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General themes

VET in Iceland comprises the following main features:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Main economic sectors.

In terms of export revenues the main economic sectors are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

not applicable

29.9%

98.6%

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

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

 

Dropout rate from VET (%)

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

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

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

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

 

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

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

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

 

First-year VET learners by age group

NB: Data from Statistics Iceland.

 

The education and training system comprises:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two types of contracts are possible:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In VET, there are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The accreditation is based on the evaluation of the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 6

Mainly school-based

programme

ISCED 554

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

554

Usual entry grade

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

Usual completion grade

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

Usual entry age

20+

Usual completion age

23+

Length of a programme (years)

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

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Primary and lower secondary education are compulsory

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

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

Is it offered free of charge?

N

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

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

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

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

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

Main providers

Reykjavik University

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

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

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

In-company practical assignments.

Main target groups

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

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

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

Assessment of learning outcomes

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

Diplomas/certificates provided

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

Examples of qualifications

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

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

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

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

Courses include management, law and accounting.

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

<1%

([55]2018)

Post-secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

Mainly school-based

programmes

ISCED 453, 454

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

453, 454

Usual entry grade

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

Usual completion grade

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

Usual entry age

20+

Usual completion age

30+

Length of a programme (years)

From 1 to 2

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

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

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

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

Is it continuing VET?

Y

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

Is it offered free of charge?

N

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

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

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

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

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

Main providers

Schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

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

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

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

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

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

Assessment of learning outcomes

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

Diplomas/certificates provided

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

Examples of qualifications

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

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

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

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

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

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

General education subjects

Y

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

Key competences

Y

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

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

>=10% ([50]2017)

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

Specialised programmes

for SEN learners

ISCED 343

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

343

Usual entry grade

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

Usual completion grade

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

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

18-20

Length of a programme (years)

from 2 to 4

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

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

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

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

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

N

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

Is it available for adults?

Y

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

ECVET or other credits

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

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

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

Main providers

Upper secondary schools.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

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

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

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

Main target groups

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

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

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

Assessment of learning outcomes

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

Diplomas/certificates provided

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

Examples of qualifications

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

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

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

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

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

Key competences

Y

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

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

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

<1%

([37]2014/15)

EQF 4

Mainly school- based

programmes,

ISCED levels 351, 353

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

351, 353

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

13-14

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

20

Length of a programme (years)

From 2.5 to 4

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

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

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

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

Is it continuing VET?

N

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

Is it offered free of charge?

N

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

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

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

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

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

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

>=70%

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

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

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

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

Assessment of learning outcomes

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

Diplomas/certificates provided

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

Examples of qualifications

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

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

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

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

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

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

General education subjects

Y

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

Key competences

Y

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

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

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

>75% ([41]2014/15)

EQF 4

Mainly school-based

programmes,

duration and WBL % vary

ISCED 351, 353

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

351, 353

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

13-14

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

18-19

Length of a programme (years)

4 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

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

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

All programmes begin and end at upper secondary level.

Is it continuing VET?

N

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

Is it offered free of charge?

N

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

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

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

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

>=50%

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

Programmes are available for young people and adults.

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

Learners must hold a compulsory education certificate.

Assessment of learning outcomes

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

Diplomas/certificates provided

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

Examples of qualifications

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

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

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

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

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

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

General education subjects

Y

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

Key competences

Y

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

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

<5%

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available

General themes

VET in Bulgaria comprises the following main features:

  • VET governance is multi-layered (national, regional, local);
  • there are four  VET qualification levels (ranging from EQF [1]European qualifications framework for lifelong learning (EQF). The European qualifications framework for lifelong learning is a common European reference framework whose purpose is to make qualifications more readable and understandable across different countries and systems. Covering qualifications at all levels and in all sub-systems of education and training, it provides a comprehensive overview over qualifications in the 39 European countries currently involved in its implementation. The core of the European qualifications framework. is its eight reference levels defined in terms of learning outcomes, i.e. knowledge, skills and autonomy-responsibility. Learning outcomes express what individuals know, understand and are able to do at the end of a learning process. Countries develop national qualifications frameworks (NQFs) to implement the European qualifications framework. The implementation of the European qualifications framework was based on the Recommendation on the European qualifications framework for lifelong learning adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on 23 April 2008(EC 111/01/2008). A revised and strengthened Recommendation on the European qualifications framework (EC/189/03/2017) was adopted on 22 May 2017 by the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council. The purpose of this revised recommendation is to ensure the continuity as well as a further deepening of the European qualifications framework.
    level 2 to EQF level 5);
  • dual VET (introduced in 2014) remains a major challenge for the country;
  • state educational standards play a major role in shaping qualifications and curricula.

Distinctive features [2]Adapted from Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Bulgaria. Luxembourg: Publications Office. http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8120_en.pdf

VET is provided at secondary and post-secondary (non-tertiary) levels. There are more learners in VET compared with general education: 51.7% of the total secondary education population in 2017 and 54,5 % in 2018. Secondary general education schools may also open VET classes by a special order of the Education Minister. This option is popular in small towns and rural areas.

Since 2016/17, secondary education has been offered in two stages. This improves access to VET, as learners may now choose their education path also after completing grade 10.

In the national context, the term initial VET is only used to refer to programmes leading learners to their first qualification, such as textile worker qualification at EQF levels 2 or its part.

VET programmes are pursued afterwards; for example, textile production operator and textile technician qualifications at EQF level 3 and 4 are considered continuing VET.

According to the pre-school and school education act and the VET act, the acquisition of vocational qualifications is regulated by State educational standards. These standards exist for most VET qualifications. VET qualifications at all levels (EQF 2 to 5) are learning outcomes based.

Following the European credit system for VET (ECVET) [3]https://ec.europa.eu/education/resources-and-tools/the-european-credit-system-for-vocational-education-and-training-ecvet_en
principles, recent qualifications comprise units of learning outcomes, although a credit system is not yet fully established.

The legal basis for validation of non-formal and informal learning in VET has been in place since 2015 and procedures and quality assurance criteria have been developed. Implementation of the Bulgarian qualifications framework will ease putting validation arrangements in place.

 

To make VET more responsive to labour market needs, the pre-school and school education act (2015), which covers VET, increased the responsibility of local and regional authorities.

The reform increased their role in planning VET intake and defining occupations, funding staff salaries, organising vocational training for the unemployed, and equipping VET schools.

Employer organisations are also becoming more actively involved in implementing VET. Since the 2016 amendments to the VET act, they can propose changes to the list of VET qualifications.

Since the introduction in 2015/16, some schools have started offering dual VET programmes. Several pilot projects supporting dual training aim at expanding the training offer in cooperation with business and public authorities from Bulgaria and abroad. Measures, including specialised forums, media campaigns and events, help attract learners and motivate employers to become involved in dual VET that is still mostly project-based.

To address quality concerns, the Ministry of Education and Science is adopting the European quality assurance reference framework (EQAVET). The 2015 quality assurance regulation mandates VET providers for adult training to organise self-assessment based on a set of indicators.

The government is strengthening initial training and continuing professional development opportunities for VET teachers and trainers to motivate more young people to enter the profession. The new system helps them to keep up with technological innovation and modern teaching methods, and allows for faster career advancement linked to performance.

The 2015-17 VET strategy action plan proposes ways to address the challenges: modularisation, more flexible VET provision, and better and more easily accessible career guidance services. Its implementation is also likely to contribute to raising adult participation in learning, which is currently among the lowest in the EU.

There is a high level of skills mismatch. According to the NSI business inquiries in March 2019 37.0% of the industrial enterprises pointed out the labour shortages a factor limiting their activity. In comparison with the same period of previous year (March 2018) the value of the indicator increased by 4 p.p. to 33.3%.

Data from VET in Bulgaria Spotlight 2018 [4]Adapted from Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Bulgaria. Luxembourg: Publications Office. http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8120_en.pdf

Population in 2018: 7 050 034 [5]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 28.1.2019

It decreased by 3.2% since 2013 due to negative natural growth and migration [6]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].
.

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

An old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase from 30 in 2015 to 63 in 2060.

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

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted on 24.01.2019]

Demographic changes have an impact on vocational education and training (VET). Participation in secondary education has been decreasing. This has led to optimisation of a school network aiming at better efficiency while safeguarding the quality. Since the academic year 2013/14, the number of VET schools has decreased by 11.9% up to 2018/19. However the number of VET centres has increased by 12.4% for the same period. Adjustments will continue in line with demographic trends.

 

Main economic sectors:

  • manufacturing;
  • wholesale and retail trade;
  • construction;
  • public administration;
  • agriculture, forestry and fishing;
  • transportation and storage.

Export comprises mainly manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, miscellaneous manufactured articles, food and live animals, chemical and mineral fuel, beverages and tobacco.

Not many occupations/professions are regulated and the labour market is considered flexible.

Total unemployment [7]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.
(2018): 4.9% (6% in EU-28); it decreased by 0.1 percentage point since 2008 [8]Eurostat, une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019]. 
.

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

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

Unemployment is distributed unevenly between those with low and high-level qualifications. The gap has increased after the crisis as unskilled workers are more vulnerable to unemployment. People with low qualifications are more likely to be unemployed. In 2018, the unemployment rate of people with medium-level qualifications, including most VET graduates (ISCED levels 3 and 4) is back to the levels of the pre-crisis years.

Employment rate of 20 to 34-year-old VET graduates increased from from 77.6% in 2014 to 84.6% 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].

The increase (+7 pp) in employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates is lower compared to the increase in employment of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+7.7 pp) in the same period in Bulgaria [9]NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series. ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education; Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019]. 
.

The share of the population aged up to 64 with higher education (28.2%) places Bulgaria below the EU28 average. The share of those with low or without qualifications places Bulgaria (17.4%) almost in the middle of EU-28 Member States.

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

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

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary upper secondary post-secondary
3.7% 50.7% 100%

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.

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

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

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

Traditionally there are more females (53.2% for 2018) in VET [10]http://www.nsi.bg/en/content/4921/persons-who-attained-professional-qualification-level-vocational-training
. Females enrol more often in economics and administration programmes (the most popular options), services (tourism, hotels and restaurants) as well as design and clothing industry. Males prefer programmes related to computer systems and coding (the most popular options), transport, agriculture, economy, construction. 

The share of early leavers from education and training has decreased from 14.7% in 2009 to 12.7% in 2018. It is 2.1 pp above the EU-28 average and also above 11.0%, the national country target.

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

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

Dropout rate from VET (%)

 

Lifelong learning offers training opportunities for young people and adults.

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

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

Participation in lifelong learning in Bulgaria has slightly increased in the past decade. However, it is well below the EU28 average (with 2.5% participation in lifelong learning in 2018). Increasing participation is one of the biggest challenges that the country faces.

Information not available

The education and training system comprises:

  • primary and lower secondary education (1, 2 and 3);
  • secondary education comprises general (profiled) (ISCED 344 and 341) and VET programmes (ISCED 351 and 354) in two subsequent stages: the first (3-year, grades 8-10) and the second (2-year, grades 11-12). It is compulsory for learners until they reach age 16. At the end of stage two, learners who pass State matriculation examinations (matura) (Bulgarian language in addition to another subject or – for VET learners – State qualification examination) receive a secondary education diploma (EQF level 4) and certificate for VET qualification after successful passing the State qualification examination. Others receive a certificate for the completion of secondary education with access to vocational training for adults but not to higher education. VET programmes provide graduates with general education diploma in addition to a VET qualification certificate;
  • post-secondary non-tertiary VET (ISCED level 4);
  • higher education (ISCED levels 6, 7 and 8);
  • apprenticeships, internships and dual VET (range of VET qualifications ranging from  ISCED 351 to 454).

Primary and lower secondary education (grades 1-7) is compulsory [11]Education is compulsory till the age of 16.  
. Primary education starts at age seven and is provided by State, municipal and private schools. There are no VET programmes at this level. Graduates may continue to general or vocational secondary education. In 2016/17, all general secondary education programmes became ‘profiled’, i.e. they specialise on a selected subject, for example, mathematics, natural sciences or foreign languages.

Secondary education comprises general (profiled) (ISCED 344 and 341) and VET programmes (ISCED 351 and 354) in two subsequent stages: the first (3-year, grades 8-10) and the second (2-year, grades 11-12). It is compulsory for learners until they reach age 16. At the end of stage two, learners who pass State matriculation examinations (matura) (Bulgarian language in addition to another subject or – for VET learners – State qualification examination) receive a secondary education diploma (EQF level 4) and certificate for VET qualification after successfully passing the State qualification examination. Others receive a certificate for the completion of secondary education with access to vocational training for adults but not to higher education. VET programmes provide graduates with a general education diploma in addition to a VET qualification certificate.

Higher education comprises the following programmes:

  • professional bachelor (ISCED 655, EQF level 6; NQF level 6a);
  • bachelor (ISCED 645, EQF level 6; NQF level 6b);
  • master’s (ISCED 766, 767, EQF/ NQF level 7);​
  • PhD (ISCED 864, EQF/ NQF level 8). 

School based VET is provided only at a secondary level. Until August 2016, the lowest level of qualification could also be acquired in lower secondary education programmes. Out-of-school adults (16+) can still acquire the lowest VET qualification level (VET qualification level 1, EQF level 2) before secondary education.

Secondary VET aims at obtaining a vocational qualification but also comprises a general education part that is required to acquire a secondary education diploma.
Vocational education and training complies with the requirements of the State educational standards and consists of theory and (study and production) practice.

Post-secondary, non-tertiary vocational qualifications (ISCED 2011 level 4, EQF level 5) can be acquired only by people with completed secondary education. The acquired qualification at this level provides access to the labour market.

Examples of such qualifications are company manager, hotel manager, restaurant manager as well as sports and military/defence qualifications.

Training in real work environment: apprenticeships, internships, dual VET

There are several types of training in real work environment.

In 1992, so-called apprenticeships for employees were introduced. They often guarantee a job at the end of training, according to the contract with the employer. The duration of this type of apprenticeships is up to six months.

In 2014, internships were introduced for young people (up to 29 years old) who have already acquired a VET qualification (or higher education degree) but have no work experience in the profession. The duration of internships is between six and 12 months.

Since 2014, dual VET has started to evolve. It allows learners to acquire VET qualifications. The practical training in a company alternates with periods of theoretical training in a school or another VET provider. In-company trainers (mentors) are responsible for the practical training.

For adult learners the following options are available in order to acquire a VET qualification:

  • 300 hours for EQF level 2;
  • 660 hours for EQF level 3;
  • 960 hours for EQF level 4;
  • 1 260 hours for EQF level 5.

The legal framework distinguishes six types of initial and continuing VET (IVET and CVET) programmes, defines age and entry requirements, and regulates content and duration.

There are several types of training in real work environment.

In 1992, so-called apprenticeships for employees were introduced. They often guarantee a job at the end of training, according to the contract with the employer. The duration of this type of apprenticeships is up to six months.

In 2014, internships were introduced for young people (up to 29 years old) who have already acquired a VET qualification (or higher education degree) but have no work experience in the profession. The duration of internships is between six and 12 months.

Since 2014, dual VET has started to evolve. It allows learners to acquire VET qualifications. The practical training in a company alternates with periods of theoretical training in a school or another VET provider. In-company trainers (mentors) are responsible for the practical training. They are required to have a VET or higher education qualification and at least three years of professional experience.

More information for Bulgaria is available at: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/apprenticeship-schemes/country-fiches/bulgaria

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

VET stakeholders are the following:

  • the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria – implements the legislative activity in the field of VET;
  • the Council of Ministers sets out the government policy in the field of VET;
  • the education ministry manages, coordinates and implements the VET policy;
  • the labour ministry participates in the implementation of the national VET policy;
  • the culture ministry implements the VET policy in art schools;
  • the sports ministry implements the VET policy in sports schools;
  • the health ministry participates in the coordination of the list of professions;
  • the sectoral ministries are involved in the development, coordination and updating of the State educational standards for the acquisition of qualifications; in the development, coordination and updating of the list of professions; in coordinating the admission plan for schools, funded by them;
  • the employers’ representatives participate in the development, coordination and updating of the State educational standards for the acquisition of qualifications, the legislative framework and policy documents, as well as in the updating of the list of professions and in organising and conducting qualification examinations;
  • the Economic and Social Council discusses and makes proposals with regard to issues, related to education, including VET in the context of lifelong learning;
  • the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation discusses and gives opinions on draft legislation regarding employment and vocational qualification and thus participates in the formulation of VET policy. The Council is composed on the tripartite principle. It is a body for consultations and cooperation at a national level for labour, social insurance and living standard issues, consisting of two representatives of the government (of whom one is the Vice Prime Minister), two representatives of trade unions and two representatives of employers’ organisations;
  • the National Council for Vocational Qualifications at the labour ministry coordinates the development of national policies and strategies for training for unemployed and employees, leading to the acquisition of professional qualifications;
  • the National Council for the Promotion of Employment at the labour ministry is also constituted on the tripartite principle. Its functions are to discuss and give opinions regarding the development and implementation of the employment policy and the national action plan for employment.
  • the National Agency for Vocational Education and Training (NAVET) is a specialised body within the Council of Ministers. The Agency develops the State educational standards for the acquisition of VET qualifications; it maintains the list of professions according to the needs of the labour market; it licenses and exercises further control over the activities of VET institutions for people over 16 years of age and over the activities of vocational guidance providers;
  • the Employment Agency implements the State policy on promoting employment and provides career information, counselling and training for employees and unemployed;
  • the Human Resource Development Centre is a national agency, which coordinates the management and administration of the EU Erasmus+ Programme;
  • the National Inspectorate of Education is a new structure (2018). The Inspectorate does not exercise control over the activities of directors and teachers in schools and kindergartens. In fact, the inspection, performed by the inspectorate, is the process of preparing a comprehensive independent assessment of the quality of services provided by kindergarten or school education at some point of their Activities, based on criteria and indicators, grouped into fields.

At regional level:

  • the regional administration participates in the implementation of the government policy for employment and acquisition of VET qualifications;
  • the Regional Employment Service Directorates implement the government policy for training of unemployed and employed adults for acquiring a vocational qualification; they offer training measures and projects; provide coordination and support in the field of vocational training, consultancy of and guidance for the local employment offices;
  • the regional management units of the education ministry (territorial administrative units of the education ministry, situated in the 28 district centres) implement the State policy in the field of VET at a regional level through projects, programmes and strategies for development, functioning and improvement of VET at a district level;
  • the permanent and temporary employment committees to the Regional Councils for regional development identify, organise and control the implementation of the State policy on the promotion of employment and training for acquiring a vocational qualification at a regional level.

At local level:

  • the municipalities participate in the development of a VET policy within their territories regarding: the employment needs for vocational guidance and training of students, unemployed and other groups; the necessary equipment of schools, vocational training providers and centres for information and guidance through funds from the municipal budget;
  • the Labour Offices of the Employment Agency provide career services: career information; advice and guidance for inclusion in the appropriate program/measure for employment and training;
  • the Cooperation Councils at the Labour Office Directorates monitor the implementation of programmes and measures included in the national action plan for employment.

According to the VET Act, sources of financing for State and municipal schools, vocational training centres for information and vocational guidance and training centres for trainers are:

  • the State budget;
  • the municipal budget;
  • donations;
  • own revenue;
  • national and international programmes;
  • other sources.

Funding mechanism for secondary VET schools is based on financial resources delegated to schools per student and varies between EUR 1 000 and 1 500 per year per student depending on the specifics of the VET programmes delivered.

The financing of vocational training offered after secondary education is provided by individuals under the terms and conditions set by the education minister. The training is financed by:

  • learners;
  • employers;
  • the State budget (active labour market policy);
  • EU programmes (mainly ESF).

Secondary VET is mostly State-financed. Private VET schools may also apply for State funding. However, only 11 out of 350 VET schools were private in 2017/18. 

Most (over 90%) adult VET providers are private. They may also receive public financing. In 2016, self-financing of training courses by learners was the most common source (53.49%) followed by employer financing (29.14%) and funding through national or European public resources (16.83%).

In VET there are:

  • general subject teachers;
  • vocational subject teachers;
  • trainers who work in vocational centres;
  • mentors for training that takes place at enterprises.

The qualification requirements are set by the relevant legislation. Strategic documents also contain provisions for teachers and trainers.

The required qualification of teachers in general studies subjects is a Master's, Bachelor's or Specialist /Professional Bachelor (national qualifications framework level 6A, European qualifications framework level 6) higher education degree acquired in:

  • a specialty of a professional field corresponding to the relevant school subject with a professional qualification in teaching;
  • a specialty of another professional field and additional professional qualification in teaching in the relevant school subject.

There is no special training provided to teachers in general studies subjects in respect of their work at vocational schools, since the mandatory general education background for a certain educational level is the same for all types of schools in the country.

Teachers in a vocational training subject must hold a Master, Bachelor or Specialist higher education degree in:

  • specialties of vocational fields corresponding to the professions on the list of professions for vocational education and training taught at the relevant school and an additional professional qualification in teaching;
  • specialties of a professional field corresponding to the professions taught at the relevant school. This is applied in cases where specialists working in companies or prominent experts in the respective field are invited to participate in vocational training at VET institutions, with the aim to provide up to date specialised knowledge and improve the link with practice and increase the attractiveness of VET.

The required qualification of trainers at vocational training centres is laid down in the State educational requirements by professions in the ‘Requirements to trainers’. A trainer is required to be a university graduate with a Master or Bachelor educational degree in a specialty corresponding to the professional field out of the list of professions for vocational education and training wherein the profession to be taught has been classified. There is no requirement for additional pedagogical qualifications for trainers at vocational training centres.

The conditions for professional development of staff within the public education system (in-service training) and also the procedures for acquiring professional qualification levels are set by Regulation No 5 (1996) [12]Ordinance No 12, active as of 1.9.2016: https://www.mon.bg/upload/2333/naredba_12_01.09.2016_prof_razvitie_uchiteli.pdf
.

There are five professional qualification levels (highest being level one) and three types of teachers positions that depend on the experience and qualifications. These are: a teacher, a senior teacher and a head teacher- . The Ordinance No 12 (2016) sets the terms and conditions for acquisition of such position, the conditions for continuing teachers' qualification on the base of credit points. Training is provided by the approved training providers which are registered in the teachers training programmes informational system of the education ministry [13]http://iropk.mon.bg/

VET teacher's profession isn’t attractive in Bulgaria.
The decrease of VET teachers aged up to 34, the fact that the profession was amongst those with high demand (12 420 vacancies), together with the steady increase of the relative share of older VET teachers (aged 60+) poses a risk of staff shortage in the next 20 years.

The 2016 Ordinance No 12 [14]https://www.mon.bg/upload/2333/naredba_12_01.09.2016_prof_razvitie_uchiteli.pdf
 regulates the statute and the professional development of the teachers, school headmasters and pedagogical staff. According to the ordinance, teachers (including VET teachers) are required to improve their competences continuously.

Teachers receive a certificate for continuing training or specialisation credit points. Sixteen training hours (academic) equals to one credit point. At least three credit points in acquired in external programmes are compulsory for each period of appraisal in addition to one credit point per year acquired in the institution they work. The credit system ensures opportunities for accumulation, recognition and transfer of credits (for the forthcoming periods, or in case of change of school, in application for higher qualification level). Teachers, headmasters and other pedagogical staff now have to create and maintain their professional portfolio.

According to the State requirements (Ordinance 162/1997), the basic training of teachers (10 hours) is designed so as to include obligatory practical training, which is carried out through doing teacher observation (60 hours), ongoing teaching practice (60 hours) and an internship (100 hours).

The ongoing teaching practice relates to participation in the organisation of the educational process under the direct supervision of a teacher at the higher education institution. The internship for people who would like to work as teachers is carried out under the supervision of a mentoring secondary education teacher and a teacher at the higher education institution.

European funds have been used for continuing vocational training of teachers.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers [15]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers
.

The demand for qualifications is forecasted based on the macro-economic model (for medium and long-term forecasts) and the annual employer skill needs survey (for short-term forecasts).

The labour ministry is responsible for skills forecasting for medium and long term forecasts and the Employment Agency – for short term forecasts which are based on the employer skill needs survey provided twice in the year in accordance with the Employment Promotion Act.

Medium- and long-term forecasts take into account the demographic trends and changes in the educational attainment of the labour force and in the structure of the economy.

They provide information on labour demand and supply by:

  • level of education (basic, secondary or higher); 
  • economic activity;
  • profession;
  • structural shortage/surplus of labour by education level.

Since 2018, the Employment Committees of the Regional Development Councils biannually collect, process and submit to the Employment Agency information on the employers' demand for the labour force.

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast [16]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast
and European Skills Index [17]https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/indicators/european-skills-index
.

VET qualifications are classified in the list of professions by education field, vocational area, occupation and specialty.

According to the Pre-school and School Education Act [18]https://www.mon.bg/bg/57
 and the VET Act [19]https://www.navet.government.bg/bg/media/ZPOO-2018-1.pdf
, the acquisition of vocational qualifications is regulated by the State educational standards. The national agency for VET designs the standards in coordination with the relevant ministries and departments, and the education minister endorses them. The standards are by occupation (profession).

State educational standards are developed in units of learning outcomes. They include:

  • requirements for the candidates – minimum entry level qualification and education requirements for pupils and adults;
  • option for validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences;
  • opportunities for continuing vocational training;
  • description of profession – with core working activities, responsibilities, job conditions specification, used equipment and tools, special requirements etc.
  • opportunities for professional development according to the national classification of professions and occupations;
  • units of learning outcomes for general, sectoral and specific vocational training– with defined knowledge, skills and expected competences;
  • defined assessment tools for theoretical and practical skills;
  • execution of the examination conditions;
  • assessment criteria;
  • requirements for training facilities;
  • requirements for trainers.

The approach for development of State educational standard in units of learning outcomes implements the principles of the European credit system for vocational education and training (ECVET) recommendation since 2016. The standards are mandatory for VET programmes leading to nationally recognised qualifications, also for adults.

In the beginning of 2019 NAVET’s methodology guidelines for development of State educational standards were revised. In addition of core development process there were included two more options:

  • collecting information for the profession from employers' organisations by online questionnaires
  • consultation with branch employers ( before the final acceptance), according to development or updating the standards

The up-to-date State educational standards are available for free use on the websites of the education ministry and the national agency for VET [20]http://www.mon.bg and http://www.navet.government.bg
.

Each time that the State educational standards are amended, vocational training centres are obliged to update the relevant training programmes and curricula.

The curricula are based on framework programmes [21]Framework programmes include: general provisions, including the regulatory basis, the aim and purpose of the programme; requirements: entry (age, medical, previous education and qualification level), career and education pathways, form(s) of training (day full time, evening, part-time,  individual, distance, dual, self-learning); curriculum; training module content (theoretical and practical); graduation requirements (State examinations for full qualifications and final examinations for partial qualifications).
 and on the State educational standards for VET.

The education ministry develops the compulsory part of the VET curricula for new professions or forms of learning in VET schools.

VET teachers and employers support designing the curricula.

School-specific curricula part is designed by VET providers for each programme in order to reflect the specificities of the local labour market.

Curricula for VET schools comprise a training schedule, subject distribution between general and vocational parts, graduation requirements, explanatory notes, etc. to ensure the achievement of the learning outcomes.

Vocational training centres develop their own training programmes that take account also of prior learning. These programmes are evaluated (licenced) by the national agency for VET.

Since 2018, in the amended VET Act, the requirement to update modules in VET curriculum once every five years was added.

The Pre-school and School Education Act (2015, in force since August 2016) and the VET Act (2014)) establish the process of quality management, including VET. The quality management is a continuous process of organisational development based on its analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation. The evaluation is performed through self-assessment and inspection. It aims at preparing the internal evaluation of the quality of provided education through operations, procedures and criteria set by schools. It is carried out under terms and conditions determined by the State educational standard for quality management in the institutions.

The process follows these steps:

  • establishing a working group;
  • defining activities, procedures, criteria, indicators and tools;
  • contacting learners, teachers and parents;
  • performing self-assessment and analysing the results that may lead to recommendations;
  • preparing and validating the report.

The inspection is a process of preparing an overall independent expert evaluation of the education quality in schools at a given moment and guidelines for improvement. At least one inspection should be carried out in each school every five years.

All VET providers have to introduce an internal system for quality assurance to meet the requirement of the standards.

This system comprises:

  • policy and goals for quality assurance;
  • quality management responsibilities;
  • rules for the system’s implementation;
  • annual schedule for self-assessment;
  • rules and procedures for measuring the quality achieved through self-assessment.

A significant role is given to the improvement of the working environment, learning outcomes, interaction with the local community stakeholders, social partners, employers' organisations and universities, and staff training. The education ministry supports and monitors the implementation of quality assurance in VET schools and the national agency for VET in vocational training centres.

In 2014, the validation of informal and non-formal learning outcomes was introduced by the amendments to the VET Act [22]https://www.mon.bg/bg/57
.

The validation of knowledge, skills and competences acquired in non-formal and informal learning is regulated by Ordinance No 2/2014 (in force since 1.1.2015) [23]https://www.mon.bg/bg/59
, approved by the minister of education and science.

VET providers organise the validation for professions and specialties that are included in the list of professions for VET [24]https://www.mon.bg/bg/100053
.

Introducing a new approach for the development of State educational standards, based on units of learning outcomes in 2015 [25]https://www.mon.bg/bg/100305
, made the validation process more transparent.

Applicants present the evidence for the learning outcomes they possess in order to acquire a full or partial qualification allowing their access to vocational training and/or to the labour market.

The methods for assessing the learning outcomes are essentially identical to those for assessing knowledge, skills and competences applied in formal education and training.

Two types of certificates can be issued as a result of the validation:

  • a certificate validating a full qualification. By means of examination it certifies that all units of learning outcomes defined in the State educational standard have been achieved;
  • a certificate validating a part of vocational qualification (partial qualification). It certifies through an examination that one or several units of learning outcomes included in the State educational standard have been achieved.

Holders of these certificates have the same rights as those who have attained corresponding certificates through the formal education system.

Validation procedures are monitored by the regional education authorities and national agency for VET.

They also consult and guide providers methodologically.

Validation procedures can be funded by beneficiaries (individuals), companies and projects.

Validation fee for individuals cannot exceed the actual expenditure incurred by a provider.

For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database [26]https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/2016_validate_BG.pdf
.

VET is attractive because after graduation learners receive both a diploma for secondary education (giving access to higher education) and a certificate for vocational qualification.

Allowances, grants, vouchers and travel subsidy

Secondary VET learners may receive grants:

  • performance scholarships are awarded to learners with high learning achievements;
  • social allowances support access to education and prevent early leaving from VET of disadvantaged learners, e.g. with special education needs or orphans.

The grants are offered on a monthly basis and vary between 5% and 15% from the minimal national salary.

Learners in dual VET receive monthly remuneration from the companies they are trained in based on their contract. In addition, secondary VET learners can participate in ESF projects for work-based learning where they can also receive an additional grant of EUR 150.

A person (employed or unemployed) may have only one training voucher for key competences and one for VET training during the implementation of the programme:

  • at EQF level 2 – EUR 300;
  • at EQF level 3 – EUR 600;
  • at EQF level 4 – EUR 900.

All secondary VET learners are entitled to receive discounts when using public transport, including trains and in-city public transport. The discount can be up to 60% and is decided by each municipality.

According to the VET Act, provision of training is free of value added tax for companies.

Financial support for offering dual VET

Employment Promotion Act foresees financial benefits for employers for creating training places (jobs) for the unemployed. State budget pays remuneration, social security and health insurance for apprentices for up to 36 months. It also covers the costs of the training institution that provides theoretical lessons to an apprentice and mentoring costs.

According to the VET Act the system of vocational education and training includes vocational guidance, vocational education and vocational training.

The institutions, which provide vocational guidance for students are structured on regional principle for 28 regions.

The responsible institution for licensing centres for information and vocational guidance for adults is NAVET.

Up to 31.12. 2018, 48 centres for information and vocational guidance for adults were licensed.

The regional employment service directorates, which are part of the employment agency, provide vocational guidance to the unemployed individuals and for those, who wish to change their current job.

The employment service directorates provide  vocational guidance services in the form of:

  • in person vocational consultation;
  • vocational consultation in groups.

The main goals of these services are to support individuals in making the right choice in terms of entering the labour market or choosing a suitable VET programme, the level of vocational qualification – initial or continuous and the options for acquiring the desired qualification.

Please 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

Post-secondary VET,

up to 2 years,

WBL: min. 50%,

FP: D (Г)

 

 ISCED 453

Initial/Continuing VET programmes leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 453 (РАМКОВА ПРОГРАМА Г за професионално обучение с придобиване на четвърта степен на професионална квалификация)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

453

Usual entry grade

12

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

18+

Length of a programme (years)

2

  
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?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For State owned schools

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • apprenticeships.
Main providers
  • Schools
  • Enterprises
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<=70%

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

Programmes are available for people who have completed upper secondary education.

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

This type of VET is available only for people who have completed secondary education.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners need to pass a vocational qualification examination.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive certificate for vocational qualification for EQF level 4 (Свидетелство за професионална квалификация - 4 СПК).

The learners may also ask to receive a Europass certificate supplement to the certificate.

The document is recognised by the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Company manager, hotel manager, restaurant manager as well as sports and military/defence qualifications [43]As described in national context.
.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete VET can enter the labour market.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

According to Art. 40, para 1 of the VET Act, ‘Validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences is the identification and recognition of professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal education or self-study and their compliance with the State educational requirements for acquiring qualification in professions’.

The validation procedure is carried out for professions and specialties included in the list of professions for vocational education and training under Art. 6 of the VET Act. The validation procedure starts with an application submitted by the person to the director of the institution entitled to carry out the validation. In order to prove the acquired professional knowledge, skills and competences declared for validation, the person shall submit copies of documents held by him/her together with the originals for reconciliation – workbook, service book, social security book, education diploma, attestations, references, certificates from previous professional trainings, artefacts, photos of artefacts, etc.

Validation procedure includes informing the person requesting validation about the purposes, validation procedures and their sequence, identifying the professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired by the person and recognition of a degree of professional qualification or of qualification for part of a profession.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Information not available

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 2

Mainly school-based VET,

3 years,

WBL: min. 70%,

FP: A (A)

 

ISCED 351

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 2, ISCED 351 (Рамкова програма А за начално професионално обучение с придобиване на първа степен на професионална квалификация)
EQF level
2
ISCED-P 2011 level

351

Usual entry grade

8

Usual completion grade

10

Usual entry age

13

Usual completion age

16

Length of a programme (years)

2

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

In Bulgaria education is mandatory till the age of 16.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

This framework programme is only for initial VET.

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For State owned schools

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • daily
  • evening
  • extramural
  • distance learning
  • work based training
  • individual
  • self-learning

The most common learning form is daily form.

Main providers
  • schools
  • schools in partnership with enterprises.
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=70%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school – when the school uses its own base for practical training
  • in-company practice - when learners go to external companies for practical training
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

This VET programme is appropriate for those learners who wish an early entry to the labour market.

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

The requirements for enrolment in VET programmes are minimum age, health condition, previous education and qualification level.

The minimum required age is :

  • 13 (in the year of application) for vocational gymnasiums and schools;
  • 16 for vocational training centres.

The health condition of the applicant is certified by a medical certificate proving the fitness for the selected occupation.

Minimum entry requirements for VET learners:

  • for current learners - grade 6;
  • for newly enrolled learners (after 2016) -basic education, secondary education, stage 1, grade 7 for learners with special educational needs.

Minimum entry requirements for individuals above the age of 16:

  • for current learners: primary education or literacy course,  grade 7 for learners with special educational needs;
  • for newly enrolled learners (after 2016): primary education or literacy course, grade 7 for learners with special educational needs.
Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete this type of VET programme learners need to pass a State qualification examination: (for theory and practice of the occupation.

The education ministry develops and approves national examination programmes for the State qualification examinations. They include guidelines for content of the exam, task assignments and assessment criteria.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive:

  • certificate for completed first stage of secondary education (Удостоверение за завършен първи гимназиален етап на средно образование);
  • certificate for vocational qualification for EQF level 2 (Свидетелство за професионална квалификация - 1 СПК). The learners  may also ask to receive a  Europass certificate supplement to the certificate;
  • competence certificate (Свидетелство за правоспособност) – if applicable for the particular qualification.

All these documents are recognised by the education system and by the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Welder, turner, worker in the food industry [30]As described in national context
.

These three qualifications are included in the list of specialties from professions with expected shortage of specialists on the labour market, approved by the Council of Ministers in 2018.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The graduates may continue their studies to the second stage of secondary education and VET qualification at EQF level 3 or 4, or can enter the labour market. However progression in either VET or general education is subject to different prerequisites, rather than completion of this VET programme.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

According to Art. 40, para 1 of the VET Act, ‘Validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences is the identification and recognition of professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal education or self-study and their compliance with the State educational requirements for acquiring qualification in professions’.

The validation procedure is carried out for professions and specialties included in the list of professions for vocational education and training under Art. 6 of the VET Act. The validation procedure starts with an application submitted by the person to the director of the institution entitled to carry out the validation. In order to prove the acquired professional knowledge, skills and competences declared for validation, the person shall submit copies of documents held by him/her together with the originals for reconciliation – workbook, service book, social security book, education diploma, attestations, references, certificates from previous professional trainings, artefacts, photos of artefacts, etc.

Validation procedure includes informing the person requesting validation about the purposes, validation procedures and their sequence, identifying the professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired by the person and recognition of a degree of professional qualification or of qualification for part of a profession.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Y

This type of VET programme includes modules for:

  • entrepreneurship;
  • foreign language and communication;​
  • ICT (digital competences).
Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

<=5% [31]2018/19. Share of learners compared to the total number of secondary VET learners.

EQF 3

Mainly school-based VET,

4 years, 

WBL: min. 60%,

FP: B (Б)

 

ISCED 351

Initial/Continuing VET programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 351 (Рамкова програма Б за начално и продължаващо професионално обучение с придобиване на втора степен на професионална квалификация)
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

351

Usual entry grade

8

Usual completion grade

11

Usual entry age

13 - Minimum age of the candidate in the year of application

Usual completion age

17

Length of a programme (years)

4

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

In Bulgaria education till the age of 16 is mandatory.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

This framework programme is applicable for both IVET and CVET.

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For State owned schools

Is it available for adults?

Y

It is available for adult learners who cover minimum entry requirements.

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • daily 
  • evening
  • extramural
  • distance learning
  • work based training
  • individual
  • self-learning

The most common learning form is daily form.

  • Apprenticeship is available after the age of 16 (grades 11-12).
Main providers
  • schools;
  • schools in partnership with enterprises.
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 – when the school uses its premises for practical training
  • in-company practice – when learners go to external companies for practical training
Main target groups

This VET programme is appropriate for learners who wish to enter the labour market holding a recognised professional qualification and also for those who wish to continue their studies at EQF level 4.

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

The requirements for enrolment in VET programmes are minimum age, health condition, previous education and qualification level.

The minimum required age is 13 (in the year of application) for vocational gymnasiums and schools.

The health condition of the applicant is certified by a medical certificate proving the fitness for the selected occupation.

There is no limitation for maximum age.

Completed basic education is also a prerequisite for this type of programme for current learners.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Vocational education finishes with State qualification examinations: for theory and practice of the occupation.

The education ministry develops and approves national examination programmes for the State qualification examinations. They include guidelines for content of the exams, task assignments and assessment criteria.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive:

  • certificate for vocational qualification for EQF level 3 (Свидетелство за професионална квалификация - 2 СПК). The learners may also ask to receive a Europass certificate supplement to the certificate;
  • competence certificate (Свидетелство за правоспособност) – if applicable for the particular qualification.

All these documents are recognised by the education system and by the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Waiter, cook, hair dresser [32]As described in national context.
.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The graduates may continue their studies at second stage of secondary education and VET qualification at EQF level 4, or can enter the labour market. However progression in either VET or general education is subject to different prerequisites, rather than completion of this VET programme.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

According to Art. 40, para 1 of the VET Act, ‘Validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences is the identification and recognition of professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal education or self-study and their compliance with the State educational requirements for acquiring qualification in professions’.

The validation procedure is carried out for professions and specialties included in the list of professions for vocational education and training under Art. 6 of the VET Act. The validation procedure starts with an application submitted by the person to the director of the institution entitled to carry out the validation. In order to prove the acquired professional knowledge, skills and competences declared for validation, the person shall submit copies of documents held by him/her together with the originals for reconciliation – workbook, service book, social security book, education diploma, attestations, references, certificates from previous professional trainings, artefacts, photos of artefacts, etc.

Validation procedure includes informing the person requesting validation about the purposes, validation procedures and their sequence, identifying the professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired by the person and recognition of a degree of professional qualification or of qualification for part of a profession.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Y

There are subjects for:

  • entrepreneurship;
  • foreign language and communication;​
  • ICT (digital 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 3

Mainly school-based VET,

1 year,

WBL: min. 60%,

FP:B (Б)

 

ISCED 351

Initial/Continuing VET programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 351 (РАМКОВА ПРОГРАМА Б за начално и продължаващо професионално обучение с придобиване на втора степен на професионална квалификация)
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

351

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

17

Length of a programme (years)

1

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

In Bulgaria education is mandatory till the age of 16.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

It is part of formal education and training system.

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

This framework programme is applicable for both IVET and CVET.

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For State owned schools

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • daily
  • evening
  • extramural
  • distance learning
  • work based training
  • individual
  • self-learning

The most common learning form is daily form.

  • Apprenticeship is available after the age of 16 (grades 11-12).
Main providers
  • schools
  • schools in partnership with enterprises
  • vocational training centres
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=60% - Min 60% - The share of practical training for these qualifications that require the performance of a complex set of activities (NQF/ EQF level 3) is no less than 60%.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school
  • in-company practice – when learners go to external companies for practical training
  • practical training at school – when the school uses its own premises for practical training
Main target groups

Programmes are available for individuals above the age 16.

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

The requirements for enrolment in VET programmes are minimum age, health condition, previous education and qualification level.

The minimum required age is 13 (in the year of application) for vocational gymnasiums and schools.

The health condition of the applicant is certified by a medical certificate proving the fitness for the selected occupation.

Previous education requirements are at least a completed grade or stage from the basic or secondary education, completed initial stage of the lower secondary education or a successfully completed literacy course under the Employment Promotion Act.

For the particular programme stage 1 of secondary education and VET qualification level 2 is a prerequisite for admission – for newly enrolled learners (after 2016).

Assessment of learning outcomes

Vocational education finishes with State qualification examination: The examination is both theoretical and practical and is relevant to the occupation.

The education ministry develops and approves national examination programmes for the State qualification examination. They include guidelines for content of the exams, task assignments and assessment criteria.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive:

  • certificate for vocational qualification for EQF level 3 (Свидетелство за професионална квалификация - 2 СПК). The learners may also ask to receive a  Europass certificate supplement to the certificate;
  • competence certificate (Свидетелство за правоспособност) - if applicable for the particular qualification.

All these documents are recognised by the education system and by the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Assistant trainer in sports, system programmer, tourist guide [33]As described in national context.
.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The graduates may continue their studies to the second stage of secondary education and VET qualification at EQF level 4, or can enter the labour market. However progression in either VET or general education is subject to different prerequisites rather than the completion of this VET programme. 

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

According to Art. 40, para 1 of the VET Act, ‘Validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences is the identification and recognition of professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal education or self-study and their compliance with the State educational requirements for acquiring qualification in professions’.

The validation procedure is carried out for professions and specialties included in the list of professions for vocational education and training under Art. 6 of the VET Act. The validation procedure starts with an application submitted by the person to the director of the institution entitled to carry out the validation. In order to prove the acquired professional knowledge, skills and competences declared for validation, the person shall submit copies of documents held by him/her together with the originals for reconciliation – workbook, service book, social security book, education diploma, attestations, references, certificates from previous professional trainings, artefacts, photos of artefacts, etc.

Validation procedure includes informing the person requesting validation about the purposes, validation procedures and their sequence, identifying the professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired by the person and recognition of a degree of professional qualification or of qualification for part of a profession.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Y

There are modules for:

  • entrepreneurship;
  • foreign language and communication;​
  • ICT (digital 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 3

Mainly school-based VET,

5 years,

WBL: min. 60%,

FP: C (B)

 

ISCED 354

Initial/Continuing VET programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 354 (РАМКОВА ПРОГРАМА В за професионално образование с придобиване на втора степен на професионална квалификация)
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

8

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

5

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

In Bulgaria education is mandatory till the age of 16.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For State owned schools

Is it available for adults?

N

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • apprenticeships after the age of 16 (grades 11-12).
Main providers

Schools

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
  • in-company practice
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people.

Based on the type and school curriculum for students with sensory disabilities, special curricula are developed. Typical curricula for framework programmes C apply depending on the student's specific abilities to reach the learning outcomes that are included in the State Educational Standard for acquiring a qualification in the respective profession. For imprisoned learners vocational education is organised for the acquisition of the second degree of professional qualification (EQF 3) in the first and second stage of secondary education.

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

Learners must be at least 13 years old in order to apply.

Basic education is a prerequisite for admission at this VET programme.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a VET programme learners need to pass a State matriculation examination in ‘Bulgarian language and literature’ and a State qualification examination.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive:

  • diploma for secondary education (Диплома за средно образование);
  • certificate for vocational qualification for EQF level 3 (Свидетелство за професионална квалификация - 2 СПК). The learners may also ask to receive a  Europass certificate supplement to the certificate;
  • competence certificate (Свидетелство за правоспособност) - if applicable for the particular qualification.

All these documents are recognised by the education system and by the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Electric fitter, cook, wood processing operator [34]As described in national context.
.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The graduates may:

  • continue their studies at tertiary education;
  • continue their VET qualification at EQF Level 5;
  • enter the labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

According to Art. 40, para 1 of the VET Act, ‘Validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences is the identification and recognition of professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal education or self-study and their compliance with the State educational requirements for acquiring qualification in professions’.

The validation procedure is carried out for professions and specialties included in the list of professions for vocational education and training under Art. 6 of the VET Act. The validation procedure starts with an application submitted by the person to the director of the institution entitled to carry out the validation. In order to prove the acquired professional knowledge, skills and competences declared for validation, the person shall submit copies of documents held by him/her together with the originals for reconciliation – workbook, service book, social security book, education diploma, attestations, references, certificates from previous professional trainings, artefacts, photos of artefacts, etc.

Validation procedure includes informing the person requesting validation about the purposes, validation procedures and their sequence, identifying the professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired by the person and recognition of a degree of professional qualification or of qualification for part of a profession.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

=20% [35]2018/19. Share of learners compared with the total number of secondary VET learners.

EQF 4

Mainly school-based VET,

2 years,

WBL: min. 50%,

FP: C (B)

 

ISCED 354

Initial/Continuing VET programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (РАМКОВА ПРОГРАМА В за професионално образование с придобиване на трета степен на професионална квалификация)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

2

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

In Bulgaria education is mandatory till the age of 16.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For State owned schools

Is it available for adults?

N

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • apprenticeships after the age of 16 (grades 11-12)
Main providers

Schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50%

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

Programmes are available for young people.

Based on the type and school curriculum for students with sensory disabilities, special curricula are developed. Typical curricula for framework programmes C apply depend on the learner's specific abilities to acquire the learning outcomes that are included in the State educational standard for acquiring a qualification in the respective profession. For imprisoned learners, vocational education is organised for the acquisition of the second degree of professional qualification (EQF 3) in the first and second stage of secondary education.

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

Learners must be at least 13 years old to apply.

Basic education is a prerequisite for admission to this VET programme.

For the particular VET programme completion of secondary education stage 1 and VET qualification level 2 are prerequisites for admission.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete this type of VET programme learners need to pass a State matriculation examination in ‘Bulgarian language and literature’ and a State qualification examination.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive:

  • diploma for secondary education (Диплома за средно образование);
  • certificate for vocational qualification for EQF level 4 (Свидетелство за професионална квалификация - 3 СПК). The learners may also ask to receive a  Europass certificate supplement to the certificate;
  • competence certificate (Свидетелство за правоспособност) – if applicable for the particular qualification.

All these documents are recognised by the education system and by the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Electro-technician, restaurant keeper, wood-procession technician-technologist [36]As described in national context 
.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The graduates may:

- continue their studies at tertiary education;

- continue their VET qualification at EQF Level 5;

- enter the labour market.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

General education subjects

Y

According to Art. 40, para 1 of the VET Act, ‘Validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences is the identification and recognition of professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal education or self-study and their compliance with the State educational requirements for acquiring qualification in professions’.

The validation procedure is carried out for professions and specialties included in the list of professions for vocational education and training under Art. 6 of the VET Act. The validation procedure starts with an application submitted by the person to the director of the institution entitled to carry out the validation. In order to prove the acquired professional knowledge, skills and competences declared for validation, the person shall submit copies of documents held by him/her together with the originals for reconciliation – workbook, service book, social security book, education diploma, attestations, references, certificates from previous professional trainings, artefacts, photos of artefacts, etc.

Validation procedure includes informing the person requesting validation about the purposes, validation procedures and their sequence, identifying the professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired by the person and recognition of a degree of professional qualification or of qualification for part of a profession.

Key competences

Information not available

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

Mainly school-based VET,

5 years,

WBL: min. 50%,

FP: C (B)

 

ISCED 354

Initial/Continuing VET programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (РАМКОВА ПРОГРАМА В за професионално образование с придобиване на трета степен на професионална квалификация)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

8

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

5

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

In Bulgaria education is mandatory till the age of 16.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For State owned schools

Is it available for adults?

N

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • apprenticeships after the age of 16 (grades 11-12)
Main providers

Schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50%

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

Programmes are available for young people.

Based on the type and school curriculum for learners with sensory disabilities, special curricula are developed. Typical curricula for framework programmes C apply depending on the student's specific abilities to acquire the learning outcomes that are included in the State educational standard for acquiring a qualification in the respective profession. For imprisoned learners vocational education is organised for the acquisition of the third degree of professional qualification (EQF 4) in the first and second stage of secondary education.

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

Learners must be at least 13 years old (when they apply) to enrol.

For this type of VET programme the completion of basic education is a prerequisite for admission.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The secondary VET is completed with State matriculation examinations in ‘Bulgarian language and literature’ and a State qualification examination.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive:

  • diploma for secondary education (Диплома за средно образование);
  • certificate for vocational qualification for EQF level 4 (Свидетелство за професионална квалификация - 3 СПК). The learners  may also ask to receive a  Europass certificate supplement to the certificate;
  • competence certificate (Свидетелство за правоспособност) – if applicable for the particular qualification.

All these documents are recognised by the education system and by the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Electro-technician, restaurant keeper, wood-procession technician-technologist [37]As described in national context 
.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The graduates may:

  • continue their studies at tertiary education;
  • continue their VET qualification at EQF Level 5;
  • enter the labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

According to Art. 40, para 1 of the VET Act, ‘Validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences is the identification and recognition of professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal education or self-study and their compliance with the State educational requirements for acquiring qualification in professions’.

The validation procedure is carried out for professions and specialties included in the list of professions for vocational education and training under Art. 6 of the VET Act. The validation procedure starts with an application submitted by the person to the director of the institution entitled to carry out the validation. In order to prove the acquired professional knowledge, skills and competences declared for validation, the person shall submit copies of documents held by him/her together with the originals for reconciliation – workbook, service book, social security book, education diploma, attestations, references, certificates from previous professional trainings, artefacts, photos of artefacts, etc.

Validation procedure includes informing the person requesting validation about the purposes, validation procedures and their sequence, identifying the professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired by the person and recognition of a degree of professional qualification or of qualification for part of a profession.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

>=75% [38]2018/19. Share of learners compared to the total number of secondary VET learners.

EQF 4

Mainly school-based VET,

1 year,

WBL: min. 50%,

FP: C (B)

 

ISCED 354

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (РАМКОВА ПРОГРАМА В за професионално образование с придобиване на трета степен на професионална квалификация)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

12

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

1

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Information not available

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Information not available

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For State owned schools

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • apprenticeships after the age of 16 (grades 11-12).
Main providers
  • schools
  • enterprises 
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<=70%

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

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

The requirements for enrolment in VET programmes are minimum age, health condition, previous education and qualification level.

The minimum required age is 13 (in the year of application) for vocational gymnasiums and schools and 16 for vocational training centres (initial and continuous VET providers for employees and unemployed, without acquisition of an education level). The health condition of the applicant is certified by a medical certificate proving the fitness for the selected occupation. Previous education requirements are at least a completed grade or stage from the basic or secondary education, completed initial stage of the lower secondary education or a successfully completed literacy course under the Employment Promotion Act.

For the particular VET programme completion of grade 11 and VET qualification level 2 or 3 are prerequisites for admission.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete the program learners need to pass a matriculation exam and a State qualification examination.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive:

  • diploma for secondary education (Диплома за средно образование);
  • certificate for vocational qualification for EQF level 4 (Свидетелство за професионална квалификация - 3 СПК). The learners may also ask to receive a Europass certificate supplement to the certificate;
  • competence certificate (Свидетелство за правоспособност) - if applicable for the particular qualification.

All these documents are recognised by the education system and by the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Builder, electro technician, electronic equipment technician, cook, waiter, assistant trainer in sports and system programmer [39]As described in national context 
.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The graduates may:

  • continue their studies at tertiary education;
  • continue their VET qualification at EQF Level 5;
  • enter the labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

According to Art. 40, para 1 of the VET Act, ‘Validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences is the identification and recognition of professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal education or self-study and their compliance with the State educational requirements for acquiring qualification in professions’.

The validation procedure is carried out for professions and specialties included in the list of professions for vocational education and training under Art. 6 of the VET Act. The validation procedure starts with an application submitted by the person to the director of the institution entitled to carry out the validation. In order to prove the acquired professional knowledge, skills and competences declared for validation, the person shall submit copies of documents held by him/her together with the originals for reconciliation – workbook, service book, social security book, education diploma, attestations, references, certificates from previous professional trainings, artefacts, photos of artefacts, etc.

Validation procedure includes informing the person requesting validation about the purposes, validation procedures and their sequence, identifying the professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired by the person and recognition of a degree of professional qualification or of qualification for part of a profession.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Information not available

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 2

Mainly school-based VET,

1 year,

WBL: min. 70%,

FP: A (A)

 

ISCED 351

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 2, ISCED 351 (РАМКОВА ПРОГРАМА А за начално професионално обучение с придобиване на първа степен на професионална квалификация)
EQF level
2
ISCED-P 2011 level

351

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

11

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

17

Length of a programme (years)

1

  
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

For State owned schools

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • apprenticeships after the age of 16 (grades 11-12).
Main providers
  • schools
  • enterprises 
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=70%

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

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

The requirements for enrolment in VET programmes are minimum age, health condition, previous education and qualification level.

The minimum required age is 13 (in the year of application) for vocational gymnasiums and schools and 16 for vocational training centres (initial and continuous VET providers for employees and unemployed, without acquisition of an education level). The health condition of the applicant is certified by a medical certificate proving the fitness for the selected occupation. Previous education requirements are at least a completed grade or stage from the basic or secondary education, completed initial stage of the lower secondary education or a successfully completed literacy course under the Employment Promotion Act.

For this type of programme the completion of secondary education, stage 1 is a prerequisite for admission.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Information not available

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive:

  • certificate for vocational qualification for EQF level 2 (Свидетелство за професионална квалификация - 1 СПК). The students may also ask for receiving Europass certificate supplement to the certificate;
  • competence certificate (Свидетелство за правоспособност) – if applicable for the particular qualification.

All these documents are recognised by the education system and by the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Builder, electro technician, electronic equipment technician, cook, waiter, assistant trainer in sports and system programmer [40]As described in national context 
.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete VET can enter the labour market or continue their studies at EQF level 3 (VET) or in general education stage 2. However, progression in either VET or general education is subject to different prerequisites rather than the completion of this VET programme.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

According to Art. 40, para 1 of the VET Act, ‘Validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences is the identification and recognition of professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal education or self-study and their compliance with the State educational requirements for acquiring qualification in professions’.

The validation procedure is carried out for professions and specialties included in the list of professions for vocational education and training under Art. 6 of the VET Act. The validation procedure starts with an application submitted by the person to the director of the institution entitled to carry out the validation. In order to prove the acquired professional knowledge, skills and competences declared for validation, the person shall submit copies of documents held by him/her together with the originals for reconciliation – workbook, service book, social security book, education diploma, attestations, references, certificates from previous professional trainings, artefacts, photos of artefacts, etc.

Validation procedure includes informing the person requesting validation about the purposes, validation procedures and their sequence, identifying the professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired by the person and recognition of a degree of professional qualification or of qualification for part of a profession.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Information not available

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 3

Mainly school-based VET,

1 year,

WBL: min. 60%,

FP: C (B)

 

ISCED 354

Initial/Continuing VET programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 354 (РАМКОВА ПРОГРАМА В за професионално образование с придобиване на втора степен на професионална квалификация)
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

11

Usual entry age

17

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?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For State owned schools

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • apprenticeships after the age of 16 (grades 11-12).
Main providers
  • schools
  • enterprises
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
  • in-company practice
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

The requirements for enrolment in VET programmes are minimum age, health condition, previous education and qualification level.

The minimum required age is 13 (in the year of application) for vocational gymnasiums and schools and 16 for vocational training centres (initial and continuous VET providers for employees and unemployed, without acquisition of an education level). The health condition of the applicant is certified by a medical certificate proving the fitness for the selected occupation. Previous education requirements are at least a completed grade or stage from the basic or secondary education, completed initial stage of the lower secondary education or a successfully completed literacy course under the Employment Promotion Act.

For this type of VET programme completion of upper secondary stage 1 and VET qualification level 2 are prerequisites for admission.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete this type of VET programme learners need to pass a State matriculation examination and a State qualification examination.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive:

  • diploma for secondary education (Диплома за средно образование);
  • certificate for vocational qualification for EQF level 3 (Свидетелство за професионална квалификация - 2 СПК). The learners may also ask to receive a Europass certificate supplement to the certificate;
  • competence certificate (Свидетелство за правоспособност) - if applicable for the particular qualification.

All these documents are recognised by the education system and by the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Builder, electro technician, electronic equipment technician, cook, waiter, assistant trainer in sports and system programme [41]As described in national context.
.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The graduates may:

  • continue their studies at tertiary education;
  • continue their VET qualification at EQF Level 5;
  • enter the labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

According to Art. 40, para 1 of the VET Act, ‘Validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences is the identification and recognition of professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal education or self-study and their compliance with the State educational requirements for acquiring qualification in professions’.

The validation procedure is carried out for professions and specialties included in the list of professions for vocational education and training under Art. 6 of the VET Act. The validation procedure starts with an application submitted by the person to the director of the institution entitled to carry out the validation. In order to prove the acquired professional knowledge, skills and competences declared for validation, the person shall submit copies of documents held by him/her together with the originals for reconciliation – workbook, service book, social security book, education diploma, attestations, references, certificates from previous professional trainings, artefacts, photos of artefacts, etc.

Validation procedure includes informing the person requesting validation about the purposes, validation procedures and their sequence, identifying the professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired by the person and recognition of a degree of professional qualification or of qualification for part of a profession.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Information not available

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 3

Mainly school-based VET,

2 years,

WBL: min. 60%,

FP: C (B)

 

ISCED 354

Initial/continuing VET programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 354 (РАМКОВА ПРОГРАМА В за професионално образование с придобиване на втора степен на професионална квалификация)
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

2

  
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?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For State owned schools

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning (contact studies, including virtual communication with the teacher/trainer);
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);
  • apprenticeships  for ages after 16 (grades 11-12).
Main providers
  • schools
  • enterprises
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<=70%

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

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

The requirements for enrolment in VET programmes are minimum age, health condition, previous education and qualification level.

The minimum required age is 13 (in the year of application) for vocational gymnasiums and schools and 16 for vocational training centres (initial and continuous VET providers for employees and unemployed, without acquisition of an education level). The health condition of the applicant is certified by a medical certificate proving the fitness for the selected occupation. Previous education requirements are at least a completed grade or stage from the basic or secondary education, completed initial stage of the lower secondary education or a successfully completed literacy course under the Employment Promotion Act.

For this type of VET programme completion of grade 11 and VET qualification level 2 or 3 are prerequisites for admission.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete this type of VET programme learners need to pass a matriculation examination and a State qualification examination.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduates receive:

  • diploma for secondary education (Диплома за средно образование);
  • certificate for vocational qualification for EQF level 3 (Свидетелство за професионална квалификация - 2 СПК). The learners may also ask to receive a  Europass certificate supplement to the certificate;
  • competence certificate (Свидетелство за правоспособност) – if applicable for the particular qualification.

All these documents are recognised by the education system (for continuation of the education) and by the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Builder, electro technician, electronic equipment technician, cook, waiter, assistant trainer in sports and system programmer [42]As described in national context.
.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The graduates may:

  • continue their studies at tertiary education;
  • continue their VET qualification at EQF Level 5;
  • enter the labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

According to Art. 40, para 1 of the VET Act, ‘Validation of professional knowledge, skills and competences is the identification and recognition of professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired through non-formal education or self-study and their compliance with the State educational requirements for acquiring qualification in professions’.

The validation procedure is carried out for professions and specialties included in the list of professions for vocational education and training under Art. 6 of the VET Act. The validation procedure starts with an application submitted by the person to the director of the institution entitled to carry out the validation. In order to prove the acquired professional knowledge, skills and competences declared for validation, the person shall submit copies of documents held by him/her together with the originals for reconciliation – workbook, service book, social security book, education diploma, attestations, references, certificates from previous professional trainings, artefacts, photos of artefacts, etc.

Validation procedure includes informing the person requesting validation about the purposes, validation procedures and their sequence, identifying the professional knowledge, skills and competences acquired by the person and recognition of a degree of professional qualification or of qualification for part of a profession.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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