Internationalisation of VET Excellence

Setting the scene

Internationalisation of Vocational Education and Training (VET) is a strategic policy orientation for the EU and its member states. It goes beyond simple cooperation between member states and entails an approach that facilitates, encourages and reinforces cooperation with countries and organisations beyond the EU. Internationalisation has attracted more attention the recent years leading to stronger cooperation among VET systems, national institutions and stakeholders and international organisations all around the globe. Internationalisation of VET does not happen automatically. It relies on strategic vision, resources, strong partnerships and networks and capacities to go international. The use of networks and skills competitions is an effective method to go international. International partnerships offer opportunities to share best practices and peer to peer learning. Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) are well suited to forge such partnerships. They can model networking approaches and the transmission of excellence. The main focus areas of internationalisation of VET are:
  • to strengthen multicultural and international competences of students to meet the needs of the world of work and to support flexible and international study pathways of students
  • to increase the international skills of staff of VET institutions and to enable them to help students prepare for their exchanges better but also to learn from the VET systems and world of work of countries outside of the EU
  • to promote internationalisation of institutions at home, that is, to integrate international activities in the everyday activities of the VET institutions
The Erasmus+ programme is opening-up new avenues for international cooperation in VET allowing for mobility of learners and staff to partner countries all over the world, as well as the participation of those partners in European platforms of Vocational Excellence and capacity building.

Encouraging VET internationalisation – how?

The VET providers and teaching staff need to build up their international capacities and competences. This means enabling providers and teaching staff to make connections, partnering up and network with other peers. It implies also empowering them to foster ‘internationalisation at home’, through online collaboration, exchanges with other schools/centres around the world, to develop joint courses with other peer institutes.  The capacity to create partnerships, working together, networking should be encouraged starting from the national and local levels to boost this international cooperation.

Communities of practice and networks – how to build mutual trust?

The recognised importance for VET to become international has had direct consequence on a growing interest of VET providers, teaching staff and students to exchange and learn from each other. This interest has become stronger especially during the Covid pandemic period. Mutual learning is based on mutual trust. This can be achieved by making own VET systems more transparent to open and frank exchanges where strengths and weaknesses of systems are debated. Communities of practice can be further fostered and promoted bringing at forefront peers and practitioners playing an active and participatory role. Facilitating the discussions is key, particularly in a so much diverse domain as it is VET, to move a step forward from a passive role of community members to a more active and dynamic one.