Employers value VET in Finland, although many of them feel that it is generally undervalued, says a study by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

According the study, most employers are satisfied with the quality of VET in Finland. They feel that VET meets the demands of working life, even though supply does not always meet demand.

One of the biggest challenges, according to employers, is how to improve the image of VET and how to ensure it meets the demands of tomorrow’s workplaces. While learning close to practice, leading to skills that can be used directly after graduation, is seen as strength, the lack of motivation among students and the low proportion of work-based learning are seen as weaknesses.

Students who graduate from vocational colleges have good employment prospects, with 80% of employers intending to recruit people with vocational qualifications. Almost as many think that Finland will suffer from a shortage of people with vocational skills.

Positive attitudes to studying

VET students have a positive attitude to studying. They understand the importance of learning for their future and of being successful in their studies. An increasing number feel satisfied with choosing VET. They think it is more interesting than learning in general upper secondary schools, but also see the need to increase learning at the workplace. They also have higher expectations of teachers’ professional skills and expertise.
In comparison to students in general upper secondary school, those who complete VET aim directly at entering the labour market. But, compared to three years ago, fewer plan to continue directly to working life after VET college.

VET students know quite early which profession they want and choose study place and vocational college accordingly. Reasons for choosing a particular field of study include how interesting the field is, employment prospects, and the student’s own goals and ambition in life. 

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The study was done by the Ministry of Education and Culture together with Skills Finland in March-April 2016.  Researchers interviewed 934 students from general upper secondary school, vocational colleges and last year’s students from basic education; 101 HR staff in enterprises answered a web questionnaire and student counsellors and students were also interviewed.  This was the fourth study, the previous ones having been carried out in 2007, 2010 and 2013.