Continuing vocational training statistics

From Statistics Explained

Data from January 2013. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Database.

This article gives key figures on continuing vocational training (CVT) in the European Union (EU). CVT corresponds to training during working time or being paid for at least partially by the employer (for instance evening courses). It is one of the components of the more generic vocational education and training. Vocational education and training is training in skills and teaching of knowledge related to a specific trade, occupation or vocation in which the student or employee wishes to participate. This article does not tackle vocational education and training statistics in general and only focuses on employees of companies from the business economy: almost all economic sectors apart from agriculture, forestry and fishing, public administration and defence, compulsory social security, education, human health and social work activities.

Figure 1: Percentage of companies providing training, 2010 (%) - Source: Eurostat (trng_cvts02)
Table 1: Percentage of employees (in companies providing CVT courses) participating in CVT courses, by size of company, 2010 - Source: Eurostat (trng_cvts46)
Table 2: Costs of training as a percentage of total labour costs, %, 2010 - Source: Eurostat (trng_cvts54)
Figure 2: Companies' reasons for not providing training, 2010 - Source: Eurostat (trng_cvts08)
Figure 3: Percentage of companies that evaluate the effect of CVT courses out of those providing training, 2010 - Source: Eurostat (trng_cvts18)
Figure 4: Employees' participation rate in CVT courses by sex, %, 2010 - Source: Eurostat (trng_cvts46)
Figure 5: Employed people's participation rate in non-formal education and training, 2010 - Source: Eurostat (trng_aes_103)
Table 3: Employed people's participation rate in non-formal education and training by occupation, %, 2010 - Source: Eurostat (trng_aes_104)

Main statistical findings

Training offer at EU and Member State level

In 2010, two thirds of companies provided training to their employees

In 2010, two thirds of EU companies provided training to their employees — either CVT courses or other forms of training — in order to develop employees’ competences and skills and to increase the companies’ competitiveness (see Figure 1). At national level, the percentage of companies that provided training to their staff ranged from 23 % in Poland to 87 % in Sweden and Austria. Companies generally preferred to provide training through CVT courses that had been designed either by the company itself or by external providers, rather than to use other forms of training such as planned learning through job rotation, exchanges or secondments, participation in learning or quality improvement groups, or self-directed learning. Indeed, 56 % of EU companies provided at least CVT courses and 53 % of companies provided at least other forms of job-based training. When looking at individual countries, this propensity was particularly clear in France, where companies providing at least CVT courses were 26 percentage points more frequent than those providing at least other forms of job-based training, and in Spain (18 percentage points more frequent). In contrast, it was more common for companies to provide training through forms other than CVT courses in Cyprus (66 % versus 48 %), Malta (52 % versus 38 %), Slovenia (65 % versus 41 %) and the United Kingdom (75 % versus 60 %).

By enterprise size

Companies and training: profiles differ between large and small companies

Company size is a factor found to influence the provision of CVT courses. The survey found that, across the EU, employees attended CVT courses more often if they worked in large companies: 49 % of those employed by large companies (i.e. with 250 employees or more) participated in training courses, whereas 45 % of those employed by medium-sized companies (i.e. with 50-249 employees) and 46 % of those employed by small companies (i.e. with 10-49 employees) did so (see Table 1).

Participation rates were highest for employees of larger firms than for employees of smaller firms in most countries, including Bulgaria (56 % versus 46 %), Spain (62 % versus 50 %), France (56 % versus 37 %), Italy (57 % versus 45 %), Cyprus (61 % versus 51 %), Luxembourg (69 % versus 53 %) and Malta (66 % versus 42 %). In contrast, CVT courses were more frequently attended by employees in smaller firms in Latvia, Croatia, the United Kingdom, Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Portugal, Germany, and Lithuania.

Costs and reasons for not providing training

The overall costs incurred by a company for the provision of CVT courses were captured in the Continuing vocational training survey. These costs corresponded to total monetary expenditure, that is to say the sum of direct training costs and the balance between contributions to national or regional training funds and subsidies received.

Training costs for EU companies, excluding the participants’ labour costs, represented an average of 0.8 % of all labour costs (see Table 2). France recorded the highest ratio in the European Union (1.5 %), partly because of the balance between contributions to regional or national funds and subsidies received from other funds. When compared to companies in other countries, French companies tended to contribute to certain funds more than they received from others. The balance was 0.5 % in France and in Cyprus, which is significantly higher than the European Union average (0.1 %). In some other countries, including Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal and Slovenia, for instance, the balance was negative: companies tended to receive more from funds than they contributed. Italian, Latvian, Romanian and Croatian companies had the lowest share of training costs (all 0.4 %).

But all in all, the cost of the courses was not the main reason for companies in the European Union not providing training. The two main reasons given pertained to recruitment strategies: many companies tried to recruit people with the required skills rather than investing in training to enhance the skills of their existing workforce. In fact, the two main reasons that EU companies generally gave for not providing training were that their employees’ existing skills and competences already corresponded to their needs (76 % of companies), and that, when they recruited, they chose staff with the necessary skills (56 % of companies) (see Figure 2). High cost was only the third reason given for not providing training (33 % of companies).

Evaluating targets

Evaluation of the skills acquired by learners was quite common

Participants were often assessed to establish whether the targeted skills had been successfully acquired. This policy was implemented in 57 % of EU companies that provided CVT courses (see Figure 3). French companies providing CVT courses almost systematically assessed the acquired skills after the training session (91 % of French companies that provided CVT). Cypriot and Austrian employers also assessed the acquired skills more often than the EU average (64 % and 62 % respectively).

While fewer companies in Poland and Romania provided training than in the European Union as a whole, the proportion of companies evaluating their courses in those countries was almost as high as the EU average. In Sweden, on the other hand, although the percentage of companies provided CVT courses is the highest in the European Union (76 %), only 31 % of companies providing training assessed the participants’ acquisition of new skills.

Participation rates

Higher participation in CVT courses: among male employees and managers

In 2010, in the European Union, an average of almost 40 % of employees participated in planned CVT courses which took place away from their usual workplace, either managed by the company itself or by another training provider (see Figure 4).

In most EU countries, male employees participated more in training than female employees (38 % and 36 % respectively). The discrepancy between male and female employees was highest in the Czech Republic and Malta. In the Czech Republic on the one hand, male employees participated more than their female counterparts (65 % versus 55 %). On the other hand, the reverse was true in Malta and in the UK: more female than male employees participated in continuing vocational training (43 % versus 32 % in Malta, 32 % versus 27 % in the UK).

According to the Adult education survey, on the whole, employed people in the European Union participated more in non-formal education and training (i.e. any kind of training, including continuing vocational training and other kinds of non-formal training) than the rest of the population (47 % versus 38 %) (see Figure 5). But managers, professionals, technicians and associate professionals who are in employment participated more in training than did their counterparts in other professional classes in European Union countries (see Table 3). Indeed, 64 % of them participated in training, which is twice as high as the participation rate for skilled manual workers. Participation rates ranged from 20 % in Romania to 86 % in Sweden, which is 22 percentage points higher than the European Union average.

Data sources and availability

Most of the figures presented here come from the fourth Continuing vocational training in enterprises survey (CVTS4). This survey gives an overview of the companies’ training policies in the European Union (EU) in 2010. It was carried out in the 27 EU Member States, and in Norway and Croatia. It is based on interviews with companies — establishments with 10 employees or more — in the industrial production and marketing services sectors. The economic sectors which are covered are the following sectors (NACE Rev.2 categories): (B, C10-C12, C13-C15, C17-C18, C19-C23, C24-C25, C26-C28 and C33, C29-C30, C16+C31-32, D-E, F, G(45), G(46), G(47), H, I, J, K(64.65), K(66), L+M+N+R+S).

Some indicators set out in section 5 are based on the 2011 Adult education survey, in addition to the results of the Continuing vocational training survey. The former gives an insight into individuals’ participation in continuing vocational training in the European Union. It was carried out in the 27 EU Member States, and in Norway and Switzerland. Interviewed people are aged 25 to 64.

The EU-27 figures are estimates, as some national data were still missing when this report was first released.


The conclusions of the November 2010 Council underline the need for data on vocational education and training (VET) systems in the context of the Copenhagen process and of the important contribution it has to make to the Europe 2020 strategy. In particular, the Bruges communiqué of 7 December 2010 on enhanced European cooperation in vocational education and training for the period 2011-20201 states that “EU level policy-making in VET should be based on existing comparable data. To this end, and using the Lifelong learning programme, Member States should collect relevant and reliable data on VET – including VET mobility – and make these available for Eurostat. Member States and the Commission should jointly agree on which data should be made available first”. See also the overall framework on VET policies on the dedicated web page managed by the Directorate-General for Education and Training.

See also

Further Eurostat information



Education and training (edtr)
Lifelong learning (trng)
Lifelong learning - LFS data (trng_lfs)
Adult Education Survey (trng_aes)
Continuing Vocational Training (trng_cvts)
Past series on lifelong learning and continuing vocational training (trng_h)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Other information

  • Regulation 1552/2005 of 7 September 2005 on statistics relating to vocational training in enterprises
  • Regulation 98/2006 of 3 February 2006 implementing Regulation 1552/2005 on statistics relating to vocational training in enterprises
  • Regulation 452/2008 of 23 April 2008 concerning the production and development of statistics on education and lifelong learning
  • Regulation 822/2010 of 17 September 2010 amending Regulation 198/2006 implementing Regulation 1552/2005 on statistics relating to vocational training in enterprises, as regards the data to be collected, the sampling, precision and quality requirements
  • Regulation 823/2010 of 17 September 2010 implementing Regulation 452/2008 concerning the production and development of statistics on education and lifelong learning, as regards statistics on the participation of adults in lifelong learning

External links