VET students’ appearance concerns and the influence on completion rates in VET and on accessing the job market


Tackling the consequences of dissatisfaction with appearance is an issue for many students in Europe. Research indicates that students with a negative body image will have more difficulties to complete their education (Yanover & Thompson, 2008), and in a study of 77,000 young people conducted in the United Kingdom, 60% reported feeling ashamed of what they look like, whilst Lovegrove (2002) found that 31% of teenagers evaded classroom debate and 20% regularly chose to stay away from school. The British Parliamentary Group on Body Image recently led a public inquiry into the consequences of appearance dissatisfaction.

Psychosocial health and wellbeing are critical for fostering students’ ability and motivation to learn and perform well at school and, finally, to complete their education. In particular, poor body image and appearance concerns are an important aspect of adolescent psychosocial health and development. It is estimated that between 50-70% of adolescent boys and girls in Western societies are dissatisfied with some aspect of their appearance (McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2004). In general, the European Union coordinates and encourages national governments to combat poverty and social exclusion (http://ec.europa.eu/social).


Aims and target group

By developing a training pack for teachers, we believe that we can contribute to lowering dropout rates and increasing completion rates of VET students in the project’s partner countries. This will be achieved by focusing precisely on those aspects of dropout that others seem to avoid when addressing this issue. In return, access to the job market will be made easier for students addressed.


Partners and Outcomes

A consortium of five partners (from Norway, Portugal, Denmark, United Kingdom and Austria) will pool together their knowledge and efforts in order to provide the following outcomes:

  • Training package
  • Didactical guidelines for VET staff and companies’ HR staff and
  • various information & dissemination events
EU-Program: LLP, Leonardo da Vinci - Transfer of Innovation
Coordination: Møllehagen Skolesenter (Norway)
Contact: Karin Kronika
Duration: November 2013 – October 2015
Website: www.mirrorproject.eu
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.