The employability of young people is a concern in many EU Member States, especially in Southern and Eastern Europe. In many countries, including Slovakia, Greece, Bulgaria, Latvia, Spain and Cyprus, VET graduates are unemployed or they are working in jobs irrelevant with their studies. Good quality information about what VET graduates do after leaving education and training, how they use the knowledge, skills and competences they gained, is essential to understand both the causes of employability problems and the success factors in particular regions, economic sectors or for graduates from particular VET institutes and disciplines. This information can then be used to identify solutions.
The monitoring of education and training graduates has been emphasized in recent policy documents. 'New Skills Agenda for Europe' (2016) emphasized the need for EU member states to have a ‘better understanding of performance of graduates’. The COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION on tracking graduates (November 2017) emphasized the need to improve the availability of qualitative and quantitative information about what graduates from tertiary education and vocational education and training (VET) in Europe do after they complete their education and training. The Recommendation proposed a new ‘initiative on graduate tracking to improve information on how graduates progress in the labor market’.
Following the Council Recommendation, European Commission (DG EMPL) commissioned a study for mapping of VET graduate tracking measures in EU Member States and developing scenarios for cooperation at EU level in this field. The intermediate results of this study were presented in the Annual EQAVET forum in Lille, December 2017. The study revealed a large variety of approaches at different levels, national, regional, sectoral or at the level of VET provider. According to the results, Greece, Cyprus, Latvia and Bulgaria do not have any tracking measure for VET graduates in place at any level, Slovakia has measures at national level, Basque Country in Spain has measures at regional level and Austria has tracking measures at national, regional and sectoral level. In none of the countries of the partnership, there were recorded tracking measures at VET provider level.
Tracking VET students and graduates and providing feedback and input to the quality assurance system of the VET provider is also one of the main gaps in the implementation of EQAVET. EQAVET is based on a four stage quality cycle: stage 1 – planning, stage 2 – implementation, stage 3 – evaluation and stage 4 – review. The establishment of feedback loops between stage 4- review and stage 1 – review is one of the most challenging things in EQAVET, as it requires gathering, analyzing and interpretation of evidence from past performance of the VET provider and a process to feed the information and knowledge into future planning.
Identification of skills needed in the labor market is one of the operational priorities of Cedefop that support Member States in up-down and bottom up approaches to establish data collection methods for skills needs identifications. Cedefop work includes the coordination of Skillsnet network, Skills Panorama a platform for collection of data from multiple sources, several surveys e.g. European Company survey, European skills and jobs survey and big data analysis for online vacancies. “On Track” project will contribute to skills needs identification, gathering relevant data from VET graduates.
The project “On Track” responds to the identified gap and will develop, evaluate and put in use a VET graduates tracking system for graduates of initial vocational education and training schools and institutes.
The aims of the project are:
- To analyze, in depth, the context and need in each country.
- To develop a tracking system for VET graduates at institute level that will feed into the quality assurance system of the VET provider.
- To pilot test and implement the tracking system, establish tracking mechanism and integrate it, in VET monitoring processes.
- To support VET providers to establish the tracking mechanism and integrate it into their quality assurance system.
“On Track” project addresses European policies and priorities and responds to common needs of European VET providers. The transnational partnership guarantees the development of a tracking mechanism and tools that responds to the needs of all involved countries and can be also transferred in other countries.
The target groups of the project are VET schools and institutes providing secondary (EQF levels 3-4) and post-secondary (EQF level 5) initial VET, institutes providing further VET courses and higher education institutes (EQF levels 6-7).