Of the 22 million pupils in the European Union (EU) studying at upper secondary level in 2014, almost 11 million (or 48%) were enrolled in vocational education. In twelve EU Member States, more than half of all upper secondary pupils studied vocational programmes.
Vocational education at upper secondary level was somewhat dominated by men, who accounted for 56% of pupils, compared with 44% women. This pattern can be observed in almost all Member States.
Ensuring that young people develop the skills and competences needed by the labour market by promoting vocational education and training is one of the initiatives of the European Commission to tackle youth unemployment.
Across Member States in 2014, the highest proportion of pupils at upper secondary level enrolled in vocational education was registered in the Czech Republic (73%), ahead of Croatia (71%), Austria and Finland (both 70%), Slovakia (69%), Slovenia (67%) and the Netherlands (66%). At the opposite end of the scale, shares of less than a third were recorded in Malta (13%), Cyprus (15%), Hungary (25%), Lithuania (27%) and Greece (31%). At EU level, almost 1 in every 2 pupils studying at upper secondary level was enrolled in vocational programmes in 2014.
The majority of pupils following vocational upper secondary programmes were men in every EU Member State, except Belgium (52% were women), Finland and the United Kingdom (both 51%) as well as Sweden (where the gender distribution was balanced). In contrast, fewer than 40% of pupils following vocational programmes at upper secondary level were women in Cyprus (20%), Estonia and Greece (both 35%), Lithuania (36%), Germany, Italy and Poland (all 38%). At EU level, women accounted for 44% of pupils enrolled in vocational education programmes at upper secondary level.