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Estonia: VET law amendments bring better vocational training and labour market links

On 12 December 2018, Parliament adopted amendments to the Vocational educational institutions Act to link vocational programmes better with the labour market and to renew the funding principles of vocational schools. The Act also foresees more flexible ways to access vocational training and to update quality assessment. The needs of local employers and the labour force are to be taken into account to a greater extent, vocational studies are to become more flexible, and new forms of study will be piloted in cooperation with local governments.

The amendments abolish State-commissioned education. Schools are now able to react quickly to local education demands and the needs of the labour market. This will give schools more autonomy and responsibility. In the future, the state will cooperate with its partners to agree on the amount of training at each school in the fields that have national importance.

The changes in funding principles will increase the motivation and autonomy of vocational schools. Up to 20% of the schools’ operating expenses will be covered by performance-based financing, determined by school results. The aim of performance-based financing is to motivate schools to complete their main tasks successfully.

To improve access to formal education, vocational educational institutions are able to organise studies in the vocational orientation selection study programme. The schools are given the opportunity to open study programmes that are not connected to specific vocational studies but prepare students for choosing their specialty. This is necessary for students who have no ability to select their speciality after graduating from basic school and have not started studies because of that, or have dropped out of vocational school or an upper secondary school. It is a practical study programme introducing different specialities, to which a compensatory general education studies are added if necessary.

The way that current accreditation of vocational education is organised will also be changed, being replaced by quality assessment. This change means that a study-centred approach at school will be developed and the trustworthiness of vocational education increased.

Read more:

Vocational Educational Institutions Act (consolidated version with amendments from 12/12/2018)