The first tertiary professional schools (VOŠ) came into operation 20 years ago based on legislation adopted at that time. The Association of Tertiary Professional Schools, representing most tertiary professional schools, celebrated this anniversary in 2016 by organising the Skills for practice conference: recalled the important milestones and efforts to foster further functioning of tertiary professional education within the Czech education system as a vocation-oriented branch.
The dynamic development of tertiary professional education is driven by the demand for skills within the private and public sectors. It is reflected by the schools widening their study programme portfolios in an effort to match labour market and social partner needs; 2016 was ground breaking on multiple levels. In cooperation with the Czech school inspectorate, the association finalised the criteria for assessing conditions, implementation and results of education at tertiary professional schools. This was successfully piloted at five member-schools selected by field: healthcare, social services, economic sector, technical sector and agriculture. This methodology is to unify the existing vague approaches to the evaluation of tertiary professional schools and will be regarded as binding for the Czech school inspectorate.
Modification of legislation was also important: amendment of the School Act postponed the date of admission to first grades by one month to the end of October of the given year, the same as for students applying to higher education institutions.
Another qualitative shift happened in the permeability between VOŠ and tertiary education institutions. This was greatly aided by amendment of the Higher Education Act so that, as of September 2016, rectors of higher education institutions can validate and recognise integral parts of studies completed within accredited study programmes at tertiary professional schools. This became an impulse for a series of negotiations between the representatives of higher education institutions and employers and the representatives of the Association of Tertiary Professional Schools. The communication platform will allow cooperation between tertiary education institutions and tertiary professional schools aimed at providing graduates from VOŠ with the option to acquire, in a shorter period of time, a bachelor degree at tertiary education institutions.
Tertiary professional education in the Czech Republic is gaining prestige, mainly among employers who appreciate the professional orientation of training programmes and the skills acquired by the students by taking part in practical training in companies.