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General themes

VET in Italy comprises the following main features:

  • education and employment ministries lay down the rules and general principles but the regions and autonomous provinces are in charge of VET programmes and apprenticeship- type schemes;
  • there are three types of apprenticeship with one type (Type 2) not corresponding to any education level but leading only to occupational qualifications recognised by the labour market ([1]Apprenticeship is available at all levels and programmes and is always defined as an open-ended employment contract. Type 1 apprenticeship is offered for all programmes at upper secondary level and the higher technical education and training (IFTS) programme. Type 3 apprenticeship (higher training/education apprenticeship) is offered in higher technical education (ITS) programmes and all tertiary education level programmes leading to university degrees, HTI diplomas, and doctoral degrees corresponding to the tertiary level. Type 2 apprenticeship does not correspond to any education level, diploma or qualification, but leads to occupational qualifications recognised by the relevant national sectoral collective agreements applied in the hiring company. Type 1 and Type 3 apprenticeships are associated with a formal education and training programme, while Type 2 is not.);
  • continuing VET is mainly directed towards employed people;
  • the recent adoption of the national qualifications framework (January 2018) is a catalyst for re-designing qualifications.

Distinctive features ([2]Information on distinctive features is provided by ReferNet Italy as there is no Spotlight edition for 2017 of which distinctive features was an analysed theme.)

The Italian context is characterised by the presence of multiple institutional players at national and regional levels, in addition to the relevant role of the social partners.

Title V (article 117) of the Constitution provides for ownership either by the State, the regions or mechanisms for cooperation between the different institutions, in relation to the type of training supply:

• the State establishes general rules and determines the fundamental principles of education;

• the regions have legislative power over VET;

• education falls under the scope of concomitant legislation, except for the autonomy of education institutions.

In light of the interweaving of the different intervention areas, ministries of education and labour and the regions define formal agreements within the State-regions conference. The aim is to define matters of common interest, although at different levels of responsibility.

The implementation of Title V has not yet been completed; this increases the interweaving and the complexity of the different levels of system governance. The areas of activity which primarily apply to the jurisdiction of the education ministry and those which primarily apply to the labour ministry and the regions and autonomous provinces, are to be kept distinct. However, many activities and interventions require consultation between the different institutional players.

Reference should be made to the role of the social partners, who contribute to defining and creating active employment policies, especially in relation to VET (in particular lifelong training).

Challenges that the VET system faces ([3]Adapted from Vocational education and training in Europe – Italy. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018 [unpublished].):

  • integrating the training and employment of young people within a dual system by reinforcing apprenticeships;
  • reinforcing apprenticeship for higher training/education;
  • simplifying current legislation and boost the appeal of apprenticeship for enterprises;
  • developing innovative pedagogical methodologies;
  • reducing early leaving from education and training;
  • training teachers and trainers;
  • promoting the assessment of education and training outcomes (processes and results) through implementation of a national plan for quality assurance in education and training and in line with the European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training recommendation ([4]European Parliament; Council of the European Union (2009). Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the establishment of a European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training. Official Journal of the European Union, C 155, 18.6.2009, pp. 1-10.
    https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32009H0708(01)&from=EN
    );
  • training staff involved in all stages and procedures of the validation of non-formal and informal learning;
  • increasing public awareness of the potential benefits of validation of non-formal and informal learning especially to those target groups who could benefit most;
  • improving cost-effectiveness of validation of non-formal and informal learning procedures;
  • improving monitoring of VET outcomes and adjust VET provision to each learner’s training needs;
  • developing evaluative analytical tools on the impact of training policies.

Regarding specifically to continuing vocational training the following challenges and issues should be addressed:

  • developing further the already existing skills forecasting tools and methods and better match training provision to skills needs;
  • supporting workers’ participation in training, eliminate obstacles that prevent them from training, and motivate the most vulnerable workers, in particular the low-skilled and over 50s to participate in training activities;
  • improving the capacity of training providers to offer programmes that enhance technological and in particular digital skills;
  • strengthening the involvement of the social partners in corporate decisions relating to training;
  • consolidating the certification of skills acquired through continuing vocational training;
  • improving coordination and networking between the various stakeholders involved in lifelong learning at national and regional level.

Population in 2018: 60 483 973 ([5]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [Extracted 16.5.2019].).

It increased since 2013 by 1.3% due to immigration ([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 ration is expected to increase from 34 in 2015 to 61 in 2060.

 

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

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Demographic trends have an impact on school population, which was decreased between September 2014 and June 2015, especially at lower secondary level (by 0.7%). In the same period, upper secondary school level population has increased by 0.8%, including both Italian (+0.6%) and foreign learners (+2.8%).

Since 2007, immigration has been a prevailing demographic growth factor. In 2016, it has halved, while emigration has nearly tripled.

The share of foreign learners has increased by 20.9% between 2009/10 and 2014/15 (from 673 592 to 814 187), compared to a 2.7% decrease of Italian learners (from 8 283 493 to 8 058 397). The share of foreign female learners was 48%.

In 2014/15, 55.3% of learners with foreign nationality were born in Italy (84.8% in pre-primary education). In 2015, 7.3% of foreign learners declared to have repeated one or more school years (4), especially those not born in Italy (31%). Foreign learners often have lower marks in secondary education programmes.

Not applicable ([7]Italy is home to almost fifty different nationalities with over 10 000 residents. This composes a multi-ethnic framework. Though courses in Italian language are offered to foreign residents there’s no record of VET programmes offered in another language.)

Most companies in Italy are micro and small-sized ([8]Istat (2018). Annuario Statistico Italiano, Roma. Reference year: 2016.).

Total: 4 390 911 enterprises, 16 684 518 employees.

Micro enterprises (0-9 employees): 95.2%

Small enterprises (10-49 employees): 4.2%

Medium enterprises (50-249 employees): 0.5%

Large enterprises (250 and more employees): 0.1%

Main economic sectors in Italy are:

  • machinery and equipment;
  • metalworking;
  • electronics and components;
  • chemicals;
  • textiles;
  • furniture;
  • food and beverage;
  • construction;
  • wholesale and retail trade;
  • accommodation and food service activities;
  • transport and logistics;
  • information and communications;
  • financial and insurance activities.

Export is very relevant for Italy and comprises several sectors, mainly machinery and equipment, textiles, furniture, transport equipment and vehicles, metalworking, food and beverage, electronics and components and others.

The sectors most linked to VET are electronics and components, information and communications, financial and insurance activities, machinery and equipment, transport equipment and vehicles, chemicals,

Most of occupations and professions are regulated, with the exception of some sectors of self-employment, especially in the south regions.

In recent years, a series of legislative reforms, inspired by the European principle of flexicurity, have been introduced with the aim of introducing more elements of flexibility into active labour market policies, as well as new social security instruments.

Total unemployment ([9]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) (2018): 9.3% (6% in EU-28): It increased by 3.7 percentage points since 2008 ([10]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
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Unemployment is distributed unevenly between those with low- and high-level qualifications. The gap has increased during the crisis as unskilled workers are more vulnerable to unemployment.

Employment rate of 20 to 34-year-old VET graduates increased from 62.7% in 2014 to 66% in 2018 ([11]NB: Breaks in time series. Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

 

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

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

 

The increase (+3.3pp) in employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates in 2014-18 was lower compared to the increase in employment of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+3.7 pp) in the same period in Italy ([12]NB: Breaks in time series. Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

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

Education has high value in Italy. However the share of population aged up to 64 with higher education (19.3%) is below the EU-28 average (32.2%). This is also the case for the share of population aged up to 64 with medium or low qualifications. In Italy, there are some contradictions in the relationship between the education and training system and the production system. An example is the low presence of qualified labour in the production system, due mostly to the still fairly low number of graduates compared to other European countries.

Having a higher educational qualification would not appear to have a significant effect on the probability of finding a good job match. Also, over-education is associated to both lower labour productivity and lower job satisfaction. In this respect the number of 14 year-olds choosing to enrol on vocational education and training pathways (IeFP) as an option that would allow better matching of skills to jobs is significant, as the figure below demonstrates.

 

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].

 

 

Students on Vocational Education and Training Pathways (IeFP) courses by region (years I-III), 2015-16 training year ([13]National institute of public policy analysis and ministry of labour and social policy, based on regional and provincial figures.)

Source: National institute of public policy analysis and ministry of labour and social policy, based on regional and provincial figures.

 

Figures for the 2015/16 training year confirmed a progressive stabilisation of the system: the decision to enrol on the 1st year of vocational education and training pathways is becoming increasingly vocational, gradually distancing itself from the widely-held opinion that the vocational education and training pathways educational offer is exclusively the port of call for those who have failed repeatedly at school, but these pathways are chosen because have strong professional characteristics.

For more information about VET in higher education in Italy please see the case study from Cedefop's changing nature and role of VET in Europe project [12b]Cedefop (2019). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 6: vocationally oriented education and training at higher education level. Expansion and diversification in European countries. Case study focusing on Italy. Cedefop research paper; No 70. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/italy_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study_0.pdf

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

Not applicable

55.3%

Not applicable

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].

 

In VET there are 50.3% males compared to 49.7% females.

The educational attainment is as follows: 36%, less than primary, primary and lower secondary education (levels 0-2); 35.7%, upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education (levels 3 and 4); 17.1%, tertiary education (levels 5-8) ([14]Source: ISFOL-INAPP (2012). OFP Survey.
http://tiny.cc/gx737y . Latest data available; the next survey results will be available in 2020.
).The study fields (ISCED 2013) that they enrol the most are: computer use (37.4%), hygiene and occupational health services (29.1%), professional computer (27.3%), foreign languages (23.8%), business and administration (23%), hotel, restaurants and catering (19.8%), marketing (16.4%), mechanics and metal trades (16%), secretarial and office work (15.1%), health (15%), accounting and taxation (14.3%), electronics and automation (12.1%) ([15]Source: ISFOL-INAPP (2012). OFP Survey.
http://tiny.cc/gx737y. Latest data available; the next survey results will be available in 2020.
).

In vocational education and training pathways (IeFP) there are more males than females. (61.5%, compared with 38.5%). In the fourth year of the pathways, there is still a prevalence of male pupils (57.5%) even if the detachment from the female component (42.5%) is less.

The preferred study fields are in the areas of catering, electronics, wellness, aesthetics (for females) ([16]Data from the 2015/16 academic year.).

The share of early leavers from education and training has decreased from 19.1% in 2009 to 14.5% in 2018. It is below the national target for 2020 of not more than 16% but above 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.
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

Information not available

Lifelong learning offers training opportunities for adults, mainly low qualified people, imprisoned people and refugees.

 

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 the same since 2014 (though a decreasing trend was obvious until 2017 when it reached 7.0%). In 2018, it reached 8.1%, three percentage points below the EU-28 average (11.1%).

VET learners by age ([17]Most recent aggregate data available: ISFOL OFP Survey, reference year 2012; the next estimate will be available for the reference year 2018.):

  • 14-17: 18.8%
  • 18-34: 45.8%
  • 35+: 35.4%

The education and training system comprises:

  • preschool education (ISCED level 0);
  • integrated primary and lower secondary education (ISCED levels 1 and 2) (hereafter first cycle of education);
  • upper secondary education (ISCED level 344, EQF 4 for general education)(ISCED levels 353-354, EQF 3-4 for vocational upper secondary options)(also called second cycle of education);
  • post-secondary education (IFTS- only vocational – ISCED level 453, EQF 4);
  • higher education (ISCED level 453, EQF 5 for higher technical programmes), ISCED level 667, EQF 6, ISCED levels 667-767 EQF 7, ISCED level 768-864, EQF 8).

Pre-school education is not compulsory and is provided by educational services for children aged less than three years operated by the regions, whereas for ages 3-6 is available at pre-primary schools which operate under the responsibility of the education ministry.

Compulsory education starts at the age of 6 and lasts for 10 years up to 16 years of age. It covers the whole first cycle of education (primary and lower secondary and two years of the second cycle- upper secondary education).

The last two years of compulsory education can be attended either in an upper secondary school or within the regional VET system.

The upper secondary school education offers both general and vocational (technical and vocational) programmes. Duration of studies is five years. At the end of the upper secondary education, students who successfully pass the final exam, receive a certificate that gives them access to higher education.

The following institutes offer education at higher level:

  • universities (polytechnics included);
  • high level arts, music and dance education institutes (Afam);
  • higher schools for language mediators (SSML);
  • higher technical institutes (ITS).

Access to university, high level arts, music and dance education institutes and higher schools for language mediators programmes is solely for students with an upper secondary school leaving certificate. The education ministry and individual institutions establish the specific conditions for admission.

Courses at higher technical institutes (ITS) are accessible to students with an upper secondary leaving certificate and to students who have attended a four-year regional vocational course followed by an additional one-year course in the higher technical education and training system (IFTS). Higher technical institutes offer short-cycle bachelor programmes, according to the Bologna structure ([18]Information retrieved from Eurydice: https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/italy_en).

At upper secondary level the following VET programmes are offered:

  • five-year programmes (EQF level 4) at technical schools leading to technical education diplomas; at vocational schools leading to professional education diplomas. Programmes combine general education and VET, and can also be delivered in the form of alternance training. Graduates have access to higher education;
  • three-year programmes leading to a vocational qualification (EQF level 3);
  • four-year programmes leading to a technician professional diploma (EQF level 4).

At post-secondary level, VET is offered as higher technical education for graduates of five year upper secondary programmes or four-year vocational education and training pathway programmes who passed entrance exams:

  • higher technical education and training courses (IFTS): one year post-secondary non-academic programmes leading to a high technical specialisation certificate (EQF level 4);
  • higher technical institute programmes (ITS): two- to three-year post-secondary non-academic programmes which lead to a high-level technical diploma (EQF level 5).

VET for adults is offered by a range of different public and private providers. It includes programmes leading to upper secondary VET qualifications to ensure progression opportunities for the low-skilled. These programmes are provided by provincial adult education centres (CPIA) under the remit of the education ministry.

Continuing VET targets mainly employed people. Most resources for continuing training have been planned and managed by the regions and autonomous provinces (which have mainly used European social fund regional operational programmes as a source) and the social partners (through interprofessional funds).

Continuing VET programmes pursue three goals:

  • the maintenance/upgrading of competencies and skills;
  • corporate competitiveness and innovation;
  • compulsory training.

Compulsory training comprises obligatory courses related to work specific requirements, for which the employer has to make sure that a worker received a proper training tailored to the needs and conditions of the workplace. It is a mandatory training at the work place (mandatory for the employer by law, for all employees in certain occupations, e.g. health and safety). There are also some obligatory training courses by law for some dangerous or potentially dangerous tasks (driving a fork lift), training for preventive services (e.g. occupational physicians may be required by law to do some training regularly, as well as for the workers in the food sector in respect to the compliance with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) food protocol, training for safety representatives who deal with occupational safety and health questions at the enterprise level and training for first aid measures (by law, a certain number of people have to be able to offer first aid), training for workers to protect themselves and others (e.g. fire exercises).Beneficiaries can obtain a formal qualification.

In 2012, agreement between the government, the regions and local bodies concerning the definition of the national system on lifelong guidance provided a national reference framework to facilitate and consolidate a common language and culture between guidance workers. In the framework of this agreement, an inter-institutional and national working group for lifelong guidance was established in 2012, with the purpose of defining minimum standards for guidance services and workers’ professional skills, with reference to the guidance services and functions that exist within different regional VET and working systems.

In September 2015, at the State-regions-autonomous provinces conference, an agreement was signed for a trial project about the dual system. This trial, which began in the 2015/16 training year, was an opportunity to further develop the Italian dual education system, able to create integration between education/training and the fundamental task of actively combating the notable youth unemployment crisis.

The trial includes two courses of action:

  • first course of action: development and reinforcement of the VET providers’ placement system:
  • support for the organisation of guidance services and placements (vocational guidance, balance and certification of expertise, matching companies and students, organising school-work);
  • alternation of courses and placements and managing protocols with companies;
  • training of vocational training centre workers on the legislative and operational features of the new apprenticeship;
  • design of educational and vocational courses in which alternating school-work pathways or apprenticeship training are reinforced.
  • second course of action: supporting VET pathways beneath the dual system. This action is aimed at allowing young people to obtain a vocational qualification and/or diploma by following educational pathways that provide for an alternance between school and work experience (400 hours). More specifically, these pathways can be completed by means of:
  • apprenticeships to obtain a qualification, a vocational diploma or a higher technical specialisation certificate (i.e. a certificate for completion of higher technical education and training pathway; and
  • alternance between school-based and work-based learning; simulated business training.

Apprenticeship is one of the main educational instruments used to integrate young people in the labour market. In particular, apprenticeship is a permanent labour contract aimed at training young people and giving them employment and is one of the cornerstones of the Italian dual system. The training provided during apprenticeship is managed by the regions and autonomous provinces. Within the Jobs Act framework, Legislative Decree 81/2015 fundamentally revised related regulations. These innovations were mainly designed to enhance the appeal of apprenticeship contracts for companies and institutions because application performances are not yet satisfactory, in line with the general difficulties of the national economic and production system.

Apprenticeship in Italy designates a work contract with a specific training purpose; it includes both on-the-job and classroom training. The apprenticeship contract, which is distinct from other work-based learning, must be drafted in written form, defining the roles and responsibilities of all parties, as well as the terms and conditions of the apprenticeship, the probationary period, the occupation tasks, wage increases, both the entry and final grade levels and the qualification to be obtained. The training programme is an integral part of the contract. Both the contract and the training programme must be signed by the employer and the apprentice.

Since apprentices are considered employees, they are entitled to insurance benefits for job injuries and accidents, occupational diseases, health reasons, ageing and disability, maternity, household allowance and, since 1 January 2013, labour social security insurance.

The Jobs Act established that only enterprises with up to 50 employees can hire an apprentice if, in the previous 36 months, they retained 20% of their previous apprentices. Workers registered on so-called ‘mobility lists’ and unemployed people receiving unemployment allowance can take part in this scheme to qualify or requalify (usually they are offered a place on a ‘professional’ apprenticeship scheme, which is analysed below under the heading professional training apprenticeships).

The apprenticeship system includes three types of contracts:

  • apprenticeships leading to a professional operator certificate and a professional technician diploma, an upper-secondary school diploma, a higher technical specialisation certification (IFTS) – level I apprenticeship.

These schemes are regulated by the regions and autonomous provinces through specific State-regions conference agreements. Content, which is divided into theoretical and practical learning, the specific qualifications offered, and the number of training hours are established by the regions and autonomous provinces according to minimum standards agreed at national level. The duration of the contract is determined according to the certificate or diploma to attain: it cannot exceed the training period nor be less than the national minimum standard. Apprenticeships leading to a professional operator certificate and a professional technician diploma allow young people to fulfil their right/duty to education and training. There are no specific entry requirements, but learners need to bridge the year between the end of lower-secondary school and the start of apprenticeship on an upper-secondary school or vocation education and training pathway programme, unless they are already 15 years old. These apprenticeship schemes last three or four years and offer the possibility to acquire qualifications at operator or technician level (in 22 and 21 occupation fields, respectively: professional operator certificate (European qualifications framework level 3) or professional technician diploma (European qualifications framework level 4). These qualifications are part of the national qualifications register. After obtaining the operator certificate, apprentices may proceed to the fourth year to obtain a technician diploma, in the same occupation. Access to university is possible after successful completion of secondary education and an additional one-year course at an education institute. Apprenticeships for a higher technical specialisation certificate (European qualifications framework level 4) lasts a year and target young people who have fulfilled their right/duty to education and training.

  • professional training apprenticeships: this targets 18 to 29-year-olds who want to acquire a qualification provided for in collective bargaining agreements and required on the labour market. Training comprises two parts: a) acquisition of key skills (120 hours over a three-year period) regulated by the regions and autonomous provinces and provided by training centres and award a regional qualification; b) acquisition of vocational skills for specific occupation areas provided directly by companies. The occupation areas and training content are defined by collective bargaining agreements. These programmes have a maximum duration of three years (exceptionally five years for the crafts sector).
  • higher education and research apprenticeships This scheme leads to an array of qualification levels encompassing European qualifications framework levels 4-8. It targets 18 to 29-year-olds and fulfils various purposes. Learners can acquire qualifications that are normally offered through school-based programmes, in higher education or at universities, including a doctoral degree. Apprentices can also engage in research activities in private companies or pursue traineeship required to access the liberal professions (lawyer, architect, business consultant); the latter has not yet been regulated by collective bargaining. In agreement with the social partners and public education and training centres, the regions and autonomous provinces decide the duration of contracts and the organisation of programmes and ensure they are compatible with fully school-based curricula. They also define higher education credits learners obtain at schools, universities or training centres and the skills to be acquired through on the job training at a company. In the absence of a regional regulation, ad hoc arrangements between training institutes and companies are possible. Training cost allocation is defined by local authorities, based on national, regional and European social fund regulations.

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

The education ministry defines the VET framework in national school pathways (technical and professional institutes) for higher technical education and training courses in agreement with the employment ministry). It has sole responsibility for higher technical institute programmes with regard to the definition of guidance documents and the monitoring and assessment of the training chain ([19]Training chain (filiera formativa): set of pathways to achieve technical education and vocational education diplomas, at the end of the five-year school courses, of technical institutes and professional institutes.). The education ministry also deals with redefining the higher technical institutes’ national repertory of occupational profiles, with the introduction of new technical profiles and the updating of those already included in the inventory. The repertory is a list of occupational profiles which are taken into consideration for the design of training courses. Monitoring of higher technical institute courses is carried out by the National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research (INDIRE) ([20]National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research:
http://www.indire.it/en/
).

The labour ministry defines the VET framework for interventions provided for within the scope of vocational education and training pathways, for higher technical education and training (in agreement with the education ministry), for training interventions for apprenticeships and for continuing training provided within the scope of the public system.

At national level, the national institute for public policy analysis monitors vocational education and training pathways, higher technical education and training courses, apprenticeship training pathways and continuing training interventions

The regions and autonomous provinces are responsible for the planning, programming, organisation and implementation of interventions provided for within the scope of vocational education and training pathways, higher technical education, higher technical education and training, post-vocational education and training pathways, and post-university education for most types of apprenticeship-based training and for publicly-funded continuing training interventions (in agreement with the social partners).

In particular, the programming of higher technical education, and higher technical education and training, interventions is provided for in specific planning documents known as three-year plans.

Through these documents, the regions and autonomous provinces define their strategy on the post-secondary education and training offer, bringing together and integrating the various supply chains of higher technical education, higher technical education and training hubs ([21]As defined in Inter-Ministerial Decree dated 7 February 2013, professional technical hubs are intended to be the functional interconnection between the subjects in the training chain and companies in the production chain and are therefore, identified as ‘training venues for learning in situ’, established thanks to network agreements for sharing public and private workshops that are already operating; this interconnection also establishes venues dedicated to learning in applicative contexts, in order to make full use of existing professional resources, even based on ‘workshop at school’ and ‘enterprise school’ modes.).

Social partners play an advisory role in the formulation of training policies and contribute to their interpretation into the pathways that then constitute the training offer. They also play a key part in promoting in-company, sectoral and territorial training programmes funded by the regions or realised thanks to joint interprofessional funds for continuing training and help to elaborate and organise active policies in the labour market. Beyond their advisory role at national and local levels, social partners play a crucial part in professional apprenticeship regulation.

In Italy there’s a distinction between funds that are committed and dispensed. With respect to the sources of funding, both in terms of committed and dispensed funds regional/provincial sources prevail. In short there are three sources of funding:

  • regional/provincial;
  • ministry of education;
  • ministry of labour.

Funding of Vocational and Training Pathways (IeFP)

Vocational education and training pathways are an alternative channel to school for fulfilling the obligation to participate in education (with the legal requirement for all young people to attend school from age 6 to 16) and the right-duty (which must be guaranteed for at least 12 years or until attainment of an upper-secondary school qualification or a vocational qualification before the age of 18) to it.

Funding of higher technical education and training (IFTS) and higher technical education (ITS) courses

In terms of funding for the higher technical education supply options, the methods used for higher technical education and training and higher technical education courses are the same. Monitoring shows a marked uniformity between the regions that use the European social fund to implement courses. Within this framework, the only exception is Lombardy that, as well as the European social fund, has allocated to the supply chain a share of funding from the labour ministry for the experimentation of the dual system.

Funding of apprenticeships

Training activities for apprenticeship are funded by the labour ministry. For 2017, the labour ministry has earmarked EUR 15 million for this activity (i.e. for funding training courses); the amount due to the regions is calculated on the basis of the number of apprentices with an apprenticeship contract and the number of apprentices on training pathways.

The regions and autonomous provinces co-finance training activities dedicated to apprenticeships through their own resources or the resources of the European social fund.

In VET there are:

  • VET teachers;
  • VET trainers;
  • company tutors.

The professional profile of teachers is much more clearly defined and regulated than trainers as far as training, recruitment, duties and skills are concerned. Additionally, when it comes to the actual teaching part of their activities, teachers are mainly defined as ‘content experts’, whereas trainers are ‘process experts’ who can play a variety of roles depending on the situation (e.g. tutors, trainers, group leaders, coaches, etc.). In fact, trainers are mainly required to support the learning process by guiding and motivating trainees, to strengthen the link between training and work and to update trainees' working skills.

Teachers are regulated on a national level and are employed by the education ministry. They work in State vocational schools and in centres for adult education. Some also work at higher technical institutes. The minimum requirement for accessing the teaching profession is now a five year bachelor degree in specific teaching subjects (maths, chemistry, foreign languages etc.); followed by a one year traineeship (Active Teaching Traineeship (TFA)) courses at schools. Active teaching traineeship courses last 1 500 hours, are equivalent to a European qualifications framework level 7 qualification and the access to them is restricted. The number of students is determined on the basis of the vacancies in each teaching subject and on an admission test. Those who wish to teach disabled people must attend a specific course of study in formal education. After completion of the active teaching traineeship pathway teachers must pass a State exam in order to be admitted to State schools.

Trainers mainly work in vocational training centres that are managed directly by the regional and provincial authorities, as well as in private vocational training centres accredited by the regions. Some trainers also work in companies, consultancy agencies, non-profit organisations and public employment services. There is no nationally recognised register of trainers or formal recruitment procedures, except for public training centres for which a public examination is required. As regards access requirements to the training profession, the national collective work contract only sets

minimum requirements: a degree or an upper secondary school diploma plus professional experience in the relevant sector. Additionally, it establishes that – regardless of the role played in the different training contexts (tutor, counsellor, trainer coordinator, etc.) – trainers should regularly participate in professional refresher programmes, either within or outside the institutions at which they work.

The company tutor is the key figure for the apprentice in workplace training. According to consolidated act on apprenticeships (Legislative Decree 167/211) the company tutor must have ‘suitable training and skills’, according to national legislation or, in the absence of this, a national collective labour contract. The minimum skills that the company tutor must possess are:

  • be familiar with the regulatory contact concerned with alternance systems;
  • understand their own functions within their role and the contractual elements of the sector and/or company in terms of training;
  • manage the reception of the apprenticeships, fostering their placement within the business environment;
  • manage relationships with people outside of the company that are involved in the apprentice's training, in order to foster positive integration between extra-company training and work experiences within the company;
  • plan and support learning pathways and work socialising, fostering the acquisition of the skills required by the job and facilitating the apprentice's learning process throughout the entire training pathway;
  • evaluate learning and acquired skills, as well as the progress and results achieved by the young apprentice during his/her placement and professional development, for the purpose of the relevant certificate being issued by the company.

For what concerns VET teachers’ pre-service training, universities provide teachers’ initial training on behalf of the education ministry in collaboration with the schools. The minimum requirement for accessing the teaching profession is a five-year Bachelor degree in specific teaching subjects (maths, chemistry, foreign languages).

In 2018, a new recruitment system has been developed. The latest key features introduced include the requirement to have not only a degree, but also knowledge of psychological and pedagogical disciplines and didactic methodologies and technologies, confirmed by passing specific university exams.

Another fundamental new feature is the post-degree initial training and internship pathway (FIT). This is a paid, three-year training pathway that aspiring educators must attend before being awarded a teaching post. Post-degree initial training and internship pathways are only accessed after passing a public examination The post-degree initial training and internship pathway envisages gradual integration of aspiring teachers into the classroom environment:

  • the first year provides more theoretical training;
  • the second year more integrated training opportunities, with a work placement in a school and the start of specific training activities (short substitutions covering absences and lasting no more than 15 days);
  • in the third year, aspiring teachers are awarded a vacant teaching position, with all the associated responsibilities.

More generally, pre-service training of VET teachers is aimed at improving their teaching, psychological, pedagogical, organisational and social skills. Special attention is also given to improving their language and digital skills, in compliance with EU recommendations. Educators who wish to teach disabled people must also attend a specific course of study in formal education.

For many years, permanent training for VET teachers was considered an individual right under the national collective labour agreement, but it is now compulsory and regulated by the so-called ‘Good School’ reform (Law 107/2015).

This law ‘establishes that teachers’ in-service training is compulsory and continuing, provides incentives to support continuous teacher training and systematic need analysis mechanisms.

Teachers’ in-service training must be in line with the school plan and with the education ministry’s priorities. Training must also involve all open-ended contract teachers’.

The regions (with employers’ rights organisations and trade unions) define and plan the specific training measures aimed to develop the minimum skills required to carrying out the functions of a tutor.

The training measures for the company tutors, now spread over almost all of Italy, have many distinctive features, both due to methodological requirements and the operational means used. Every regional entity sets different pathways due to methodological requirements, structure, content, duration and tools used, as well as due to language and terminology.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([22]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

 

 

For fifteen years, surveys have been carried out in Italy that study the phenomenon of job needs (quantitative) and skill needs (qualitative) from both quantitative (e.g. which and how many professional profiles companies predict they will need to recruit over the next few months) and qualitative (e.g. which skills, know-how and competences should be the focus of future refresher pathways for company employees) perspectives.

These two surveys mentioned above have been carried out by Unioncamere ([23]http://www.unioncamere.gov.it/) (quantitative survey) and the national institute for public policy analysis, former Isfol (qualitative survey) on a national level, as well as occasionally on a regional level.

The results of these surveys can now be interpreted by integrating them with communication protocols ([24]Information and data collected through the surveys is organised on the basis of the 2011 Classification of Occupations and the Classification of Economic Activities (Ateco).) –basically, the Classification of Occupations (CP 2011) and the Classification of Economic Activities (ATECO 2008). In terms of quantity since 1997 the Excelsior survey carried out by Unioncamere has reconstructed an anticipation framework of labour demand and skill needs expressed by companies. For anticipated recruitment, analytical information is collected on the characteristics of the personnel the company intends to hire (i.e. skilled labour, educational qualifications and training levels required, difficulty in finding these profiles, need for further training, previous experience, IT and language skills, etc.).

From a qualitative point of view, in 2006 the Institute for the Development of Vocational Training of Workers (ISFOL – now INAPP (National Institute for Public Policy Analysis)) began to carry out research activities designed to analyse existing professions and trades, with a view to providing a detailed description of changes in job content in the short- (next 12 months) and medium-term (next five years). Investigation methods were used that made it possible to interview entrepreneurs, corporate human resources managers or industry experts who could outline trends in key sectors of the economy.

In these terms the audit survey on professional needs, targeting a sample of about 35 000 companies with employees, aimed to collect qualitative information on the needs of companies in terms of the scarcity/lack of specific skills and know-how relating to the skilled workers they employed. Entrepreneurs could therefore reflect and explain in great detail not the training that had been carried out over recent years, but rather, what had to be done in the near future to satisfy specific needs.

In Italy, 33% of companies with at least one employee, just over half a million businesses, have declared they employ at least one person for whom they have registered a need to be satisfied within the next few months via specific refresher activities. The in-company professions for which the most pressing needs have been registered – with gaps that must be closed within the next few months via specific training activities – are those attributable to the large groups of skilled jobs in commercial and service activities (23.9%), artisans, specialist workers and farmers (22.9%) and technical professions (20%), followed immediately by office-based managerial positions (18.3%). The last audit survey on professional needs (the third of its kind) concluded in December 2017. Data of the third edition confirm, on the whole, the information collected during the previous editions. Skills needs are growing in some sectors of the economy: food and beverage, textiles, chemicals, electronics, commerce and tourism, education and health.

Information from the quantitative and qualitative surveys that explore the professional and training needs of the labour market is a huge asset as it provides useful indications to all stakeholders (including VET providers) of the complex education system that have the task of planning and implementing professional training and upskilling and re-skilling training programmes (refresher pathways) that are as coherent as possible with the needs of the world of production. In this respect, there have been some interesting attempts to bring together the world of labour and training supply; for example, on technical committees periodically tasked with reviewing and updating standards for professional profiles closely linked to the most vocational training supply chains (for example, profiles relating to vocational education and training pathways and higher technical education courses as well as through specific research and analysis activities that are trying to draw up other methodologies, designed to connect (even on a territorial level, the so-called ‘curvature’ process) the professional needs expressed by companies with the training aims and practices designed by those responsible for the various education options.

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([25]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast) and European Skills Index ([26]https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/indicators/european-skills-index).

Following approval of the 8 January 2018 decree, Italy adopted a national qualifications framework, a tool to define and classify the qualifications issued within the national system of certification of competences, which will make it possible to create the national repertory of education and training qualifications and professional qualifications hereinafter the national repertory).

Thanks to the national qualifications framework, the institutional and technical process for cross-referencing qualifications issued within the national system to one of the eight levels of the European qualifications framework for lifelong learning is defined. In fact, the scope, descriptors and levels of the national qualifications framework are developed in coherence and continuity with European qualifications framework levels. The national qualifications framework and the atlas for jobs and qualifications (hereinafter the job atlas) ([27]The atlas for jobs and qualifications is a classification and information tool created on the basis of the descriptors of the Classification of economic and professional sectors, also pursuant to Art. 8 of Legislative Decree 13/2013 and Art. 3, para. 5 of the Inter-Ministerial Decree of 30 June 2015 and an integral part of the information systems pursuant to Arts. 13 and 15 of Legislative Decree 150/2015.) are the two components of the technical infrastructure of the national repertory.

The competences that compose the national repertory are defined and updated by the education ministry, the labour ministry, other ministries and regions and autonomous provinces that now have the possibility to use the descriptors of the job atlas (processes, activities and expected outcomes) as guideline criteria. These have been developed on a national level in collaboration with the regional authorities and are periodically updated, pursuant to the decree dated 30 June 2015.

As far as the technical investigation part is concerned, this is done via a process conducted by the National institute for public policy analysis further to a request by and in collaboration with stakeholders who are sector experts and subsequently validated by the national technical group established pursuant to the 30 June 2015 decree.

The technical-institutional decision to create a national benchmark – i.e. of a reference tool, organised along the lines of job descriptors, has made it possible to construct a shared system of technical elements around which to establish the processes for assessing the relevance of the needs of the labour market to the competences already described in the national repertory and development of the same, if necessary. The qualifications in the national repertory correspond to a series of elements that constitute the minimum national standard. They are: reference to the public awarding body; description of competences in terms of skills, know-how, autonomy and responsibility; referencing to the economic activity statistical codes (ATECO) and the nomenclature and classification of occupations (CP-ISTAT), in compliance with national statistical system laws; referencing to the national qualifications framework/European qualifications framework.

These elements are compulsory for all qualifications for the purpose of validation and certification within the national system of certification of competences, as well as for the purposes of portability in a European context. Precisely in relation to this last point, the descriptors of the job atlas are referenced to National qualifications framework levels and are the only benchmarks for the process of comparison between the qualifications issued by the different public awarding bodies.

The national system of certification of competences is designed to be integrated with and complementary to the public lifelong learning offer, in order to favour development of the cultural and professional skills acquired by individuals in formal and non-formal learning contexts and the portability of qualifications in both national and European contexts, even in terms of geographical and professional mobility. The entire technical institutional system that has been developed since 2013 is the single benchmark for organisation of assessment tests, basically designed to ascertain the possession of competences, in line with Article 3, para. 1 of Legislative Decree 13 dated 16 January 2013.

Both components of the national repertory (namely the national qualifications framework and the job atlas) are anchored to the definition of competence intended as the proven ability to use – in a work, study or professional and personal development situations – a complex set of skills and know-how acquired in formal, non-formal and informal learning contexts.

The job atlas contains descriptions of one or more expected outcomes for each of the 840 areas of activity which make up the classification of economic and professional sectors. These express the outcome of an activity or a set of activities of a specific area of activity and include indications on the expected product/service, on the service to be provided, on any input elements and on the context and complexities expressed in terms of autonomy and responsibility.

In the same way, the national qualifications framework provides the reference parameter to define and/or evaluate the elements useful for expressing the minimum expected outcomes, in relation to a specific qualification, in terms of what individuals should know and be capable of doing in relation to each of the eight levels that characterise the increasing complexity of learning for each of the descriptors of the competence (know-how, skills, autonomy and responsibility).

As explained above the Italian context is characterised by the presence of multiple institutional players at national and regional levels.

National vocational school programmes that combine general education and VET ([28]Istituti professionali.) fall under the competence of education ministry that lays down general rules and common principle. In the context of school autonomy, schools have the possibility to include specific subjects.

Education and vocational training qualifications, which fall within the competence of the regions, are included in the national register of qualifications. These qualifications are the outcome of a technical and institutional process, which took place at the permanent conference for relations between the State, the regions and the autonomous provinces (a privileged forum for political negotiations between the central government and the regions), with the signing of a State-regions agreement. Any modification to the register requires a debate in the above-mentioned forum.

Below specific information for VET programmes is presented:

Initial VET programmes (IeFP).

The Title V of the current Constitution provides that vocational and training pathways (IeFP) fall under the exclusive competence of the Regions. This means that the State sets ‘common standards’ (Essential levels of performance, LEP, defined by Legislative Decree 226/05) and regions define, by their own legislation, the system of vocational and training pathways taking into account the characteristics and needs of the territory. Regions design the training provision. In 2011 regulations issued by the State-regions conference have introduced several important systemic elements: a set of training standards for basic skills to be developed in the three - and four-year programmes; a set of minimum standards (valid at national level) for technical and vocational skills in relation to the occupational profiles included in the National qualifications register ([29]Repertorio nazionale delle qualifiche.) intermediate and final certifications that are valid at national level.

The national qualifications register created in 2011 contains the national occupational profiles and the corresponding qualifications and programmes or learning pathways, as well as minimum education and training standards (valid at national level). Qualifications leading to a certain national occupational profile need to be described in terms of learning outcomes and to be allocated the corresponding EQF level.

The update of the occupational profiles is made through an institutional process involving also social parties and approved in State-regions conference.

The above-mentioned Legislative Decree 226/05 defines also the essential levels of competence assessment and certification. Regions ensure the fulfilment of essential levels related to the assessment and certification of competencies: every year an examination commission made up of teachers and experts (as established in Article 19 of the decree) evaluate the level of achievement of learning outcomes; at the end of the pathways, students must pass an exam.

Technical and vocational school programmes ([30]Istituti tecnici e istituti professionali.)

The education ministry defines by legislative decree, for each kind of pathway, the areas of the curriculum (i.e. Agricultural, Industry, etc.), the timetable of subjects and the educational cultural and professional profile ([31]Profilo Educativo culturale e professionale P.E.Cu.P.)) of pupils. The educational cultural and professional profile is a document describing the skills, abilities and knowledge that the student must possess at the end of pathways. The purpose is gives references and guideline useful for the defining the curriculum of the pathways.

Technical schools offer pathways in 11 areas allocated in two sectors: economic sector and technological sector ([32]Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica, 15 marzo 2010, n. 88 and Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 31 luglio 2017, n. 134.).

Vocational schools offer pathways in six areas allocated in two sectors: service sector and industry and craft sector. Each school can decline these courses according to the local context consistent with the priorities indicated by the regions ([33]Decreto Legislativo, 13 aprile 2017, n. 61:
https://www.gazzettaufficiale.it/eli/id/2017/05/16/17G00069/sg
).

At the end of both pathways, pupils must pass the State exam that consists of two written test and an oral test. The first written test is common to all pathways of the upper secondary education, while the second is specific for each pathway. The education ministry defines by decree the evaluation grids for the assignment of the exam marks.

Higher technical education and training programmes (IFTS) ([34]Istruzione e formazione tecnica superiore.)

The institution of the higher technical education and training pathways is planned by the regions, within their exclusive competences in the planning of the training offer. At national level a joint Decree (2013) adopted by the education minister and the labour minister (in accordance with the State-regions conference) defines the 20 specialisation areas for the training offer and the minimum standard of skills. Additional skills may be further defined at regional level, based on the analysis of local professional needs and through consultation with institutions and social partners. At the end of pathways, pupils must pass an exam for the assessment of competence acquired. The examination commission is composed taking into account the indications of the region and made up by representatives of the school, university, vocational training and the world of work.

Higher Technical Institutes (ITS) ([35]Istituti di Istruzione Tecnica superiore. More information available at:
http://www.sistemaits.it/istituti-tecnici-superiori-its.php
)

Qualifications on offer by higher technical institutes are the result of a strong synergy between different actors: enterprises, universities/centres of scientific and technological research, schools, and local authorities. The qualifications are designed in six technological areas envisaged by Article 7 of the Prime Minister’s Decree of 25 January 2008 (sustainable mobility, new technologies for life, new technologies for ‘Made in Italy’ products, innovative technologies for cultural heritage and tourism, information and communication technologies, energy efficiency) that are considered priorities for the support of the economic development and competitiveness of the Italian production system. For each area, national reference figures are identified to diversify the training offer so that it is consistent with the needs of the territory in which the higher technical institute operates: to date, there are 29 national reference figures. Each higher technical institute. also defines, for each national reference figure, a specific technical professional profile based on the needs of the territory in which it operates. The 29 figures are characterised by a common cultural and professional profile and technical-professional skills. In particular, the course provides the following competences: basic (language, communication and social, scientific and technological, legal and economic, organisational and managerial) and technical-professional competences.

At the end of the courses, learners must pass a final exam for the assessment of the competences acquired through the learning process. The examination board is made up of representatives of the training provider (e.g. school, university, vocational training) and experts coming from the labour market.

Within the education and training system, the various segments and pathways are accountable to different competent bodies on matters relating to quality assurance.

In terms of issuing general laws on education and defining essential levels of provision on educational matters, upper secondary education and higher technical education are regulated on a national level by the education ministry.

Within the national education and training system a national evaluation system was established by Presidential Decree 80/2013 with the aim of evaluating its efficiency and efficacy, contextualising evaluation on an international level.

At least every three years, the education ministry issues strategic priorities on the evaluation of the education system that, with reference to the vocational education and training system, are defined by guidelines adopted in agreement with the State-regions conference and the labour ministry.

The national institute for the evaluation of the education and training system (INVALSI) ([36]National Institute for the Evaluation of the Education and Training System / Istituto nazionale per la valutazione del sistema di istruzione e formazione (INVALSI):
http://www.invalsi.it/invalsi/index.php
) operates within the national evaluation system.

Its primary tasks are:

  • to guarantee the functional coordination of the national evaluation system;
  • to propose evaluation protocols and plan visits to schools by external evaluation units;
  • to define efficiency and efficacy indicators to identify the school and training institutes that require support and need to be externally evaluated as a priority;
  • to make tools for realising actions linked to evaluation available to individual schools and training facilities;
  • to define indicators for the evaluation of school directors;
  • to handle the selection, training and inclusion on special lists of external evaluation unit experts;
  • to draft a periodical report on the education and training system;
  • to take part in international surveys and other initiatives relating to evaluation.

A key role for improving the quality of the system is played by the national institute for documentation, innovation and educational research ([37]National Institute for Documentation, Innovation and Educational Research / Istituto nazionale di documentazione, innovazione e ricerca educativa (INDIRE):
http://www.indire.it/
), which provides support to school institutes in defining and implementing plans to improve the quality of the training offer and the learning outcomes of students, which schools and training institutes independently adopt.

To this end, it deals with supporting innovation processes centred on the use and diffusion of new technologies, activating research projects designed to improve didactics, as well as interventions linked to consultancy and the training of teaching, administrative and managerial personnel.

Article 6 of Presidential Decree 80/2016 provides for the school and training institute evaluation procedure to be organised in four phases:

  • self-evaluation: self-analysis and verification of the service provided based on the data made available by the education ministry’s own information system, surveys on learning and data on added value provided by national institute for the evaluation of the education and training system, as well as other significant elements integrated by the school itself is the first step of self -evaluation. The second step is the preparation of a self-evaluation report in electronic format, based on a reference framework provided by the national institute for the evaluation of the education and training system, and the formulation of an improvement plan;
  • external evaluation: the first step is the identification of the situations to be evaluated, based on the efficiency and efficacy indicators defined by national institute for the evaluation of education and training system. The second step consists of unit visits. The third step is the redefinition of improvement plans based on the outcomes of the analysis carried out by the units;
  • improvement actions: this phase consists of the definition and implementation of improvement interventions, including those with the support of the national institute for documentation, innovation and educational research or through collaboration with universities, research bodies, professional and cultural associations;
  • social reporting: publication and dissemination of the results achieved, through indicators and comparable data, both in terms of transparency and in terms of sharing and promoting improvement of the service with the community.

The national evaluation system comprises the evaluation of school directors and the evaluation of learning, carried out by the national institute for the evaluation of education and training system through periodical and systematic checks on the skills and know-how of students and the overall quality of the training offer at education and vocational education and training institutes, even in the context of lifelong learning.

Italy’s legislative framework for the recognition of prior learning was put into place with the Legislative Decree 13/2013 which established the national system of certification of competences and the inter-ministerial decree of June 2015 which defined the operational framework for the recognition of regional qualification at the national level.

The Italian regions are the main hub for services for labour and vocational training on the territory and therefore, within the system supporting active labour or vocational training policies, are tackling the issue of the certification and validation of competences, contextualising and differentiating tools and approaches.

However, different phases of advancement of regional policies and practices on this theme can still be seen, highlighting that now more than ever it is necessary to maintain national legislation and a framework of rules to protect the reliability of procedures and therefore equal opportunities for final beneficiaries. More specifically, the legislative framework, fully outlined in 2015, is a step on a path towards the coordination of regional rules and services for validating and certifying competences.

In some cases, these have already been implemented and have been accessible for years to more or less broad categories of beneficiaries: in this regard, we should mention the systems already activated in the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Tuscany, Lombardy, Umbria, Aosta Valley and Veneto. Meanwhile, some regions have implemented the indications of the 2015 decree and in 2016 adopted provisions to regulate validation and certification services. These include Abruzzo Basilicata, the autonomous Province of Bolzano, Campania, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Liguria, Apulia, Sardinia and the autonomous province of Trento. The remaining regions – Abruzzo, Calabria, Marche, Molise and Sicily – are still in the standardisation phase.

The 30 June 2015 decree also included measures relating to the functions required for providing validation and certification services.

More precisely:

  • accompanying and supporting identification of the competences and making them transparent;
  • planning and implementation of assessment activities;
  • implementation of assessment activities on aspects relating to curricula and professional contents.

The decree describes the tasks and activities that personnel responsible for providing services for the identification, validation and certification of competences should exercise in the various phases of the process, in other words, access to the service/welcoming, recognition/identification, assessment and certification; the European qualifications framework level for each function is also indicated.

We should point out that, in their position as awarding bodies, the regions offer a direct guarantee on the criteria and methods adopted for recruitment of personnel entrusted with providing such functions and verification of their professional requisites, in compliance with the principles of collegiality, neutrality, impartiality and independence. In those regions where the regional rules and services system is already accessible, provider competence training has already been planned and implemented, whereas where work is still ongoing to make services operational, the debate on professional resources is part of a more general framework regarding system standards.

To help develop and raise awareness of the theme, the national institute for public policy analysis has prepared a multimedia training package, which has been designed in an open-source environment (Moodle) and provided on a MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses) platform, to transfer all the information, know-how, methodologies and tools useful for managing the various phases of the process to service providers.

For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database ([38]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/european-database-on-validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning).

Individual vouchers and other subsidies

Through the funding provided for by Law 236/1993 and regional operational programmes promoted by the European social fund, the regions and autonomous provinces fund personalised continuing VET training programmes, vouchers for tailored training interventions and other tools, such as ’endowment’ ([39]Endowment consists in a nominal monetary amount that the beneficiary can use on the services included in a tailored intervention programme drawn up in agreement with public or private operators (training providers) accredited with providing such services. The amount of the endowment varies in proportion to the level of employability of the subject and the services included in the individual programme. The beneficiary is never given the sum allocated directly: the financial relationship is only established between the providing public body and the accredited public or private operator that provides the service. For some services, the operator receives the relevant public refund based on the outcome of the specific activity and not on its simple provision.
), mainly targeted to employed.

Incentives for the unemployed

Tuscany has experimented with re-employment allowances ([40]https://www.anpal.gov.it/documents/20126/42272/Allegato-delibera9.pdf/e2d65d5e-431e-48f7-8948-59eb9d16e777) integrating them with training vouchers and recruitment incentives. The initiative targets the unemployed, whether or not in receipt of social security benefits, and the economically inactive people. The training activities that can be funded using the voucher system envisage both pathways for qualifying and certifying skills relating to one or more segments of a certain profile and regulated training (qualifications, certificates, etc.). After training it will be possible to spend re-employment cheques to purchase services for assistance with reintegration. The scheme envisages a service pact after the voucher has been granted.

In the south of Italy, in 2017 the region of Apulia funded individual vouchers for the unemployed and those in a state of non-employment (i.e., earners of incomes below the taxable threshold), to be spent on standard regional training offers ([41]This is a specific initiative by Tuscany Region. Maximum amount: EUR 2 500.
http://www.regione.toscana.it/imprese/formazione-professionale/voucher-formativi/-/asset_publisher/eonjZadAbVH6/content/industria-4-0-voucher-formativi-per-manager-di-azienda;jsessionid=018A35EF583B429D09B1A029BBB4434B.web-rt-as01-p2
). The pathways funded with vouchers (with a maximum duration of 400 hours) focus on basic or transversal skills (English, basic IT skills, communication skills) or regulated training (authorisations, certificates, qualifications) or on technical-professional skills, with reference to the professional skills present in the regional repertory.

Incentives for employees

The region of Tuscany funded in 2017 individual training vouchers targeting managers, directors and young professionals. The use of this tool is ideal for those who can autonomously choose and orient their vocational pathways in virtue of the professional experiences already undertaken or by means of consolidated basic technical training.

Vouchers for managers aim to favour training for skills and know-how useful to the enterprise when making choices linked to technological, organisational and managerial innovation and business models in order to develop the Industry 4.0 paradigm.

Vouchers for young professionals ([42]Amount given varies and depends on different factors (e.g. economic sector).
http://www301.regione.toscana.it/bancadati/atti/Contenuto.xml?id=5123588&nomeFile=Decreto_n.7981_del_29-07-2016-Allegato-A
) (self-employed under 40 years of age) aim to support the training of professionals starting their career and facing economic difficulty in paying for their training or even accessing a training programme in the first place. Access to training programmes stems from obligations imposed by compulsory training, i.e., by training which comprises obligatory courses related to specific work requirements.

The regions of Piedmont and Liguria have funded individual learning activities using standard individual training vouchers for employed workers (with a maximum of EUR 3 000 per capita) ([43]The voucher can cover between 50 and 70% of total training cost. It can vary in relation to the class size of the company. The beneficiary must be at least 18 years old.).

Study leave

Under provisions of Law 53/2000 ([44]Legge 8 marzo 2000, n. 53, art. 5
http://www.parlamento.it/parlam/leggi/00053l.htm and : XV Rapporto sulla Formazione Continua in Italia:
https://www.isfol.it/primo-piano/pubblicato-il-xv-rapporto-sulla-formazione-continua
), the regions and autonomous provinces grant leave for training for workers, acknowledging their right to lifelong training.

Tax credits, exemptions and reductions in social security contributions

The 2018 Budget Law established that tax credit for 4.0 training is granted to enterprises for 40% of the expenses relating to the corporate cost of salaried personnel for the time they are occupied in training activities. The sum can amount to a maximum of EUR 300 000 per year for each enterprise and is granted for training activities stipulated thanks to corporate or territorial collective contracts ([45]See: https://www.mise.gov.it/index.php/it/incentivi/impresa/credito-d-imposta-formazione). The training activities that can be admitted for requesting tax credits must involve issues connected to the introduction of digital technology innovations: big data and data analysis, cloud and fog computing, cyber security, cyber-physical systems, rapid prototyping, visualisation and augmented reality systems, advanced and collaborative robotics, man-machinery interface, additive manufacturing, the internet of things and machines and the digital integration of corporate processes.

Enterprises that recruit young people on a level 1 apprenticeship contract (i.e. at upper secondary level) are totally exempt from social security payments for the hours the apprentice spends on external training, whilst for the duration of on-the-job training they are granted a substantial reduction in the social security payments owed.

Law 232/2016 introduced financial incentives for companies involved in dual learning. To facilitate the recruitment of young people on a permanent contract in the same company where they were on alternance contracts or types 1 or 3 apprenticeship, certain types of enterprises (with fewer than 10 employees, etc.) are entitled to total social security exemption for the first three years. In the fourth year they will pay 10% of taxable social security contributions.

Companies with more than nine employees pay a contribution, for the entire duration of the apprenticeship, equal to 11.61% of the taxable social security contribution.

Wage subsidy and training remunerations

Employers willing to offer apprenticeships can hire an apprentice at an entry grade level up to two levels lower than the final qualification to be obtained and/or pay a salary equal to a percentage of the salary of a qualified worker, according to the provisions of the collective agreement applied.

Other incentives

Several Italian regions (for example, Piedmont and Liguria) also fund standard enterprise training vouchers (for varying amounts, depending on the size of the enterprise). Enterprise vouchers are a simplified management method designed for small enterprises that, in general, find it difficult to organise structured training courses.

In the context of Law 150/2015, which concerns reorganisation of the system of employment services and active labour policies, it has been established that Italian employment agencies) should offer the following specific activities relating to guidance and counselling services:

  • basic guidance, analysis of competences in relation to the local labour market and profiling;
  • help for job-seeking, including through group sessions, within three months of registration;
  • specialist and tailored guidance using competence assessment and needs analysis in terms of training, work experience or other active employment policy measures, with reference to adaptation of the profile to the demand for labour expressed on a territorial, national and European level;
  • tailored guidance to self-employment and mentoring through the subsequent start-up phases;
  • job placement, even through the use of the tailored outplacement indemnity.

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 4

IFTS programmes,

1 year,

WBL: 30%

ISCED 453

Post-Secondary VET programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 453 (Istruzione e Formazione Tecnico Superiore)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

453

Usual entry grade

13+

Usual completion grade

13+

Usual entry age

19

Usual completion age

20

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?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning
  • work practice
  • self-learning
  • apprenticeship
Main providers
  • Schools – these pathways are designed and managed by at least four training partners (a school, a vocational training centre, a university, an enterprise or another public or private centre) which formally cooperate
  • Enterprises
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<=70%

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

Programmes are available for young employed and unemployed people and adults with an upper secondary education diploma.

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

Learners must hold an upper secondary education diploma. Higher technical education and training courses are open also to: holders of a professional technician certificate; young people admitted to the 5th year of general upper secondary education (Liceo); people who do not have an upper secondary education qualification, but had their educational, training and vocational experiences validated.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a VET programme learners need to pass a leaving examination, on the basis of the features characterising regional job markets and referring to nationally defined and established in State-regions agreements occupational profiles.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Higher technical specialisation certificate (Certificato di specializzazione tecnica superiore)

Examples of qualifications

Higher technical specialisation certificate in Assistant Manager for Travel Agency and Tour Operator ([52]As described in national context and specified explicitly in the ‘Referencing the Italian Qualifications Framework to the European Qualifications Framework” report (adopted in 2012).
https://ec.europa.eu/ploteus/en/referencing-reports-and-contacts
).

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

Higher technical specialisation qualifications are based on a system of minimum levels of general (basic and transversal standards) and technical-professional competencies ([53]Annex A – Unified Conference Agreement dated 29 April 2004; Unified Conference Agreement dated 16 March 2006; Inter-Ministerial Decree dated 7 July 2011.), nationally recognised and structured into course credits (Unità Capitalizzabili - UC).

There’s no possibility to acquire partial qualifications.

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Level description includes learning outcomes descriptors in terms of competence and knowledge; moreover, they are also provided with assessment criteria.

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

<1% ([54]2016)

EQF 5

Higher

Technical programmes (ITS),

WBL: 30%,

2-3 years

ISCED 554

Post-Secondary VET programmes leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 554 (Istruzione Tecnica Superiore).
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

554

Usual entry grade

13+

Usual completion grade

13+

Usual entry age

19+

Usual completion age

19+

Length of a programme (years)

3 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

Anyone holding an upper secondary education diploma can access higher technical education courses.

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning
  • work practice
  • self-learning
  • apprenticeships
Main providers
  • schools
  • enterprises

Higher technical institutes are established on the basis of regional territorial plans, and should be considered as specific types of participative foundations. The organisational standard states that founders of these institutes are: an upper secondary school, both technical or vocational, State or fully recognised; a training centre accredited by the region for the purpose of higher training; an enterprise operating in the same production area as the higher technical school; a university department or another organisation operating in the field of scientific and technological research; a local institution (municipality, province, mountain community, etc.).

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 employed or unemployed and for adults (both need to hold an upper secondary education diploma).

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

Learners must hold an upper secondary education diploma (either general or vocational).

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners must pass a final examination, conducted by examination committees consisting of representatives of the school, university, vocational training and experts from the world of work.

Diplomas/certificates provided

VET learners receive a higher technical diploma upon successful completion.

Examples of qualifications

Higher technician for the mobility of people and goods ([55]As described in national context and specified explicitly in the Referencing the Italian qualifications framework to the European qualifications framework report (adopted in 2012).
https://ec.europa.eu/ploteus/en/referencing-reports-and-contacts
).

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

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

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

<1% ([56]2016)

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 3-4

Regional VET (leFP),

WBL: 30%,

3-4 years

ISCED 353

Initial VET programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 353 and EQF 4 (Vocational Education and Training pathways-(Istruzione e Formazione Professionale IeFP)
EQF level
3-4
ISCED-P 2011 level

353

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

11-12

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

17-18

Length of a programme (years)

4 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Full time education is compulsory until the age of 16, but young people must stay in education or training until age 18 to accomplish 12 years of education and/or vocational training (right/duty).

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 and regional VET programmes

Is it available for adults?

N

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<=70%

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

Programmes are available for young people.

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

Learners must hold a lower secondary school leaving diploma and to have passed the relevant State examination (final State examination of the first cycle of education).

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners need to pass a final examination. The objective of the exam is the assessment of transversal competencies (communications, languages, maths and technical and professional competences. For these the pupils must take a practical test and draw up a technical sheet. Moreover the learners must take an oral test. The participation of two sector (labour market) experts, as members of the examination committee is a prerequisite.


Diplomas/certificates provided

Upon completion of a three-year programme learners obtain a professional operator certificate (EQF level 3), while upon completion of a four-years programme learners obtain a professional technician diploma (EQF level 4).

Examples of qualifications

Clothing operator, footwear operator, building specialist, graphic specialist, construction operator, construction technician ([48]As described in national context.), etc.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who obtain a professional operator certificate can attend one additional year leading to a professional technician diploma. Those who obtain the professional technician diploma (i.e. complete the four-year programme) may enrol onto the fifth year of the technical or vocational schools programmes (EQF 4-ISCED 354) and obtain a general, technical or professional education diploma or enrol in a higher technical education and training programme and obtain the higher technical specialisation certificate.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

They refer to minimum level of basic competencies as well as to general and specific technical - professional competences in terms of learning outcomes.

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

>1% ([49]2016)

EQF 4

Technical and

vocational school

programmes

5 years

ISCED 354

Initial VET programmes leading Technical and Vocational school programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (programmi quinquennali negli istituti tecnici o professionali)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

18-19

Length of a programme (years)

5

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Full time education is compulsory until the age of 16, but young people must stay in education or training until age 18 to accomplish 12 years of education and/or vocational training (right/duty).

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);
  • self-learning;
  • apprenticeship.
Main providers

Schools

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 with lower secondary qualifications.

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

Learners must hold a lower secondary education certificate (school leaving diploma) and have passed the relevant State examination (final State examination) of the first cycle of education.

Assessment of learning outcomes

At the end of the upper secondary school education, learners who successfully pass the final State examination of the second cycle of education receive a certificate diploma that gives them access to higher education or higher technical education and training programmes.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Learners who successfully pass the final State examination of the second cycle (upper secondary VET) of education receive, depending on the kind of secondary school (technical or vocational ):

the upper secondary education diploma – technical schools – or the upper secondary education diploma – vocational schools.

Examples of qualifications

Catering operator, wellness operator, etc. ([50]As described in national context.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete VET can enter the labour market or continue their studies in tertiary education (EQF level 6) or higher technical education and training pathways (ITS (EQF level 5 or IFTS-EQF level 4).

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The specific regulations for each training provision include learning outcomes expressed in terms of knowledge, skills and competencies. As a matter of fact, the student’s educational, cultural and professional profile, indicates:

(a) the general learning outcomes which shall be shared by all pathways;

(b) the learning outcomes which shall be peculiar to the specific pathways of technical and vocational schools, while pointing out that, in compliance with the EQF provisions, learning outcomes shall be described in terms of competencies, skills and knowledge in this case as well.

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

>1% ([51]2016)

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