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General themes

VET in Estonia comprises the following main features:

  • slightly decreasing participation in VET and merging providers due to demographic and migration challenges;
  • rapidly developing but still relatively small share of dual VET;
  • there are more females in post-secondary VET than males;
  • early leaving from education and training has increased and it is still high from VET; the risk is the highest in the first year of VET studies.

Distinctive features ([1]Cedefop (2017). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Estonia. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8114_en.pdf
):

VET programmes are offered not only in Estonian but also in other languages. In 2017/18, 78.5% of VET learners studied in Estonian, 21.5% in Russian and 0.02% in English. Estonian language classes are mandatory for foreign-language curricula to the extent provided for in the school curriculum, which ensures proficiency in Estonian at a level necessary for working in the acquired profession. To complete upper secondary vocational education (ISCED 354), foreign language learners must pass the State examination in Estonian as a second language or take a vocational or professional examination in Estonian. The aim is to equip graduates with language skills sufficient for professional activity in an Estonian-language working environment.

Although the number of VET learners has been decreasing, the share of adult learners (age 25 and over) in initial and continuing VET has more than doubled since 2010/11, reaching 35.3% of the total VET population in 2017/18. This reflects demographic trends but also changing labour market needs. Since 2010, the proportion of adult university degree holders entering VET has also been increasing.

The share of work-based learning in VET programmes varies between 35% and 70% depending on the type of training. It is usually divided equally between school workshops and workplace learning, featuring work and study assignments with specific objectives.

Most basic education graduates pursue general secondary education but the government’s goal is to increase the share of learners enrolling in VET by 2020. Preferences in education paths vary greatly by region and gender. Many basic and upper secondary education graduates make a choice in favour of VET within several years after graduation; within three years after completion of basic school, 38% of young people reach vocational training.

In 2018, 27% of adults aged 25 to 64 had no VET or higher education qualification; the objective is to reduce this share to less than 25% by 2020. Several measures have been launched to encourage adults without a prior professional or vocational qualification to return to formal education.

There is a high level of skills mismatch. A labour market needs monitoring and forecasting system (OSKA) was launched in 2015 to improve alignment between education and the labour market. Results are available online and are used in curriculum development, career counselling, and planning of State-funded education.

Early leaving from VET is a significant problem. Compared with 11.3% of early leavers from education and training, the rate in the first year of initial VET was 22.4% in 2017 and 23.4% in 2018 ([2]New methodology is used since 2018.); the goal is to reduce it to less than 20% by 2020. There are career counselling services and several other measures to prevent early leaving. Schools are also expected to take more responsibility in this area. Keeping the most vulnerable learners in VET programmes is a challenge.

Participation in lifelong learning increased from 6% in 2005 to 19.7% in 2018. The goal is to increase it to 20% by 2020 and VET has been playing a greater role in achieving this. Age appears to have a substantial impact. The share of people aged 55 to 64 who participated in lifelong learning in 2018 was 10.5%; this is low compared with 28.2% in the 25 to 34 age group. There is a focus on broadening access to non-formal education, training courses for developing key competences, career services, and on facilitating the participation of adults in formal education, aiming to increase participation rates.

Participation in apprenticeships has increased since 2016/17 and now accounts for 7% of VET learners. The number of participants started to increase gradually in 2015 following the education ministry´s efforts to develop a functioning and sustainable work-based learning system with stronger employer involvement, including more ESF investments.

Data from VET in Estonia Spotlight 2017 ([3]Cedefop (2017). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Estonia. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8114_en.pdf
), updated in May 2019.

 

 

Population in 2018: 1 319 133 ([4]NB: Data for population as of 1 January; break in series. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

It decreased since 2013 by 0.08% due to negative natural growth and migration ([5]NB: Data for population as of 1 January; break in series. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

As in many other EU countries, the population is ageing.

The old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase from 29 in 2015 to 56 in 2060 ([6]Old-age-dependency ratio is defined as the ratio between the number of persons aged 65 and more over the number of working-age persons (15-64 years). The value is expressed per 100 persons of working age (15-64).).

 

Population forecast by age group and old-age-dependency ratio

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Demographic changes have an impact on vocational education and training (VET).

Participation has been decreasing since 2010/11 due to the low birth rate in the second half of the 1990s.

This has led to rearrangement of the VET institutions network: the number of State-owned VET providers has been reduced from 54 in 2002/03 to 26 in 2018/19.

To increase the quality and efficiency of VET, many small providers were merged into regional VET centres offering a wide range of qualifications. Adjustments will continue in line with demographic trends.

The country is multicultural and has a bilingual community. In April 2018, about 69% of the population was Estonian. Most VET institutions teach in Estonian, though there are schools where they use Russian or both Estonian and Russian.

Most companies are micro- and small-sized.

Main economic sectors:

  • information and communications;
  • electronics and components;
  • machinery and metalworking;
  • transport and logistics;
  • timber and furniture.

VET qualifications are required in these sectors.

Exports mainly comprise electronic equipment, machinery and equipment, mineral products, metals and metal products, timber and wood products, food and transport vehicles, agricultural products and food preparations.

A limited number of occupations/professions is regulated and the labour market is considered flexible.

Total unemployment ([7]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) in 2018: 4.8% (6.0% in EU-28); it increased by 0.2 percentage points since 2008 ([8]Eurostat table une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2008-18

NB: data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series; low reliability for ISCED 0-2 and 5-8, age 15-24. ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education. ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education. ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Unemployment is distributed unevenly between those with low- and high-level qualifications. The gap has increased during the crisis as unskilled workers are more vulnerable to unemployment. In 2018, the unemployment rate of people with medium-level qualifications, including most VET graduates (ISCED levels 3 and 4) was higher than in the pre-crisis years. It is lower compared to the total unemployment rate ([9]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) in Estonia (4.8% in 2018).

Employment rate of 20 to 34 year-old VET graduates decreased from 79.4% in 2014 to 79.1% in 2018 ([10]Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

 

Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The increase (-0.3pp) in employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates at ISCED levels 3 and 4 in 2014-18 was negative compared to the increase in employment of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+3.5pp) in the same period in Estonia ([11]NB: Break in time series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

The employment rate of 20-34 year-old VET graduates at ISCED levels 3 and 4 in 2018 in Estonia (79.1%) was lower compared to the employment rate of all 20-34 year-old graduates in the same year in Estonia (79.5%) ([12]NB: Break in time series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

For more information about the external drivers influencing VET developments in Estonia please see the case study from Cedefop's changing nature and role of VET in Europe project [12a]Cedefop (2018). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 3: the responsiveness of European VET systems to external change (1995-2015). Case study focusing in Estonia. Cedefop research paper; No 67. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/estonia_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study.pdf

 

Education traditionally has a high value in Estonia. For many years, the share of the population aged up to 64 with higher education has been greater in Estonia than in most EU Member States.

The share of those with a low qualification, or without a qualification, is the sixth lowest in the EU, behind Lithuania, Czechia, Poland, Slovakia, and Latvia.

 

Population (aged 25 to 64) by highest education level attained in 2018

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011. Low reliability for ‘No response’ in Czechia, Iceland, Latvia, and Poland.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_pgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

2.9%

40.7%

100%

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of initial VET learners from total learners at upper secondary level (ISCED level 3), 2017

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Traditionally, there are more males in VET (53%), except at post-secondary level.

Males prefer engineering (the most popular option), manufacturing and construction, science, and services programmes, while females more often enrol in services (the most popular option), business and administration, production and processing, and arts.

The share of early leavers from education and training has decreased from 13.5% in 2009 to 11.3% in 2018. Despite high attainment rates, it is still not reaching the national target for 2020 of no more than 9.5%, and is slightly above the EU-28 average (10.6%).

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2008-18

NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training; break in series. Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_14 [extracted 16.5.2019] and European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/info/2018-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stability-convergence-programmes_en [accessed 14.11.2018].

 

Despite recent positive developments, the dropout rate ([13]Measured on 10 November each year; excludes those who: attended classes less than 31 days, were readmitted within 31 days, applied but never attended or who changed programme in the same curriculum group and in the same institution.) from VET during a school year is high (23.4% in 2017/18). The risk of dropping out is at its highest in the first school year and the challenge for VET providers is to keep the most vulnerable learners in VET programmes. Typical examples of dropout are those who had low grades in basic education ([14]See Chapter 2 for the information on education levels.) and may not have had a positive learning experience or had not developed study habits. Dropout rates also vary by region, school and curriculum group.

Lifelong learning offers training opportunities for adults, including early leavers from education and training.

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training.
Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Participation in lifelong learning in Estonia has been increasing in the past decade. In 2018, it reached 19.7%, more than eight percentage points above the EU-28 average. The government has set the 2020 goal of 20% and VET has been playing an increasing role in achieving this goal.

 

VET learners by age group

Source: National data

 

The share of adults (aged 25 and above) in initial and continuing VET has been increasing. It has more than doubled since 2010/11 and reached 39.6% of the total VET population in 2018/19. This reflects demographic trends and the changing needs of the labour market, but also the changing attitudes towards lifelong learning.

The education and training system comprises:

  • preschool education (ISCED level 0);
  • integrated primary and lower secondary education (ISCED levels 1 and 2) (hereafter basic education);
  • upper secondary education (ISCED level 3);
  • post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED level 4);
  • higher education (ISCED levels 6, 7 and 8).

Preschool education is not compulsory and is generally provided at childcare institutions (koolieelne lasteasutus) for one-and-a-half to seven year-old learners.

Compulsory education starts at age seven and includes nine years of basic education or until a learner reaches age 17. Primary and lower secondary education are usually offered together in basic schools. However, primary education (grades 1 to 6) can also be offered in separate schools, usually in rural areas to ensure better accessibility for learners.

General upper secondary education is provided by so-called gümnaasium. This three-year programme gives graduates access to higher education, provided through academic and professional programmes. Professional higher education programmes are not formally considered VET. Professional higher education institutions may also provide post-secondary VET programmes along with higher education.

The Vocational Educational Institutions Act ([15]Parliament (2013). Vocational Educational Institutions Act (Kutseõppeasutuse seadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I, 30.12.2015, 25. https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/514012019002/consolide/current) distinguishes between initial and continuing VET.

 

Formal, non-formal, initial and continuing VET

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

While both types provide the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to enter the labour market, initial VET also gives learners access to the next qualification level. Non-formal continuing VET is part of adult learning regulated by the Adult Education Act ([16]Parliament (2015). Adult Education Act (Täiskasvanute koolituse seadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I, 23.3.2015, 5.
https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/529062015007/consolide
).

Formal VET leads to four qualification levels (2 to 5) that are the same as in the European qualifications framework (EQF). The VET standard specifies the volume (number of credits), learning outcomes, conditions for termination and continuation of studies for each VET type ([17]Government (2013). Kutseharidusstandard. [vocational education standard]. Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I 2013, 13, 130. https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/116072016008?leiaKehtiv).

There are several VET learning options:

  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • self-learning (excludes work practice; at least 15% of a programme should be acquired through autonomous learning; if it exceeds 50%, the programme is considered to be ‘non-stationary’; 17.2% of VET learners were in ‘non-stationary’ programmes in 2017/18, mostly at EQF levels 4 and 5).

Apprenticeships were introduced to VET as a stand-alone study form in 2006.

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

Upper secondary VET learners receive two qualifications simultaneously: a formal education qualification awarded after completion of a programme; and a professional qualification that is a professional certificate verifying learning outcomes for a specific occupation or profession ([18]Cedefop (2017). Estonia: European inventory on NQF 2016.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/estonia-european-inventory-nqf-2016
). We will refer to them as VET qualifications and professional qualifications.

To complete a VET programme, learners need to pass a professional qualification examination, if available. That can be replaced by a final examination if unsuccessful in the professional qualification examination. Both examinations are learning outcomes based and usually include a practical part.

In addition to VET examinations, State examinations (mother tongue, mathematics and foreign language) are available for upper secondary VET graduates as an option. They are organised centrally by the Foundation Innove ([19]Innove - Basic school final examinations:
https://www.innove.ee/en/examinations-and-tests/basic-school-final-examinations/
).

Apprenticeships (töökohapõhine õpe) were introduced in 2006 (Parliament, 2013, Article 28). They can be offered at all VET levels and in all its forms (initial and continuing), and lead to qualifications at EQF levels 2 to 5. Apprenticeships follow the same curricula as school-based programmes. VET institutions cooperate with employers to design implementation plans for apprentices based on the existing curricula.

General characteristics of apprenticeship programmes are:

  • training in the enterprise comprises at least two-thirds of the curriculum;
  • the remaining one-third of the programme (school part) may also comprise of training at school; in some cases, schools have better equipment than companies;
  • the apprenticeship contract between the school, learner and employee stipulates the rights and obligations of the parties as well as the details of the learning process; the contract is usually initiated by schools, but can also be proposed by companies and learners; it should be in accordance with the labour code but learners retain student status even if an employment contract is signed in addition to the apprenticeship contract; apprentices have the same social guarantees as learners in school-based VET;
  • the total study duration is from three months to three and half years ([20]Currently, apprenticeships are not provided in upper secondary VET (ISCED 354).), equal to school-based VET programmes;
  • employers recompense students for tasks performed to the amount agreed in the contract; it cannot be less than the national minimum wage of EUR 500 per month or EUR 2.97 per hour (2018);
  • apprentices have to pass the same final examinations as in school-based VET;
  • each apprentice is supported by two supervisors: one at school and one at the workplace.

The apprenticeship grant covers the training of supervisors and other costs ([21]Salaries, training materials and maintenance (such as heating and electricity).). Within an apprentice contract, schools may transfer up to 50% of the grant to the training company to pay a salary to supervisors at the workplace.

In 2015/16, there were 678 apprentices, including 30 whose studies were partly financed by the European Social Fund (ESF). In 2016/17, further ESF investment has allowed an increase in the number to 1 381 (5% of VET learners), including 996 of the partly ESF-financed apprentices ([22]More partly EU-financed apprentices started training in January 2017 but they are not included in this figure.). In 2017/18, there were 1 718 apprentices. A total of 78% of vocational education institutions and around 400 companies offered apprenticeship training. During 2015-23, the government’s intention is to attract a total of 7 200 apprentices.

The most popular apprenticeship study fields (curriculum groups) are wholesale and retail sales, social work and counselling, hairdressing and beauty services, motor vehicles, home services, and electricity and energy. Approximately 70% of apprentices are studying in initial and continuing VET programmes leading to EQF level 4.

Learn more about apprenticeships in the national context from the European database on apprenticeship schemes by Cedefop: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/apprenticeship-schemes/scheme-fiches

According to legislation ([23]Vocational Educational Institutions Act (Parliament, 2013); Vocational education standard (Government, 2013), work-based learning regulation (MoER, 2007); Private Schools Act (Parliament, 1998b); Professional Higher Education Institutions Act (Parliament, 1998a); Adult Education Act (Parliament, 2015); Professions Act (Parliament, 2008a); Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications Act (Parliament, 2008b); Study Allowances and Study Loans Act (Parliament, 2003a); Youth Work Act (Parliament, 2010b).), the parliament (Riigikogu), the government (Eesti Vabariigi Valitsus) and the education ministry jointly oversee the VET system at national level. The VET legislation was substantially renewed in the late 1990s and in 2013. Social partners, including trade unions and employer organisations participated in the working group on developing legislation.

The parliament adopts legal acts. The government approves national education policy, with the Estonian lifelong learning strategy 2020 ([24]MoER et al. (2014). The Estonian lifelong learning strategy 2020. Tallinn: Ministry of Education and Research.
https://vplive.hm.ee/sites/default/files/estonian_lifelong_strategy.pdf
) guiding the most important developments in education. It also approves higher education and VET standards and framework requirements for teacher training.

The VET standard ([25]Government (2013). Kutseharidusstandard [vocational education standard]. Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I 2013, 13, 130. https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/116072016008?leiaKehtiv) defines:

  • a learning outcomes approach;
  • requirements for VET curricula:
  • the volume and structure of programmes, including joint programmes, for example between VET and professional higher education;
  • entry and completion requirements;
  • key competences;
  • principles for curriculum updates;
  • principles for recognition of prior learning and work experience;
  • the list of programme groups, study fields and curriculum groups combining several programmes. Examples of the curriculum groups are ‘travel and tourism’, ‘social work’ and ‘banking, finance and insurance’.

The education ministry is responsible for delivering the strategy and its eight programmes ([26](1) Competent and motivated teachers and school leadership programme; (2) digital focus programme; (3) labour market and education cooperation programme; (4) school network programme; (5) general education programme; (6) vocational education programme; (7) higher education programme; (8) adult education programme.), including the vocational education programme ([27]Elukestva oppe strateegia kutseharidusprogramm 2019-22 [Lifelong learning strategy vocational education programme 2019-22].
https://www.hm.ee/et/tegevused/arengukavad
). The education minister also approves national VET curricula.

Since 2012, Foundation Innove ([28]Until the end of 2011 this function was performed by the National Examinations and Qualifications Centre (NEQC) (Riiklik Eksami- ja Kvalifikatsioonikeskus). In 2012, NEQC joined Foundation Innove.) has been implementing the national education policy, as designated by the education ministry. In VET, the foundation organises the development of national curricula, supports implementation and organises VET teacher training.

Several advisory bodies and social partner organisations participate in policy implementation. Local government prepares and implements local education development plans, and coordinates activities of municipal education institutions. Social partner participation in VET is regulated by national legislation and partnership agreements.

At national level, the Chamber of Commerce (Eesti Kaubandus-Tööstuskoda), the Employers´ Confederation (Eesti Tööandjate Keskliit) and the Confederation of Trade Unions (Eesti Ametiühingute Keskliit) represent social partners. Employers play an active and influential role in the professional councils (kutsenõukogud) and in drawing up standards for each occupation.

At local level, social partners participate in VET school counsellor boards (kutseõppeasutuse nõunike kogu), established under the Vocational Educational Institutions Act ([29]Parliament (2013). Vocational Educational Institutions Act (Kutseõppeasutuse seadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I, 30.12.2015, 25.
https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/514012019002/consolide/current
). The boards comprise at least seven members in total. Advisory bodies link VET schools and society, advising the school and its management on planning and organising education and economic activities.

VET schools can be owned by central or local government, or can be privately owned. They all have a similar management structure in line with the Vocational Educational Institutions Act ([30]Parliament (2013). Vocational Educational Institutions Act (Kutseõppeasutuse seadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I, 30.12.2015, 25.
https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/514012019002/consolide/current
). The highest collegial decision-making body of the school is the council (nõukogu), which organises the activities and plans school development. The head of a school (direktor) is also the head of the council, managing the school according to the development plan of the school, including financial resources ([31]Cedefop ReferNet Estonia (2014).).

In 2018/19, 26 of 32 VET institutions were State-owned and run by the Ministry of Education and Research. Municipalities ran two VET schools and four were private. In addition, five professional higher education institutions provided VET programmes at the post-secondary level (ISCED 4) along with higher education (ISCED 6).

Total expenditure on VET has decreased from EUR 129 million in 2010 to EUR 108.6 million in 2015 due to reduced investment in infrastructure and equipment as several big VET investment projects have been completed.

 

VET total expenditure and investments in 2008-15

NB: Most recent data.
Source: State Accounting Balances System (UOE methodology) [extracted 18.5.18].

 

Public VET expenditure as a share of total government expenditure has also decreased, from 1.6% in 2012 to 1.3% in 2015, because total government expenditure has increased nominally more than the expenditure on VET. Approximately 49% of total expenditure is expenditure on staff compensation.

Formal VET is mostly State-financed. In 2018/19, 99% of the 23 387 initial and continuing VET learners were in State-financed programmes.

 

Expenditure per student in 2008-15 (EUR)

NB: Most recent data. Investments in infrastructure and equipment are excluded.
Source: State Accounting Balances System (UOE methodology) [extracted 18.5.18].

 

Until 2018, the education minister defined the number of learners to be financed from the State budget for the following three years according to curriculum group and VET provider (for example ‘media technologies’ that comprises curricula from related fields such as ‘multimedia’, ‘printing technology’ and ‘photography’). The figures were updated annually for the next two years.

Since 2018, a new model for financing vocational education was introduced, which no longer proceeds solely from the number of State-commissioned student places. Instead, the school, its activities and performance will be financed as a whole.

The new financing model consists of basic financing and performance-based financing. This secures the budgetary stability of the management and HR expenses of schools.

Basic financing considers the number of learners, the areas taught, the salary rates of teachers, the specific features of specialties, students with special needs, the need for support specialists, and the buildings used by the school. Basic financing is fixed for three years and guarantees the funds required for the main activities of the schools.

Performance-based financing, which values the outstanding achievements of schools, is based on performance indicators, which comply with the strategic goals important to the State. These include the share of students who graduate after the nominal period of study, the share of graduates who go further in their learning or participate in employment, the share of students who graduate by taking a professional examination, and the share of students participating in apprenticeship training. One of the ideas behind performance financing is to guarantee that vocational schools have the funds they need for cooperating with companies and general education schools. Performance financing will comprise up to approximately 20% of the money the school receives from the State budget.

A few privately financed VET programmes are available in State and municipal VET schools. Such programmes are usually in high demand (as with cosmetician programmes) but are not part of the State-financed programmes.

Apprenticeships are also co-financed by ESF.

State and municipal vocational schools may provide continuing training for adults for a fee without age restrictions. They can also attract additional financing from other sources, such as international projects.

In VET, there are:

  • general subject teachers;
  • vocational teachers.

The Vocational Educational Institutions Act ([32]Parliament (2013). Vocational Educational Institutions Act (Kutseõppeasutuse seadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I, 30.12.2015, 25.
https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/514012019002/consolide/current
) uses the term ‘teacher’ for both teachers and trainers. The Act specifies that qualification requirements of VET teachers are determined by the professional standards of a teacher or a vocational education teacher. There are different standards at different EQF levels for general education subject teachers and vocational teachers in VET.

General education subject teachers can work in VET but also in general education schools. They require a master’s degree (also called ‘second cycle higher education diploma’) equal to 300 ECTS ([33]European credit transfer and accumulation system.) credits and teach, for instance, mathematics, physics and languages.

Vocational teachers offer knowledge and skills in the field of their professional expertise (the so-called ‘speciality subjects’). Qualification requirements are more varied and at different EQF levels compared to teachers of general education subjects, allowing more flexibility for professionals who want to teach. This also improves the link to the labour market. The professional standard of vocational education teacher ([34]Kutsekoda:
http://www.kutsekoda.ee/en/kutsesysteem/tutvustus/kutsestandardid_eng
) (kutseõpetaja) defines three qualification levels (EQF levels 5, 6 and 7). According to the professional standards, a VET provider cannot employ more than 20% of staff with the lowest level qualification (at EQF level 5).

Teachers are employed through contracts. The head of a school concludes, amends and terminates employment contracts with teachers in accordance with the labour code. Employment contracts are of indefinite duration; reduced working time (35 hours per week) applies.

The lifelong learning strategy up to 2020 supports creating conditions for competent and motivated teachers as one of its five strategic goals. It aims at offering competitive wages and working conditions, leading to a positive image of a teacher in society. Since 2014, the basic salary of teachers has been constantly raised and has passed the average salary in Estonia. This is a strategic decision and political priority ([35]https://www.haridussilm.ee/ Õpetajate keskmine brutokuupalk 2007-17).

Currently, the teaching profession is not an attractive option for young people. The highest share of VET teachers (51.7%) are aged 50 and above ([36]Source: Estonian education information system (Eesti Hariduse Infosüsteem).) and their share has been increasing in the past decade. Most VET teachers are female; however, the share of males in VET (39%) is more than double the share in general education.

The Vocational Educational Institutions Act ([37]Parliament (2013). Vocational Educational Institutions Act (Kutseõppeasutuse seadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I, 30.12.2015, 25.
https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/514012019002/consolide/current
) stipulates that each teacher is obliged to self-monitor their professional competences and upskill their personal needs. Self-evaluation is done annually and discussed with their immediate head. This approach takes account of teachers’ individual needs depending on their current competences and tasks and the needs of VET providers. This approach applies to all VET teachers.

Teacher practice at an enterprise or institution ([38]E.g. healthcare or social services.) may also be counted towards continuing professional development. It is professional work performed in a work environment with a specific purpose and has a direct link with the teachers’ area of expertise. Teachers are excused from teaching during practice.

The leading continuing professional development providers are universities, followed by VET providers, private companies and foundation courses.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([39]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

Anticipation of skill needs in the Estonian labour market is based on labour market forecasts by the economics ministry ([40]Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications.), updated annually since 2003. They show demand in the national economy for employees by sector and qualification level. Forecasts are based on the data of the 2011 population census and labour force surveys conducted by Statistics Estonia. They cover 39 economic (sub)sectors and five major professional groups:

  • managers;
  • specialists;
  • service staff;
  • skilled workers;
  • unskilled workers.

The forecasts reflect changes in employment and the need to replace employees leaving the labour market. The latest forecast considers the period 2017-26 ([41]MoEC (2016). Tööjõuvajaduse ja -pakkumise prognoos aastani 2024 [Forecast of labour force until 2024].
https://mkm.ee/sites/default/files/toojouprognoos_2024_lyhikirjeldus.pdf
).

In 2015, the education ministry launched a new labour market needs monitoring and forecasting system, known by its Estonian acronym OSKA. Managed by the qualifications authority (Kutsekoda), it assesses skill needs by economic sector (such as information and communications technology, accounting) and develops new evidence and intelligence for stakeholders in education and the business world. The system comprises 23 expert panels of employer representatives, education professionals, researchers, public opinion leaders, trade unions and policy-makers. By 2020, each panel representing one sector will publish a report with practical recommendations for decision-makers and stakeholders.

The first five OSKA reports on accounting, forestry and timber industry, information and communications technologies (ICT), manufacturing of metal products, machinery and equipment, and social work were published in 2016. Another six sectors were covered in 2017: construction; energy and mining; healthcare; production of chemicals, rubber, plastic and construction materials; the agriculture and food industry; and transportation, logistics and repair of motor vehicles. An additional five sectors were covered in 2018 ([42]Apparel, textile and the leather industry; human resources, administrative work and business consultation; education and research; trade, rental and repairs; accommodation, catering and tourism.). Based on the sectoral reports, a 10-year forecasting report on changes in labour market demand, developments and trends is updated and presented to the government annually. The forecasting results are used for career counselling, curriculum development and strategic planning at all education levels, including vocational education and training (VET).

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([43]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast) and European Skills Index ([44]https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/indicators/european-skills-index)

Initial and continuing VET qualifications are based on professional (occupational) standards that are part of the professional qualifications system.

 

VET qualifications and professional standards

Source: Cedefop based on ReferNet Estonia.

 

Professional standards

Professional standards are used for designing VET curricula, curricula for higher education and other training programmes, for assessing learner competences, and awarding a professional qualification. They:

  • are based on a job analysis and describe the nature of work; analyses are carried out by working groups designing professional standards;
  • describe expected competences as observable and assessable;
  • define the method(s) for assessing learner competences and a ‘satisfactory’ threshold;
  • define qualifications (EQF) levels.

All professional standards are available in the State register ([45]Kutsedoda: State register of occupational qualifications:
http://www.kutsekoda.ee/kutseregister
). In May 2019, the State register of professional qualifications included 555 professional standards in 93 professional areas.

VET qualifications

Uniform requirements for VET curricula and qualifications are stipulated by the VET standard ([46]Government (2013). Kutseharidusstandard. [vocational education standard]. Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I 2013, 13, 130.
https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/117042019006?leiaKehtiv
). The standard:

  • describes the requirements for national and school curricula and the curriculum groups in line with ISCED levels, their objectives and expected learning outcomes;
  • determines the terms and conditions for recognising prior learning, volume of study and graduation requirements by initial and continuing VET curricula;
  • defines requirements for teachers and trainers;
  • assigns the national qualifications framework levels to VET qualification types.

VET schools design curricula for every qualification offered.

Upper secondary VET programme curricula that give access to higher education are based on the national curricula. National curricula are based on professional standards, the VET standard and the national (general education) curriculum for upper secondary schools. Foundation Innove coordinates the process of curriculum design, including cooperation with social partners.

Other VET curricula are based on the VET standard and the respective professional standard(s). Where such standards do not exist, the school must apply for the curriculum to be recognised by social partners.

The vocational orientation curriculum (legal framework introduced in 2018) is not required to correspond to a certain professional standard. This facilitates transitions from compulsory education to VET and/or the labour market, especially for vulnerable groups.

National upper secondary VET curricula that give access to higher education are approved by the education minister.

The VET standard determines how learning outcomes of modules are described:

  • profession-specific knowledge are facts and theories acquired through the learning process;
  • profession-specific skills are the ability to apply knowledge for performing tasks and solving problems; skills are described in terms of their complexity and diversity;
  • autonomy and responsibility describe to what extent the graduate is able to work independently and take responsibility for the results of work;
  • learning skills are the ability to manage the learning process using efficient strategies and appropriate learning styles;
  • communication skills are the ability to communicate in different situations and on different topics orally and in writing;
  • self-management competence is the ability to understand and evaluate oneself, give sense to one’s own activities and behaviour in society, develop oneself as a person;
  • operational competence is the ability to identify problems and solve them, plan one’s own activities, set goals and expected results, select adequate tools, act, evaluate the results of one’s own actions, cooperate with others;
  • ICT competence is the ability to use ICT tools and digital media skilfully and critically;
  • entrepreneurship competence is the ability to take initiative, act creatively, plan one’s own career in the modern economic, business and work environment, apply knowledge and skills in different spheres of life ([47]Cedefop ReferNet Estonia (2014). Estonia: VET in Europe: country report. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports.
    http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2014/2014_CR_EE.pdf
    ).

Managing qualifications

Several bodies are involved in designing, updating and awarding qualifications:

  • the education ministry;
  • professional councils;
  • awarding bodies;
  • qualifications committees;
  • assessment committees.

 

Stakeholders participating in the design and award of qualifications

Source: Cedefop based on ReferNet Estonia.

 

The education ministry is responsible for developing a professional qualifications system. This task is delegated to the qualifications authority (Kutsekoda), a private foundation led by a council comprising representatives of the: Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Employers' Confederation; Employees' Unions Confederation; Confederation of Trade Unions; and the education, finance, economic and social affairs ministries. The qualifications authority organises and coordinates the activities of professional councils and keeps the register of professional qualifications.

Professional councils represent 14 job sectors. The councils approve and update professional standards and are represented equally by trade unions, employer organisations, professional associations and public authorities. Chairs of professional councils form a board of chairmen for these councils to coordinate cooperation between them.

Professional councils select awarding bodies (public and private) to organise the assessment of competences and issue qualifications. The awarding bodies are selected for five years through a public competition organised by the qualifications authority. VET providers may also be given the right to award qualifications, if the curriculum of the institution complies with the professional standard and is nationally recognised. Qualifications are entered into the register of professional qualifications. As of 2019, there were a relatively large number of institutions (108) awarding professional qualifications.

The awarding body sets up a committee involving sectoral stakeholders: employers, employees, training providers, and representatives of professional associations. It often also includes customer representatives and other interested parties. This ensures impartiality in awarding qualifications. The committee approves assessment procedures, including examination materials, decides on awarding qualifications, and resolves complaints.

It may set up an assessment committee that evaluates organisation and the results of the assessment and reports to the qualifications committee.

The assessment committee verifies to what extent the applicant’s competences meet the requirements of the professional qualification standards. The assessment criteria are described in the rules and procedures for awarding the qualification or in the respective assessment standard ([48]Cedefop ReferNet Estonia (2014). Estonia: VET in Europe: country report. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2014/2014_CR_EE.pdf
).

A person’s competences can be assessed and recognised regardless of whether they have been acquired through formal, non-formal or informal learning.

VET quality is assured through external and internal processes that do not differentiate in their approach between school-based learning, work-based learning, self-learning (including ‘non-stationary’) ([49]Comprising more than 50% self-learning.) and apprenticeships.

External quality assurance

External quality assurance of schools’ curriculum groups ([50]A curriculum group (e.g. media technologies) comprises curricula from related fields (e.g. multimedia; printing technology; and photography).) is confirmed by awarding the ‘right to offer VET programmes’.

Following changes in the approach to learning and teaching, the approach to quality assurance (i.e. external assessment process) was changed in 2019. The former extension of the right to provide instruction based on the accreditation results in the curriculum group was replaced with a permanent right to provide instruction in curriculum groups, where schools have accreditation for the full period (six years).

The external assessment is organised by the Quality Agency for Higher and Vocational Education (EKKA). A quality assessment in curriculum groups will take place once in six years and the result of the assessment is not directly connected with the right to provide studies. The process is more focused on achieving constant improvements in the teaching and learning process and the development of quality culture at school.

An assessment of the right to provide instruction, giving a school this right for a term of three years, shall be conducted in curricula groups, and repeated if necessary, by 31 August 2019. The minister responsible for the area shall make one of the following decisions:

  • to grant the right to provide instruction without a term;
  • to grant the right to provide instruction for three years;
  • not to grant the right to provide instruction.

A school that has received the right to provide instruction in a curriculum group for a specified term, in order to obtain the right to provide instruction without a term, should submit an application for a repeat assessment, together with the internal assessment report, at least six months before the expiry of the right to provide instruction. Schools that have received the right to provide instruction in a curriculum group for a specified term, but have not submitted an application to the Ministry of Education and Research, or if the minister responsible for the area makes a decision not to grant the right to provide instruction as a result of the repeat assessment, shall have its right to provide instruction terminated upon the expiry of the term.

Internal evaluation

In 2006, internal evaluation of education institutions became mandatory, the objective being to support the development of VET providers. VET providers regularly (formally at least every three years) conduct an internal evaluation of each curriculum group and draft a report. Since 2013, EKKA has consulted them on this process.

The internal assessment shall form the basis for preparing the development plan of a school and the assessment of quality. The internal evaluation criteria are similar to those for external evaluation: leadership and administration; resource management (including human resources); cooperation with interest groups; and education process. Methods of internal evaluation are chosen by VET providers ([51]MoER; SICI (2016). The inspectorate of education of Estonia. Tartu: SICI, Standing International Conference of Inspectorates.
http://www.siciinspectorates.eu/getattachment/21147d5b-bc8d-49c8-8fc0-864d2d31cc01
). They often use activity and performance indicators provided in the education statistics database HaridusSilm.

The education information system collects data about the internal evaluation and feedback reports, so the ministry is able to check whether internal evaluations have been conducted and supported by advisory services. The results of internal evaluations are public but education institutions are not obliged to make them available on their websites.

EKKA provides free counselling to VET schools that support self-assessment and internal evaluation reporting. The competent and motivated teachers and school leadership programme, one of the nine programmes of the Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 ([52]MoER (2015b). Pädevad ja motiveeritud õpetajad ning haridusasutuste juhid [Lifelong learning strategy competent and motivated teachers and school leadership programme].
https://www.hm.ee/et/tegevused/arengukavad
), enables training for school leaders and teachers.

Recognition of prior learning helps assess applicant competences against stated criteria, indicating whether these competences match education programme enrolment requirements and learning outcomes or those in occupational standards. The process helps value competences regardless of the time, place and the way they have been acquired, supporting lifelong learning and mobility, improving access to education for at-risk groups, and supporting more efficient use of resources ([53]Cedefop (2016). 2016 update to the European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning: country report Estonia.
https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/2016_validate_EE.pdf
).

The VET sector in Estonia has introduced recognition of prior learning following developments in the higher education sector. The recognition process is legally established by the Vocational Educational Institutions Act ([54]Parliament (2013). Vocational Educational Institutions Act (Kutseõppeasutuse seadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I, 30.12.2015, 25.https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/514012019002/consolide/current). General principles for all VET providers are set in the VET standard ([55]Government (2013). Kutseharidusstandard. [vocational education standard]. Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I 2013, 13, 130.https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/117042019006?leiaKehtiv).

Awarding bodies, including VET providers, are responsible for developing detailed recognition procedures. Education institutions may consider prior learning when admitting learners to their programmes. Learners may also be exempt from a part of a curriculum, if they have achieved and demonstrated relevant learning outcomes. In such a case, the level of learning outcomes demonstrated can be considered as the final grade for the subject or module.

VET providers offering recognition of prior learning make public the terms, conditions and procedures that apply, including deadlines and fees. They must also provide counselling to candidates.

Successful recognition results in a certificate or diploma. Experiential learning, hobby activities or any other everyday activity are certified by reference to the work accomplished upon presentation of a qualification certificate, contract of employment, copy of assignment to the post or any other documentary proof. A description of vocational experience and self-analysis is added to the application. If necessary, VET providers may give applicants practical tasks, conduct interviews or use other assessment methods ([56]Cedefop (2016). 2016 update to the European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning: country report Estonia.https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/2016_validate_EE.pdf).

The lifelong learning strategy up to 2020 and its adult education programme ([57]Elukestva oppe strateegia täiskasvanuharidusprogramm 2019-22 [Lifelong learning strategy adult education programme 2019-22].
https://www.hm.ee/et/tegevused/arengukavad
) support the development and broader use of quality validation practices.

For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database ([58]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/european-database-on-validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning)

Allowances, meals and travel subsidy

VET learners can apply for basic and special study allowances:

  • the monthly basic allowance is EUR 60 and is available from semester two in formal full-time programmes. Around 40% of VET learners receive the allowance based on performance merit;
  • a special allowance can be granted to learners in a difficult economic situation; the board of the education institution approves the procedure to use the provider’s special allowance fund.

VET providers create allowance funds (basic and special) which are financed from the State budget. The special allowance fund can be up to 50% of the resources of the basic allowance fund.

Lunchtime meals are also paid for by the State. This applies to VET learners up to age 20 who have not completed secondary education ([59]Excluding ‘non-stationary’ programmes, i.e. comprising more than 50% self-learning.) according to the initial training curricula ([60]Parliament (2013). Vocational Educational Institutions Act (Kutseõppeasutuse seadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I, 30.12.2015, 25.https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/515012016003/consolide).

VET learners ([61]Excluding ‘non-stationary’ programmes, i.e. comprising more than 50% self-learning.) are reimbursed public transport tickets for travel between the learning venue and home. Dormitory residents and those who rent apartments close to the learning venue are reimbursed one return ticket to their hometown per week and an additional ticket during national and school holidays.

Study loans

In 2003, study loans were introduced to improve access to full-time post-secondary VET and on-time graduation. Secondary education graduates who wish to enrol in at least six-month formal VET programmes, can apply. Since 2015/16, part-time students have also been able to apply. In 2016/17, 1.6% of VET learners benefited from the loan ([62]). Since 2018/19 it can be up to EUR 2 000 per year.

Tax exemption on training costs

Estonian residents can be exempt from income tax on training costs for programmes and courses at a State or local government education institution, or licensed private/foreign provider ([63]Parliament (1999). Income Tax Act (Tulumaksuseadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I 1999, 101, 903. https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/505042019004/consolide/current).

Study leave for employees

The Adult Education Act ([64]Parliament (2015). Adult Education Act (Täiskasvanute koolituse seadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I, 23.3.2015, 5.
https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/529062015007/consolide
) provides the right for employees to take leave of up to 30 calendar days per year while in formal education or professional training. On application, the employee must present written proof of studies from the provider. During leave, employers pay the average study leave for 20 calendar days. Additional study leave (15 days) is granted for preparing for final exams; study leave pay is calculated on the basis of the national minimum wage (EUR 500 per month or EUR 2.97 per hour in 2018). An employee also has the right to leave without pay to sit entry examinations. These rights and benefits are applied in the public and private sector, in small, medium-sized and large companies

Incentives for the unemployed

The social affairs ministry (Sotsiaalministeerium) is responsible for training the unemployed. Vocational training for the unemployed is funded by the public employment service ([65]Unemployment Insurance Fund.
https://www.tootukassa.ee/
). This allocates resources to employment services to purchase and organise labour market training. It commissions training from education institutions from State and private VET providers.

The public employment service also supports work practice placement for the unemployed through agreements. The participant continues to receive unemployment benefit and is granted a scholarship and travel compensation, paid by the employment service.

Since 2009, labour market training for the unemployed is also offered on the basis of a voucher system. Vouchers offer a quick and flexible way for the unemployed to use the resources for further training or to retrain to find a new job. The service covers up to EUR 2 500 per training for two years.

In May 2017, the public employment service launched a new package of services for unemployment prevention through continuing training and retraining. Individuals are encouraged to move to jobs that create higher added value. Typical examples are: workers who are likely to lose their jobs but could retain their employment; those without a qualification or whose skills are outdated and do not correspond to the needs of the labour market; workers with poor knowledge of Estonia; and those aged over 50. The package also supports employees who cannot continue their present employment due to health issues.

This service package also offers a study allowance scheme that supports participation in VET and in higher education. People at risk of unemployment now have access to labour market training through vouchers. In addition to direct support to employees, skills development is supported by compensating 50% to 100% of the training costs to employers. Employers can apply for a training grant to support their workers in adapting to the changes in business processes, in technology or changes in formal qualification requirements. Employers can also use the grant to fill vacancies in high demand roles by equipping potential employees with the necessary skills.

More than 3 700 people are estimated to have received this support in 2017, and around 15 000 to 19 000 annually in 2018-20.

Wage subsidy and training remuneration

Employers are reimbursed by the State for supervising work practice for the unemployed ([66]Parliament (2005). Labour Market Services and Benefits Act (Tööturuteenuste ja - toetuste seadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I 2005, 54, 430. https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/511012017005/consolide/current), with a daily supervision rate of EUR 22.24 – eight times the minimum hourly wage (EUR 2.97 in 2018) ([67]Parliament (2009). Employment Contracts Act (Töölepingu seadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I 2009, 5, 35. https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/520032019008/consolide/current) – for each day attended of the first month of training. Reimbursement decreases to 75% of the daily rate during the second month, and to 50% during the third and fourth month.

Tax exemptions

There is no value added tax for formal training; this includes learning materials, private tuition relating to general education, and other training services unless provided for business purposes ([68]Parliament (2003b). Value Added Tax Act (Käibemaksuseadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I 2003, 82, 554. https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/504012017001/consolide/current).

Since 2012, enterprises have been exempt from income tax if they finance the formal education of their employees ([69]Parliament (1999). Income Tax Act (Tulumaksuseadus). Riigi Teataja [State Gazette], RT I 1999, 101, 903. https://www.riigiteataja.ee/en/eli/ee/516012017002/consolide/current).

Strategy and provision

The lifelong learning strategy up to 2020 promotes diverse learning opportunities and career services that are of good quality, flexible, and take account of the needs of the labour market. This will also help increase the number of people with VET qualifications in different age groups and regions.

Since January 2019, the Unemployment Insurance Fund has been providing career advice and career information services for everyone, including schoolchildren. The Unemployment Insurance Fund has restructured its system of career services and integrated the services of Foundation Innove Rajaleidja offered to young people into the existing career services. Counselling includes topics related to learning, workplaces and choice of specialisation. Since 2019, in addition to career counselling and the mediation of career information, the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund is responsible for the development of the methodology of career services, quality management, and monitoring and analytical activities. Career counsellors offer their services in all the offices of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund. Career counselling is offered to everyone and the service is free of charge.

The Ministry of Education and Research is still responsible for providing high-quality career lessons in basic schools and upper secondary schools, ensuring curricula development in the field, quality learning materials, and enhancing career teachers’ skills and knowledge with in-service training. Development activities and monitoring activities are planned jointly in order to enhance the capacity of education institutions and further develop the integrity of the field of career services.

Career studies focus on the implementation of the topic ‘Lifelong learning and career planning’ in a school environment. It is important to support the implementation of cross-curricular topics in order to develop the key competences across all subjects, as a result of which students will have the necessary career skills by the end of basic school.

Career education focuses on the optional subjects offered in basic school and upper secondary school. Career education relies on the developed career competence model, the main competences of which are self-determination, acknowledgment of opportunities, planning and acting. In 2018/19 the optional career education subjects are being taught in 538 schools.

The modernisation of the national VET curricula has been in process during recent years. New curricula include the learning outcome: ‘the student understands his/her responsibility to make informed decisions in lifelong career planning processes’. This means that career management has become an integral part of VET. In developing career planning skills in VET there is a focus on self-evaluation, how best to use the learner’s professional skills in the labour market, how to keep and raise professional qualifications through continuous self-improvement, how to combine family life and work, and how to value health.

Please also see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Programme Types
Not available

Post-secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

VET programmes,

0.5 to 2.5 years,

WBL: min. 50%

ISCED 454

Initial and continuing VET programmes leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 454 (viienda taseme kutseõpe)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

454

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

Usually 19+

Usual completion age

19+

Length of a programme (years)

0.5 to 2.5 years

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Information not available

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

(no age limit)

ECVET or other credits

The volume of the studies is 60 to 150 credits and 60 to 150 credits for military and public defence programmes.

Continuing VET programmes study volume is 15 to 60 credits.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • self-learning (excludes work practice; at least 15% of a programme should be acquired through autonomous learning; if it exceeds 50%, the programme is considered to be ‘non-stationary’;
  • apprenticeships.

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

Main providers

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • half at a VET institution
  • half at an enterprise
Main target groups

Programmes are available for people who have completed upper secondary education and have an EQF level 4 or 5 VET qualification or relevant competences (depending on IVET or CVET).

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners must have completed upper secondary education and must have an EQF level 4 or 5 VET qualification or relevant competences.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a VET programme, learners need to pass a professional qualification examination that can also be replaced by a final examination in case of failure to pass a professional qualification examination. Both examinations are learning outcomes based and usually include a practical part.

Diplomas/certificates provided

VET learners receive a leaving certificate after the learning outcomes corresponding to the qualification or partial profession described in the curriculum is achieved. If a professional qualification examination is passed a professional certificate will also be awarded.

Examples of qualifications

Accountant, business administration specialist, sales organiser, and small business entrepreneur.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates:

  • can enter the labour market;
  • can follow further pathways in bachelor or professional higher education studies;
  • those with initial VET may progress in continuing VET.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

20% ([82]2017/18)

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 2

VET programme,

up to 2 years,

WBL: min. 70%

ISCED 251

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 2, ISCED 251 (teise taseme kutseõpe)
EQF level
2
ISCED-P 2011 level

251

Usual entry grade

No entry requirement

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

Depends on entry age

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Information not available

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

30 to 120 credits depending on the programme ([72]The Vocational Educational Institutions Act (Parliament, 2013) defines credits for VET curricula describing the time required to achieve learning outcomes. One credit is 26 hours of learner ‘study load’. The number of credits per programme and school year is 60.).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • self-learning (excludes work practice; at least 15% of a programme should be acquired through autonomous learning; if it exceeds 50%, the programme is considered to be ‘non-stationary’;
  • apprenticeships.

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

Main providers

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=70%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school;
  • in-company practice.
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

Many curricula at this level, for example for assistant cleaners, are also suitable for learners with special educational needs, such as those with moderate and severe disability. Special arrangements are available for them in VET schools and social welfare institutions.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

There are no minimum entry requirements but learners must be at least 17 years old to enrol.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a VET programme, learners need to pass a professional qualification examination, if available, that can also be replaced by a final examination . Both examinations are similar. They are learning outcomes based and usually include a practical part.

Diplomas/certificates provided

VET learners receive a formal education qualification awarded after completion of a programme and a professional qualification that is a professional certificate verifying learning outcomes for a specific occupation or profession ([73]Cedefop (2017). Estonia: European inventory on NQF 2016.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/estonia-european-inventory-nqf-2016
). We refer to them as VET qualifications and professional qualifications.

Those who have been simultaneously enrolled in general education and meet basic education requirements are issued with a basic education certificate by general education schools in addition to a VET qualification.

Examples of qualifications

Cleaner assistant, assistant gardener, electronics assembly operator, logger ([74]As described in ILO; ISCO 08:
http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/stat/isco/
)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates:

  • can enter the labour market;
  • can continue their studies at EQF level 3;
  • can continue their studies in general education; schools for adults leading to general basic education.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

<1% ([75]2017/18)

EQF 3

VET programmes,

up to 2 years,

WBL: min. 50%

ISCED 251

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 251 (kolmanda taseme kutseõpe)
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

251

Usual entry grade

No entry requirement

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

Depends on entry age

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Information not available

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

30 to 120 credits.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • self-learning (excludes work practice; at least 15% of a programme should be acquired through autonomous learning; if it exceeds 50%, the programme is considered to be ‘non-stationary’;
  • apprenticeships.

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

Main providers

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • half practical training at school
  • half in-company practice
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

There are no minimum entry requirements.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a VET programme, learners need to pass a professional qualification examination, if available, that can also be replaced by a final examination. Both examinations are learning outcomes based and usually include a practical part.

Diplomas/certificates provided

VET learners receive a formal education qualification awarded after completion of a programme and a professional qualification that is a professional certificate verifying learning outcomes for a specific occupation or profession ([76]Cedefop (2017). Estonia: European inventory on NQF 2016.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/estonia-european-inventory-nqf-2016
). We refer to them as VET qualifications and professional qualifications.

Examples of qualifications

Woodworking bench operator and electronic equipment assembler

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates:

  • can enter the labour market;
  • those who acquired basic (general) education (before or in parallel to a VET programme) can continue their studies at upper secondary level;
  • those without completed basic education can continue their studies in general education schools for adults.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

3.9% ([77]2017/18)

EQF 4

VET programmes,

up to 2.5 years,

WBL: min. 50%

ISCED 351

Initial and continuing VET programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 351 (neljanda taseme kutseõpe)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

351

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

at least 17

Usual completion age

Depending on entry age

Length of a programme (years)

2.5 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Information not available

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

30 to 150 credits (depending on the programme) and 180 credits for music and performance programmes.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • self-learning (excludes work practice; at least 15% of a programme should be acquired through autonomous learning; if it exceeds 50%, the programme is considered to be ‘non-stationary’;
  • apprenticeships.

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

Main providers

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • half practical training at school
  • half in-company practice
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Completed basic education is a prerequisite to enrol in these programmes. Those entering continuing VET programmes must have an EQF level 4 qualification or competences in addition to basic education to enrol.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a VET programme, learners need to pass a professional qualification examination, if available, that can also be replaced by a final examination. Both examinations are learning outcomes based and usually include a practical part.

Diplomas/certificates provided

VET learners may receive a formal education qualification awarded after completion of a programme and a professional qualification that is a professional certificate verifying learning outcomes for a specific occupation or profession ([78]Cedefop (2017). Estonia: European inventory on NQF 2016.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/estonia-european-inventory-nqf-2016
). We refer to them as VET qualifications and professional qualifications.

Examples of qualifications

Welder, junior software developer, IT systems specialist, farm-worker

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates:

  • can enter the labour market;
  • can continue in upper secondary general education;
  • can continue in a VET programme at ISCED level 354.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

30.9% ([79]2017/18)

EQF 4

VET programmes,

up to 3 years,

WBL: min. 35%

ISCED 354

Initial upper secondary VET programmes, ISCED 354 (kutsekeskharidusõpe)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

At least 17

Usual completion age

19

Depending on entry age

Length of a programme (years)

3 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Information not available

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

The volume of studies is mostly 180 credits, including at least 60 credits of general education; 30 credits are common for all programmes and 30 are tailored to the programme.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • self-learning (excludes work practice; at least 15% of a programme should be acquired through autonomous learning; if it exceeds 50%, the programme is considered to be ‘non-stationary’;
  • apprenticeships.

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

Main providers

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=35%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school
  • in-company practice
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults aged 22 and above.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Students may enter upper secondary VET if they have acquired basic education. The existence of competences corresponding to the level of basic education is required from a person without basic education and who is at least 22 years of age. Schools assess the existence of the required competences.

Assessment of learning outcomes

VET students receive a leaving certificate after the learning outcomes corresponding to the qualification or partial profession described in the curriculum is achieved. To complete a VET programme, learners need to pass a professional qualification examination, if available, that can also be replaced by a final examination in case of failure to pass a professional qualification examination. Both examinations are similar. They are learning outcomes based and usually include a practical part.

Diplomas/certificates provided

VET learners receive a leaving certificate after the learning outcomes corresponding to the qualification or partial profession described in the curriculum are achieved and also if a professional qualification examination is passed. a professional certificate will also be awarded

Examples of qualifications

Heat pump installers and catering specialists

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates:

  • can enter the labour market;
  • can continue in higher education, provided the entry requirements are met ([80]Higher education institutions may require passing State examinations (mathematics, foreign language and mother tongue) in addition to VET qualifications.);
  • can continue with an optional year of general education (bridging programme) to prepare for State examinations.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

44.4% ([81]2017/18)

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available

General themes

VET in Iceland comprises the following main features:

  • almost all VET is offered at upper secondary level;
  • almost all initial VET in Iceland comprises certified trades and is built on an apprentice system, where most of the education takes place at school, but workplace training is also necessary;
  • social partners play an important role in shaping VET policies;
  • participation in lifelong learning (and its VET component) is at 23.6% for 25 to 64 year olds, which is above the EU-28 average and the equivalent European education and training 2020 benchmark of 15%.

Distinctive features ([1]As there’s no Spotlight on VET for Iceland prior to 2018 and the distinctive features section is not a feature of the 2018 spotlights, distinctive features were identified as such by ReferNet Iceland.)

Study programmes vary in length from one school year to four years of combined school and workplace training.

The participation rate of young people in VET aged 15 to 24 is among the lowest in Europe at 23.8%. Looking at all upper secondary learners, however, the proportion is around 30% vis-à-vis general studies, reflecting the higher average age of VET learners, many of whom had enrolled in general studies before switching to VET programmes.

Most learners in workplace training receive salaries, at an increasing percentage of fully qualified workers’ salaries. Enterprises training learners can apply to the education ministry for a subsidy to fund the training.

Learners can finish upper secondary school with a vocational and a general degree (matriculation exam), which is the prerequisite for higher education.

In 2014, the education ministry published the White Paper on Education Reform ([2]Ministry of Education and Culture, Iceland (2014). White paper on education reform. https://www.stjornarradid.is/media/menntamalaraduneyti-media/media/frett...). Concerning VET, the following measures were emphasised by the ministry:

  • restructuring VET with simpler basic studies, with study programmes built on different steps and learning outcomes as well as cutting study time;
  • all VET should include workplace learning, but the quality assessments, responsibilities and financing should be revised;
  • the legal and institutional framework for VET after upper secondary school should be revised and it should be investigated whether a special VET university ([3]Fagháskóli.) should be established;
  • the governance and administration of VET should be improved by evaluating the functions of committees and councils and defining the roles of each of them;
  • guidance and counselling should be enhanced, both in the last classes of compulsory schools and the first in upper secondary schools, and more students should be encouraged to choose VET.

Work is underway within the education ministry to simplify the governance and administration of VET and school counselling has been strengthened, not least with a view to draw more learners’ attention to VET. However, the proportion of learners choosing VET has not risen ([4]As there’s no Spotlight on VET for Iceland prior to 2018 and the distinctive features section is not a feature of the 2018 spotlights, distinctive features were identified as such by ReferNet Iceland.).

Population in 2018: 348 450 ([5]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

It increased since 2013 by 8.3% due to immigration. According to national data the proportion of foreign citizens was 12.2% of the entire population in late 2018 ([6]NB: data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

The average age of the nation is increasing, from 36.4 years in 2010 to 38.1 years on 1 January 2019 ([7]Source: Statistics Iceland. No data available on the population forecast by Eurostat for Iceland.).

Icelandic VET participation rates have for many years been low compared to European rates and the proportion has been slowly decreasing in recent years, as well as the total number of learners at upper secondary level. The average age of the nation is increasing (from 36.4 years in 2010 to 38.1 years on 1 January 2019) ([8]Adapted by ReferNet Iceland from Statistics Iceland.) but the number of inhabitants has also been increasing for over a hundred years, with the exception of 2009 (due to emigration in an economic crisis). This may suggest a demographic impact on numbers of learners at upper secondary level, but does not explain the low ratio of learners choosing VET.

 

Most companies are small- and medium-sized (less than 250 employees). They constitute 99% of all companies in the country ([9]Data from Statistics Iceland.).

Main economic sectors.

In terms of export revenues the main economic sectors are:

  • tourism (39%);
  • manufacturing industry (24%);
  • fisheries (18%).

These sectors are all heavily dependent upon labour with VET qualifications, such as chefs, electricians and marine captains.

The labour market is considered flexible in terms of labour mobility.

The Icelandic economy can be defined as small but open with a well-established and regulated system of cooperation between social partners and the government, with the social partners negotiating through collective bargaining to control wage levels and influence prices.

Holding a VET qualification is highly valued by the labour market. However, a certificate is legally necessary only for certified trades such as electricians, masons, builders, plumbers etc.

Total unemployment ([10]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) (2018): 2.1% (6% in EU-28). It has increased by 0.2 percentage points since 2008 ([11]Source: Eurostat, une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2008-18

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series; low reliability for ISCED 3-4, age 15-24 and ISCED 5-8, both age groups.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The gap in employment between those with low and medium qualifications is small. Unemployment rates are only slightly higher than in the pre-crisis period. For people with medium-level qualifications, including most VET graduates (ISCED levels 3 and 4), it is 0.6 percentage points higher in 2018 compared to 2008.

Despite this, the ever growing demand for more qualified personnel will have an impact not only on people with low qualifications but also on VET graduates as they will need to upgrade their skills.

Employment rate of 20 to 34 year-old VET graduates increased from 90.8% in 2014 to 96.8% in 2017.

 

Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The increase (+6.0 pp) in employment of 20 to 34 year-old VET graduates in 2014-2017 was lower compared to the increase in employment of all 20 to 34 year-old graduates (+6.6 pp) in the same period in Iceland ([12]NB: Break in series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 23.1.2019]. No data for VET graduates for the period 2014-18. The employment rate of all 20-34 year old graduates for the period 2014-18 increased by 4.9 percentage points.).

The share of the population aged up to 64 with higher education (43.8%) is higher than the EU-28 average, and the share of people with a low qualification or without a qualification is among the highest in the EU. The share of people with a medium qualification (ISCED levels 3 and 4), including those in VET, is one of the lowest in the EU.

 

Population (aged 25 to 64) by highest education level attained in 2018

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011. Low reliability for ‘No response’ in Czechia, Iceland, Latvia and Poland.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_pgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

not applicable

29.9%

98.6%

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of initial VET learners from total learners at upper secondary level (ISCED level 3), 2017

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Almost two-thirds (63.9%) of those who choose VET are males, dominating many of the most popular study programmes, such as for various electrical, building and mechanical studies. Females, on the other hand, dominate popular study programmes such as for social service and health care assistants, as well as hair styling and cosmetology.

The share of early leavers from education and training has increased from 21.3% in 2009 to 21.5% in 2018. It is worse than the EU-28 average of 10.6%.

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training; break in series. Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_14 [extracted 16.5.2019] and European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/info/2018-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stability-convergence-programmes_en [accessed 14.11.2018].

 

Dropout rate from VET (%)

In 2016, the dropout rate from VET was a staggering 37.5% ([13]Source: Statistics Iceland.). No doubt a part of this group will return and finish their study programmes at some point, as the average graduation age in VET is around 27 years old.

Lifelong learning offers training opportunities for adults, either employed or unemployed.

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training.
Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Participation in lifelong learning is high and above the EU-28 average but has slightly decreased since 2014.

An important feature in terms of upgrading the skills of employees (and, therefore, of participation in lifelong learning) is that in 2017 35% of employees received some kind of training ([14]Source: Statistics Iceland.).

Information from Statistics Iceland on VET learners by age is mostly focused on the age of first-year learners, but the average graduation age is around 27 years old. As can be seen from the graph below, first-year learners are predominantly in the age group 19 years old and younger. In fact, 70-74% of first-year learners are normally aged 16 but the dropout rate is very high, a staggering 37.5%.

 

First-year VET learners by age group

NB: Data from Statistics Iceland.

 

The education and training system comprises:

  • preschool education (ISCED level 0);
  • integrated primary and lower secondary education (EQF levels 1-2, ISCED levels 244) (hereafter basic/compulsory education);
  • upper secondary education (EQF 4, ISCED levels 344, 351, 353);
  • post-secondary non-tertiary education (EQF 5, ISCED levels 453, 454);
  • higher education (EQF levels 6, 7, 8, ISCED levels 554, 665, 766, 768, 864).

Compulsory education starts at the age of 6 and includes ten years of basic education (or until June of the year a learner reaches the age of 16).

Integrated primary and lower secondary education is the responsibility of the municipalities.

Upper secondary education (either general or vocational) is steered by the State. Only a few of the 37 upper secondary schools do not offer VET programmes.

Post-secondary non-tertiary education is offered for limited specialties (e.g. tour guides and masters of crafts).

Higher education is in line with the Bologna process offering three-year bachelor, two-year master and three-year PhD programmes.

Almost all initial VET in Iceland is in certified trades and built on an apprentice system, where most of the education takes place in school, but workplace training is also necessary. The duration of the time spent in school and the time spent at the workplace varies between programmes and branches. In addition, there are a small number of VET programmes where all the education and training takes place in school and are not certified trades, such as in computer technology and various arts.

The most common duration of VET studies in certified trades is four years. An example would be the electrician programmes, which are either six semesters in school and 48 weeks in apprenticeship, or seven semesters in school and 30 weeks in apprenticeship, after which time the pupil is ready to complete a journeyman’s examination. An example of a shorter programme is a cook programme with two semesters in school and 34 weeks in work-based training, or a social care assistant programme comprising five semesters, of which the last 2 to 3 take place in work-based training.

VET at post-secondary non-tertiary level is mostly composed of master of crafts’ programmes where a journeyman’s certificate (in the relevant study programme such as electrical, building or mechanical studies) is a prerequisite for enrolment.

Certified tradesmen (with a journeyman’s examination) can also enter (90 ECTS) diploma studies in construction, mechanical or electrical engineering at tertiary level, earning them the professional title of a certified technician.

Continuing VET (CVET) programmes are available for adults and are usually offered by:

  • institutions ([15]There are two main institutions: the IDAN VET training centre (the largest continuing VET institution in Iceland) which offers continuing VET programmes in a variety of sectors (e.g. food and catering, metal and machines, building and construction,  printing technology, auto mechanics, computer supported design and hair styling) and the Retraining and Technical Training Centre (Rafiðnaðarskólinn) for electric and electronic technicians.
    ) owned by social partners. Courses offered are aimed at upgrading skills. These courses are usually of short duration. People in the labour market with VET qualifications can get financial support from the social partners’ training funds for these courses;
  • other continuing VET centres ([16]These are: the private company Sýni Research Centre which offers various job-related courses for people working in the food industry and the Icelandic Innovation Centre which is a public institution under the Ministry of Industries and Innovation offering courses in project management or personal leadership.
    ), which are much smaller than the social partners’ institutions and offer more specialised training.

Workplace training is also offered to employees mainly on security, environmental protection, new working techniques, etc.

According to the framework legislation on upper secondary schooling, a prerequisite for doing qualified VET workplace training is having a contract with a company that is willing and able to offer training in a VET subject. Many prerequisites for such a contract to be signed must be met, including that of the workplace having a certified master in the trade in question.

Two types of contracts are possible:

  • a contract between the school and the company, in which the training content must be made as per regulation issued by the education minister, and which contains detailed provision concerning contracts for on-the-job training;
  • a traditional apprenticeship contract between the company and the learner, stipulating the rights and obligations of the workplace and the learner respectively, as well as the objective of the training, quality control and the handling of possible disputes. The learner becomes an employee and receives a marginal salary during the training, in line with labour market agreements where the number of working hours is also set.

For several trades, the education ministry has allocated the overall management of the training contracts to a common education centre portal hosted by IDAN education centre ([17]In Icelandic: IÐAN fræðslusetur.), which offers continuous education for several VET sectors, where contracts have been streamlined and modularised and guidelines issued to workplaces. Still in production in summer 2019 is a digital VET logbook where the student in question, as well as the trainer, record all details of the teaching process and the knowledge, skills and competences acquired for the job at the workplace. The digital logbook system will be launched in autumn 2019 for several trades. In the end, the teacher or the institution must certify each step of the teaching process and that specific competences have been achieved.

The length of the workplace training varies from 3 to 126 weeks, depending on the VET study programme. The reasons for this difference are first and foremost: the overall length of the programme on the one hand, and the tradition in each sector on the other. Similar training takes place for professionals in electricity and electronics at Rafmennt VET centre, i.e. the VET centre which specialises in training for electricians.

Learn more about apprenticeships in the national context from the European database on apprenticeship schemes by Cedefop: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/apprenticeship-schemes/scheme-fiches

Education is steered centrally by the education ministry. The ministry oversees and provides curriculum for all school levels, including VET.

All upper secondary schools have ’school curricula‘ where education aims, intended learning outcomes, assessment, content and the connections between these elements are listed.

New VET study programmes are proposed by the upper secondary schools, in cooperation with the occupational councils (which are composed of representatives of the relevant social partners, i.e. trade unions and employers’ associations and professional associations). The initiative is often that of the occupational councils, which also define the quality, competences, skills and knowledge requirements and work descriptions. The directorate of education liaises between the two and the education ministry, which confirms new study programmes.

The main principle for funding the upper secondary school system and VET is that the education ministry makes a contract with each school concerning the number of enrolled students and then pays a certain amount, based on a formula that considers the actual cost per learner in the relevant subject per year. The amount differs between study programmes and is higher for VET learners in comparison to general education learners. This applies both to public and private schools.

According to the education ministry, the average cost per VET learner is IKR 1 300 000 (approximately EUR 9 600) per year. The number of VET students at upper secondary level was 7 070 in 2017 making the total amount around IKR 9.2 billion (approximately EUR 67.5 million), or 0.6% of GDP and 1.1% of government spending.

On-the-job training is funded by the companies which train learners, but they can apply for a subsidy from a state-financed workplace training fund ([18]See more information on the fund here at Rannis’ website:
https://www.rannis.is/sjodir/menntun/vinnustadanamssjodur/
). The fund was founded in 2012 and supports companies with a particular amount per learner per week. In 2018, the fund supported companies with IKR 14 000 (approximately EUR 104) per learner per week, supporting in total 15.328 learner-weeks with IKR 199.3 million (approximately EUR 1.48 million).

All apprentices are entitled to salaries during their training periods, albeit much lower than those of the fully qualified staff. In the certified trades, the minimum wage for apprentices ranges from IKR 253 000 to IKR 278 000 (around EUR 2 060) per month, or IKR 1 500 to 1 600 (around EUR 12) per hour (in regular daytime work, otherwise higher), the amount increasing gradually for more weeks at the workplace ([19]See the relevant information here at (trade union) Samidn‘s website:
http://www.samidn.is/forsida/kjarasamningar/launataxtar-idnnema-lagmarkslaun
).

Continuing VET (CVET) programmes are usually short in duration and funded either by the relevant workplaces, by social partners, by the state or a combination of two or three of the above to varying degrees.

In VET, there are:

  • general subject teachers;
  • teachers of vocational subjects;
  • trainers at the workplace.

General subject teachers must have a master degree in education from a university.

Teachers of vocational subjects must be masters of craft in the relevant profession and have taken a minimum of 60 ECTS ([20]European credit transfer and accumulation system (ECTS). is a credit system designed to make it easier for students to move between different countries. Since they are based on the learning achievements and workload of a course, a student can transfer their credits from one university to another so they are added up to contribute to an individual's degree programme or training. It helps to make learning more student-centred. It is a central tool in the Bologna process, which aims to make national systems more compatible and was adopted into Icelandic legislation with the law on universities No 63/2006 (Parliament,
www.althingi.is). It also helps with the planning, delivery and evaluation of study programmes, and makes them more transparent. European credit transfer and accumulation system credits represent the workload and defined learning outcomes (‘what the individual knows understands and is able to do’) of a given course or programme. 60 credits are the equivalent of a full school year of study or work, or two full semesters. In a standard academic year, 60 credits would usually be broken down into several smaller components.
A typical ‘first cycle’ (or bachelor) degree, would consist of 180 or 240 credits, whereas a typical ‘second cycle’ (or master) degree, would consist of 90 or 120 credits, with at least 60 credits at second cycle level. The use of European credit transfer and accumulation system at the ‘third cycle’ (or Ph.D. level) varies. European credit transfer and accumulation system has been adopted by most of the countries in the European higher education area (EHEA), and is increasingly used elsewhere. More information on the European credit transfer and accumulation system available at:
https://ec.europa.eu/education/resources-and-tools/european-credit-transfer-and-accumulation-system-ects_en . More information on Bologna process and the European higher education area available at: https://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/higher-education/bologna-process...
) in pedagogy at a university.

Trainers at the workplace must be masters of craft in the relevant profession.

Although salaries for VET teachers have increased, the teacher population is ageing. Attracting young people to the profession remains a challenge.

Teachers can receive various scholarships to finance further university studies and for work, school visits at home or abroad, conference fees, study leave etc. The official funds are financed by the schools/employers but managed by the teachers’ unions. Teachers can apply to the education ministry for up to a year’s study leave on full salary, but most teachers are not granted this more than once and then usually only after more than 20 years at work.

Various other options are available, such as scholarships to finance part-time studies or shorter periods of study leave. Teachers are also expected to spend two weeks per year in continuous education, outside the school year; they have access to various other funds and options for continuous education on the basis of their wage agreements with the state. Choosing the relevant study programmes, conferences etc. is mostly up to the teachers and trainers themselves, and the programmes and training are provided by lifelong learning institutions (e.g. in the electricity sector) and universities, among others, and via study visits at home or abroad.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([21]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

The role of the Occupational Council is (among other duties) to advise the Minister of Education, Science and Culture, and to provide opinion on the categorisation and division of occupations between the twelve Occupational Councils.

Due to the small size of the labour market, most trades are based on a broad level of competences, so that graduates have a wider possibility of employment. The exams at the end of each study validates whether this is indeed the case. Thus, the studies can rather be termed output based than input based, even though studies are defined in the hours it takes to complete them.

When assessing future skills needs, the twelve occupational councils are the strongest link between the education ministry and industry. The councils operate under the responsibility of the ministry and are composed of representatives of the relevant social partners and trade associations for different vocational trades. Each council has the role to define the needs of a particular trade in respect to the knowledge and ability required, the aims and structure of the education and the curriculum guidelines. The councils often initiate or suggest new VET study programmes or changes to existing ones, but it is up to the upper secondary schools to propose such programmes and the Directorate of Education to liaise between the two, while it is up to the education ministry to confirm new study programmes.

Unlike many countries, no authority in Iceland has made systematic estimates or forecasts regarding skills anticipation and needs in the labour market or for certain trades. At the time of writing the minister for labour affairs is considering ways to change this situation, following a report written for the ministry in 2018 by a group of experts from social partners, statistics Iceland and the directorate of labour. The occupational councils sometimes attempt to estimate future demand but not in a coordinated and systemic manner, as have certain social partners, education institutions and public institutions on a mostly ad hoc basis for particular trades and industries, but not in a systematic manner.

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([22]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast) and European skills index ([23]Information for Iceland is not available.).

Due to the small size of the labour market, most trades are based on a broad level of competences, so that graduates have a wider possibility of employment. The examinations at the end of each study validate whether this is, indeed, the case. Thus, the studies can rather be termed output- based than input-based, even though studies are defined by the hours it takes to complete them.

According to the education ministry’s national curriculum guide for upper secondary schools ([24]https://www.government.is/library/01-Ministries/Ministry-of-Education/Curriculum/adskr_frsk_ens_2012.pdf), the education institutions may develop new study programmes, although subject to approval and validation by the ministry after consultation with the relevant occupational council, in the case of a VET programme. All upper secondary schools have a school curriculum where education aims, intended learning outcomes, assessment, content and the connections between these elements are listed. Individual schools are responsible for all study programmes they offer but can use study programmes from other schools as well.

Once approved by the education ministry, new study programmes become part of the curricula for upper secondary schools when published in the legislator’s legal journal.

The twelve occupational councils, composed of representatives of the relevant social partners and professional associations for different vocational trades, discuss the demand for new study programmes and the need for updating existing ones in terms of: qualifications demands, basic structure, competences, skills and knowledge requirements of work descriptions, which they define and gradually update. Typically, they report the need for new study programmes or updates to existing ones to individual schools or to the directorate for education. The upper secondary schools do, however, have the task of proposing new study programmes or updating them, including the curricula, often at the initiative of the occupational councils but sometimes also at their own initiative based on their estimate of existing demand. The schools’ ideas are then put before the relevant occupational council to discuss the desirable qualification demands and structure, and the directorate of education liaises between the two before the education ministry finally approves the study programme.

This process can vary, in terms of processes, initiatives and procedures, between schools, occupational councils, individual teachers/trainers and study programmes. It is, however, always a result of a liaison between the schools and the occupational councils, always developed within the framework of the national curriculum guide and always subject to approval of the education ministry.

The education ministry validates the study programmes for all upper secondary education and training, which become part of the curricula for upper secondary schools when published in the legislator’s legal journal.

The VET study programmes for all trades are developed in cooperation with members of each occupation’s association through twelve occupational councils. Job descriptions, knowledge, skills and competences are gradually revised by the occupational councils.

All upper secondary schools are subject to a quality evaluation performed by outside parties once every five years. The quality criteria are defined by the education ministry. The schools are requested to report on their performance according to the ministry’s quality criteria (internal evaluation) and the directorate of education hires independent consultants to perform a quality evaluation based on the same criteria. The independent consultants’ reports are published openly on the directorate of education’s website, but prior to that the schools are given a chance to respond to a draft report and the consultants may adjust their report accordingly. Follow-up to the evaluation reports is the responsibility of the education ministry and of course the schools themselves.

Training providers must be formally accredited by the directorate of education, on behalf of the education ministry, to obtain a licence to teach courses for adults giving credits that can be used for further training at upper secondary schools.

The accreditation is based on the evaluation of the following:

  • teaching and learning facilities;
  • organisation and supervision of studies;
  • curricula or course descriptions;
  • the competences of adult education providers, with regard to their knowledge and experience;
  • financial issues and insurance;
  • the existence of a quality control system focused on adult education.

The accreditation does not entail commitment for public funding to the education provider in question or responsibility for the education and training provider’s liabilities.

For several trades, the education ministry has allocated the overall management of the training contracts to a common education centre portal hosted by IDAN education centre ([25]IDAN (in Icelandic: IÐAN) is a non-profit education and training provider supported by the federation of employees and unions; a provider of continuing education offering diverse in house- and company courses including accredited programs for qualified professionals in the crafts and trades. Companies have also access to career and vocational counselling through skills assessment, analysis of educational needs and planning and implementation of in-house educational pathways. IÐAN has been heavily involved with the implementation of validation of prior learning in Iceland. IÐAN provides assessment of non-Icelandic professional qualifications and work experience. In addition, a provider of various services for the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and are involved in creating both national and international partnerships, embracing innovation and meeting new challenges to support the labour market. More information available at: http://viskaproject.eu/about-us/idan/), which offers continuous education for several VET sectors, where contracts have been streamlined and modularised and guidelines issued to the workplaces.

A VET logbook is gradually being made digital in 2019. The student in question, as well as the trainer, record in the logbook all details of the teaching process and the knowledge, skills and competences acquired for the job at the workplace. In the end, the teacher or the institution must certify each step of the teaching process and that the specific competences have been achieved.

Real competence validation/accreditation of prior learning ([26]In Icelandic: Raunfærnimat.) is a system organised by the social partners and the education ministry to validate non-formal and informal learning. People who have acquired some skills at workplaces, for example, can get them validated through a formal process, which may shorten their study periods towards. a journeyman’s examination in a trade, for example. They also get valuable assistance (counselling and study aid) if they have dyslexia, for example, or other learning problems. Real competence validations are available in several trades. Social partners and the education ministry are working on expanding the offers.

For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database ([27]https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/2016_validate_IS.pdf).

  • The Icelandic study loan fund offers subsistence loans with subsidised interest rates to VET students after the first two years of studies, while students of general education at this level are not entitled to such loans. The basic amount (for 2018-19) is ISK 492 900 (approximately EUR 3 650) per semester, but additional amounts are granted based on, for example, their housing situation and their number of dependants.
  • In recent years, increased emphasis has been put on vocational and education counselling to help students choose their study paths, and thus drawing their attention to often less visible VET study and training options where applicable.

On-the-job training is funded by the companies which train learners, but they can apply for a subsidy from a state-financed workplace training fund. The fund was founded in 2012 and supports companies with a particular amount per learner per week. In 2018, the fund supported companies with IKR 14 000 (approximately EUR 104) per learner per week, altogether supporting 15 328 learner-weeks with IKR 199.3 million (approximately EUR 1.48 million). This makes a big difference, especially for small companies which would otherwise not be able to afford training costs.

The education ministry has an ongoing contract with skills Iceland ([28]In Icelandic: Verkiðn:
http://verkidn.is/
), charging this organization with the responsibility of supervising the Icelandic Skills Competition every other year, as well as to enable participation of VET learners in Euro Skills.

In recent years, increased emphasis has been put on vocational and education counselling to help students choose their study paths. For example, at grammar school level VET subjects were introduced in an attempt to increase VET attractiveness. Work is in progress to enhance VET counselling and guidance.

Please see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 6

Mainly school-based

programme

ISCED 554

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 6, ISCED level 554 (iðnfræði)
EQF level
6
ISCED-P 2011 level

554

Usual entry grade

14+ ([51]In Iceland grades are usually associated with the compulsory school levels which are 10 grades. The upper secondary level can be said to constitute grades 11-14 but at post-secondary level there is no talk of grades.)

Usual completion grade

14+ ([52]In Iceland grades are usually associated with the compulsory school levels which are 10 grades. The upper secondary level can be said to constitute grades 11-14 but at post-secondary level there is no talk of grades.)

Usual entry age

20+

Usual completion age

23+

Length of a programme (years)

1.5 or 3 in part-time study along with labour market participation.

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Primary and lower secondary education are compulsory

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Practical tertiary level studies available i.e. for learners with a VET background

Is it offered free of charge?

N

Fees apply, IKR 204 000 (approximately EUR 1 500) per term.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

90 ECTS ([53]European credit transfer and accumulation system (ECTS). is a credit system designed to make it easier for students to move between different countries. Since they are based on the learning achievements and workload of a course, a student can transfer their credits from one university to another so they are added up to contribute to an individual's degree programme or training. It helps to make learning more student-centred. It is a central tool in the Bologna process, which aims to make national systems more compatible and was adopted into Icelandic legislation with the law on universities No 63/2006 (Parliament,
www.althingi.is). It also helps with the planning, delivery and evaluation of study programmes, and makes them more transparent. European credit transfer and accumulation system credits represent the workload and defined learning outcomes (‘what the individual knows understands and is able to do’) of a given course or programme. 60 credits are the equivalent of a full school year of study or work, or two full semesters. In a standard academic year, 60 credits would usually be broken down into several smaller components.
)

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Distance learning with two weekends’ school-based sessions per term.

Main providers

Reykjavik University

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=15% (several practical assignments, including one 12 ECTS assignment, usually in-company).

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

In-company practical assignments.

Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and adults but mainly targeted at people with a journeyman’s certificate.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

A journeyman’s certificate, or at least having completed its general studies’ part, or a matriculation exam. In the former case, some bridging courses may apply, in mathematics, physics, Icelandic and English.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Examinations, essays, practical assignments etc., at the end of or during each course.

Diplomas/certificates provided

A diploma as a certified technician, plus the right to practice as a Master of Crafts in the relevant trade.

Examples of qualifications

Mechanical technician, electrical technician, construction technician ([54]As described in national context.).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Learners can progress to the next level of tertiary education, i.e. to EQF level 6 B.Sc. studies in science and engineering.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

Courses include management, law and accounting.

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

<1%

([55]2018)

Post-secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

Mainly school-based

programmes

ISCED 453, 454

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 5, ISCED levels 453, 454 (iðnmeistari, píanóleikari etc.)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

453, 454

Usual entry grade

14+ ([45]In Iceland grades are usually associated with the compulsory school levels which are 10 grades. The upper secondary level can be said to constitute grades 11-14 but at post-secondary level there is no talk of grades.)

Usual completion grade

14+ ([46]In Iceland grades are usually associated with the compulsory school levels which are 10 grades. The upper secondary level can be said to constitute grades 11-14 but at post-secondary level there is no talk of grades.)

Usual entry age

20+

Usual completion age

30+

Length of a programme (years)

From 1 to 2

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Compulsory education is up to lower secondary level. This level is post-secondary.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

These programmes are designed for people who have already completed VET studies at upper secondary level.

Is it continuing VET?

Y

These programmes are designed for people who have already completed VET studies at upper secondary level.

Is it offered free of charge?

N

The costs vary between schools, but at post-secondary level learners can be expected to pay up to 1/3 of the direct programme costs, which can be around ISK 40 000 (approximately EUR 300) per term, plus study materials (books, etc.). Other schools only charge an ISK 20 000 (approximately EUR 150) registration fee, per term.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Around 40 upper secondary school credits ([47]One secondary school credit equals 18 to 24 hours of work and full-time study equals 60 secondary school credis per school year, or 30 credits per term.).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Mostly part-time distance learning with several in-school sessions per term.

Main providers

Schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=10% ([48]These are mostly Master of Craft programmes, based partly on practical assignments but mostly on general studies of management, accounting, security affairs, etc.)

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • Practical assignments at schools
  • Practical assignments in distance-learning
Main target groups

Programmes are available for people who have already completed VET studies at upper secondary level, typically a journeyman’s exam or certain levels in art programmes.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Completion of VET studies at upper secondary level, most often a journeyman’s exam, plus a certain basic knowledge of relevant computer software (such as Excel, Word and sometimes AutoCAD). Also relevant upper secondary level in the case of various art programmes.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Each course or practical assignment finishes with some sort of an assessment, either theoretical or hands-on.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Mostly Master of Craft certificates (iðnmeistari) in the relevant trade (plumbers, electricians, hair stylists etc.). Also e.g. upper secondary examination at various fine and applied art levels (e.g. music at levels 6 and 7) (6. og 7. stig í tónlist), marine engineers (vélstjórar), marine captains (skipstjórar).

Examples of qualifications

Master of plumbing, master of building, pianist, textile artist ([49]As described in national context.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Access to VET taught at post-secondary non-tertiary level depends on the completion of an upper secondary level certificate in the relevant subject and requires work experience, the length of which differs much.

Prerequisite for admission to higher education is to pass matriculation exams.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

Validation of prior learning is not available at this post-secondary VET level.

General education subjects

Y

The Master of Craft programmes e.g. are largely based on subjects like management, accounting etc.

Key competences

Y

Key competences like sustainability and participation in a democratic society are parts of the curriculum guide.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

>=10% ([50]2017)

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

Specialised programmes

for SEN learners

ISCED 343

Initial VET (and general education) programmes for people with disabilities leading to EQF level 2, ISCED 343 (Sérdeildir fatlaðra)
EQF level
2
ISCED-P 2011 level

343

Usual entry grade

10 ([31]For this type of programme 10th grade means that the learner has entered a special programme within an upper secondary school but in a programmes which initially involves carrying on with subjects and at levels comparable to 10th grade in the compulsory school system.)

Usual completion grade

12-14 ([32]In Iceland the grade concept is used only for compulsory school, with 10th grade being the final and highest one. But as a number for years in E&T the numbering is from 10 onwards.)

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

18-20

Length of a programme (years)

from 2 to 4

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

The programmes start at compulsory school level for most learners, as they still need some preparation for the upper secondary school level.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

The programmes are adapted to each individual’s skills and needs and are generally a combination of general and vocational studies.

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

N

Learners pay a minor registration charge of IKR 20 000 (approximately EUR 150) per term.

Is it available for adults?

Y

For general studies the regular (daytime) upper secondary school programmes are available for learners up to 25 years of age but that limit does not apply to VET nor to this particular course.

ECVET or other credits

Up to 240 credits ([33]One secondary school credit equals 18 to 24 hours of work and full-time study equals 60 secondary school credis per school year, or 30 credits per term.)

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

The programmes are adapted to each individual’s skills and needs and are generally a combination of general and vocational studies.

Main providers

Upper secondary schools.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available ([34]The programmes are adapted to each individual’s skills and needs and are generally a combination of general and vocational studies, school based and in-company practice.).

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

The programmes are adapted to each individual’s skills and needs and are generally a combination of general and vocational studies, school-based and in-company practice.

Main target groups

Programmes are available for people with special education needs as well as young people and adults, but are especially meant to provide opportunities for young people with special education needs.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Compulsory education and an official confirmation (provided by a health authority) of a special needs’ status.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The learners’ status is subject to assessment – by formal (such as by examination) or informal means, i.e. via continuous evaluation by teachers of progress made by the learner – throughout his or her study time.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Learners finishing this programme receive an upper secondary school diploma of competence (hæfnipróf á framhaldsskólastigi). The composition between general studies and VET varies between individual learners. The diploma is recognised by all relevant authorities but does not entail a professional qualification.

Examples of qualifications

Not applicable ([35]These diplomas do not entail professional qualifications.).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

These diplomas can entail the potential for the learners to continue their education, at EQF level 4. However, continuation of studies is subject to various forms of assessment.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

The programmes are adapted to each individual’s skills and needs and are generally a combination of general and vocational studies, school-based and in-company practice.

Key competences

Y

The national curriculum guide for upper secondary schools ([36]https://www.government.is/library/01-Ministries/Ministry-of-Education/Curriculum/adskr_frsk_ens_2012.pdf) defines the fundamental pillars of education as literacy, sustainability, democracy and human rights, health and welfare and creativity. These pillars are represented in all curricula, to a varying degree.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The curricula are defined with respect to competences, maturity and knowledge.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

<1%

([37]2014/15)

EQF 4

Mainly school- based

programmes,

ISCED levels 351, 353

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED levels 351, 353 (Rafvirkjun, hársnyrting, vélstjórn etc.)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

351, 353

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

13-14

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

20

Length of a programme (years)

From 2.5 to 4

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Primary and lower secondary education are compulsory. The duration of primary and lower secondary studies is 10- years.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

All programmes at upper secondary level. Master of trades e.g. is at post-secondary non-tertiary level and lifelong learning courses are available outside this system.

Is it continuing VET?

N

These programmes are all at upper secondary level. However, master of trades e.g. is at post-secondary non-tertiary level and lifelong learning courses are available outside this system.

Is it offered free of charge?

N

Learners normally pay a minor registration charge of IKR 20 000 (approximately EUR 150) per term. In some programmes learners also pay a minor material fee, a maximum amount of IKR 50 000 (approximately EUR 370), varying between types of programme (e.g. goldsmiths pay more than bakers).

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

154 to 290 credits ([38]One secondary school credit equals 18 to 24 hours of work and full-time study equals 60 secondary school credis per school year, or 30 credits per term.), depending on the programme. A journeyman’s exam in a certified trade such as an electrician is typically 260 credits (in 4 years), automobile painting is 154 credits (2.5 years) but some food processing trades (e.g. meat processing and baking) are 290 credits (4 years, with 200 credits out of 290 in WBL).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning;
  • apprenticeships;
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);

The most common form is a mixture of school-based learning and apprenticeships. Usually a majority of the studies is school based (e.g. 180 credits versus 80 credits in WBL for electricians) but in food processing trades the majority is usually WBL (200 out of 290 credits).

Main providers
  • Schools
  • enterprises
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=70%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school
  • in-company practice
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and adults. The total dropout rate at upper secondary school level is very high but many learners return to VET programmes having started and left general studies earlier.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Completion of compulsory education (primary and lower secondary) is required for admission (entry is also allowed through validation of adult prior learning).

Assessment of learning outcomes

Each course or workplace training module finishes with some sort of an assessment, either theoretical or hands-on. Students complete their overall studies with a VET exam. They can also opt for a path toward Matriculation exam, in which case the studies may take longer, because they must add general subjects to their list of VET courses.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The most common diplomas are certified trades´ school diplomas (burtfararpróf) and journeyman’s diplomas (sveinspróf), granting certain professional rights and rights to further VET studies. Other examples from a vast array of terms used include those of a health care assistant (sjúkraliði) and marine engineer (vélstjóri), also granting professional rights and rights for further studies post-secondary non-tertiary level.

Examples of qualifications

Mason, hair stylist, health care assistant ([39]As described in national context.).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Access to VET taught at post-secondary non-tertiary level depends on the completion of an upper secondary level certificate in the relevant subject and requires work experience, the length of which differs much.

Prerequisite for admission to higher education is to pass matriculation exams or possibly have one’s experience and prior learning validated towards possible missing parts of the formal matriculation exam.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

People who have acquired some skills at e.g. workplaces can get them validated through a formal process, partly operated by education centres run by social partners, which may shorten their study periods towards e.g. a journeyman’s exam in a trade. Real competence validations are available in several trades and social partners and the education ministry are gradually expanding the offers.

General education subjects

Y

At least the Icelandic language, English and mathematics form a part of all study programmes, to a varying degree between programmes.

Key competences

Y

The national curriculum guide for upper secondary schools ([40]https://www.government.is/library/01-Ministries/Ministry-of-Education/Curriculum/adskr_frsk_ens_2012.pdf) defines the fundamental pillars of education as literacy, sustainability, democracy and human rights, health and welfare and creativity. These pillars are represented in all curricula, to a varying degree.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The programmes are based on the occupational councils´ definition of competences, skills and knowledge.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

>75% ([41]2014/15)

EQF 4

Mainly school-based

programmes,

duration and WBL % vary

ISCED 351, 353

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED levels 254, 351, 353.
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

351, 353

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

13-14

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

18-19

Length of a programme (years)

4 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Completion of compulsory education (primary and lower secondary) is required for admission (entry is also allowed through validation of adult prior learning).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

All programmes begin and end at upper secondary level.

Is it continuing VET?

N

Initial VET programmes often leading to rights to further VET studies.

Is it offered free of charge?

N

Learners normally pay a minor registration charge of IKR 20 000 (approximately EUR 150) per term. In some programmes learners also pay a minor material fee, a maximum amount of IKR 50 000 (approximately EUR 370), varying between types of programme.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

120-260 credits, depending on the nature of the programme ([42]One secondary school credit equals 18 to 24 hours of work and full-time study equals 60 secondary school credis per school year, or 30 credits per term.).

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school -based learning
  • work practice (practical training at school)
Main providers
  • Schools
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and adults.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners must hold a compulsory education certificate.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Each course or training module finishes with some sort of an assessment, either theoretical or hands-on. Students complete their overall studies with a VET exam. They can also opt for a path toward Matriculation exam, in which case the studies may take longer, because they must add general subjects to their list of VET courses.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Upper secondary level certificate in the relevant subject (framhaldsskólapróf), not granting professional rights but often granting rights for further VET studies.

Examples of qualifications

Film maker, painter, sculpturist ([43]As described in national context.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Access to VET taught at post-secondary non-tertiary level depends on the completion of an upper secondary level certificate in the relevant subject.

Prerequisite for admission to higher education is to pass matriculation exams.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

The system of validation of prior learning is mostly connected with workplace / labour market experience and thus not as relevant in these programmes as e.g. in the certified trades.

General education subjects

Y

At least the Icelandic language, English and mathematics form a part of all study programmes, to a varying degree between programmes.

Key competences

Y

The national curriculum guide for upper secondary schools ([44]https://www.government.is/library/01-Ministries/Ministry-of-Education/Curriculum/adskr_frsk_ens_2012.pdf) defines the fundamental pillars of education as literacy, sustainability, democracy and human rights, health and welfare and creativity. These pillars are represented in all curricula, to a varying degree.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

<5%

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available