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Estonia: micro-qualifications to encourage rapid competence acquisition and wider participation in lifelong learning

Commissioned by the Ministry of Education and Research, a study was recently completed on the international experiences of using micro-qualifications and their application possibilities in the Estonian education and training system. Among European countries, the Irish and French systems were explored. Supporting smooth transitions between levels and types of education is one of the three strategic goals of Estonia's education strategy for 2035. It foresees creating opportunities for learners to acquire education consisting of smaller parts (so-called learning bites or micro-qualifications) according to their needs and abilities. 

International experience shows that universities have taken initiative in offering micro-qualifications (in the higher education context, micro-degrees) both as in-service training and as potentially more flexible part-time learning option for adult learners. Estonia has also launched a training credit programme as a result of cooperation between companies and higher education institutions. It is an in-service training platform, where companies support in-service training of their employees, and where, in the future, the training courses offered can be accumulated to form micro-qualifications. The range of training providers and users of the programme is limited, but in terms of its objectives, it is a good example of a micro-qualifications system.

A review of the use of micro-qualifications in other countries confirmed that small-scale ‘learning bites’ could be suitable for target groups that are less involved in lifelong learning, providing a good opportunity to involve them in training. The study also showed that by encouraging cooperation with companies, it is possible to make learning more practical and more in line with labour market demands. Different scenarios of State involvement were analysed, starting from the option where the State does not intervene in the development of micro-qualifications, to options where it defines micro-qualifications, evaluates and ensures the quality of the offered qualifications or ultimately, directs the system through ordering micro-qualifications from training providers

The State’s involvement in the development of the micro-qualifications system is in line with Estonia's strategic goals. Micro-qualifications can be used as a lever to encourage rapid acquisition of necessary competences and to encourage the participation of low-qualified people in lifelong learning.

Read more:

Mikrokvalifikatsioonide kasutuselevõtmise võimalused Eesti haridus-ja kutsesüsteemis rahvusvahelisele praktikale toetudes [Possibilities of introducing micro-qualifications in the Estonian education and vocational system based on international practice]

News Details

16/09/2021
ReferNet Estonia