3. Making vocational education and training more inclusive through increased flexibility

VET has the potential to cater to the needs of a wide range of learners. Typically, it has been seen as a route to skilled employment for young people in or right after upper-secondary education. As discussed in Chapter 1, young adults with a vocational qualification indeed have relatively strong labour market outcomes, and the VET pathway is therefore a valuable option for learners who are interested in preparing for skilled employment. Through its focus on more practice-oriented learning, VET can also be an interesting choice for learners who are less academically inclined. Moreover, as the demand for higher-level skills grows and countries expand their offer of professionally-oriented programmes at the tertiary education level (as discussed in Chapter 2), VET can increasingly be seen as a stepping stone into further learning. As such, VET can attract learners with various abilities and aspirations.

At the same time, as changing skill needs in labour markets and societies increase the importance of lifelong learning, VET can play a crucial role in providing relevant opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to adults who are already in the labour market. As shown in Chapter 1, the use of VET by adult learners differs strongly between OECD countries and between types of VET programmes. An increased focus on adults in VET will imply even greater diversity in the background and needs of learners.

Such a diverse student population calls for flexibility to adapt to the various needs and preferences of the learners. This may involve offering different types of VET programmes, for example of different duration and with a different focus on vocational versus general content. It may also involve flexibility in terms of the delivery, for example through online learning and modular provision. Flexibility may also mean additional support for those who need it. Such flexibilities will help ensure that VET can truly be a vehicle for more inclusive education and training systems.

This chapter focuses on three types of VET learners. First, it discusses the role VET can play in catering to the needs of learners who are at risk of dropping out of the initial education system. Second, it looks a migrants and refugees and discusses how VET can support their integration in labour markets and societies of the host countries (and offer relevant skill development for a potential return – when this applies). Third, the chapter zooms in on adult learners in VET and the flexibility that is needed to overcome the typical barriers to training that they face. These three groups are of course only a subset of the full diversity in the VET target population, but the insights from these groups of learners can provide valuable lessons for policies and practices that target other groups.

In many countries, VET plays an important role in engaging learners in education, including those who are less attracted by or struggle with academic content. Indeed, data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that 15-year-olds who are in (pre-)vocational programmes have weaker performance in reading, mathematics and science than their peers in general programmes (Figure 3.1), reflecting that learners with weaker academic skills often select into (or are selected into) VET programmes. As Figure 3.1 shows, differences between learners in different programme types are smaller when accounting for socio-economic differences between the learners, as learners in VET programmes are more likely to come from less advantaged background and more likely to attend a socio-economically disadvantaged school.

By providing a more practice-oriented pathway, VET can play an important role in engaging learners who have limited interest in or struggle with academic learning and can as such contribute to lower overall dropout. In the United States, Kulik (1998[2]) shows that high–risk students are eight to ten times less likely to drop out in the 11th and 12th grades if they enrol in a Career Technical Education (CTE) programme. Also for the United States, Plank, DeLuca and Estacion (2005[3]) find that students who enrol in some CTE courses have a lower risk of dropping out, but that students who enrol in curricula that are too heavily focused on CTE courses have a higher probability of dropping out. For Portugal, Henriques et al (2018[4]) show that take-up of vocational courses is linked to a lower probability of dropout for low-ability students, but increases the dropout probability for high-ability students. Analysis of international cross-sectional data finds that nations enrolling a large proportion of upper-secondary students in vocational programmes have significantly higher school attendance rates and higher upper-secondary completion rates (Bishop and Mane, 2004[5]). While most of the research points towards a negative association between VET and high-school dropout, some research also finds no effect of VET on dropout (e.g. Agodini and Deke (2004[6]) for the United States).

Efforts continue to be needed to ensure that at-risk learners can be successful in VET. Additional support may be needed to ensure that learners in VET successfully complete their programmes to increase their chances of smooth labour market entry or further learning. Completion rates in VET are typically lower than in general education (Figure 3.2). Interpreting such differences between general and vocational dropout rates risks painting an overly negative picture of VET; and it should be taken into account that in the absence of VET options overall dropout rates might have been even higher.

Various countries have established programmes that target learners who are at risk of dropping out, or focus on re-engaging drop-outs in education. Some of these programmes are relatively short and aim to provide a bridge into a longer upper secondary programme, or focus on occupational skills and prepare for entry into the labour market. The risk of providing a programme that targets disengaged students is that those programmes, and perhaps VET more broadly, may be perceived as a programme for those who failed at school. To address this risk, VET programmes for youth at risk should not in any case be a dead-end. They should lead to a qualification that is recognised on the labour market and allow students who successfully complete this stage to continue seamlessly to a more advanced programme.

In Sweden, introduction programmes target students who do not meet admission requirements to upper secondary vocational programmes. Programmes are individualised, designed to prepare students for entry into an upper secondary programme or the labour market (Skolverket, 2023[8]). In Hungary the “vocational training bridge programme” targets drop-outs or students at high risk of drop-out. It aims to provide a bridge into regular vocational training programmes, or alternatively prepare students for entry into the labour market (NIVE, 2023[9]). In Austria, integrative apprenticeships (IBA) are upper-secondary VET programmes that target youth at risk of poor outcomes, including dropouts from basic schooling. IBA accounted for 6% of apprentices in 2014. IBA participants receive support both during work placements and at school and can take an additional year or two to complete their apprenticeship, or may choose to obtain a partial qualification. Switzerland introduced two-year EBA apprenticeships (Grundbildung mit Eidgenössischem Berufsattest) in 2005, designed for youth who face difficulties at school, struggle to find a three or four-year apprenticeship, or risk dropping out. Those who complete a two-year EBA apprenticeship programme may progress to three- or four-year apprenticeships (typically joining the second year of the programme) in a related occupation – for example moving from a plasterer qualification to qualify as plasterer and drywall installer. It has proved successful in both helping young people find a job upon completion and allowing for progression to more advanced qualifications, while allowing companies that offered work placements to break even financially by the end of the programme (Fuhrer and Schweri, 2010[10]).

One potential reason for dropping out in vocational programmes that include compulsory work-based learning is that some learners are unable to find a placement with an employer. This problem might arise at two different stages, depending on whether the challenge of finding a work placement arises before the start or in the course of the programme. On the one hand, in the German or Swiss model of apprenticeship, learners can only start their vocational programme once they have secured an apprenticeship contract with an employer. The advantage of this approach is that it creates an automatic alignment between enrolment in particular vocational programmes and the availability of work-based learning, which signals labour market needs. Under this approach, young people who cannot find an apprenticeship place cannot start their vocational programme. To keep them in the education and training system, both Germany and Switzerland offer bridging programmes, which typically take one year to complete and are designed to lead into an apprenticeship (see next subsection).

On the other hand, in the apprenticeship models found in Denmark, Hungary or Norway, students start their vocational programme and look for a work placement afterwards. In Demark students enter a basic course for a year and then progress into the main course to pursue dual training in the occupation of their choice (Andersen and Helms, 2019[11]). Under Norway’s “2+2 model” (or a slightly different split in some occupations) students pursue two years of predominantly school-based VET followed by two years spent in a company (Cedefop, 2019[12]). In Hungary, students initially chose a sector and choose a specific occupation after the foundation year(s). Under these models, students benefit from some career exploration before choosing a specific target occupation. The downside is that this model leaves some room for misalignment between enrolment in vocational programmes and the availability of work placements in companies. In such contexts, enforcing “mandatory” work-based learning would risk leaving some learners without opportunities to complete their training.

In countries where school-based alternatives are readily available, students may simply transition to a school-based programme. In Norway, a considerable share of VET students transition to a general upper secondary programme after two years. But in many cases, transition to a school-based vocational or a general programme is not a readily available option. Then it is important to offer a safety net to students who are unable to find a work placement. In Austria, ÜBA (Überbetriebliche Ausbildung, intercompany apprenticeship training) courses allow young people who are unable to find a regular apprenticeship placement to obtain their qualification in accredited training centres. These training centres include workshops that simulate an in-company environment and there is also an element of in-company training. Countries that have these types of back-up options also heavily relied on them during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the offer of work placements was limited. Various countries also introduced (temporary) school-based alternatives during that crisis period (OECD, 2021[13]).

The challenge is to find a delicate balance: offer a safety net, but avoid that the widespread availability of back-up options undermines efforts to promote the use of work-based learning. Several countries use data on work placements to progressively adjust the size of specific programmes, constraining the number of admitted students. For example, in Sweden a mandatory 15-week work placement is required in all upper secondary programmes. While a relatively small part of the overall programme (about 15%), this measure helps adjust programme sizes in the light of the availability of work placements (Skolverket and ReferNet Sweden, 2019[14]). Similarly, in Denmark students first complete a basic programme and progress into one of the associated main programmes. Students must secure an apprenticeship contract with an approved training company before starting the second half of the basic programme. Exceptionally, and within a pre-defined quota, students who are unable to find a placement may pursue practical training in school workshops. The quota ensures that the number of students is aligned with labour market needs (Andersen and Helms, 2019[11]).

Work-based learning is a powerful way of engaging learners and preparing them for work by developing both technical and broader employability skills, while connecting them with potential employers. Securing sufficient places for work-based learning is a key challenge for policy makers. While the safety-net solutions described above may be useful as a last resort, the focus should be on making work-based learning accessible to all, including learners at risk of dropping out. Otherwise there is a risk that the most disadvantaged students systematically miss out on the benefits of work-based learning. That would be unfortunate, as they are the ones most in need of boosting motivation through training set in real-life work contexts, and they would benefit particularly from obtaining a first work experience and building connections with employers.

Despite its compelling benefits, making work-based learning happen is often difficult. Some firms may offer work-based learning to learners at risk out of social responsibility. But employers, understandably, also need to run business and generate profits and some may not be able to afford to hire an apprentice if that would generate losses for their company. Therefore, fully exploiting the potential of work-based learning for learners at risk requires programmes that are carefully designed in a way that aligns with business interests. Finding suitable placements for learners at risk is often particularly challenging. Extensive research on the costs and benefits of apprenticeships (see also Chapter 2) shows that employers are more willing to offer apprenticeships when the benefits obtained (in terms of productive contributions by apprentices, as well as benefits that result from saving money by retaining former apprentices instead of costly external recruitment) outweigh the costs. Apprentice characteristics affect that cost-benefit balance: apprentices with stronger skills will be more productive throughout apprenticeship than those with weaker skills, generating a more favourable balance for employers. Employing youth at risk is likely to be less appealing financially to firms, as many have weaker skills than their peers. In addition, apprentices with weaker skills will be slower learners (it is easier to learn with sound literacy and numeracy skills) and therefore their productivity will increase more slowly. In recognition of the potentially worse cost-benefit balance, firms taking on young people in the Austrian IBA programme receive higher subsidies than other firms, and public resources cover additional training needed by apprentices and trainers in the firm. Various other policy tools may be used to facilitate participation in work-based learning among youth at risk, in particular to make sure they are ready for work-based learning and they receive adequate support during their work placement.

Various countries have implemented initiatives designed to provide a bridge between schools and work-based learning, or allow NEETs to return to education and subsequently pursue an apprenticeship. Such programmes typically include a component of general skills (e.g. literacy, numeracy, foreign languages), helping learners to address weaknesses they might have. In addition, programmes tend to include a component of vocational skills, often basic vocational skills related to a particular sector or occupation. In some programmes the purpose of the vocational component is to allow for career exploration and help match learners to suitable occupations and work-based learning opportunities. Finally, programmes commonly target broader employability skills, such as teamwork, resilience and time-keeping.

Examples of such programmes include pre-apprenticeships in Australia (typically lasting 6-12 months) and the United States. In Germany and Switzerland, where upper secondary VET is largely apprenticeship-based, a variety of programmes are offered to young people who could not find an apprenticeship and without such opportunities would drop-out. In Germany, programmes under the umbrella term “basic vocational training year” serves young people who have completed lower secondary school that was preparing for entry into VET, but have been unable to secure an apprenticeship contract with an employer. Basic vocational training year programmes enrol nearly 10% of upper secondary VET students and are recognised as the equivalent of the first year in the dual system. Norway’s Apprenticeship Candidate Programme (lærekandidatordningen) serves learners who lack the pre-requisites for an apprenticeship programme. It focuses on developing skills needed in working life. An evaluation of the programme shows that it facilitates development of skills among students with poor academic performance (as measured through grades in the last year of lower secondary education). However, only a very small share of programme completers manage to complete a VET upper secondary programme (NIFU, 2023[15]). In Switzerland bridging measures are designed and funded by cantons and communities. France introduced pre-apprenticeships in 2019 (prépa-apprentissage), designed to provide youth with sound basic and transversal skills needed for participation in an apprenticeship (Ministry of Labour, 2021[16]).

Some learners may struggle to complete their programme, because of difficulties with coursework or problems that might arise in the workplace. For example, in Germany a quarter of apprenticeship contracts were dissolved in 2020 – in line with the shares of previous years (due to various potential reasons, including drop-out or change of occupation) (BIBB, 2022[17]). A recent report in England (United Kingdom) found that nearly half of apprentices drop out before completing their training (Richmond and Regan, 2022[18]). Drop-out is a problem for young people as they miss out on an opportunity to obtain a vocational qualification, which in many cases leaves them without an upper secondary qualification. It is also costly for employers who tend to invest heavily in training at the initial stages of apprenticeship and when the apprentice drops out, are not able to benefit from the productive contributions of skilled apprentices. Employers may anticipate high drop-out rates by screening candidates and identifying those at high risk of drop-out, which may ultimately reduce the availability of work-based learning opportunities to youth at risk.

Some factors, including individual characteristics, are associated with higher rates of drop-out from apprenticeships. A large-scale study of Australian apprentices (Powers and Watt, 2021[19]) found that initial levels of interest and anxiety were important predictors of drop-out considerations, suggesting that early detection and warning may help prevent drop-out. In addition, the training received, job security and perceptions of occupational expertise were associated with higher levels of workplace interest, suggesting that measures may also target these factors. Research in Germany found that migration background, lower levels of prior education and holding a secondary job (to earn extra money) are linked to higher rates of contract cancellation (Seidel, 2019[20]).

Offering learners support during work-based learning can help them learn faster and overcome difficulties, whether they may concern academic coursework, technical subjects or relationships with their employer. The availability of additional support can increase the chances of completion and encourage employers to take on learners at risk of dropping out as apprentices. In academic education, there is a relatively well understood set of approaches designed to support those who struggle in the classroom. In strong school systems, those facing the greatest challenges receive extra coaching, formally or informally; mentoring is offered; wider personal or social problems affecting school performance are addressed. Several countries have implemented similar supportive measures for apprentices. For example, in Austria, learners have access to training assistants, who can provide support in various ways: tackle problems that may arise (e.g. offering psychological or pedagogical support), set up a personal learning plan, or assist in case of a conflict with the employer (Sozialministerumservice, 2023[21]). In Switzerland, apprentices in the two-year initial VET programmes (EBA) are entitled to publicly-funded individual coaching and remedial courses, mostly to tackle weak language skills, learning difficulties or psychological problems. Most coaches are former teachers, learning therapists or social workers, and receive targeted training in preparation for their job (e.g. 300-hour training in the case of Zurich).

Similarly, in Germany apprenticeship assistance is available to those at risk of dropout, as well as to dropouts - to support transition into another apprenticeship or training programme. The German public employment service offers Assisted Apprenticeship (Assistierte Ausbildung, AsA) and Training Assistance (Ausbildungsbegleitende Hilfen, abH) to support all learners at risk of dropout during apprenticeship programmes. Assisted Apprenticeship (AsA) is designed to support both apprentices who completed preparatory programmes and their employers in the completion of upper-secondary VET. Training Assistance (abH) is available to young people during their apprenticeship, and supports dropouts seeking to transition into another apprenticeship. Assistance also includes remedial education and support with homework and exams, which helps to overcome learning difficulties. Socio-pedagogical assistance (including mentoring) is available, and this includes support with everyday problems and mediation with the apprentice’s employer, school trainers and family. Another proactive measures in place to prevent dropout in Germany is the VerA (Verhinderung von Ausbildungsabbrüchen) that is initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Education (BMBF). Within the VerA programme, voluntary senior experts (e.g. retired professionals) counsel apprentices who are experiencing difficulties and are considering terminating their training. Apprentices who are struggling financially may also be eligible for grants to support completion (Bergseng, Degler and Lüthi, 2019[22]).

Migrants and refugees are one particular group of learners who could potentially face barriers to VET entry and successful completion. At the same time, it has many potential benefits, as it can support their integration in the labour market of their host countries, and enable them to continue learning and developing relevant skills for their return (in cases where a return is possible and desired). Building strong, flexible and inclusive VET systems where migrants and refugees can succeed results in broad benefits – not just for migrants, but also for the wider group of students with disadvantaged backgrounds (Jeon, 2019[23]).

Upper-secondary VET graduates – both native and foreign-born – are more likely to be employed compared to both upper-secondary general education graduates and people without upper-secondary qualifications (Figure 3.3). The benefits of VET appear to be stronger for disadvantaged students. For example, migrants and refugees are more likely to continue working in the same firm where they did their apprenticeship than their native peers (Jeon, 2019[23]). Evidence suggests that work-based learning, in particular apprenticeship, is one of the most effective ways for young refugees to integrate. Several OECD countries have invested in VET for enhancing integration and responding to skills shortages and ageing populations while at the same time taking the opportunity to improve VET systems for a wider group of students (Jeon, 2019[23]).

Migrants and refugees face a number of predictable challenges in navigating VET systems which can be grouped into four areas. The four barriers can be summarised as getting informed, getting ready, getting into and getting on in VET (Figure 3.4). Previous OECD work has identified ways in which VET systems responded to these challenges, enabling greater inclusion in VET, while maintaining the standards expected by employers.

Countries can support the engagement of these young people by making relatively small adjustments to their VET systems. Ultimately, such actions serve to strengthen VET systems by making them more flexible and more inclusive in ways that work not only for young migrants, but also for other disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. This means that countries may need to take different approaches to the systemic design and delivery of the VET system and consider long-term national strategies that involve effective and efficient co-ordination and peer-learning mechanisms across relevant stakeholders, in particular social partners. Programmes that can last over the long term and be compatible and closely connected to existing programmes are more sustainable and efficient, and easier to evaluate, compared to operating short-term, temporary programmes. Appropriate adjustments for the needs of refugees can be expected to result ultimately in a more flexible and inclusive VET system for the benefit of all learners, employers and for society in general (OECD, 2022[24]; Jeon, 2019[23]).

Refugee and migrant populations are heterogeneous, including young people of different ages and different levels of interest and experience of VET. It is important therefore for host countries to engage with students in a personalised and co-ordinated way in order to assess their needs and capabilities and to better engage them in VET. This also implies a need for upfront assessment of prior learning and skills (Jeon, 2019[23]).

Young refugees are often unfamiliar with or have a poor opinion of VET, based on experience in origin countries where VET is not popular or common. Familiarisation of refugees with the VET system and subsequent career opportunities requires proactive provision of personalised career guidance and mentoring services, with basic information in different languages, and mobilising existing information mechanisms established for the general population such as schools, career guidance services, public employment services as well as reception centres, social services centres and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In this, it is important to provide a clear understanding of both the degree of labour market readiness and the implications of continuing in education (Jeon, 2019[23]). In Sweden, for example, multi-lingual, online career guides on different occupations help refugees assess their own interests, skills and qualifications against different occupations. The guides were developed together with employers’ organisations, and counsellors from public employment services can assist refugees in using the guides (Jeon, 2019[23]).

Pro-active approaches to career guidance respond to circumstances where students and their families have poor understanding of options available and are still dealing with the results of traumatic experiences, as is likely the case for many refugees. Refugee students can be expected to be suffering from post-traumatic stress due to enforced displacement, family bereavement and separation and daily material stress (Spaas, 2022[25]). In such circumstances, counselling approaches that recognise the individual student and their story before beginning to explore the right educational and training options are likely to be more effective. In Denmark, for example, career counsellors have used a five-step approach to recognise the individual stories of refugee students, using creative means to explore preferences, hopes and perceived barriers within career aspirations, leading to co-construction of a plan of action (Petersen, 2022[26]).

Even if upper-secondary VET becomes a goal for young migrants, they often face a number of barriers. Effective preparatory programmes can enable smooth progression into mainstream upper-secondary VET by combining language, vocational and academic learning, engaging social partners, emphasising work-based learning and providing career guidance. In Sweden, for example, where upper-secondary VET is primarily delivered through school-based programmes, Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) and Swedish as a Second Language (SVA) programmes help migrants acquire basic to advanced knowledge of the Swedish language. SFI is combined with vocational adult education, including apprenticeships, in different occupations. In some municipalities, the SFI offer is tailored to particular professions. Targeted pre-vocational programmes that include work-based learning play particularly important roles, allowing students to build social networks and familiarity with the host-country education system and the labour market (Jeon, 2019[23]). Box 3.1 provides an example of a Swiss pre-apprenticeship programme tailored to migrant learners who are also in need of language learning.

In countries where upper secondary VET provision is primarily delivered through apprenticeships, preparatory programmes (as described in the previous section) can provide potential apprentice employers with greater confidence that migrant youth will contribute productively through the whole duration of their apprenticeship, so balancing out the costs to the employer of taking on the apprentice.

Refugees often face barriers to entering VET. Specific challenges include relatively weak language and other skills, lack of relevant social networks, lack of knowledge about labour market functioning, as well as possible discrimination in the apprenticeship market. In addition to providing preparatory programmes that can address such common barriers (as described above), countries have responded to the challenges by offering flexible VET provision, such as modular, shorter or longer programmes (e.g. the EBA apprenticeship programme in Switzerland and IBA programme in Austria, as described in the previous section) – which address the cost-benefit concerns that tend to drive employer thinking.

Governments can also provide schools and employers with reassurance by allowing legal flexibility for humanitarian migrant students and apprentices to enter into and complete upper-secondary VET as well as giving them permission to work for a period after completing an apprenticeship. In response to the 2015 inflow of asylum seekers for example, Germany introduced what is known as the 3+2 rule whereby asylum seekers are guaranteed that they will not be deported during the duration of their training and employment up to two years later, even if their asylum claim is ultimately rejected.

Refugee students tend to be less successful in completing upper-secondary VET than their native peers. Higher dropout rates are linked to lack of knowledge about the functioning of the labour market and the VET system, weaker language and other skills, difficulty in securing training placements for work-based learning, and inadequate connections between schools and workplaces. Dropouts are particularly problematic for apprenticeship programmes because the productive value of the apprentice emerges most strongly towards the end of apprenticeship. Work-based learning also tends to take place at the end of VET in school-based systems and early dropouts have less opportunity to apply skills in real workplaces, develop useful networks and position themselves well for the transition into work. Personalised support through the use of mentors and coaches as well as other support mechanisms to increase connections between schools and workplaces during VET can enhance the outcomes of migrant students and all students at risk of dropout (Jeon, 2019[23]) (see previous section) The majority of OECD countries have specific support measures in this respect (OECD, 2021[30]). In addition to support for learners, companies could also benefit from additional support. In Germany, apprenticeship employers must belong to a Chamber of Commerce or Crafts and many Chambers have put in place initiatives to help employers to deal with unexpected challenges encountered among refugee apprentices. Legal and practical training is available, as are employer networks to facilitate peer learning (Bergseng, Degler and Lüthi, 2019[22]).

In a rapidly changing labour market, the ability to adapt and learn over the life course is more important than ever. Despite the increasing need for adults to continue to invest in their skills, a relatively small portion of adults participate in education and training. For instance, according to the European Adult Education Survey (2016), on average across EU countries, only 5% of adults aged 25 or older participated in formal education and training in the last 12 months, and around 40% of them took part in non-formal education and training activities (Figure 3.5). Among the more than thirty countries participating in the survey, more than 20 have participation rates in non-formal training of at least 40%, while in only five countries participation rates in formal education were higher than 10%: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Data from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, PIAAC) for non-EU OECD countries paint a similar picture. As shown in Chapter 1, data on enrolment in formal VET programmes confirm that in many countries relatively few adults participate in such programmes.

Moreover, in many countries a significant proportion of adults lack the basic literacy, numeracy and digital problem-solving skills needed to be lifelong learners (OECD, 2021[32]). According to data from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills, on average across OECD countries 20% of adults have weak literacy skills and 24% have weak numeracy skills1, and about a third of adults have no ICT skills or only weak digital problem-solving skills.2 This is especially concerning when taking into account the increasing need for these skills in the labour market and society more broadly (as discussed in Chapter 4). Moreover, foundational skills represent the starting point for successful reskilling or upskilling activities, as they allow adults to acquire new skills during their working life (OECD, 2021[32]). Indeed, the participation rate in formal or non-formal job-related training among low-skilled adults is 40 percentage points lower than among high-skilled adults (OECD, 2019[33]). When looking at differences by education level and orientation, data from the European Adult Education Survey show that adults with a tertiary education qualification have the highest participation rate in training. Adults with a VET qualification at the upper-secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary level have lower levels of participation than adults with a tertiary qualification or with a general upper-secondary qualification (Vandeweyer and Verhagen, 2020[34]).

Adults face various barriers when it comes to participation in education and training. The main reason for not participating in education or training mentioned by adults is a lack of interest (Figure 3.6, Panel A). Among those who are interested, the main reasons for not participating are shortage of time (for family or work-related reasons) and lack of financial resources to cover the costs of education and training (Figure 3.6, Panel B). Some of the obstacles are likely to be greater for formal than for non-formal education and training, as formal programmes are often lengthier, have stricter entry requirements in terms of qualifications and/or academic credentials, and can be costly in some countries.

Formal VET programmes could -in principle- play a key role in the upskilling and reskilling of adults, providing relevant and high-quality training opportunities. VET programmes are in many cases designed to respond to the needs of the labour market and can therefore provide opportunities for adults to develop the skills they need to stay current with the skill needs in their sector or occupation or to move between jobs. Moreover, formal VET programmes lead to formal qualifications and these programmes are generally supported by a well-developed and transparent quality assurance process. This allows adults to easily show to (prospective) employers what they have learnt. This is a key advantage over non-formal training, which is often difficult to navigate for learners and employers because of untransparent certification and quality assurance. Although non-formal programmes have mechanisms available for quality assurance, such as quality certificates, and (self)-evaluations, the information they convey is not always valuable, credible and accurate (OECD, 2021[38]).

However, as shown above, relatively few adults participate in formal VET programmes in most countries. One of the potential reasons is that the current offer of VET programmes does not necessarily cater to the needs of working adults searching for opportunities for upskilling and reskilling. In many cases, VET programmes are relatively long (especially compared to non-formal training), and usually delivered in a face-to-face mode, often during working hours, making them less compatible with working adults’ schedules. As VET programmes usually have an important practical component – which generally requires face-to-face delivery-, it may be harder to organise these programmes in a flexible way. As discussed below, in many countries it is also difficult for individuals to have their previous learning and professional experience recognised towards a professional qualification, which makes VET and other formal education options less attractive to adults as not all of the content is relevant for them.

The lack of flexibility in VET could deter adults from enrolling in this type of programmes. While interesting innovations are appearing in the VET sector to make programmes more flexible (see remainder of this section), in many cases the sector is lagging behind compared to other parts of the education and training system. For example, education and training in the non-formal sector is becoming more flexible through the use of micro-credentials and hybrid modes of delivery (Kato, Galán-Muros and Weko, 2020[39]; OECD, 2021[40]). Likewise, higher education programmes in many institutions across OECD countries are becoming shorter, modularised and are increasingly being delivered online (European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU), 2021[41]). Various countries are recognising the need to make VET more flexible to cater to the upskilling and reskilling needs of adults. In Norway, for example, the new Education Act (entering into force in August 2024) has enhanced the right to complete VET and the right to reskilling for adults, and the Act will secure more flexible pathways for adults in VET (Storinget, 2023[42]).

By breaking up long programmes into shorter stackable pieces, the modularisation of VET programmes can allow adults to acquire the specific knowledge and skills that they are looking for in a flexible way (Box 3.2). It permits learners to have individualised training paths, which allows them to progress in training programmes at different stages of their professional life, also facilitating the mobility of learners across education and training providers (French, 2015[43]). Modularisation allows students to choose which modules to take and when to take them. They can choose to take up all the modules at their own pace to obtain the full qualification, or just to focus on one or a set of modules for which they can get part-qualifications or other forms of certification. However, in many cases some restrictions are imposed on the flexibility, especially in terms of the sequencing of modules, meaning that some modules can only be taken up by students who have completed other modules (or can demonstrate they have the skills related to those modules) (Box 3.3).

The flexibility that modularisation brings may in particularly benefit adult learners who dropped out from education and training and wish to complete the qualification at a later stage. To facilitate access of adults to education and training, Norway is currently developing new modular curricula in education and training for adults, whereby education and training is divided into smaller units – modules. Each curriculum consists of around five to seven modules. The implementation of the reform is planned for 2024 (Utdanningsdirectoratet, 2023[44]). Modularisation is also helpful for the organisation of curricula and to provide optional specialisation routes in those VET systems where the completion of a minimum number of credits leads to obtaining a VET qualification. In this case, usually each module represents a certain number of units of learning (or credits), depending on their length and complexity.

Modularisation provides flexibility not only to learners, but also to employers and training providers. When modular programmes are available, employers have more flexibility to train the workforce in those areas that suit their needs. Modularisation allows VET providers to adapt qualifications more easily to rapid changes in the labour market, for example to incorporate the utilisation of new equipment in line with industry standards for practical training (Cedefop, 2015[47]).

The introduction of modular and credit-based structures in VET is closely linked to the implementation of recognition and validation of non-formal and informal learning (Cedefop, 2015[47]), by which learners may be able to skip certain modules if they already have the relevant skills (see next subsection). This increases the flexibility of VET systems and the attractiveness of VET programmes to adults with relevant work experience.

There are complexities associated with the implementation of modularisation, including the question of sequencing (as described in Box 3.3). Designing a VET programme in a modular system is more complex, as learning outcomes and training activities must be described in a detailed way to avoid overlap between modules and ensure that individuals have the required competences to progress into higher-level modules. When implementing the modularisation of VET programmes, there must be a clear study path for learners. In this regard, the skills and knowledge that constitute a professional qualification, and the available pathways in terms of modules –or units of learning- that make up for them, should be explicit and easy to understand and navigate by (prospective) students. In several countries, this has been done by implementing competence-based programmes, where modules are designed around groups of verifiable competences. Competences are usually divided into technical competences –including practical and theoretical knowledge and skills- and generic competences, which are usually more transversal in nature and can be acquired across different modules. Competence-based programmes are often aligned to national occupational standards, which cover the expected knowledge and skills for individuals performing one or more occupations in different professional fields. In Scotland (UK), for example, vocational qualifications are linked to minimum standards and are made up of units that reflect a set of learning outcomes (Box 3.5).

When implementing a modular system, learning outcomes in the different modules of a programme should be linked and mapped to initial requirements, as well as future or more advanced knowledge and skills, usually contained in higher-level (or specialisation) modules. A national qualification framework that recognises modules or groups of modules as valid credentials or credits towards a certain qualification allows to formalise the existing possible articulations across VET credentials and learning modules. It also simplifies prospective students’ understanding about the possibilities for further studies, for instance, in postsecondary education. In Ireland, for example, the National Qualification Framework (NQF), describes what learners need to know, understand and be able to do to achieve each qualification. Each qualification is comprised of a set of modules, which can be accumulated into awards. As awards are essentially modular, a credit-based system enables learners to accumulate credit towards these awards on a gradual basis. The National Qualification Framework also sets out qualifications’ pathways from one level to the next. This creates a transparent system of pre-requirements based on qualification levels.

In order to articulate modules within the VET system and with other types of credentials, modules should be self-contained, reflecting a substantive amount of knowledge and skills that can be assessed in a standardised manner (see Box 3.4 for an example from France). In a modularised system, each module needs to be assessed separately, to allow individuals to navigate the different learning paths and VET qualifications that might be available to them. Moreover, there needs to be transparency with respect to what each modules entails, in terms of both contents covered and demonstrable competences. In this regard, assessment systems must accurately reflect the achievement of those minimum standards set for each module and qualification. In order to maintain the value of VET credentials in the labour market, there must be trust across stakeholders regarding what individuals are capable of doing after completing each module and certification, regardless of the VET provider and the type of programme undertaken by the student. In Ireland, for example, assessment takes place on the completion of modules and practical activities. There are written and oral examinations, as well as practical examinations in the vocational specialisms. In Scotland, the assessment of modules can be done based on assignments, case studies, on the job performance, portfolios or practical activities and projects (Scottish Qualifications Authority, 2017[50]).

Modularisation of VET programmes can be a difficult exercise especially when implementing it for practical learning activities, for instance as part of apprenticeship programmes. Therefore, in some countries there is still some doubt regarding the feasibility and convenience of implementing modularisation in such VET programmes. As apprenticeships mainly consist of gradually developing professional skills on the job and involves a balanced combination of on-the-job and off-the-job training, structuring a learning sequence to meet a modular structure can be challenging, time consuming and sometimes costly. Ideally, the modularisation of apprenticeship programmes implies an individualised professional learning plan for all apprentices, and continuous co-ordination between VET providers and those companies offering the apprenticeships. This may increase the associated training cost for a single apprentice, and require, for example, information systems to co-ordinate the work of VET providers and apprenticeship companies to share information on learners.

On top of the practical reasons, some VET stakeholders such as trade associations, employers or VET providers consider that a modularised apprenticeship programme will not necessarily lead to the same qualified professionals than a regular apprenticeship programme. In their views, the outcome from the addition of all modules at different points in time (and sometimes with different providers) would not be the same as that of a full holistic apprenticeship programme, delivered over a fixed period of time and based on a stable agreement between a training provider and the training company. In some countries, companies are sceptical about training understood as “building blocks”. Therefore, not all training modules are recognised by training companies and employer associations which can limit students’ mobility across training institutions (Cedefop, 2015[47]).

Given these and other complexities of implementing fully modular programmes, in several countries elements of modularisation are present, but only for the elective components of VET programmes. Moreover, when modules exist they often involve many different topics or units of study, so in reality they refer more to alternative tracks as opposed to learning (or training) modules. In other cases, modules exist, but there is no assessment, credential or qualification associated to them, which may mean that they have limited value in the labour market and/or cannot be used as credits (or validated modules) to pursue further studies or acquire other qualifications.

While the flexibility brought by modularisation can make VET more accessible and attractive, there is also a risk that it makes the system complex and hard to navigate. Learners may need additional support to be able to select the most suitable modules and design a pathway that suits their needs and interests. In Finland, for example, a personal competencies programme is drawn up for all VET learns at the beginning of their programme. The plan charts and recognises the skills previously acquired by the student and outlines what kind of competences the student needs and how they will be acquired in different learning environments (Box 3.6) (Finnish National Agency for Education, 2019[55]).

Modularisation of education and training programmes has gained traction in recent years with the introduction of microcredentials, as it provides a way to certify the learnings from the modules or even parts of modules. Micro-credentials provide learners with a certification of the learning acquired and capture their results (see Box 3.7 for a definition). They give additional flexibility to individuals to adapt learning paths to their needs, fostering inclusion and employability in the labour market, and supporting job transitions (European Commission, 2020[57]). Internationally, micro-credentials are seen as a way to support effective lifelong learning (UNESCO, 2021[58]; European Commission, 2020[57]), and their use has increased importantly in recent years - especially in higher education (OECD, 2021[59]). Many tertiary education institutions offer microcredentials and recognise them as credits or modules towards existing qualifications. This provides students with the opportunity to continue further studies in the same or other tertiary education institutions.

In many countries there is significant interest from employers in training staff using short programmes that provide micro-credentials, as an alternative to full qualifications. They are seen as being particularly useful for upgrading employees’ skillset for the use of new technologies, also allowing employers to train workers for the parts of qualifications that are most relevant in the workplace at the time (Colleges and Institutes Canada, 2021[60]; Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, 2019[61]).

Although up to now microcredentials have been mostly associated to university programmes and technology companies, they are also finding their way into the VET sector. Microcredentials can in principle be implemented in VET in most fields of study, including for transversal skills and job-related or discipline-specific skills (Colleges and Institutes Canada, 2021[60]). In some countries with a modular system that provides part-qualifications and certificates, micro-credentials have existed for several years under different names. In countries like Ireland or Scotland, for instance, part-qualifications date back to the beginning of the 2000s, when modularisation took place and national qualification frameworks were established. Today, in countries like Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, institutes of technology and further education institutions offer microcredentials in the VET sector that may be credited towards a nationally recognised qualification. These countries have implemented them in areas such as education, agriculture, health, engineering and construction. For example, in Australia, in the construction sector, micro-credentials exist for the training of cut-off saw operators, as well as tunnelling support workers. In the engineering sector, micro-credentials are being offered by VET institutions in Canada in the area of maintenance of electric vehicles for mining operations.

In order to achieve the full potential of micro-credentials, there must be a common understanding of what each micro-credential entails, in terms of contents and learning outcomes. This information is essential to give employers more clarity about what is expected from the individuals holding these credentials, regardless of the institutions or companies issuing them. This needs to be accompanied by transparent and reliable assessment systems to certify that the competences mentioned have been acquired by those finalising the courses or modules. In countries like Ireland, for example, micro-credentials are recognised as part of the national framework of qualifications (NFQ). This implies that the contents, learning outcomes and related qualification levels of micro-credentials are clearly established and can be compared to other qualifications acquired in the formal education and training system (Box 3.8). Another approach is taken in Australia, where the South Australian Training and Skills Commission endorses some micro-credentials to guarantee that the learning outcomes of these programmes meet current and future industry needs, and that learners will gain the relevant skills, knowledge and attributes that are required by industry within South Australia (South Australian Skills Commission, 2021[63]). In this case, micro-credentials are comprised of accredited training components, non-accredited training, or a combination of both.

Moreover, microcredentials should be stackable and portable, and possibly mapped to national qualification frameworks as a component or complement of “full qualifications” (see, for example the case of Ireland in Box 3.8). When microcredentials are designed as part of a progressive sequence of learning achievements, learners can make progress over time and aim to achieve a full learning module or even a qualification after the completion of one or more microcredentials. Moreover, the portability of microcredentials could increase the flexibility of VET, allowing individuals to acquire knowledge and skills that can be later used to gain more advanced credentials in similar subjects elsewhere. In countries like New Zealand, for example, this has been achieved by changing national regulations for short VET programmes and microcredentials (Box 3.8). These changes in regulation, and the integration of microcredentials into national qualification frameworks, facilitate the use of microcredentials, by providing a legal framework that makes these credentials recognised and providing regulation in terms of their structure, length, contents and learning outcomes.

Recognition of prior learning is a powerful tool that permits adults to shorten their training programmes based on their already developed skills. It allows them to get their theoretical and practical knowledge and skills recognised and validated, so that their training can focus on closing remaining skill gaps. When implemented in a modularised system, RPL gives learners the opportunity to skip certain modules or units of learning included in the curriculum of VET programmes, based on their experience and subject knowledge. In some case, recognition of prior learning can be used to directly obtain the full qualification without having to go through additional training.

Skill recognition not only shortens the amount of time needed to acquire a qualification, but also reduces the monetary costs associated with training and obtaining a qualification. This cost is particularly high to working adults, as apart from the direct cost of training, the opportunity cost of not being in their current employment is higher, especially for individuals with higher qualifications (Kis and Windisch, 2018[68]). Moreover, the prospect of obtaining a qualification in recognition of skills developed while in the workplace incentivises workers to engage in acquiring new skills on the job, as they can gain benefits in terms of their employment outcomes (Kis and Windisch, 2018[68]).

Moreover, in some cases RPL allows adults to recognise or partially validate their qualifications and experience acquired abroad, facilitating workers’ mobility in the labour market and the integration of workers from a migrant background. In those cases, RPL is often facilitated by initial skills assessments, which are initial screening activities performed at the beginning of RPL processes (or as part of job search or career guidance activities), that enable host countries to learn about the knowledge and skills that migrants bring with them, so they can inform their policy decisions. These assessments and further career guidance also provide valuable information that helps migrant workers make decisions about their future, including recognition of prior learning and available education and training pathways for adults (Jeon, 2019[23]).

Recognition of prior learning can make use of written examinations and/or portfolios that document prior learning and skills, as well as formal face-to-face competence demonstrations overseen by experts from industry (Box 3.9).

In practice, in many countries the rigidity of the curricula and of the validation and assessment systems in VET, make it difficult for adults to use the qualification system to their benefit when engaging in VET. Boundaries between formal and non-formal education hinder smooth recognition and validation of skills and certificates. Because of the difficulties in implementing recognition of previous learning, those who design and deliver VET do not innovate in their offer and practices –maintaining a set of traditional programmes with rigid examination systems- so students in practice cannot necessarily benefit from the flexibility of modular programmes and recognition of prior learning.

Also on a more practical level, the design of the RPL procedures could present an obstacle to adult learners who could potentially benefit from it. In many countries, it is not possible to recognise prior learning in an easy way. Often the process requires the applicant to sit an examination and/or produce a portfolio, providing written answers by the applicant to a set of questions organised in different pre-defined forms, as well as complementary documentation as a proof of learning and competence. The administrative procedures usually involve an expert in the profession assessing each competence or subject separately. The validation is competence- and knowledge-based, and can only be completed when all competences have been shown and the practical experience component of the qualification has been completed or validated. One of the outcomes of the validation process can be that individuals need to undertake additional training in specific topics, or gain additional practical experience in the labour market covering certain occupational skills. Since the outcomes of the validation process are very uncertain, and the administrative procedures are lengthy and complex, in practice today in many countries adults decide to take the full programme instead of going through RPL. This reduces the appeal of VET as a path for professional development. When considering VET training and the option on RPL, adults need to have a clear understanding of the entire process or recognition of skills, the possible outcomes of their applications, and the expected timeline before the process is completed. Moreover, VET systems need to make sure that the process is easy, minimising the administration involved.

In most countries vocational institutions are in charge of undertaking the process, and often they have different systems in place for such purpose. To facilitate the use of RPL, a standardised system of recognition of prior learning, that can be utilised by all institutions, can help to make the process more transparent. In countries like Finland and Portugal there are national protocols backed by information systems available to vocational institutions and individuals interested in entering RPL processes (Karttunen, 2019[69]; Guimarães, 2019[70]). Moreover, when possible, the recognition of prior learning should be centralised, so learners do not need to undertake the same process in different institutions. In Portugal, Qualifica Centres are in charge of the implementation of RPL (Box 3.10). In order for RPL to be successfully implemented and to ensure that the credentials issued are valued in the labour market, it is fundamental that the existing qualifications and RPL processes are underpinned by quality assurance systems. In this regard national qualification frameworks can play and important role in supporting the quality of RPL systems, as they provide an institutional structure, a set of pre-defined credentials and shared competences standards.

Another way to make the process more transparent is to make detailed competence profiles for VET courses or occupations available. This helps learners understand what skills are required to be certified at the end of the programme, and hence what skills could potentially be recognised and validated towards a qualification. In countries like Ireland and Portugal this is done by including qualifications in National Qualification Frameworks or by developing competences standards used for RPL activities (Guimarães, 2019[70]; Murphy, 2019[71]).

Individuals undertaking RPL may require support to embark on the RPL process, in order to better understand their options and the RPL procedures and to be able to go thought the (sometime lengthy and burdensome) process. In Finland, a personal competence development plan is drawn up for all VET learners at the start of their programmes and this includes the demonstration and validation of skills (Box 3.11). In France, a dedicated RPL leave (congé de VAE) programme provides a paid absence from work, authorised by the employer, to allow individuals with more than one year of experience to prepare for the validation of learning and experience acquired on the job or elsewhere. The goal of the RPL process for which the leave can be used is for individuals to obtain a diploma, a professional title or certificate of professional qualification (MaFormation, 2021[73]).

When the outcome of the validation process involves undertaking additional training in specific topics, this should be facilitated by education and training systems that incorporate bite-sized training modules, certificates and qualifications to make the training process shorter and more efficient for the applicant. Adults may need guidance to help them find the right training and available support measures. In countries like the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Finland and Switzerland, the RPL process is usually accompanied by a counsellor or a tutor, provided by the educational institution where the validation process is taking place or by external public bodies (Duvekot, 2019[74]; Guimarães, 2019[70]; Vale, 2019[75]; Karttunen, 2019[69]; Salini, Weber Guisan and Tsandev, 2019[76]).

An additional issue related to the recognition of prior learning is the capacity of VET providers to develop and implement the procedures, as well as to inform the public about the options available. This involves additional costs on the side of the provider, which are usually not directly covered by public funds. Moreover, VET providers could be discouraged from broadly implementing RPL, as this could imply less funding received per student, depending on the criteria used for allocating funds (e.g. funding per module, programme credits or length of the programme). Given the economic benefits that RPL brings to individuals and society, VET institutions should be encouraged to make this service widely available. Tying public funding to the availability and use of RPL could be one way to encourage the implementation of RPL by VET providers. Likewise, mechanisms to partially cover the costs associated with the validation process could help in bringing VET providers on board. For example, in countries like Finland, Italy and Spain recognition procedures are mainly funded by national and regional public authorities or by VET providers (Vale, 2019[75]; Perulli, 2019[77]; Karttunen, 2019[69]). Also, mechanisms to offset negative financial incentives (such as funding based on the length of a students’ programme or the number of students enrolled) should be in place when needed. In Finland, this is done by providing funding not only based on the number of enrolled students, but also on the number of qualifications or parts of qualifications issued, as well as on graduates’ employment outcomes or continuation to further studies after their certification (Karttunen, 2019[69]).

As adults often face time constraints, organising training as part-time programmes and providing online or hybrid training delivery facilitates access to education and training. Moreover, online delivery can be attractive for adults living far away from training facilities, and for those who are not keen on learning in a standard classroom setting. Part-time programmes are popular among VET students in certain programmes. For example, on average across OECD countries with available data, around 28% of students in short-cycle tertiary programmes were undertaking part-time studies (Figure 3.7). In countries like Australia, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States, more than 50% of students in short-cycle tertiary programme studied part-time. This proportion is higher than for other types of tertiary programmes in most countries.

Part-time education allows people to work at the same time as studying, and in some cases this can create links between their employment and their training programme, enriching their learning experience. In Denmark, for example, part-time programmes require at least two years of work experience in the same sector. Students continue to work while studying, and their programme activities are linked to their employment. For instance, the assignments or projects they are involved in are based on real-life problems they experience in the workplace (OECD, 2022[79]).

Many VET programmes are designed to be delivered in a predominantly face-to-face format, and online or hybrid learning has been less common in VET than in general or academic programmes. This is mostly related to the fact that practice-oriented skills are more prominent in VET curricula, and many VET programmes include periods of training in companies or in workshops. A survey among VET providers around the world showed that only 30% of VET providers in Europe and Central Asia and in the Americas very often or regularly used online and/or distance learning before the COVID-19 pandemic (ILO, World Bank, UNESCO, 2021[81]). In Australia, only 19% of the 1 200 courses delivered in Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes had some form of digital delivery before the pandemic (TAFE Directors Australia, 2020[82]). The COVID-19 crisis spurred VET providers to adjust their practices and the curricula of their training programmes to deliver larger components of VET qualifications online. Although this applied mostly to non-practical learning activities, it showed that hybrid learning in VET is possible - with online learning being considered as a valuable option for vocational studies in most countries (OECD, 2021[13]). In many countries, additional support was provided during the pandemic to help VET teachers develop the skills needed to teach in an online setting (OECD, 2021[13]).

Although some of the barriers to full online VET delivery remain, it is now more common to see VET programmes with arrangements where practice-oriented modules take place in a concentrated way, and most of the theoretical knowledge and joint learning activities can be delivered remotely. Today VET institutions are in an improved position to implement distance learning, as they have developed institutional capabilities for blended learning, opening the door to a more flexible provision of VET. In Norway, for example, professional institutes offer short-cycle programs, lasting between 6 months and two years, often delivered in flexible training formats. Half of the programs are offered on line, while two-thirds of the students study part time and combine their studies with work (OECD, 2022[79]). Most of the students have a technical-professional degree at the secondary level, but adults without any qualifications can also access the programmes thanks to the recognition of the skills acquired through their previous work experience. In Chile, there is a wide variety of post-secondary and tertiary vocationally-oriented programmes available that use blended learning methodologies and part-time delivery for adults looking to upskill or reskill while on the job. These programmes are open to individuals with upper secondary VET qualifications, but also those who finished their secondary studies in general programmes (see Box 3.12 for an example). The development and adoption of new technologies, such as virtual reality, augmented reality and simulators, can further advance online or hybrid learning in VET, facilitating the delivery of practical learning. Such technologies can therefore help increase the under-developed distance learning opportunities in VET. This is discussed in Chapter 5.

The use of online courses (including those leading to microcredentials) to respond to labour market needs and ensure continuity of VET during the COVD-19 crisis, has raised concerns among employers and policy makers regarding the quality VET delivered on line (OECD, 2021[13]). In order for VET credentials acquired online to be valid and valued by external stakeholders, especially employers, online learning courses must be subject to the same quality assurance processes as regular VET programmes included in national qualification frameworks. Moreover, governments and quality assurance agencies need to support VET institutions and promote quality assurance activities, establishing clear regulations and promoting a strong evaluation culture within institutions, which takes into account, for example, employer/trainer assessments, labour market outcomes and students’ satisfaction with their online training.

To be able to enter VET programmes, individuals are usually required to have completed a certain level of education or possess minimum foundational skills. This may disincentivise adults to participate in VET, especially those with lower levels of qualifications and skills – who are arguably most in need of upskilling and reskilling (OECD, 2019[84]).

As previously discussed, across OECD countries a large proportion of adults have foundational skills gaps. These skills are fundamental in the labour market and in society more broadly, and they are crucial for developing higher-level skills. In this context, VET systems should meet the needs of adults with foundational skills gaps. One way of approaching this issue is to provide short introductory training programmes, specifically tailored to those adults who are interested in VET. These programmes are usually focused on building the foundational skills that are essential for successful engagement in VET. These training courses can include basic maths and language skills (see Box 3.13 for the case of Denmark), and also basic digital skills. Basic skills programmes can be delivered before the learner starts a VET programme, but can also delivered alongside the VET programme to avoid increasing the duration of training. In some cases, these programmes lead to basic certifications that can later be used to access higher-level VET programmes. The certifications can also work as a “taster” for adults who are disengaged from lifelong learning activities, including formal training. By allowing adults with lower skills to acquire key basic competences while they are undertaking their VET studies, the VET system can be made more inclusive and accessible.

Several countries provide “pre-apprenticeship programmes”, where students can also learn basic job-related skills in an industry setting associated to the professions of their future vocational studies (as also discussed in one of the previous sections). In some cases, dedicated pre-apprenticeship programmes are set up for learners with a migrant background as a way to simultaneously close language skills gaps (see the Swiss INVOL programme described in Box 3.1).

The strategies described above for making VET more flexible can be applied to any type of VET programme. Indeed, countries can choose to make their entire VET system more flexible, which can make it more accessible to adults but also have benefits beyond that. Alternatively, countries may opt for a separate system or offer of VET programmes for adults that are more flexible than the programmes on offer for young learners. For example, Denmark has built a separate adult learning system, with different VET programmes and/or providers, but leading to the same qualifications as for youth. In this case, the course content, duration and delivery methods of a VET programme are specially tailored to adults.

VET programmes for adults come in many shapes and forms, and include full-time apprenticeships programmes for adults, short-cycle tertiary evening VET programmes, or short specialisation courses for adults. Box 3.14 provides examples of dedicated adult VET programmes in Denmark and Sweden. Moreover, some VET programmes are designed for those who already have relevant work experience, hold a VET qualification or a higher education degree. One particular example of such programmes are professional examinations, which exist in several OECD countries and yield qualifications at several tertiary levels depending on the country and target occupation (Chapter 2).

Adult learners often face financial barriers to access education and training opportunities. Although workers’ training activities are sometimes supported by employers, there are many scenarios where this is not the case. For instance, when compared to large companies, SMEs are usually less likely to provide training opportunities to their employees (OECD, 2019[33]). Moreover, adults working on a part-time basis, or under temporary or other non-standard arrangements, have often lower support from their employer to engage in education and training. In many countries public funding is available for individuals to engage in training and for employers to provide or fund training, and often these financial support measures target particular groups of adults who have particular training needs (e.g. adults with low levels of qualifications, employers or workers in sectors undergoing structural changes) (OECD, 2019[33]). However, in some cases this funding is only available to pursue traditional VET programmes consisting of a certain minimum number of credits or hours of training (OECD, 2020[91]), which could mean that certain flexible programmes (such as modules) may not be covered.

Government and companies should provide financial support for a wide variety of education and training opportunities, as long as those opportunities are relevant for workers’ skill development and meet minimum quality standards, regardless of their duration and mode of delivery. For instance, in countries like Denmark and Switzerland working adults are entitled to receive funding from the government to cover their part-time studies while they are in the labour market. In Switzerland, the Federal Act on the Taxation of Job-Related Training and CET Costs stipulates that if an upper secondary-level leaving certificate has been obtained, working adults can access tax incentives for up to CHF 12 000 to cover the cost of training, with each canton setting their own limits (OECD, 2017[92]). This regulation covers all type of approved vocational training, regardless of duration, subject or mode of delivery (EURYDICE, 2021[93]).


[27] Aerne, A. and G. Bonoli (2021), “Integration through vocational training. Promoting refugees’ access to apprenticeships in a collective skill formation system”, Journal of Vocational Education & Training, pp. 1-20, https://doi.org/10.1080/13636820.2021.1894219.

[6] Agodini, R. and J. Deke (2004), The Relationship Between High School Vocational Education and Dropping Out, Mathematica Policy Research, Princeton, https://www.mathematica.org/-/media/publications/pdfs/voc-ed-dropping-out.pdf.

[11] Andersen, O. and N. Helms (2019), Vocational education and training in Europe: Denmark, Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports, https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/vocational-education-and-training-europe-denmark-2018 (accessed on 5 April 2021).

[88] Barnes, S. et al. (2020), Lifelong guidance policy and practice in the EU : trends, challenges and opportunities: final report, Publication office of the European Union, https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2767/91185.

[22] Bergseng, B., E. Degler and S. Lüthi (2019), Unlocking the Potential of Migrants in Germany, OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/82ccc2a3-en.

[17] BIBB (2022), Datenreport zum Berufsbildungsbericht 2022, Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, Bonn, https://www.bibb.de/dokumente/pdf/Datenreport%202022_20102022_online.pdf (accessed on 14 March 2023).

[5] Bishop, J. and F. Mane (2004), “The impacts of career-technical education on high school labor market success”, Economics of Education Review, Vol. 23/4, pp. 381-402, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2004.04.001.

[12] Cedefop (2019), Vocational Education and Training in Europe, Norway, https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/tools/vet-in-europe/systems/norway-2019 (accessed on 24 April 2023).

[56] Cedefop (2016), Spotlight on VET Finland, https://doi.org/10.2801/421522.

[47] Cedefop (2015), “The role of modularisation and unitisation in vocational education and training”, Cedefop working paper 26, https://doi.org/10.2801/38475.

[46] Chen, D. (ed.) (2019), “The practice of modularized curriculum in higher education institution: Active learning and continuous assessment in focus”, Cogent Education, Vol. 6/1, p. Research Article, https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186x.2019.1611052.

[94] City and Guilds (2018), City and Guilds Qualifications - Automotive, https://www.cityandguilds.com/-/media/productdocuments/transport_maintenance/automotive/4390/4390_scqf_5/centre_documents/4390-42_l5_dip_light_vehicle_maintenance_and_repair_principles_qhb_v1-1-pdf.ashx.

[60] Colleges and Institutes Canada (2021), The Status of Microcredentials in Canadian Colleges. Environmental Scan Report, https://www.collegesinstitutes.ca/file/the-status-of-microcredentials-in-canadian-colleges-and-institutes/?wpdmdl=67578.

[61] Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2019), Strengthening Skills, https://www.pmc.gov.au/node/126580.

[52] CPNEFSV (2019), Les blocs de compétences, https://www.cpnefsv.org/sites/default/files/public/pdf/B-Documentation/Fiches/Blocs%20de%20comp%C3%A9tences%202.pdf.

[83] DUOC UC (2021), Carreras en Formato Semipresencial, https://www.duoc.cl/oferta-academica/formato-semipresencial/.

[74] Duvekot, R. (2019), European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning 2018: The Netherlands.

[62] European Commission (2021), Proposal for a council recommendation on a European approach to micro-credentials for lifelong learning and employability, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52021DC0770.

[57] European Commission (2020), A European approach to micro-credentials, https://ec.europa.eu/education/education-in-the-eu/european-education-area/a-european-approach-to-micro-credentials_en (accessed on 31 January 2021).

[41] European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) (2021), Paving the Road for the Micro-credentials Movement: ECIU University White Paper on Microcredentials, https://assets-global.website-files.com/551e54eb6a58b73c12c54a18/6043a9dd006226486010050e_ECIU_Sheet-update_3032021.pdf.

[31] Eurostat (2016), Adult Education Survey 2016, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/microdata/adult-education-survey.

[78] EURYDICE (2022), Validation of non-formal and informal learning: Finland, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/finland/validation-non-formal-and-informal-learning_en.

[93] EURYDICE (2021), Adult education and training funding: Switzerland, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/adult-education-and-training-funding-114_en.

[90] Eurydice (2020), Sweden: Main types of provision, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/main-types-provision-77_en.

[49] Finnish National Agency for Education (2021), Qualifications frameworks, https://www.oph.fi/en/education-and-qualifications/qualifications-frameworks.

[55] Finnish National Agency for Education (2019), Finnish VET in a nutshell. Education in Finland., https://www.oph.fi/en/statistics-and-publications/publications/finnish-vet-nutshell.

[51] France Competences (2019), Note relative aux blocs de compétences, https://www.francecompetences.fr/app/uploads/2019/12/note-bloc-de-compe%CC%81tences-version-au-24092019-003.pdf.

[53] France Compétences (2020), TP - Technicien d’études en mécanique, https://www.francecompetences.fr/recherche/rncp/34504/.

[43] French, S. (2015), The Benefits and Challenges of Modular Higher Education Curricula, https://melbourne-cshe.unimelb.edu.au/resources/categories/occasional-papers/the-benefits-and-challenges-of-modular-higher-education-curricula.

[10] Fuhrer, M. and J. Schweri (2010), “Two-year apprenticeships for young people with learning difficulties: a cost-benefit analysis for training firms”, Empirical Research in Vocational Education and Training, Vol. 2/22, pp. 107-125, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03546491.

[70] Guimarães, P. (2019), European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning 2018: Portugal, https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2019/european_inventory_validation_2018_Portugal.pdf.

[4] Henriques, R. et al. (2018), “Vocational education: coursetaking choice and impact on dropout and college enrollment rates”, Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación, Vol. 11, https://econpapers.repec.org/bookchap/aecieed13/13-02.htm.

[81] ILO, World Bank, UNESCO (2021), Skills development in the time of COVID-19: Taking stock of the initial responses in technical and vocational education and training, https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_emp/---ifp_skills/documents/publication/wcms_766557.pdf.

[23] Jeon, S. (2019), Unlocking the Potential of Migrants: Cross-country Analysis, OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/045be9b0-en.

[69] Karttunen, A. (2019), European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning 2018: Finland, https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2019/european_inventory_validation_2018_Finland.pdf.

[39] Kato, S., V. Galán-Muros and T. Weko (2020), “The emergence of alternative credentials”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 216, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/b741f39e-en.

[65] Kelly, B. (2021), Micro-credentials in Higher Education in Ireland, http://athenaeuropeanuniversity.eu/teaching-methodologies/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Athena-European-University.pdf.

[68] Kis, V. and H. Windisch (2018), “Making skills transparent: Recognising vocational skills acquired through workbased learning”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 180, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/5830c400-en.

[28] Kuczera, M. and S. Jeon (2019), Vocational Education and Training in Sweden, OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/g2g9fac5-en.

[2] Kulik, J. (1998), “Curricular tracks and high school vocational education”, in Gamoran, A. (ed.), The quality of vocational education: Background papers from the 1994 National Assessment of Vocational Education, US Department of Education, Washington.

[73] MaFormation (2021), Congé VAE : tout ce qu’il faut savoir, https://www.maformation.fr/droits/conge-vae-demander-employeur-47286.

[87] Ministry of Children and Education (2021), Euv - Vocational training for adults, https://www.uvm.dk/erhvervsuddannelser/uddannelser/euv.

[85] Ministry of Children and Education (2019), Vocational education and training in Denmark, https://eng.uvm.dk/upper-secondary-education/vocational-education-and-training-in-denmark.

[86] Ministry of Higher Education and Science (2022), Admission to vocational education and training (VET), https://ufm.dk/en/education/recognition-and-transparency/recognition-guide/admission-vet.

[16] Ministry of Labour, E. (2021), La prépa-apprentissage : un tremplin pour bien réussir son entrée en apprentissage, https://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/ (accessed on 14 March 2023).

[71] Murphy, I. (2019), European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning 2018, https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2019/european_inventory_validation_2018_Ireland.pdf.

[67] New Zealand Qualifications Authority (2022), Register of NZQA-approved Micro-credentials, https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/nzqf/search/microcredentials.do.

[66] New Zealand Qualifications Authority (2020), Micro-credentials, https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/providers-partners/approval-accreditation-and-registration/micro-credentials/.

[15] NIFU (2023), Evaluering av lærekandidatordningen, https://www.udir.no/tall-og-forskning/finn-forskning/rapporter/evaluering-av-larekadidatordningen/ (accessed on 10 January 2023).

[9] NIVE (2023), Szakképzési Hídprogram 2019/2020, https://www.nive.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1020:szakkepzesi-hidprogram-intezmenykijeloles-20192020-tanev&catid=10&Itemid=166 (accessed on 10 January 2023).

[24] OECD (2022), “How vocational education and training (VET) systems can support Ukraine: Lessons from past crises”, OECD Policy Responses on the Impacts of the War in Ukraine, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/e8e86ce2-en.

[79] OECD (2022), Pathways to Professions: Understanding Higher Vocational and Professional Tertiary Education Systems, OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/a81152f4-en.

[13] OECD (2021), Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Vocational Education and Training, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/55afea00-en.

[38] OECD (2021), Improving the Quality of Non-Formal Adult Learning: Learning from European Best Practices on Quality Assurance, Getting Skills Right, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/f1b450e1-en.

[59] OECD (2021), “Micro-credential innovations in higher education : Who, What and Why?”, OECD Education Policy Perspectives, No. 39, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/f14ef041-en.

[32] OECD (2021), OECD Skills Outlook 2021: Learning for Life, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/0ae365b4-en.

[40] OECD (2021), “Quality and value of micro-credentials in higher education: Preparing for the future”, OECD Education Policy Perspectives, No. 40, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9c4ad26d-en.

[72] OECD (2021), Strengthening Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training in Portugal: Implementation Guidance, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://www.oecd.org/skills/centre-for-skills/Strengthening-Quality-Assurance-in-Adult-Education-and-Training-in-Portugal-Implementation-Guidance.pdf.

[30] OECD (2021), Young People with Migrant Parents, Making Integration Work, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/6e773bfe-en.

[7] OECD (2020), Education at a Glance 2020: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/69096873-en.

[91] OECD (2020), Enhancing Training Opportunities in SMEs in Korea, Getting Skills Right, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/7aa1c1db-en.

[1] OECD (2020), PISA 2018 Results (Volume V): Effective Policies, Successful Schools, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/ca768d40-en.

[80] OECD (2019), Education at a Glance 2019: OECD indicators, OECD Publishing, https://doi.org/10.1787/f8d7880d-en.

[33] OECD (2019), Getting Skills Right: Future-Ready Adult Learning Systems, Getting Skills Right, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264311756-en.

[84] OECD (2019), OECD Skills Outlook 2019 : Thriving in a Digital World, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/df80bc12-en.

[37] OECD (2018), Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) database, http://www.oecd.org/skills/piaac/publicdataandanalysis/.

[92] OECD (2017), OECD Economic Surveys: Switzerland 2017, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/eco_surveys-che-2017-en.

[36] OECD (2015), Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) database, http://www.oecd.org/skills/piaac/publicdataandanalysis/.

[35] OECD (2012), Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) database, http://www.oecd.org/skills/piaac/publicdataandanalysis/.

[77] Perulli, P. (2019), European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning 2018: Italy, https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2019/european_inventory_validation_2018_Italy.pdf.

[26] Petersen, I. (2022), “Existential career guidance for groups of young refugees”, International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10775-022-09535-1.

[45] Pilz, M. (2002), “Modularisation in the Scottish Education System: A View from the Outside.”, Scottish Educational Review, Vol. 34/2, pp. 163-74, https://doi.org/10.1163/27730840-03402007.

[48] Pilz, M. and R. Canning (2017), “The modularisation approach of work-based VET in Scotland”, Journal of Education and Work, Vol. 30/7, pp. 722-730, https://doi.org/10.1080/13639080.2017.1383095.

[3] Plank, S., S. DeLuca and A. Estacion (2005), Dropping Out of High School and the Place of Career and Technical Education: A Survival Analysis of Surviving High School, National Research Center for Career and Technical Education - University of Minnesota, Minnesota, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED497348.pdf (accessed on 13 November 2019).

[19] Powers, T. and H. Watt (2021), “Understanding why apprentices consider dropping out: longitudinal prediction of apprentices’ workplace interest and anxiety”, Empirical Research in Vocational Education and Training, Vol. 13/1, pp. 1-23, https://doi.org/10.1186/S40461-020-00106-8/TABLES/9.

[64] Quality and Qualifications Ireland (2021), QQI early exploration into Micro-credentials in Higher Education, 2014–2020, https://www.qqi.ie/sites/default/files/2021-10/early-exploration-into-micro-credentials-in-higher-education-2014-20.pdf.

[18] Richmond, T. and E. Regan (2022), No train, no gain. An investigation into the quality of apprenticeships in England, EDSK, London, https://www.fenews.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/EDSK-No-Train-No-Gain-1.pdf (accessed on 14 March 2023).

[76] Salini, D., S. Weber Guisan and E. Tsandev (2019), European inventory on validation of nonformal and informal learning 2018 update: Switzerland., https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2019/european_inventory_validation_2018_Switzerland.pdf.

[50] Scottish Qualifications Authority (2017), Guide to Assessment, https://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/files_ccc/Guide_To_Assessment.pdf.

[20] Seidel, K. (2019), “The intention to quit apprenticeships and the role of secondary jobs”, Journal of Vocational Education & Training, Vol. 71/4, pp. 556-578, https://doi.org/10.1080/13636820.2019.1566269.

[54] Skills Development Scotland (2018), A Scottish Modern Apprenticeship Framework in Process Manufacturing, https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/media/47230/ma-framework-process-manufacturing-at-scqf-level-6-7.pdf.

[8] Skolverket (2023), Introduktionsprogram, https://www.skolverket.se/undervisning/gymnasieskolan/laroplan-program-och-amnen-i-gymnasieskolan/gymnasieprogrammen/introduktionsprogram (accessed on 10 January 2023).

[89] Skolverket (2021), Statistik över gymnasieskolans elever 2020/21, https://www.skolverket.se/skolutveckling/statistik/arkiverade-statistiknyheter/statistik/2021-03-11-statistik-over-gymnasieskolans-elever-2020-21.

[14] Skolverket and ReferNet Sweden (2019), Vocational education and training in Europe - Sweden, Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018, http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Swed (accessed on 1 April 2021).

[63] South Australian Skills Commission (2021), Register of South Australian Skills Commission Endorsed Micro-credentials, https://skillscommission.sa.gov.au/careers-and-pathways/micro-credentials/register-of-endorsed-micro-credentials.

[21] Sozialministerumservice (2023), Berufsausbildungsassistenz, https://www.sozialministeriumservice.at/Arbeitsmarktprojekte/NEBA/Berufsausbildungsassistenz/Berufsausbildungsassistenz.de.html (accessed on 14 March 2023).

[25] Spaas, C. (2022), “Mental Health of Refugee and Non-refugee Migrant Young People in European Secondary Education: The Role of Family Separation, Daily Material Stress and Perceived Discrimination in Resettlement”, Vol. 51, pp. 848-870, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-021-01515-y.

[42] Storinget (2023), Decision on the Act on primary school education and secondary education (Education Act), https://www.stortinget.no/no/Saker-og-publikasjoner/Vedtak/Beslutninger/Lovvedtak/2022-2023/vedtak-202223-089/?m=0&s=rett+oppl%c3%a6ring+&y=true.

[82] TAFE Directors Australia (2020), The Power of TAFE: COVID and Beyond, https://tda.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2020-12-06-The-Power-Of-TAFE-A-COVID-Story.pdf.

[58] UNESCO (2021), A conversation starter: Towards a common definition of micro-credentials. Draft Preliminary Report, https://www.edubrief.com.au/uploads/4/5/0/5/45053363/draft_unesco_report_microcredentials_13_sept_21.pdf.

[29] UNHCR (2022), Federal pilot programme “Pre-vocational apprenticeship training” (INVOL), https://globalcompactrefugees.org/article/federal-pilot-programme-pre-vocational-apprenticeship-training-invol.

[44] Utdanningsdirectoratet (2023), The completion reform, https://www.udir.no/utdanningslopet/videregaende-opplaring/fullforingsreformen/.

[75] Vale, P. (2019), European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning 2018, http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/european_inventory_validation_2018_Spain.pdf.

[34] Vandeweyer, M. and A. Verhagen (2020), “The changing labour market for graduates from medium-level vocational education and training”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 244, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/503bcecb-en.


← 1. Meaning that they score at or below level 1 in the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC).

← 2. Meaning that they had no computer experience, failed the ICT core test, or scored below-level one in the assessment of problem-solving skills in a technology-rich environment in the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC).

← 3. In a credit-based system each completed module (or finalised activity) represents a certain number of credits (the number of credits usually depends on the module’s length and complexity). Qualifications are issued after completion of a minimum total number of credits, including core modules (usually mandatory), elective modules and additional examinations.

← 4. Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment combined with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

← 5. The learning outcomes in this unit are: 1) the correct selection, care and use of key hand tools and measuring devices for modification, fabrication and repair in the automotive environment; 2) the correct preparation and use of common work environment equipment ; 3) the correct selection and fabrication of materials used when modifying and repairing 4) the correct application of automotive engineering fabrication and fitting principles (City and Guilds, 2018[94]).

← 6. For the learning outcome “the correct selection, care and use of key hand tools and measuring devices for modification, fabrication and repair in the automotive environment”, the following selected assessment criteria are used: 1) maintain and use suitable hand tools safely when fabricating and fitting in the automotive workplace 2) select, maintain and use suitable measuring devices safely when fabricating and fitting in the automotive environment 3) select, maintain and use suitable PPE for fabrication, repair and fitting in the automotive environment; 4) select, maintain and use suitable electrical measuring tools safely when repairing vehicles and components (City and Guilds, 2018[94]).

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2023

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at https://www.oecd.org/termsandconditions.