The approach most common in EU countries as regards vocational training and adult education programs is the “mainstream” one. This means that the learning needs of the participants/learners are addressed through the pedacogical and psychological lens that is dominant in education systems of all types and degrees.
Also in most EU countries, the same programs are regarded as a means towards social inclusion of the less privileged social groups. The underlying rationale is that by upgrading educational qualifications the mechanism of equal chances is set in action; this mechanism is supposed to result at social equality and social justice, thanks to the upward mobility opportunities that education can provide in the realm of modern western societies.
However, empirical data doubt the power of vocational and adult education to meet these aspirations. Social services of all kinds have often to deal with cases of individual members of certain social groups that don’t seem to benefit from their participation in vocational and other training schemes as much as members of other social groups.
The questions raised refer first of all to the quality of adult training systems, especially to their capacity to be inclusive. Second, or rather on the flipside, they refer also to the inclusion chances offered to vulnerable groups and consequently to the effectiveness of the fight against social exclusion in which VET has as significant role to play.