Guidelines for upper secondary VET programmes and Guidelines for higher VET programmes serve as a framework for the development of VET programmes. They define the objectives, curriculum structure, duration, and completion for each education level; they are also the basis for preparing, quality assessment and adoption of new or renewed education programmes.
The National Expert Council for VET adopted revised guidelines in March 2016; education programmes had been reformed during 2004-12 using previous guidelines (2001). Almost 15 years since their first adoption, VET is facing high unemployment, especially among young people, the restructuring of industries and technological developments. Despite employer participation in preparing education programmes, dissatisfaction with the professional skills of young people and the structural gap between the labour market and VET are evident.
In response, the education minister appointed a working group that prepared the proposal and led a debate among professionals. New guidelines for the upper secondary level maintain social partnership, shared responsibility of the state, employers and employees for VET; they also renew emphasis on the role of the open curriculum at all levels of VET. At national level, about 80% of the content/objectives will be defined for upper secondary VET, plus 105 to 110 of credit points out off 120 at higher level VET. The remaining part of curriculum will be determined by schools together with companies/social partners at regional or local levels and in accordance with national occupational standards.
The revised guidelines introduce the following changes at VET upper secondary level:
- three-year programmes may be delivered either in the school or in the form of apprenticeship; the latter is to be favoured for certain sectors like rare occupations and professions in limited demand. In the apprenticeship form, the ratio of work-based learning (WBL) in companies must exceed 50%. In the school form, WBL lasts 24 weeks, but the school can extend it to a maximum of 49% of the programme.
- competence-based education programmes emphasise interdisciplinary professional modules and the development of key and professional competences;
- catalogues of knowledge will be prepared for WBL to help preparation of the plan which is part of the learning agreement in companies;
- WBL in four-year programmes is extended from four to eight weeks;
- training programmes will permit expanding professional knowledge to areas where there are no formal VET programmes.
Higher VET study programmes are part of tertiary education, with 40% delivered as WBL in companies. Study programmes were renewed and new programmes introduced during 2008-13. New guidelines from 2016 include:
- new study programmes for the employed, to enable them to acquire a new title in VET at the same level (programmes must have at least 30 ECTS);
- the relationship between compulsory and optional modules is modified, enabling development of flexible study programmes;
- the introduction of joint study programmes conducted by higher VET schools along with one or more higher VET schools from Slovenia or abroad (mandatory student mobility comprising at least 30 credits);
- focus on integration of education in schools and enterprises with WBL as an integrative part of each module.