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General themes

VET in Greece is strongly state-regulated and, until recently, mostly offered through a school-based approach; overall responsibility has the education ministry in cooperation, occasionally, with the labour ministry. It is offered, after the completion of compulsory schooling, mainly at upper secondary and post-secondary level.

Distinctive features [1]Data from VET in Greece Spotlight, see CEDEFOP (2018) https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/4168_en.pdf 
:

Greek society strongly favours general education and appreciates university studies. Both these factors reflect sociological stereotypes rooted in long-lasting perceptions and have affected overall VET attractiveness. VET has been characterised by higher dropout rates; multiplicity and complexity of the legal framework; challenges regarding the design and implementation of VET-related policies; and impediments to linking with the labour market. It remains a second choice and often attracts low performers, who may also come from lower economic backgrounds.

The level of participation in formal education is generally high; Greece has already achieved early school leaving goals. Yet, the national average masks significant variation between geographical regions ([2]OECD (2018) Economic Survey, https://www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/Greece-2018-OECD-economic-survey-overview.pdf
), types of schools, gender and social groups (i.e. native and first- and second-generation migrant students) ([3]http://ec.europa.eu/education/tools/docs/2015/monitor2015-greece_en.pdf
).

Since 2016, the education ministry has been conducting a major reform of the VET system, taking into account challenges raised by the financial crisis, such as:

  • high unemployment rates;
  • high NEETs (people not in employment, education or training) rates (24.2% in 2017);
  • unexpected influx of refugees halted on Greek territory (requiring training and education programmes, which are currently being designed and implemented);
  • ageing population;
  • increased brain drain (highly qualified and mostly young people).

This socioeconomic landscape reflects enduring deficiencies in adapting to change and more specifically in equipping people in Greece with the necessary job specific skills that improve employability and well-being prospects.

To counteract these challenges the education ministry has undertaken the following key actions:

  • implementing a coherent national strategic framework for upgrading VET and apprenticeships (April 2016) aiming to promote and enhance the social role of VET, upgrade and expand apprenticeships, strengthen links between VET and the labour market, increase VET quality, and promote VET attractiveness;
  • establishing (since 2016) a new structure at upper secondary vocational education programmes (EPAL) to reduce early overspecialisation by focusing more on key competences in the first year of the programme; this aids permeability between general and vocational education and allows for better allocation of the teaching staff;
  • establishing (since 2016) a new pathway, a one-year apprenticeship programme at post-secondary level to offer upper secondary VET graduates the chance to acquire labour-market-relevant skills and to support them entering the labour market;
  • introducing the skills diagnosis mechanism (National Labour and Human Resources Institute - EIEAD) to reduce skills mismatch and update VET curricula.

The future course of development in Greece relies on VET as a primary instrument to provide necessary skills to individuals.

Population in 2018: 10 741 165 ([4]Source: Eurostat, tps00001 and proj_15ndbims [Extracted on 16.05.2019]
)

In the period 2013 to 2018, there is a population decrease of approximately 2.4%, due to negative natural growth (fertility to mortality rate) and migration.

Especially as a crisis effect, the population is ageing. Migration and the lack of significant economic incentives to young couples further deteriorated the phenomenon.

The old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase from 32 in 2015 to 68 in 2060 ([5]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 on 16.05.2019]

Latest Eurostat data shows a steady increase of overall VET learners in Greece, attributed to increased post-secondary non-tertiary education enrolments. Also, enrolments in upper secondary vocational education (EPAL) provide an indication that recent changes have positive effects. However, demographic changes (low birth rate and brain drain) are considered to have a negative impact on the size of VET learners’ population.

Resident population by citizenship group in Greece 2017

Source: Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT)

The sizeable presence of inflows, especially from third countries, creates the need to integrate them into education and employment. According to 2017 data a 7.5% of the population of Greece comprises of non-Greek nationals (92.5% Greek nationals, 1.9% nationals of other European Union countries, 3.5% nationals of EU candidate countries and 2.1% from other countries) ([6]See ELSTAT, https://www.statistics.gr (File A1605_SPO18_TS_AN_00_2009_00_2017_17_F_GR) Retrieved on 6/6/2018.
).

Most companies are medium and small-sized with some large sized companies. 

Main economic sectors:

VET specialties belong mainly to the following sectors:

  • Technician of electrical systems, installations and networks
  • Administration and Financial
  • Vehicle technician
  • IT application technician
  • Nurse assistant
  • Plant production technician

Many occupations/professions are regulated although a lot of diplomas are not connected to professional rights ([8]https://www.eoppep.gr/index.php/el/qualification-certificate/professional-rights
).

In the private sector both diplomas and skills are taken into consideration while hiring or assessing employees.

Total unemployment ([9]Source: Eurostat, une_rt_a [Extracted on 20.05.2019]
) (2018): 18.2% (6.0% in EU28); it is still 11.6 percentage points higher than in 2008

 

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.
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 on 16.05.2019]

 

Although unemployment has been reduced by almost 10 p.p., the unemployment rate of those with low and medium level qualifications is still above 20%. Unemployment of tertiary graduates is significantly lower (13.7%), but still considerably high.

Employment rate of 20 to 34-year-old VET graduates increased from 53.0% in 2014 to 63.1% in 2018 ([10]Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted on 16.05.2019]
).

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 on 16.05.2019]

 

The increase (+10.1 pp) in employment of 20-34-year-old VET graduates in 2014-18 was higher compared to the increase in employment of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+8.3 pp) in the same period in Greece ([11]Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted on 16.05.2019]
).

For more information about the external drivers influencing VET developments in Greece please see the case study from Cedefop's changing nature and role of VET in Europe project [11a]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 Greece. Cedefop research paper; No 67. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/greece_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study.pdf

Even with reduced spending on education ([12]A 36% drop in funding for education in 2009-15 has been reported by the Hellenic Government. See http://ec.europa.eu/education/tools/docs/2015/monitor2015-greece_en.pdf
), Greece has achieved progress in terms of educational attainment, while the already executed financing programme (via the overarching framework of the European Stability Mechanism), as well as the current ongoing reform agenda, place education as part of a national growth and development strategy. The share of those with medium level qualification (41.8%) is lower than the EU average (45.7%), while the share of tertiary graduates (31.7%) is very close to the EU average (32.2%).

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

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; low reliability for Czech Republic, Poland, and Latvia.

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 on 16.05.2019]

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [extracted on 16.05.2019]

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

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; not applicable for Ireland.

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [extracted on 16.05.2019].

Information not available

The share of early leavers from education and training has decreased from 14.2% in 2009 to 4.7% in 2018. It is below the national target for 2020 (10.0%) and well below the EU-28 average (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 on 16.05.2019] and European Commission, https://ec.europa.eu/info/2018-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stability-convergence-programmes_en [accessed on 14.11.2018]

 

Dropout rates also vary by region, school and programme.

Lifelong learning (LLL) offers training opportunities for adults, including early leavers from compulsory education.

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-17


NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training.

Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [extracted on 16.05.2019]

 

Participation in LLL in Greece has been increasing, although it remains lower than the EU-28 average.

The need for updated skills, low participation in LLL and high NEET rates reflect enduring deficiencies in adapting to change and more specifically in equipping people in Greece with the necessary job specific skills that improve employability and well-being prospects.

On average, learners in Greece tend to graduate from upper secondary vocational education and training (VET) programmes at a younger age than in the rest of the OECD: 90% of Greek upper secondary VET graduates are under 25 years old, against 80% on average for the OECD countries ([13] http://gpseducation.oecd.org/Content/EAGCountryNotes/EAG2016_CN_GRC.pdf
).

NQF levels of education and training system ([14]
Source: https://nqf.gov.gr/en/index.php/ta-8-epipeda Training schools (SEK) are not functioning any more, but their certificate (post lower secondary training, NQF level 3) are recognised.
 
):

  • elementary school certificate (NQF level 1);
  • lower secondary school certificate (NQF level 2);
  • vocational school certificate (EPAS) / vocational upper secondary school degree and certificate (EPAL) / general upper secondary school certificate (NQF level 4)
  • vocational upper secondary school degree, apprenticeship class / vocational training diploma (IEK) after graduates’ certification / post-secondary and not higher education diploma or degree (NQF level 5)
  • bachelor’s degree (NQF level 6)
  • bachelor’s degree of 5 years / master’s degree (NQF level 7)
  • doctorate (NQF level 8)

Compulsory education in Greece lasts 11 years and extends from the ages of four to 15.  The main stages of the Greek education system are three.

Primary education that includes pre-primary and primary schools

  • pre-primary school in Greece has become compulsory for all four-year-old children, since school year 2018-2019.  It’s expected that in three years, the two-year pre-school education will become compulsory in all municipalities of the country and children will enrol in pre-primary schools (nipiagogeia) at the age of four.
  • Infant centres (vrefikoi stathmoi), infant/child centres (vrefonipiakoi stathmoi) and child centres (paidikoi stathmoi) represent early childhood care. They operate under the remit of municipal authorities. They cater for children between two months and up to four years old.
  • Primary school (dimotiko scholeio) lasts six years. It concerns children in the age range of six to12 years. Since school year 2016/17, there is a single type of all-day primary school with a new revised daily timetable.

Secondary Education includes two cycles of study

  • a lower secondary programme (gymnasio), which is compulsory, lasts three years, provides general education, covers ages 12 to 15 and is a prerequisite for enrolling at general or vocational upper secondary schools. There is also an evening lower secondary programme (esperino gymnasio); attendance starts at the age of 14;
  • upper secondary programmes, which are optional and can take the form of a general or vocational upper secondary programme (geniko or epaggelmatiko lykeio); they last three years and learners enrol at the age of 15. There are also evening upper secondary programmes.

Tertiary Education  

Most undergraduate degree programmes last four academic years of full-time study. Postgraduate courses last from one to two years, while doctorates last at least three years. The tertiary education comprises:

  • universities (panepistimio)
  • polytechnics
  • the school of fine arts.
  • technological education institutions (technologika ekpaideftika idrymata) (upgraded in universities in 2019)
  • the school of pedagogical and technological education (ASPETE).

Two to four-year higher professional programmes are offered by higher professional schools, under the supervision of the competent ministry ([15]Source: https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/greece_en
).

The Law 3879/2010 distinguishes between initial and continuing VET.

Formal, non-formal, initial and continuing VET

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Greece

 

Both types provide the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to enter the labour market. Only initial VET is linked to professional rights (licences). Some initial VET programmes give learners access to the next qualification level (post-secondary or tertiary level). Non-formal continuing VET is part of adult learning. It is partially recognised in the private sector of labour market.

Formal VET leads to qualification level 4 and non-formal VET to qualification level 5 (of NQF and EQF), apart from the non-formal continuing VET certificate for “Security staff” awarded to professionals, which is at NQF level 3 (law 4229/2014).

The VET standard specifies the volume, learning outcomes, conditions for completion and continuation of studies for each VET type.

There are several VET learning options:

  • school-based learning
  • work practice (including internships and apprenticeships)
  • self-learning (too partial)

The title of VET programmes is awarded to learners after state examinations that certify their qualifications. The examinations are usually learning-outcomes based and include a theoretical and a practical part. Responsible for the certification procedure are the education ministry or the National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance (EOPPEP) or the labour ministry.

In upper secondary VET, there are apprenticeship programmes offered by EPAS Schools (scholes mathiteias).

In post-secondary VET, vocational training schools (IEK) offer 2.5-year programmes including optional internships; upper secondary vocational schools (EPAL) also offer apprenticeship programmes.

The apprenticeship programmes (offered by upper secondary vocational schools – EPAL) give to EPAL graduates the opportunity to upgrade their education qualifications and obtain work experience. The programme lasts for one academic year leading to a qualification at EQF level 5 and the corresponding professional license. It combines a seven-hour school-placed laboratory course (once per week) and the “workplace education programme – apprenticeship at work” in public and private companies (28 hours/ four days per week). During the latter, the apprentices receive a salary of 75% of the legal minimum wage and full insurance coverage, so that they become familiar with the rights and obligations of workers and so that employers acquire a sense of commitment to the apprentices' training.

The government approves the national education policy designed by the education ministry. Social partners including trade unions and employer organisations participate in the working group on developing legislation.

Public and private VET providers are monitored, evaluated and usually funded either by the General Secretariat of lifelong learning, the directorates of secondary or professional education of the education ministry or supervised organisations by the education ministry (i.e. National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance -EOPPEP, universities).

The National committee for VET was set up in 2017. It is responsible for the overall coordination of governance of the Greek VET system, monitoring the implementation of the 2016 National strategic framework for the upgrade of VET and apprenticeship and evaluating its results. The National committee is supported in its work by a Technical committee for VET. VET governance has been also reinforced through the introduction of two new bodies, i.e. the National apprentice co-ordination body (ESOM) and the National council for education and development of human resources (ESEKAAD).

Several advisory bodies and social partner organisations participate in policy implementation. County governments prepare and implement local education development plans and coordinate activities of municipal educational institutions.

The governance of VET depends on different committees’ decisions. As a consequence, its management has not yet reached the desirable integrity, immediacy or even coherence.

Formal VET is mostly state financed.

Apprenticeship programmes are financed from national, private and/or EU funds (i.e. European Social Fund). Participating enterprises contribute 45% of the apprentices’ remuneration. EU funds amount a total of approximately € 30 million. 

The following main categories of teachers and trainers are at play in VET programmes:

  • general subject teachers
  • vocational subject teachers
  • teachers of practical training
  • post-secondary VET teachers (in-school trainers)
  • in-company trainers

General subject teachers are required to hold a higher education degree and pedagogical and didactical expertise. Vocational subject teachers are required to hold either a higher education degree and pedagogical and didactical expertise, or a lower vocational degree and relevant work experience.

Teaching staff in public post-secondary VET institutions come from two alternative lists:

  • one comprising holders of the teaching competence certification, obtained on passing the certification exams;
  • a second list with trainers who possess specific qualifications − tertiary education degrees, teaching experience, relevant training − but have not (yet) completed the certification process.

Since December 2015, the mechanism for certification of trainers from this second list has become self-funded via certification fees that the candidates have to pay on submission of their application and portfolio. According to Law 4485/2017, the certification of teaching competences of VET teachers and adult trainers will become a prerequisite for their enrolment in training programmes partly funded by the State. This will affect post-secondary non-formal IVET and CVET teachers.

The formal VET (EPAL) teachers’ training is continuous and co-financed by ESF funds. Particular attention is paid to the CPD of teaching staff who work in school-based programmes and will be (re)allocated to the new apprenticeship programmes (at post-secondary level). Focus is on developing their knowledge and competences for collaborating with enterprises and apprentices. Also important is peer-learning and capturing the experience of teachers who already piloted work-based learning activities (other than apprenticeships) in previous years.

The informal VET (IVET and CVET) adult trainers’ training is continuous. In order to be certified by the National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance (EOPPEP) they must attend a programme of at least 100 hours on adult training. They also have to renew their certification every 10 years; to do so they either have to acquire teaching experience of at least 150 hours or attend a programme of at least 50 hours on adult training.

The 2016 National strategic framework for the upgrade of VET and apprenticeship introduced broad provisions on requirements and training of enterprise staff that will become in-company trainers, linked to a future goal of accreditation of companies that participate in apprenticeships. The strategy foresees that in-company trainers (at least one per company) will attend a short and flexible training programme, focusing on pedagogical knowledge and competences as well as on adult training techniques. Participation by professional associations and chambers is encouraged. In-company trainers should attend a training programme designed jointly by the national employment service, chambers and education institutions. Greek authorities are aiming at creating a register of certified in-company trainers.

As a major step to cover the gap between VET and labour market needs ([16]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/cedefop_skills_forecast_2018_-_greece.pdf
), a new skills forecasting mechanism has been introduced ([17]Based upon Law 4368/2016, February 2016 and Ministerial Decree 4013/410/26.05.2016 on the introduction and operation of a relevant network and the supportive information system
). The mechanism:

  • addresses the necessity for early identification of medium-term trends in labour market needs;
  • eases the design of employment policies in accordance with training and education programmes;
  • allows the implementation of the Youth Guarantee scheme in Greece;
  • increases the impact of VET (i.e. development of required VET curricula), most importantly via providing necessary labour market information that will inform evidence-based policy making in the field of VET.

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([18]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast
).

In April 2016, the education ministry published the Strategic framework for upgrading VET and apprenticeships where there is an explicit reference to the need of upgrading the quality of curricula.

Upper secondary vocational programmes (EPAL) offer specialties that are defined by law; these specialties and their provision are determined by a decision of the education Minister. The specialties offered should reflect the needs of the economy, the proposals of the regional VET boards (not fully established), social partners, chambers and professional associations, and the recommendations of the labour ministry, OAED ([19]Manpower Employment Organisation
), the ministry of development and other competent ministries and will also be informed by the results of the skills forecasting mechanism. A structured procedure for this kind of consultation does not exist. The detailed curriculum of each specialty must be designed in accordance with the relevant occupational profile (if this exists) ([20]In the context of the overall updating of certification, the Ministry of Education in co-operation with EOPPEP and in consultation with social partners, is still in the process of reforming the system of Occupational Profiles.
) and the principles and guidelines laid down by ECVET. The curricula of formal upper secondary VET are developed by IEP ([21]Institute of Education Policy
) and issued in the form of ministerial decisions. The new law also requires that the duration and details of the timetable and curriculum will be assessed and, if this is deemed necessary, revised ([22]In these terms Law 4386/2016 introduces ongoing evaluation of curricula in contrast to Law 4186/2013 where revision was programmed for every 6 years.
). The education ministry has been recently promoting through a large-scale ESF project the upgrading and updating of EPAL curricula, the writing of new education material (laboratory guides, books) and relevant training for EPAL teachers.

Specialties of apprenticeship programmes were decided by the National committee for VET and apprenticeships, based on recommendations by the Technical committee ([23]The National committee for VET was set up in 2017. It is responsible for the overall coordination of governance of the Greek VET system, monitoring the implementation of the 2016 National strategic framework for the upgrade of VET and apprenticeship and evaluating its results. The National committee is supported in its work by a Technical committee for VET.
) and considering the findings of the skills forecasting mechanism. Several factors, such as demand for existing specialties and regional recommendations were taken into account. IEP is responsible for the development of curricula for the EPAL apprenticeship class and apprenticeship programmes (EPAS), which should include a clear workplace component (that was missing from existing EPAS programmes).

The curricula of post-secondary VET programmes (IEK) are developed by the General Secretariat for vocational education, training and lifelong learning (which also supervises all the public and private vocational training providers) and certified by the National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance (EOPPEP). The study guide of each specialty includes the job profile, the learning outcomes expressed as knowledge, skills and competences by subject and specialty, the corresponding credits, the potential candidate placement in the labour market, the timetable and specific curriculum, the teaching methods, and the necessary equipment. In 2017/18, 65 curricula of the new IEK specialties (established by Law 4186/2013) were drawn up together with the respective exam-subjects repository.

The law on lifelong learning (Law 3879/2010) sets quality standards for lifelong learning, introducing a requirement of teacher and trainer competence and professional development for teachers and trainers in adult education and stipulating continuous monitoring and evaluation of the national lifelong learning network. Specifically, it envisages (Article 18) that providers of lifelong learning services that are funded from the public purse must be evaluated as regards the realisation of the objectives set out in their lifelong learning programme and receive subsidies based on their effectiveness. It also provides (Article 19) for the establishment of a system for the professional development and evaluation of the trainers and staff involved in non-formal education and teachers in ‘second chance’ schools.

Other legislative initiatives in Greece aiming to upgrade the quality of education provided at all levels are:

  • law 3848/2010 on upgrading the role of the teachers and trainers – establishment of norms for evaluation and meritocracy in education and other provisions;
  • law 4009/2011 on the structure, operation, quality assurance of studies, and internationalisation of institutions of higher education;
  • Joint Ministerial Decision 26381/2017 (GG 490Β/20.2.2017) on the quality framework for apprenticeship and the implementation of the apprenticeship class which falls under the jurisdiction of the education ministry upgrading the learning methods of apprenticeship implementation, setting specific obligations for both the companies and the apprentices and providing the means to evaluate the apprenticeship system;
  • Joint Ministerial Decision No 26385 (GG 491Β/20.2.2017) on the quality framework for VET curricula.

Specifically, for apprenticeship programmes, the education and labour ministries provide:

  • quality assurance at the curriculum design stage;
  • quality assurance at the stage of preparation for implementation;
  • quality assurance at the implementation stage;
  • post-implementation evaluation.

 

Not applicable

The main incentives used by the state to increase VET participation, include: 

  • reinforcing the permeability for graduates of upper secondary vocational education (EPAL). EPAL graduates can take part in a designated national examination for admission to tertiary education programmes. They have at least a 20% quota (recently increased) for technological bachelor and higher professional programmes. A 2018 law provides for an increase to 5% admission quota to bachelor programmes, reinforcing VET permeability. Also, graduates have access to a joint group of faculties at universities, tertiary not higher education schools and military schools regardless of their graduation field, by sitting the same examinations as the general education graduates. EPAL graduates will also have direct access to the newly formed two-year professional programmes provided by universities ([24]They will only accept EPAL graduates
    ) leading to a degree at level 5 of the National qualifications framework.
  • the “Post-secondary year - apprenticeship class” for EPAL graduates. This apprenticeship programme strengthens VET attractiveness by enabling EPAL graduates to upgrade their professional qualifications. Apprentices receive a salary of 75% of the legal minimum wage and full insurance coverage.

The Lifelong learning law (Law 3879/2010) covering CVET provision also foresees incentives for updating the knowledge, skills and competence of the labour force (Article 18). These may include:

  • granting education leave for participation in lifelong learning programmes, especially for workers in the private sector;
  • setting up personal education accounts, with contributions from the employer and the employee (and possibly the state) to cover the worker’s training needs;
  • establishing personal learning time accounts to let workers take part in continuous training programmes.

Apart from such regulatory incentives, there are also financial incentives for workers and the unemployed to take part in continuing training programmes aiming to upgrade their knowledge, skills and competences. In practice, participation of learners in CVET is promoted through financial incentives that combine a voucher for classroom training with remuneration foreseen for workplace training / work placements in many programmes promoting key Active labour market policies (ALMP). Continuing training is subsidised primarily from ESF, but also from the Greek training fund (LAEK).

In an effort to tackle youth unemployment the labour ministry, in cooperation with the ministries of education, culture and development, elaborated a unified operational ‘Action plan of targeted interventions to boost youth employment and entrepreneurship in the framework of the national strategic reference framework (NSRF) operational programme (2014-2018). In the framework of this action plan, vocational training-related initiatives were implemented to foster employment and entrepreneurship of persons aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 35 ([25] The first Youth Guarantee implementation plan was submitted to the European Commission in 31.12.2013. An updated plan was submitted and approved in May 2014. An update file for 2018: https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=1161&langId=en&intPageId=3337
). The budget was 620 million EUR (total) and the potential beneficiaries were estimated to 380 000 people for the programming period 2014-20.

The lifelong learning law (Law 3879/2010, Article 18) establishes incentives for the development of lifelong learning and updating of the knowledge, skills and abilities of the country’s human resources, including subsidies for lifelong learning providers. They are supported by public funds based on their effectiveness. This provision has not yet been implemented, but overall work on this topic was recently reassumed.

In addition, companies are entitled to receive back their contributions to the Greek training fund (LAEK) if they carry out training programmes for their personnel. The revenues of this account, which is managed by the Manpower employment organisation (OAED), come from employers’ contributions to the Social Security Organisation, with each company contributing 0.24% of its gross wage bill.

Many companies receive financial incentives to offer training places to students in or graduates of VET programmes. In this way they contribute to the education of learners, as for example in the EPAL ([26]https://www.e-nomothesia.gr/inner.php/epaggelmata-tekhnes/koine-upourgike-apophase-26385-2017.html?print=1 (Joint Ministerial Decision No. 26385/2017 GG 491 / Β / 20-2-2017: Apprenticeship Quality Framework)
) and EPAS ([27]https://www.taxheaven.gr/laws/circular/view/id/23805 (Joint Ministerial Decision No. 24018/411 / 26.5.2016-Subsidy for the practical training of pupils of the EPAs.OAED Apprenticeship under Law 3475/2006)
) apprenticeship schemes. There are also subsidies for companies that take part in vocational training actions funded by ESF that combine training with counselling and work placement schemes. CVET providers benefit from the training voucher schemes that largely form the basis of active labour market policies.

The education ministry offers in-school vocational guidance to students and parents (information about job and study possibilities, alternative pathways, risks that go with dropping out of school) through the decentralised structures of the department of vocational orientation. The secondary school programme includes a vocational guidance class, and vocational guidance can be selected as the focus of inter-thematic projects. There are also counselling and guidance centres for meetings bringing together children or young people (up to age 25) and their teachers and guardians (KESY).

OAED ([28]Manpower employment organisation
) has established 30 vocational education career offices (GDEE) within the framework of the EPAS schools, aiming at linking vocational education to the world of work by placing students in appropriate jobs in private and public-sector enterprises. OAED also offers counselling services aimed at mobilising the unemployed and helping them enter the labour market. These services include ([29]http://www.oaed.gr/symbouleutikes-yperesies1 (10/10/2018)
):

  • workshops for activation - mobilisation of the unemployed;
  • vocational guidance counselling - career management, for first-time jobseekers with no clear occupational goal and people obliged to change their occupation;
  • job search counselling;
  • counselling for business involvement- to encourage the development of entrepreneurial skills and help unemployed persons start businesses with enhanced feasibility prospects.

OAED is also a member of the European job mobility portal (EURES) network, which provides information, advice and hiring/placement services to workers and jobseekers in other European countries, and to employers looking to hire people. In Greece there are 39 EURES points in various cities.

Specialised centres offer counselling and vocational guidance (SYEP) services to students, jobseekers, employed individuals interested in managing their career or in a career change, parents, and special target groups (such as special education needs learners and migrants).

The agency responsible for lifelong counselling and vocational guidance is EOPPEP ([30]https://www.eoppep.gr/index.php/el/work-guidance-and-consulting/eoppep-syep (10/10/2018)
), which is a member of the corresponding European network (ELGPN) that was set up by the European Commission in 2007. EOPPEP is responsible for: helping to design and implement national counselling and vocational guidance policy, coordinating the action of public and private SYEP services providers, promoting the training and further education of SYEP staff and specifying the required qualifications, implementing actions supporting counsellors, and supporting citizens in matters relating to development and career management.

Teenagers can use a designated vocational guidance portal ([31]http://www.EOPPEP.gr/teens/ (10/10/2018)
) to look for information about occupations, take skills and vocational guidance tests and create their own personal skills file.

There is also an electronic lifelong careers counselling forum (IRIS), which is intended for public and private sector vocational guidance and careers counsellors and aims at encouraging supplementary actions by public and private sector counselling bodies and staff, nationally and in each region separately, and improving the quality of the services provided ([32]https://www.eoppep.gr/index.php/el/how-to/register-freelance (10/10/2018)
).

The National strategic framework for upgrading VET and apprenticeships (2016) explicitly refers to the need for an expansion of the guidance services. EOPPEP has developed occupational standards for career counsellors and at this stage is working on the creation of an institutional framework - qualification certification system for the careers / vocational guidance advisors and the set-up of a relevant register of certified career guides / vocational guidance officers ([33]https://www.eoppep.gr/index.php/el/work-guidance-and-consulting/eoppep-upgrade-actions/national-forum-syep-irida (10/10/2018)
).

Please see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

Higher professional programmes

ISCED 655

Higher professional programmes leading to EQF level 5. ISCED 655 Higher Professional Programmes (Sxoles anoteris epaggelmatikis ekpaidefsis) (dance and theatre schools, schools of petty officers and the Academy of merchant navy)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

655

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

15+

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

21+

Length of a programme (years)

3-4
 

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

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?

Yes and No

At public schools, free of charge. At private schools, learners pay fees.

Is it available for adults?

Y

(only for adults)

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Full-time

Main providers

Public and private schools supervised by respective ministries (e.g. education, culture, defence, tourism, mercantile Marine)

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

It depends on the programme

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

work practice (practical training at school or on the job training)

Main target groups

Programmes are available for adults. Special education needs learners can also attend these programmes.

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

Admission is granted via general national or a programme-specific examination to graduates of upper secondary vocational education programmes (EPAL) or upper secondary general education programmes (GEL).

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a higher professional programme, learners need to pass a final examination

Diplomas/certificates provided

Title of other type of typical tertiary education school (Ptycheio / Diploma)

Examples of qualifications

Actor, dance teacher, merchant marine officer

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

They can enter to:

  • higher education (tertiary) through a specific examination
  • labour market
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not applicable

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

Information not available

Post-secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

Post-secondary VET programmes

WBL>60%

ISCED 453

Post-secondary VET programmes leading to EQF level 5. ISCED 453 Institouto Epagelmatikis Katartisis (IEK)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

453

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

15

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

21+

Length of a programme (years)

2,5

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

N

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Yes and No

At public schools, free of charge. At private schools, learners pay fees.

Is it available for adults?

Y

only for adults

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Full-time

  • school-based learning (2 years)
  • work practice (practical training at school or in-company learning)
  • internship or apprenticeship (6 months)

 

Main providers

Public or private schools supervised by General Secretariat of lifelong learning (GSLL) of the education ministry

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>60%

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

Programmes are available for adults.

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

Successful completion of:

  • secondary apprenticeship programmes (EPAS);
  • upper secondary vocational programmes (EPAL);
  • upper secondary general education programmes (GEL).

Learners should be adults.

Assessment of learning outcomes

These programmes only allow learners to obtain an attestation of programme completion; alternatively, they can take VET certification examinations (practical and theoretical) conducted by the National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance (EOPPEP) leading to an EQF level 5 certificate ([37]https://www.eoppep.gr/index.php/el/certification-exams/thesmikoiek
).

Diplomas/certificates provided

Diploma of vocational training at post-secondary level (Diploma epagematikis katartisis epipedou metadefterovathmias epagelmatikis katartisis)

Examples of qualifications

Accounting office specialist, nursing traumatology, computer networks technician

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

They can enter to Labour market

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not appplicable

General education subjects

N

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

Information not available

EQF 5

Apprenticeship

1 year, WBL 100%

Apprenticeship programmes leading to EQF level 5. ISCED 453 Apprenticeship programmes offered by upper secondary vocational schools (EPAL)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

453

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

18+

Length of a programme (years)

1

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

N

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

(only for adults)

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Full-time

  • in workshops (1 day/week)
  • apprenticeship (4 days/week)
Main providers

Public schools supervised by the education ministry

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

100%

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

Programmes are available for adult graduates of upper secondary vocational education.

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

This programme is offered to those who hold an upper secondary school leaving certificate and an EPAL specialisation degree.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete this programme, learners need to pass a final examination.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Degree of VET specialty (Ptychio epagematikis eidikothtas ekpaideusis kai katartisis)

Examples of qualifications

Vehicle technician, employee in administration and finance, technician of electrical systems, installations and networks, IT applications technician.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

They can enter the labour market.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not applicable

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Depending on the programme

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

Information not available

EQF 5

KEE programmes

2.5 years

WBL>50%

 

Post-secondary vocational programmes provided by universities leading to EQF level 5 (KEE programmes – VET centres; currently not available)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

Not applicable

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

15

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

21+

Length of a programme (years)

2,5

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

N

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

(only for adults)

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Full-time

  • School-based learning (theoretical and laboratory training)
  • practical training (placement in a company)
Main providers

Vocational centres supervised by each university (higher tertiary education level)

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

50%

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

Programmes are available for adults.

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

Successful completion of upper secondary vocational education programmes (EPAL)

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a VET programme, learners need to pass a final examination.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Diploma of level NQF 5

Examples of qualifications
Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

They can enter the labour market

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not applicable

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

Information not available

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 4

School-based VET

3 years, WBL>25%

ISCED 354

School-based VET programmes leading to EQF level 4. ISCED 354 upper secondary vocational education (Epaggelmatiko Lykeio - EPAL)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

3
 

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

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

Not applicable

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

Full-time

  • school-based learning
  • work practice (practical training at school)
Main providers

Public schools supervised by the education ministry.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>25%

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

Practical training at school

Main target groups

Programmes are available for graduates of lower secondary programmes young people and also for adults.

There are specific programmes for learners with special educational needs, such as moderate and severe disability. These programmes are offered by special vocational schools (ENEEGYL law 4459/2018 – state gazette A’ 142)

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

Learners should hold a lower secondary school leaving certification (compulsory education) and be at least 15 years old.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a VET programme, learners need to pass a final examination.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Successful graduates receive a vocational upper secondary school degree and / or a vocational upper secondary school certificate.

Examples of qualifications

Vehicle technician, employee in administration and finance, technician of electrical systems, installations and networks, IT applications technician

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

They can enter to:

  • higher professional programmes at level 5;
  • tertiary education at level 6;
  • post-secondary VET programmes (IEK) at level 5;
  • post-secondary VET apprenticeship programmes (EPAL) at level 5;
  • secondary school VET EPAL (different specialty) at level 4;
  • labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Not applicable

General education subjects

Y

All students attend general education subjects such as mathematics, physics, Greek and English language, history, gymnastics, ICT, religion, civic education

Key competences
Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

Information not available

EQF 4

Apprenticeship

2 years, WBL>80%

Apprenticeship programmes leading to EQF level 4. ISCED 353 Epagelmatiki Sxoli (EPAS)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

353

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

17+

Usual completion age

18+

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

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

Not applicable

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

Full-time

  • school-based learning
  • work practice (practical training at school)
  • apprenticeship
Main providers

Public schools supervised by the labour and rural development ministries

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>80%

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

Programmes are available for learners that have successfully completed the first year of upper secondary education; they can also be adults.

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

Learners should have successfully completed the first year of upper secondary education and be at least 16 years old.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a VET programme, learners need to pass a final in-school examination (Law 3475/2006-State gazette 146 vol.B-article 11).

Diplomas/certificates provided

Vocational school (EPAS) specialisation diploma (ptychio) (according to Law 3475/2006-State gazette 146 vol.B-article 12)

Examples of qualifications

Beautician, metal working technician, agrotourism and agroindustry businesses, dairy - cheese making

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Progression opportunities are significantly limited for graduates of EPAS apprenticeships programmes. They can enter to:

  • second year/class of school based upper secondary vocational education programmes (EQF4);
  • post-secondary VET programmes (IEK, EQF 5);
  • labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Depending on the curriculum of each specialisation.

Application of learning outcomes approach

N

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

Information not available

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available

General themes

VET in Finland comprises the following main features:

  • competence-based approach;
  • personal competence development plan for each learner charting and recognising previously acquired skills;
  • VET teacher profession is attractive;
  • early leaving from education and training is low and decreasing; leaving VET early is still more common than in general education;
  • participation in lifelong learning is high, also due to VET participation.

Distinctive features ([1]Cedefop (2016). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Finland. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8100_en.pdf
):

National qualification requirements have been based on a competence-based approach since the early 1990s. Flexibility of vocational qualifications has increased, for example by diversifying opportunities to include modules from other vocational qualifications (including further and specialist vocational qualifications) or university of applied sciences degrees. More flexibility will allow students to create individual learning paths and increase their motivation for completing their studies. It is also meant to give education providers an opportunity to meet regional and local labour market demands more effectively. Studies in upper secondary VET are based on individual study plans, comprising both compulsory and optional study modules. Modularisation allows for a degree of individualisation of qualifications:

  • a clearer range of qualifications that better meets the needs of working life;
  • a single competence-based method of completing qualifications;
  • competence-based and individual study paths for all.

The Finnish National Agency for Education reformed all 43 initial, 65 further and 56 specialist vocational qualifications in 2017-18. The fundamental goal of this reform was to reduce the number of qualification titles from 360 to 164 and offer broader programmes, strengthen the competence-based approach of vocational qualification requirements and the modular structure of qualifications. This supports building flexible and individual learning paths and promotes validation of prior learning.

A career as a VET teacher is generally considered attractive, reflected in the high number of applications to enrol in vocational teacher training programmes that invariably exceed intake. While up to a third of the applicants are admitted annually, there are major variations between different fields.

There is growing concern over the risk of social exclusion of young people. In 2018, among 20 to 24 year-olds, 11.8% were neither in employment nor in education and training. Youth unemployment is on the increase; the rate for 15 to 24 year-olds was 20% in 2014, 21.4% in 2016 and 20.4% in 2019. Both rates have improved in recent years ([2]Source: Statistics Finland.).

The government introduced the youth guarantee programme from the beginning of 2013. This offers everyone under 25, as well as recent graduates under 30, a job, on-the-job training, a study place or rehabilitation within three months of becoming unemployed.

Dropout from vocational education and training is far more common than from general upper secondary education, although it is not high in European terms (7.4% in the 2016/17 school year). Prevention of both dropout from education and exclusion from society is a policy priority: every individual who drops out of education and the labour market is seen as being both a personal tragedy and a significant cost to society. A programme was set up in 2012 to develop anticipatory and individualised procedures in guidance and counselling and create pedagogical solutions and practices supporting completion of studies, as well as work-centred learning environments and opportunities. There is also emphasis on creating practices to recognise prior learning more effectively. An additional EUR 4 million has been allocated to this programme. The results of these projects will be seen in 2020 at the earliest.

A new Act on VET was adopted in June 2017 and entered into force on 1 January 2018. Its objective has been to renew VET legislation, the financing system and create a more competence-based and customer-oriented system.

Data from VET in Finland Spotlight 2016 ([3]Cedefop (2016). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Finland. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8100_en.pdf
), updated in May 2019.

 

 

Population in 2018: 5 513 130 ([4]NB: Data for population as of 1 January; break in series. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

It increased by 1.6% since 2013 mainly due to immigration ([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, but the share of young people remains slightly above the EU-28 due to immigration. Since 2000, annual immigration to the country has more than doubled, reaching 249 500 or 4.5% of the population in 2017. This is also due to the increased number of asylum seekers in 2015-16 ([6]Statistics Finland:
www.tilastokeskus.fi/tup/maahanmuutto/maahanmuuttajat-vaestossa/ulkomaan-kansalaiset_en.html#tab1483972171375_1
).

The old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase from 31 in 2015 to 50 in 2060 ([7]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).). This will also force the retirement age to increase, reaching 62.4 years in 2025 ([8]In 2017 it was 61.2 years. Source: Finnish Centre for Pensions:
www.etk.fi/en/statistics-2/statistics/effective-retirement-age/
).

 

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

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

According to population forecasts, the proportion of those aged over 65 is increasing faster than the EU average. This is mostly due to the ‘baby-boomer’ generations, born after World War II, reaching pensionable age.

Demographic challenges will impact the availability of the labour force, growth of the economy and, thus, provision of welfare services. The changing population structure will also require improving attainment, preventing early leaving from education and training, facilitating young people’s transition to further education and making flexible learning paths for completing qualifications.

Because of the demographic challenges, e.g. ageing population, the demand for labour in social and welfare services will grow in the future. According to the National Agency for Education ([9]https://www.oph.fi/julkaisut/2011/koulutus_ja_tyovoiman_kysynta_2025), demand for new employees in health care and social services will be nearly 120 000 in the period from 2008 to 2025. This has an impact on VET as, for example, practical nurses and dental assistants receive VET qualifications.

The country has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish.

Education and training institutions teach in Finnish and Swedish, but bilingual providers also exist, providing education in some foreign languages, mostly in English. In the Sámi language regions VET is also provided in a Sámi language.

The language of instruction for initial and continuing VET is decided in the licence for VET provision, granted by the education ministry.

Most companies are small- and medium-sized.

The highest share of the labour force is in human health and social work, manufacturing and in wholesale and retail trade.

 

Employees (age 15 to 74) by economic sector in 2018

Source: Statistics Finland. https://www.tilastokeskus.fi/tup/suoluk/suoluk_tyoelama_en.html

 

The main export sectors are ([10]Source:
https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/fin/ [accessed 2.4.2019].
):

  • machines (23%) ([11]E.g. broadcasting equipment, electrical transformers.);
  • paper goods (16%) ([12]E.g. coated paper, wood pulp.);
  • metals (14%) ([13]E.g. stainless steel, raw zinc.);
  • transportation goods (11%) ([14]E.g. cars, ships.).

Relatively few professions require a specific type of education. Education requirements mainly exist in health care, teaching, rescue and security jobs. Also the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church requires its employees to have education in the field. Such professions usually require a higher education degree.

A few regulated professions require a vocational qualification. Examples are nurses, prison and security guards, construction divers and chimney sweeps.

The labour market is, therefore, considered flexible.

Total unemployment ([15]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) (2018): 6.1% (6.0% in EU-28); it increased by 1.2 percentage points since 2008 ([16]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 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. In Finland, the financial crisis had less impact on unemployment than in other European countries.

During the crisis there was only a slight increase in unemployment, and the difference between the unemployment rates of the three categories above remained quite stable.

Young people (15-24) with low qualifications (ISCED 0-2) are much more exposed to unemployment than older people who have more working experience. Higher level qualifications also mean less unemployment for young people.

The employment rate of VET graduates (age 20-34, ISCED levels 3 and 4) has increased since 2014 by 2.2 percentage points and reached 79.8% in 2018.

 

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].

 

This increase was slower compared with the increase in employment for the same age group graduates of all education types (+2.5pp) in the same period ([17]NB: Breaks in time series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

For more information about the external drivers influencing VET developments in Finland please see the case study from Cedefop's changing nature and role of VET in Europe project [17a]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 Finland. Cedefop research paper; No 67. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/finland_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study.pdf

Completion of both upper secondary and tertiary studies is one of the objectives of national education policy. Finland has one of the highest shares of 25-64 year old people with higher education qualifications (43.7%) and one of the lowest shares with low qualifications (11.7%) 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].

 

Attainment of Finns aged 25 to 64 has increased significantly since 2000 and slightly more rapidly than in the EU-28 on average ([18]https://findikaattori.fi/en/). Since the 1990s the expansion of adult education and training, as well as the creation of the competence-based qualifications system, offered many ‘baby-boomers’ born after World War II an opportunity to complete a VET qualification.

For more information about VET in higher education in Finland please see the case study from Cedefop's changing nature and role of VET in Europe projectt [18a]Cedefop (2019). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 6: vocationally oriented education and training at higher education level. Expansion and diversification in European countries. Case study focusing on Finland. Cedefop research paper; No 70. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/finland_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study_0.pdf

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower- secondary

upper -secondary

post-secondary

not applicable

71.6%

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].

 

The male/female share in vocational upper secondary programmes is equal. In further qualification programmes, there are more females.

In 2017, 43% of all male VET students studied in one particular field, i.e. engineering, manufacturing and construction. Business and administration and services both accounted for 17% of all male VET students. Around one-third (31%) of women were enrolled in health and welfare, 20% in services and 25% in business, administration and law.

The share of early leavers from education and training was 8.3% in 2018. The share has decreased since 2009 by 1.6 percentage points (-3.6 percentage points in the EU) and it is very close to the national 2020 target of not more than 8%.

 

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.
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].

 

The overall duration of education and training is influenced by delays at transition points ([19]For example, young graduates from upper secondary education at age of 19 cannot always enter higher education due to limited places available; they often apply several years in a row in order to enrol.) and the overall time spent in each programme. The latter is now being addressed by the new financing mechanism that gives more weight to the effectiveness of studies and is pushing towards timely acquisition of qualifications.

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

 

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 traditionally high in Finland. It has increased by 3.4 percentage points since 2014, reaching 28.5% in 2018. It is almost three times higher than the EU-28 average (11.1% in 2018).

VET is an important form of adult education. In 2016 almost 70% of those completing vocational upper secondary qualifications in Finland were under 25. Almost half of those taking further vocational qualifications completed their studies under the age of 35, and over half of those taking specialist vocational qualifications were over 40.

 

VET learners by age group in 2010-17

Source: Statistics Finland (Vipunen). https://vipunen.fi/

 

The share of adults (aged 25 and above) in initial and continuing VET has been increasing both in absolute numbers and proportionally. In the programme aiming for upper secondary vocational qualification the share of adults has been increasing and was 36% in 2017. In further qualification the share has varied between 81-86% and in specialist qualification it has remained roughly the same at 95%.

The education and training system comprises:

  • early childhood education and care (ISCED level 0);
  • pre-primary education (ISCED level 0);
  • primary education and lower secondary education; (ISCED levels 1 and 2), also called basic education;
  • optional additional year (ISCED level 2) (age 16);
  • Upper secondary education (ISCED level 3 and 4);
  • Tertiary education (ISCED levels 6, 7, and 8).

Early childhood education and care (varhaiskasvatus, småbarnsfostran) is not compulsory and participation requires the payment of a small fee. It is provided to children up to age six.

Pre-primary education (esiopetus, förskoleundervisning) is compulsory and it is provided to learners aged 6 years old.

Basic education (perusopetus, grundläggande utbildning) is compulsory. It is divided into primary education, provided in grades 1 to 6, to learners aged 7 to 12, and into lower secondary education, provided in grades 7 to 9, to students aged 13 to 16 years old.

The optional additional year is provided to students at age 16. Its purpose is to improve grades and to prepare for vocational education or familiarisation with the working life.

After basic education students can complete training preparing them for VET (ammatilliseen koulutukseen valmentava koulutus, utbildning som handleder för yrkesutbildning). This preparatory education and training provides students with capabilities for applying to VET, leading to qualifications, and fosters their preconditions for

completing qualifications. Preparatory education and

training for work and independent living (työhön ja itsenäiseen elämään valmentava koulutus, utbildning som handleder för arbete och ett självständigt liv) is available for those who need special support due to illness or injury. It provides students with instruction and guidance according to their personal goals and capabilities.

Upper secondary education (toisen asteen koulutus, utbildning på andra stadiet) is provided in grades 10 to 12, to students aged 17 to 19 years old. It is divided into general (lukiokoulutus, gymnasieutbildning), and vocational (ammatillinen koulutus, yrkesutbildning).

Tertiary education (korkeakoulutus, högskola) is provided by universities (yliopisto, universitet) and by universities of applied sciences (ammattikorkeakoulu, yrkeshögskola).

Promoting employment and self-employment are key elements of VET. Guided and goal-oriented studying at the

workplace is an essential part of VET. Studying at the workplace is either based on apprenticeship or on training agreement. Both can be flexibly combined. Learning at the workplace can be used to acquire competence in all vocational qualifications as well as promoting further training or supplementing vocational skills. Studying at the workplace can cover an entire degree, a module or a smaller part of the studies.

Initial VET (for young people) and continuing VET (for adults) are organised under the same legislation and principles ([20]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170531).

Initial VET (vocational upper secondary programmes) provides learners with vocational skills they need for entry- level jobs. It also supports learners’ growth into good and balanced individuals and members of society, and it provides them with the knowledge and skills needed for further studies and for the development of their personalities. A holder of a vocational upper secondary qualification has broad-based, basic vocational skills to work in different tasks in the chosen field, as well as more specialised competence and the vocational skills required for work in at least one section of the chosen field.

Continuing VET (further and specialist programmes) provides more comprehensive and specialised competences and requires labour market experience. They are mainly acquired by adults in employment with an IVET qualification; however, this is not a precondition for the taking of the qualification. A holder of a further vocational qualification has the vocational skills that meet work needs and that are more advanced or more specialised than what is required in the vocational upper secondary qualification. A holder of a specialist vocational qualification has vocational skills that meet work needs and that are highly advanced or multidisciplinary.

All programmes are competence-based. This means that completing a qualification does not depend on where and how competences have been acquired. All learners who have completed basic education may enrol in VET, but each provider decides the selection criteria. In some regions there is a competition for potential learners between general upper secondary and VET schools. VET often attracts more applicants than there are places available, especially in programmes in social services, health and sports, vehicle and transport technology, business and administration, electrical and automation engineering, and beauty care.

Study units (also known as modules)

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational units:

• compulsory;

• optional.

In addition to the above, all initial vocational qualification programmes include units that consist of common, rather than specific, vocational competence:

• communication and interaction competence;

• mathematics and science competence;

• citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

Key competences help students to keep up with the changes in society and working life. In the wake of the 2018 VET reform (Vocational Education and Training Act 531, adopted in 2017 and in force since 2018), key competences are no longer addressed as a separate part of vocational competences. They have been modified so that key competences are included in all vocational skills requirements and assessment criteria. The key competences for lifelong learning are: digital and technological competence; mathematics and science competence; competence development; communication and interaction competence; competence for sustainable development; cultural competence; social and citizenship competence; and entrepreneurial competence.

Personal competence development plan

At the beginning of VET studies objectives for competence development are recorded in a personal competence development plan for each learner. A teacher draws up the plan together with a learner. An employer or another representative of a workplace or other cooperation partner may also participate in the preparation of the personal competence development plan, when required. The plan includes information on, for example, identification and recognition of prior learning, acquisition of missing skills, demonstrations of competence and of other skills, and the guidance and support needed. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The learner can also include units from general upper secondary curriculum, other vocational qualifications (incl. further vocational qualifications and specialist vocational qualifications) or degrees of universities of applied sciences in his personal competence development plan. The plan can be up-dated during the studies whenever necessary.

Work-based learning

Work-based learning (WBL) is provided mainly in real work environments (companies). If this is not possible, it can also be organised in school facilities.

The 2018 reform aimed to increase the share of work-based learning in VET by offering more flexibility in its organisation. All learners take part in WBL and any form of WBL (training agreement or apprenticeship training) may be taken by learners in any qualification programme. WBL may be provided during the whole programme duration and cover the whole qualification, a module/unit, or a smaller part of the programme. The most suitable method for a learner is agreed in the personal competence development plan.

The legislation does not stipulate a maximum or minimum amount of work-based learning but it strongly recommends that VET providers organise at least part of the learning at the workplace. The form of WBL may vary during the studies. A learner may transfer flexibly from a training agreement to apprenticeship training when the prerequisites for concluding an apprenticeship agreement are met (see Section 2.5.2). Work-based learning is guided and goal-oriented training at a workplace, allowing learners to acquire parts of the practical vocational skills included in the desired qualification.

Training agreement

This type of WBL can be offered in all initial and continuing VET programmes. At the very beginning of the training, the personal competence development plan shall be designed by the teacher/guidance counsellor, working life representative and the learner. The WBL periods are defined in this plan.

Learners are not in an employment relationship with the training company. They do not receive salary and employers do not receive any training compensation. But companies gladly recruit people with work experience. Within this system, the learners acquire some experience during their studies and the learner and the company get to know each other. It is possible to change from a training agreement to an apprenticeship training contract, if prerequisites for concluding an apprenticeship agreement are met.

A training agreement period can also be conducted abroad, as an exchange period, e.g. within the Erasmus+ programme or through other programmes or individual arrangements.

Apprenticeship training contract

Any qualification can be acquired through apprenticeship training – a work-based form of VET that is based on a written fixed-term employment contract (apprenticeship contract) between an employer and an apprentice, who must be at least 15 years old. Working hours are at least 25 hours per week. Apprenticeships have been used mainly in further and specialist vocational education. Since the 2018 reform, there is no indication in the legislation where the theoretical part should be acquired. In fact, the word ‘theory’ is no longer in use. Instead, ‘learning in the working place’ and ‘learning in other environments’ terminology applies. If the company is able to cover all the training needs, there is no need for the learner to attend a school venue at all. Learners themselves find work places for the training. The employer has no obligation to keep the apprentice employed after the training period is completed.

VET providers are responsible for initiating the contract. The demand and supply of contracts/work places are not always in balance. There are regional and field-specific differences but usually there are not enough apprenticeship places in companies.

Apprenticeship training is based on the requirements of the relevant qualification, according to which the learner’s personal competence development plan is drawn up. It considers the needs and requirements of the workplace and the learner. Approximately 70-80% of the time used for learning takes place in the workplace where the apprenticeship contract is concluded. Periods of theory and in-company training alternate but a common pattern does not exist; it is agreed in the personal competence development plan.

The employer pays the apprentice’s wages according to the relevant collective agreement for the period of workplace training. For the period of theoretical studies, learners receive social benefits, such as a daily allowance and allowances for accommodation and travel expenses. The education provider pays compensation to cover the costs of training provided in the workplace. The employer and VET institution agree on the amount of compensation before the training takes place; a separate contract is prepared for each learner.

At national level, the general goals for VET and the qualifications structure ([21]Qualification structure is a system of qualifications. It defines how many there are initial, further and specialist VET qualifications: their share, titles and competence points (total and for common units; their division within the qualification is decided by the Finnish National Agency for Education).) are determined by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The ministry also grants the licences for education provision. The Finnish National Agency for Education decides the national requirements of qualifications, detailing the goals and core content of each vocational qualification.

 

Main VET stakeholders

Source: Finnish National Agency for Education.

 

Vocational qualification requirements are developed in broad-based cooperation with stakeholders. The national qualification requirements have been based on a learning-outcomes approach since the early 1990s. Consequently, close cooperation with the world of work has been essential.

Cooperation with the world of work and other key stakeholders is carried out in order to ensure that qualifications support is flexible and promotes efficient transition to the labour market, as well as occupational development and career change. In addition to the needs of the world of work, development of VET and qualifications takes into account consolidation of lifelong learning skills, as well as the individuals’ needs and opportunities to complete qualifications flexibly to suit their own circumstances.

The Ministry of Education and Culture grants authorisations to VET providers, determining the fields of education in which they are allowed to provide education and training and their total learner numbers. VET providers determine which vocational qualifications and which study programmes within the specified fields of education will be organised at their vocational institutions.

To enhance the service capacity of VET providers, they have been encouraged to merge into regional or other strong entities. Across Finland, education providers cover all VET services and development activities. Thus, vocational institutions offer initial and continuing training both for young people and adult learners. Vocational institutions work in close cooperation with the labour market. Their role is to develop their own provision in cooperation with the labour market on the one hand, and to support competence development within small and medium-sized enterprises on the other. This strategy for vocational institutions has been a necessary means of ensuring and increasing the flexibility of education and training. Consequently, larger vocational institutions can offer enough vocational modules to ensure that learners can customise their programmes and choose studies that match changing needs for competences.

Vocational institutions can organise their activities freely, according to the requirements of their fields or their regions, and decide on their institutional networks and other services.

VET providers

Around 70% of VET providers are privately owned and 24% are owned by joint municipal authorities (Figure 10). There are 145 VET providers in total (Figure 10); this is considerably fewer than in 2006 as they have been strongly encouraged to merge. This cost-efficiency trend in education has been apparent since the mid-1990s. The ministry encourages VET providers towards voluntary mergers to ensure that all education providers have sufficient professional and financial resources to provide education.

 

VET providers by ownership

NB: Data as of 30 April 2019. In addition, there were 16 private VET providers who did not receive the licence, but can continue providing VET for a transitional period.
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

 

The most common types of VET provider are vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and the service sector) ([22]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. car manufacturers) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Private vocational institutions operating under the 2018 VET Act are supervised by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Similar to public VET providers, they receive government subsidies and have the right to award official qualification certificates.

Out of 145 VET providers in total, there are 26 specialised vocational institutions, which are generally maintained by manufacturing and service sector enterprises. They are national private institutions, also referred to as ‘government dependent private institutions’, which provide training for their own needs outside the national qualifications structure described above, and which mainly focus on continuing training for their own staff. The specialised vocational institutions (also national private institutions) have been authorised by the Ministry of Education and Culture to provide education and training. Although these institutions receive state funding, most of the costs are covered by the owners of these enterprises (or by the enterprises responsible for them).

Current financing system

Education is publicly funded through public tax revenue at all levels. This has been perceived in Finland as being a means of guaranteeing equal education opportunities for the entire population irrespective of social or ethnic background, gender and place of residence. Funding criteria for receiving state funding are uniform for public and private VET providers.

Private funding only accounts for 2.6% of all education expenditure. Its share is slightly higher in upper secondary VET and higher education, but still remains below 5%.

Public funding is mainly provided by the State (30%) and local authorities (municipalities) (70%). VET providers decide on the use of all funds granted. In upper secondary VET, operating costs per learner vary between EUR 6 488 for all apprenticeships (companies cover most of the costs) to EUR 27 956 in special needs VET ([23]The most recent available data of 2017.).

In VET (excluding apprenticeships and special needs), funding varies by study field. Total VET funding is 1.5% from government spending and 13% from the spending of the Ministry of Education and Culture (2019).

 

Operating costs per learner in upper secondary VET by study field in 2012, 2014, 2017 (euros)

Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

 

At the beginning of 2018, the unit price of apprenticeship training was increased to the same level as that of institution-based training. This is expected to encourage education providers to increase their offer of apprenticeship training. In addition, if the apprentice is a long-term unemployed jobseeker, lacks professional skills, or is disabled, the employer may also receive a state-funded pay subsidy.

The 2022 financing system for better performance

With the amendment to the Act on the Financing of the Provision of Education and Culture (532/2017) that entered into force at the beginning of 2018, a single coherent funding system was established for all VET programmes. The Act includes one uniform funding system for the provision of VET covering vocational upper secondary education and training, vocational further education and training, apprenticeship training and labour market training leading to a qualification (see Section 2.9.3). Funding criteria are uniform irrespective of the type of education provider.

The new system of funding is moving away from the current model of core funding and a very small element of performance funding (5%), towards one based on funding divided into core, performance and effectiveness and strategy.

 

Share of VET funding elements from 2022

Source: Ministry of Education and Culture; Finnish National Agency for Education (2018). Finnish VET in a nutshell. ISBN: 978-952-263-592-1.

 

  • 50% core funding is based on the number of students; it is important for forward planning and ensuring future provision of VET in all fields and for all students;
  • 35% performance funding is based on the number of completed qualifications and qualification units; it is meant to steer education providers to target education and qualifications in accordance with competence needs and to intensify study processes;
  • 15% effectiveness funding is based on students’ access to employment, pursuit of further education and feedback from both students and the labour market ([24]VET providers must collect these data. The system is not fully operational yet as the new financing system will be ready in 2022.); it aims to encourage education providers to redirect education to fields where labour is needed to ensure that education corresponds to the needs of the working life and that it is of high quality and provides the students with the competence to study further;
  • in addition, a relatively small amount of strategy funding (decided by parliament) will be made available; it is meant to support development and actions that are important from the education policy standpoint. It could be used, for example, for VET national development projects, skills competitions and developing education provider networks (e.g. mergers).

The new funding system will gradually be introduced and will be fully operational in 2022.

 

VET funding elements 2018-22 (%)

Source: Ministry of Education and Culture.

 

In VET, there are:

  • teachers of vocational units, teachers of common units, special needs teachers;
  • trainers.

Teaching is a popular profession in Finland. The popularity of vocational teacher education has been consistent over many years, largely because of the flexible arrangements for completing studies. While up to a third of the applicants are admitted annually, there are major variations between different fields.

Those who apply for a place in vocational teacher education are, on average, older than applicants of other forms of teacher education. This is because applicants are required to have prior work experience in their own field. The average age of applicants and those admitted as learners is approximately 40 years.

The proportion of women among applicants and teacher training learners has increased noticeably in recent years. Unlike in other teacher education programmes, it is more difficult for women than for men to gain a place in vocational teacher education. Regarding salaries and terms and conditions of employment, there are no remarkable differences between teachers in general education and VET.

Although there are no official data for trainers ([25]In-company trainers (nationally referred to as workplace instructors) are responsible for supervising learners during their on-the-job learning periods or apprenticeship training in enterprises.) on the attractiveness of their profession, the general impression is that trainers are generally satisfied with their training tasks. In many cases, they perceive more responsibilities and autonomy as recognition of their professionalism; time spent with young learners away from normal routine is also considered to be a reward. Trainers participate in the competence demonstrations involving trainers in learner assessment at the workplace. This assessment plays a significant role on learners’ final qualification certificates.

 

Teacher and trainer qualifications

Source: https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1998/19980986#L5

 

First, teachers of vocational units must have an appropriate higher education degree in their own vocational sector. If such a degree does not exist, it can also be supplemented by the highest possible other qualification in the sector. One specific challenge has been to find qualified teachers in some fields. Another challenge is the sometimes limited shop floor experience of teachers with a university degree. In some fields, therefore now possible to acquire teaching qualifications by completing a specialist vocational qualification (ISCED 4) or some other qualification or training that provides solid competence in the field concerned.

Second, they have a pedagogical teacher training qualification with 60 ECTS credit points, and third, they need relevant work experience in their own field. Teachers of vocational units take teacher’s pedagogical studies at five vocational teacher education institutions (universities of applied sciences) while teachers of common units (such as languages and mathematics) generally complete them at universities.

The content of teacher training is updated continuously by vocational teacher education colleges. Teacher education institutions enjoy wide autonomy in deciding on their curricula and training arrangements. Legislation sets the qualification requirements, but only at a very general level.

Requirements for trainers

Trainers are generally experienced foremen and skilled workers. They frequently have a vocational or professional qualification but hold no pedagogical qualifications.

There are no formal qualifications requirements for trainers in Finland. Their participation in continuing professional development is also left completely up to them and their employers.

There are, however, training programmes available for trainers that follow national guidelines (as recommended by the Finnish National Agency for Education). According to the guidelines, training for trainers comprises three modules, providing participants with the capabilities required in order to: plan training at the workplace; provide vocational competence demonstrations; instruct VET learners and assess their learning; and impart vocational skills. The Finnish National Agency for Education recommends that, where possible, people acting as workplace trainers should participate in the training of trainers. VET education providers are responsible for providing the training.

There is also plenty of autonomy for continuing professional development (CPD) for VET teachers. The CPD obligation of teaching staff is defined partly in legislation and partly in the collective agreement negotiated between the Trade Union of Education in Finland and the employers’ organisation.

Most continuing training is provided free of charge and teachers enjoy full salary benefits during their participation. Funding responsibility rests with teachers’ employers, mainly local authorities. Training content is decided by individual employers and the teachers themselves.

The Parasta osaamista project set up a network for improving VET teacher’s CPD. It started in 2016 and is coordinated by Jyväskylä university. The aim of the project is to support education staff during the implementation of the 2017-2018 VET reform. Emphasis is put on developing coherent practices; unifying quality criteria; promoting competence-based and customer-oriented VET in cooperation with the world of work; mapping the competence needs of VET staff; developing tools and operational models for workplace learning; and the induction of workplace instructors.

The 2016 teacher education development programme (Opettajankoulutuksen kehittämisohjelma) also aims to adopt a systematic and coherent structure for teachers’ competence development during their careers. It is recommended that education institutions prepare competence development plans, which will be underpinned by strategic plans and evaluations of competence by education providers. Particular attention is being paid to building up the vocational skills of young teachers and their opportunities for receiving support. CPD, promoting the integration of Finnish language learning into the vocational studies, language awareness focused teaching and collaborative instruction, is being organised.

VET schools offer short courses/events to upskill workplace instructors in relation to various themes, such as how to guide special needs learners at the workplace. The Parasta osaamista project also offers support for workplace instructors.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([26]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

 

 

Skills anticipation activities are well established and linked to policy-making. For more than a decade, socio-economic factors such as the effects of the economic recession, the gradually decreasing labour force, and the ageing population have increased the need to improve the match between supply and demand skills. As a result, significant investment in skills anticipation has been undertaken by the government and its partners. The aim is to steer the education system – both VET and higher education – to meet the needs of the labour market.

At national level, the Finnish National Agency for Education, which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Culture, produces long-term (10+ years) national forecasts ([27]https://beta.oph.fi/fi/tilastot-ja-julkaisut/julkaisut/osaaminen-2035) on the demand for labour and education needs in support of decision-making. It is supported by the skills anticipation forum, established in early 2017. The Ministry of Education and Culture decides on study places by field of education (around 10). At regional level, councils anticipate skills needs in the municipalities in the region. The forecasting data is also used for guidance and employment counselling to provide information regarding future employment opportunities. The Finnish National Agency for Education also supports regional forecasting efforts, which are carried out under the supervision of regional councils. The goal is to steer the number of learner places in education and training provision to ensure that it matches developments in the demand for labour as closely as possible.

In general, there is a high degree of stakeholder involvement in skills anticipation activities. Major trade unions, employers, regional councils, and representatives of education institutions are involved in anticipation exercises. The responsibility of education providers for anticipating and responding to labour market changes has increased, as operational targeting and steering powers ([28]It means among other things that VET providers can decide within the limits of the licence received from Ministry of Education and Culture what qualifications and training programmes to offer.) have been devolved to universities, universities of applied sciences, and VET providers. Providers are required to play an active role in addressing the national/regional labour market skills needs.

In addition, a wide range of national and regional EU-funded anticipation and forecast projects are carried out by organisations such as research institutions, labour market and industry organisations, VET providers, universities and universities of applied sciences. In particular, regional anticipation activities have developed rapidly in the past decade. Key players in these activities include regional councils, the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres), VET providers, and higher education institutions.

Governance and funding of the relevant exercises are the remit of three ministries (Education and Culture, Finance, Economic Affairs and Employment). These ministries engage in a variety of skills anticipation exercises, taking advantage of the long-term baseline forecasts of economic development produced by the Institute for Economic Research (Valtion Taloudellinen Tutkimuskeskus), a specialised state institution under the Ministry of Finance. The first regional anticipation projects were launched at the beginning of the 2000s. The ministries mostly finance development prognoses of branches, which also include the demand for labour.

Skills anticipation influences government policies on VET, higher education and adult education. Forecasts of future skills demand have an impact on decisions about education supply. Skills anticipation also has an impact on curriculum planning in VET and higher education institutions.

Dissemination of the data generated by skills anticipation exercises is an important element of the anticipation activity. The aim is to make the output from anticipation exercises accessible to a wide audience (policy-makers, employers, jobseekers and young people, etc.) through a range of channels including reports, workshops and online publications. Despite the focus on dissemination of skills anticipation data, there is a need to improve the user friendliness of the existing database to improve information for learners, job seekers and employers ([29]This section is based on Cedefop’s Skills Panorama (2017). Skills anticipation in Finland. Analytical highlights series.
http://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/analytical_highlights/skills-anticipation-finland
).

Quantitative anticipation

The Finnish National Agency for Education is responsible for quantitative anticipation. It has developed the Mitenna model for anticipating long-term demand for labour and educational needs. The model provides long-term data on changes in the demand for labour, natural wastage of labour ([30]A reduction in the number of employees, which is achieved by not replacing those who leave.), demand for skilled labour and educational needs. Quantitative anticipation is used to provide information on quantitative needs for vocationally and professionally oriented education and training in upper secondary vocational education and training, university of applied sciences education and university education. The focus is on anticipating the demand for labour over a period of circa 15 years ([31]Growth in competencies for Finland: proposed objectives for degrees and qualifications for the 2020s (Suomi osaamisen kasvu-uralle. Ehdotus tutkintotavoitteista 2020-luvulle).
http://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/handle/10024/75163
).

Qualitative anticipation

The Finnish National Agency for Education coordinated a project on future competences and skills, known as the VOSE project, between 2008 and 2012. The aim of this project was to create a process model for anticipating vocational competence and skills needs for the future (looking 10 to 15 years ahead).

The knowledge produced through the model serves different levels of education, including vocational, university of applied sciences and university education. Anticipatory knowledge may be utilised, for example, in the national core curriculum, in curriculum planning and the development of the content of education.

The development of the anticipation model has involved social partners representing the piloted sectors (the real estate and building sectors, the social, welfare and health care sectors and the tourism and catering sectors), representatives of research institutions and of various fields of education, as well as other experts in the sectors in question.

The anticipation model created in the VOSE project is now used in the qualitative anticipation of education and training. The model is used to anticipate the skills needs in 2 to 3 fields every year ([32]https://www.oph.fi/english/education_development/anticipation).

National forum for skills anticipation

The National Forum for Skills Anticipation (Osaamisen ennakointifoorumi) serves as a joint expert body in educational anticipation for the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish National Agency for Education. The system consists of a steering group, anticipation groups and a network of experts. The task is to analyse changing competence and skills needs; their impact on the development of education on the basis of the anticipation data; and to promote the interaction of education and training with working life in cooperation with the Ministry and Finnish National Agency for Education. Anticipation groups consist of representatives of employers, employees, education providers, educational administrators, teaching staff and researchers in each field. Anticipation groups are involved in both qualitative and quantitative anticipation work. There are nine anticipation groups representing the following fields:

• natural resources, food production and the environment;

• business and administration;

• education, culture and communications;

• transport and logistics;

• hospitality services;

• built environment;

• social, health and welfare services;

• technology industry and services;

• process industry and production.

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([33]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast) and European Skills Index ([34]https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/indicators/european-skills-index)

The VET curriculum system consists of the:

  • national qualification requirements;
  • education provider´s competence assessment plan;
  • learner`s personal competence development plan.

 

Designing VET qualifications

Source: Finnish National Agency for Education.

 

National qualification requirements

Before the 2018 reform, the national qualification requirements for different qualifications were often updated every five to 10 years on average or whenever necessary, either partially or completely. Since 2018, updating the qualifications became a continuous process based on the changing needs in the world of work and the results of anticipation of skill needs.

The starting point for updating a qualification may be changes in the skills needs in the labour market. These changes can lead to a change of the qualification requirements, or even the qualification structure, of initial, further and specialist vocational qualifications. Changes to the qualification structure also require qualification requirements to be renewed. The process of preparing a qualification requirements document usually takes one to two years.

Within the national qualifications framework (NQF), the Finnish National Agency for Education has placed upper secondary vocational qualifications and further vocational qualifications at level 4 (referenced to level 4 of the EQF) and specialist vocational qualifications at level 5. The ECVET system ([35]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/events-and-projects/projects/european-credit-system-vocational-education-and-training-ecvet) was put into practice in Finland in 2014 and from the beginning of August 2018, in accordance with ECVET recommendations, vocational upper secondary qualifications have covered 180 credit points; further vocational qualifications 120, 150 or 180 credit points; and specialist vocational qualifications 160, 180 or 210 credit points. One year of full-time study corresponds to 60 credit points.

The qualification requirements are drawn up under the leadership of the Finnish National Agency for Education in tripartite cooperation with employers, employees and the education sector. Self-employed people are also represented in the preparation of qualification requirements in fields where self-employment is prevalent. The qualification requirements determine: the units included in the qualification; any possible specialisations made up of different units; selection of optional units in addition to compulsory ones; the vocational skills required for each qualification unit; the guidelines for assessment (targets and criteria of assessment); and the ways of demonstrating vocational skills.

The qualification requirements and the vocational competences form the basis for identifying the types of occupational work processes in which vocational skills for a specific qualification can be demonstrated and assessed.

When an update is initiated, the Finnish National Agency for Education sets up a qualification project, inviting experts representing employees, employers and teachers in the field to participate. In the course of its work, the expert group must also consult other experts in the world of work. Once the expert group has completed a draft version of the new qualification requirements, the document will be sent to representatives of unions, organisations, the world of work and VET providers for a broad consultation process. Following this process, the Finnish National Agency for Education adopts the qualification requirements as a nationally binding regulation.

The Finnish National Agency for Education determines the working life committee under which the specific qualification will fall, or establishes a new working life committee for the new qualification. Working life committees are tripartite bodies consisting of employers and employees’ representatives, teachers and self-employed people. They play a key role in the quality assurance of VET. They ensure the quality of the implementation of competence demonstrations and competence assessment and develop the VET qualifications structure and qualification requirements.

Vocational qualifications are structured in a modular way. These modules comprise units of work or activities found in the world of work. Each vocational qualification unit is a specific occupational area, which can be separated into an independent and assessable component. The vocational skills requirements determined for each qualification unit focus on the core functions of the occupation, mastery of operating processes and the occupational practices of the field in question. These also include skills generally required in working life, such as social skills and key competences for lifelong learning. All qualification requirements share a common structure.

The targets of assessment defined in the qualification requirements indicate those areas of competence on which special attention is focused during assessment. The criteria for assessment have been derived from the vocational skills requirements. The assessment criteria determine the grades awarded for units in upper secondary vocational qualifications and the standard of an acceptable performance in further and specialist qualifications. The section entitled ‘Ways of demonstrating vocational skills’ describes how candidates are to demonstrate their vocational skills in vocational demonstrations.

The qualifications requirements adopted by the Finnish National Agency for Education are published in electronic form on the Finnish National Agency for Education website.

Competence assessment plans

Competence assessment plans are prepared by the respective education provider for each training programme or qualification. The plan details the guidelines and procedures adopted by the education provider regarding the implementation of competence assessment. The plan includes how the following aspects are to be carried out (who does what, how, where it is registered and how the student, staff and stakeholders ([36]Teachers, guidance and counselling staff and assessors of competence.) are informed): recognition of prior learning; demonstration of competence; skills assurance before the demonstration of competence; assessment; certification; preparatory programme planning; and monitoring the implementation of the plan itself.

The competence assessment plan is used by teachers, guidance personnel and assessors of competence. The feasibility of the plan is self-monitored and self-assessed by VET providers as part of their quality assurance system. The plan is attached to the application for a licence to provide VET.

Learner personal competence development plan

At the beginning of VET studies objectives for competence development are recorded in a personal competence development plan for each learner. A teacher draws up the plan together with a learner. An employer or another representative of a workplace or other cooperation partner may also participate in the preparation of the personal competence development plan, when required. The plan includes information on, for example, identification and recognition of prior learning, acquisition of missing skills, competence demonstrations and other demonstration of skills, and the guidance and support needed. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The learner can also include units from general upper secondary curriculum, other vocational qualifications (incl. further vocational qualifications and specialist vocational qualifications) or degrees of universities of applied sciences in their personal competence development plan. The plan can be up-dated during the studies whenever necessary.

Involvement of the world of work in developing qualification requirements and quality in VET

The representatives of the world of work participate in the anticipation of skills and education needs both nationally and regionally, for example through anticipation groups, advisory committees and through consultation processes. They participate in drawing up the qualification requirements at national level and they are represented in working life committees.

At regional level the representatives from enterprises participate in the organisation and planning of training and skills demonstrations, regional committees as well as assessment of skills demonstrations. This allows continuous feedback from the world of work.

In 2017, the former 30 national education and training committees were replaced by nine anticipating groups representing different vocational fields (see Section 3.1.3). Members of these groups are representatives of employers, employees and self-employed entrepreneurs, as well as VET providers, higher education institutions, teaching staff, researchers and educational administration. The anticipating groups are appointed until 2020. Their tasks include:

• analysing changing and new competence and skills needs of working life and their implications for different levels of education;

• offering recommendations for the development of VET programmes;

• strengthening cooperation between upper secondary VET and higher education;

  • providing public authorities with recommendations on new development needs and cooperation between the world of work and education.

Continuous improvement of VET quality is a key priority in Finland. The following activities are essential when assuring that vocational education and training meets the requirements of the world of work.

 

Stakeholder roles in assuring VET quality

Source: Finnish National Agency for Education.

 

The quality assurance of VET consists of VET provider´s own quality management, national VET steering and external evaluation.

VET legislation sets the frame for VET providers’ operations. The law requires that the VET provider is responsible for the quality of qualifications and programmes offered and for their constant improvement. VET providers have to have a functional quality assurance system in place. According to the law, they must evaluate the quality, effectiveness (employability, pursuit of further education and feedback from learners and working life) and ‘profitability’ (i.e. how well the operations have met the needs of the learner and the world of work, and have the resources been used in an optimal way) of the qualifications, programmes and other operations. The purpose of VET provider self-evaluation is to recognise strengths and targets to be developed. The ministry offers non-compulsory criteria for self-evaluation to support the process.

The national VET steering includes legislation and regulations related to financing and qualification requirements. It also includes quality strategy, quality award competition, government subsidies for quality improvement, supporting materials produced by the ministry and the agency and criteria for self- and peer evaluation.

According to the VET legislation, VET providers also have to participate regularly in external evaluations of their operations and quality management systems and publish the main results of those evaluations. External evaluation includes the quality assurance of competence demonstrations and competence assessment made by the working life committees and evaluations made by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre.

Supervision of qualifications

Working life committees are responsible for the supervision of qualifications. Their aim is to ensure the quality and working life orientation of VET. They are statutory bodies of elected officials, appointed by the Finnish National Agency for Education to manage a public duty.

The committees’ duties are:

• ensuring the quality of the implementation of competence demonstrations and assessment;

• participating in the development of qualification structure and vocational qualifications;

• processing learners’ rectification requests concerning competence assessments.

Working life committee members handle these tasks for three years, in addition to their regular duties. A maximum of nine members may be appointed to each working life committee. They must represent employers, employees, teachers and, if self-employment is common within the sector in question, self-employed professionals. There are 39 working life committees. Each working life committee is responsible for one or more qualifications. Working life committees participate in developing the qualification structure and in designing the qualification requirements. They also participate in quality assurance of skills demonstrations and assessment through national feedback, follow-up and evaluation data, and may also visit the skills demonstrations events, when necessary. Finally, they handle the requests related to the rectification of assessment.

Quality assurance of VET providers

The legislation on VET gives education providers a great deal of freedom in deciding on the measures concerning their education provision, use of public funding and quality management. The legislation obliges the providers to evaluate their training provision and its effectiveness as well as to participate in external evaluations. This means that the education providers need to have their own operating system that contains relevant and functional quality management measures (selected by VET providers).

Self-evaluation and external evaluation supports VET providers’ continuous improvement and results-oriented performance. Through evaluation, providers obtain information about major strengths and development needs. VET providers monitor, assess and analyse results achieved systematically through means such as surveys, quantitative indicators and self-evaluation. In VET, data and information are most often collected through queries ([37]VET provider collects feedback from learners twice: at the beginning of studies and at the end.) and assessments of learning outcomes. The VET provider collects the feedback from learners and saves the learners´ answers in the online system that has been developed for this purpose. The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish National Agency for Education have access to the results.

External evaluation of training is frequently ([38]The term used in the legislation.) carried out, for example, by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre. Internal audits, benchmarking and peer reviews are other methods employed in evaluation.

Learner feedback

Starting from 2020, one sixth of effectiveness-based funding will be granted to VET providers based on the feedback from learners. The feedback is collected via a centrally designed questionnaire which learners answer twice: at the beginning of the studies and at the end, once the learner has demonstrated all the skills and competences needed for the qualification. Learner feedback and its collection are regulated in the legislation.

In the questionnaire, the learners respond to statements rating them on a five-point scale from one (strongly disagree) to five (strongly agree). At the beginning of their studies learners are required to rate statements relating to the following themes: flexibility of starting time of studies and content of the individual programme; accreditation of prior learning; and support and guidance needed. At the end of their studies, learners give feedback concerning the following themes: flexibility in studies; the ways in which teaching facilities and the learning environment supported studies; receiving support and guidance during studies; equity between learners and workers at the workplace; opportunities to study and learn in the workplace; gaining of entrepreneurial competence; and assessment of their individual competence and readiness for the working life and further studies.

New quality assurance guidelines

The new quality assurance guidelines are currently being discussed by stakeholders to be published by the end of 2019. Since 2011, VET quality strategy has been in place, drawn up by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The 2018 reformed system has increased the significance of the quality management, together with the providers’ role in managing VET. The new strategy is supposed to cover all parts of the national quality assurance system:

• VET providers’ quality management;

• national steering of VET;

• external evaluation of VET;

except the method that VET providers may select themselves.

Validation of non-formal and informal learning has relatively long and established roots in Finland and the legislation and policies are well developed and detailed. However, there is no one single law for this; laws and regulations for each field of education define validation separately. These fields include general upper secondary education, vocational education and training (including continuing VET), and higher education. The core message of the legislation is that validation of non-formal and informal learning is a subjective right of the individual and the competences of an individual should be validated regardless of when and where they have been acquired. Validation is based either on:

• documentation presented; or

• competence demonstration.

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

Equal opportunities are a long-standing fundamental principle of the Finnish education policy. The background of learners, including their financial circumstances, should not be a barrier to participation in education. Most education provision is publicly funded and free for learners from pre- primary to higher education levels. In addition, financial support for learners of all ages is available.

Financial support for full-time learners

Financial support is available for full-time VET learners. The main forms of support are study grants, housing supplements with transport subsidy and government guarantees for student loans. The first two of these are government-financed monthly benefits, while student loans are granted by banks.

Study grants

A study grant is available as soon as eligibility for child benefit finishes at the age of 17. The monthly amount before tax ([39]Learners pay taxes from their allowances if they receive income from other source(s).) is between EUR 38.50 and 249.01 depending on the age, marital status and type of accommodation.

Housing supplement and transport subsidy

The housing supplement covers 80% of the rent, but may not exceed EUR 201.60 per month. In addition, school transport subsidy is available when the distance between home and school exceeds 10 km and the monthly cost of travel is at least 54 euro.

Government guarantees for student loans

The government guarantees that student loans (with some exceptions) are available to learners who are receiving a study grant. A loan guarantee can, however, also be granted to learners, who are not receiving a study grant, if they live with their parent and they are 18–19 years of age and attend a secondary level education institution, or if they are under 17 and live alone.

Student loans are available from banks operating in Finland. The lending bank will check the loan guarantee details with the social insurance institution of Finland (Kansaneläkelaitos or Kela) when granting a loan. Interest, repayment and other terms and conditions applying to the loan are agreed between the bank and the learner. The amount of the loan is EUR 300 per month (in secondary education for learners under age 18) or EUR 650 per month (in secondary education for learners of age 18 or older )

Learning material supplement

Although upper secondary education is free of charge, learners are required to buy their own learning materials (for instance, books, toolsets and any other materials). A learning material supplement of EUR 46.80 per month (equal to approximately EUR 1 400 for three semesters) is to be granted from August 2019 onwards for VET learners if they are:

  • between age 17 and 19 and living with their parents/guardians;
  • 17 years old and living on their own; or
  • under age 17 and their parents’ annual income is less than EUR 41 100.

Study leave for employees

All employees in a contractual and public service employment relationship are entitled to study leave when the full-time employment relationship with the same employer has lasted for at least one year ([40]In one or multiple periods.). The maximum length of study leave with the same employer is two years over a period of five years. If the employment has lasted for less than a year, but for at least three months, the maximum length of study leave is five days.

The studies must be subject to public supervision. The study leave is unpaid unless otherwise agreed with the employer.

Employment Fund support for adult learners

The Employment Fund administered by social partners of the Finnish labour market supports employees’ professional development leading to a qualification. In 2015, the Employment Fund granted EUR 157 million in adult education allowances and scholarships for qualified employees.

Adult education allowance

An adult education allowance is available to employees and self-employed people who wish to go on a study leave for at least two months. The allowance is a legal right and can be granted to an applicant who has a working history of at least eight years (or at least five years by 31 July 2010), and who has been working for the same employer for at least one year. To qualify for the allowance, the applicant must participate in studies leading to a qualification or in further vocational training organised by a Finnish education institution under public supervision. The duration of the allowance is determined on the basis of the applicant’s working history and ranges from 2 to 15 months. Since 1 August 2010, the amount of the allowance has been equal to the amount of the earnings-related unemployment allowance. For example, in 2019, on the basis of a monthly salary of EUR 2 000, a learner will receive a gross education allowance of EUR 1 185.34 ([41]https://www.tyollisyysrahasto.fi/en/benefits-for-adult-students/full-adult-education-allowance/).

Scholarships for qualified employees

A scholarship is available for those who have completed a vocational, further or specialist qualification. The amount of the one-time scholarship is EUR 390 and it is tax-free. The scholarship must be applied for within a year after completing the qualification.

Depending on the agreement between employer and employee, an employer who takes on an apprentice may receive training compensation to cover the costs of training provided at the workplace. The amount of compensation to be paid to the employer is agreed separately with employer and VET provider as part of each apprenticeship contract. Average training compensation varies between EUR 100-200 per month for initial VET qualification and EUR 10-100 per month for continuing VET. It is funded by the municipal funds and is paid either by the local apprenticeship centre or the education institution providing apprenticeship training.

Guidance and counselling start at the beginning of basic education and continue through all education levels. The guidance and counselling provided within the education system are complemented by guidance services offered by public employment offices.

In upper secondary VET, guidance counsellors play a key role in coordinating, planning and implementing guidance and counselling. VET learners have a right to receive guidance and every VET provider has a guidance counsellor available (providers can share this service).

Teachers also play a big role in giving guidance for learners. But guidance is also an integral part of the work of all teachers. A teacher’s task is to guide and motivate the learners to complete their qualifications, support them in the planning of their further studies, help them to find their strengths and develop their learning skills. Guidance and counselling should enable all pupils to reach the best results possible for them. In the workplace, guidance is coordinated by a qualified trainer.

Teachers working as guidance counsellors in Finnish schools must have a teacher training qualification at Master’s level, supplemented by studies in guidance and counselling.

The topics covered by guidance and counselling include different education and training options and the development of learners’ capabilities to make choices and solutions concerning education, training and future career. Educational support and guidance also covers areas such as support for learning according to the individual capacity of the learners, school attendance and learner welfare.

There have been few major changes in guidance and counselling in recent years but, within the 2018 VET reform, the role of guidance and counselling has been emphasised. VET was made more individual and flexible for learners.

Learners’ individual needs and existing competences are taken into account in all vocational studies. A personal competence development plan is prepared for each learner. The plan is drawn up by the teacher or guidance counsellor together with the learner and, when applicable, a representative from the world of work. The plan identifies and recognises the skills previously acquired by the learner and outlines what kind of competences the learner needs and how they will be acquired in different learning environments.

In addition to guidance and counselling related to learning methods and practices, the personal competence development plan includes information on necessary supportive measures. The support received by a learner may include special teaching and study arrangements due to learning difficulties, injury or illness, or studies supporting learning abilities.

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

Specialist VET,

WBL varies

ISCED 454

Work-based specialist VET, tailored individually, leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 454 (Erikoisammattitutkinto)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

454

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

19+

Usual completion age

19+

Length of a programme (years)

The duration depends on a person´s prior learning; usually it is less than 2 years ([59]Duration depends on the prior learning of the student, especially in the case of further and specialist vocational programmes, and is defined in the personal competence development plan of each learner.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

It is possible to collect moderate student fees; on average 15% of the costs of the training.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship;
  • programmes that comprise work-based learning but are not apprenticeships or fall under a training agreement category.
Main providers

The most common type of VET providers is vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and service sector) ([61]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. a car manufacturer) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

The share of work-based learning (WBL) is individually planned for each learner in the personal competence development plan.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship training contract.
Main target groups

Specialist vocational qualifications (continuing VET) are for adults who usually have work experience or other prior learning.

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

Admission to further vocational qualifications is decided on a case-by-case basis, taking work experience into consideration. However, work experience or prior qualifications are not a precondition for enrolling.

Assessment of learning outcomes

No final examinations exist in VET. Once learners successfully complete all the studies included in their personal competence development plans, the VET provider grants a certificate for the entire qualification or for one or more units of the qualification. All VET programmes ensure eligibility for higher education studies.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The national qualification requirements define the required vocational competence, principles of assessment and how the competence is demonstrated. They are drawn up by the Finnish National Agency for Education in cooperation with working life partners ([62]Representatives of the employees/self-employed and employers (altogether called ‘working life’ in Finland).).

Each qualification has a number of competence points:

  • 180 for initial/upper secondary vocational qualifications;
  • 120/150/180 for further vocational qualifications;
  • 160/180/210 specialist vocational qualifications.
Examples of qualifications

Specialist vocational qualification in horse care and management ([63]The specialist vocational qualification in horse care and management comprises four competence areas and qualification titles (in parentheses):
- managing horse stables operations (head groom);
- working as a specialist in farriery (farrier (SQ));
- equestrian sports management (equestrian sports manager);
- riding instruction (riding instructor (SQ)).
)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter the labour market
    • employed full time
    • employed and in education;
  • continue with further education.
Destination of graduates

NB: 2016 data (most recent).
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017([64]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170673)) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

General education subjects

N

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational study units:

  • basic and field-specific study unit(s) (compulsory);
  • specialised study units (compulsory and optional);
  • communication and interaction competence;
  • mathematics and science competence;
  • citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 4

Initial VET programmes

WBL varies

ISCED 354

Mainly school-based VET programmes (also available as apprenticeship) leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (Ammatillinen perustutkinto)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

19

Length of a programme (years)

3 ([44]Duration depends on the prior learning of the student, especially in the case of further and specialist vocational programmes, and is defined in the personal competence development plan of each learner.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

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
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship;
  • programmes that comprise work-based learning but are not apprenticeships or fall under training agreement category.
Main providers

The most common type of VET provider is vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and service sector) ([46]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. a car manufacturer) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

=70-80% ([47]The share of work-based learning (WBL) is individually planned for each learner in the personal competence development plan.)

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship training contract.
Main target groups

A vocational upper secondary qualification (initial VET) is designed for young people who may not have any work experience and for adults who, for example, don´t have any formal qualification or who want to change their profession.

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

Admission to initial VET programmes requires a basic education graduation certificate.

Assessment of learning outcomes

No final examinations exist in VET. Once learners successfully complete all the studies included in their personal competence development plans, the VET provider grants a certificate for the entire qualification or for one or more units of the qualification. All VET programmes ensure eligibility for higher education studies.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The national qualification requirements define the required vocational competence, principles of assessment and how the competence is demonstrated. They are drawn up by the Finnish National Agency for Education in cooperation with working life ([48]Representatives of the employees/self-employed and employers (altogether called ‘working life’ in Finland).).

Each qualification has a number of competence points:

  • 180 for initial/upper secondary vocational qualifications;
  • 120/150/180 for further vocational qualifications;
  • 160/180/210 for specialist vocational qualifications.
Examples of qualifications

Initial vocational qualification in horse care and management ([49]Qualification holders manage daily stable maintenance and horse care tasks and are able to carry out the essential maintenance tasks associated with horse care, such as care of hooves and tack. In addition to basic competence in the field, qualification holders have specialist skills to work either as a groom or a riding instructor in various sectors of the horse industry.The qualification titles produced by the vocational qualification in horse care and management are groom and riding instructor.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter the labour market
    • employed full-time
    • employed and in education;
  • continue with further education.
Destination of graduates

NB: 2016 data (most recent).
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017([50]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170673)) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

General education subjects

Y

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational study units:

  • basic and field-specific study unit(s) (compulsory);
  • specialised study units (compulsory and optional).

In addition to the above, all initial vocational qualification programmes include study units that consist of common rather than specific vocational competence:

  • communication and interaction competence;
  • mathematics and science competence;
  • citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

Y

Key competences help students to keep up with the changes in society and working life. In the wake of the 2018 VET reform, key competences are no longer addressed as a separate part of vocational competence. They have been modified so that key competences are included in all vocational skills requirements and assessment criteria.

The key competences for lifelong learning are: digital and technological competence; mathematics and science competence; competence development; communication and interaction competence; competence for sustainable development; cultural competence; social and citizenship competence; and entrepreneurial competence.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

The share of vocational upper secondary (IVET) learners in 2017 was 73% of all VET learners ([51]https://vipunen.fi/en-gb/_layouts/15/xlviewer.aspx?id=/en-gb/Reports/Ammatillinen%20koulutus%20-%20opiskelijat%20-%20aikasarja_EN.xlsb).

EQF 4

Further VET,

WBL varies

ISCED 354

Work-based further VET, tailored individually, leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (ammattitutkinto)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

19+

Usual completion age

19+

Length of a programme (years)

The duration depends on a person´s prior learning; usually it is less than 2 years ([52]Duration depends on the prior learning of the student, especially in the case of further and specialist vocational programmes, and is defined in the personal competence development plan of each learner.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

It is possible to collect moderate student fees; on average 15% of the costs of the training.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship;
  • programmes that comprise work-based learning but are not apprenticeships or fall under a training agreement category.
Main providers

The most common type of VET providers is vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and service sector) ([54]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. a car manufacturer) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

The share of work-based learning (WBL) is individually planned for each learner in the personal competence development plan.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship training contract.
Main target groups

Further vocational qualifications (continuing VET) are for adults who usually have work experience or other prior learning.

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

Admission to further vocational qualifications is decided on a case-by-case basis, taking work experience into consideration. However, work experience or prior qualifications are not a precondition for enrolling.

Assessment of learning outcomes

No final examinations exist in VET. Once learners successfully complete all the studies included in their personal competence development plans, the VET provider grants a certificate for the entire qualification or for one or more units of the qualification. All VET programmes ensure eligibility for higher education studies.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The national qualification requirements define the required vocational competence, principles of assessment and how the competence is demonstrated. They are drawn up by the Finnish National Agency for Education in cooperation with working life ([55]Representatives of the employees/self-employed and employers (altogether called ‘working life’ in Finland)).

Each qualification has a number of competence points:

  • 180 for initial/upper secondary vocational qualifications;
  • 120/150/180 for further vocational qualifications;
  • 160/ 180/210 specialist vocational qualifications.
Examples of qualifications

Further vocational qualification in horse care and management ([56]The further vocational qualification in horse care and management comprises eight competence areas and seven qualification titles (in parentheses): provision of equine-assisted services (provider of equine services); provision of horse breeding service (same as previous); provision of equine massage services (horse massage therapist); farriery (farrier); tack-making (tack-maker); riding instruction (riding instructor (FQ) ); training and coaching riding horses (trainer of young riding horses); provision of training services in harness racing (trainer of trotters).)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter the labour market
    • employed full time
    • employed and in education;
  • continue with further education.
Destination of graduates

NB: 2016 data (most recent).
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017([57]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170673)) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

General education subjects

N

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational study units:

  • basic and field-specific study unit(s) (compulsory);
  • specialised study units (compulsory and optional);
  • communication and interaction competence;
  • mathematics and science competence;
  • citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available