2023 Crossing Boundaries in Kaunas

5th International VET Conference Crossing Boundaries
25 – 26 May 2023, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania

You can find all the information on transport to Kaunas, accommodation and tourism herehttps://visit.kaunas.lt/en/

Conference Topics | Submitting proposals | Deadlines | Junior Researchers Workshop | Principles of the Crossing Boundaries Conferences | Proceedings


Conference Topics

Special focus: Vocational Education and Training Transformations for Digital, Sustainable and Socially Fair Future

We invite researchers, PhD students, teachers and decision-makers from the field of vocational education and training, lifelong learning, higher education and adjacent disciplines to participate and contribute by presenting a paper at the conference.

The Conference Crossing Boundaries in Vocational Education and Training is an expert meeting organized around the topics of socio-culturally different systems, institutions and agencies, practitioners and actors in VET and LLL. It is a conference of the European Research Network in VET (VETNET).

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The conference in 2023 is organized by the Institute of Education Science at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, by Dr Vidmantas Tūtlys and his colleagues.
The conference will be at the facilities of Vytautas Magnus University at V. Putvinskio street 23 and Jonavos street 66.

Perspectives of the Conference

Systems and Policy. The system of VET and lifelong learning are regarded by policymakers as crucial sources of capacities for meeting the challenges of more just and sustainable economic, technological and socio-cultural development (Allais, 2019; Avis, 2018; Cedefop, 2020). This is more evident in the post-pandemic recovery period and in the transition to more sustainable patterns of economic development. The contribution of education to sustainable economic, technological and social development also depends on how the VET systems and LLL can offer empowerment of learners and students through meaningful learning, training, employment, and professional development (Brown et al., 2020; Cedefop, 2020). The historical pathways of institutional development of skill formation also play a significant role in defining different orientations of skill formation systems to social justice, market economies and socio-economic development (Bosh, 2017; Buchanan et al., 2017).  Researching policy reform and institutional innovation in the VET can provide insights into the possibilities for post-pandemic recovery and green transition. Comparative studies of transition pathways between the VET, higher education and LLL are also of particular interest.     

Within this perspective, we are looking for papers addressing the following thematic areas:

  • theoretical insights and empirical studies on the implications of VET for digital and sustainable socio-economic development;
  • historical pathways of institutional development of skill formation in different orientations and systems to the social justice, market economy and socio-economic development – overview and future-oriented approaches;
  • reviews and reflections on the reforms of VET by referring to their implications for the post-Covid recovery, socio-economic resilience and sustainable development.   

Educational Institutions and Institutional Settings. The content of skill formation and its implications for the social and economic integration of learners as well as for the digital, sustainable and just socio-economic development depends on interactions between learners, students, stakeholders, and institutions. These relationships shape various ecosystems of skill formation at the levels of the VET school and the companies, region, sector, country or at an international level, thus enabling different patterns of agency in responding to the skill formation and employment challenges related to digitalization, green transition, migration and other developments (Buchanan et al., 2017; Lörinc et al., 2020). Exploring and comparing these skill ecosystems and related agencies and their implications for learning and employment is important for identifying the empowering potential of skill formation and its limitations. The empowering mechanisms of skill formation systems aimed at fostering the resilience of vulnerable people present another important research topic. Such research can also help to improve skill ecosystems by making them more accessible, empowering and resilient to attempts of monopolization and misuse in favour of powerful interest groups.

 Within this perspective, we are looking for papers addressing the following thematic areas:

  • theoretical research and empirical studies of the systemic development in VET institutions under the perspective of a just future (e.g., following Habermas, Luhmann and other theories);
  • insights to the interaction of VET, HE and LLL provision in developing educational ecosystems adjusted to the challenges of digitalization, sustainable development and social justice; 
  • disclosing attempts of monopolization and misuse of influence and power in VET and LLL institutions in favour of powerful interest groups – development and future-oriented visions;
  • exploration and comparison of the institutional settings of VET, which empower the learning and employability of vulnerable people and enhance their resilience to the current socio-economic shocks.   

Actors and Stakeholders. Practices of skills formation in VET and lifelong learning directly tackle the issues of equality of chances and sustainability in the field of education, training, and employment. For example, qualifications and curricula can be designed to help or impede learners, especially those subject to exclusion because of disability or socio-economic status (Jørgensen et al., 2021). The development of transferable skills also plays an important role in enhancing the accessibility and sustainability of educational provision (Nägele & Stalder, 2017; Pavlova, 2017). The acquisition of competencies and qualifications should lead to meaningful work and jobs, bringing labour market entrants to strategically important sectors like the protection of the environment. Practices of skill formation can similarly enhance or impede transitions between VET, higher education and lifelong learning, creating different options for personal choice and creating meaningful learning pathways (Cedefop, 2020). These practices also affect relationships between learning and work, especially through work-based learning (Gessler, 2019; Relly & Laczik, 2021). Questions arise as to how different approaches to design qualifications and curricula provide skills important for digitalization and a green transition, as well as improving employment and career chances of at-risk youth (Billett, 2021; Dobricki et al., 2020; Spöttl & Windelband, 2021; Tūtlys & Spöttl, 2021; Ure & Skauge, 2019; Winterton & Turner, 2019). Understanding how different formal and informal learning practices empower different students and learners to use existing and emerging opportunities is also important under conditions of technological, environmental and socio-economic disruption.

Within this perspective, we are looking for papers addressing the following thematic areas:

  • practices of learning, teaching, and assistance to VET students and learners which tackle the issues of equal possibilities and sustainability in the field of education, training, and employment – theories, best practice, and models of success;
  • practices of learning, teaching, and training which can enhance or impede transitions between the VET, higher education and lifelong learning – status in Europe, theoretical approaches, meaningful learning pathways;
  • approaches to reforming qualifications and curriculum design in responding to the conflicting goals of sustainable development: digitalization of the economy, green transition and social cohesion. 

Keynote Speeches

Skill Formation in Central and Eastern Europe. A Search for Patterns and Directions of Development

Vidmantas Tūtlys, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania
Jonathan Winterton, Leeds University Business School, United Kingdom
Jörg Markowitsch, 3S Unternehmensberatung, Austria

This keynote will present an analytical overview of the development of skill formation institutions and processes in the 12 Central and Eastern European countries (Baltic States, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, and Ukraine) explored in the book with the same title published by Peter Lang in 2022. It starts with explaining the methodological approach of the study, exploring and comparing skill formation processes and institutions in CEE. Special attention is paid to the implications of key critical junctures (post-communist transition to market economy and democratic society, EU accession, and global economic crisis) for national skill systems, specific links between education systems and social stratification, trends of stratification of education, and standardization of education systems through uniformly regulated curricula and qualifications.

Key trends of development of social dialogue over skill formation in the skill formation systems of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) are also highlighted by making sense of commonalities and differences in social dialogue and collective bargaining over developing skill formation systems in this region, as well as considering the crucial role of adopting neoliberal approaches to skill formation and Europeanization of economies and societies. After a short overview of major developments and reforms in national systems of education, training and qualifications, the presentation will consider the role of EU accession and Europeanization in developing VET and skill formation and the implications of policy borrowing and policy learning from, respectively, the neoliberal Anglo-Saxon, and German collective skill formation approaches. 

Changes in Vocational Education and Training in Lithuania: employers’ perspectives

Vaidotas Levickis, Partner of JSC Responsum, Director of the Entrepreneurship Institute, Vilnius, Lithuania

This keynote will introduce key recent developments in VET in Lithuania from the employers’ viewpoint, taking into account different political, economic, social and cultural aspects of the VET changes. The keynote will discuss the increased attention to VET from national policymakers and the very active engagement of employers in various processes of skill formation, from the development of qualifications and VET curriculum design to the organization of work-based learning and competence assessment. These developments are triggered by the changing skills demand in the labour market, most notably a decrease in low-skilled work and growing demand for higher vocational skills. In these conditions, permeability between VET and HE is to be strengthened to open possibilities for VET graduates to seek higher education. The current geopolitical situation and growing flows of migrants from nearby regions (Belarus, Ukraine, Russian Federation) make it necessary for VET and vocational qualifications to be more flexible, inclusive and open for different groups of youth and adults. These changes in VET provision also necessitate rethinking the mission of VET schools, promoting VET and increasing its esteem, as well as existing approaches to excellence, inclusiveness, and quality of VET provision.   

Vocational education and training in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine: challenges and strategic directions

Sergii Melnyk, Institute of Educational Analytics, Ukraine

Military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine since the 24th of February 2022 is bringing colossal damage to the society and national economy of Ukraine. Recovering the country starts from the first moments since the liberation of occupied territories and presents itself as an immense and multidimensional process. This includes not only rebuilding civil infrastructure and productive capacity but also recovering damaged natural ecosystems and helping the population to heal physical and socio-psychological wounds inflicted by the war, especially those directly involved in, or impacted by, the combat. 

War also inflicts serious harm to skill formation and VET provision in Ukraine by rupturing the usual education and training processes, reducing the volume of learners and teaching staff, and demolishing the infrastructure and resources of VET providers. It implies a need for essential reconstruction of the network of VET providers and adjustment of VET provision processes to the conditions of war and preparation for post-war reconstruction. From this perspective, the war and related political-economic processes (e.g. faster EU integration with the acquired EU candidate status) imply a critical juncture in the institutional development of skill formation and VET in Ukraine.

This keynote analyses the critical juncture by outlining tentative vectors of VET reform and change during post-war reconstruction. These vectors could include: 1) strengthening the autonomy and effectiveness of education and training institutions by stronger orientation to skills needs in regions and sectors of the economy; 2) re-orienting VET provision priorities to fields of economic activities crucial for reconstructing the economy oriented to advanced and digitalized technologies; 3) introducing systemic provision of special education and training interventions for training and retraining the adult population, especially the re-integration of ex-military personnel with combat experience to civilian activities; 4) making the provision of VET and skill formation more resilient to external socio-political shocks, and more flexible, transparent and accessible to the population through for example, implementing microcredits recognized at national level, developing digitalized (online) learning opportunities, simplifying or eliminating bureaucratic procedures in accessing training and recognition of learning outcomes; 5) making the national system of qualifications and related institutional settings effective, transparent, and accessible by learning from policies and practices of EU countries.

Submitting proposals – closed

The only format is a paper presentation. Presentation time is a maximum of 15-20 minutes, with an additional 10-15 minutes for discussion, in sum, a maximum of 30 minutes. All sessions will be chaired to ensure time limits are respected.

Papers will be selected for presentation following a double-blind peer review. Criteria for selection include the conceptual and theoretical framework; clarity of the research question(s) explored; methods and empirical foundation; originality, and new insight.

The submission needs to include two separate files to ensure the integrity of the double-blind review: 

  1. Abstract, 500-1’000 words: Use the template here. Please delete the name(s) of the author(s) in the abstract; use author and year instead.
  2. Contact details: Use the template here.

Send your abstract and contact details (two documents) to crossing.boundaries@vetnetsite.org

If your abstract is accepted: The submission of a full paper is a pre-condition for attending the conference. The paper is from 2’000 to 4’000 words, exclusive of the title, biographical notes, tables, figures and reference list. Papers will be published as online-open access conference proceedings and as print-on-demand book on amazon.com.


  • Submission of abstracts: 15 November 2022 (extended)
  • Notification of acceptance: 15 December 2022
  • Submission of full paper: 20 February 2023
  • Feedback to your paper: 31 March 2022
    You will then have 10 days to make the necessary corrections.
  • The conference proceedings will be available shortly before the conference.

Junior Researchers Workshop

Moreover, we also encourage junior researchers (late PhDs, Postdocs) from Central and Eastern Europe to participate in an additional workshop taking place within the conference. Their accommodation and travelling expenses linked to the conference will be covered up to 700 EUR. Click here fore more information on the workshop.

Principles of the Crossing Boundaries Conferences

The following principles guide the Conference Crossing Boundaries in Vocational Education and Training:

  • be active – all participants are presenters and cannot participate without preparing and presenting a full paper;
  • interdisciplinarity – contributions with different theoretical and methodological backgrounds are welcome;
  • small size – the number of participants is limited to approximately 60 people;
  • familiarity – Thursday evening is reserved for networking in a relaxed atmosphere;
  • keynote speakers – keynote speakers will be invited to address the focus topic;
  • open and free – no conference fee will be charged;

Participants are invited to submit their prepared extended research papers for publication in the International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training (IJRVET).

Conference Fee

Participation in the conference is free of charge.

Your entry ticket is your paper and your motivation to openly discuss relevant topics with colleagues.

If you have any questions, please email crossing.boundaries@vetnetsite.org.

Proceedings Crossing Boundaries

  • 2015 Bremen: Innovative Concepts for the 21st Century, here.
  • 2017 Rostock: Social Dimensions and Participation in Vocational Education, here.
  • 2019 Valencia: Pedagogical concerns and market demands in VET, here
  • 2021 Muttenz/Basel and Bern: Pathways in Vocational Education and Training and Lifelong Learning, here.
  • 2023 Kaunas: Vocational Education and Training Transformations for Digital, Sustainable and Socially Fair Future, here.


Allais, S. (2019). Vocational education and inequalities in transitions from education to work in three African countries. In D. Francis, E. Webster &  I, Valodia (2020), Inequality studies from the global South. Routledge.

Avis, J. (2018). Crossing boundaries: VET, the labour market and social justice. International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, 5(3), 178–190.

Billett, S. (2021). Mediating worklife learning and the digitalisation of work. British Journal of Educational Technology, 52, 1580-1593.

Bosh, G. (2017). Different national skill systems. In C. Warhurst, K. Mayhew, D. Finegold & J. Buchanan (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of skills and training (pp. 487-509). Oxford University Press.

Brown, P., Lauder, H. & Cheung, S.Y. (2020). The death of human capital? Its failed promise and how to renew it in an age of disruption. Oxford University Press.

Buchanan, J., Anderson, P., Power, G. (2017). Skill ecosystems. In C. Warhurst, K. Mayhew, D. Finegold & J. Buchanan (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of skills and training (pp. 511-529). Oxford University Press.

Cedefop (2020). Vocational education and training in Europe, 1995-2035: Scenarios for European vocational education and training in the 21st century. Publications Office of the European Union.

Dobricki, M., Evi-Colombo, A., & Cattaneo, A. (2020). Situating Vocational learning and teaching using digital technologies – a mapping review of current research literature. International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, 7(3), 344–360.

Gessler, M. (2019). Concepts of apprenticeship: Strengths, weaknesses and pitfalls. In S. McGrath, M. Mulder, J. Papier, & R. Suart (Eds.), Handbook of Vocational Education and Training: Developments in the changing world of work (pp. 677–709). Springer. 

Jørgensen, C. H., Hautz, H., & Li, J. (2021). The role of vocational education and training in the integration of refugees in Austria, Denmark and Germany. International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, 8(3), 276–299.

Lörinc, M., Ryan, L., D’Angelo, A., and Kaye, N. (2020). De-individualising the ‘NEET problem’: An ecological systems analysis. European Educational Research Journal, 19(5), 412–427.

Nägele, C., Stalder, B.E. (2017). Competence and the need for transferable skills. In M. Mulder M. (Eds.), Competence-based vocational and professional education. technical and vocational education and training: Issues, concerns and prospects, vol 23 (pp.739-753). Springer.

Pavlova, M. (2017). Green skills as the agenda for the competence movement in vocational and professional education. In M. Mulder (Eds.), Competence-based Vocational and Professional Education. Technical and Vocational Education and Training: Issues, Concerns and Prospects, vol 23 (pp. 931-951). Springer.

Relly, S.J., & Laczik, A. (2021). Apprenticeship, employer engagement and vocational formation: A process of collaboration. Journal of Education and Work, Ahead of print, 1-15.

Spöttl, G. & Windelband, L. (2021). The 4th industrial revolution – its impact on vocational skills. Journal of Education and Work, 34(1), 29-52.

Tūtlys, V. & Spöttl, G. (2021). Disruption of qualifications in manufacturing: challenges and prospects. European Journal of Training and Development, Ahead of print.

Ure, O.B. & Skauge, T. (2019). Skills and employment under automation: Active adaptation at the local level. International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, 6(3), 203-223.  

Winterton, J. & Turner, J.J. (2019). Preparing graduates for work readiness: An overview and agenda. Education+Training, 61 (5), 536-551.