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European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training


European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training

European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training
Formation 1975 (established)
James Calleja

The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) is an agency of the European Union.

Established in 1975, Cedefop is located in Thessaloniki, Greece. Cedefop is the acronym of its French title, Centre Européen pour le Développement de la Formation Professionnelle. Cedefop supports development of European vocational education and training (VET) policies and contributes to their implementation.

Cedefop works closely with the European Commission, governments, representatives of employers and trade unions, researchers and practitioners in vocational education and training (VET), with the aim of strengthening European cooperation. It provides the evidence on which to base European vocational education and training policy and identifies trends in and challenges for VET. The agency also brings together policy-makers, social partners, researchers and practitioners to share ideas and debate the best ways to improve European VET policies. The issues it covers span guidance and counselling; training for older workers; forecasting the demand and supply of skills; the recognition and validation of learning that takes place outside the education system; and the development of qualification frameworks.


  • History 1
  • Governance 2
  • Activities 3
  • External links 4


Against a background of social changes and economic problems in the mid-1970s, Cedefop emerged as a consensus among Member States of the then European Economic Community (EEC) over the need to improve vocational education and training (VET). Although education had been a research field since the early 1960s, the late 1960s and early 1970s saw a trend towards more focused and systematic research into VET. West Germany set up its Federal Institute for Vocational Training Research (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildungsforschung) in 1969. In France, the Centre d’études et de recherches sur les qualifications (CEREQ) was set up in 1970. Three years later, Italy also set up a vocational training institute, the Istituto per lo sviluppo della formazione professionale dei lavoratori (ISFOL).

In 1970, the EEC’s Economic and Social Committee set up a study group to examine education and training in the then six EEC Member States. The committee proposed establishing a European institute for vocational training research and guidance, largely based on the West German model.

Cedefop was established on 10 February 1975. Its location in West Berlin was a clear signal that the western sector of the then divided city was a part of the EEC. In October 1993 the Council of Ministers decided to relocate Cedefop to Greece. On 1 September 1995 Cedefop moved to provisional premises in Thessaloniki, and to its own building in August 1999

Much of Cedefop’s early work involved studying the comparability of vocational training qualifications in Member States. Around 200 occupations were categorised and their equivalence with other occupations and qualifications determined. The assumption was that vocational training policies in Member States would increasingly be brought into line with each other leading to a mutual recognition of qualifications and certificates and development of a common vocational training policy, as foreseen under Article 128 of the Treaty of Rome.

However, agreement was not reached on mutual recognition, other than for the regulated professions, or on a common vocational training policy. The 1992 Treaty on European Union (Article 129) changed the role of EU policy on vocational training to one of supporting and supplementing action of Member States, while fully respecting the responsibility of Member States for the content and organisation of vocational training. This role has been transferred to Article 166 of the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force on 1 December 2009.


Cedefop is run by a Governing Board on which national governments, trade unions, employers’ organisations and the European Commission are represented. Day-to-day operation is the responsibility of the director, who is appointed by the European Commission on the basis of recommendations by from the Governing Board. Cedefop’s budget comes from the European Commission.


Cedefop provides comparative analyses and expertise gathered through research and networking. Its activities cover initial and continuing VET and VET aspects of lifelong learning. They integrate the interests, priorities and needs of policy-makers among its major partners the European Commission, Member States and the social partners.

Cedefop contributes to the concept, design and supports the implementation of common European tools, such as the European qualifications framework, European credit system in VET, the European quality assurance reference framework and Europass. Collectively, these tools support mobility for learning both within national systems and across borders.

The annual report of activities is submitted to the European Union institutions.

External links

  • Official website
  • Description of Cedefop on EU website
  • Regulation (EEC) No 337/75 of the Council of 10 February 1975 establishing a European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training
  • Archives of CEDEFOP at the Historical Archives of the EU in Florence
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