Although a number of efforts are being made by the Member States to improve VET offers and its attractiveness, the number of dropouts from education and training, including from initial VET (iVET) is still high and it is a matter of concern because it has impacts on the overall EU economic development.
The main focus is on the need of reducing the actual rates of earlier leavers to 10% by 2020 and by that, increase the contribution to Europe’s economic growth and competitiveness, one of the major objectives of the Union.
Considerable efforts must be put into practice to reduce low educational levels of the active population. In a way, Vocational Education and Training could be a safety net for those at risk of dropping out because it enables early school leavers to return to education and training and graduate.The partners have identified a series of issues that hinder the motivation of young people in following VET courses which have been confirmed and officialised in the publication “Tackling Early Leaving from Education and Training in Europe: Strategies, Policies and Measures” from Cedefop.
These factors obviously also influence early leaving from VET:
- Low socio-economic background and in particular poverty, domestic violence, parents’ physical and mental health issues or parents’ with no or very low qualifications;
- Migrant background or ethnic minority background, especially when associated with low education levels of parents. Besides, the interviews carried out for this study emphasised some issues inherent ET systems to explain early leaving from VET:
- Lack of self esteem. These young people often already have negative self image, in particular in association with education due to their previous scholar difficulties;
- Stereotypes. In everyday language of parents or teachers there is a lot of negative judgements and expressions about VET, hence when young people enrol in VET they interiorise the idea that they are ‘not good enough’ and this is one of the causes of disengagement from education.
- Contents of the programmes. When young people choose a vocational programme they wish to pursue a learning that is more practical and concrete. Directly or indirectly, the interviewees called for more competence-based training as a way to recognise achievements that are perceived as meaningful also by the young person; and to combine the teaching of knowledge, skills and competence in coordination.
In parallel, the communication Opening up Education highlights that new tools need to be created both to ensure that technology-supported learning taking place outside formal education is validated and to encourage learners to become more engaged in open practices.
Moreover, the New Skills Agenda has further stressed out the need of increasing the attractiveness of VET, which is undermined by stereotypes and “perceptions which are not rooted to the reality”, on the contrary, VET register, for example, good employment outcomes.