Cooperation in vocational education and training at the national and international level

Erasmus+ CZELO

Read the news from the info day and submit an application for the Centres of Vocational Exellence by 8 June.

Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) are one of the key projects of the Erasmus+ programme and an integral part of the EU political agenda for skills and vocational education and training. It aims at reforms, innovations and high-quality vocational education and training addressing the needs of the current labor market. At the European level, projects are supported not only by the total allocated budget, which amounts to 400 million euros for the period 2021-2027, but also by a number of other non-financial measures. These include, for example, facilitating the networking of individual projects or the creation of support tools and guidelines.

Currently, 20 of these projects are being implemented and another 13 are expected to be approved in the Call 2022, where applications were submitted in September last year and whose results are expected in the coming weeks. In total, the European Commission plans to create 100 CoVEs in the 2021-2027 programming period, so funding should increase slightly for each call in the following years. All ongoing projects collaborate in the CoVE Community of practice, a network operating on a voluntary, non-funded basis. Within this network, representatives of projects share their experiences, support mutual synergies or collaborate with experts. The community also remains open to any projects yet to be approved.

At the end of January, the European Commission and the executive agency EACEA organized an info session for those interested in submitting a CoVE application in this year's call.

Project objectives and news in the Call 2023

A key part of CoVEs is the cooperation of vocational education and training providers with the world of work, businesses and research (within the so-called knowledge triangle). Especially in the field of applied research, the European Commission perceives great potential for development in the field of vocational education and training. Projects are therefore expected to take a holistic approach and integrate vocational education and training into fully connected skills ecosystems at regional and international levels (linking individuals, employers, education providers and policy makers). At the policy level, the projects help to fulfill, in particular, the Council Recommendation on Vocational Education and Training for Sustainable Competitiveness, Social Fairness and Resilience, which outlines 6 main clusters for action.

Applicants should focus on several key success factors for these projects, including alignment of the skills provided with strategic regional development and smart specialization strategies, a strong collaborative element between the organizations involved, and a comprehensive set of education and training activities and services.

The main novelties in the Call 2023 compared to previous calls include changes in the mandatory project activities and the piloting of the Seal of Excellence. Within the 3 mandatory clusters, the number of activities has been adjusted, as well as simplified and clarified. The Seal of Excellence will be awarded to projects that receive at least 75 points in the evaluation, but will not be able to be funded due to the large number of quality projects and insufficient funds allocated for this year's call (€52 million). The Seal of Excellence should make enable the projects to look for alternative sources of funding, for example at the national level.

Formal and qualitative criteria, project funding

An application for a 4-year project can be submitted by organizations active in the field of vocational education and training or in the world of work established in the Erasmus+ programme country (EU member states + Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Serbia, Turkey, North Macedonia). In total, the project must include at least 8 organizations from 4 programme countries, with at least one vocational education and training provider and one organization representing businesses, industry or sector involved in each country. As for vocational education and training providers, they can be organizations operating at the secondary or tertiary level, but each project must focus on secondary vocational education (EQF level 3-5) in terms of content. In addition, a focus on EQF level 6-8 can also be incorporated into the project. Beyond the stated minimum number of organizations, other relevant organizations may also participate in the project, not only from the Erasmus+ programme countries, but from all over the world, with the exception of Russia and Belarus (provided that the participation of these organizations and their contribution to the project will be sufficiently justified in the application).

Applicants must choose relevant activities from 3 clusters (Teaching and learning; Cooperation and partnership; Management and financing) and in the project application provide all the information necessary concerning the 4 qualitative criteria according to which applications will be evaluated (Relevance of the project; Quality of the project design and implementation; Quality of the partnership and the cooperation arrangements; Impact).

The grant (up to the maximum amount of 4 million EUR per project) is provided in the form of a lump sum. The organizations plan the budget in the application on the FTOP based on work packages, which are larger thematic parts of the project covering several activities (e.g. "Project management", "Dissemination" etc.). The application deadline is 8 June at 5:00 p.m. Based on the available budget for this year's call, approximately 13 projects are expected to be approved. The results of the evaluation process should be known in December 2023, the projects should start in March and April 2024.

Where can you find more information?

You can find more detailed information about the projects on the DZS website in the Erasmus+ centralized activities section (in Czech), in the Erasmus+ Programme Guide (in English and Czech) and in the materials and recording from the information day of the European Commission and EACEA (in English). Those interested can also view the materials and recording of the information day organized by the CZELO office on February 9 (in Czech).