and Learning Areas Curricula of Upper Secondary Education are increasingly output (competence) related core curricula. They define subject, content and/or skill areas that are considered as essential for employment and/or continuation of studies. Mostly, they are combining the following elements:11 • areas of general • national language(s), mathematics, humanities (history, geography, social studies and, academic study, increasingly, citizenship education), physical education/sport (including, in some including noncountries, health). In some cases students are also required to take a science subject examination subjects, (or integrated science), an arts subject (art, music, dance, drama) and a foreign which are compulsory for language. Not all subjects studied are examined. all students 10


EURYDICE: Key data on education in Europe 2005 – E. Educational Processes - Section III - Assessment of Pupils - At the end of upper secondary education, the examination for certified assessment is often external, no page Joanna Le Métais: International Developments in Upper Secondary Education: Context, provision and issues, INCA Thematic Study No. 8, National Foundation for Educational Research, May 2002, page 16 ff.


• compulsory elements within a chosen specialisation or track

• e.g. in France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands upper secondary general education is subdivided into disciplinary tracks. In addition to the common core, there are compulsory elements according to the specialisation (or subject grouping) chosen. Subjects are generally grouped into: languages; maths, sciences and technology; social sciences and economics; and fine arts and music.

• elective subjects (general • This component allows students to deepen their study within a given area, through or specialist) more advanced modules in a specific subject, or by adding related subjects, such as an additional foreign language or a further science. • cross-curricular or key skills

• Academic knowledge is complemented by the development of skills and the application of knowledge and, even where students enjoy freedom of choice concerning the subjects to be studied at upper secondary level, they are increasingly required to demonstrate their competence in the basic skills. These skills may be developed either in preparatory (access) courses or transition year, or concurrently within or alongside the main programme. • Key skills are formally assessed in several countries. In England there is a voluntary Key Skills Qualification in communication, the application of number and the use of ICT

• information and communication technologies

• Learning about ICT has become normal nowadays. Three countries were the

• independent study

• For example, in France there are travaux personnels encadrés (TPE), whereby a

forerunners. In Finland, France and Switzerland, as many as 60 per cent of students had such applications in their schools already by 1990.12

group of pupils works with one or several teachers on a cross-disciplinary issue. This approach is compulsory in seconde (age 15-16) and première (age 16-17), but is still optional in terminale (age 17-18). • Equally, the upper secondary curricula in the Netherlands include 10 per cent of time for independent guided study. • guidance and personal planning

• In many countries there is statutory requirement for careers education and/or guidance in compulsory education. In upper secondary education guidance is geared more towards personal and learning support

• work or community experience

• Some schools (Canada, USA) require students to undertake community service to

• religious and moral education.

• Religious education is compulsory in England (although students may be exempt) and most parts of Germany. Schools must offer religious education in Spain and Italy, but it is optional for students.

meet High School graduation requirements. This is also an issue of reform proposals for 14-19 education in England. • Work experience schemes are mostly limited to compulsory education and/or VET.

Major Issues for Reforming Education on Secondary Level in Europe An overview on recent reform activities in Europe is provided in the annex. Among the major topics are: GSE: • Introduction of competence(outcome) -based core curricula and corresponding forms of assessment; • changes of timetables and of composition of compulsory/elective subjects, IT education; • new baccalaureates (UK); • strengthening of guidance and counselling.


VET: • introduction of National Qualification Frameworks; • modernising VET: new qualifications (e.g. for IT occupations, strengthen general education contents (also languages), modularisation and credit systems, linkages to employment system etc.; • wider opportunities for and opening alternative pathways to higher education.

OECD: Completing the foundation for lifelong learning, an OECD survey of upper secondary schools, 2004, page 76


3 Europe´s Performance Key Messages  There is a lack of up-to-date comparative studies on general upper secondary. Internationally comparable data on learning outcomes are only available for 15 year old students (for example: PISA and TIMMS).  On the average in Europe more young people take part in vocational programmes than in general education programmes.  Participation rates in Vocational education and training (VET) has steadily risen in the Old Member States (EU 15) during last years. However it lost popularity in the New Member States.  Upper secondary attainment levels in the 20-24-years cohort have increased. The EU objective of 85% has not yet been met, the increase of attainment has been limited in the EU-average, however is considerable in several Member States.  Young women, do more strongly participate and have better attainment levels than young men. Dropouts are mainly young men. Young women eventually are under-represented in vocational education and/or are concentrated in trainings for traditionally female occupations.  Transition outcomes: completing upper secondary education reduces unemployment among 20-24 year-olds by 7,4 percentage points in OECD countries; the youth unemployment rate differs considerably between countries; countries with an important apprenticeship system tend to offer “smoother” transitions  Quality of provision indicators such “Admission and differentiation policies”, “Career Guidance”, “Stakeholders Influences”, “Staff supply and development”, “Availability of Computers” show that the Nordic countries of Europe and Korea do particularly well.  In the PISA 2006 round, 15-year-old students in pre-vocational and vocational programmes scored on average 35 points below students in general programmes in testing for science competencies. When socio-economic factors were taken into account this gap narrowed to 24 score points. 13 Some studies indicate that this handicap is carried forward during the course of ISCED 3 vocational programmes.

3.1 Key Indicators Enrolment The indicators and benchmarks study elaborated for the European Commission14 shows the following distribution for different types of upper secondary programmes in selected countries:15 Enrolment ISCED 3 level 3A



EU 27



















The EU27 data clearly show that the majority of students is in general academic 3A programmes. The 13 14 15

OECD: Highlights from Education at a Glance 2008, page 20 European Commission: Progress towards the Lisbon Objectives, 2008, page 60 For the definition of the different ISCED 3 levels see annex.


country examples illustrate the great system differences: Germany and Austria as examples for strong vocational, Italy and Sweden for high enrolment rates in general academic education programmes. 16. Limiting the analysis to vocational education and training at ISCED 3 level the OECD found: • At least 55% of upper secondary students are enrolled in pre-vocational or vocational programmes in most OECD countries that have dual system apprenticeship programmes (Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland). This applies also for Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Norway, the Slovak Republic and the United Kingdom. • When comparing the popularity of VET by European country clusters the EU study found that among the EU-15 countries its popularity has risen steadily in this decade and, especially, strongly among male students. At the same time the popularity of academically oriented programmes has slightly decreased, and in 2004 statistics this trend was strongest among the EU-15 countries. In contrast, among the ten new EU countries VET has steadily lost popularity in years 2000-2004, and most strongly among female students. In seventeen out of 35 countries (missing data from Malta and the United Kingdom) more than 50% of upper secondary education students graduate from VET programmes in Europe. 17

Attainment Educational attainment in the EU and OECD reports is understood as the proportion of people in an age group having completed upper-secondary education18. Concerning educational attainment (ISCED 3 General and VET) the reports reveal the following: • “Across the OECD area, 83% of young people finish upper secondary education. In 22 of 24 OECD countries with comparable data, upper secondary graduation rates exceed 70%, while in the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Korea and Norway, they equal or exceed 90%.” 19 • the European Commission's report underlines as already stated above that progress since 2000 on increasing upper secondary attainment levels of young people (20-24) has been limited. The European benchmark is still a significant challenge for the EU. The present (2007) EU average for the population aged 20-24 having completed at least upper-secondary education is 78.1%, whereby females outperform males by more than 5 percentage points.20 • The OECD emphasises the increase in some countries: 97% of the 25 to 34 years old in Korea and 82% of the Irish 25 to 34 years old now have attained upper secondary level qualifications. This represents an increase of 60 % for Korea and 42 % for Ireland compared with 30 years ago (55 to 64 years old). This extraordinary growth now puts Korea on the top of the chart among all OECD countries. 21

Continuation to Tertiary Level Education Another indicator for educational attainment could be the proportion of youngsters continuing tertiary level education. “In total across the OECD area, 56% of young people will go on to university-level education. In Australia, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Sweden, this rises to at least 65%, while in the United States the level stands at 64% (although this includes both university level and vocationally oriented tertiary education). ”22 These data should not be misinterpreted. They tend to reflect the structures of education systems as well as the patterns of transition to employment. In countries with strong and highly appreciated apprenticeship systems – like Austria, Germany, Switzerland – the proportion of continuing to university level is strongly below the OECD average. This must not necessarily be regarded as a weakness since job entry requirements in 16 17 18

19 20 21 22

For 3B and 3C classification problems - see chapter 4.2 and annex Johanna Lahja Lasonen: Rewards to Young People for Education and Training 2008, This differs from the most common definition of “attainment” as the highest level of education completed in terms of the highest degree or the highest level of schooling completed. OECD: Highlights from Education at a Glance 2008, page 18 European Commission: Progress towards the Lisbon Objectives..., 2008,.page 33 OECD: Highlights from Education at a Glance 2008, page 18


these countries are rather defined by the “occupational principle” (“Berufsprinzip”) and forms of training may correspond to formal educational attainment levels and subsequent on-job-training, as for instance in most English-speaking countries.

Gender Both OECD and EU studies found a higher number of young women acquiring general academic secondary education and respective final diploma than young men. • In 2002 in the European Union the average proportion was 139 females against 100 males having acquired such a diploma. The figures have barely changed between 1998 and 2002. The numerical superiority is particularly striking in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Poland, Iceland, Bulgaria and Romania; the ratio there is at least three female graduates to one male graduating in general academic upper secondary education. Only Germany, Ireland and Sweden are close to a parity of both sexes.23 • The OECD 2006 figures24 do underline that “Boys trail behind girls in upper secondary graduation rates in 22 of the 24 OECD countries for which data are available. The exceptions are in Switzerland and Turkey, where more boys than girls graduate from upper secondary education. The gender gap is greatest in Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and Spain, where graduation rates for girls exceed those for boys by more than 10 percentage points.” • According to the OECD figures the situation is different in VET. Although, representation of females in vocational programmes has been increasing, their graduation rate now stands at 44%. For almost all OECD countries with comparable data, the graduation rate for girls within general academic programmes is higher: 53% girls against 41% boys. In Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Norway, Portugal and the Slovak Republic, girls outnumber boys by three to two. • In tertiary level education, women represent 54% of new entrants, but the courses they take differ from those pursued by men. Women predominate in health, and welfare, where they represent 75% of new entrants; in humanities, arts and education 68% of new entrants. By contrast, the proportion of women choosing science and maths subjects ranges from less than 25% in Japan, the Netherlands and Switzerland to more than 35% in Denmark, Iceland, Italy and New Zealand. Men represent 77% of new entrants in the fields of engineering, manufacturing and construction.

3.2 Quality of Provision Since there is no (not yet25) systematic survey of students' achievements in upper secondary education the present report has to limit itself to examining the quality of the provision and some extrapolations from OECD reports on students' achievements at the end of compulsory education (15 years old students).

Quality of Provision A recent OECD study26 examines Upper Secondary Education systems and tries to identify differences by examining “Admission and differentiation policies”, “Career Guidance”, “Stakeholders Influences”, “Staff supply and development”, “Availability of Computers”. It concludes: • “In terms of these indicators, the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden – have overall stronger upper secondary school systems than the others in the survey. They are above average on seven or eight of the ten indicators. Sweden is not substantially below average on any of them. Finland, Sweden and Norway are among the top three on five of the ten indicators, and Denmark on four of them; • After the Nordic countries, Korea emerges strongest being above average on five of the indicators and in the top three for four of them; • Other countries have various strong and weak points. For example French and Italian upper secondary 23 24 25 26

Europäische Kommission; Eurydice; Eurostat -Schlüsselzahlen zum Bildungswesen in Europa 2005 OECD: Highlights 2008, p. 26 The German Berufsbildungsbericht 2009 reports that a VET-PISA is planned OECD: Completing the foundation for Lifelong Learning, 2008


colleges make relatively high investments in staff resources and Italy reports fewer recruitment problems than any other country. On the other hand, they are below average in terms of two kinds of support that teachers receive in service: fewer French and Italian teachers receive in-service or further training than in any other country except Hungary, and teachers in these countries have below average access to computers; • Two countries, Ireland and Mexico, are generally weak on these indicators, in each case scoring above average on only one of the ten indicators. France, Portugal and Spain are above average on only two indicators.”27

PISA Results and Upper Secondary Education Quality The OECD examined if the results of PISA had a reflection in upper secondary quality of provision. OECD concludes that there is only some correspondence: “The results show in particular that most of the Nordic countries build on relatively strong reading performance aged 15 and relatively even student performance across schools, following it up with well-functioning upper secondary education. Among other countries, one can observe that, for example, Korea follows strong and equitable PISA performance with upper secondary schools that have a number of strengths, while in Italy, Mexico and Portugal the reverse is the case. On the other hand, Ireland’s strong and equitable PISA performance is in contrast to a general lack of strengths in its upper secondary schools on these measures. One interesting contrast is between Switzerland and Spain, two countries with average performance in PISA. Switzerland has high differences between the performance of students at different schools by aged 15, yet many strengths at upper secondary level. In Spain the reverse is true; here, even performance age 15 is followed up with a highly inclusive admission system, but this does not guarantee students a high quality experience at upper secondary level, and Spain is below average on half of the indicators. This reinforces the message that more equal and inclusive systems may help promote equity, but are not guaranteed to create well functioning upper secondary systems.”28

3.3 Transition to Employment or Further Education The level of educational attainment does not necessarily indicate how successfully young people find ways to (stable) employment. The term “transition outcome” highlights the results of education and training in terms of how fast graduates find an employment, how long it takes to find stable work and to what degree the occupation matches both training and expectations.

Transition Outcomes in Terms of Unemployment Having completed upper secondary education decreases the danger of becoming unemployed. An OECD report points out that, “on the average, completing upper secondary education reduces unemployment among 20-24 year-olds by 7.4 percentage points and that of 25-29 year-olds by 6.8 percentage points. Not attaining an upper secondary qualification is a serious impediment to employment ...”29

Transition Outcomes and System Characteristics Transition processes and outcomes vary across Europe depending on the differing character of the education systems. Three broad types of national systems were identified in a study30: • Countries with extensive vocational training systems at upper secondary level, linked to occupational labour markets, 27 28 29 30

OECD: Completing the Foundation, page Ibid, page OECD: Highlights of Education at a Glance 2008, page 28 School to Work Transitions in Europe..., 2001


• Countries with more general academic education systems with weaker linkages to the labour market, • Southern European countries with less vocational specialisation and lower overall attainment than the other groups. Each of these three systems has distinctive patterns of labour market integration among young people. In “vocational” systems, young people tend to make a smoother transition into the labour market, while in Southern European countries they find it more difficult to achieve a first and in the following a stable employment. An analysis31 of youth unemployment in France, the United Kingdom and West Germany - three countries that differ greatly in terms of major institutional characteristics of their educational systems and labour markets – showed a sharp distinction between Germany on the one hand and France and the United Kingdom on the other. “In Germany, labour market entry is found to be quite smooth and immediate for vocationally qualified leavers, while extensive periods of searching for a first job is confined almost exclusively to the least qualified”. A recent study on the German education system found, however, that while in most cases the transition from apprenticeship to employment is successful a direct transition is decreasing in recent years:32 “58% of the graduates were employed immediately in 2005, the majority of whom were taken on by the enterprise where they had been trained. 36% were at first without employment. Between 2000 and 2005 the number of persons seeking employment had risen and unemployment rates for young people had grown over-proportionally in comparison with other age groups. The situation is improving in 2006.” In France and Britain, in contrast, the match between qualifications and jobs is less clear-cut. Here it is rather the level of education that provides advantages in terms of reduced time searching for employment and lower job instability. What concerns the general influence of upper secondary education structures on transition outcomes a report on vocational education in England argues: 33 “Countries in which young people are evenly spread over all three of the principal pathways [apprenticeship, school-based vocational and general education], rather than concentrated in one or two, appear to have advantages in achieving good transition outcomes. In these instances young people can be offered wider choices.” The influence of the kind of education and qualification systems should, however, not be overestimated. The OECD 34 in its analysis is stating: “From initial education to working life: making transitions work” that it is not so much the type of pathway (apprenticeship, school-based vocational or general academic education) that is decisive for successful transition outcomes. According to OECD, other features appear to have more importance, like clearly defined, well organised and open pathways and qualification frameworks, with effective connections to post-school destinations well embedded in stable institutional frameworks.

Apprenticeship: only a transitory advantage? Finally, the benefit in terms of lower unemployment rates of the youngsters having gone through an apprenticeship seems to be a transitory one. Apprenticeship training provides a benefit to participants in that it improves labour market insertion early in their career. A study investigating the effects of a company closure and redundancy however may - compared to young people who came from vocational full-time schools - during their further job search no longer benefit of apprenticeship training. The author concluded: 31

32 33 34

Hildegard Brauns, Markus Gangl, Stefani Scherer: Education and Unemployment: Patterns of Labour Market Entry in France, the United Kingdom and West Germany, January 1999 Authoring Group Educational Reporting: Education in Germany 2008 John West and Hilary Steedman: Finding Our Way: Vocational Education in England, May 2003 OECD: From initial education to working life, 2000


“In summary, our results indicate that the two forms of vocational preparation deliver similar skills, but the apprenticeship training aides the integration of young adults into the labour market.”35

3.4 Performance of other Countries Education and training system around the world are quite different. Two aspects are particularly important: industrialisation and colonial history. An UNESCO report shows that industrialised countries have especially high levels of VET participation at the upper secondary level. Patterns of provision are strongly related to cultural institutions, colonial history and geographic proximity, i.e. English-speaking countries tend to have high levels of VET provision at ISCED 4 level. This is less frequent in Latin America; while there are high levels of attainment on ISCED 2 level in the Netherlands and former Dutch colonies. A UNESCO-UNEVOC study demonstrates that the higher the GDP per capita, the higher are the percentages of Technical/Vocational Training Enrolment. The data also support the hypothesis that the higher the total enrolment would be, the higher are the Percentages of technical/vocational enrolment.36

USA In the United States, a high proportion of the population does complete secondary and continues to tertiary education; more students enrol in ISCED 5B programmes here than in any other country. At the same time, the United States has very little vocational education at the secondary (either lower or upper) level. In the USA the splitting of vocational and general academic education occurs after secondary school rather than during it. This has been called the “upward differentiation of technical and vocational education” at community and technical colleges.37

Korea In 2006 97% of 25-to-34-year-olds have completed upper secondary education compared with only 37% achieving this attainment level among 55-to-64-year-olds. 38, which puts Korea on the top of the chart among OECD countries, As is the case in almost all OECD and partner countries, young women in Korea are more likely to complete upper secondary education than males, though in Korea the difference is not very strong.39 Almost three-quarters (72%) of upper secondary level students in Korea are enrolled on general academic education courses. General academic programmes dominate upper secondary level enrolment more than in most other OECD countries. The great majority of students get additional private tutoring. In Korea parents are reported to be spending more on additional tutoring than the government spends on public schooling. Some 50% of the students graduating from vocational or pre-vocational programmes at the upper secondary level, achieve qualifications in engineering, manufacturing or construction. This is much higher than in the OECD average corresponding to 34%. Humanities and arts are the next most common subjects among vocational upper secondary graduates (21%), which again represents a high percentage compared with the OECD average of 7%.40 In 2006, the employment rate for those without upper secondary qualifications stood at 66.2% (OECD average 58.4%), while the upper secondary employment rate was 70.3% (OECD average 75.9%). 41 The upper secondary level graduates´unemployment rates stood at 3.5% (OECD average 5.4%) and tertiary level graduates´unemployment rates 2.9% compared with 3.5% in the OECD average. 42 These new data on Korea are particularly impressing if one confronts them with data from a 1998 study 43 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43

Matthias Parey: Vocational Schooling versus Apprenticeship Training, 2008, page 31 UNESCO-UNEVOC: Participation in Formal TVET Programmes Worldwide, page 64 ibid, page 54 OECD: Education at a Glance 2008, OECD Briefing Note for Korea, page 2 Ibid, page 18 Ibid, page 21 Ibid, page 4 Ibid, page 4 Kioh Jeong: Transition from School to Work in Korea, 2000, page 97


based on those collected by the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (KRIVET). This study found among others: • high levels of mismatch between subjects studied at school and job opportunities. In their opinion this is the main cause for unemployment of highly skilled young people; • significant loss of learning happens since graduates tend to “downward” job seeking. The author argues, that one of the main reasons for such problems is the lack of career orientation and guidance. Since “Schools and institutions do not usually care about the future career of students on graduation.” Another point is that the qualifications framework in Korea in the past was strongly state controlled and was not adapted to the increasing complexity of occupations.

Canada The majority of upper secondary level students in Canada are enrolled in general academic programmes. 94.6% of upper secondary enrolment is focussed at general programmes (OECD average 53.8%), while 5.4% is in vocational programmes (OECD average 44.0%). 44 Canada has one of the highest upper secondary attainment levels across OECD countries45. It has, after the United States and the Slovak Republic, the third highest upper secondary attainment rate: 86% of 25-to-64year-olds in Canada have completed upper secondary education (OECD average 68%) Upper secondary level attainment rates increased steadily. Whereas 76% of 55-to-64-year-olds olds (i.e. those who completed school some 40 years ago) completed upper secondary education, the rate is now 91% among 25-to-34-year-olds (clearly above the OECD average of 78%). However, upper secondary level completion rates are slightly below the OECD average. It is 80%, compared with an OECD average of 83% . For individuals without upper secondary level education the employment rate increased between 1997 and 2006 from 53% to 57%, for individuals with upper secondary education, from 74% to 76%, and for tertiary level graduates from 82% to 83%. Penalties for not completing upper secondary education are also reflected in the distribution of earnings. The share of 25-to-64-year-olds with low income (defined here as half of the country median or less) is in most countries significantly higher among those without upper secondary qualifications than among upper secondary level graduates. For Canada, this share is the third highest of the countries compared - behind the United Kingdom and the United States. Among the 25-to-64-year-olds in Canada without upper secondary qualifications, about 38% earn half or less than the national median (the OECD average is 24%), while 6% (OECD average 3%) are in the group of top earners, whose average earnings exceed twice the country median. 46

44 45 46

OECD: Education at a Glance 2008, OECD Briefing Note for Canada, page 25 Ibid, page 5 ibid, page 23


4 The Appropriate Age for Making Choices between General Academic and Vocational Tracks? Key Messages  Countries differ in relation to the beginning of ISCED 3 level programmes and the age at which educational decisions between general and vocational programmes have to be made. In most of the countries of Europe, the transition to ISCED 3 takes place for all or most young people at the age of 16.  No research based answer can be given indicating the best or most appropriate age for a decision between general academic and vocational programmes. There do exist however some general recommendations of the UNESCO,the ILO and the EU indicating that a vocational specialisation should not happen before the age of 15.  There are also great differences in graduation ages. There is an increasing of ages of young people entering an apprenticeship and/or VET; and last but not least young people need in the average about 20 months to find a first and even much longer to find a stable employment  Career guidance/counselling and education play an increasingly important role in preparing educational choices and in making career choices of young people. They do contribute to fostering “Career maturity” or “VET maturity”.

4.1 Determination Issues In a joint recommendation UNESCO and the ILO are declaring in relation to the provision of “Technical and vocational education”: “Premature and narrow specialization should be avoided: (a) in principle, the age of 15 should be considered the lower limit for beginning specialization; (b) a period of common studies providing basic knowledge and generic skills should be required for each broad occupational sector before a special branch is chosen.”47 The European Community charter of the social fundamental rights of workers adopted by the Heads of State and of Government (11 Member States) on 9 December 1989.48 Paragraph 20: “Without prejudice to such rules as may be more favourable to young people, in particular those ensuring their preparation for work through vocational training, and subject to derogations limited to certain light work, the minimum employment age must not be lower than the minimum school-leaving age and, in any case, not lower than 15 years." These recommendations express a moral principle. Given the great differences between educational systems it is not possible to indicate a – research backed - single appropriate age for making choices about continuing in general or vocational programmes. There is, however, the possibility to describe important dimensions at systems´ and at individual level that may help to identify appropriate age ranges. At system level the age depends of factors within the: • education and training system: its general layout (the overall importance of VET vs. general academic programmes), the age at the end of compulsory schooling and/or the beginning of ISCED 3 level programmes; specific demands of the vocational institutions (schools and/or companies); the existence of vocational guidance and counselling provision; • employment system: youth (work) protection regulations, collective agreements or labour regulations, and last but not least the culturally defined perception of an appropriate age by employers and/or trade unions. 47 48

UNESCO, ILO: Technical and Vocational Education and Training for the Twenty-first Century, 2002, page 22 Published in May 1990


At individual level the appropriate age depends on a set of individual prerequisites: • overall important factors are referred to by the German term “Ausbildungsreife” (literal: “vocational training maturity”) a concept that comes close to what in English is called “career maturity”.

4.2 System factors First and foremost, splitting-up ages between general academic and vocational tracks have to be seen in relation to the system´s characteristics. The German-speaking and other countries with an important system of vocational training do provide attractive apprenticeship opportunities at upper secondary level. Because these educational systems place a strong emphasis on upper secondary schooling and well-developed vocational training, in the consequence a smaller group does participate in tertiary education, which in turn means that the splitting up of ages are (and have to be) earlier than in countries where upper secondary education is mainly focused on preparation of students to access higher education. In countries where vocational training is less valued, chances on the labour market are rather defined by general academic educational attainment than by qualifications acquired in vocational schools or apprenticeship, like in the English-speaking, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.49

Differences in the Beginning of ISCED 3 Level Programmes and Typical Entry Ages of Students Systemic differences are also reflected in the way how education and training programmes are classified. Unfortunately, ISCED does not classify education programmes by participants’ age, and ISCED 3 entry ages are indeed quite different;eventually Member States differ in their definitions of what belongs to ISCED 2 and 3 or even 4 and 5. EURYDICE stresses big differences which do exist among the EU member states: “The path through school and into tertiary education for young people aged 15 to 19 reflects the different organisational structures of European education systems. In some countries, the duration of ISCED 2 is significantly longer with a more progressive transition to higher educational levels. In other countries, entry into ISCED 3 and successive levels generally takes place at a younger age”50. In most European countries, the transition to ISCED 3 takes place for almost all young people at the age of 16. In Belgium, Italy, Cyprus, Austria and Slovenia, this transition is complete at 15, while in the United Kingdom all 15-year-olds are already enrolled in ISCED 3. In some countries, this transition takes place at an older age. Participation rates at the age of 15 in ISCED 2 in Denmark are above 90 % as is the case also in Germany, Spain, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Norway. Around 10 % of pupils are still enrolled in ISCED 2 at the age of 17 in Denmark, Spain, Lithuania and Portugal. This is due to a longer duration of lower secondary education in these countries. The right to access upper secondary level VET may also be limited by age: in Sweden, young people aged over 20 may have to apply for adult education.

Differences in Numbers of Options Furthermore, there are differences between the number of choices that students can make. The following table gives an overview on system characteristics, age of first selection and type of programme available at the age of 14, 15 or 16. However in some countries this differentiation starts already at lower ages, the earliest at 10 or 11 years like in Germany and Austria or in Hungary and some other Middle European countries.

49 50

Justin J.W. Powell, Heike Solga: Internationalization of Vocational and Higher Education Systems 2008, page 30 EURYBase: Most Young People are Enrolled in Upper Secondary Education by the Age of 16


System characteristics and educational choices at the age of 1551 Countries

'Structure of Education System'

Age of 1st Selection

No. of types available to pupils aged 15


Highly comprehensive




Highly comprehensive




Highly comprehensive




Highly comprehensive




Low differentiated




Highly comprehensive




Medium comprehensive




Medium comprehensive




Medium comprehensive




Highly differentiated





Central and Eastern Europe Poland

Highly comprehensive




Highly differentiated




Low differentiated




Medium comprehensive




Highly comprehensive




Medium comprehensive



Czech Republic

Highly differentiated




Highly differentiated




Highly differentiated




Highly differentiated




Medium comprehensive




Low to medium diff.




Medium differentiated




Medium differentiated




Highly comprehensive




Medium comprehensive





Great Differences in Ages of Graduation Last but not least there are also great differences in graduation ages (see table on OECD countries in the annex52) In Germany there is considerable concern that upper secondary school qualification - as the minimum qualification for success in the labour market - is generally acquired too late.53 The Vocational Training Report 200854 shows a significant increase of the average age of apprentices:

51 52 53 54

ECOTEC: Beyond the Maastricht Communiqué, 2008 OECD: Education at a Glance 2008, “Typical age of graduation in upper secondary education (2006)” Authoring Group Educational Reporting, 2008 BMBF: Berufsbildungsbericht 2008, page 139


Year 1970 2006 Source: Berufsbildungsbericht 2008

Average Age of Apprentices (%) male









While in 1970 only 22% of the apprentices were 18 years and older this proportion has come in 2006 to 80%. The average age of apprentices entering apprenticeship training in the first year has also increased accordingly with 19,3% in the average. One of the factors for this advancement in the age of young people entering apprenticeship training are the “waiting loops” that many young people have to make if they want to get the apprenticeship in an attractive field. Quite a range of (pre)vocational programmes in schools or special provisions at ISCED 3 level which however lead to no recognised certificates or diplomas and are mere waiting rooms. Another factor in Germany is that many young people having a diploma (Abitur) giving access to tertiary level take an apprenticeship first and enter university at a later stage. This is traditionally the case for more demanding apprenticeships or trainings, like for banking occupations or opticians.

Duration of the Transition Period from School to Work Additionally, not only graduates become older. Also transition periods from school to work are becoming more complex and therefore young people get their first employment at an older age. The rates vary between Member States, it takes on the average roughly 20 months to find a job after completion of education and much longer for finding a stable employment. Table 5-1 Average duration of the transition from school to work in Europe, 1994-200055 In months Time spent to find Time spent to find any type of job a permanent job Austria




































4.3 Individual factors A recent OECD report highlights the gap between the cognitive capacity and emotional maturity in teenagers and suggests avoiding definitive choices that take the form of closing doors to other careers.56 55


Glenda Quintini, John P. Martin, Sébastien Martin:The Changing Nature of the School-to-Work Transition Process in OECD Countries, 2007, page 34 OECD: Understanding the Brain: The Birth of a Learning Science, 2007, Chapter 2


Beginning of a vocational education and training – and apprenticeship in particular – or work supposes that the applicant is fit intellectually, mentally and physically for the corresponding theoretical and practical tasks. Therefore, since long times professionals57 enquire on the prerequisites for job entry, an issue which is generally referred to as “career (choice) maturity” or on the background of the German apprenticeship system as “vocational training maturity” (Ausbildungsreife).


“Career Maturity” and the Role of Vocational Orientation and Guidance

This concept is very much connected with vested interests of employers, trade unions, schools and young people themselves. The German Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB)58 undertook a survey among 500 vocational training experts engaged in career maturity, guidance and apprenticeship training. Among these experts there was consensus that career maturity encompasses skills and work-related attitudes such as: Aspects of Career Maturity • Reliability, • Motivation to learn and to achieve, • Sense of responsibility, • ability to concentrate and stamina, • full command of basic arithmetic operations, • accurateness, thoughtfulness, politeness and tolerance, • the ability of self-criticism, • the ability to deal with conflicts in a constructive manner, adaptivity and the readiness to fit in the hierarchy of a company.

Decreasing Career Maturity? The majority of experts surveyed in the above mentioned BIBB study see a decrease of career maturity in the last fifteen years. This relates in particular to knowledge and skills imparted in schools. Four fifth believes that literacy and arithmetic skills have decreased. At least two thirds also believe that work related attitudes have changed for worse. The development of some skills and attitudes however is guessed as positive. These comprise: ICT skills, English and self-confidence. A strong minority believes in improvements concerning communication skills and in the ability to work in teams. The reasons for this deterioration are believed to be linked to factors like: changes in family socialisation, schools fail to impart knowledge and skills, general changes in the world of work. The latter point – increase in demanding jobs and correspondingly higher qualification expectations for apprentices – and the in general higher complexity of the working world is seen as a major reason for an increase in expectations linked to career maturity. A policy paper of the German Trade Unions Federation (DGB) states as reasons for a lack in career maturity, these would include especially: weak parental education background, migration background, social context and school provision performances.

The Role of Vocational Guidance and Counselling Vocational guidance is an important tool to prepare and accompany educational and/or training decisions; it 57


Starting with the work of Donald Super, Professor em. at Columbia University, author or co-author of such books as Appraising Vocational Fitness, The Psychology of Careers, Computer-Assisted Counselling, Measuring Vocational Maturity, Career Development in Britain etc. Bettina Ehrenthal, Verena Eberhard, Joachim Gerd Ulrich: Ergebnisse des BIBB-Expertenmonitors, 2005


may prevent young people from making wrong or irreversible career decisions and therefore has an influence of defining “splitting-up ages” for general and/or vocational tracks.59 In Europe60 the traditional delivery of career guidance consisted largely of skilled professionals working at different levels of educational institutions (e.g. the Centres d'Information et d'orientation – CIO - in France) and/or staff working in the Public Employment Service (PES) like it is the case in Germany. Training for counsellors in educational institutions is stressing educational and psychological testing techniques and counselling; these counsellors do assist students in their decision-making about further education. On the other hand, counselling in the PES was more oriented towards apprenticeship or employment and job placement. The guidance and orientation of young people in VET programmes is rather limited. The OECD61 noted that it is often assumed that upper secondary VET students have made specific educational and career choices and that they do not need further support. Within general academic education career guidance staff spends substantial time for preparing students to select and compete for tertiary education places. This meant that those not intending to enter tertiary education do receive little assistance. During the past decades the role and provision of vocational guidance in Europe and other parts of the world has changed considerably. These changes include: • an increased importance of career education curricula and guidance in schools helping young people to make educational and career choices and/or laying the foundations for lifelong learning and lifelong career development (see the example of the: “école orientante” in Québec); • the development of self-service information resources and centres often provided through a more effective use of ICT (see example of the German BIZ): their introduction has, however, not replaced the need for professional staff. Making the best use of a often excellent self-service career guidance resources is essential, but it is not in itself an effective response; • an increased cooperation, coordination or unification of school based and PES guidance services at regional/local level especially in those countries where the responsibility for guidance services is fragmented across a number of ministries and branches. A Danish guidance reform took place in 2004. School-based career guidance teachers were replaced by guidance specialists in cross-municipal youth guidance centres, known as Ungdommens Uddannelsesvejledning (UU).62 In England the 14-19 reforms will widen young people’s choices and open up new progression pathways, making it vital that all receive good IAG (Information, Advice, Guidance) underpinned by effective careers education. The 14-19 Diploma Gateway includes the collaborative delivery of IAG as one of its key criteria. From April 2008 onwards local authorities assume overall accountability for the quality of young people's IAG. New standards of quality and impartiality will apply. The standards ought to assist Local Authorities to secure high quality IAG provision for young people in their area and will be an important part of an integrated youth support service.63 Good Practice examples for guidance provision are: Québec: The guidance-oriented school across primary and secondary education levels: In Canada (Quebec), schools are being encouraged to further develop the existing concept of the guidanceoriented school (l’école orientante). Personal and career planning is defined as one of five broad areas of learning throughout schooling. The aim is to provide support for students’ identity development in primary school and guidance in view of career planning throughout secondary school. 64 Portfolio systems: Some countries have developed portfolio strategies to help young people to document their participation in work experience schemes, projects and other job/training relevant activities. Such a 59

60 61 62 63 64

Lex Borghans and Bart Golsteyn: Modernising vocational education and training: the importance of information, advice and guidance over the life-cycle 2008 Ellen Hansen: Career Guidance - A resource handbook for low- and middle-income countries, 2006, page 39 OECD: Career Guidance: A Handbook for Policy Makers, 2004, page 13 Cedefop: Professionalising career guidance, 2009, page 49 OECD: Career guidance: a handbook for policy makers, 2004, page 16 f.


portfolio is referred to as “job passport” (Austria) or “career-choice passport” (Germany)65. It can assist students to manage their own learning and establish a closer relationship with their career plans and other choices. It is also a tool for school-based careers education. Work experience: A variety of “work experience”, “work tasters” and “work shadowing” schemes are organised to help students develop insights into the world of work and to to make their choices. In Germany, exploratory visits to enterprises are an integral part of career education. Career guidance to facilitate the school-to-work transition: 66 In the United States, school-to-work transition systems integrate career orientation and academic and occupational orientation within high school and post-secondary schooling including work-based learning and skills development. These systems are developed through partnerships between schools, employers and trade unions and are decentralized at the local community´s level. Germany: Career information centres: There are 180 career information centres (Berufsinformationszentren-BIZ) established all over Germany by the Federal Employment Office (Bundesagentur für Arbeit – BA). They provide self information on occupations and education and training pathways. The BIZ dispose of PCs (for examples the Nuremberg BIZ has 46) with Internet access and printers, meeting rooms and areas for events like job or apprenticeship markets and lectures as well as a media library and access to internal databases.

5 Opening-up Pathways and Removing Dead Ends Key Messages  “Pathways” is a metaphor to describe and contrast (institutionalised) educational options; individuals view pathways as a series of decisions, which are not necessarily linear and perceived as barriers.  Data show that dead ends in VET have not been removed, despite the optimism of OECD and EU reports, this is even more evident if one widens the definition of dead ends to include those programmes which focus at at poor employment perspectives.  Vocational programmes are becoming more attractive in many countries largely because of the availability of and more openings for entry into higher level studies.  The report identifies interesting practice in relation to “individualised pathways”, “horizontal mobility within upper secondary education” and “vertical mobility giving access to higher education”. The main findings are: − A major innovation are individualised programmes, they are often provided by an increase in modularisation of provision; − Transfers between the different parts of education which are getting easier in many countries, pathways from upper secondary VET into general provision remain however a choice for a minority. − Double qualifying pathways can be challenging for students; the danger of failure is however high. − New progression routes (from VET) to higher education are available in most countries increasing their attractiveness. In “Apprenticeship Countries” pathways to Higher Education are less frequent; if graduates go on they opt for other VET types.  Output or outcome based quality assurance of VET provisions are on the agenda in all Member States, however the degree of implementation greatly varies.

65 66 V. Corbanese, G. Rosas: Employment counselling and career guidance


5.1 What are Pathways? The concept of “pathways” is used as metaphor to describe and contrast the main educational options after compulsory education. Broadly, there are three principal types of pathways through upper-secondary education:67 • Upper Secondary General Academic Education traditionally serves to prepare young people for higher education. With growing participation in these pathways, increasing numbers of students are moving directly into the labour market or in an apprenticeship system. • School-based vocational pathways traditionally led to occupational qualifications and immediate labour market entry. Countries vary strongly according to the time which is devoted to subjects of general education. Such programmes often include company based work experience (FR: “stages”). It comprises practical and theoretical learning in the classroom, in school internal workshops and in “real life” work environments. • Apprenticeship pathways usually combine part-time vocational education in colleges with company based training. Apprenticeship countries have been successful in ensuring young people’s smooth transition from school to work. A problematic feature of apprenticeship training so far has been (1) its isolation from (further) general education pathways and from tertiary education and (2) a full quality assurance of company based training. Building bridges from apprenticeship to further and tertiary education is today a preoccupation in countries with strong apprenticeship systems.

Individuals Understand Pathways as a Series of Decisions and Perceived Barriers The understanding of pathways for transition from school to work as described is focussing at the supply of the education and training system. Individual students view pathways differently. They understand these as a series of decisions which are not necessarily linear. Individuals choice depends on different factors such as family and peer influence, or on the individual availability of provision and pathways for getting trained for an occupation. Students' choices are not necessarily rational. There might be certain detours, “zigzags” etc. The choice of an individual pathway depends also on existing barriers. Such barriers may be founded in perceptions, attitudes and values68 determining the attractiveness of a pathway. They often correlate with socio-economic factors. On the other hand there are still many institutional barriers in-built in education and training provisions. It may be, for example, too time-consuming to move from vocational to general education – or simply too expensive.

5.2 Pathways: Dead-Ends 5.2.1

What are Dead-Ends Pathways?

. Dead ends in the traditional sense means “terminal”. i.e. programmes and/or diplomas that give no opportunity to go on in (further) education and training. National lifelong learning strategies shall ensure that all learning is validated and transferable in order to remove “dead ends” by flexible learning pathways and effective transition points between all systems and levels of education. 69 In recent years more attention is given to dead-ends in relation to new policy goals especially in the context of lifelong learning but also to the issue of equal opportunities.

67 68


David Raffe (University of Edinburgh):What are pathways? Concepts and evidence from cross-national research, 2001, page 3 A 2004 EUROBAROMETER study examined to what degree citizens and students would recommend vocational or general education. It found high values for vocational education even in countries which are traditionally giving more emphasis for general tracks. Eduarda Castel-Branco:Vocational Education and Training Challenges and Opportunities in the Southern Caucasus, -2008


“Dead End” Tracks not Providing Immediate Access to Tertiary Education Recent studies are supposing that most dead ends within education and training provisions have been removed in Europe. Analysing the data more closely, however, there is evidence that “dead ends” have not yet been removed at a greater degree: • The EU benchmarks study revealed that in United Kingdom, Belgium and Norway, at least half of the VET students are enrolled in 3C upper secondary programmes providing only access to the labour market to level 4 70. In Denmark, Spain and Iceland over 40% of students are enrolled in such programmes. • Moreover, the level 3B includes trainings such as for example a “salesperson in a butcher shop” in Germany. It seems rather theoretical to offer higher education progression opportunities to such qualifications, in practice this would not work.. In reality the situation is much worse since the statistical UOE data reflect only ISCED classifications and not real pathways as we shall see in following country example. Removal of “dead ends” a myth?: The case of Germany The German authorities have attributed ISCED 3B status to practically all vocational programmes starting after completion of compulsory school: full-time vocational schools, apprenticeship and even preapprenticeship schemes, and ISCED 4 status was also attributed to schools that are officially classified as “upper secondary” (Fachoberschulen) level since these lead to same level (“Abitur”) as other level 3 schools. 71 In reality the proportion of young people coming from vocational programmes among students who entered higher education in 2006/7 was 2,5% (universities) and 42% (“Fachhochschulen”).72 Recent studies argue that the more significant “dead end” problem is the extent to which continuous vocational training (CVT) systems are open for people to return later on in life, with validation of prior learning and the establishment of outcome based qualification frameworks being key policy tools here. “Member States now need to focus on encouraging the use of existing pathways and ensuring that pathways are genuinely open by dealing with problems of failure to progress, and by offering effective guidance services to assist individuals to make the right decisions now that greater choice is open to them.”73

“Dead End” Tracks - a Wider Definition In our opinion the “dead end” issue should not be limited to access to tertiary education, which for many young people is not a realistic option. Giving too easy access to higher education may result in high drop-out rates during the first years at university, as it is the case for example in Italy. The discussion should pay more attention to disadvantaged young people in VET programmes. These are suffering from low achievements already in lower primary and secondary education. What we see in (pre-) vocational tracks are: • "waiting loops": like the German pre-vocational schemes for young people waiting for an apprenticeship contract with a company (see below); • of declining value of theseee provisions at the labour market (in France for instance the ”Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnelle – CAP” ); • characterised by regional/sectoral quality disparities, like the or Italian some regional training schemes;74 70


72 73 74

ISCED 4 = post secondary, non-tertiary level. Programmes that straddle from an international point of view the borderline between secondary and tertiary education. In England ISCED 4 is offered within adult education and training institutions. OECD: Classifying Educational Programmes, Manual for ISCED-97 Implementation in OECD Countries 1999 , classification table Germany Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung: Bildung in Deutschland 2008, 2008, page 176 ECOTEC: Beyond the Maastricht Communiqué,.page vii CEDEFOP: Assuring the quality of VET systems, 2008


• a lack of linkages with the formal education system e.g. the Italian apprenticeship (apprendistato) where the part-time school element is missing as is the case also in other proper in-company training schemes. Only 1 of 5 apprentice is properly trained in Italy encompassing a final certificate. 75 The so-called “Transition System” in Germany These commonly called “Waiting loops” interim courses for all those waiting for an apprenticeship are subject to wide criticism. A recent report found, that six months after leaving compulsory school, about a fourth of the school leavers attend a regular apprenticeship, another fourth enter full-time vocational schools and another fourth are in the “transition system”. Only one third of those in the “transition system” manage to obtain an apprenticeship within 18 months. The rate goes up to 50% after 30 months after leaving school. 30 months later three quarters of the original entrants found a fully qualifying training. That means that many young people follow-up several programmes of the same kind for several years.76

“Dead ends”: Overestimation of the role of education and training provision The selection of these pathways are influenced by many factors external to the education and training system. The following example of the Netherlands may illustrate this phenomenon. In the Netherlands at secondary level (MBO: middelbaar beroepsonderwijs) includes four levels of diplomas. Level 1 is pre-vocational, level 2 is defined as the starting level ('de startkwalificatie') for the labour market; this is understood as the minimum level all school-leavers should reach. Level 2 can be gained after a two / three year apprenticeship or after a two year school based course (starting at 16 and ending at 18). Two thirds of school leavers even without the starting qualification do (relatively) well on the labour market. Dead end situations in a personal biography seem to be more determined by factors like the the state of the economy, followed by personal circumstances, migration background and only marginal by the level of the diploma.77

5.3 Reform Strategies Developing better structured pathways for VET students with improved opportunities for transfer and progression ensuring that no courses lead to dead-ends, is an important aim for almost all European countries. Such policies made VET more attractive; this seems to be a major reason for an increasing enrolment rate in upper secondary VET. The kind of how pathways are remodelled by the respective country, however, differ. They depend on different starting points and institutional arrangements of the system. These reform strategies may be classified in the following way78: Types of Reform Strategies Strategy


Opening progression opportunities within the vocational track

This strategy understands the role of academic and vocational Germany, Austria, education as separate sub-systems. Vocational education is Switzerland considered to be valuable due to its link with employers and vocational content. The focus is mostly put on reforming vocational tracks, not academic ones.

Mutual Enrichment

This strategy seeks to facilitate “mutual enrichment” and

75 76 77 78

Country Examples

Finland and Norway

Vera Marincioni: Prospettive della formazione professionale in Italia, 2008, page 52 Authoring group Educational Reporting, page 16f. Information provided by Kees Meijer, Kenniscentrum Beroepsonderwijs Arbeidsmarkt, Nijmegen (NL) See: ECOTEC: Beyond the Maastricht Communiqué,.page 111f. and Lasonen, Gordon: Improving the attractiveness..., 2008, page 18


cooperation between vocational and general education, while at the same time preserving their distinctive character. Cooperation between vocational education establishments, enterprises and upper secondary schools provides students with a wider range of options by offering stimulating learning methods and environments. Thus, it enriches both vocational and general education. Building bridges between This strategy attempts to build bridges between vocational and France and England vocational and general general education. Academic and vocational tracks are not education transformed or replaced, but a new link is created between them. It tries to make vocational and general education formally more equal by connecting them through measures such as a common qualification frameworks, arrangements for mutual credit recognition and transfer, and establishment of common curricular components. Integrating or unifying vocational and general education

In this model both systems loose their distinct identity as the Sweden and Scotland vocational and general education components are merged. All students are offered a core programme of common subjects abolishing the distinction between vocational and general learning. The distinction between vocational and academic students and vocational and academic teachers, however, remains even after the administrative unification and modularisation of study programmes.

The direction and the speed of national reforms are also shaped by European level policies. Most important recent initiatives were: • The allocation of national qualification systems and frameworks to the proposal for a European qualifications framework for Lifelong Learning (see respective recommendation) • The establishment and implementation of the European quality assurance framework for vocational education and training (EQR): an instrument to help Member States to promote and monitor continuous improvement of their vocational education and training provisions and systems based on common European level references and criteria; and • a European credit system for vocational education and training (ECVET): this aims at facilitating the transfer and the recognition of studies undertaken in the past by people moving from one system of qualifications to another, or one course of study to another, in order to obtain a certain qualification.

5.4 “Opening-up” Practice Measures to make VET systems more open and responsive to individuals have been implemented in most European countries in recent years. For the purposes of this report we shall concentrate on three issues which relate to the original research question: • developing individualised provision and pathways; • facilitating transfers between the different parts of the secondary ET system; • improving access to higher education.

Developing Individualised Provision and Pathways Individualisation and modularisation are a means for a more learner-centred approach. In full-time schoolbased education this approach is mostly limited to education for disadvantaged students and those with learning difficulties. A recent analysis in Denmark underlined that this approach asks for an increased guidance provision especially for those who cannot handle full responsibility for their learning pathways.79 79

CEDEFOP: Continuity, consolidation and change.., 2009, page 74


In Sweden specially designed programmes are offered in order to meet local or regional demands, or to meet the needs of an individual pupil. Ten percent of all pupils in upper secondary colleges attended a specially designed programme in the school year 2007/08.80 Immigrants and Swedes have a different risk of referral to the ‘individual programme’: this risk is 5.2% among native Swedish pupils, 8.5% among the Swedish-born with a foreign background and 21.4% among the foreign-born immigrants. As a result 35% of all students in the individual programme have a foreign background.81 The OECD report argues that the present programme obviously fails to achieve its objectives, as the majority of participants eventually leave gymnasium unqualified rather than transferring into the national curriculum.82 In Denmark “New apprenticeship” (ny mesterlære)83 has been introduced as an alternative VET pathway. Apprentices in this programme will typically spend the first year with practical training within an enterprise. They still have to follow some school-based teaching as agreed in their personal education plans. The school and the enterprise along with the pupil are responsible for i. planning and organising the form and content of the practical training and ii. developing the pupil's personal education plan. This plan is based on a description of the competences to be gained from the respective VET programme and an assessment of the pupil's actual competence. A specific way to strengthen individualised pathways is modularisation. It may take a variety of forms and permits different degrees of freedom in students´module selection to build up their individual learning pathway, taking into account the nature of the system and the underpinning social values. They are generally structured in such a way that they ensure that students achieve a good balance between general and vocational provisions. The form of modularisation implemented is likely to vary by country depending on the strength of the distinction between vocational and general tracks. Where the distinction is weak modularisation may lead to unification and/or “over-generalisation” of the curriculum.84 In 2006 in Austria introduced the modularisation of apprenticeship training. Following a broad basic training in a two-year basic module, flexibility in subsequent provision is enhanced due to optional main modules and voluntary special modules. 85

Facilitating Transfer between the Different Parts of Upper Secondary Education A further set of measures focuses on the need to develop pathways allowing possibilities of • transfers between general and vocational education. In Slovenia bridging courses have been installed. These last one year and allow students to move in both directions between general and technical upper secondary education. Students who have completed general upper secondary education can transfer to vocational courses and, in the other hand, those who have obtained a professional qualification can transfer to general secondary to obtain the upper secondary matriculation diploma giving access to higher education. The aim is to increase the number of students from upper secondary technical courses obtaining the maturity exam and entering higher education. 86 In Iceland, general and vocational upper-secondary education are organised within a single structure, offering a variety of options, rather than two separate pathways; and Norway, upper secondary schools offer both general and vocational education and it is possible to move from one provision to the other; and in Poland and Slovakia, it is also possible for students to move between the different types of upper secondary schools. 87 In Belgium already since 1984 bridges between each vocational training and technical/general education were established. These links enable pupils in vocational training to earn certificates equivalent to those in 80 81

82 83 84 85 86 87

EURYDICE - Eurybase: The Education System in Sweden (2007/08), page 76f. OECD: Equity in Education - Thematic Review – Sweden - Country Note, Authors: Ides Nicaise, Gosta Esping-Andersen, Beatriz Pont, Pat Tunstall, Review visit: February 2005, page 44 Ibid page 50 Pia Cort, Simon Rolls: VET policy report Denmark ,2008, page 27f. ECOTEC: Beyond the Maastricht Communiqué, 2008, page 143 Sabine Tritscher-Archan und Thomas Mayr (ed.) VET Policy Report Austria, 2008, page 17 Lasonen, Gordon: Improving the attractiveness, page 54 Cedefop: Initial vocational education and training (IVET) in Europe, 2006, page 19


other forms of education. 88 Recently, in Belgium (Flanders) there have been major updates of the curriculum designed to remove barriers between general secondary education and vocational training provision. In a special pilot project called “Accent op talent” supported by the government, schools can innovate in removing barriers between general secondary education and VET. 89 • vocational and general education routes leading to the same formal qualifications Another approach is creating two or more pathways to upper secondary qualifications. Well-known examples are France and the Netherlands where there are school-based and apprentice routes to qualifications of the same level. • double (general and vocational) qualifications Another approach are double qualification pathways. In a number of countries, especially, in the New Member States vocational and general subjects were since long integrated in a common curriculum offering an opportunity to graduate in both vocational and general education. Double qualification is, however, not a pathway for everybody, the danger of failure is high. Double qualifications and modularisation have also become an integral part of the Bulgarian VET system where two key reform initiatives focus on preventing drop-outs and use of ICT (national education portal).90 In Germany – inspired by the Social Democrats - in the 1970-ies an important historic predecessor took place integrating the organisation and curricula of vocational training and general education, the "Kollegstufe" pilot scheme in North Rhine-Westphalia aimed at realising two essential goals of all 1960-ies reform attempts:a) securing not only a highly skilled future labour force for the economy, but also the individual's right to equal educational opportunities. The "Kollegstufe" aimed at introducing a double qualification for all “Abitur” graduates: a vocational and an academic one 91. For political reasons, however, the Kollegstufe never saw a large-scale realisation in Germany. It is still a pilot scheme. Generally speaking transfersfrom upper secondary vocational tracks into general provision typically remain a minority choice92: most students remain either in the vocational or general route they have been selected when they completed lower secondary school.

Improving Access to Higher Education Improving access to higher education for VET students has been for many years an important element of increasing the attractiveness of VET. In some countries progression from VET tracks into higher education is well-established. In Finland, higher education legislation guarantees eligibility for all to enter higher education including those who have at least a three-year vocational or comparable qualification. 93 However, experience in France and Italy suggest that more than basic or legal entitlement is needed if vocational award holders are to be enabled to cope with the demands of higher education, to follow courses successfully and to avoid finding them in an inequitable competition with students from general education. In Italy the drop-out rates in first years of university studies are high, Most vulnerable are those students who came from vocational and technical schools. The box below gives more detailed data on the situation in France. France: Students from VET programmes have a lesser chance to get an university diploma “Data on French students who obtained different types of baccalauréats show that those who enter higher education with a vocational baccalauréat have less chance of obtaining a diploma than the students who have taken a general education or technological diploma. Just over two-thirds of the vocational baccalauréat holders continue their studies in higher education (as compares with almost 98% of the 88 89

90 91 92 93

CEDEFOP: Initial vocational education and training (IVET) in Europe See reports of the King-Baudouin-Foundation: “Meer techniek in de algemene vorming!” and “Competenties in balans. Zoeken naar afstemming tussen competentieontwikkeling in school en bedrijf.” CEDEFOP: Continuity, consolidation and change, 2009, page 81 Herwig Blankertz and A. Gruschka: Kollegstufe Nordrhein-Westfalen, 1975, pp. 147-158 ECOTEC: Beyond the Maastricht Communiqué..., 2008 , page 10f. CEDEFOP: Continuity, consolidation and change, 2009, page 81


general baccalauréat holders). Out of those who do continue, only 10% leave with a diploma....” 94 In other countries, however, access to higher education is provided only via certain indirect routes. Apprenticeship systems tend to be extended in some countries to Higher Education. Germany In Germany, since many years, access from apprenticeship to tertiary education (3-year-courses at socalled Fachhochschulen95) is possible after completion of apprenticeship and by graduating from a twoyears upper secondary programme (Fachoberschule or via a Berufskolleg) giving access to studies for a specific subject field (like engineering, business administration, tourism etc.). A relatively new feature in Germany is the Dual training system provided on Higher Education level: Companies training linked with “Berufsakademien”. Students need general or vocational upper secondary diplomas and have to conclude a training contract with a company. Practical training happens at the work place, theory is imparted at “Berufsakademien” and happens in intervals. In bigger companies work experience abroad is included. Trainees are getting training allowances.

5.5 Quality Assurance Quality assurance in VET is an important aim of European VET policy. It plays a decisive role in modernising and opening-up systems and improving their performance and attractiveness. Quality assurance criteria in the European context is based on learning outcomes. An implementation of such schemes is confronted with a number of difficulties: • It takes time to break with old customs focussing on input and process criteria, i.e. measuring quality by programme, school and the curriculum provision; • Outcomes can be measured in various ways: some countries tend to focus on transition outcomes in terms of (un)employment, others focus on learning outcomes. A recent report of CEDEFOP96 reviews the quality assurance procedures in seven Member States. The table below97 provides an overview of some of the weaknesses found in the systems. Italy

The heterogeneity of the regional VET systems and the lack of clear national output standards are weak points in the Italian system. The transition is still under way from a centralised system, based on delivery and monitoring of rigid input and process standards, to a decentralised system, based on autonomous schools and regional administration of VET.

United Kingdom

The National Qualifications Framework, while representing a large portfolio of highly respected qualifications, is not meeting the full range of skills and learning needs. This means that too much training goes on unrecognised, leaving learners unable to progress or gain professional qualifications as they learn. Many employers are, therefore, investing in training programmes that are not subject to national quality assurance standards.


While the National Framework of Qualifications and the design of quality assurance and programme validation arrangements are intended to be flexible, delivery of programmes continues to be through systems which are predominantly focused on full-time learners. Guidance and information services are fragmented,


One of the main weaknesses is that it takes time for the system to adjust to sudden labour market demands.


Despite standard training regulations the quality of training varies to some extent from company to company and from region to region. If the training quality of companies were



96 97

M.E.N. Repères et références statistiques sur les enseignements, la formation et la recherche. Source: Johanna Lasonen, Jean Gordon: Improving the attractiveness..., page 57 Mostly and wrongfully translated by “Universities of Applied Sciences” although these Higher Education institutions offers also a wide range of non-science programmes CEDEFOP: Cedefop: Assuring the quality of VET systems by defining expected outcomes, 2008 Ibid. page 69ff.


monitored as well as the skills of the trainees perhaps quality would be better. The Netherlands

The main weakness of the Dutch system is that there are too many different qualifications and the descriptions of the qualification targets to be attained are too detailed. Cooperation between schools and enterprises are lacking. VET providers are currently considered to have too much influence.

6 Internationalisation Key messages  “Internationalisation” refers to the impartment of both international and intercultural competences. It covers a whole range of possible measures. The report limits itself to: foreign language learning and mobility/exchange schemes.  The average number of foreign languages learned per pupil is higher in upper than in lower secondary general education. Luxembourg has the highest average number of foreign languages learned, with three, whereas in the United Kingdom it is only 0.1. Only in Ireland learning of a foreign language is not compulsory.  English is by far the most frequently learnt foreign language. German has increased because of Central and Eastern Europe, equally French due to southern Europe and German and English speaking countries. Spanish and Russian play a significant role also.  More and more general education students take part in exchange programmes. An increasing number of them take part in longer lasting programmes in Non-European countries.  Due to mobility programmes and instruments initiated by the European Union not only HE students but also VET students do profit increasingly from training/work placements abroad. Compared to the overall number of VET students and compared to HE students their proportion is rather low. In general, internationalisation strategies98 for education/training programmes aim at ensuring and improving individual employability and to ensure the competitiveness of an education system or a country. Internationalisation has different meanings to different players within education and training. The table99 below provides an overview of certain aspects of internationalisation from the perspective of various players. Players

Aims of internationalisation

Individual learners

• interaction with individuals from other cultures; • foreign-language learning; • acquisition of competences that cannot be acquired in the home country; • ability to experience learning in an open and foreign environment.

Education providers

• reinforcement of international cooperation; • adaptation of their own education provision to the international context; • incorporation of other/international perspectives; • acquisition of new/additional groups of learners; • improvement of their own reputation as a result of improved competitiveness.

Curriculum developers

• development of cooperative working arrangements; • development of standards; • widening of the scope of a curriculum

For individual students internationalisation means above all the acquisition of two kinds of competences: • international competences (cognitive objectives), such as foreign-language competence, international specialised competence and Web competence; 98 99

Pascaline Descy, Manfred Tessaring: Introduction: Modernising vocational education and training, 2008 Sandra Bohlinger, Dieter Münk: European strategies and priorities for modernising vocational education and training 2008


• intercultural competences (attitude-related objectives), such as understanding and respect for people from other cultures, high regard for other lifestyles and ways of thinking, and respect for cultural diversity.100 Educational policy has responded to internalisation needs by enhancing: • the international dimension of content of education and training: these efforts reach from curricular changes to the recognition of international diplomas (like the International Baccalaureate); • mobility of students and teachers: EU programmes, education programmes of the Nordic Council of Ministers, bilateral cooperation with Non-European countries, the “Bedre Uddannelser” (Better Education Programmes) action plan, a grant for young people under 18 years of age who go on exchange visits with recognised voluntary organisations (DK), etc.; • the use of IT as an internationalisation tool: An ICT league consisting of Canada, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries was set up already in 1999. Its aim is integrating IT in education. 101 EUN - European Schoolnet is the name of an international partnership of more than twenty national Ministries of Education in Europe developing e-learning for schools, teachers and pupils across Europe • opportunities for institutions to cooperate and compete internationally; In the following the report will concentrate on language learning, (geographical) mobility and European schemes aimed at supporting mobility.

6.1 Language Learning Educational policies are increasing their efforts to improve foreign language learning in order to improve students´competences and skills for work and study in international environments. In Denmark, for example, schools have to formulate a policy for language and communication in accordance with the report entitled “Sprogpolitik i de danske universiteter” (Language Policy in Danish Universities) from March 2003 edited by the Danish Rectors' Conference.102 In almost all EU countries, secondary school pupils at ISCED 2 and 3 levels have to study at least one modern foreign language. At ISCED 3 level the percentage of students learning at least one foreign language does not reach 70% in Portugal, the United Kingdom and Turkey. On the other hand the proportion of upper secondary students learning three languages or more is in Luxembourg above 90%. 103

No Language-Learning Culture in English-speaking Countries? Learning of modern foreign languages are less often compulsory in English-speaking countries. In Ireland, learning a foreign language is not compulsory in either lower or upper secondary education.104 In the United Kingdom (except Scotland), the government makes pupils learn a foreign language solely between the ages of 11 and 14 (key stage 3=ISCED 2). Modern languages were dropped as a compulsory subject for 14 to 16-year-olds in 2002. Also, in Scotland, the government does not enforce pupils to study a foreign language. The 2007 GCSE results reflected a fall in the number of teenagers choosing to study a modern language. The number of candidates studying French fell by 13.2% compared with 2006, while those teenagers opting for German fell by 14.2%. In 2000, the Nuffield Languages Inquiry105 highlighted a lack of motivation among students in secondary schools and found that nine out of ten students decided against continuing studying a language after the age of 16. The OECD data of 2005/6 revealed that at ISCED 3 level 47,7% of the UK students learn no 100 101

102 103 104 105

ibid Ministry of Education: Enhanced Internationalisation of Danish Education and Training, Policy Paper to Parliament, April 2004, no page Ibid See also statistical table in the annex Sandra Bohlinger, Dieter Münk: European strategies and priorities for modernising vocational education and training, page 57 The Nuffield Foundation: The Nuffield Languages Inquiry: Languages: the next generation, London 2000


foreign language at all; 106 46% learn one and 6,1% two foreign language(s). Equally, there is an alarming fall in the take-up of language learning by students at universities who would become language teachers.107 Figures show that German, especially, has plummeted, with only 610 students entering a degree course in 2006, compared with 2288 a decade ago. French is the second biggest case, with numbers dropping by a third from 5655 to 3700 in 10 years. In vocational upper secondary education, the average number of foreign languages learned per pupil is lower than in general upper secondary education. In most countries at least one foreign language is learned, In nine countries the average is lower than 1. The average number of foreign languages learned ranged from 0.5 in Germany to 1.8 in Estonia and 1.9 in Luxembourg. In some countries, the proportion of pupils learning two foreign languages has been, however, increased substantially. For example in lower secondary education in Italy it increased from 44% to 72% between 2005 and 2006.Average number of foreign languages learned per pupil in the EU between 2000 and 2006

Language proportions The box below gives some detailed information on the proportion of foreign languages learnt. English

In the great majority of countries, at least 90 % of pupils learn English in general lower or upper secondary education (ISCED levels 2 or 3), or in both. The difference in the percentages for these two levels is particularly high in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and Slovakia and may be partly attributable to two combined factors:a) the existence of a relatively high proportion of pupils who learn a language other than English at primary level and b) the presence of a second foreign language as a compulsory subject or core curriculum option within upper secondary education.


Between 2000 and 2006 the number of pupils learning German has slightly increased e.g. by 5%. In all countries of Central and Eastern Europe except Lithuania and Romania, around 40 % or more pupils learn German within general secondary education. This also applies to a lesser extent to Belgium (the Flemish Community), to most of the Nordic countries and Luxembourg, in which German is a mandatory subject alongside French . Countries in which less than 10 % of pupils learn German are those in which the Romance languages are spoken or other countries of southern Europe.


Between 2000 and 2006 the number of pupils of countries investigated learning French has increased by 22% . The countries in which around 30 % or more pupils in lower general secondary education (ISCED 2) and/or upper general secondary education learning French come into one of the following three categories: The first category consists of the English- or German-speaking countries (Ireland, Austria and the United Kingdom), the second category of countries with a Romance language as an official language together with other countries of southern Europe (Greece, Spain, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Romania). The third and final category consists of those in which French is a mandatory language as it is the case in Belgium (the Flemish and German-speaking Communities), and Luxembourg.


The highest relative increase since 2000 is for the teaching of Spanish. Even if only 7.9% of pupils were



Debbie Andalo: All primary schools to teach foreign languages by 2010, in: Education Guardian, Monday 12 March 2007: “From 2010, it will be a compulsory part of the national curriculum for children from the age of seven to 14 to study a modern foreign language, as the government attempts "to put languages at the heart of learning", said the education secretary, Alan Johnson”. Richard Garner: Dramatic decline in foreign languages studied at university, The Independent, Tuesday, 19 August 2008



learning Spanish in 2006, the increase is remarkable with an increase of more than 50% since the year 2000. Spanish is taught essentially in upper secondary general academic education (ISCED 3). Most of the time, the proportion of pupils who learn Spanish is less than 20 % (and often even 10 %). A few EU27 countries are exceptions to this, namely Denmark with 27.9 %, France (62.4 %) and Sweden (40.6 %). Finally, Russian is being taught mainly in countries of Central and Eastern Europe (the three Baltic states, and to a lesser degree in Bulgaria and Poland). In the remaining countries, it is taught very seldom if at all.

6.2 Mobility and Exchange 6.2.1

General Academic Education

Taking part in an exchange programme has become normal for many students, particularly in general education programmes. Exchanges are being organised by individual schools or parents and NGO´s, some of them are subsidised by specific bi-lateral programmes such as the Franco-German Youth office which since 1963 has supported 8 million young people – a yearly average of 200.000 young people in 11.000 exchange visits in both France and Germany.108 Similarly exchanges with Non-European countries increased considerably. In 2005/06 about 14000 young Germans took part in a 3-months or longer High School exchange programme among them about 7000 in public schools. The following diagram shows the distribution of students who participated in an exchange programmes with the USA. Data taken from the 2006-07 Exchange data – High school Students inbound to USA109


Vocational Education and Training

In recent years a number of mobility schemes have been developed both at bi-lateral and at European level.

Bilateral Programmes As an example, the Franco-German Youth Office developed the TRANSNET exchange programmes for young French and Germans. A certain number of such exchanges are also organised in the EUREGIO areas. Another example of a mobility initiative within vocational training is the French “Départ” 110project, initially funded by the European Year of Workers’ Mobility. This project aims to promote the value of mobility during an apprenticeship by raising awareness of both the benefits of gaining work experience abroad , and specific opportunities available. The focus of the project is on information; there is no funding providing income support for mobile apprentices. 108 109


La lettre d’information de l’Office franco-allemand pour la Jeunesse N° 25 - Juin-Juillet 2008 Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) annually evaluates U.S.-based youth exchange programs, 2006-07 exchange data; since not all U.S.-based exchange organizations apply for CSIET listing, the statistics in this document do not include every existing U.S. Exchange Organization. Départ (Développer l’Europe par l’Apprentissage et les Réseaux Transnationaux) is coordinated by Centre Inffo and Onisep:


European Policy Mobility is at the heart of the European student exchange projects and is strongly linked to the Lisbon objectives for 2010. Mobility in the education and training sector is of particular significance..111 Leonardo da Vinci Action Programme The Leonardo da Vinci programme is one of the European major initiatives to promote training mobility and to achieve the objectives of the Lisbon Agenda. The (estimated) number of VET participants which participated in a transnational placement and funded by the Leonardo da Vinci II programme between the years 2000-2006 was 40,012.112 Although, the number of young people has increased in recent years, the proportion of the young people supported remains, however, well below 1 % of the total number of those undertaking vocational

training programmes in the countries in which the programme operated.113 EUROPASS The EUROPASS was introduced in 2005114. Its purpose is helping young people to make their skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in Europe (European Union, EFTA/EEA and candidate countries). A network of national Europass centres (NECs) promotes its implementation in participating countries. The Europass consists of five documents: • two documents (Europass curriculum vitae (CV) and Europass Language Passport) filled in by the person itself • three other documents (Europass Certificate Supplement, Europass Diploma Supplement and Europass Mobility) filled in and issued by competent organisations of the issuing Member State. The Europass Mobility is a record of any kind of organised period of exchange (called Europass Mobility experience) that a person spends in another European country for the purpose of learning or training. The total of Europass documents issued to citizens since its launch came up by July 2008 to more than 3.5 million. 115 For more data see table below: Europass portfolio

Table: Europass – Statistics and Practice Statistical data

Examples of practice

Europass CV

From February 2005 to December 2008, about 4.2 million CVs were completed on-line using Cedefop’s tutorials and over 6.1 million CV templates were downloaded.

In some countries, employment agencies are promoting use of the Europass CV-format.

Europass language passport (ELP)

From February 2005 to December 2008, about 113.000 language passports were completed on-line and over 424.000 ELP templates were down-loaded.

The Europass language passport is used by schools, vocational training institutions, higher education institutions and language schools.

Europass mobility

In 2006-07, over 77.000 Europass mobility documents were issued to persons undergoing mobility.

Europass mobility is mostly used by persons participating in the Leonardo da Vinci programme.

Source: Cedefop statistics, DGVT and ReferNet, 2008116


112 113 114



See also: EUNEC statements on the recommendations of the study ‘MoVE-iT: Obstacles to Mobility in VETEUNEC conference 9-10 November 2006, Vlaamse Onderwijsraad, Brussels CINOP, Price-Waterhouse-Coopers: Overcoming Obstacles to Mobility ..., 2007, page 3 Terry Ward: Geographical mobility, 2008 DECISION No 2241/2004/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 15 December 2004 on a single Community framework for the transparency of qualifications and competences (Europass) European Commission Press release of Brussels, 04 July 2008 based on REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL on the first evaluation of the Europass initiative, 2008 CEDEFOP: Continuity, consolidation and change, 2009, page 108


Euroguidance Euroguidance is an European network consisting of national (resource and counselling) centres. It is a web based information service. Its objective is to provide young people wanting to train or study in another Member State with the necessary information. The system was introduced with initial support of the German public employment service (1989-1990)117 and then implemented by the European PETRA programme – forerunner of the LDV programme - in the early eighties and since then receives support by the European Commission currently through its Lifelong learning programme. The national (resource) centres vary in their organisational structures. While in Germany, regional/local guidance centres (being part of the Federal Employment Agency) specialised on the advice of young people for single or groups of countries, in other other countries - like in the UK – a single centre (Careers Europe, Bradford) is responsible for relating to all other Member States.

Obstacles to Mobility in VET The Move-It report underlined a list of main obstacles. The top 10 obstacles were following this study- not in order of priority:118 • Lack of quality placements; • Lack of knowledge on the benefits of mobility; • Lack of pedagogical know-how on learning in placements; • Lack of sustainable internationalisation strategies; • Lack of research on mobility;

• Lack of communities of practice for placement organisers; • Legal and administrative barriers; • Lack of interest among young people; • Lack of linguistic and cultural background knowledge; • Lack of recognition.

7 Policy Issues Upper secondary education and training reform strategies should reflect the reality of life in the twenty-first century, and should properly prepare students for a successful transition to further and higher education and the world of work. Specific policy issues are:

Systems • Reform initiatives on general and vocational upper secondary education should not be carried out in isolation. They should facilitate bridges between the two major provisions and should allow the formation of individual itineraries for their occupational careers and life-long learning. Innovative approaches should not only be focussing at disadvantaged students. That is encompassing the danger to discrediting or to marginalise them. • In relation to the overall system structure to be preferred there are two main alternatives: (1) the OECD favouring the model of a fully integrated (comprehensive) upper secondary school (as in Sweden), (2) other institutions which prefer a provision “in which young people are evenly spread over all three of the principal pathways (apprenticeship, school-based vocational and general academic education), rather than concentrating them in one or two strands” because this appears “to have advantages in achieving good transition outcomes. In these instances young people can be offered wider choices”. 119 • Parity of esteem of vocational and general education should be achieved including equivalent arrangements of mutual recognition between general academic and vocational education qualifications and/or the development of a comprehensive national qualifications framework for LLL encompassing a Europe-wide recognition and compatible with an outcome based EQF as proposed by the EU. • Educational and training statistics should be improved;by respective measures at European level.. 117 118 119

Volker Köditz: Machbarkeitsstudie, 1990 CINOP, Price-Waterhouse-Coopers: Overcoming Obstacles to Mobility, 2007, page 11 John West and Hilary Steedman: Finding Our Way: Vocational Education in England, May 2003


• Private tutoring – in some countries representing a “Shadow Education System” - should be made redundant by improving educational provision.

Contents • Instead of accentuating existing differences between academic and vocational subjects, secondary-level education should focus on closer links and building bridges between these subjects and strands and their interdependence and recognition. • It seems easier to “generalise” school-based vocational education than to “vocationalise” general education: However, efforts should be made: ☑ on the one hand it is substantial to increasing the relevance of general academic education for life and work and to validate work-related qualifications by offering work and practical experience for all young people in-built into compulsory secondary level education); ☑ in VET – on the other hand - experts of CEDEFOP and ETF favour the strengthening of the social (and environmental) dimension of VET and lifelong learning in comparison with the economic and competition-policy dimension; combating of polarisation and marginalisation, and ensuring equal opportunities in VET and lifelong learning – enabling access to highest possible qualifications for all.120

7.1 Performance The performance of Upper Secondary Education varies greatly across the European countries. Some rank at the top others rank rather low. Specific policy issues are:

Attainment • Increase educational attainment rates especially in countries which are below the average; • Consider upper secondary education as a transition stage preparing for higher education and/or for preparing transition to employment while measuring students' success not only by academic achievements reached but also by the transition outcomes in terms of (un)employment, income advantages and/or success/failure in Further and Higher Education;;

Gender • Improve the educational attainment of young men in general academic education and extending the participation rates of young women in initial and further VET and in Maths/Sciences/Technology subjects in upper secondary provisions and consequently in Further and Higher Education.

7.2 Splitting-up Ages Selecting educational and training programmes during secondary education should not happen too early and shall be accompanied by a systematic and continuing educational and vocational orientation and guidance. Specific issues are: • Tracking students to either GSE or TVET should be deferred as long as possible (until they are 15/16 years old and having reached upper secondary level ) A major aim is to allow for a solid and common base of knowledge, skills and competences. Different options should not close doors to further education or training and/or be limited to narrow occupations or careers. • Systems applying early tracking should consider raising the age when it first takes place and a premature academic (pre-) selection ought to be avoided. • Guidance, orientation and counselling services should be at the disposal of learners to assisting them them in making informed decisions about the education, training and career options available. 120

Burkart Sellin: Scenarios and strategies for vocational education and lifelong learning in Europe, 2002, page 56


• Strong co-operation between schools, education and employment authorities is important in order to integrate educational and occupational counselling and information and to include a labour market perspective in schools’ career guidance and orientation programmes.

7.3 Opening-up Pathways and Removing Dead-ends In upper secondary education the focus should to provide attractive alternatives to a pure general academic education, remove dead ends and to prevent early drop-outs including offer effective links to the world of work. Specific issues are: • Special programmes to smooth the transitions at the end of compulsory schooling and/or at beginning of post-compulsory education can help encourage students to stay in education and training. However, these have to be fully recognised by and linked to mainstream programmes, useless and costly (for both the individual and public budgets) “waiting loops” have to be abolished. • Develop widespread and flexible opportunities to combine work and practical experience with schoolbased education while improving the quality of learning and its relevance, plausibility and credibility and develop adult life- and work-related knowledge, skills and competences. See also the Commission recommendation on basic knowledge. skills and competences from … • Develop better progression and transfer routes for young people within and between qualifications e.g. through modularised systems of qualifications allowing to combine educational courses and training units from different pathways. • Allowing for entering tertiary and higher education from both general as well vocational pathways. • Offer double qualifying pathways, providing a general education “baccalauréat” as well as acquiring recognised vocational or technical qualifications;

7.4 Internationalisation The international dimension of the content of education and training programmes must be enhanced: pupils, students and workers ought to be qualified for increasingly international environments. Specific issues are: • Foreign language learning should be especially promoted in English-speaking countries. • More importance should be given to foreign language learning as a component of initial and further VET. • The (transnational) mobility and exchange of students (and teachers) must be enhanced. An increased opportunity for study and training visits abroad should be expanded especially at both general academic upper secondary education including initial VET where mobility rates continue to be too low. • The use of and range of application of ICT opportunities as a major instrument for internationalisation must be further enhanced.


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