Attitudes towards

Attitudes towards vocational education and training

Special Eurobarometer 369, Wave 75.4

1) Method of Investigation

In the course of this survey:

  • 26,840 European citizens aged 15 and above were interviewed about VET by the TNS Opinion & Social network between the 4th and the 19th June 2011 in all 27 European Union Member States

  • The sample was comprised from residents in each of the Member States and is a multi-stage, random (probability) one. In each country, a number of sampling points was drawn with probability proportional to population size (for a total coverage of the country) and to population density.

  • In order to do so, the sampling points were drawn systematically from each of the “administrative regional units”, after stratification by individual unit and type of area. They thus represent the whole territory of the countries surveyed according to the EUROSTAT NUTS II (or equivalent) and according to the distribution of the resident population of the respective nationalities in terms of metropolitan, urban and rural areas.

  • In each of the selected sampling points, a starting address was drawn, at random. Further addresses (every Nth address) were selected by standard “random route” procedures, from the initial address. In each household, the respondent was drawn, at random (following the “closest birthday rule”). All interviews were conducted face-to-face in people’s homes and in the appropriate national language. As far as the data capture is concerned, CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview) was used in those countries where this technique was available

2) Objectives

This Eurobarometer survey sets out to gauge the opinion of European citizens about vocational education and training in 2011 to help inform the work of the European Commission and Member States as they begin to implement the new VET strategy. It sets out to assess the image of vocational education and training, and people’s impression of VET’s potential benefits within the EU. It evaluates the impact of VET on society and on the economy, and looks at the factors that influence young people as they choose between VET and other forms of education.

3) Findings

The key findings of this Eurobarometer survey include:

  • 47% of European respondents have taken VET in the past or are doing so currently.

  • 71% of the Europeans think that VET has a positive image in their country.

  • European citizens overwhelmingly believe that VET is relevant: 82% say that people in vocational education and training acquire skills that are needed by employers.

  • VET is also widely understood to offer high-quality learning, with 75% of respondents believing this to be the case.

  • Over half (55%) of all respondents believe that VET leads to jobs which are well paid (the differences between individual Member States are significant on this question, ranging from the 79% who take this view in Austria to the 34% who do so in France), with 72% of respondents thinking that VET offers good career opportunities.

  • The economic benefits of VET are accepted by most of European society, with 83% of people saying that VET contributes positively to the economy of their country.

  • Approximately half of EU citizens (52%) think that young people receive enough advice concerning their learning and career opportunities from schools and employment services.

  • While family and schools remain the most used sources of guidance when choosing an educational path, the internet and social online networks are increasingly influential.

  • In spite of the perceived benefits of VET, a relative majority of respondents say that they would recommend general secondary or higher education to a young person who is finishing compulsory education rather than VET, by a margin of 34% to 32%

  • On people’s perceptions of the impact of VET in society, a very high proportion of respondents agree that it contributes positively to the economy and that it plays a role in reducing unemployment

  • On the issue of guidance influencing the selection of an educational path, half of EU respondents think that young people receive enough advice about learning and career opportunities, though 4 in 10 do not believe that this is the case

  • Personal interest in the subject being studied is cited by most respondents as the most important factor in choosing a vocational pathway

  • The socio-demographic data show that more men take VET than women, by a margin of 51% to 43%

  • The survey also finds that respondents with a higher level of education (rather than respondents who have a lower level of educational attainment) tend to be more positive about VET than people who left school at a relatively young age, in terms of its positive contribution to the economy and its role in reducing unemployment, for example.

4) Conclusions

  • In some cases, there is a lack of confidence in VET in certain geographies: in Lithuania and Latvia, for example, only 61% and 63% of people respectively (far lower than the EU average) regard VET as offering high-quality learning

  • There is a lack of confidence in VET in certain socio-demographic groups. For example, people who see themselves as being low down on the social scale have less belief that VET can improve their job prospects than people higher up the scale

  • Less than a half (48%) of all respondents think VET encourages environmentally friendly attitudes, with 30% saying it fails to do this. At least one-third of respondents agree that VET does not promote environmentally friendly attitudes in 11 countries

  • VET’s ability to boost the economy by stimulating the creation of small companies is also less proven, with around half of all respondents saying that VET does not stimulate small companies (only 36% of people think that it does)

  • The findings on VET’s capacity to improve the geographical mobility of students by enabling VET learners to study in another country. Though 43% of people think that VET does give people this opportunity, 35% do not think it enables them to study abroad

  • Europeans are slightly more positive when it comes to the possibility of practicing vocational occupation abroad, with 49% of respondents thinking that it is easy for people who received VET to practise their profession in another EU Member State (and 32% finding it difficult)

  • A fifth (21%) of all EU respondents currently believe that VET does not offer good career opportunities, and this is one of the key statistics that the EU initiative needs to improve by 2020, both through enhancements in the VET system and through the education of young people and of the adult workforce. Unlike purely academic studies, vocational courses are very much tied to careers and job prospects, and as such the 21% of European society who currently do not see VET as a route to a good career have no reason to take VET themselves or advise others to do so

  • While VET is widely seen as a sensible and practical option that should lead to a job, it is perhaps not seen as being quite as aspirational as general secondary or higher education

About the Author: Maurizio

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