The Evolution of European Union Policies on Vocational Education and Training


Much has been written about VET policy in the various countries of the EU, including comparative studies of many aspects. However there has been relatively little analysis of the policies of the EU itself: why these take the form they do; whether, like a number of other sectors of EU activity they have ‘deepened’ over time; and still less about the impact – if any – that they have had on the policies and practices of Member States.

The aim of this paper, therefore, is to describe what EU policies there are in the field of VET, and how they have evolved since the EU began. We start with a brief discussion of the theoretical frameworks that have been developed to explain the process of ‘EU integration’ (or lack of it) then turn to a description of the main phases of policy development in the field of VET, discuss in a little more detail the main elements of current EU policy, and finally discuss what this might say about the policy process at EU level, and in particular which of the theories of EU development outlined earlier might most realistically be said to apply.