This article is part of a series developed by Cedefop community of apprenticeship experts. It was drafted by Ilze Buligina, Community expert for Latvia, and revised by Cedefop staff.

In Latvia, development of skills relevant to labour market needs is high on the policy agenda for VET. As the ‘Work-based learning’ apprenticeship scheme is an alternative mode of VET delivery (based on the same qualifications as school-based VET), adaptation of apprenticeships to the green transition follows the overall developments for VET.  

Well-established collaboration mechanisms among various stakeholders at all levels (PINTSA – tripartite national level council, SEC – sector expert councils and Conventions at the level of VET institutions) discuss VET programmes, work-based learning, examinations etc. However, greening (as well as other areas such as innovation, digitalisation, new forms of partnerships e.g., among VET, AE and research institutions, advanced businesses) is not yet being addressed sufficiently by the existing platforms.  

Therefore, development of skills for the green transition in apprenticeship is linked with the overall attention of VET stakeholders first to develop STEM-related skills, then to test new collaboration practices and to engage employers in skills development.  

The project ‘Supporting employers to promote skills development in Latvia’ aims to support employers to up/reskill their employees (Ministry of Education, 2021-2023, technical assistance by Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM) and the OECD), including through apprenticeships for adults. Building on assessment of barriers and enablers for Latvian employers (carried out in 2022) and EU good practices (workshop with Estonia, Ireland and Sweden in 2022), the project should develop guidelines for a new regulatory framework and a roadmap for support measures.  

The project will promote the development of STEM in IVET and CVET, which strong ICT but also green elements. STEM should be pursued through practice-oriented and work-based learning approaches, as the project promotes WBL as an integral part of VET. A new stakeholder collaboration scheme will be tested, among VET actors, Higher education and research institutions and labour market actors (‘triple helix’), for greater permeability among VET, Higher education and adult learning. The project foresees teacher and trainer training, addresses examination needs (a new system and centers), and promotes internationalisation, transparency, and capacity of public administration.  

The existing Sector qualifications frameworks (SQF) offers great potential in developing agile STEM programmes, oriented to skills for the green and digital transitions, with a strong workplace component as through apprenticeships (or across other programmes too). However, STEM related programmes and approaches were not covered sufficiently by VET so far. Moreover, such programmes were less popular among VET applicants, either because they were seen as too theoretical and complicated, or because students were not fully aware of recent developments, the work environment and excellent career perspectives in STEM, including the possibilities offered by WBL. This resulted in an increasing shortage of STEM specialists.  

The envisaged regulatory framework for engaging companies, new collaborative platforms (currently tested), but also career guidance could help the VET system meet the needs of an innovative, inclusive, and sustainable economy, including the development of skills for the green transition.  

Although state VET budget does not yet fund such new forms of partnerships, these are primarily tested through EU funded projects. As an example, the Erasmus+ project Platform of Vocational Excellence Water Scale-up (PoVE Water Scale-up) brings together 8 VET schools, 7 Water industry professionals, 4 academic partners and 3 support partners across Europe (NL, DE, MT, CZ, LV, EE, BE) and beyond (SA) to help VET students become agile, sustainability-oriented and digitally-skilled professionals in the water sector.  The aim of the project is to integrate Vocational Excellence in the Water sector, thus ensuring high quality skills and competences that lead to quality jobs and careers, meeting the needs of an innovative, inclusive, and sustainable economy.