Lifelong learning is a prerequisite to cope in today’s rapidly changing world. Therefore it is crucial to provide all people in Estonia with learning opportunities tailored to their needs and capabilities throughout their lifespans.

From 2009 to 2014, the European Social Fund (ESF) programme ‘work-related training and development activities for adults’ was carried out by the Ministry of Education and Research. The programme’s main goal was to give adults better access to education and improve participants’ employability across Estonia.

Free work-related training courses were offered to adults in vocational education and professional higher education institutions. The programme provided lifelong learning opportunities in accordance with labour market needs. Economic and social aspects as well as regional needs were analysed in advance of the programme.

Adults with lower educational levels or without professional or vocational education were the main target group. Since 2009, some 35 000 adults have benefited from free vocational training opportunities in 28 job-related subject areas.

By end of the programme in December 2014, the training courses had proved very popular and can be considered a success:

  • with 113%, participation was clearly above the planned number;
  • all courses were offered free of charge;
  • almost all participants completed the courses successfully;
  • some 39 vocational education institutions and professional higher education institutions (85% of the total number) were involved in the programme. Priority was given to training courses in computer skills, business and management, personal services and technical skills;
  • almost 70% of participants said they would not have taken part in the courses if they had to pay;
  • approximately 95% were very satisfied with course quality;
  • almost 70% were convinced they had significantly or partly improved their employability;
  • some 57% of participants were female;
  • participation by age group: 25-54 years old 77%; 55-64 years old 10% and 17-24 years old 11%.

The programme started out with an idea to create lifelong learning opportunities for the whole population of Estonia. Due the economic crisis, focus was shifted to people with low educational levels and poor or outdated qualifications.

The programme was prolonged at the beginning of 2015.

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