Slovenian VET recorded an important milestone this autumn. Supported by European Social Funds, several projects completed long years of work on implementation and evaluation of VET reform, starting in 2001
Modernisation was defined with a scope of aims such as: meeting the needs of stakeholders (students, parents, employers, local authorities, higher education and society as whole); raising student possibilities for employment and further education; expanding the possibilities for different learning paths; offering inclusive VET for special needs students, adults, unemployed and employed.
After political and economic transition in the 1990s, progress in VET was defined by a new law, strengthening social partnership, reorganising VET schools into bigger local centres, introducing training centres and establishing the National Institute for VET. A new wave of modernisation (from 2004 onwards) followed with redesigning educational programmes that include modularisation, curriculum changes, competence-based and outcome-focused education and training, increasing the share of practical training at the workplace and modernisation of didactical approaches. This was accompanied by development of a system of national vocational qualifications, changes in financing VET providers and support for school autonomy in different areas.
Evaluations show that the greatest success was achieved in modernisation of the teaching process. Slovene teachers and trainers work much closer (team work) in all phases of the teaching process (planning, teaching, assessing); they more often use approaches that support active learning; competence-based learning is increasing, content and goals of learning are much more connected; cooperation between stakeholders at local level is higher; more innovative approaches emerge at provider level as autonomy of schools and teachers is higher.
Some problems remain or are not yet sufficiently addressed: level of quality of Slovenian VET is still not clear and differences in quality of provision between particular providers is still high; flexibility at programme level still does not address skill mismatch to a satisfying level; Slovenia is still facing decline in enrolment into programmes for some profiles and yet did not revitalise cooperation between work and school life sufficiently.
Cooperation with employers still remains a responsibility of the educational sector. Slovenia still has a higher skills mismatch than it should have. As professor Medveš (1) has exposed, there are two main problems: low awareness of chambers and trade unions that their cooperation in developing VET is of the outmost importance; and just as important, how national policy is responding to this situation, mostly with lack of support for genuine work-based learning.
(1) Retired professor of educational sciences at University of Ljubljana, Mr Zdenko Medveš is one of the leading Slovenian experts on VET