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General themes

VET ([1]In the education system and policy of Latvia VET is referred to as ‘vocational education’ (in Latvian: ‘profesionālā izglītība’). The term ‘training’ is not commonly used in the national context.) in Latvia comprises the following main features:

  • VET attractiveness is increasing, especially for early leavers from education;
  • to increase the quality and efficiency of vocational education, many small providers were merged into regional vocational education competence centres offering a wide range of qualifications and other services;
  • there are more females in post-secondary and higher VET;
  • the share of early leavers from education and training has fallen substantially, in line with the national target;
  • apprenticeship-type schemes have become more common and accessible;
  • the introduction of modular vocational education programmes, new occupational standards, sectoral qualifications frameworks supports the use of learning outcomes.

Distinctive features ([2]Cedefop (2017). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Latvia. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8107_en.pdf
)

Initial VET is centralised and highly regulated by the State. Most vocational schools are owned and run by the State; two-thirds have the status of vocational education competence centre and were modernised (infrastructure and equipment) with the support of EU funds in 2007-15. In addition to provision of vocational programmes, they validate non-formal and informal learning and offer lifelong learning and continuing teacher training.

CVET providers are mainly private.

Most vocational education learners (83%) are at upper secondary level. The distribution of students between general and vocational upper secondary education is 61:39 in favour of general education.

VET provides learning opportunities for young adults and early leavers from education. With more investment in infrastructure and the development/implementation of new programmes, VET attractiveness is increasing. More young people use ISCED-P 453 programmes for fast access to labour market than before. These programmes are jointly financed by the Youth guarantee and the European Social Fund.

The national qualifications framework was established in 2010 and referenced to the European qualifications framework (EQF) in 2011. It includes all formal qualifications.

A validation system for professional competences acquired outside formal education has existed since 2011, allowing direct acquisition of professional qualifications at EQF levels 2 to 4. Procedures for assessment and criteria for validation of prior learning were set up for higher education in 2012.

Reforming VET and adult learning are national policy priorities. Recent reforms aim at:

  • promoting VET quality;
  • ensuring its relevance to labour market needs;
  • efficient use of resources to raise VET attractiveness.

Policy strives for a balanced (equal) distribution of students choosing vocational and general education after completing basic education, and for a threefold increase in adult participation in learning.

By 2015, several projects jointly financed by EU Structural Funds had raised VET attractiveness and quality. The projects covered modern infrastructure, equipment and programmes (introducing modules), social partner participation in designing and implementing education policy, introducing sectoral qualifications frameworks, drafting occupational standards for key professions, and raising VET teachers’ competences. Modularisation of vocational education programmes has acquired a legal basis. Content for modular programmes is developed and they are gradually being implemented in vocational education. By 2019/20 all vocational education providers (State and private) have to ensure modular (if applicable) vocational education programmes according to the new occupational standards.

Since 2015, ‘work-based learning’ has been a form of VET implementation. It includes flexible curricula (according to occupation characteristics) and promotes sharing responsibilities of teaching and training between school and enterprises. Vocational education institutions develop the curricula and participate in ensuring the acquisition of theoretical knowledge and practical skills in workshops. Companies provide both theoretical and practical training in a real workplace environment and pay an allowance or a wage to students.

Ensuring access to guidance and counselling for young people, and putting in place ECVET and EQAVET systems for better quality and permeability, are challenges that need aligning stakeholder opinions and extensive promotion. Other challenges include motivating employers to cooperate with VET providers, for example, by offering training at the workplace and promoting continuing training for employees.

The 2014-20 education strategy addresses issues mentioned above and other challenges by continuing reforms (supported by EU funds) including introduction of new EU-level instruments.

Another challenge is to increase adult participation in learning by strengthening the role of the State in adult education. The implementation plan for a new adult education governance model (2016) supports a sustainable adult education system with shared responsibilities between stakeholders, including VET that provides programmes for adults.

Data from VET in Latvia Spotlight 2017 ([3]Cedefop (2017). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Latvia. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8107_en.pdf
), updated in May 2019

Population in 2018: 1 934 379 ([4]NB: Data for population as of 1 January; break in series. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

It decreased by 4.4% since 2013 due to negative natural growth and emigration of people in search of employment abroad ([5]NB: Data for population as of 1 January; break in series. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

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

The old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase from 30 in 2015 to 66 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 changes have an impact on vocational education and have led to rearrangement of the vocational education institutions network: the number of State governed vocational schools has reduced from 58 in 2010 to 21 in 2018.

To increase the quality and efficiency of vocational education, many small providers were merged into regional vocational education competence centres offering a wide range of qualifications and other services. Several providers were merged by local governments into integrated general and vocational education institutions.

The country has a multicultural community. At the beginning of 2018, 62.2% of the population were Latvians and 25.2% were ethnic Russians; 3.2% were Belarusians, 2.2% were Ukrainians, 2.1% were Poles and 5.1% other nationalities.

State vocational school programmes are in Latvian, while some private providers use Russian or both Latvian and Russian. By 2020 all providers will provide vocational programmes in Latvian only.

Most companies are micro and small-sized.

Main economic sectors:

  • wood-processing;
  • production of chemical products;
  • electrical and optical equipment;
  • manufacture of basic metals;
  • machinery and equipment manufacturing;
  • manufacture of transport and equipment.

Since 2010, the export of Latvian goods and services has grown very quickly, and it is the main driver of economic development.

Domestic demand-oriented industries contributed the most to GDP growth in recent years.

Requirements for non-regulated professions are determined by employers. The Law on Regulated Professions and Recognition of Professional Qualifications and relevant government regulations stipulate special requirements for education programmes, recertification or recognition of qualifications in regulated professions.

The number of regulated professions acquired in secondary vocational education is very limited.

The labour market is generally considered flexible.

Total unemployment ([7]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) in 2018: 7.1% (6.0% in EU28); it increased by 0.2 percentage points since 2008 ([8]Eurostat table une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

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

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

 

Unemployment is distributed unevenly between those with low- and high-level qualifications. The gap has increased during the crisis and has been steady since then. In 2018, there are stark differences between the different ISCED levels. The unemployment rate of people with medium-level qualifications, including most VET graduates (ISCED levels 3 and 4), is almost three times higher than that of people with high-level qualifications (ISCED 5-8), and almost double that of the pre-crisis years. It is also higher compared to the total unemployment rate ([9]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) in Latvia (7.1%).

The employment rate of 20 to 34 year-old VET graduates increased from 78.0% in 2014 to 83.3% in 2018 ([10]Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

 

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

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

 

The increase in employment of 20 to 34 year-old VET graduates at ISCED levels 3 and 4 in 2014-18 (+5.3 pp) was similar to the increase in employment of all 20 to 34 year-old graduates (+5.5 pp) in the same period in Latvia ([11]NB: Breaks in time series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

Education attainment in Latvia is traditionally high. In 2018, the share of population aged 25 to 64 with upper secondary education including vocational education (ISCED levels 3 and 4) was 56.7%.

The share of people with tertiary education (33.9%) is higher than EU-28 average (32.2%). The share of those with low or without a qualification is the fifth lowest in the EU, following Lithuania, Czechia, Poland and Slovakia.

 

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

0.6%

38.6%

100%

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

 

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

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

 

Traditionally, there are more males in VET (58.8% in upper-secondary education), except at post-secondary level ([12]Source: Eurostat tables educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [accessed 18.2.2019].).

The share of early leavers from education and training has decreased from 14.3% in 2009 to 8.3% in 2018. It is below the national objective for 2020 of not more than 10% and 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].

 

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

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

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

 

Participation in lifelong learning in Latvia has increased from 5.6% in 2014 to 6.7% in 2018. It is still below the EU average and far below the national objective (15%) for 2020.

 

VET learners by age group

Source: National data.

 

The share of adults (aged 25 and above) in vocational education has doubled since 2011/12 and reached 12% of the total VET population in 2017/18. This reflects changing labour market needs and the variety of education opportunities for people aged 25+, supported by ESF funds.

The education system comprises:

  • pre-school education (ISCED level 0);
  • integrated primary and lower secondary education (ISCED levels 1 and 2) (hereafter, basic education);
  • upper secondary education (ISCED levels 3 and 4) (hereafter, secondary education);
  • higher (tertiary) education (ISCED levels 5, 6, 7 and 8).

Pre-school education for five to six year-old children is compulsory.

Basic education is mainly general, it is compulsory, and lasts for nine years. Vocational education is mainly offered for learners with mental disabilities or without completed basic education.

Secondary education can be acquired through general or vocational programmes. It is non-compulsory. General programmes last for three years and vocational programmes for four years (after completed basic education).

Higher (tertiary) education includes both academic and professional study programmes.

The Vocational Education Law ([13]Saeima (1999). Profesionālās izglītības likums [Vocational education law]. Last amended 22.6.2017. http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=20244 
) provides legal regulations and defines three VET levels:

  • basic vocational education;
  • secondary vocational education;
  • professional higher education.

 

Vocational education programmes are mainly school-based, with practical learning periods at schools or enterprises. Since 2015, vocational education can also take the form of an apprenticeship type scheme (nationally called ‘work-based learning’) with flexible curricula implementation taking place alternately at school and enterprise. To acquire a professional qualification (at EQF levels 2 to 4), learners have to undergo qualification practice and take a State qualification exam at the end of the programme.

Basic vocational education

Basic vocational education programmes leading to EQF level 2 (ISCED 254)

These programmes last from one to three years and are part of formal education. The main target groups are learners with intellectual disability and early leavers from compulsory basic education. They lead to a certificate of basic vocational education with a professional qualification at EQF level 2 (such as cook’s assistant, carpenter's assistant).

Vocational education at secondary level

There are four types of secondary vocational education programme.

1) Vocational education programmes (arodizglītība) leading to EQF level 3 (ISCED 353).

These programmes last for three years. They are part of formal education, and they target young people who are at least 15 and have completed basic education. They include general subjects, but not sufficiently to allow access to higher education. To access higher education programmes, students must attend a one-year bridging course.

2) Secondary vocational education programmes leading to EQF level 4 (ISCED 354).

These programmes last for four years. They are part of formal education, and they target young people with completed basic education. They include general subjects; at the end of programme students take four State centralised exams in general subjects. After completion of the programme, learners can enter the labour market or higher education.

3) One-year vocational education programmes leading to EQF level 3 (ISCED 351 or 453)

These programmes last for one year. They are part of formal education, and they target young people who are at least 17 and have completed general basic education. They do not include general subjects. After completion of the programme, learners can enter the labour market.

4) One and a half to three-year vocational secondary education programmes leading to EQF level 4 (ISCED 453)

These programmes last for one and a half to three years. They are part of formal education, and they target young people with secondary education. They do not include general subjects. After completion of the programme, learners can enter the labour market.

Professional higher education

Higher education programmes can be academic (lead to a degree) and professional (lead to a degree and/or professional qualification).

Adult learning programmes

There are two types of adult learning programme:

1) Continuing vocational education

These programmes enable adults with previous education/work experience to acquire a professional qualification ([14]Saeima (1999). Profesionālās izglītības likums [Vocational education Law]. Last amended 22.6.2017.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=20244
) in 480 to 1280 hours. Continuing vocational education and initial vocational education have the same legal and governance framework. Similar to initial vocational education, students of continuing vocational education take a final qualification exam in accordance with procedures approved by the government ([15]Cabinet of Ministers (2011). Profesionālās kvalifikācijas eksāmenu norises kārtība akreditētās profesionālās izglītības programmās [Procedure of professional qualification examinations in accredited vocational education programmes]. Regulation No 662 (last amended 18.12.2012, No 918).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=235206
).

2) Professional development programmes

These programmes (of at least 160 hours) enable people to master systematised professional knowledge and skills corresponding to labour market requirements. They do not have age, previous education, or professional qualification requirements. They do not lead to a formal qualification, but to a certificate of professional development education (profesionālās pilnveides izglītības apliecība) ([16]Cabinet of Ministers (2005b). Kārtība, kādā izsniedzami profesionālās pilnveides un profesionālās ievirzes izglītību apliecinoši dokumenti [Procedures by which documents certifying professional development and professionally oriented education are issued]. Regulation No 902. Last amended 13.12.2016, No 777.
https://likumi.lv/doc.php?mode=DOC&id=122686
).

Other forms of learning

Work-related knowledge, skills and competences can also be acquired through non-formal learning (short courses), or craftsmanship (apprenticeship programmes).

Vocational education programmes are mainly school-based, with practical learning periods at schools or enterprises. Since 2015, vocational education can also take the form of an apprenticeship-type scheme (nationally called ‘work-based learning’) with flexible curricula taking place alternately at school and enterprise. To acquire a qualification (at EQF levels 2 to 4), learners have to undergo qualification practice and take a State exam at the end of the programme.

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

Most vocational education providers are governed by the Ministry of Education and Science. Others are under the responsibility of the ministries of culture, welfare and interior. There are also vocational education institutions established (or taken over from the State) by local government and private ones.

The vocational education system is governed by the following institutions:

  • The Cabinet of Ministers (Ministru kabinets) defines policies and strategies for vocational education and sets procedures for the development of occupational standards, the organisation of work placements/apprenticeship-type scheme, and professional qualification exams. It regulates mandatory documents for vocational education provision, a list of mandatory occupational standards, activities of sectoral expert councils, and the quality assurance of the examination centre. It sets the criteria for issuing State-recognised qualifications, and recognising foreign qualifications.

It sets the price list for validation of informal and non-formal learning, it grants the status of ‘vocational education competence centre’ to providers, and it sets the procedure for distributing the State budget subsidies earmarked for teachers’ salaries.

  • The Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) ([17]Izglītības un zinātnes ministrija
    ) develops the framework regulations for vocational education. It proposes allocation of funds from the State budget and finances the vocational education providers it has established. The ministry also organises the implementation of career education, ensures validation of informal and non-formal learning, approves regulations and appoints heads of vocational education institutions under its responsibility.
  • Other ministries (culture, welfare and interior) propose the allocation of funds for vocational schools under their responsibility, and organise continuing professional development for teachers. The ministries also organise continuing vocational education for adults, and professional development and training for the unemployed. They cooperate with MoES on designing occupational standards, ensuring quality assurance and other issues.
  • The National Centre for Education ([18]Valsts izglītības satura centrs (VISC).) is under the supervision of MoES. It develops the content of basic, secondary and continuing vocational education, professional development and vocationally oriented education. It develops the content and procedures for State exams and coordinates development of study materials in line with the State vocational education standards. The centre also coordinates the development of occupational standards and the professional development of vocational teachers.
  • The State Education Quality Service ([19]Izglītības kvalitātes valsts dienests (IKVD).) is under the supervision of MoES. It licenses general and vocational education programmes (at EQF level 1-4). It also ensures quality assurance of vocational education (except professional higher), coordinates validation of informal and non-formal learning (at EQF level 2-4); since 2013 it has coordinated the implementation of the common European quality assurance for VET (EQAVET) in Latvia.
  • The State Education Development Agency ([20]Valsts izglītības attīstības aģentūra (VIAA).) is under the supervision of MoES. It manages and monitors EU funds ex-post, it introduces EU programmes, it supports the development of career education policy, arranges national-level professional skills competitions and ensures participation in international competitions.
  • The Ministry of Welfare ([21]Labklājības ministrija (Ministry of Welfare).) develops labour market policies, including training interventions.
  • The State Employment Agency ([22]Nodarbinātības valsts aģentūra (NVA).) is under the supervision of the Ministry of Welfare. It implements labour market policies, including programmes for the unemployed.
  • Local governments participate in the implementation of vocational education by managing their own schools. They promote business development in their territory, cooperate with employer organisations and help students find work placements.

Social dialogue and strategic cooperation are arranged through the following institutions:

  • the National Tripartite Subcouncil for Cooperation in Vocational Education and Employment ([23]Profesionālās izglītības un nodarbinātības trīspusējās sadarbības apakšpadome. It was founded in 2000 by the ministries of welfare, economy, finance, justice, agriculture, education and science, regional development and local government affairs, the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia and the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia.) reviews policy proposals and drafts legal norms for vocational education, human resource development and employment; it evaluates and proposes changes in management, funding and implementation of vocational education; it endorses occupational standards; it endorses annual student enrolment plans prepared by sectoral expert councils.
  • 12 sectoral expert councils (Nozaru ekspertu padomes) propose solutions for long-term human resources development in their respective sectors and ensure that vocational education provision is in line with labour market needs. This includes participation in development of sectoral qualifications frameworks (SQFs), occupational standards, education programmes, quality assessment procedures, work placements, and apprenticeship-type schemes;
  • collegial advisory bodies (conventions) exist in each vocational education institution. Employers or representatives of employers’ organisations, representatives from local government, and representatives from supervising ministries form these conventions. They help shape the development strategy of the education institution, and they contribute to its cooperation with local enterprises, to ensure students’ work placements outside school and apprenticeship-type scheme opportunities ([24]Saeima (1999). Profesionālās izglītības likums [Vocational education law]. Last amended 22.06.2017.
    http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=20244
    ).

According to Eurostat data, the education budget has decreased from 6.7% of GDP in 2009 to 5.5% in 2016, with a slight increase to 5.8% in 2017 ([25]Eurostat table gov_10a_exp. Last update: 16.5.2018.). The budget for vocational education institutions under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Science increased from EUR 54.07 million in 2011 to EUR 70.36 million in 2018 ([26]Saeima (2017). Par valsts budžetu 2018.gadam [Law on State budget for 2018].
https://likumi.lv/ta/id/295569-par-valsts-budzetu-2018-gadam
).

Other resources (including EU funds) have also been allocated to development of the vocational education system. For example, during 2009 to 2015, EUR 163.6 million was invested in the modernisation of equipment and infrastructure. For the same objective, EUR 89.07 million is being invested over 2016 to 2023. Schools also use their own revenues to finance their activities.

Procedures for financing vocational education are stipulated by the Education and Vocational Education Laws ([27]Saeima (1998). Izglītības likums [Education law]. Last amended 20. 9.2018.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=50759; Saeima (1999). Profesionālās izglītības likums [Vocational Education Law]. Last amended 22.6.2017.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=20244
). Education institutions are financed from the State budget, local government budget or private funding according to their ownership. State budget allocations for vocational education programmes are calculated per student.

Salaries of teachers in State and local government education institutions (including pre-schools) are paid from the State budget. Local governments may supplement salaries of teachers. For private schools implementing accredited basic, secondary and higher education programmes the State can also finance salaries of teachers.

The government covers fixed and non-fixed costs ([28]Cabinet of Ministers (2007). Noteikumi par profesionālās izglītības programmu īstenošanas izmaksu minimumu uz vienu izglītojamo [Regulations on expenditures minimum per one student for implementing vocational education programmes]. Regulation No 655 (last amended 3.1.2017, No 4).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=164266
):

  • allowances (scholarships);
  • student residence maintenance;
  • rehabilitation and catering services for students with special needs;
  • culture education and sports activities;
  • practical training in enterprises;
  • accident insurance for practical training in enterprises;
  • salary of employees (wages and employer's State social insurance contributions).

In higher education, the State covers fees for a certain number of negotiated study places for students with good grades. Local governments may charge a fee in municipal sports and music vocational schools. Education institutions may simultaneously implement education programmes funded from different sources.

According to the Education Law ([29]Saeima (1998). Izglītības likums [Education law]. Last amended 20.9.2018.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=50759
), adult education may be financed from the State and local government budgets, employers’ resources, students’ fees, donations and other sources. Some local governments allocate a fixed percentage to adult education from their budget.

Important sources of funding are EU, Norwegian, and Swiss financial assistance instruments, including Structural Funds and Erasmus+ that have helped by creating more learning opportunities for adults through various projects.

In vocational education there are:

  • general subject teachers
  • vocational teachers

The term ‘trainer’ is not used in Latvian vocational education. Teachers provide both theory and practical learning at school. Every vocational education teacher can work in initial and continuing vocational education at basic and secondary education levels.

General subject teachers must have a minimum of either:

  • tertiary education in education and a teaching qualification in the particular subject, or master/doctor degree in education;
  • tertiary education in the relevant field and either a teaching qualification in a particular subject (may be in the process of completing) or working under the supervision of a teacher-mentor for no longer than one year at one school (until 2022).

Vocational teachers must have a professional qualification minimum of either tertiary education in a relevant field (such as engineering) or may be in the process of completing studies (have acquired at least 240 hours), vocational secondary education (EQF level 4), or master of crafts qualification.

Their professional qualification must be complemented by teaching competences acquired in:

  • tertiary teacher education;
  • a teaching-competence development course (72 hours offered by a higher education institution);
  • courses in pedagogy of at least 80 hours in their tertiary education programme.

The requirement for teaching competences does not apply to vocational subject teachers with fewer than 360 teaching hours per year.

Vocational education teachers:

  • implement education programmes according to State vocational education standards, and occupational standards and foster creativity and independence of learners;
  • develop syllabi (to be approved by heads of vocational education institutions);
  • apply new ideas, technologies and methods in the learning process;
  • assess knowledge and skills of learners.

In-company trainers involved in providing an apprenticeship-type scheme must have (as of January 2019) a master of crafts qualification, vocational education or at least three years of relevant work experience. They must also have acquired a 72-hour teaching competence-development course (for teaching in schools) or a special 32-hour teaching competence-development course for in-company trainers of apprenticeships ([30]Cabinet of Ministers (2016). Kārtība, kādā organizē un īsteno darba vidē balstītas mācības [Procedure for organization and implementation of work-based learning]. Regulation No 484. Last amended 12.9.2017.
http://likumi.lv/ta/id/283680-kartiba-kada-organize-un-isteno-darba-vide-balstitas-macibas
).

With the decrease in vocational education institutions since 2010/11, the number of vocational education teachers has decreased by 12%. At the same time, the share of teachers with tertiary education increased from 91% to 93% ([31]For more information see: Daija, Z.; Kinta, G.; Ramina, B. (2016). Supporting teachers and trainers for successful reforms and quality of vocational education and training: mapping their professional development in the EU – Latvia. Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspectives series.http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2016/ReferNet_LV_TT.pdf).

The regulations on teachers’ education and professional competences development ([32]Cabinet of Ministers (2018). Ministru kabineta noteikumi Nr.569, 2018.gada 11.septembrī ‘Noteikumi par pedagogiem nepieciešamo izglītību un profesionālo kvalifikāciju un pedagogu profesionālās kompetences pilnveides kārtību’ [Regulations on required teachers’ education and professional qualification and procedure of teachers’ professional competences development].
https://likumi.lv/ta/id/301572-noteikumi-par-pedagogiem-nepieciesamo-izglitibu-un-profesionalo-kvalifikaciju-un-pedagogu-profesionalas-kompetences-pilnveides-...
), adopted in 2014, determine that vocational education teachers should regularly improve their competence through continuing professional development.

Teachers are required to undertake at least 36 hours of continuing professional development every three years. Education institutions register teachers’ continuing professional development in the database of the State Education Information System (hosted by the Ministry of Education and Science).

The Cabinet Regulations ([33]Cabinet of Ministers (2018). Ministru kabineta noteikumi Nr.569, 2018.gada 11.septembrī ‘Noteikumi par pedagogiem nepieciešamo izglītību un profesionālo kvalifikāciju un pedagogu profesionālās kompetences pilnveides kārtību’ [Regulations on required teachers’ education and professional qualification and procedure of teachers’ professional competences development].
https://likumi.lv/ta/id/301572-noteikumi-par-pedagogiem-nepieciesamo-izglitibu-un-profesionalo-kvalifikaciju-un-pedagogu-profesionalas-kompetences-pilnveides-...
) set the framework of two types of competence development programme:

  • 72-hour programmes which award a certificate in pedagogy, teacher career consultant certificate or right to implement a vocational education subject module.
  • 160-hour programmes which award a teacher's certificate for another subject.

Professional competence development of vocational education teachers is mainly provided by the National Centre for Education ([34]Valsts izglītības satura centrs (VISC).), which is subordinated to the Ministry of Education and Science.

There is no evidence on the attractiveness of teaching as an occupation; however, ageing of teachers is observed.

Responsibility for providing labour market forecasts rests with the Ministry of Economics ([35]Ekonomikas ministrija.), which updates reports every other year and the State Employment Agency that updates reports anually ([36]Nodarbinātības valsts aģentūra (NVA).).

The Ministry of Economics produces annual medium- and long-term forecasts. It set up an advisory council for labour market forecasting ([37]Darba tirgus prognozēšanas konsultatīvā padome.), i.e. a platform for dialogue between representatives of the State, employers, employees and local governments.

The annual report with medium- and long-term labour market forecasts ([38]Ministry of Economics (2018). Informatīvais ziņojums ar darba tirgus vidēja un ilgtermiņa prognozēm [Informative report on medium- and long-term labour market forecasts].
https://www.em.gov.lv/files/attachments/DarbaTirgusPrognozes_2018_06_27.pdf and
https://www.em.gov.lv/files/tautsaimniecibas_attistiba/dsp/EMZino_06072018_full.pdf
) includes an overview of labour supply and demand, and education areas, levels and progression routes of the labour force (including vocational education). The Ministry of Education and Science uses the data as well as annual proposals of sectoral expert councils to plan vocational education provision, including numbers of potential students and types of programmes.

The State Employment Agency carries out short-term labour market forecasts and has created a corresponding online tool ([39]https://cvvp.nva.gov.lv/#/pub/pakalpojumi/prognozes/). It also conducts employer express surveys once a year to anticipate changes in the structure of the labour force. The surveys aim at clarifying reasons for changes in demand and supply for occupations. Their results are used to adjust the education offer for the unemployed.

In 2016, the State Employment Agency, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economics, started a national level ESF project Development of labour market forecasting system (2016-21). The system will provide information on skills and professions in the short-, medium- and long-term, as well as information on learning opportunities. Active labour market policy measures will be evaluated and the offer of vocational education programmes will be based on the outcomes of skills forecasts. Currently, work is under way to develop guidelines for the interpretation and practical use of medium and long-term job forecasts. The guidelines’ main target audience is career advisors and education providers, and their development is based on the needs of forecasting users.

The Central Statistical Bureau ([40]Centrālā statistikas pārvalde (CSB).) conducts a labour force survey four times per year and collects data on education levels, employment by type of economic activity and occupation. Data on higher education institutions’ and vocational education provider graduates is collected by the institutions themselves and submitted to the Ministry of Education and Science and to the Central Statistical Bureau for further analysis and publication.

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([41]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast) and European skills index ([42]https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/indicators/european-skills-index)

Vocational education programmes are designed in line with the State education and occupational standards or qualification requirements (if the occupation does not have a standard), and sectoral qualifications frameworks.

The content of vocational education programmes is defined by State vocational education standards ([43]Cabinet of Ministers (2000). Noteikumi par valsts profesionālās vidējās izglītības standartu un valsts arodizglītības standartu [Regulations on the State vocational secondary education standard and the State vocational education standard]. Regulation No 211 (last amended 19. 9.2017, No 564).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=8533
). The standards include strategic aims, basic principles, mandatory content, ratio of theory and practice and evaluation procedures. Vocational education providers also ensure that specific skills and competences required in the occupational standards/professional qualification requirements are included in the programmes they offer.

Occupational standards and professional qualification requirements are elaborated by designated working groups comprising representatives of ministries, local governments, employers, employees, chamber of commerce and industry, NGOs and vocational education providers. The standards are endorsed by the National Tripartite Subcouncil for Cooperation in Vocational Education and Employment. They are reviewed at least once every five years ([44]Cabinet of Ministers (2016). Profesijas standarta, profesionālās kvalifikācijas prasību (ja profesijai neapstiprina profesijas standartu) un nozares kvalifikāciju struktūras izstrādes kārtība [Procedure for the development of occupational standard, professional qualification requirements (if occupational standard is not approved for an occupation) and sectoral qualifications framework]. Regulation No 633.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=285032
).

Since 2007, occupational standards have to include necessary professional competences, skills, and knowledge to perform professional activities. In 2010-15, key occupational standards in 14 sectors were aligned with recent labour market needs and this process is continuing in 2016-21 using ESF support.

In April 2018, 15 sectoral qualifications frameworks were officially approved, marking an agreement between educators and employers on qualifications required by labour market ([45]Cedefop (2018). Latvia: sectoral qualifications frameworks support vocational education development.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/news-and-press/news/latvia-sectoral-qualifications-frameworks-support-vocational-education-development [accessed 10.8.2018].
). The sectoral qualifications frameworks serve as guidelines for developing occupational standards and implementing vocational education programmes, including modules leading to specialisations.

The new modular approach for vocational education programmes ([46]Cedefop (2013). Latvia – modularisation of VET and work-based learning.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/news-and-press/news/latvia-modularisation-vet-and-work-based-learning
) includes use of learning outcomes, relevant teaching/learning methods and indicators of achievement. In 2017, the amendments to the Vocational Education Law ([47]Saeima (1999). Profesionālās izglītības likums [Vocational education law]. Last amended 22.6.2017.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=20244
) set the legal framework for the modularisation of vocational education programmes. Modules are defined as parts of professional qualifications and are based on learning outcomes as an assessed and approved set of knowledge, skills and competences. Modular vocational education programmes lead to qualifications at EQF levels 2-4 and their professional content consists of a set of modules. After completing one or several modules recognisable in the labour market, but not proving acquisition of a qualification, vocational schools will have to issue a new type of certificate indicating the programme, module(s), achieved learning outcomes and their assessment. In 2017, modules have been included in the State vocational education standards ([48]Cabinet of Ministers (2000). Noteikumi par valsts profesionālās vidējās izglītības standartu un valsts arodizglītības standartu [Regulations on the State vocational secondary education standard and the State vocational education standard]. Regulation No 211 (last amended 19.9.2017, No 564).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=8533
).

Qualification exams ([49]Cabinet of Ministers (2011c). Profesionālās kvalifikācijas eksāmenu norises kārtība akreditētās profesionālās izglītības programmās [Procedure of professional qualification examinations in accredited vocational education programmes]. Regulation No 662 (last amended 18.12.2012, No 918).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=235206
) that consist of theoretical and practical parts are designed in line with both occupational and State vocational education standards. Representatives from relevant sectoral organisations participate in the examination process.

The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for policies and strategies to ensure accessibility and quality of education.

Quality is assured through:

  • elaboration of education policy;
  • registration and accreditation of education providers;
  • licensing and accreditation of education programmes;
  • supervising the education process.

The further development of the quality monitoring system is among the priorities of vocational education policy. A principle of accreditation ensures that each programme’s content meets required standards of vocational education provided by public (State, local government) and private institutions ([50]Cabinet of Ministers (2016e). Noteikumi Nr. 831 ‘Kārtība, kādā akreditē izglītības iestādes, eksaminācijas centrus un citas Izglītības likumā noteiktās institūcijas, vispārējās un profesionālās izglītības programmas un novērtē valsts augstskolu vidējās izglītības iestāžu, valsts un pašvaldību izglītības iestāžu vadītāju profesionālo darbību’ [Procedure for accrediting education institutions and examination centres, accrediting general and vocational education programmes, and evaluating professional work of heads of public education institutions]. Regulation No 831. Last amended 18.9.2018.
http://likumi.lv/ta/id/287602-kartiba-kada-akredite-izglitibas-iestades-eksaminacijas-centrus-un-citas-izglitibas-likuma-noteiktas-institucijas
). It also increases the transparency of education provision, and fosters recognition of Latvian qualifications abroad.

The State Education Quality Service ([51]Izglītības kvalitātes valsts dienests (IKVD).) organises licensing and accreditation of vocational education programmes, and accreditation of vocational education providers and examination centres ([52]Examination centre is an accredited commercial company or association in arranging professional qualification exams, which does not implement education programmes.) of State, local government and private entities. A licence is a permission to implement a particular programme that meets all requirements of State education and occupational standards or professional qualification requirements. Providers must ensure proper infrastructure and equipment and, if necessary, obtain an agreement from the relevant professional association. The State Education Quality Service issues a licence for an indefinite period.

Accreditation is the evaluation of the performance of the relevant education provider and/or the quality of implementation of the education programme. As a result of accreditation, an education provider obtains a right for two to six years to issue a State recognised qualification for a particular programme. During the accreditation process, the quality of the implementation of an education programme is evaluated against criteria aligned to EQAVET. For example, when accrediting vocational education programmes (EQF levels 2-4), the following areas of criteria are assessed:

  • content of education – education programmes implemented by institution;
  • teaching and learning;
  • learners’ achievements;
  • support to learners;
  • environment of institution;
  • resources of institution;
  • work organisation, management and quality assurance of institution.

All public continuing vocational education programmes (480 hours or more) and professional development programmes (160 hours or more) must be licensed and accredited by the State Education Quality Service. Providers of professional development programmes (159 hours or less) must obtain a licence from local government. Public providers can offer non-formal learning programmes without a licence.

During the licensing or accreditation process, the State Education Quality Service hires external experts and representatives of sectoral NGOs and employers to evaluate programme compliance with State education standards, occupational standards or professional qualification requirements and other regulations. All experts have specific knowledge of the accreditation process.

The National Centre for Education ([53]Valsts izglītības satura centrs (VISC).) ensures the development of content for vocational education (except higher education) in compliance with the State vocational education standards. It also ensures development and implementation of uniform content for vocational education State examinations, coordinates development of teaching/learning aids complying with State general and vocational education standards, and coordinates teachers’ professional development.

The Higher Education Council ([54]Augstākās izglītības padome.) is responsible for quality assurance of higher (including professional) education. The council takes decisions on accreditation of higher education institutions in general and submits them to the Ministry of Education and Science for approval.

Since 2012, study fields (including all programmes of the same field) undergo joint quality assurance. From 2015, quality assurance of higher education institutions/colleges and study fields, and licensing of study programmes is organised by Higher Education Quality Agency ([55]Augstākās izglītības kvalitātes aģentūra (AIKA).), a department within the Academic Information Centre ([56]Akadēmiskās informācijas centrs (AIC).).

The Academic Information Centre develops and complies with the methodologies and procedures for external quality assessment of higher education institutions/colleges and study fields in line with the standards and guidelines developed by the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education ([57]ENQA). The decision on the accreditation of the study field is taken by the study accreditation committee.

The Academic Information Centre maintains the register of study fields, a public portal ([58]http://svr.aic.lv/Form.aspx?id=contacts) that includes information on higher education programmes and quality assurance of institutions and study fields.

A system for validation of prior learning (EQF levels 2-4) was launched in 2011 after amendments to the Vocational Education Law ([59]Saeima (1999). Profesionālās izglītības likums [Vocational education law]. Last amended 22.6.2017.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=20244
). Accredited education providers and examination centres with a permit from the State Education Quality Service ([60]Izglītības kvalitātes valsts dienests (IKVD).) carry out the validation process according to government regulations ([61]Cabinet of Ministers (2011). Kārtība, kādā novērtē ārpus formālās izglītības sistēmas apgūto profesionālo kompetenci [Procedure how professional competences obtained outside formal education system are assessed]. Regulation No 146 (last amended 30.8.2011, No 663)].
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=226788
).

The validation procedure includes the following steps:

  • submission of application;
  • consultation (free of charge) on requirements of relevant occupational standard or professional qualification requirements and the exam procedure;
  • professional qualification exam (for a fee);
  • certification of professional qualification.

Since 2017, ESF support has been used to compensate the cost of the qualification exam both for the unemployed and employed. After successfully passing the exam, a certificate of a professional qualification (EQF level 2-4) is issued according to government regulations ([62]Cabinet of Ministers (2011). Profesionālās kvalifikācijas eksāmenu norises kārtība akreditētās profesionālās izglītības programmās [Procedure of professional qualification examinations in accredited vocational education programmes]. Regulation No 662 (last amended 18.12.2012, No 918).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=235206
). The qualification gives access to labour market.

The validation procedure and criteria for higher education were approved in 2012, following amendments of 2011 to the Law on Higher Education Institutions ([63]Saeima (1995). Augstskolu likums [Law on higher education institutions ]. Last amended 18.10.2018.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=37967
). Knowledge, skills and competences acquired in previous learning may be validated according to learning outcomes of the study course or module (for regulated professions only in a theoretical course or module). Learning outcomes acquired through professional experience may only be recognised in a practical course or module of the study programme ([64]Cabinet of Ministers (2018a). Ārpus formālās izglītības apgūto vai profesionālajā pieredzē iegūto kompetenču un iepriekšējā izglītībā sasniegtu studiju rezultātu atzīšanas noteikumi [Regulations for validation of competences acquired outside formal education or during professional experience and for recognising learning outcomes acquired in previous education]. Regulations No 505.
https://likumi.lv/ta/id/301013-arpus-formalas-izglitibas-apguto-vai-profesionalaja-pieredze-ieguto-kompetencu-un-iepriekseja-izglitiba-sasniegtu
).

An overview of the development and implementation of the system for validation of non-formal and informal learning outcomes (EQF levels 2-7) is provided in the report Implementation of validation of non-formal and informal learning outcomes in Latvia prepared by the Academic Information Centre in 2018.

National policy priorities include increasing the attractiveness of initial vocational education and reduction of early leaving from education.

The education development guidelines 2014-20 ([65]Saeima (2014). Saeimas paziņojums 2014.gada 22.maijā: par Izglītības attīstības pamatnostādņu 2014.-20.gadam apstiprināšanu [Education development guidelines for 2014-20].
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=266406
) foresee preventive and compensatory actions, including:

  • promoting youth involvement in leisure and extracurricular activities that increase interest in practical areas and support skills development;
  • providing scholarships for vocational education students;
  • conducting a study on reasons for leaving education early;
  • implementing initial vocational education programmes in the Youth guarantee initiative framework;
  • identifying young NEETs and involving them in education.

Monthly scholarships

Unlike general education students, vocational education students receive monthly scholarships according to government regulations on scholarships ([66]Cabinet of Ministers (2004). Noteikumi par stipendijām [Regulations on scholarships]. Regulation No 740 (last amended 5.12.2017, No706).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=93004
). Students in public vocational education programmes receive a State scholarship of between EUR 10 and 150 per month depending on performance. Orphans/children without parental care (not in care institutions or foster families) and best performers in studies or school social activities receive a higher scholarship.

Scholarships and tax incentives for students of short programmes

17 to 29 year-old students of short programmes in the youth guarantee initiative may receive ESF part-financed scholarship per month up to EUR 70-115.

Tax incentives for individuals are also available and regulated by the Law on Personal Income Tax ([67]Saeima (1993). Par iedzīvotāju ienākuma nodokli [Law on personal income tax]. Last amended 31.5.2018.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=56880
). The Law was amended to introduce, as of January 2017, a tax exemption for apprenticeship scholarships not exceeding EUR 280 per month.

Reduction of taxable income

Individuals may request the State Revenue Service ([68]Valsts ieņēmumu dienests.) to reduce their taxable income by the amount of their education (and medical) expenses up to a maximum of EUR 600 per year (increased in 2018), including expenses paid for brothers/sisters/children under 24 years of age ([69]Saeima (1993). Par iedzīvotāju ienākuma nodokli [Law on personal income tax]. Last amended 31.5.2018.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=56880
). The revenue service is also responsible for monitoring the use of tax incentives. Recent statistics, however, do not include all claims, as expenses may be claimed up to three years after they have been incurred.

For taxation purposes ‘education’ is understood as participation in:

  • accredited education programmes (including higher and vocational education);
  • EU/European economic area occupational learning;
  • skills or qualification development;
  • interest education for children under 18 years of age.

Study loans for tertiary education

Tertiary (including professional) education students can apply for two types of study loan to cover tuition fees and costs of living. Loans are offered by selected banks (or other credit institutions) and are guaranteed by the State ([70]Saeima (1995). Augstskolu likums [Law on higher education institutions]. Last amended 18.10.2018.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=37967
).

Financial support for apprenticeships

The Employers’ Confederation of Latvia started a national level ESF project (2017-23) on vocational education students’ involvement in apprenticeship and work placements. Enterprises, vocational schools and students receive financial support for the project.

Financial support for apprenticeships

The Employers’ Confederation of Latvia started a national level ESF project (2017-23) on vocational education student involvement in apprenticeship and work placements. Enterprises, vocational schools and students receive financial support while part of the project.

The main incentives for companies to provide apprenticeships are:

  • opportunity to prepare the employees they need in a timely manner;
  • to create a positive image of the company in society;
  • to receive financing from the ESF project in this process;
  • an opportunity to pay a student motivational apprenticeship scholarship without paying taxes.

The project is a good support tool to provide additional funding for an employee who trains a student. It provides work safety tools, the opportunity to cover student insurance from the project funds, and purchase a mandatory health check; the project has also provided funding to cover travel costs for learner to get to the company where apprenticeship takes place.

The Education Law ([71]Saeima (1998). Izglītības likums [Education law]. Last amended 20.9.2018. http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=50759
) stipulates local governments’ responsibility for provision of career education for children and the young; students’ right to receive career guidance and counselling; and responsibilities of heads of education institutions for ensuring access to career development services. The Vocational Education Law ([72]Saeima (1999a). Profesionālās izglītības likums [Vocational education law]. Last amended 22.6.2017. http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=20244
) determines the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Science for introducing guidance and counselling in vocational education.

The present career development support system has been in place since 2006. It was launched by a Ministry of Welfare policy paper on improving career guidance ([73]Cabinet of Ministers (2006a). Par Koncepciju Karjeras attīstības atbalsta sistēmas pilnveidošana [White paper on improvement of the career guidance system]. Cabinet Order No 214. http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=132990
). The paper covers all aspects of lifelong guidance including the mechanisms to ensure better cooperation and coordination between key stakeholders at different levels. The development of career education and widening access to individual career services in a lifelong learning context is also one of policy priorities set by the education development guidelines 2014-20 ([74]Saeima (2014). Saeimas paziņojums 2014.gada 22.maijā: par Izglītības attīstības pamatnostādņu 2014.-20.gadam apstiprināšanu [Education development guidelines for 2014-20]. http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=266406
) and is implemented with support from public and EU funds.

In 2007, the national guidance and counselling forum (Karjeras attīstības atbalsta sistēmas sadarbības padome) was established. This gathers policy-makers from the relevant ministries, guidance providers, social partners and users. The forum proposes changes at national and local levels, contributing to development of guidance and counselling policy and system. It also cooperates with the Latvian delegation to the European lifelong guidance policy network.

The provision of career education is one of the criteria for assessing quality in general and vocational education schools ([75]Cabinet of Ministers (2016e). Noteikumi Nr. 831 ‘Kārtība, kādā akreditē izglītības iestādes, eksaminācijas centrus un citas Izglītības likumā noteiktās institūcijas, vispārējās un profesionālās izglītības programmas un novērtē valsts augstskolu vidējās izglītības iestāžu, valsts un pašvaldību izglītības iestāžu vadītāju profesionālo darbību’ [Procedure for accrediting education institutions and examination centres, accrediting general and vocational education programmes, and evaluating professional work of heads of public education institutions]. Regulation No 831. Last amended 18.9.2018.
http://likumi.lv/ta/id/287602-kartiba-kada-akredite-izglitibas-iestades-eksaminacijas-centrus-un-citas-izglitibas-likuma-noteiktas-institucijas
). Vocational education competence centres should provide individual career counselling and support measures for career education to help students acquire career management skills ([76]Cabinet of Ministers (2013a). Profesionālās izglītības kompetences centra statusa piešķiršanas un anulēšanas kārtība [Procedure for allocation and nullification of vocational education competence centre status]. Regulation No 144.Last amended 25.8.2015.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=255589
).

The State Education Development Agency (VIAA) represents Latvia in the Euroguidance network and supports implementation of career education policy within the education sector.

The agency develops methodological materials for career guidance practitioners working at schools and guidance materials for young people and adults. VIAA also organises seminars for practitioners, since 2012, including a ‘career week’ in big cities for young people that offers visits to enterprises and meetings with representatives of different occupations; it organises participation of young professionals in international level competitions – EuroSkills and WordSkills – in which Latvian teams have competed successfully since 2010 and 2011 respectively, and, since 2017, has organised SkillsLatvia, the largest national professional skills competition for vocational education learners. The agency also maintains and updates an education opportunities database ([77]See
www.niid.lv [accessed 17.8.2018].
) with information about general, vocational and higher education providers and programmes, as well as about non-formal learning opportunities. VIAA also offers a website ([78]See
www.profesijupasaule.lv [accessed 17.8.2018].
) with information about the world of work.

According to the Support Law for Unemployed Persons and Persons Seeking Employment (Saeima, 2002), the State Employment Agency’s (NVA) functions include ensuring free career advice for the unemployed, job-seekers or other persons and developing career counselling methods and career guidance information.

NVA provides group and individual career consultations. Counselling methods depend on the client’s needs. The first meeting in an individual career consultation is devoted to clarifying the aims of the consultation and selecting the most appropriate working method, which may be focused on exploring professional interests, vocational aptitude, or exploring clients’ knowledge, skills/competences and values. If need be, psychological support is offered, in the form of a client resource assessment to show their strengths for a successful future life planning. The NVA web portal www.nva.gov.lv section Career services ([79]See Karjeras pakalpojumi:
http://www.nva.gov.lv/karjera [accessed 18.7.2018].
) has information on job searching and career decision making, with descriptions of occupations, education opportunities, and self-assessment tests.

According to the Law on Higher Education Institutions ([80]Saeima (1995). Augstskolu likums [Law on institutions of higher education]. Last amended 21.6.2018.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=37967
), students have a right to receive information on issues regarding their studies and potential careers. Higher education institutions have designated career centres that provide information on education and career opportunities.

In the private and NGO sectors, provision of guidance services is underdeveloped, but there are some promising initiatives. An example is the youth consultation web portal ([81]See
www.prakse.lv [accessed 18.7.2018].
) (since 2008), which is considered the largest in Latvia covering career and education issues.

Please also see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

College VET

programme

2-3 years

ISCED 554

First level higher professional education (college education) (pirmā līmeņa profesionālā augstākā izglītība (koledžas izglītība)) programme leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 554
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

554

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

19+

Usual completion age

21+

Length of a programme (years)

2 to 3

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

a certain number of study places in many programmes are financed by the State.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

120-180 ECTS credit points.

Since 2004, Latvia has had a well-established national credit point system. One Latvian credit point corresponds to the workload of one week full-time studies (40 points per academic year). Recalculating in ECTS credits, the amount of Latvian credit points has to be multiplied by 1.5.

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

Higher education institutions, including colleges (koledža) provide full-time, part-time and distance studies at all levels.

Main providers
  • Higher education institutions (including universities, university colleges, academies, institutes)
  • Colleges
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

=30%

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

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

Entry requirement is secondary education.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners need to pass a final qualification examination which also includes defence of a qualification paper.

If a learner fails a qualification examination, they are entitled to take a second examination in the following academic year but must cover the costs.

Diplomas/certificates provided

First level professional higher education diploma (pirmā līmeņa profesionālās augstākās izglītības diploms) at EQF level 5.

Examples of qualifications

Accountant, insurance specialist, fitness trainer.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation
  • labour market
  • professional higher education studies (graduates may have shorter duration of further studies at EQF level 6 if they continue in the same field)
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

Learning outcomes are validated based on knowledge, skills, and competences acquired in previous learning or professional experience, as well as learning outcomes achieved in previous learning, with the expected learning outcomes in the respective college study programme by awarding the respective amount of credits.

General education subjects

Y, general education subjects take up at least 17% of the curriculum.

Key competences

Y

The compulsory content includes a module for the development of professional competences in entrepreneurship.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

13% learners of all higher education study programmes.

EQF 6

Professional bachelor

programme,

4 years

ISCED 655

Professional bachelor (profesionālais bakalaurs) programme leading to EQF level 6, ISCED 655
EQF level
6
ISCED-P 2011 level

655

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

19+

Usual completion age

23+

Length of a programme (years)

Minimum 4

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

a certain number of study places in many programmes are financed by the State.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

At least 240 ECTS credit points.

Since 2004, Latvia has had a well-established national credit point system. One Latvian credit point corresponds to the workload of one week full-time studies (40 points per academic year). Recalculating in ECTS credits, the amount of Latvian credit points has to be multiplied by 1.5.

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

Higher education institutions provide full-time, part-time and distance studies at all levels.

Main providers

Higher education institutions (including universities, university colleges, academies, institutes)

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=12.5%

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

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

Entry requirement is secondary education.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners need to pass a State examination and defend a final thesis. Study programmes are learning-outcomes based.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Professional Bachelor’s diploma (profesionālā bakalaura diploms)

Examples of qualifications

Lawyer, social worker, civil engineer.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation
  • labour market
  • second level professional higher education studies
  • master studies
Destination of graduates

information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

Learning outcomes are validated based on the knowledge, skills, and competences acquired in previous learning or professional experience, as well as learning outcomes achieved in previous learning, with the learning outcomes to be achieved in the respective study programme of the higher education institution by awarding the respective amount of credits.

General education subjects

Y

general education subjects take up 17% of the curriculum

Key competences

Y

Compulsory content includes humanitarian and social sciences study courses, including courses that develop social, communicative and organisational skills, as well as information technology courses. The study courses must include a module for the development of professional competence in entrepreneurship.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

34% learners of all higher education study programmes (academic and professional) including ISCED 655 and 657.

EQF 6 or 7

Professional

higher education programme

(e.g. medical studies),

4-6 years

ISCED 655, 656, 756

Second level higher professional education programme after secondary education (otrā līmeņa profesionālās augstākās izglītības programmas pēc vidējās izglītības) leading to EQF level 6 or 7, ISCED 655, 656 or 756
EQF level
6 or 7
ISCED-P 2011 level

655, 656 or 756

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

23-25+

Usual completion age

27+

Length of a programme (years)

4 for ISCED 655, more than 4 for ISCED 656, 5 minimum for ISCED 756

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

a certain number of study places in many programmes are financed by the State.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

240-360 ECTS credit points.

Since 2004, Latvia has had a well-established national credit point system. One Latvian credit point corresponds to the workload of one week full-time studies (40 points per academic year). Recalculating in ECTS credits, the amount of Latvian credit points has to be multiplied by 1.5.

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

Higher education institutions provide full-time, part-time and distance studies at all levels.

Main providers

Higher education institutions (including universities, university colleges, academies, institutes)

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=12.5%

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

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

Entry requirement is secondary education for ISCED 655, 656 and 756.

Entry requirement can be first level professional higher education (college programme) for ISCED 655.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners need to pass a State examination and defend a final thesis. Study programmes are based on learning outcomes.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Professional higher education diploma, diploma of higher professional qualification (profesionālās augstākās izglītības diploms, augstākās profesionālās kvalifikācijas diploms) (at least four years of full time studies for EQF level 6 and at least five years of full time studies for EQF level 7)

Examples of qualifications

Cardiac surgeon, dietitian, occupational health physician

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation
  • labour market
  • master programmes for ISCED 655 and 656
  • doctoral programmes for ISCED 756
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

Learning outcomes are validated based on the knowledge, skills, and competences acquired in previous learning or professional experience, as well as learning outcomes achieved in previous learning, with the learning outcomes to be achieved in the respective study programme of the higher education institution by awarding the respective amount of credits.

General education subjects

Y

general education subjects take up 12.5% of the curriculum

Key competences

Y

Compulsory content includes humanitarian and social sciences study courses, including courses that develop social, communicative and organisational skills, as well as information technology courses. The study courses must include a module for the development of professional competence in entrepreneurship (if it was not acquired in lower level study courses).

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

7% learners of all higher education study programmes.

EQF 6

Professional

Higher education programme,

1-2 years

ISCED 657

Second level higher professional education programme after bachelor level studies (otrā līmeņa profesionālā augstākās izglītības programma pēc bakalaura līmeņa studijām) leading to EQF level 6 ISCED 657
EQF level
6
ISCED-P 2011 level

657

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

23+

Usual completion age

24+

Length of a programme (years)

1 to 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?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

a certain number of study places in many programmes are financed by the State.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

60-120 ECTS credit points.

Since 2004, Latvia has had a well-established national credit point system. One Latvian credit point corresponds to the workload of one week full-time studies (40 points per academic year). Recalculating in ECTS credits, the amount of Latvian credit points has to be multiplied by 1.5.

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

Higher education institutions provide full-time, part-time and distance studies at all levels.

Main providers

Higher education institutions (including universities, university colleges, academies, institutes).

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

=50%

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

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

Entry requirement is a bachelor degree or professional bachelor degree, second level higher professional education (after secondary education)

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners need to pass a State examination and defend a final thesis. Study programmes are based on learning outcomes.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Professional higher education diploma, diploma of higher professional qualification (profesionālās augstākās izglītības diploms, augstākās profesionālās kvalifikācijas diploms)

Examples of qualifications

Fire safety and civil protection engineer, translator, lawyer

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can enter the labour market

Destination of graduates

information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

Learning outcomes are validated based on the knowledge, skills, and competences acquired in previous learning or professional experience, as well as learning outcomes achieved in previous learning, with the learning outcomes to be achieved in the respective study programme of the higher education institution by awarding the respective amount of credits.

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Compulsory content includes humanitarian and social sciences study courses, including courses that develop social, communicative and organisational skills, as well as information technology courses. The study courses must include a module for the development of professional competence in entrepreneurship (if it was not acquired in lower level study courses).

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

Information not available

EQF 7

Professional master

programme

min 1 year

ISCED 757

Professional master (profesionālais maģistrs) programme leading to EQF level 7, ISCED 757
EQF level
7
ISCED-P 2011 level

757

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

22+

Usual completion age

23+

Length of a programme (years)

Minimum 1

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

a certain number of study places in many programmes are financed by the State.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

60 to 120 ECTS, depending on the previous education and field.

Since 2004, Latvia has had a well-established national credit point system. One Latvian credit point corresponds to the workload of one week full-time studies (40 points per academic year). Recalculating in ECTS credits, the amount of Latvian credit points has to be multiplied by 1.5.

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

Higher education institutions provide full-time, part-time and distance studies at all levels.

Main providers

Higher education institutions (including universities, university colleges, academies, institutes)

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

65%

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

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

Entry requirement is a bachelor’s degree or professional bachelor’s degree, second level higher professional education (after secondary education)

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners need to pass a State examination and defend a final thesis. Study programmes are based on learning outcomes.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Professional master’s diploma (profesionālā maģistra diploms)

Examples of qualifications

Economist, electrical engineer, quality manager

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can enter:

  • labour market
  • doctoral studies
Destination of graduates

information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

Learning outcomes are validated based on the knowledge, skills, and competences acquired in previous learning or professional experience, as well as learning outcomes achieved in previous learning, with the learning outcomes to be achieved in the respective study programme of the higher education institution by awarding the respective amount of credits.

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Compulsory content must include study courses which develop professional competences in entrepreneurship (if it was not acquired in lower level study courses).

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

13% learners of all higher education study programmes (academic and professional).

Post-secondary

Programme Types
Not available

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 2

Mainly

school-based VET,

WBL 65%

ISCED 254

Basic vocational education (profesionālā pamatizglītība) programmes leading to EQF level 2, ISCED 254
EQF level
2
ISCED-P 2011 level

254

Usual entry grade

8

Usual completion grade

9

Usual entry age

15+

Usual completion age

16+

Length of a programme (years)

1-3

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning
  • workshops at school
Main providers

Special education institutions/development centres or vocational education institutions

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=65%

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

The main target groups are learners with intellectual disability and early leavers from compulsory basic education.

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

There are no minimum entry requirements, but learners must be at least 15 years old to enrol.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners need to pass a professional qualification examination and qualification practice. The professional qualification examination ([84]Cabinet of Ministers (2011c). Profesionālās kvalifikācijas eksāmenu norises kārtība akreditētās profesionālās izglītības programmās [Procedure of professional qualification examinations in accredited vocational education programmes]. Regulation No 662 (last amended 18.12.2012, No 918).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=235206
) includes both theoretical and practical parts, designed in line with both occupational and State vocational education standards and organised according to government regulations. Representatives from relevant sectoral organisations participate in the examination process.

A learner who fails a qualification examination is entitled to take a second examination in the following academic year, but must covering the costs.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Certificate of basic vocational education (apliecība par profesionālo pamatizglītību), with professional qualification at EQF level 2.

Examples of qualifications

Cook’s assistant, carpenter's assistant

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter the labour market
  • progress to secondary level (vocational) education
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% ([85]2017)

EQF 3

Mainly

School-based secondary VET,

WBL 65%,

3 years

ISCED 353

Vocational education (arodizglītība) programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 353
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

353

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

19

Length of a programme (years)

3

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Vocational education programmes are mainly school-based, with practical learning periods at schools or enterprises. Since 2015, vocational education can also take the form of an apprenticeship-type scheme (nationally called ‘work-based learning’) with flexible curricula taking place alternately at school and enterprise.

The learning form of this programme type is contact studies which can also be implemented as an apprenticeship-type scheme.

Main providers

Vocational schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=65%

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

The main target group is young people after completion of basic education.

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

Entry requirements are 15 years and basic education.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners need to pass a professional qualification examination and qualification practice. The professional qualification examination ([86]Cabinet of Ministers (2011c). Profesionālās kvalifikācijas eksāmenu norises kārtība akreditētās profesionālās izglītības programmās [Procedure of professional qualification examinations in accredited vocational education programmes]. Regulation No 662 (last amended 18.12.2012, No 918).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=235206
) includes both theoretical and practical parts, designed in line with both occupational and State vocational education standards and organised according to the government regulations. Representatives from relevant sectoral organisations participate in the examination process.

A learner who fails a qualification examination is entitled to take a second examination in the following academic year but must cover the costs.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Certificate of vocational education (atestāts par arodizglītību) with professional qualification at EQF level 3

Examples of qualifications

Cook, carpenter, gardener

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter vocational secondary education
  • enter the labour market

For admission to higher education, a one-year intermediate general secondary education ‘bridge programme’ must be followed.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

The share of theory is 60%.

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The content of these education programmes, which are elaborated by providers, is defined by the State vocational education standards ([87]Cabinet of Ministers (2000). Noteikumi par valsts profesionālās vidējās izglītības standartu un valsts arodizglītības standartu [Regulations on the State vocational secondary education standard and the State vocational education standard]. Regulation No 211 (last amended 19.9.2017, No 564).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=8533
) and occupational standards ([88]Since 2016, in parallel to the occupational standards, Cabinet Regulations stipulate qualifications requirements and sectoral qualifications framework (SQF) descriptions. In further text, the term ‘occupational standards’ includes all the mentioned documents.) ([89]Cabinet of Ministers (2016). Profesijas standarta, profesionālās kvalifikācijas prasību (ja profesijai neapstiprina profesijas standartu) un nozares kvalifikāciju struktūras izstrādes kārtība [Procedure for the development of occupational standard, professional qualification requirements (if occupational standard is not approved for an occupation) and sectoral qualifications framework]. Regulation No 633.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=285032
) and is based on learning outcomes.

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

5% ([90]2017)

EQF 4

Mainly

school-based secondary VET

WBL 50%,

4 years

ISCED 354

Vocational secondary education (profesionālā vidējā izglītība) programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

20

Length of a programme (years)

4

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Vocational education programmes are mainly school-based, with practical learning periods at schools or enterprises. Since 2015, vocational education can also take the form of an apprenticeship-type scheme (nationally called ‘work-based learning’) with flexible curricula taking place alternately at school and enterprise.

Main providers

The main providers are vocational schools and some colleges.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50%

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

The main target group is young people after completing basic education.

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

Entry requirements are basic education.

Assessment of learning outcomes

To complete a vocational education programme, learners need to pass a final professional qualification examination and qualification practice. The professional qualification examination ([91]Cabinet of Ministers (2011c). Profesionālās kvalifikācijas eksāmenu norises kārtība akreditētās profesionālās izglītības programmās [Procedure of professional qualification examinations in accredited vocational education programmes]. Regulation No 662 (last amended 18.12.2012, No 918).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=235206
) includes both theoretical and practical parts, designed in line with both occupational and State vocational education standards and organised according to government regulations. Representatives from relevant sectoral organisations participate in the examination process.

Vocational secondary education students must also take State centralised exams in the following general study subjects: Latvian, mathematics, foreign language and one subject selected by the student.

A learner who fails a qualification examination is entitled to take a second examination in the following academic year but must cover the costs.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Vocational secondary education programmes lead to a diploma of vocational secondary education (diploms par profesionālo vidējo izglītību) with professional qualification at EQF level 4.

The State centralised exams in four general subjects provide students with a certificate of general secondary education (vispārējās vidējās izglītības sertifikāts) and the right to enter higher education.

Examples of qualifications

Car mechanic, electronic technician, mechanical engineering technician

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter the labour market
  • continue in higher education after passing the State centralised exams in general study subjects
Destination of graduates

information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

The share of theory is 60%.

Key competences

Y

Key competences are acquired according to the State education standard.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The content of these programmes, which are elaborated by providers, is defined by the State vocational education standards ([92]Cabinet of Ministers (2000). Noteikumi par valsts profesionālās vidējās izglītības standartu un valsts arodizglītības standartu [Regulations on the State vocational secondary education standard and the State vocational education standard]. Regulation No 211 (last amended 19.9.2017, No 564).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=8533
), occupational standards ([93]Cabinet of Ministers (2016). Profesijas standarta, profesionālās kvalifikācijas prasību (ja profesijai neapstiprina profesijas standartu) un nozares kvalifikāciju struktūras izstrādes kārtība [Procedure for the development of occupational standard, professional qualification requirements (if occupational standard is not approved for an occupation) and sectoral qualifications framework]. Regulation No 633.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=285032
), and is based on learning outcomes.

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

71% ([94]2017)

EQF 3

Mainly

school-based VET,

WBL 65%

up to 2 years

ISCED 351,453

One year vocational education (viengadīgā arodizglītība) programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 351 or 453
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

351 or 453

Usual entry grade

10+

Usual completion grade

11+

Usual entry age

17+

Usual completion age

18+

Length of a programme (years)

1

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Vocational education programmes are mainly school-based, with practical learning periods at schools or enterprises. Since 2015, vocational education can also take the form of an apprenticeship-type scheme (nationally called ‘work-based learning’) with flexible curricula taking place alternately at school and enterprise.

At the end of the learning process there is at least 560 hours of qualification practice, followed by a final qualification examination.

The learning form of this programme type is mainly contact studies which can also be implemented as an apprenticeship-type scheme; however, some programmes are offered in part-time form.

Main providers

The main providers are vocational schools.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=65%

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

The main target group is young people. Since 2014/15, these programmes have been offered to 17 to 29 year-olds with basic or secondary education in the Youth guarantee initiative using ESF support.

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

Entry requirements are age 17 and basic education (for programmes of ISCED 351) or secondary education (for programmes of ISCED 453 ([95]In Latvia, post-secondary education programmes, in contrast to what their name suggests, belong to secondary education level.)).

Assessment of learning outcomes

At the end of the programme learners must pass a final professional qualification examination.

If a learner fails a qualification examination, they are entitled to take a second examination in the following academic year but must cover the costs.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Certificate of professional qualification (profesionālās kvalifikācijas apliecība) (EQF level 3)

Examples of qualifications

Carer, carpenter, gardener

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can enter the labour market

Destination of graduates

information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

It is possible to acquire a certificate of professional qualification (EQF level 3) through validation of prior learning.

General education subjects

N

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The content of these programmes, which are elaborated by providers, is defined by the State vocational education standards ([96]Cabinet of Ministers (2000). Noteikumi par valsts profesionālās vidējās izglītības standartu un valsts arodizglītības standartu [Regulations on the State vocational secondary education standard and the State vocational education standard]. Regulation No 211 (last amended 19.9.2017, No 564).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=8533
), occupational standards ([97]Cabinet of Ministers (2016). Profesijas standarta, profesionālās kvalifikācijas prasību (ja profesijai neapstiprina profesijas standartu) un nozares kvalifikāciju struktūras izstrādes kārtība [Procedure for the development of occupational standard, professional qualification requirements (if occupational standard is not approved for an occupation) and sectoral qualifications framework]. Regulation No 633.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=285032
), and is based on learning outcomes.

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

9% ([98]2017)

EQF 4

Mainly

school-based VET,

WBL 65%

up to 2 years

ISCED 351, 453

One and a half to three-year vocational secondary education after general secondary education (profesionālā vidējā izglītība pēc vispārējās vidējās izglītības) programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 453
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

453

Usual entry grade

12

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

19

Usual completion age

20+

Length of a programme (years)

1.5-3

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Since 2014/15, these programmes have been offered in the Youth guarantee initiative using ESF support.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Vocational education programmes are mainly school-based, with practical learning periods at schools or enterprises. Since 2015, vocational education can also take the form of an apprenticeship-type scheme (nationally called ‘work-based learning’) with flexible curricula taking place alternately at school and enterprise.

At the end of the learning process there is at least 560 hours of qualification practice, which is followed by a qualification examination.

The learning form of this programme type is mainly contact studies which can be implemented also as an apprenticeship-type scheme. However, several programmes are offered in part-time or distance learning form.

Main providers

The main providers are vocational schools.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50%

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

The main target group is young people. Since 2014/15, programmes mainly of one and a half years have been offered to 17 to 29 year-olds with secondary education in the Youth guarantee initiative using ESF support.

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

Entry requirement is secondary education

Assessment of learning outcomes

Learners need to pass a final professional qualification examination.

If a learner fails a qualification examination, they are entitled to take a second examination in the following academic year but must cover the costs.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Short vocational secondary education programmes (ISCED-P 453) lead to a diploma of vocational secondary education (diploms par profesionālo vidējo izglītību) with professional qualification at EQF level 4.

Examples of qualifications

Car mechanic, book-keeper, dental technician

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can enter the labour market

Destination of graduates

information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The content of these programmes, which are elaborated by providers, is defined by the State vocational education standards ([99]Cabinet of Ministers (2000). Noteikumi par valsts profesionālās vidējās izglītības standartu un valsts arodizglītības standartu [Regulations on the State vocational secondary education standard and the State vocational education standard]. Regulation No 211 (last amended 19.9.2017, No 564).
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=8533
), occupational standards ([100]Cabinet of Ministers (2016). Profesijas standarta, profesionālās kvalifikācijas prasību (ja profesijai neapstiprina profesijas standartu) un nozares kvalifikāciju struktūras izstrādes kārtība [Procedure for the development of occupational standard, professional qualification requirements (if occupational standard is not approved for an occupation) and sectoral qualifications framework]. Regulation No 633.
http://likumi.lv/doc.php?id=285032
), and is based on learning outcomes.

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

14% ([101]2017)

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available

General themes

VET in Estonia comprises the following main features:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

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

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

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

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

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

Most companies are micro- and small-sized.

Main economic sectors:

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

VET qualifications are required in these sectors.

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

2.9%

40.7%

100%

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2008-18

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

 

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

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

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

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

 

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

 

VET learners by age group

Source: National data

 

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

The education and training system comprises:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Formal, non-formal, initial and continuing VET

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

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

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

There are several VET learning options:

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

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

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

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

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

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

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

General characteristics of apprenticeship programmes are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

VET total expenditure and investments in 2008-15

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

 

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

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

 

Expenditure per student in 2008-15 (EUR)

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apprenticeships are also co-financed by ESF.

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

In VET, there are:

  • general subject teachers;
  • vocational teachers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

VET qualifications and professional standards

Source: Cedefop based on ReferNet Estonia.

 

Professional standards

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

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

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

VET qualifications

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

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

VET schools design curricula for every qualification offered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Managing qualifications

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

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

 

Stakeholders participating in the design and award of qualifications

Source: Cedefop based on ReferNet Estonia.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

External quality assurance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Internal evaluation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allowances, meals and travel subsidy

VET learners can apply for basic and special study allowances:

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

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

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

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

Study loans

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

Tax exemption on training costs

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

Study leave for employees

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

Incentives for the unemployed

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wage subsidy and training remuneration

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

Tax exemptions

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

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

Strategy and provision

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please also see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Programme Types
Not available

Post-secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

VET programmes,

0.5 to 2.5 years,

WBL: min. 50%

ISCED 454

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

454

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

Usually 19+

Usual completion age

19+

Length of a programme (years)

0.5 to 2.5 years

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Information not available

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

(no age limit)

ECVET or other credits

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

Continuing VET programmes study volume is 15 to 60 credits.

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

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

Main providers

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50%

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

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

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

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

Assessment of learning outcomes

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

Diplomas/certificates provided

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

Examples of qualifications

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

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates:

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

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

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

20% ([82]2017/18)

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 2

VET programme,

up to 2 years,

WBL: min. 70%

ISCED 251

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

251

Usual entry grade

No entry requirement

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

Depends on entry age

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Information not available

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

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

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

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

Main providers

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=70%

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

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

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

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

Assessment of learning outcomes

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

Diplomas/certificates provided

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

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

Examples of qualifications

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

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates:

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

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

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

<1% ([75]2017/18)

EQF 3

VET programmes,

up to 2 years,

WBL: min. 50%

ISCED 251

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

251

Usual entry grade

No entry requirement

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

Depends on entry age

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Information not available

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

30 to 120 credits.

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

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

Main providers

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50%

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

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

There are no minimum entry requirements.

Assessment of learning outcomes

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

Diplomas/certificates provided

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

Examples of qualifications

Woodworking bench operator and electronic equipment assembler

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates:

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

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

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

3.9% ([77]2017/18)

EQF 4

VET programmes,

up to 2.5 years,

WBL: min. 50%

ISCED 351

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

351

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

Not applicable

Usual entry age

at least 17

Usual completion age

Depending on entry age

Length of a programme (years)

2.5 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Information not available

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

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

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

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

Main providers

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=50%

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

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

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

Assessment of learning outcomes

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

Diplomas/certificates provided

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

Examples of qualifications

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

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates:

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

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

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

30.9% ([79]2017/18)

EQF 4

VET programmes,

up to 3 years,

WBL: min. 35%

ISCED 354

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

354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

At least 17

Usual completion age

19

Depending on entry age

Length of a programme (years)

3 (up to)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Information not available

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

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

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

 

VET learning options

Source: Cedefop and ReferNet Estonia.

 

Main providers

Information not available

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=35%

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

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

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

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

Assessment of learning outcomes

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

Diplomas/certificates provided

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

Examples of qualifications

Heat pump installers and catering specialists

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates:

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

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

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

44.4% ([81]2017/18)

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available