2023 Crossing Boundaries in Kaunas – Call for papers

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

New extended deadline to submit your abstract: 15 November 2022
The VETNET board together with the organizers of the next Crossing Boundaries and Stockholm International decided to harmonize the submission date for abstracts, as these two VETNET conferences alternate: Odd years Crossing Boundaries, even years Stockholm International.

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 eco-systems 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, 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. 

Submitting proposals

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.


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.