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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 Poland comprises the following main features:

  • high decrease in participation in VET programmes at upper secondary and post-secondary levels (35.6% during 2005-2017 period) mainly due to demographic challenges and reduced interest in VET among young learners. However, during last several years a small increase in the share of students in vocational education can be observed;
  • participation in VET programmes at the upper secondary level remains slightly higher than in general education;
  • the share of the population with an upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary level of education, for both men and women, is much higher than the EU average;
  • early leaving from education and training is significantly below the EU-28 average and has remained stable over the last decade;
  • participation in lifelong learning remains well below the EU-28 average and has been stable in the past decade;
  • the VET system has been under continuous reform over the last few years aiming to improve its quality and effectiveness.

Distinctive features ([1]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Poland. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8125_en.pdf.
)([1a]Information on the Polish VET system is also partially based on: Chłoń-Domińczak, A. et al. (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe – Poland. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
):

Over the past three decades, Poland’s education system has undergone several profound changes in its structure, forms of organisation and management, as well as of the core curriculum. As a result of these changes, distinctive VET features were developed:

  • a flexible VET system allows changing pathways at any point;
  • the classification of occupations for vocational education includes a list of occupations for which VET programmes can provide education. Each occupation comprises one to two qualifications that can be acquired in IVET and CVET. A VET qualification diploma can be issued only when all qualifications required for an occupation have been acquired (via State vocational examinations), together with a school leaving certificate;
  • core curricula for all VET occupations included in the classification of occupations. Separate VET qualifications within specific occupations are described in the core curricula as a set of expected learning outcomes: knowledge, occupational skills, and personal and social competences allowing learners to handle their occupational tasks independently. Learning outcomes are linked to detailed assessment criteria;
  • autonomy of VET schools in developing their teaching programmes, based on VET core curricula, and in choosing either subject-centred or modular programmes, which can be easily modified, depending on labour market needs;
  • uniform external vocational examinations, centrally organised;
  • vocational qualification courses allowing adults to acquire qualifications faster than IVET learners;
  • validation of competences acquired in different learning contexts, including professional experience, by taking external examinations.

The main challenges for VET are:

  • raising attractiveness of VET in society;
  • continuous adaptation of core curricula to the challenges and current needs of the labour market;
  • increasing employer engagement in organising practical training, identifying and forecasting skills and qualification needs in the labour market, and in reviewing VET curricula;
  • adjusting VET teachers’ qualifications and competences by easing access to traineeships in enterprises;
  • assuring a suitable number of VET teachers and trainers with adequate competences through the professional development of teachers and attracting young people to the profession;
  • encouraging adult learners to LLL;
  • encouraging sustainable cooperation between VET schools and higher education institutions (HEI) aimed at transferring HEI good practices in teaching, training and developing teachers’ competences;
  • assuring high quality guidance and counselling for all age groups;
  • providing high quality infrastructure for VET schools to ensure teaching and training in line with labour market needs.

Several recent initiatives undertaken by the education ministry address these challenges:

  • new measures in the VET system were introduced by the education ministry in November 2018 ([2]The Act of 22 November 2018 amending the Act on the Education Law, the School Education Act and other acts:
    http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/DocDetails.xsp?id=WDU20180002245.
    ) focusing on strengthening the mechanisms of including employers in the development of VET in all its stages and the systematic adaptation of vocational education to the needs of the labour market, in particular:

    •  strengthening cooperation between employers and schools mainly in relation to practical training and teacher professional development in enterprises;
    •  expanding the implementation of work-based learning in VET, introducing a new form of apprenticeship;
    •  introducing an annual forecast of the demand for employees in VET occupations and directing more funds to occupations of special demand on the labour market;
    •  strengthening different quality assurance mechanisms e.g. introducing a requirement for all VET learners to take a State vocational examination or a journeyman's examination, enhancing the accreditation system for institutions providing CVET;
    •  allowing VET schools to organise shorter forms of vocational courses of special importance for adult learners.
  • the Act on the Integrated Qualifications System (2016) has brought together the qualifications framework, register of qualifications that can be attained, quality assurance and validation principles. General and higher education level qualifications are included in the register;
  • non-statutory qualifications linked to CVET have been registered based on the initiative of VET providers or other stakeholders;
  • new regulations strengthening guidance and counselling in schools were developed and are being implemented; 
  • new core curricula for vocational education were developed by the education ministry together with the Centre for Education Development (ORE), employers and other stakeholders;
  • new sectoral skills councils have been established under the umbrella of the Polish Enterprise Development Agency, giving voice to sectoral stakeholders regarding the demand for competences at sectoral level to improve education and labour market matching; 
  • numerous initiatives addressing the above-mentioned challenges in VET were developed with ESF co-funding, including projects supporting: cooperation among VET schools and HEI, development of counselling and guidance in schools, development of programmes for vocational courses for adults, enhancing employers’ involvement in different stages of VET development and in organising practical training.

Based on VET in Poland Spotlight 2017 ([3]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Poland. Luxembourg: Publication Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8125_en.pdf .
)

Population in 2018: 37 976 687 ([4]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

It decreased since 2013 by 0.2% due to negative natural growth ([5]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 22 in 2015 to 65 in 2060 ([6]Old-age-dependency ratio is defined as the ratio between the number of persons aged 65 and more over the number of working-age persons (15-64). The value is expressed per 100 persons of working age (15-64).).

 

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

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Demographic trends have a direct impact on educational enrolment.

Since 2005, the overall number of enrolments in VET programmes at upper secondary and post-secondary levels decreased by 35.6%, which represents over half a million learners. The decrease was highest (40% or more than 350 000) in vocational upper secondary programmes.

 

Population aged 16-21 and number of vocational education students

Source: ReferNet Poland calculations based on data from the Local Data Bank, Statistics Poland: https://bdl.stat.gov.pl/BDL/start and Statistics Poland (2018b) [accessed 20.9.2018].

 

However, this phenomenon is also related to the reduced interest in VET among young people. Over the last three decades, the share of students in VET has decreased from 78% to almost 60%. During the last several years the proportion of learners in general upper secondary vs. vocational upper secondary and vocational post-secondary education has remained at approximately 40:60. Since the mid-2010s, a small increase in the share of students in vocational education is observed.

Poland is rather homogeneous country in terms of nationality and language. According to the 2011 National Population and Housing Census ([7]Statistics Poland (2015). Struktura narodowo-etniczna, językowa i wyznaniowa ludności Polski [The national-ethnic, linguistic and religious structure of the Polish population]. Warsaw: Statistics Poland.
https://stat.gov.pl/files/gfx/portalinformacyjny/pl/defaultaktualnosci/5670/22/1/1/struktura_narodowo-etniczna.pdf .
) 97,09% of people declared Polish nationality and 98,2% declared  that they use the Polish language at home. However, due to the increased migration to Poland in recent years, changes in these percentages in the next census may be expected.

The Act on national and ethnic minorities distinguishes 9 official national minorities and 4 national ethnic minorities in the country. The constitution guarantees these groups the freedom to preserve their own language, customs and traditions, and develop their own culture. There are special forms of support provided to learners from national and ethnic minorities:

  • inclusion of the minority language and the regional language into the educational activities required of the student, the course of one’s own history and culture to additional educational activities for the student (at the request of the student’s parent) ([8]Ministry of the Interior and Administration: Polish legislation and solutions regarding the protection of languages of minorities [Ustawodawstwo i rozwiązania polskie w zakresie ochrony języków mniejszości].
    http://mniejszosci.narodowe.mswia.gov.pl/mne/oswiata/informacje-dotyczace-o/8302,Ustawodawstwo-i-rozwiazania-polskie-w-zakresie-ochrony-jezykow-mniejszosci.html [accessed 30.4.2019].
    );
  • learning of a minority language and a regional language can be conducted in schools in various ways; the number of teaching hours depends on the way it is taught;
  • external examination regulations are adjusted for learners of the language of the national minority, ethnic minority and the regional language.

According to SIO data, 809 learners in 29 VET schools (first stage sectoral schools and vocational upper secondary schools) were learning national/ethnic minority or regional languages in line with above-mentioned regulations in the 2018/2019 school year.

As far as foreign learners in Poland are concerned, the following forms of support are available to foreigners subject to compulsory education:

  • education and care in all types of public schools and kindergartens provided up to the age of 18 or age of graduating from school at the secondary and post-secondary level on the same terms applicable to Polish citizens ([9]Ministry of National Education: information on the education of foreigners in the Polish education system [Informacja o kształceniu cudzoziemców w polskim systemie oświaty]. https://www.gov.pl/web/edukacja/informacja-o-ksztalceniu-cudzoziemcow-w-... [accessed 30.4.2019].);
  • admission to schools on the basis of diplomas which does not have to be formally recognised;
  • free-of-charge Polish language classes, additional compensatory classes in a given subject, preparatory classes (oddziały przygotowawcze) set up at schools,
  • additional classes of the language and culture of the country of origin, organised at school by the diplomatic/consular mission or a cultural/ educational association;
  • assistance to the learner provided by a person who speaks the language of the country of origin, employed as a teacher's assistant;
  • different ways of facilitating external examinations taken by foreign students.

Also, certain groups of foreign adult learners (e.g. EU nationals, persons with different types of permits granted in Poland, selected scholarship holders, etc.) can benefit from education in public schools for adults, public post-secondary schools, public art schools, public colleges of social work and different forms of lifelong learning in the form of vocational courses, under the same conditions as Polish citizens.

In the 2018/2019 school year, there were approximately 44,000 foreigners in Polish schools and pre-schools ([10]Ministry of National Education: education of children coming from abroad in the Polish education system [Nauka dzieci przybywających z zagranicy w polskim systemie edukacji].
https://www.gov.pl/web/edukacja/nauka-dzieci-przybywajacych-z-zagranicy-w-polskim-systemie-edukacji [accessed 30.4.2019].
).

The enterprise sector in Poland is dominated by microenterprises. In Poland, 96.2% of enterprises are microenterprises ([11]PARP (2018). Małe i średnie przedsiębiorstwa w Polsce 2018 [Small and medium enterprises in Poland]. Warsaw: PARP.
https://www.parp.gov.pl/storage/publications/pdf/male%20i%20srednie%20przedsiebiorstwa%20w%20polsce%20w%202018%20r.pdf .
). They produce 31% of GDP and significantly affect the labor market - they generate 40% of the jobs in the enterprise sector. The number of micro-enterprises has increased in recent years.

Small-sized companies account for 2.8% of the Polish enterprise sector, produce 8% GDP and generate 12% of the jobs in the enterprise sector.

Medium-sized companies account for 0.8% of the Polish enterprise sector, produce 11% GDP and generate 17 % of the jobs in the enterprise sector.

Large-sized enterprises in Poland account only for 0.2% of the enterprise sector produce 24% GDP and generate 31% of the jobs in the enterprise sector.

The main economic sectors in Poland are wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food service activities, industry (except construction) and manufacturing.

Share of economic sectors in gross value added and income in 2017 (%)

Sector

2017

Wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food service activities

25.7

Industry (except construction)

25.4

Manufacturing

19.3

Public administration, defense, education, human health and social work activities

14.6

Professional, scientific and technical activities; administrative and support service activities

8.5

Construction

7.0

Real estate activities

4.9

Financial and insurance activities

4.4

Information and communication

4.1

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

3.1

Arts, entertainment and recreation; other service activities; activities of household and extra-territorial organisations and bodies

2.2

NB: NACE_R2/TIME.

Source: Eurostat nama_10_a10 [extracted 4.5.2019].

The following sectors have the largest share of Polish exports ([12]SITC nomenclature: sections.):

  • machinery and transport equipment (34.8%);
  • manufactured goods (17.7%); and
  • chemicals and related products (14.5%) ([13]Statistics Poland, Yearbook Trade of Foreign Statistics of Poland 2018; Table 7 and 24.).

The employment structure in Poland has not undergone any significant changes over the last few years. The share of services in total employment increased slightly and in 2017 reached around 58%, which is still far below the EU28 average of around 74%. The employment share in industry is rather stable in Poland at around 30-32% and the share in agriculture decreased from 13.1% in 2010 to 10.2% in 2017.

Employment share by economic sector in Poland (%)

 

2017

Industry

31.7

Females

17.2

Males

43.4

Agriculture

10.2

Females

8.9

Males

11.3

Services

58.1

Females

73.9

Males

45.3

Source: The Local Data Bank of Statistics Poland: https://bdl.stat.gov.pl/BDL/start [accessed 23.12.2018].

Most employed women are in services (73.9%), while the share of employment in services and industry of men is very similar, 45.3% and 43.4% respectively.

The labour market tends to be deregulated in Poland. However, in some cases access to and practice of some occupations/professions are subject to the possession of a specific professional qualification. The EC Regulated professions database ([14]European Commission - Regulated professions database [accessed 4.5.2019]:
https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/regprof/
) lists 360 regulated professions in Poland.

The rules of access to professions are determined by the ministers responsible for specific fields.

The regulated occupations in Poland are divided into two groups:

  • sectoral system occupations, which are automatically recognised in all EU member states (e.g. attorney, doctor, pharmacist, nurse, architect); and
  • general system occupations – more numerous – in the case of which additional requirements for a given profession in given country must be met (e.g. teacher, sworn translator, tourist guide, customs agent, etc.).

Total unemployment ([15]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) (2018): 3.2% (6.0% in EU28); it decreased by 2.6 percentage points since 2008 ([16]Eurostat table une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

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

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

 

Unemployment is distributed unevenly between those with low- and high-level qualifications. The gap has increased during the crisis as unskilled workers are more vulnerable to unemployment. In 2018, the unemployment rate of people with medium-level qualifications, including most VET graduates (ISCED levels 3 and 4) was lower than in the pre-crisis years. In the past five years, there was an overall decrease of unemployment in all age groups and by all types of education levels.

Employment rate of 20 to 34-year-old recent VET graduates increased from 72.7% in 2014 to 79.1% in 2018 and still remains below the EU-28 level.

 

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

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

 

The increase (+6.4 pp) in employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates in 2014-18 was higher compared to the increase in employment from 75.2% to 80.0% (+4.8pp) of all 20-34 year-old graduates in the same period ([17]Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

For more information about the external drivers influencing VET developments in Poland please see the case study from Cedefop's changing nature and role of VET in Europe project [17a]Cedefop (2018). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 3: the responsiveness of European VET systems to external change (1995-2015). Case study focusing in Poland. Cedefop research paper; No 67. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/poland_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study.pdf

Participation in tertiary education in Poland has significantly increased over the last three decades, which is connected to an increase in the perceived value of education and higher educational aspirations. From 2009 to 2018, the share of the population with tertiary education increased from 21.2% to 30.9% but remains slightly below the EU average (32.2%).

For the last several years, the share of the population with an upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary level of education, for both men and women has been slowly decreasing, from 66.8% in 2009 to 61.5% in 2018, but is still much higher than the EU average (45.7%).

Poland has the third lowest share (far below the EU average) of people with no or low education level attained (7.6% in 2018). This indicator has been gradually decreasing in the last few years (12% in 2009).

 

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

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

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

Not applicable

51.7%

100%

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

 

Share of initial VET students over all upper-secondary students (ISCED level 3), 2017

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

 

In 2017/2018 school year females constituted 46% of all learners in VET programmes, however the share differs depending on the type of programme - in post-secondary programmes, females are the majority (71,1%), in programmes at the upper secondary level, there are many more males than females, with the lowest share of females in the first stage sectoral programmes (31,5%).

Share of female learners in VET programmes in the 2017/2018 school year (%)

Type of programme

Female learners

Vocational upper secondary programmes

39.6

First stage sectoral programmes

31.5

Post-secondary programmes

71.1

Special job-training programmes

41.6

Total

46.4

Source: Statistics Poland - Education in the 2017/18 school year.

Female learners prefer the following fields of study:

  • in post-secondary programmes: hygiene and work safety, personal services, business and administration, medical study;
  • in first stage sectoral programmes: personal services, business and administration and manufacturing and processing;
  • in vocational upper secondary programmes: personal services, business and administration, social and behavioural science.

The share of early leavers from education and training in 2018 was 4.8%, which is much lower than the EU-28 average of 10.6%. The share is slightly lower than in 2009 (5.3%). Despite high attainment rates, it is still slightly above the national target for 2020 of not more than 4.5%.

 

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].

 

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

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

 

Participation in lifelong learning in Poland has remained at a very low level (4.0%) till 2017, while in 2018 reached 5.7%. However, it remains 5.4 percentage points below the EU-28 average.

Education level, age and labour market activity are the factors differentiating the rate of participation in training; persons who are unemployed and have a low level of education often do not participate in educational activities. Age is also a strong determinant of participation in education; people in older age groups not only participate in training less often, but also study less on their own (informal learning).

 

Learners in VET schools by age group

NB: Participants of vocational qualification courses not included.
Includes basic vocational/first stage sectoral programmes, upper secondary vocational programmes, special job-training and post-secondary programmes.
Source: own calculations based on data from the School Information System (SIO).

 

Young learners constitute the majority in VET schools – with only post-secondary schools intended for adult learners. This is connected with the establishment of vocational qualifications courses for adult learners which replaced VET schools for adults at the upper secondary level. Vocational qualifications courses were introduced in 2012 as a quicker way of obtaining vocational qualification. Data on the age of participants of vocational qualifications courses is not available and was not included in the chart.

The education and training system comprises:

  • preschool education (ISCED level 0);
  • eight-year primary education (szkoła podstawowa); a programme divided into two four-year parts (basic and lower secondary level) (ISCED levels 1 and 2)
  • upper secondary education (ISCED level 3);
  • post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED level 4);
  • tertiary education including colleges of social work (ISCED levels 5 to 8).

The education system in Poland is currently undergoing structural transformation. In December 2016, the education ministry introduced reforms aimed to prolong the time children spend within one educational programme and to develop a vocational education system that is responsive to the needs of a modern economy. Key elements of the reform included:

  • phasing out lower secondary school (gimnazjum);
  • restructuring six-year primary education (szkoła podstawowa) into an eight-year programme divided into two four-year parts (basic and lower secondary level);
  • extending the general upper secondary programme (liceum ogólnokształcące) to four years instead of three, and the vocational upper secondary programme (technika) to five years instead of four;
  • introducing two-stage sectoral programmes (dwustopniowa szkoła branżowa); the first stage sectoral school has replaced the basic vocational school (zasadnicza szkoła zawodowa) as of 2017/18, while the second stage sectoral schools will begin to operate in 2020/21.

Changes in the school structure are accompanied by the gradual development of new core curricula. The school system will be transitioning until 2022/23. During this period, some previous programmes will be functioning alongside the new ones until they are completely phased out.

Education is compulsory up to 18 years of age, while full-time school education is compulsory up to age 15. Full-time compulsory education lasts 9 years (the last year of pre-school education and 8 years of primary school education). Compulsory education for 15-18 year olds can take place as part-time education, both in and out of school, e.g. in the form of short qualifications courses or vocational training for juvenile workers.

Pre-school education is provided in pre-schools (przedszkole) for two-and-a-half to six-year-old learners.

Primary and lower secondary education is provided in primary schools (szkoła policealna) and lasts typically eight years from age 7 to 15. Work preparation classes for SEN learners are available in the last two years of primary school. A three-year special job-training programme for SEN learners is available for primary school graduates.

Upper secondary education can be provided by different types of schools and take the form of a general upper secondary four-year programme (licea ogólnokształcące), a vocational upper secondary five-year programme (technika) or a three-year first stage sectoral programme (branżowa szkoła pierwszego stopnia), which can be followed by a two-year second stage sectoral programme. Upper secondary education is typically available to primary school graduates (usually 15 year-olds), apart from the second stage sectoral programme, which will be available to graduates of the first stage programmes (18 year-olds).

Post-secondary non-tertiary programmes are provided by post-secondary schools (szkoły policealne) and can be attained in one- to two-and-a-half years. They are available to graduates of general and vocational upper secondary programmes, as well as in the future – of second stage sectoral programmes (usually 19-20 year-olds).

A special form of education is provided by colleges of social work (kolegium pracowników służb społecznych), offering programmes at the ISCED 5 level. These colleges provide three-year programmes for the occupation of social worker.

Completing any type of VET programme and obtaining a school leaving certificate is not the same as attaining a vocational qualification. Learners in the formal VET system can be awarded two types of documents confirming attained learning outcomes:

  • vocational certificates (certificate of a vocational qualification in an occupation); and
  • vocational diplomas (vocational qualifications diploma).

Learners can obtain a vocational diploma only by obtaining both all the qualifications distinguished in an occupation (vocational certificate/s) and a school leaving certificate. Vocational qualifications can only be attained by passing an external State vocational examination.

Each qualification includes specific sets of learning outcomes defined in the core curricula for vocational education. Learning outcomes are grouped in units, which typically contain from several to over a dozen learning outcomes and reflect specific professional tasks. The core curriculum for general education determines the learning outcomes related to the general education component and key competences provided by VET programmes ([18]For vocational upper secondary programmes, it also defines the learning outcomes that must be achieved by a person in the process of attaining the qualification of the matura certificate.).

Adults aged 18 and older can be awarded a vocational certificate after passing the State vocational examination extramurally. By taking extramural exams, adults may also acquire certificates of completion of general education schools.

Formal VET leads to four qualification levels (2 to 5) that are the same as in the European qualifications framework (EQF).

The VET system comprises initial and continuing education. It can be offered as:

  • school-based programmes with obligatory work-based learning (WBL differing in scope and form, also including dual training/alternate training);
  • juvenile employment (apprenticeship scheme – with practical training with employer and theoretical training in school or in out-of-school forms, based on a contract between the learner and the employer)([19]An additional new form – the student apprenticeship – will be available for learners of vocational upper secondary programmes and first stage sectoral programmes as of September 2019.);
  • out-of-school forms – different types of courses based on the core curricula.

Apprenticeship schemes on secondary and post-secondary level:

  • juvenile employment for the purpose of vocational training (przygotowanie zawodowe młodocianych pracowników) dedicated to young people (15-18 years old) with a lower secondary education or 8-year primary education. It is based on a work contract between the learner and employer. In case of theoretical education taking place in school, arrangements between the school and employer regarding scope and organisation of training provided by both parties constitute an annex to the contract. Juvenile worker has a status of an employee and in case of theoretical training taking place in school – also of a student. During the training period, a juvenile worker is entitled to a salary (from 4 to 6 percent of the national average salary, depending on the subsequent year of training), social security benefits and holiday leave. Juvenile workers carry out their apprenticeship usually in SMEs, mainly in the craft sector.

Juvenile employment can take the following forms:

  • training for a profession (nauka zawodu) - apprenticeship with the theoretical education taking place at school (first stage sectoral programme) or in an out-of-school form (e.g. courses) and the practical training organised by the employer. Training for a profession lasts up to 36 months and is finalised with a State vocational examination or Journeyman’s examination (egzamin czeladniczy). In the 2017/2018 school year, juvenile workers constituted about half of all the learners in the first stage sectoral schools.
  • training for a specific job (przyuczenie do wykonywania określonej pracy) - a rare form limited to a small group of youth, prepares a learner to perform specific tasks in a profession. It lasts from 3 to 6 months and is finalised with a verifying examination. 

 

  • student apprenticeship (staż uczniowski). New form of apprenticeship which will be available as of September 2019. It will be open to learners in vocational upper secondary programmes and first-stage sectoral programmes, who are not juvenile workers. Student apprenticeship is based on the work contract between the learner and employer, with arrangements between the school and employer in the annex to this contract. Student apprenticeship covers all elements of the teaching programme and chosen elements or elements connected with a given occupation but not included in the programme. Students are entitled to a salary unless the contract says otherwise. 
  • dual training as a form of practical training. Apart from above-mentioned schemes apprenticeship might be arranged by school in cooperation with employers as one of the ways of organisation of practical training. In general, practical training (obligatory for all VET programmes) can be organised in different forms and venues - including also apprenticeship – alternate training/dual training with structured alternation of learning in an education and training setting with learning and working at a workplace. This form of organisation of practical training could be considered an apprenticeship however it is based on the contract between the school and employer not between employer and learner.

Apprenticeships for adult learners are also available. It is a form of support provided by Labour Offices and financed from the Labour Fund dedicated to unemployed and job seekers.

Apprenticeships for adults are carried out on the basis of a contract between a Labour Office, an employer and an institution responsible for conducting exams. Apprenticeships are provided in a form of occupational training and a training aimed at preparation for performing a specific job. In 2017, apprenticeships for adult learners attracted over 140 000 participants.

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 has three governance levels: national (ministries), regional (school superintendents, mainly in pedagogical supervision) and county (powiat – managing schools). The education ministry is in charge of VET policies at secondary level, supported by other ministries responsible for particular occupations. The Ministry of Science and Higher Education is responsible for higher VET. Social partners advise policy makers on necessary changes in VET.

The majority of public education institutions in Poland are managed by local government units. Counties (powiaty) are responsible for upper secondary schools, including vocational schools, and schools for children with special needs; the regions (województwa) are responsible for schools of regional and trans-regional significance (e.g. groups of schools or vocational schools important for the regional economy).

Central government units (usually ministries) often manage vocational and fine arts schools. All types of schools can also be established and managed by non-public institutions, such as religious and social associations. Generally, in Poland, the higher the education level, the higher the share of non-public institutions. The chart below presents the structure of vocational schools by type and management institution in 2016.

 

The structure of VET schools by type and managing institution in 2016

Source: ReferNet Poland calculation based on Local Data Bank, Statistics Poland: https://bdl.stat.gov.pl/BDL/start [accessed 24.9.2018].

 

In the 2017/18 school year, there were 6 071 VET schools in Poland. The majority (36%) of them were post-secondary vocational schools, followed by vocational upper secondary schools (31%), 25% constituted the first stage sectoral schools and 8% special job-training schools ([20]Statistics Poland (2018). Concise Statistical Yearbook of Poland 2018. Warsaw: Statistics Poland.).The decision to provide education for a particular occupation listed in the classification of occupations for vocational education is made at local level by the school principal in agreement with local authorities (county level) and after asking the regional labour market councils (advisory bodies) for their opinion concerning compliance with labour market needs. Teaching programmes can be developed individually by schools. The school principal is responsible for incorporating the learning outcomes in the teaching programme and providing the organisational requirements as defined in the core curricula.

The main resources for educational expenditure are:

  • the education part of the State budget’s general subsidy for local government units;
  • central government targeted grants;
  • the local government unit’s own income;
  • foreign funds (mainly EU funds).

The education part of the general subsidy from the State budget is the major source of funding of the education system in Poland. The amount of this part of the general subsidy for local government is defined annually in the Budgetary Act, and then the education ministry prepares an algorithm to distribute the educational funds among the local government units, based on the responsibilities ascribed to the different levels of local government (basically the number of students in each type of school) ([21]Number of adjustment weights are ascribed to different groups of students (e.g. SEN students, ethnic minorities, students in small schools, in rural regions, in sport classes); teacher qualifications are also included in the algorithm.). Since January 2018, the weights for vocational secondary schools have been different for four sets of categories of occupations; the distinction is based on the cost of the vocational part of the education. Additional weights were added for students of post-secondary programmes who obtained a vocational qualifications diploma and for participants of vocational qualification courses who passed the State vocational examination ([22]Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 15 December 2017 on the distribution of the school education part of the general subsidy for local government units in 2018. Journal of Laws 2017, item 2395.).

Further modifications of VET financing (increased state subsidies for learners of special demand occupations in VET schools indicated by the forecast of the demand for employees in vocational education occupations; increased subsidies for employers involved in training juvenile employees in those occupations) will be introduced as of 2020.

Local governments have the power to decide how to use the subsidy; they can decide not only how to allocate the funds to respective schools, but also to use them for other things than educational expenditures. As the chart below illustrates, municipalities and regions spend more on education than they receive as subsidy, but counties, which are mainly responsible for vocational schools, do not use the entire amount on education expenditures. The visible increase in expenditures in 2017 on all local government levels may be due to the structural reforms of the education system.

 

The ratio between educational expenditures and the State general subsidy for education by type of local government in the period of 2006-2017

The higher the ratio the greater the share of local spending. Value over 100 means that local government spends more than it receives from the central government.
Source: ReferNet Poland calculation based on Local Data Bank, Statistics Poland: https://bdl.stat.gov.pl/BDL/start [accessed 20.9.2018].

 

 

The structure of the educational expenditures of counties in 2017 by school type

Source: ReferNet Poland calculation based on Local Data Bank, Statistics Poland: https://bdl.stat.gov.pl/BDL/start [accessed 24.9.2018].

 

In addition to the subsidy, local government units can apply for targeted grants to implement specific public tasks, which usually require co-funding by the unit.

Non-public schools with a public school status are entitled to public funding equal to public schools.

In 2017, public (local and central government) expenditures for the education system reached PLN 71.9 billion (around EUR 16.8 billion), of which 10.4% was spent on vocational schools. Public spending on education as a share of GDP was 3.6%, which is slightly lower than in previous years ([23]Statistics Poland (2018). Oświata i wychowanie w roku szkolnym 2017/2018 [Education in the 2017/18 school year]. Warsaw: Statistics Poland. See also earlier editions.).

In VET there are:

  • general subject teachers;
  • theoretical vocational subject teachers;
  • practical vocational training teachers;
  • teachers/pedagogues providing educational support to learners;
  • teachers/psychologists providing psychological support to learners, teachers and parents;
  • teachers/methodological advisers providing support to teachers;
  • teachers/consultants who develop teaching materials, design and deliver in-service training courses for teachers and education managers, etc.;
  • in-company trainers (nationally referred to as practical vocational training instructors);
  • specialist in-company trainers (various groups of practitioners providing training as their primary or additional activity).

Teachers in public schools and pre-schools comprise 87% of all teachers and are employed on the basis of the Teacher’s Charter ([24]Act of 26 January 1982 - Teacher's Charter. Journal of Laws 1982, No 3, item 19 with further amendments.), which specifies working conditions, duties, rights, professional development requirements, and teachers’ salaries. In non-public schools, teachers are employed only on the basis of labour and civil law regulations.

General subject teachers should have at least a master’s degree.

Theoretical vocational subject teachers are required to have at least a master’s or bachelor’s degree, including pedagogical training.

Practical vocational training teachers are required to:

  • have the same qualifications as required for teachers of vocational theoretical subjects or the title of master in a craft or a pedagogical technical college (currently non-existing) diploma or a matura examination together with a vocational qualifications certificate and two years of work experience;
  • have a pedagogical qualification.

In-company trainers (practical vocational training instructors) can be employers or employees who are not teachers; they are required to have both the defined by the regulation combination of formal qualifications and years of work experience in a given occupation and the adequate pedagogical qualification ([25]Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 22 February 2019 on practical vocational training. Journal of Laws 2019, item 391.).

As regulated by the Teachers’ Charter, teachers have the right to participate in all forms of continuing professional development (CPD) and are obliged to follow CPD in line with the school’s needs. CPD is required from teachers on the path to higher advancement levels.

Teacher CPD is funded by local/regional budgets. School heads are responsible for assessing teacher CPD needs and preparing school professional development plans.

There are different public teacher training institutions at the national, regional and local levels, as well as numerous non-public teacher training institutions. The Centre for Education Development teacher training institution operates at the national level and covers both general and VET teacher CPD. In general, the main tasks of these institutions consist of developing teacher CPD programmes and educational materials, indicating CPD priorities, and implementing CPD programmes. Teacher training is also provided by higher education institutions.

Another form of CPD is offered by teachers/methodological advisers, who provide direct subject-oriented and methods assistance; support teachers in their professional development; organise conferences, seminars and workshops; and identify teachers' needs for counselling and vocational training. CPD is also provided at the school level via internal systems of professional development, including e.g. self-development teachers’ councils meetings, lessons, observations, study visits and others. Other forms of CPD include internships in enterprises for VET teachers. From September 2019 all VET teachers are obliged to participate in professional training in companies relating to the occupation they teach. Numerous educational resources (open bases) and CPD opportunities are available through ESF co-funded initiatives.

The Teacher’s Charter specifies four categories of job positions in the profession of teaching:

  • trainee teacher – first stage in a teacher’s career,
  • contractual teacher – awarded after one year and nine months of internship and passing an examination given by an examination commission;
  • appointed teacher – awarded after two years and nine months of internship and after passing an examination given by an examination commission;
  • chartered teacher – awarded after two years and nine months of internship, after having their professional achievement accepted by a qualification commission, and an interview.

These categories have direct impact on a teacher’s basic salary level. Teachers with outstanding performance may also be awarded the title of honorary school education professor.

In 2017/18, 55% of teachers were chartered teachers. In VET schools on upper secondary level, the share of chartered teachers was higher than 60%, however in post-secondary schools, it was only 23% ([26]Statistics Poland (2018). Oświata i wychowanie w roku szkolnym 2017/2018 [Education in the 2017/18 school year]. Warsaw: Statistics Poland. See also earlier editions.).

Practical training institutions are involved in improving the competence of in-company trainers by offering a broad range of thematic training. The most common training refers to methodology of vocational education and the use of standards for examination requirements.

System of sector skills councils

The system of sector skills councils, launched in 2016, consists of three components:

  • The programme Council on competences (Rada Programowa ds. Kompetencji – RPK) consists of representatives of ministries, training institutions, social partners, universities, non-governmental agencies, as well as labour market stakeholders. The RPK mainly focuses on building cooperation between the education community and entrepreneurs; it also encourages the development of sector councils and implements recommendations in the areas of science and education.
  • The sector skills councils are the central part of the system. Currently, there are seven active councils in the following sectors: health and social care; construction; finances; tourism; motorisation and electromobility; fashion and innovative textiles; ICT. Their main aims are:
    • to collect information from various labour market stakeholders and recommend systemic solutions and changes in the area of education;
    • to stimulate cooperation between education providers and employers;
    • to provide support in identifying and anticipating competency needs in a given sector.
  • The human capital study aims to increase knowledge about current needs in various sectors and enable the demand for competences and qualifications to be anticipated. The information collected in the study provides, among others, deeper insight about the skills gaps in the economy.

Integrated skills strategy

In 2017, the education ministry initiated the development of a national skills strategy. The strategy covers the whole area of education and training, i.e. general education, vocational education, higher education and adult learning. It takes into account both the demand side (demand for specific competences and qualifications) and supply (availability of qualifications and competences in society). The general part of the strategy was developed ([27]Ministry of National Education (2018). Zintegrowana Strategia Umiejętności – część ogólna [Integrated skills strategy: general part].
https://bip.men.gov.pl/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/08/zintegrowana-strategia-umiejetnosci-do-uzgodnien-i-konsultacji.pdf.
) and adopted by the government in January 2019. This will be followed by the development of the more detailed part of the strategy and strategy implementation.

Deficit and Surplus Occupation Monitoring

Since 2005, the Deficit and Surplus Occupation Monitoring survey (MZDiN) has been conducted by county and regional labour offices as well as the labour ministry. In 2015, a new methodology was applied – the survey is based mainly on the IT systems’ data of employment offices (on unemployed persons, reported vacancies, providers offering professional activation services), studies of online job offers, information obtained from employers in a questionnaire study, data from the Statistics Poland and the School Information System. Since 2015, the ‘Occupational barometer’, previously implemented in the Małopolska region, also started to be implemented in the whole country, conducted by the regional labour offices. It is a qualitative short-term (annual) forecast providing information on deficit and surplus occupations ([28]Regional Labour Office in Cracow (2017). Occupational barometer 2018: summary survey report for Poland.
https://wupkrakow.praca.gov.pl/documents/67976/5945701/Occupational%20barometer%202018.%20Summary%20Survey%20Report%20for%20Poland/ab63839e-e605-44eb-a904-92af5974d996?t=1531291708000 [accessed 30.4.2019].
).

New forecast of the demand for employees

The forecast of the demand for employees in vocational education occupations was introduced in 2018 as a new tool to help shape the vocational education and training offer. Starting with 2019, this forecast will be developed annually and published in the form of an announcement by the Ministry of National Education. The forecast will be based on analyses conducted by the Educational Research Institute using various data sources. The forecast will impact VET financing.

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([29]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast)

The VET programmes available at the national level are developed on the basis of three regulations of the education ministry:

  • the classification of occupations for vocational education ([30]Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 15 February 2019 on the goals and tasks of education in vocational education occupations and classification of occupations for vocational education. Journal of Laws 2019, item 316.);
  • the core curricula for vocational education ([31]Regulation of the Minister of National Education on the core curricula for training in VET occupations and additional vocational skills in chosen VET occupations – regulation signed on 16 May 2019, awaiting for publication in Journal of Laws.);
  • the core curriculum for general education ([32]Regulation of the Minister of National Education of 14 February 2017 on the core curriculum for pre-school education and the core curriculum for general education in primary schools, including pupils with moderate and severe intellectual disabilities, and for general education in stage I sectoral vocational schools, general education in special schools preparing for employment, and general education in post-secondary schools. Journal of Laws 2017, item 356.).

The classification includes the list of occupations for which VET programmes can provide education. Qualifications ([33]The term ‘qualification’ is defined in the School Education Act, as in the European qualifications framework Recommendation 2008.) are distinguished within occupations; each occupation can be made up of either one or two qualifications. Currently, there are 215 vocational education occupations, including so-called ancillary occupations for people with minor intellectual disabilities.

Developing occupations within the classification of occupations

The introduction of new occupations to the classification is regulated by the Education Law. The classification of occupations is determined by the education minister in cooperation with the relevant ministers responsible for a given sector of the economy, who can submit their requests to include particular occupations in the classification. To anticipate labour market needs, representatives of employers and employees are consulted during the development stage of the classification.

Professional associations, organisations of employers, sector skills councils, social partners and other stakeholders’ organisations can submit their proposals to the relevant minister to establish a new occupation; in this way they shape the educational offer of the formal VET system. After the proposal has been approved, the education minister includes the occupation into the classification and appoints a working group to design the core curriculum for vocational education for that occupation.

Designing the core curriculum for vocational education

After the proposal has been approved, the education minister appoints a working group to design the core curriculum for vocational education for that occupation.

The working group contacts the institution which submitted the proposal for the new occupation to determine the learning outcomes, and then undertakes consultations with other experts in the field. At this stage, occupational standards, which are developed by the labour ministry, are considered.

The decision on the occupations offered by a given VET school is made by the school principal in agreement with local authorities (at the county level of government) and after asking the regional labour market councils (advisory bodies) for their opinion concerning compliance with labour market needs. Regional labour market councils shall take into the account the forecast of the demand for employees in vocational education occupations.

Modernising VET curricula

In order to improve the labour market relevance of VET education, the education ministry together with the Education Development Centre, has implemented an ESF co-funded project ‘Partnership for VET’ focusing on developing partnerships in vocational education and training in cooperation with employers and other social partners.

In the first phase of the project, a social partner forum was established - 25 sectoral teams of social partners were set up to better adjust VET to labour market needs, and particularly to recommend changes in the vocational core curricula and classification of occupations. In the following years, stakeholders prepared changes in numerous VET curricula and developed new curricula. Numerous teaching plans and programmes, career development paths together with diplomas and qualification supplements in Polish and English were also designed. By February 2018, 1048 employers actively participated in the project.

All VET schools are included in external and internal quality assurance systems. External quality assurance is provided through pedagogical supervision; it is conducted by the Regional Education Authorities (kurator oświaty) overseen by the education ministry. Pedagogical supervision covers four aspects: evaluation, an audit of legal compliance ([34]Legal compliance auditing aims to check whether the activities of schools comply with legislation.), monitoring and support.

The external evaluation of schools is conducted according to certain uniform procedures and requirements set in the legislation concerning:

  • the organisation of educational processes;
  • acquiring by students' skills and knowledge defined in the national core curriculum;
  • active participation of students;
  • shaping social attitudes, and respect for social norms;
  • support to students' development taking into account their individual circumstances;
  • cooperation with parents;
  • cooperation with local community;
  • including of findings from analyses of external exams’ results as well as external and internal evaluations;
  • school management.

It includes various research techniques (e.g. interviews, surveys, observation, document analysis) and takes into account the opinions of different stakeholders.

Reports from the external evaluations performed in schools are publicly available on a dedicated internet website ([35]System Ewaluacji Oświaty. Nadzór Pedagogiczny [Education evaluation system: pedagogical supervision]:
www.npseo.pl
).

The Head of the Regional Education Authority prepares an annual report on the results of the educational supervision conducted and presents it to the Minister for Education.

School principals are obliged by law to design and implement an internal quality assurance system. They should do this in cooperation with their teachers. School principals are relatively free in how they design and implement these systems, but are obliged to include the four aspects of pedagogical supervision mentioned above. Internal evaluation is conducted annually and needs to include issues important for each particular school. Its results are taken into consideration in the external evaluation. In order to help school principals in developing and implementing internal quality assurance procedures, the National Centre for Supporting Vocational and Continuing Education (KOWEZiU) prepared ‘Quality Standards for VET’ (2013), a document covering ten thematic areas ([36]The ten thematic areas of the quality standards are: (1) teaching programmes; (2) school staff; (3) school material resources; (4) organisation of teaching; (5) students with special needs; (6) cooperation with employers: (7) cooperation with domestic and international partners; (8) assessment and validation of learning outcomes; (9) counselling; (10) strategic management of the school.) related to quality assurance in VET, which are in line with the 2009 EQARF/EQAVET recommendation.

In the case of non-statutory qualifications included in the Integrated Qualifications Register (ZRK), quality assurance is provided by external quality assurance entities (Podmioty Zewnętrznego Zapewniania Jakości – PZZJ). The external quality assurance entity for a qualification is assigned by the relevant minister from the list of institutions selected for a given area of qualifications. There are also internal quality assurance mechanisms for institutions awarding qualifications; they are required to perform internal evaluations.

The system of external examinations

The system of external examinations is a key element for ensuring and improving the quality of education and qualifications attained in schools. The central examination board and eight regional examination boards are responsible for organising external examinations. The external examination system is supervised by the education ministry. In the external examination system, all examinees solve the same tasks and assignments to verify whether they have achieved the learning outcomes defined in the core curriculum. Trained examiners registered at the regional examination boards assess examination results. The central examination board analyses aggregate test and examination results and initiates research in the field of assessment. The results of external examinations are taken into consideration in both external and internal quality assurance as part of pedagogical supervision.

Starting in 2019, all students will be obliged to take a State vocational examination or a journeyman's examination as a condition for school graduation; up till now, this has been optional. This change aims to strengthen the role of the exam as a quality assurance mechanism.

School Information System

The collection and dissemination of information on the formal general and vocational education system by the School Information System (SIO) is an important element in ensuring the quality of qualifications. The system is maintained in electronic form and uses internet to provide information collected. Every school and education institution has to submit data regarding students, teachers, facilities, expenses, etc. Schools submit data through a web application. Information is collected regionally and then exported by regional education authorities to the education ministry. Each user group (ministries, Central Statistical Office, local authorities, etc.) has access to its relevant part of the data base, and some of this information is available to the public. The system was set up in 2004 but has functioned in this way since 2012 and has been continuously modernised. In 2017, a new regulation on the SIO was introduced ([37]The Act of 21 April 2017 r. on changes in the Act on the School Information System and some other acts:
http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/DocDetails.xsp?id=WDU20170000949
) relating mainly to changes in the scope of the data gathered within the system.

The VET system allows learners to attain qualifications (vocational certificates) through the validation of non-formal education and informal learning ([38]By taking extramural exams adults might also acquire certificate of completion of the general education schools (primary and secondary).). Persons can take extramural State vocational examinations conducted by regional examination boards if they are over 18 years old, have completed a lower secondary programme or an eight-year primary programme and have at least two years of learning or work in an occupation relating to the targeted qualification ([39]Documents confirming the fulfilment of these requirements are, in particular, school certificates, transcripts, education certificates or employment certificates related to work in a specific occupation, including those obtained abroad.). If they do not have two years of learning or work experience, they can enrol in a vocational qualifications course (KKZ). As of September 2018, the curriculum of the KKZ is based on the new curriculum for VET. Completion of a vocational qualification course entitles students to take the State vocational examination.

After successfully passing the State vocational examination, learners obtain the same vocational certificate as regular VET students. The fee paid by the applicant for the extramural examination is rather low, in 2019 approximately 45 EUR (15 EUR for the written part and 30 EUR for the practical part).

For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database ([40]European database on validation of non-formal and informal learning:
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/european-database-on-validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning
).

In IVET, incentives include:

  • Scholarships for IVET students

In 2018, school scholarships range from PLN 99.20 to PLN 248 (from EUR 23 to EUR 57) per month depending on the decision of local authorities. The period of receiving a scholarship can range from one to ten months per school year. VET students can receive financial support when studying away from their community or when their family income is below the threshold for receiving social assistance benefits combined with social problems that the family is facing. Scholarships for good grades can also be granted to VET learners. Apart from the country level, there are also regional initiatives aiming to promote participation in VET. Some regional scholarships have been financed within EU-funded projects.

  • Salary for juvenile workers

Students who are juvenile workers are entitled to a salary. The amount of their salary cannot be less than 4% (in the 1st year of training) 5% (in the 2nd year of training) and 6% (in the 3rd year of training) of the average monthly salary (ranging from EUR 42 to EUR 68). Employers also pay mandatory social insurance on the basis of the salary paid to the juvenile worker.

Minimum salaries for juvenile workers in 2019

Period

1st year of training

2nd year of training

3rd year of training

1.06.2019. - 31.08.2019

198,04 PLN

247,55 PLN

297,06 PLN

45,93 EUR

57,41 EUR

68,90 EUR

1.03.2019. - 31.05.2019

194,55 PLN

243,19 PLN

291,82 PLN

45,12 EUR

56,40 EUR

67,68 EUR

1.12.2018. - 28.02.2019.

183,21 PLN

229,01 PLN

274,81 PLN

42,49 EUR

53,11 EUR

63,74 EUR

Source: own calculations based on legal acts in Poland.

  • Vocational training and support by the Voluntary Labour Corps

The Voluntary Labour Corps ([41]Voluntary Labour Corps (OHP),
http://www.ohp.pl.
) (Ochotnicze Hufce Pracy − OHP) is an organisation specialised in supporting youth at risk of social exclusion and unemployed under 25 years old, overseen by the labour ministry. The organisation offers young people over 15 years old without lower secondary education, the possibility to attain vocational qualifications and/or to supplement their education. Currently it has over 214 Corps agencies (2019) providing young people with the opportunity to complete their education and acquire professional qualifications before entering adult life. The Voluntary Labour Corps provide training in 64 professions, both in their own workshops or as on-the-job training with an employer. All students with low/no income receive free meals and accommodation during the education period. Students also receive guidance and pedagogical support. Each year, over 800,000 young people receive various forms of help from Corps agencies including individual psychological support, group workshops for active job-seeking, vocational courses, vocational courses offering certified qualifications, language courses, European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) course, driving course, entrepreneurship course, assistance in finding jobs and organising traineeships, as well as traineeships offered by employers.

In the area of continuing VET (CVET), support is organised mainly through the employment services and financed from the Labour Fund ([42]The Labour Fund (Fundusz Pracy) is a State special purpose fund operating under the Act of 20 April 2004 on the promotion of employment and labour market institutions (Journal of Laws 2004, No 99, item 1001 and later amendments).), as well as from the European Social Fund (ESF). This support includes:

  • vocational training;
  • loans for financing of the cost of training;
  • training vouchers;
  • vocational practice vouchers;
  • scholarships for youth from low income families for the period of education;
  • financial support for examination fees and vocational licence fees;
  • statutory training leave for employees.

The Labour Fund plays an important role in delivering state support for VET. It promotes participation by granting resources for vocational training initiatives. The training is mainly offered to unemployed people, but it can also be provided to other job seekers, such as, for example, people with disabilities. The participants of group training have the right to receive a monthly training grant that amounts to 120% of the unemployment benefit. The number of training hours per month should exceed 150. The cost of individual training cannot exceed 300% of the national average monthly salary. In 2017, more than 49 000 unemployed and other eligible individuals participated in various forms of training. The most popular form of training (more than 12 000 participants) was driver’s licence courses. The number of participants has declined mainly due to lower unemployment rate.

 

Participants in various forms of training support offered by the Labour Fund

Source: Warsaw: Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Policy (2018). Bezrobocie w Polsce w 2017 r. Raport tabelaryczny [Unemployment in Poland in 2017]. See also earlier editions.

 

Labour Offices support the organisation of vocational training for employees, but only at the initiative of employers (only when the employer has a special training fund). Up to 50% of the costs of the training can be refunded from the Labour Fund, but not more than the amount of the average monthly salary per participant. In the case of people over 45 years of age, the limit of the refund is 80% of the training costs, but not more than 300% of the average salary.

Labour Offices also fund apprenticeships organised in companies. Apprenticeships are nowadays available to all unemployed. In 2017, over 140 000 people participated in an apprenticeship scheme, including 46 000 youth under 25 years of age (33%). The number of participants in apprenticeship schemes, as well as the share of youth in all forms of training declined significantly between 2015 and 2017.

Training leave is provided to an employee. The leave (from six to 21 days) can be used to prepare for and take an examination or defend a thesis. Training leave can be paid (to cover lost income) to an employee if an employer requires or agrees to the need for the training before it starts.

Employers who provide VET training to students of vocational programmes can receive the following support:

  • refund of trainers’ salaries;
  • refund of the extra salary paid to instructors;
  • refund of the cost of work clothes and necessary protective measures;
  • training allowance for work placement supervisors;
  • refund of the bonus for work placement supervisors;
  • subsidy for the salary and social security contribution for the juvenile worker for the period of vocational training from the Labour Fund. The financial limits on the refund are set each year. As of 2020, the employers training juvenile employees in the professions indicated by the forecast of the demand for employees in vocational education occupations will receive increased subsidies.

Employers believe that the financial support offered is not fully adequate to the resources devoted to such training. The period of vocational practice is seen as being too short, which means that students are not providing added value to the company’s performance ([43]Fila J.; Rybińska; A.; Trzciński R. (2014). Współpraca szkół zawodowych z przedsiębiorcami na przykładzie Działania 9.2 PO KL [Cooperation of vocational schools and entrepreneurs based on the Action 9.2 of the Human Capital Operational Programme]. Warsaw: Instytut Badań Edukacyjnych.).

Since 2014, employers have been able to use the National Training Fund (Krajowy Fundusz Szkoleniowy), part of the Labour Fund (Fundusz Pracy), to finance their employees’ training. It mainly finances courses and post-graduate studies attended by employees at the request of the employer; examinations enabling the attainment of vocational qualifications; medical and psychological examinations required for a job position; and personal accident insurance. In the case of microenterprises, the funding can cover 100% of the costs of continuing education, whereas in other types of enterprises, the employer covers 20% of the training cost. The training cost per employee cannot exceed 300% of the average salary in a given year. In 2017, 18 715 employers received support from the National Training Fund, resulting in training or other forms of assistance for 105,300 employees, which is an increase by around one-third compared to 2015.

A regulation concerning occupational/career guidance and counselling was introduced in September 2018 ([44]Regulation of the education ministry on vocational/career guidance in Polish schools entered into force on 1 September 2018.). Previously, occupational/career guidance/counselling had been implemented only on the basis of the provisions of the regulation on the principles of providing and organising psychological and pedagogical assistance.

According to the new regulation, occupational guidance is to be implemented in a planned and systematic way, in all types of schools, including VET schools. The regulation defines the goals as well as the terms and manner of implementing and organising guidance/counselling, including possible forms and detailed programme content, which vary depending on the school level.

The basic goal of guidance is to support students in the process of making independent and responsible decisions concerning their educational and professional life, based on learning about their own resources, the education system and the labour market.

Vocational guidance is to be conducted at all school levels, including:

  • Pre-schools [ISCED 0] - vocational pre-orientation
  • Primary school classes 1-6 [ISCED 1] - vocational orientation
  • 7th and 8th grades of primary school [ISCED 2] and secondary schools [ISCED 3] - vocational guidance activities.

Schools are required to develop their own programme to implement the intra-school guidance system for each new school year. This programme should include:

  • activities to implement occupational guidance (including the content of the activities, methods and forms of implementation, timeframe of implementation, persons responsible for implementation);
  • entities with which the school cooperates in this field.

Please see also:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

College

programmes

ISCED 554

Colleges of social work leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 554 (kolegia pracowników służb społecznych)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

554

Usual entry grade

13 or 14

Usual completion grade

15 or 16

Usual entry age

19 or 20

Usual completion age

21 or 22

Length of a programme (years)

3

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Colleges conduct a day, evening or extramural form of education.

Learning forms:

  • school-based learning;
  • work-based learning – in-company training;
  • self-learning (allocation of hours is not specified).

The form, place and timetable of in-company training is determined by the director of the college in cooperation with the governing body, after consulting the Programme Council and the learners council.

Every college operates under academic and didactic supervision of selected HEIs.

Main providers

Colleges:

  • public colleges operated by regional authorities;
  • non-public colleges – operated by legal persons ([74]Regulation of the Minister of Family, Labour and Social Policy of 15 September 2016 on colleges of social work. Journal of Laws 2016, item 1543.).
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

around 24%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • general in-practice training in a social welfare centre;
  • general in-practice training in a 24-hour service;
  • specialist and graduate professional in-practice training.
Main target groups

Programmes intended for adults interested in obtaining the qualification of social worker.

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

Matura certificate is required to enroll. A medical certificate stating that the learner is able to practice as a social worker is also needed.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a college programme, learners must pass a final internal exam carried out by the examination board appointed by the head of the college. The diploma confirms that the learner has attained the qualification of social worker.

In selected colleges, operating under given HEIs didactic care, participation in the programme leads also to BA exam and BA degree. However this option is not compulsory.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The learner receives a diploma confirming the completion of a college of social work, certifying the qualification of social worker.

The graduation diploma is issued on the basis of documentation of the course of study conducted by the college.

BA certificate is also offered to programme graduates of selected colleges.

Examples of qualifications

Social worker.

Colleges can also provide specialised training in the field of social welfare, in a field of specialisation in the profession of social worker and social work supervisors.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

College learners can enter the labour market or continue their studies in EQF 6 bachelor programmes.

In some colleges graduates who are interested in continuing their studies in EQF 6 bachelor programmes are offered recognition of the college curriculum.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

In some colleges it is possible to acquire validation of prior learning gained within programmes provided by HEIs.

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

<1% ([75]Own calculations based on Statistics Poland (2018). Oświata i wychowanie w roku szkolnym 2017/2018 [Education in the 2017/18 school year]. Four colleges with 234 students.)

Post-secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

Post-secondary

school-based programmes,

WBL ≥44.6%

1-2.5 years

ISCED 453

Post-secondary school-based programmes leading to ISCED 453 (szkoła policealna)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

453

Usual entry grade

13 or 14

Usual completion grade

13+

Usual entry age

19 or 20

Usual completion age

20+

Length of a programme (years)

1 to 2.5

  
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

There are public schools offering education free of charge but also numerous non-public schools charging fees for education.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

These programmes are strictly vocational and do not include general education. The vocational parts consist of theoretical and practical aspects. They are mostly school-based. Schools have a relatively high level of independence regarding the organisation of practical training. The school director decides on the share of work-based learning, however it cannot be less than 50% of the hours foreseen for vocational education.

Main providers

Post-secondary schools:

  • public schools operated by local and regional authorities, associations, national companies;
  • non-public schools with public school accreditation operated by different providers (associations, foundations, companies, HEIs);
  • non-public schools without public school accreditation operated by different providers (companies- natural persons, commercial-law companies).
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

≥ 44.6% for programme in a day form

≥ 48.5% for programme in stationary or extramural form ([69]Own calculations of %WBL based on the assumptions provided in the Teaching Plans [Ramowe plany nauczania],
http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU20190000639/O/D20190639.pdf .
)

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

The practical part of vocational education can be offered in:

  • school workshops;
  • continuing education centres ([70]Continuing education centres (centrum kształcenia ustawicznego - CKU) - public institutions (usually a school complex) in Polish education, usually with a long tradition, whose task is to provide continuous, free-of charge education for adults and enable them to get a profession. They provide advice to teachers and lecturers employed in adult education. The centres can also employ professional advisers specialised in adult education.) and vocational training centres ([71]Vocational training centres (centrum kształcenia zawodowego – CKZ) - newly set up public institutions created from the transformation of existing centres for practical training (placówka kształcenia praktycznego ) or vocational training and development centres (ośrodek dokształcania i doskonalenia zawodowego) responsible for supporting vocational education of VET learners in schools providing practical or theoretical training of juvenile workers. They will be also providing vocational training in the form of courses (professional skills, qualifying vocational courses or other courses - enabling to obtain and supplement knowledge, skills and professional qualifications).);
  • with an employer (can be organised in different ways, partially or fully at an employers’ premises, including also dual training/alternate training).

On-the-job training, a distinctive form of practical training, is mandatory for learners of post-secondary programmes and lasts from 4 to 12 weeks, depending on the type of occupation.

Main target groups

They are available to graduates of general and vocational upper secondary programmes and (in the future) second stage sectoral programmes.

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

Learners should have a secondary education or secondary sectoral education (graduates of general and vocational upper secondary programmes and second stage sectoral programmes).

Assessment of learning outcomes

The following forms of assessment of learning outcomes are foreseen:

  • school leaving certificate - confirms that a learner completed the programme. It contains a list of subjects covered and the final grades achieved. To obtain school leaving certificate no external exam is required. Final grades are based on internal on-going assessments of learners and certificate consist of annual classification grades determined in the highest-level class and annual classification grades achieved in the completed lower classes;
  • State vocational examination (taking exam is obligatory for school graduation as of September 2019) – confirms obtaining vocational qualification. The examination has two parts: written and practical. The candidate has to pass both in order to receive a vocational certificate/diploma. The exam is centrally organised and based on uniform requirements, the same examination tasks, assessed according to the same criteria and organised in the same way regardless of where the examination is held.
Diplomas/certificates provided

This programme leads to:

  • a school leaving certificate;
  • a vocational qualification (vocational certificate) after passing the State vocational examination;
  • a vocational qualifications diploma (issued when a learner has obtained all qualifications distinguished in an occupation and a school leaving certificate).
Examples of qualifications

Administration technician (technik administracji), cosmetics services technician (technik usług kosmetycznych), optician technician (technik optyk), numerous medical qualifications: e.g. dental hygienist (higienistka stomatologiczna), pharmaceutical technician (technik farmaceutyczny), electrocardiograph technician (technik elektrokardiolog).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Post-secondary programme graduates can enter the labour market. Those who have matura exam are eligible to continue on to tertiary education, however the programme does not provide such direct access.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

A vocational certificate can be awarded after passing the State vocational examination extramurally.

Persons can take extramural State vocational examinations conducted by regional examination boards if they are over 18 years old, have completed a lower secondary programme or an eight-year primary programme and have at least two years of learning or work in an occupation relating to the targeted qualification ([72]Documents confirming the fulfilment of these requirements are, in particular, school certificates, transcripts, education certificates or employment certificates related to work in a specific occupation, including those obtained abroad.). If they do not have two years of learning or work experience, they can enrol in a vocational qualifications course (KKZ).

By taking extramural exams adults can also acquire a certificate of completion of the general education schools.

General education subjects

N

These programmes are strictly vocational and do not include general education.

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

<26% ([73]Own calculations based on Statistics Poland (2018). Oświata i wychowanie w roku szkolnym 2017/2018 [Education in the 2017/2018 school year].)

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 2

Work preparation classes

for SEN learners

Work preparation classes for SEN learners leading to EQF level 2 (oddziały przysposabiające do pracy)
EQF level
2
Usual entry grade

7

Usual completion grade

8

Usual entry age

15 ([47]This is a special programme for students at risk of early school leaving; in current legislation it is for 15-year-olds.)

Length of a programme (years)

2

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education in Poland is compulsory up to 18 years of age, with full-time school education compulsory up to age 15.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

N

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Classes combine general education and work preparation – both adapted to the individual learner’s needs and capabilities.

Main providers

Primary schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Not specified by the regulations.

The programme is developed and adjusted to the specific needs of a learner by a lead teacher.

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

Different forms of practical training available:

  • practical training in school;
  • practical training in VET schools (school workshops), continuing education centres ([48]Continuing education centres (centrum kształcenia ustawicznego - CKU) - public institutions (usually a school complex) in Polish education, usually with a long tradition, whose task is to provide continuous, free-of charge education for adults and enable them to get a profession. They provide advice to teachers and lecturers employed in adult education. The centres can also employ professional advisers specialised in adult education.) and vocational training centres ([49]Vocational training centres (centrum kształcenia zawodowego – CKZ) - newly set up public institutions created from the transformation of existing centres for practical training (placówka kształcenia praktycznego ) or vocational training and development centres (ośrodek dokształcania i doskonalenia zawodowego) responsible for supporting vocational education of VET learners in schools providing practical or theoretical training of juvenile workers. They will be also providing vocational training in the form of courses (professional skills, qualifying vocational courses or other courses - enabling to obtain and supplement knowledge, skills and professional qualifications).);
  • in-company training.
Main target groups

For learners over 15 years old with special education needs (SEN), at risk of early school leaving.

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

For learners over 15 years old at risk of not completing primary school in the usual mode, who:

  • received promotion to grade VII; or
  • did not receive promotion to grade VIII.

Enrolment requires confirmation from a psycho-social support institution on the need for this form of education.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Primary school leaving certificate is issued to those who completed the programme (with a special note with information on completion of work preparation classes).

Diplomas/certificates provided

School leaving certificate

Examples of qualifications

Not applicable

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete work preparation classes for SEN learners can enter the labour market or continue their education at the next EQF level.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

<1% ([50]Work preparation classes are not included in the statistics due to limited number of participants.)

EQF 4

Vocational upper

secondary programmes,

WBL ≥16.4%

5 years

ISCED 354

Vocational upper secondary programme (technikum) leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

16 ([51a]Usually, the starting age of learners is 15, while the age of graduating first grade is 16.
)

Usual completion age

20

Length of a programme (years)

5

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education in Poland is compulsory up to 18 years of age, with full-time school education compulsory up to age 15.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

N

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

The curriculum for upper secondary vocational programmes combines general and vocational education. The vocational parts consist of theoretical and practical aspects. Vocational schools have a relatively high level of independence regarding the organisation of practical training. The school director decides on the share of work-based learning however it cannot be less than 50% of the hours foreseen for vocational education (which combines both practical and theoretical training).

Main providers

Upper secondary vocational schools:

  • public schools (vast majority of schools) operated by local (county) and regional authorities;
  • non-public schools with public school accreditation operated by different providers (associations, companies - commercial law companies, natural persons).
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

≥16.4% ([51]Own calculations of %WBL based on the assumptions provided in the Teaching Plans [Ramowe plany nauczania],
http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU20190000639/O/D20190639.pdf
)

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

The practical part of vocational education can be offered in:

  • school workshops;
  • continuing education centres ([52]Continuing education centres (centrum kształcenia ustawicznego - CKU) - public institutions (usually a school complex) in Polish education, usually with a long tradition, whose task is to provide continuous, free-of charge education for adults and enable them to get a profession. They provide advice to teachers and lecturers employed in adult education. The centres can also employ professional advisers specialised in adult education.) and vocational training centres ([53]Vocational training centres (centrum kształcenia zawodowego – CKZ) - newly set up public institutions created from the transformation of existing centres for practical training (placówka kształcenia praktycznego ) or vocational training and development centres (ośrodek dokształcania i doskonalenia zawodowego) responsible for supporting vocational education of VET learners in schools providing practical or theoretical training of juvenile workers. They will be also providing vocational training in the form of courses (professional skills, qualifying vocational courses or other courses – enabling to obtain and supplement knowledge, skills and professional qualifications).);
  • with an employer (can be organised in different ways, partially or fully at an employers’ premises, including also dual training/alternate training).

A distinctive form of practical training - on-the-job training - is mandatory for learners of vocational upper secondary programmes and lasts from 4 to 12 weeks, depending on the type of occupation.

An additional new form of WBL – the student apprenticeship – will be available for learners of this programme as of September 2019.

Main target groups

This programme is available to primary school graduates.

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

Learners should hold a primary school leaving certificate. Primary school graduates are usually 15 years old.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The following forms of assessment of learning outcomes are foreseen for learners:

  • school leaving certificate - confirms that a learner completed the programme. It contains a list of subjects covered and the final grades achieved. To obtain school leaving certificate no external exam is required. Final grades are based on internal on-going assessments of learners and certificate consist of annual classification grades determined in the highest-level class and annual classification grades achieved in the completed lower classes;
  • State vocational examination (taking exam is obligatory for school graduation as of September 2019) – confirms obtaining vocational qualification. The examination has two parts: written and practical. The candidate has to pass both in order to receive a vocational certificate/diploma. The exam is centrally organised and based on uniform requirements, the same examination tasks, assessed according to the same criteria and organised in the same way regardless of where the examination is held;
  • school leaving examination (matura) – a state, uniform secondary school leaving examination based on the core curriculum for general education and providing access to tertiary education. As of September 2019, the vocational diploma in an occupation taught on technician level will allow learners to skip one additional subject in the matura exam. The matura exam consists of two parts: the oral part (internal and assessed at school) and the written part – external, set by the Central Examination Board (Centralna Komisja Egzaminacyjna) and assessed by examiners included in the registers of the Regional Examination Boards (Okręgowa Komisja Egzaminacyjna).
Diplomas/certificates provided

This programme leads to:

  • a school leaving certificate giving learners a secondary education;
  • vocational qualifications (vocational certificates) after passing the State vocational examination;
  • a vocational qualifications diploma for occupations consisting of two qualifications (issued when a learner obtained both qualifications distinguished in an occupation and a school leaving certificate).
Examples of qualifications

Occupations provided by this programme are two-qualification occupations, for example: electrical technician (technik elektryk), automation technician (technik automatyk), multimedia and photography technician (technik fotografii i multimediów), construction technician (technik budownictwa), accountancy technician (technik rachunkowości), salesman technician (technik handlowiec).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates of these programmes, after passing the secondary school leaving examination (matura), are eligible to continue to tertiary education.

Destination of graduates

According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), in the 1st quarter of 2017 the employment rate of recent vocational upper secondary programme graduates (one year after completing education) was 55.8%.

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

A vocational certificate can be awarded after passing the State vocational examination extramurally. Persons can take extramural State vocational examinations conducted by the regional examination boards if they are over 18 years old, have completed a lower secondary programme or an eight-year primary programme and have at least two years of learning or work in an occupation relating to the targeted qualification ([54]Documents confirming the fulfilment of these requirements are, in particular, school certificates, transcripts, education certificates or employment certificates related to work in a specific occupation, including those obtained abroad.). If they do not have two years of learning or work experience, they can enroll in a vocational qualifications course (KKZ).

By taking extramural exams, adults can also acquire a certificate of completion of the general education schools.

General education subjects

Y

The vocational upper secondary programme combines general and vocational education.

Key competences

Y

The core curriculum for general education determines the learning outcomes related to the general education component and key competences provided by VET programmes.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Each qualification includes specific sets of learning outcomes defined in the core curriculum for vocational education. Learning outcomes are grouped in units, which typically contain from several to over a dozen learning outcomes and reflect specific professional tasks. The core curriculum for general education determines the learning outcomes related to the general education component and key competences provided by VET programmes.

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

56% ([55]Own calculations based on Statistics Poland (2018). Oświata i wychowanie w roku szkolnym 2017/2018 [Education in the 2017/18 school year].)

EQF 3

First stage

sectoral programmes,

WBL ≥31.8%

3 years

ISCED 353

First stage sectoral programme leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 353 (branżowa szkoła I stopnia)
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

353

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

11

Usual entry age

16 ([56]Usually, the starting age of learners is 15, while the age of graduating first grade is 16.

 
)

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

3

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education in Poland is compulsory up to 18 years of age; full-time school education is compulsory up to age 15.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

N

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

The curriculum for first stage sectoral programme combines general and vocational education. The vocational parts consist of theoretical and practical aspects. Schools have a relatively high level of independence regarding the organisation of practical training. The school director decides on the share of work-based learning, however it cannot be less than 60% of the hours foreseen for vocational education (which combines both theoretical and practical training).

Main providers

First stage sectoral schools:

  • public schools (vast majority of schools) operated by local (county) authorities and associations;
  • non-public schools with public school accreditation operated by different providers (associations, companies - commercial law companies, natural persons).
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

≥ 33.7% for programme for graduates of phasing out lower secondary school gimnazjum

≥ 31.8% for programme for graduates of 8-year primary school ([57]Own calculations of %WBL based on the assumptions provided in the Teaching Plans [Ramowe plany nauczania].
http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU20190000639/O/D20190639.pdf
)

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

The practical part of vocational education can be offered in:

  • school workshops;
  • continuing education centres ([58]Continuing education centres (centrum kształcenia ustawicznego - CKU) - public institutions (usually a school complex) in Polish education, usually with a long tradition, whose task is to provide continuous, free-of charge education for adults and enable them to get a profession. They provide advice to teachers and lecturers employed in adult education. The centres can also employ professional advisers specialised in adult education.) and vocational training centres ([59]Vocational training centres (centrum kształcenia zawodowego – CKZ) - newly set up public institutions created from the transformation of existing centres for practical training (placówka kształcenia praktycznego ) or vocational training and development centres (ośrodek dokształcania i doskonalenia zawodowego) responsible for supporting vocational education of VET learners in schools providing practical or theoretical training of juvenile workers. They will be also providing vocational training in the form of courses (professional skills, qualifying vocational courses or other courses - enabling to obtain and supplement knowledge, skills and professional qualifications).);
  • with an employer (can be organised in different ways, partially or fully at an employers’ premises, including also dual training/alternate training);
  • juvenile employment.

A special type of work-based learning is provided through juvenile employment for the purpose of vocational training (przygotowanie zawodowe młodocianych pracowników) for young people (15-18 years old) with a lower secondary education or primary education. In the 2017/2018 school year, juvenile workers constituted about half of all the learners in the first stage sectoral schools. Juvenile employment is based on a contract between the learner and employer. Juvenile employment for the purpose of vocational training most often takes the form of training for a profession (nauka zawodu) – this is an apprenticeship with the theoretical education taking place at a first stage sectoral school (or in out-of-school forms) and the practical training organised by the employer on the basis of a work contract. It lasts a maximum 36 months and is finalised with a State vocational examination. Practical training can also be organised by an employer in the craft trades, on the basis of a work contract. It also lasts a maximum 36 months and is finalised with a journeyman’s examination (egzamin czeladniczy).

An additional new form of WBL – the student apprenticeship – will be available for learners of this programme as of September 2019.

Main target groups

This programme is available to primary school graduates.

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

Learners should hold a primary school leaving certificate; primary school graduates are usually 15 years old.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The following forms of assessment of learning outcomes are foreseen for learners:

  • school leaving certificate - confirms that a learner completed the programme. It contains a list of subjects covered and the final grades achieved. It gives a learner a basic sectoral education. To obtain school leaving certificate no external exam is required. Final grades are based on internal on-going assessments of learners and certificate consist of annual classification grades determined in the highest-level class and annual classification grades achieved in the completed lower classes; 
  • State vocational examination – confirms obtaining vocational qualification. The examination has two parts: written and practical. The candidate has to pass both in order to receive a vocational certificate/diploma. The exam is centrally organised and based on uniform requirements, the same examination tasks, assessed according to the same criteria and organised in the same way regardless of where the examination is held; 
  • journeyman’s examination (egzamin czeladniczy) – exam for learners participating in juvenile employment organised by an employer in the craft trades. It has two parts: practical and theoretical. The practical part consists of tasks individually performed by a candidate. The theoretical part is both written and oral. Tasks are based on common examination requirements and the curriculum of the occupation.

As of September 2019, taking the State vocational examination or journeyman’s examination is obligatory for all learners as a condition for school graduation.

Diplomas/certificates provided

This programme leads to:

  • a school leaving certificate giving learners a basic sectoral education;
  • a vocational qualification (vocational certificate) after passing the State vocational examination;
  • a vocational qualifications diploma for a single-qualification occupation (after passing the State vocational examination and obtaining a school leaving certificate).

Learners participating in juvenile employment organised by an employer in the craft trades obtain a Journeyman’s certificate.

Examples of qualifications

Occupations provided by this programme are single-qualification occupations, for example: electromechanical worker (elektromechanik), locksmith (ślusarz), car tinsmith (blacharz samochodowy), gardener (ogrodnik), tailor (krawiec).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Completion of this programme provides access to further education: at the second year of general upper secondary programmes for adults or in the two-year second stage sectoral programme.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

A vocational certificate can be awarded after passing the State vocational examination extramurally. Persons can take extramural State vocational examinations conducted by regional examination boards if they are over 18 years old, have completed a lower secondary programme or an eight-year primary programme and have at least two years of learning or work in an occupation relating to the targeted qualification ([60]Documents confirming the fulfilment of these requirements are, in particular, school certificates, transcripts, education certificates or employment certificates related to work in a specific occupation, including those obtained abroad.). If they do not have two years of learning or work experience, they can enrol in a vocational qualifications course (KKZ). By taking extramural exams, adults can also acquire a certificate of completion of the general education schools.

General education subjects

Y

The first stage sectoral programme combines general and vocational education.

Key competences

Y

The core curriculum for general education determines the learning outcomes related to the general education component and key competences provided by VET programmes.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Each qualification includes specific sets of learning outcomes defined in the core curriculum for vocational education. Learning outcomes are grouped in units, which typically contain from several to over a dozen learning outcomes and reflect specific professional tasks. The core curriculum for general education determines the learning outcomes related to the general education component and key competences provided by VET programmes.

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

17% ([61]Own calculation based on
Statistics Poland (2018). Oświata i wychowanie w roku szkolnym 2017/2018 [Education in the 2017/18 school year].
)

EQF 4

Second stage

sectoral programmes,

WBL ≥50%

2 years

ISCED 354

to be introduced in 2020/21

Second stage sectoral programme leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (branżowa szkoła II stopnia)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

12

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

19 ([62]Usually, the starting age of learners is 18, while the age of graduating first grade is 19.)

Usual completion age

20

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

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

This programme will begin operating in the 2020/21 school year. The curriculum of the second stage sectoral programme combines general and vocational education. The vocational parts consist of theoretical and practical aspects.

General education in this programme is planned to be limited, with the main focus placed on the vocational training to be conducted in the form of vocational qualification courses. Schools have a relatively high level of independence regarding the organisation of practical training. The school director decides on the share of work-based learning, however it cannot be less than 50% of the hours foreseen for vocational education (which combines both theoretical and practical training).

Main providers

This programme will begin operating in the 2020/21 school year.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50% ([63]Percentage of the hours foreseen for vocational education.)

Calculations of % WBL for second stage sectoral programme vary depending on the following criteria: a) form of teaching, b) type of profession, c) type of learner i.e. phasing out lower secondary school (gimnazjum) graduate or primary school graduate. Number of hours for vocational education (both theoretical and practical) is provided in the Core curriculum for education in the profession of sectoral education (Podstawa programowa kształcenia w zawodzie szkolnictwa branżowego; 215 professions in 32 industries) and according to the Teaching Programme totals not less than 50% of the total number of hours for a given form of teaching.

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

The practical part of vocational education can be offered in:

  • school workshops;
  • continuing education centres ([64]Continuing education centres (centrum kształcenia ustawicznego - CKU) - public institutions (usually a school complex) in Polish education, usually with a long tradition, whose task is to provide continuous, free-of charge education for adults and enable them to get a profession. They provide advice to teachers and lecturers employed in adult education. The centres can also employ professional advisers specialised in adult education.), vocational training centres ([65]Vocational training centres (centrum kształcenia zawodowego – CKZ) - newly set up public institutions created from the transformation of existing centres for practical training (placówka kształcenia praktycznego ) or vocational training and development centres (ośrodek dokształcania i doskonalenia zawodowego) responsible for supporting vocational education of VET learners in schools providing practical or theoretical training of juvenile workers. They will be also providing vocational training in the form of courses (professional skills, qualifying vocational courses or other courses - enabling to obtain and supplement knowledge, skills and professional qualifications).) and with an employer (can be organised in different ways, partially or fully at an employers’ premises, including also dual training/alternate training).

A distinctive form of practical training is on-the-job training, which will be mandatory for learners of second stage sectoral programmes and lasts from 4 to 12 weeks, depending on the type of occupation.

Main target groups

This second stage sectoral programme aims at further developing the vocational qualifications attained in the first stage sectoral programme. The programme will be available to the graduates of the first stage sectoral programmes who obtained a qualification that constitutes part of an occupation taught in the second stage sectoral school. This programme will be open to adult learners who want to expand their qualifications.

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

Learners should have a first stage sectoral school leaving certificate and a vocational certificate of a qualification constituting part of an occupation taught in the second stage sectoral school.

First stage sectoral programme graduates are usually 18 years old.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The following forms of assessment of learning outcomes are foreseen for learners:

  • school leaving certificate - confirms that a learner completed the programme. It contains a list of subjects covered and the final grades achieved. It gives a learner a secondary sectoral education, however, this is not the same as attaining a vocational qualification. To obtain school leaving certificate no external exam is required. Final grades are based on internal on-going assessments of learners and certificate consist of annual classification grades determined in the highest-level class and annual classification grades achieved in the completed lower classes;
  • State vocational examination (taking exam is obligatory for school graduation as of September 2019) – confirms obtaining vocational qualification. The examination has two parts: written and practical. The candidate has to pass both in order to receive a vocational certificate/diploma. The exam is centrally organised and based on uniform requirements, the same examination tasks, assessed according to the same criteria and organised in the same way regardless of where the examination is held;
  • shool leaving examination (matura) – a state, uniformed secondary school leaving examination based on the core curriculum for general education and providing access to tertiary education. As of September 2019, the vocational diploma in an occupation taught on technician level will allow learners to skip one additional subject in the matura exam. The matura exam consists of two parts: the oral part (internal and assessed at school) and the written part – external, set by the Central Examination Board (Centralna Komisja Egzaminacyjna) and assessed by examiners included in the registers of the Regional Examination Boards (Okręgowa Komisja Egzaminacyjna).
Diplomas/certificates provided

This programme leads to:

  • a school leaving certificate giving learners a secondary sectoral education;
  • a vocational qualification (vocational certificate) after passing the State vocational examination;
  • a vocational qualifications diploma for occupations consisting of two qualifications (issued when a learner obtained both qualifications distinguished in an occupation and a school leaving certificate).
Examples of qualifications

Chemical technology technician (technik technologii chemicznej), hospitality technician (technik hotelarstwa), telecomunications technician (technik telekomunikacji).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Second stage sectoral programme graduates will be eligible to continue to tertiary education after passing the secondary school leaving examination (matura).

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

A vocational certificate can be awarded after passing the State vocational examination extramurally.

Persons can take extramural State vocational examinations conducted by regional examination boards if they are over 18 years old, have completed a lower secondary programme or an eight-year primary programme and have at least two years of learning or work in an occupation relating to the targeted qualification ([66]Documents confirming the fulfilment of these requirements are, in particular, school certificates, transcripts, education certificates or employment certificates related to work in a specific occupation, including those obtained abroad.). If they do not have two years of learning or work experience, they can enroll in a vocational qualifications course (KKZ). By taking extramural exams, adults can also acquire a certificate of completion of the general education schools.

General education subjects

Y

The second stage sectoral programme combines general and vocational education.

Key competences

Y

The core curriculum for general education determines the learning outcomes related to the general education component and key competences provided by VET programmes.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Each qualification includes specific sets of learning outcomes defined in the core curriculum for vocational education. Learning outcomes are grouped in units, which typically contain from several to over a dozen learning outcomes and reflect specific professional tasks. The core curriculum for general education determines the learning outcomes related to the general education component and key competences provided by VET programmes.

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

Not applicable ([67]Second stage sectoral programmes will start operating from 1 September 2020.)

Special job-training

programmes,

(SEN learners)

ISCED 243

Special job-training programme leading to ISCED 243 (szkoła specjalna przysposabiająca do pracy)
EQF level
Not applicable
ISCED-P 2011 level

243

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

11

Usual entry age

16 ([68a]Usually, the starting age of learners is 15, while the age of graduating first grade is 16.
)

Usual completion age

18

Learners up to the age of 24 can participate in this programme.

Length of a programme (years)

3 (with the possibility of extending to 4 years)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education in Poland is compulsory up to 18 years of age, with full-time school education compulsory up to age 15.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

N

This is not intended for adults, but learners up to the age of 24 can participate in this programme.

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

It provides educational activities (personal and social functioning classes; communication skills development classes, creativity development classes, physical education and job training classes), revalidation activities, and job training classes.

Main providers

Special job-training schools:

  • public schools (vast majority of schools) operated by local (county) authorities;
  • non-public schools with public school accreditation operated by different providers (associations, foundations).
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Share of work-based learning is not specified by the regulations. Job training classes constitute over half of the hours foreseen for the educational activities. The programme is developed and adjusted to the specific needs of a learner by a lead teacher.

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

Mainly practical training at school, including school workshops.

Main target groups

This programme is intended for young learners with moderate and severe intellectual disabilities or multiple disabilities.

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

Learners should have a primary school leaving certificate; primary school graduates are usually 15 years old. Additional enrolment requires confirmation from a psycho-social support institution on the need for this form of education (certificate recommending special education or rehabilitation-and-education classes).

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners do not pass any external exams.

Descriptive assessment is used on a school-leaving certificate.

This programme leads to a job-readiness certificate (based on the teacher’s assessment) to perform specific tasks and not to a vocational qualification.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Learners receive school leaving certificate and a job-readiness certificate.

Examples of qualifications

Not applicable

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete this programme can perform some tasks in certain labour market occupations.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

It combines vocational and general education.

Key competences

Y

It provides educational activities such as (personal and social functioning classes, communication skills development classes and physical education).

Application of learning outcomes approach

N

The core curriculum for this programme includes the aims of training, school assignments, forms of classes and detailed teaching content.

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

1% ([68]Own calculations based on data from Statistics Poland (2018). Oświata i wychowanie w roku szkolnym 2017/2018 [Education in the 2017/18 school year].)

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available