The past decade was the turning point in reforming vocational education and training (VET) in Latvia. In 2009, the government concept for increasing the attractiveness of VET and social partner involvement in quality assurance launched the reform cycle that concluded with the 2020 draft amendments to the VET law envisaging fundamental changes in VET planning and provision.
Since 2009, the VET law and relevant regulations have been amended progressively, signposting important milestones of the reform. In 2015, the amendments better linked VET qualifications to the qualifications framework, introduced sectoral expert councils, defined work-based learning as a new form of VET provision and established conventions advising VET providers. In 2017, the changes formalised the modular approach for VET and introduced a sectoral qualifications framework as a general description of the professions in sectors, with reference to specialisations and related professions.
EU and national investments supported changes in the content and governance of VET, including implementation of a competence-based approach and social partner continuous involvement in VET curricula development and provision.
The 2020 VET law amendments (in progress) mark a fundamental change. It became possible to substantiate major developments in a comprehensive and dynamic lifelong learning perspective only after finalisation of the VET content reform, with fully restructured approaches to curriculum development and implementation and improved assessment and validation procedures. Now, assessment of learning outcomes focuses on what has been achieved rather than what is missing and how these outcomes can be validated and certified to give a full or partial award.
The amendments underpin the application of ECVET principles, determine a unified methodology of sectoral qualifications structure for all sectors, introduce systemic approaches to validation procedures (envisaging that separate modules may form a qualification or part of it), and enable application of modular education programmes in initial, continuing and adult education, as well as in reskilling of the unemployed. They also provide for the transferability of acquired and validated learning outcomes. With increased VET system flexibility, the focus is now on the individual needs and abilities, while aiming to meet the needs of economic sectors. There are more opportunities for combining competences acquired in formal and non-formal forms of learning, linking general, professional and practical knowledge and skills, as well as improving the possibilities for transferability within one or more education programmes.
To support the new phase of the reform, the Ministry of Education and Science is currently preparing a comprehensive package of amendments to government regulations related to the law amendments.