Centres of Vocational Excellence are a project format of the Erasmus+ Programme. By the "bottom-up" development process, this project format aims to promote cooperative platforms that are both nationally/locally anchored and internationally networked. Furthermore, they want to address sector-specific interests or societal challenges. Knowledge and innovation centres are to be created by involving companies (especially SMEs) in applied research projects. In addition, entrepreneurial initiatives by learners are to be supported.

What are the aims of the Centres of Vocational Excellence?

Centres of vocational excellence work on two levels:

  1. at the national level by involving a wide range of local actors and participating in international cooperation networks at the same time.
  2. at the international level by involving actors who share interests in specific sectors
    want to jointly address innovative approaches to economic and societal challenges (e.g. climate, digitalisation, AI, sustainability, social inclusion, up/re-skilling).

The national and international networks bring together existing Centres of Vocational Excellence or develop the model further. They do not serve to build new VET institutions and infrastructures.

Applications cannot only include activities targeting learners at tertiary level; applications focusing on VET at post-secondary level (EQF levels 6 to 8) must include at least one other VET level between EQF levels 3 to 5 and a strong work-based learning component.

The central project activities and results are divided into three clusters:

Cluster 1: Teaching and learning
Cluster 2: Cooperation and partnership
Cluster 3: Governance and funding

The project must contain relevant outputs related to the following three thematic areas:

  • At least 4 activities from cluster 1: Teaching and learning.
  • At least 3 activities from cluster 2: Collaborations and Partnerships
  • At least 2 activities from cluster 3: Governance and Funding

Projects achieve their objectives by building on a combination of these activities. Explanations of the clusters can be found in the Erasmus+ Guide.

Who can participate?

Any public or private organisation active in VET or in the world of work in general, located in a programme or partner country can participate. This includes, for example, VET providers, companies, sector representatives, public sector representatives, tertiary level institutions, innovation agencies, etc.

Centres of Vocational Excellence must involve at least eight full partners, of which at least four must be from Erasmus+ programme countries or third countries (of which at least two must be from EU Member States).

In addition, at least one company or sector representative and at least one representative from VET (upper secondary and/or tertiary level) must be involved. The composition of the partners must reflect the concern of the project.

Swiss institutions cannot lead projects, but can participate as full or associated partners.

How long does a project last?

The project duration is normally 48 months.

Justified extensions are possible.

How are Swiss institutions supported financially?

Swiss institutions participating as full partners are funded directly through the Erasmus+ Programme. Swiss institutions wishing to participate as associated partners in a Centre of Vocational Excellence can apply to Movetia for funding from the Swiss Programme to Erasmus+. In both cases, the European application must demonstrate the significant added value of the Swiss participation.

Please contact Yvonne Jänchen for further information.