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The opportunities for competence development in Erasmus+

erasmus centres of vocational excellence

Helping people and companies to develop more and better skills and to put them into practice. This is the main objective of the European Skills Agenda, an initiative launched in 2020. One of the programmes that will help to implement it is Erasmus+. With a budget of 24.6 billion euros, this programme is a key instrument for building a European Education Area that makes quality, borderless learning available to everyone, everywhere in Europe, that shifts the culture of education towards lifelong learning and that brings Europe up to speed in digital skills for both young people and adults. In this respect, there are many ongoing opportunities not only for mobility projects, but also for competence development.

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The programme funds many calls with different targets in the fields of education, training, youth and sport, but there are specific actions that aim to contribute to competence development through cooperation between organisations and institutions. Two of these opportunities, the Centres of Vocational Excellence and the Teacher Academies, are still open for applications. “These are important initiatives within the Erasmus+ programme, contributing to the development of high-quality skills, international and regional cooperation, and the promotion of lifelong learning,” says Giada Bertolini, consultant at Zabala Innovation and programme expert.

Erasmus Centres of Vocational Excellence

The Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) action, for which the deadline for submission of proposals is 7 May, aims to enhance high quality skills and competences leading to quality employment and career-long opportunities, meeting the needs of an innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy, by bringing together existing CoVEs or developing the model of vocational excellence by linking partners from several countries, willing to develop it in their local context through international cooperation.

The aim of CoVE projects is to provide training in specific areas, initial training for young people and continuing training for adults, integrating innovative teaching and learning methods, working closely with companies, social partners, universities, among others, and fostering regional and local inclusion and development.

Who can apply?

The call aims to bring together organisations active in the field of vocational education and training or in the world of work, such as vocational education and training (VET) providers and their representative organisations; business, industry, other employers; national/regional qualification authorities; research institutes and universities; innovation agencies; regional development authorities; international organisations active in the field of VET and more.

The project consortium must be able to operate at national level, involving a wide range of local stakeholders, and at international level, sharing a common interest in specific sectors and addressing economic and societal challenges through innovative approaches. It must be composed of at least eight applicants from a minimum of four 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 one company, industry or organisation representative of the sector, and at least one vocational education and training provider (at secondary or tertiary level).

Maximum project duration

CoVE projects typically last 48 months and it is possible to apply for an EU grant of up to 4 million euros. The budget for the 2024 call amounts to 56 million euros. In the last call, held last year, nine projects were funded.

Erasmus Teacher Academies

The overall objective of this action, which has a deadline of 6 June, is to create European partnerships of teacher education and training providers to establish teacher academies to develop a European and international perspective on teacher education.

These academies will cover multilingualism, linguistic awareness and cultural diversity, develop teacher education in line with EU education policy priorities and contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the European Education Area. The main target groups of the call are teachers, broadly defined, including trainers and early childhood education and care staff.

Who can apply?

Different types of organisations may be involved in the actions, e.g. teacher education institutions (schools, colleges, universities providing initial teacher education and/or continuing professional development); ministries or similar public bodies responsible for school education policy; public (local, regional or national) and private bodies responsible for policy development and provision of teacher education, as well as for defining standards for teacher qualifications; teachers’ associations; authorities responsible for education and teacher education; schools working with teacher education providers and other schools (from primary schools to initial vocational education) or other organisations (e.g. NGOs, teachers’ associations) relevant to the project.

Although teachers from higher education institutions are not part of the target group of the action, they may be involved in teaching pedagogical methods to student teachers.

The project consortium must involve six applicants from a minimum of four EU Member States or Third Country Partners, fulfilling the following conditions: a minimum of four nationally established initial teacher education providers from three different EU Member States and Third Country Partners of the Programme, and a minimum of one nationally established provider of continuing professional development (in-service training) for teachers, and a minimum of one traineeship/training centre. In addition, the coordinating organisation must be a teacher training institution.

Maximum project duration

Teacher academy projects typically last 36 months and it is possible to apply for an EU grant of a maximum of 1.5 million euros. The budget for the 2024 call amounts to 22.5 million euros. Projects funded in the last call, held in 2022, have been 16 in total.


The European Commission’s priority in addressing skills shortages in the EU has become an increasingly clear prerogative in the initiatives it has taken, leading to the proclamation of 2023 as the European Year of Skills. Skills are recognised as crucial for sustainable competitiveness, resilience and ensuring social equity for all. The aim is to revitalise lifelong learning, enabling individuals and enterprises to contribute to the green and digital transition, supporting innovation and competitiveness.

Several initiatives have been launched in recent years, the most important of which is the European Skills Agenda, a framework for EU policy cooperation on skills launched in 2020 to help people and businesses develop skills and apply them.

The Skills Agenda defines a clear strategy to ensure that skills create jobs and calls for collective action, mobilisation of business, social partners and stakeholder engagement to work together, in particular within EU industrial ecosystems and across value chains.

It sets out ambitious targets for skills upgrading and retraining to be achieved by 2025, as well as significant financial means to invest in skills, including the Erasmus+ programme.

Alongside the objectives listed in the Skills Agenda, the European Commission has outlined a vision for the European Education Area to remove barriers to learning and provide better access to quality education for all, identifying the Erasmus+ programme as one of the means to achieve this.