Filter Search for grants
Call key data
Centres of Vocational Excellence
Erasmus+ - Key Action 2 – Cooperation among Organisations and Institutions
Estimated EU contribution per project
max. € 4,000,000.00
Link to the call
Link to the submission
This action supports the gradual establishment and development of international collaborative networks of Centres of Vocational Excellence.
Implementing vocational excellence approaches features prominently in the overall EU policy agenda for skills and for Vocational Education and Training (VET). The European Skills Agenda, the European Education Area, the 2020 Council Recommendation on VET, as well as the Osnabrück Declaration, all include very clear references to Vocational Excellence as a driving force for reforms in the VET sector.
The initiative on Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) aims to respond to this policy priority supporting reforms in the VET sector, ensuring high quality skills and competences that lead to quality employment and career-long opportunities, meeting the needs of an innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy. The CoVE initiative also supports the implementation of the European Green Deal, the new Digital Strategy, the Communication on attracting Skills and Talent, and the new Industrial and SME Strategies, as skills are key to their success.
CoVEs operate in a given local context, creating skills ecosystems for innovation, regional development, and social inclusion, while working with CoVEs in other countries through international collaborative networks. They establish a bottom-up approach to vocational excellence involving a wide range of local stakeholders enabling VET institutions to rapidly adapt skills provision to evolving economic and social needs.
They provide opportunities for initial training of young people as well as the continuing up-skilling and re-skilling of adults, through flexible and timely offer of training that meets the needs of a dynamic labour market, in the context of the green and digital transitions. They act as catalysts for local business development and innovation, by working closely with companies (in particular SMEs) on applied research projects, creating knowledge and innovation hubs, as well as supporting entrepreneurial initiatives of their learners.
The networks aim for "upward convergence" of VET excellence. They will be open for the involvement of countries with well-developed vocational excellence systems, as well as those in the process of developing similar approaches, aimed at exploring the full potential of VET institutions to play a proactive role in support of growth and innovation.
This initiative introduces a "European dimension" to Vocational Excellence by supporting the implementation of EU VET policy and actions agreed with member states, social partners and VET providers.
The concept of Vocational Excellence proposed here is characterised by a holistic learner centred approach in which VET:
- Is an integrated part of skills ecosystems [Skill ecosystems are defined as regional or sectoral social formations in which human capability is developed and deployed for productive purposes (Finegold 1999). Their basic elements are business settings and associated business models, institutional/policy frameworks, modes of engaging labour, the structure of jobs, as well as the level of skills and systems for their formation (Buchanan et al. 2001). See A guide to the skill ecosystem approach to workforce development ], contributing to regional development [ Regional Development Policy - Regional development is a broad term but can be seen as a general effort to reduce regional disparities by supporting (employment and wealth-generating) economic activities in regions], innovation [An innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service), or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations], smart specialisation [Smart Specialisation is a place-based approach characterised by the identification of strategic areas for intervention based both on the analysis of the strengths and potential of the economy and on an Entrepreneurial Discovery Process with wide stakeholder involvement. It is outward-looking and embraces a broad view of innovation including] and clusters strategies [Industrial clusters are groups of specialised enterprises, often SMEs, and other related supporting actors in a location that cooperate closely. There are around 3000 specialised clusters in Europe. The renewed EU industrial policy recognises clusters as a powerful tool to support industrial innovation. See European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP).], as well as to specific value chains and industrial ecosystems;
- Is part of knowledge triangles [See Education in the knowledge triangle ], working closely with other education and training sectors, the scientific community, and business;
- Enables learners to acquire both vocational (job specific) as well as key competences [As defined in the Council Recommendation of 22 May 2018 on key competences for lifelong learning] through high-quality provision that is underpinned by quality assurance;
- Builds innovative forms of partnerships [See ETF work on Public-Private Partnerships for inclusive skills development] with the world of work, and is supported by the continuous professional development of teaching and training staff, innovative pedagogies, learner and staff mobility and VET internationalisation strategies.
Expected effects and impacts
The gradual establishment and development of European networks of Centres of Vocational Excellence is expected to increase VET responsiveness to adapt skills provision to evolving economic and social needs, ensuring that VET is at the forefront of providing solutions to the challenges posed by rapidly changing skills needs.
By forming an essential part of the “knowledge triangle” – the close collaboration between businesses, education and research – and playing a fundamental role in providing skills to support innovation and smart specialisation, the Centres of Vocational Excellence are expected to ensure high quality skills and competences that lead to quality employment and career-long opportunities, which meet the needs of an innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy.
By being firmly anchored within regional/local contexts while at the same time operating at transnational level, the Centres of Vocational Excellence will form strong and enduring partnerships between the VET community and the world of work at national level and across borders. It will also contribute to the internationalization of VET by bringing together partners from all over the world. They will aim for “upward convergence” of excellence in VET, which would be difficult to establish in the absence of EU incentives, technical support, and opportunities for mutual learning.
Through the wide dissemination of project outcomes at transnational, national and/or regional levels and the development of a long term action plan for the progressive roll out of project deliverables, taking national and regional development and smart specialisation strategies into account, individual projects are expected to engage relevant stakeholders within and outside the participating organisations and ensure a lasting impact after the project lifetime.
Centres of Vocational Excellence will operate at two levels:
- At national level involving a wide range of local stakeholders creating skills ecosystems for local innovation, regional development, and social inclusion, while working with CoVEs in other countries through international collaborative networks.
- At international level bringing together CoVEs that share a common interest in:
- specific sectors [See for example the agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) works to foster competitive and sustainable farming and forestry] or industrial ecosystems [See 14 industrial ecosystems as described in Commission Communication on Updating the 2020 New Industrial Strategy, as well as the SWD(2021) 351, Annual Single Market Report 2021],
- innovative approaches to tackle economic and societal challenges (e.g. climate change, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, sustainable development goals [See Berlin Declaration on Education for SDG ], integration of migrants and disadvantaged groups, upskilling people with low qualification levels, etc.), or
- innovative approaches to increase the outreach, quality and effectiveness of existing CoVEs.
The networks will bring together existing CoVEs, or develop the Vocational Excellence model by linking partners from various countries, that intend to develop Vocational Excellence in their local context through international cooperation. They could contribute e.g. to the delivery phase of the New European Bauhaus initiative by collaborating with the communities involved in the local transformations fostered by the initiative.
CoVEs can be existing vocational schools/providers that strive to achieve excellence by engaging in the set of activities proposed by this European initiative. They can also be newly set-up centres established with the purpose of providing excellent training offers and services that are responsive to labour market needs.
CoVEs achieve their objectives by bringing together and working closely with a set of local/regional partners such initial and continuing VET providers, higher education institutions including universities of applied sciences and polytechnics, research institutions, science parks, innovation agencies, companies, other employers, chambers and their associations, social partners, social enterprises, sectoral skills councils, professional/sector associations, national and regional authorities and development agencies, employment services, qualifications authorities, social inclusion and reintegration organisations, etc.
This call will thus support projects bringing together local or regional partners from various countries developing a set of activities under three clusters; 1) Teaching and learning, 2) Cooperation and partnerships, and 3) Governance and Funding.
CoVEs are required to apply EU wide instruments and tools [Such as the EQF, EQAVET, Council Recommendation on a European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships, Council Recommendation on key competences, etc.] whenever relevant.
They must include the design of a long-term action plan for the progressive roll-out of project deliverables after the project has finished. This plan shall be based on sustained partnerships between education and training providers and key labour market actors at the appropriate level. It should include the identification of appropriate governance structures, as well as plans for scalability and financial sustainability.
It should also ensure the appropriate visibility and wide dissemination of the work of the COVE networks, including at EU and national political level and include details on how the roll-out will be implemented at European, national and/or regional levels with relevant partners. The action plan shall also indicate how other EU funding opportunities, and national and regional funding, as well as private funding can support the roll-out of the project.
To see the list of CoVEs already funded, please check the Funding & Tenders opportunities Portal (FTOP). Factsheets for the funded projects are also available on the website of DG Employment, Social Affairs and inclusion.
Regions / countries for funding
Island (Ísland), Liechtenstein, North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Türkiye
Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
The partnership must include at least 8 applicants (beneficiaries) from a minimum of 4 EU Member States or third countries associated to the Programme.
Each EU Member State or third country associated to the Programme must include:
- at least 1 enterprise, industry, other employers or sector representative organisation, and
- at least 1 vocational education and training provider (at secondary and/or tertiary level).
Affiliated entities and associated partners do not count in this minimum configuration of the consortium. They can not be the coordinating organisation.
The coordinating organisation must be from an EU Member State or a third country associated to the Programme.
Organisations from third countries not associated to the Programme can also participate as beneficiaries or affiliated entities, to the extent it is demonstrated that their participation brings an essential added value to the project. They can also participate as associated partners.
In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities, if applicable) must:
- be legal entities (public or private bodies);
- be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e EU Member State or third country associated to the Programme);
- be active in the field of vocational education and training or in the world of work.
Organisations active in the field of vocational education and training or in the world of work from third countries not associated to the Programme may also participate - as beneficiary, affiliated entity or associated partner - but not as coordinator. Exception: organisations from Belarus (Region 2) and the Russian Federation (Region 4) are not eligible to participate in this action.
Activities must take place in any eligible country.
Participating organisations can be, for example (non-exhaustive list):
- VET providers
- VET provider representative organisations
- Companies, industry, other employers or sector representative organisations
- National/regional qualification authorities
- Research institutes
- Innovation agencies
- Regional development authorities
- International organisations active in the VET field
other eligibility criteria
The applicant must address 3 clusters of activities (providing details on the concrete actions and deliverables). For each cluster, a minimum number of activities must be selected from the list below:
- at least 4 activities under Cluster 1 – Teaching and learning
- Providing people with labour market relevant skills
- Pursuing a lifelong learning and inclusive approach in VET
- Developing VET curricula and qualifications, allowing flexibility and individualisation of delivery
- Developing innovative learner-centred teaching and learning materials and methodologies
- Investing in the initial and continuing professional development of teachers and trainers
- Establishing strong quality assurance mechanisms
- Establishing effective feedback loops and graduate tracking systems
- Providing guidance services
- Providing validation of prior learning
- at least 3 activities under Cluster 2 – Cooperation and partnership
- Establishing business-education partnerships
- Applied research and Innovation
- VET internationalisation and mobility abroad
- Fostering entrepreneurial skills and initiatives
- Raising VET attractiveness
- Skills competitions
- at least 2 activities under Cluster 3 – Governance and funding
- Autonomy and effective VET governance
- Strategic approach to skills development and governance
- Co-creating skills ecosystems
- Developing sustainable financial models
- Making full use of national and EU financial instruments
Vocational education and training activities, at any EQF levels from 3 to 8, including the upper-secondary level, the post-secondary non-tertiary level as well as the tertiary level (e.g. Universities of applied sciences, Polytechnic institutes, etc.) are eligible. However, applications cannot include only activities that target learners at tertiary level; if they focus on VET at post secondary level (EQF levels 6 to 8), they must include at least one other VET qualification level between EQF levels 3 to 5, as well as a strong work-based learning component.
The project must clearly identify and explain the choice of each of the selected activities in the application form, and describe how the work to be carried out through those activities will concretely contribute to the relevant work packages, and with the overall objectives of the project.
This action follows a lump-sum funding model. The amount of the single lump-sum contribution will be determined for each grant based on the estimated budget of the action proposed by the applicant.
Financial support to third parties in the form of grants or prizes is not allowed.
Volunteer costs are allowed. They shall take the form of unit costs as defined in the to the Commission Decision on unit costs for volunteers. SME unit costs for SME owners are allowed. They should take the form of unit costs as defined in to the Commission Decision on unit costs for SMEs owners.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
Applications must be submitted to the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).
Each applicant must be registered as follows:
- For actions managed by the Executive Agency, applicants, affiliated entities and associated partners must register in the Funding & tender opportunities portal (FTOP) and receive a Participant Identification Code (PIC). Organisations/groups that have already obtained a PIC through their participation in other EU programmes do not need to register again. The PIC obtained from this previous registration is valid also for applying under Erasmus+;
- For actions managed by National Agencies, applicants must if not already done, register through the Organisation Registration system https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/erasmus-esc for Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps and receive an Organisation ID.
Applications must be complete containing all parts and mandatory annexes. Only clerical errors can be corrected after the submission deadline upon request of the managing agency for duly justified cases.
For actions managed by the Executive Agency, applications must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal Electronic Submission System: https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/opportunities/portal/screen/home. Applications (including annexes and supporting documents) must be submitted using the forms provided in the Submission System.
Proposals must be complete and contain all the requested information and all required annexes and supporting documents:
- Application Form Part A — contains administrative information about the participants (future coordinator, beneficiaries and affiliated entities) and the summarised budget for the project (to be filled in directly online)
- Application Form Part B — contains the technical description of the project (to be downloaded from the Portal Submission System, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded)
- Part C (to be filled in directly online, if any) containing additional project data
Applications (Part B) are limited to 40 pages for calls for low value grants (EUR 60 000 or below); 120 pages for calls with high value grants ( EUR 4 000 000) and 70 for all other calls. Evaluators will not consider any additional pages.
For actions managed by the Erasmus+ National Agencies, applications must be submitted electronically via the forms available in the Erasmus+ website and the websites of the Erasmus+ National Agencies.