Under the impulse of mega-trends, such as automation, digitalisation, population ageing and the green transition, the skill needs in the labour markets of OECD countries are undergoing substantial change, reinforcing the need for high-quality training opportunities. Education and training will need to be aligned with labour market needs to ensure that relevant skills are developed and enable individuals to navigate changing labour markets. Moreover, these training opportunities need to be accessible to a diverse group of learners, including adults in need of up-skilling and re-skilling. Future-ready education and training systems do not only adapt to these changes, but also have a key role to play in fostering change. Innovations in teaching and learning technologies and pedagogical approaches can contribute to reforming and modernising education and training systems around the world.

Vocation Education and Training (VET) plays a key role in the education and training systems of many OECD countries. Well-designed VET systems contribute to engaging students in education, facilitate school-to-work transitions and provide opportunities for adults to invest in relevant skills during working life. A changing world of work brings the importance of VET to the forefront, as it has the ability to develop the skills that are needed in today’s labour markets and societies. At the same time, structural changes highlight the need to re-engineer certain parts of VET systems in some countries to ensure they can make the most of the opportunities ongoing changes present.

This report looks a set of opportunities and challenges for VET systems to be future-ready, with a focus on responsiveness, flexibility, supporting transitions, and innovation. The report is part of the OECD Centre for Skills’ broader work on Facing the Future in VET, which supports countries in building strong and resilient VET systems. It builds on earlier work carried out by the OECD Centre for Skills, including country reviews and thematic work on VET teachers and professional tertiary education, as well as related work carried out in other parts of the OECD.

This report was drafted by Ivan Bornacelly, Shinyoung Jeon, Viktoria Kis, Malgorzata Kuczera and Rodrigo Torres from the OECD Centre for Skills, under the supervision of Marieke Vandeweyer (manager of the VET team) and El Iza Mohamedou (Head of the OECD Centre for Skills). The report has benefited from comments provided by Mark Pearson (Deputy-Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs), colleagues from the Directorate for Education and Skills, and the members of Group of National Experts on VET. Administrative and editorial assistance was provided by Jennifer Cannon and Duniya Dedeyn from the OECD Centre for Skills.

The OECD is grateful for the support received for this report from the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation and the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training.

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