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General themes

VET in the Netherlands comprises the following main features:

  • the employment rate of 20- to 34-years-old VET graduates is 85.4%, above the EU average (79.5%)
  • Higher professional education is an important component of Dutch tertiary education; in 2017, almost half of all tertiary education graduates attained a tertiary VET qualification
  • The share of early leavers from education and training is well below the EU28 average and in 2017 was for the first time below the national objective for 2020.
  • the Netherlands is among the EU countries with the highest share of lifelong learning participation

Distinctive features ([1]Cedefop (2016). Spotlight on vocational education and training in the Netherlands. Luxembourg: Publications Office..
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8090_en.pdf
):

The heterogeneous and multifunctional nature of upper secondary VET in the Netherlands is unique. Key distinctive features are:

  • most publicly funded VET is provided by large multi sectoral regional training centres (ROCs) with an average student population of 12 000. Sector-specific schools and agricultural training centres also provide VET programmes. ROCs provide VET for young people and adults (IVET) and general education for adults. They are also active on the continuing VET market, with privately funded programmes. Government-regulated IVET programmes are also offered by private providers under certain conditions;
  • school-based and dual pathways in upper secondary VET lead to the same diplomas. Participation in each corresponds to the economic cycle stages: in periods of economic boom, the number of students in the dual pathway increases, while it decreases in the school-based pathway; the opposite happens during an economic recession;
  • education institutions have a relatively high degree of freedom to shape VET provision. The VET law only provides a broad framework outlining key elements at system level; institutions receive a lump sum for their tasks;
  • the Netherlands promotes a culture of evidence-informed VET policy and practice and encourages innovation. Recent initiatives include providing VET schools regularly with up-to-date regional labour market information and early school leaving data, and implementing plan-do-check-act mechanisms as a basis for organisation and programme development. To reduce the gap between research and practice in education, research and intelligence are increasingly used to improve VET quality and effectiveness, not only by involving professional researchers, but also by encouraging teachers to engage in research activities. To encourage knowledge sharing, VET teachers have opportunities to present their research projects and findings to a wide VET audience, for instance during teacher days.

The main challenges for the coming years in upper secondary VET are described and agreed in the administrative agreement (2018-22) ([2]https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/convenanten/2018/02/07/bestuursakkoord-mbo-2018-2022-trots-vertrouwen-en-lef) between upper secondary VET schools and the Education Ministry. According to this agreement, upper secondary VET schools will set goals together with their regional partners. Issues to work on are:

  • improvement of labour market outcomes of upper secondary VET and cooperation with regional partners;
  • equal opportunities in education (e.g. accessibility of upper secondary VET, transfer to a higher level in upper secondary VET or transfer to higher education);
  • young people in a vulnerable position e.g. reducing early school leaving, preparing young people in MBO ([3]MBO: upper secondary vocational education programmes.) level 1 and 2 (EQF 1 &2) for labour market.

Population in 2018: 17 181 084 ([4]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

It increased since 2013 by 2.4% due to positive natural growth and immigration ([5]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

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

The old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase from 27 in 2015 to 44 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 VET.

The expectation is that student numbers in VET will decrease from 2020 onward, due to population development and reduction of study duration of many of the MBO ([7]MBO: upper secondary vocational education programmes.) level 4 courses from 4 to 3 years [8]https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/rapporten/2018/09/18/referentieraming-ocw-2018.

The education ministry and the schools for upper secondary VET have agreed [9]https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/convenanten/2018/02/07/bestuursakkoord-mbo-2018-2022-trots-vertrouwen-en-lef that all VET schools should be aware of the future decline in student numbers in relation to the concentration and distribution of the range of study programmes on offer in the Netherlands.

Not applicable

Most companies in the Netherlands are micro, small and medium-sized; employing 64% ([10]https://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/business-friendly-environment/performance-review_en) of employees. Since 2007 the number of self-employed has doubled from 625,000 to 1.2 million in 2017 ([11]https://mkbstatline.cbs.nl/#/MKB/nl/dataset/48015NED/line?dl=30B3).

 

The Dutch economy is open and relies heavily on foreign trade. The contribution of exports to GDP is close to a third ([12]https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/faq/specifiek/hoeveel-verdient-nederland-aan-de-export-).

Main economic sectors are (in number of people employed):

  • business services,
  • healthcare,
  • trade,
  • industry.

Compared to 1997, there has been a major shift in the employment structure. The importance of industry, but also agriculture and construction industry, has become smaller. In contrast, the service sector has grown considerably. The biggest risers are healthcare and business services. In 1997, healthcare and industry had roughly the same number of jobs. Healthcare now has almost twice as many jobs as industry ([13]https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/visualisaties/dashboard-arbeidsmarkt/banen-werkgelegenheid/toelichtingen/werkgelegenheidsstructuur).

A limited number of occupations/professions are regulated.

The labour market is considered flexible.

Total unemployment ([14]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) (2018): 3.2% (6.0% in EU28); it increased by 0.5 percentage points since 2008 ([15]Source: Eurostat, une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

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

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

 

Unemployment is distributed unevenly between those with low- and high-level qualifications. The gap has increased during the crisis as unskilled workers are more vulnerable to unemployment. In 2018, unemployment rates have decreased for all educational attainment levels, reaching unemployment rates comparable with those of 2009 and 2010. Youth (<25) unemployment is 7.2% in 2018 and is below the EU average, which stood at over 15.2% in 2018.

Employment rate of 20 to 34-year-old VET graduates increased from 83.5% in 2014 to 88.1% in 2018 ([16]Eurostat table edat_lfse_24).

 

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 (+4.6 pp) in employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates in 2014-18 was lower compared to the increase from 81.7% to 86.8% in employment of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+5.1 pp) in the same period in the Netherlands ([17]NB: breaks in time series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

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

 

 

In 2018, the share of the population aged up to 64 with higher education (37.7%) was higher in the Netherlands than the EU average. The share of those with low or without a qualification was 20.6% (slightly lower than the EU average).

In 2018, tertiary attainment among 30-34 year olds was 49% and well above the EU and national targets (both 40%) set for 2020. Female higher education attainment has risen faster than male tertiary attainment.

 

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

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; low reliability for ‘No response’ in Czech Republic, 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].

 

For more information about VET in higher education in the Netherlands please see the case study from Cedefop's changing nature and role of VET in Europe project [17b]Cedefop (2019). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 6: vocationally oriented education and training at higher education level. Expansion and diversification in European countries. Case study focusing on The Netherlands. Cedefop research paper; No 70. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/the_netherlands_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study_0.pdf

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

5.9%

68.2%

not applicable

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].

 

At upper secondary level, in 2017/18, most VET graduates completed a level 4 programme leading to EQF4. At this level, economics ([18]The area economics in upper secondary VET includes programmes in administration, logistics, retail, secretarial support, tourism, ICT, facility management and public order and security.) and care/welfare programmes are the most popular choices.

 

Upper secondary VET graduates by level and area of study, 2017/2018

NB: Provisional data.
Source: CBS Statline. https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/nl/dataset/83896NED/table?dl=F448
[extracted 17.6.2019].

 

Higher professional education (HBO) is an important component of Dutch higher education. In 2017, almost half of all higher education graduates attained a bachelor degree in higher professional education ([19]CBS (2018). Statline database
https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/nl/dataset/83893NED/table?dl=DA1F [extracted 27.5.2019].
). Most higher professional education graduates studied economics, teacher training, social work or engineering.

There are more males (52%) in upper secondary VET than females. Males prefer technology education and economics, while females often enrol in health/welfare or economics.

 

Male/ female students per sector in upper secondary VET ([20]CBS (2019). Statline database
https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/nl/dataset/83851NED/table?dl=1F876 [extracted 27.5.2019].
)

 

 

The share of early leavers from education and training has decreased from 10.9% in 2009 to 7.3% in 2018. It is well below 10.6%, the EU28 average. For the second year in a row is below 8.0%, the national objective for 2020.

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

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

 

The dropout-rate in upper secondary VET in 2017/2018 is 5.5% ([21]https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/nl/dataset/71292ned/table?ts=1549610111391). The number of dropouts in upper secondary VET has increased from 18 574 in school year 2016-17 to 19 980 in the school year 2017-18 ([22]Letter to Parliament, 22 February 2019:
https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/kamerstukken/2019/02/22/kamerbrief-blijvende-aandacht-voor-voortijdig-schoolverlaten-nodig
).

 

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].

 

Eurostat data show that the Netherlands is among the EU countries with the highest lifelong learning rates (EU28 average 11.1 in 2018). Already since 2000, more than 15% of adult population (25-64) has been involved in education or training (participation was 19.1% in 2018). The country has met the Education and Training 2020 (ET2020) 15% benchmark since long.

However, training participation is significantly below average among workers over 55 (11.8% in 2017), the low-skilled (9.5% in 2017), workers with a temporary contract, migrants and people with a migrant background from non-western countries, and people not having participated in training in the past ([23]CBS (2018). Statline database:
https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/nl/dataset/83916NED/table?dl=81B4 [extracted 31.7.2018].
). The gap in training participation between highly educated people and those with low skills has widened between 2004 and 2017 ([24]http://roa.sbe.maastrichtuniversity.nl/roanew/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ROA_R_2018_4-1.pdf).

 

VET learners by age and track 2018

NB: School-based (BOL) and dual track (BBL). Numbers in thousands.
Source: DUO 2018.

 

Participants in the school-based track are mainly youngsters, while most learners (46%) of those following the dual track are 23 or over; this is because this track is also used by companies to upgrade their employees ([25]Source: DUO 2018:
https://www.onderwijsincijfers.nl/kengetallen/mbo/studenten-mbo/aantallen-studenten-mbo [accessed 9.5.2019].
).

The education and training system comprises:

  • preschool education (ISCED level 0); to combat educational disadvantages at an early stage, preschool education is available for toddlers (2.5 to 4 years old) ([26]Source:
    https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/voorschoolse-en-vroegschoolse-educatie/voorschoolse-educatie [accessed 9.5.2019].
    );
  • primary education at ISCED level 1 is for four- to 12-years-old learners;
  • general secondary education integrates lower and upper secondary general education programmes (ISCED level 2 & 3);
  • lower secondary pre-vocational school-based programmes (ISCED 2);
  • upper secondary vocational education programmes (ISCED 2 & 3);
  • post-secondary education (ISCED level 4); 
  • higher (or tertiary) education has a professional education and a general (academic) strand (ISCED levels 5 - 8).

Pre-school education is not compulsory and intended for two-and-a-half to four-year-old learners at risk of educational disadvantage. It is generally provided at childcare institutions.

Primary education starts at the age of four; it includes eight years of basic education until the learner reaches age 12.

Education is compulsory for learners from age five to 16. 16 and 17 year-olds without a general or basic vocational qualification at upper secondary level are required to continue learning, the so-called ‘qualification duty’ (kwalificatieplicht). This arrangement was introduced in 2008 to reduce early leaving from education and training.

General secondary education includes:

  • integrated lower and upper secondary programmes (pre-university education) lasting six years and leading to EQF4 (ISCED 244 after three years; ISCED 344 after six). It prepares learners for higher education at research universities and higher professional education at universities of applied sciences (age: 12-18, also accessible to adults;
  • integrated lower and upper secondary general education programmes lasting five years and leading to EQF4 (ISCED 244 after three years; ISCED 344 after five). They lead to higher professional education. Upon completion, transfer to the fifth year of pre-university education is possible (age: 12-17, also accessible to adults;
  • two general programmes (the theoretical and mixed pathway) within lower secondary pre-vocational education (VMBO) ([27]See relevant section for further details (#1 VET BOX - Lower secondary pre-vocational school-based programmes).).

Scientific/university education offers bachelor programmes lasting three to four years (ISCED 6) and one to two year Master’s degree programmes (ISCED 7) to adult learners. After completing a master degree programme, learners can continue in PhD programmes (ISCED 8).

The main legislation for initial VET (IVET) is:

  • the Secondary Education Act (for lower secondary general and pre-vocational);
  • the Adult Education and Vocational Education Act (for upper secondary vocational education)
  • the Higher Education and Scientific Research Act (for higher professional education).

The vocational track of the education system starts in lower secondary pre-vocational education with transfer possibilities to upper secondary vocational education. Upper secondary vocational education is the backbone of this track providing labour market access. Graduates at EQF level 4 can continue their studies in higher professional education.

There is no institutional framework for continuing vocational education and training (CVET). Provision is market-driven with many suppliers. CVET comprises a range of vocational or more general courses for jobseekers, the unemployed, employees, self-employed people, and employers. There are three types of CVET:

  • upper secondary IVET programmes which also function as CVET;
  • training for unemployed and jobseekers, financed by the public employment service;
  • private, non-government-funded training for employees, self-employed people and employers.

The backbone of the VET system is upper secondary VET, which serves both as IVET and as CVET. IVET/CVET programmes are offered either as a school based or a dual track. The school based track comprises 20 to 60% workplace learning, while the dual track comprises 60 to 80% workplace learning.

The responsibility for curriculum development and assessment is in the hands of upper secondary VET schools. Various curricula and learning environments exist even for programmes related to the same profession. Apart from internships taking place in a company, teacher teams have freedom to develop curricula and may include e.g. lectures, project based learning, practical simulations, in school mini-enterprises, hybrid learning environments.

Upper secondary VET offers two equivalent pathways: a school-based (BOL) and a dual (BBL) leading to the same diplomas. In the dual pathway (apprenticeship), students combine work-based learning (at least 60% of study time) with school-based instruction; this often involves learning at work four days a week and one day at school. To enrol in the dual track a contract (an employment contract in most cases) with a firm is mandatory.

The target group of the dual pathway are young people (16 year old), but also older people. Most students in the dual pathway are older than students in the school based pathway. 46% of those following the dual track are 23 years old or over; this is because this track is also used by companies to upgrade their employees ([28]Source: DUO 2018:
https://www.onderwijsincijfers.nl/kengetallen/mbo/studenten-mbo/aantallen-studenten-mbo [extracted 9.5.2019].
).

 

Number of student in dual track (BBL) by age

Source: DUO 2018 ([29]https://www.onderwijsincijfers.nl/kengetallen/mbo/studenten-mbo/aantallen-studenten-mbo [extracted 20.6.2019].).

 

One of the principles underlying the education system in the Netherlands is freedom of education. This means there is freedom to establish schools, freedom to organise teaching and to determine the principles on which education is based (freedom of conviction).

Freedom to organise teaching means that both public and private schools are free to determine – within legal boundaries – what is taught and how. The education ministry sets quality standards such as the subjects to be studied, the number of teaching days/hours per year and the required teacher qualifications; they apply to both public and government-funded private education.

There are three organisational levels in the Dutch VET system: the national level, the sectoral level (especially in upper secondary VET) and the regional/local (or school) level.

In the institutional VET framework, the Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (Samenwerkingsorganisatie Beroepsonderwijs Bedrijfsleven – SBB) has a key role. SBB optimises the links between VET and the labour market to deliver well-qualified professionals. The organisation is responsible for maintaining the qualifications for upper secondary VET, for accrediting and coaching companies offering work placements, and collecting suitable labour market information. Representatives from vocational education and social partners work together on the VET qualifications system, examinations, work placements, the efficiency of programmes and more. SBB also works on themes with a cross-regional and cross-sector focus.

 

Organisational levels and functions/roles in initial VET

VMBO: lower secondary pre-vocational school-based programmes.
MBO: upper secondary vocational education programmes.
HBO: higher professional education.
NVAO: Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation (Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatie Organisatie).
NRTO: Dutch Council for Training promoting interests of private, non-subsidised VET providers that have been legally recognised by the education ministry to offer regulated VET courses at upper secondary and tertiary level.

 

The adult and vocational education act regulates the governance of upper secondary VET schools and grants them ample space for policy making. Schools have full control over deployment and continuing professional development of teaching staff, programme offer, regional industry-specific training portfolios, organisation of learning, and choice of cooperation partners. School management is also responsible for deciding how to allocate the annual lump sum grant from the ministry to personnel costs, materials, housing and reservations for future investments. Yearly auditing reports provide insight into how the grant is spent.

Governance has an internal, vertical and a horizontal dimension. The internal dimension refers to the organisation of internal management and control; the vertical dimension stands for the accountability relations between schools and the government; the horizontal dimension captures the (accountability) relations between a school and its local stakeholders.

Total expenditure on education by the government, households, enterprises and non-profit organisations made up 6.0% of GDP in 2016. Government expenditure on education is 5.4% of GDP in 2016 ([30]CBS (2018). Statline database:
https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/nl/dataset/80393ned/table?dl=102B2 [accessed 21.8.2018].
).

In 2018 expenditure by the Education Ministry is EUR 8 200 per learner per year in upper secondary VET ([31]OCW (2018).
https://www.onderwijsincijfers.nl/kengetallen/onderwijs-algemeen/uitgaven/uitgaven-ocw [accessed 23.5.2019].
).

In 2017 government expenditure represented 66% of all spending on upper secondary VET. Companies and households pay the rest (34%) ([32]OCW (2018):
https://www.onderwijsincijfers.nl/kengetallen/onderwijs-algemeen/uitgaven/uitgaven-ocw [accessed 17.6.2019].
).

Total government expenditure on VET is 0.8% of GDP, when households and enterprises are included total spending is 1.0% of GDP. These percentages are stable since 2010 ([33]CBS (2018). Statline database:
https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/nl/dataset/80393ned/table?dl=102B2 [accessed 21.8.2018].
).

 

Total expenditure on upper secondary VET (in billion EUR) (2000-2017)

 

 

The funding arrangements for VET are as follows:

  • in prevocational education and training (VMBO) the funding principle is block grant funding. It gives schools considerable freedom in deciding how to spend available resources. They receive a fixed amount per student plus a fixed amount per school. Part of funding rewards good performance based on national targets agreed on sector level with governing bodies. There are also extra financial incentives for students at risk;
  • in upper secondary VET (MBO) the principle is block grant funding based in part on the number of students per course/learning track and in part on number of certificates awarded per institution. In addition to block grant funding, performance based funding was introduced in 2014 ([34]https://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0035923/2016-07-20) to reward individual schools for their good performances. This introduction was part of the quality agreements concluded between all VET colleges and the education ministry. These bilateral agreements aim to facilitate a rapid and comprehensive implementation and to encourage colleges to increase their performance in terms of equal access, qualify vulnerable youth and greater responsiveness to labour market developments ([35]https://www.kwaliteitsafsprakenmbo.nl/documenten/publicatie/2018/06/15/regeling-kwaliteitsafspraken-2019-2022). VET colleges have other funding sources as well, for instance from contracted activities for companies and individuals, from municipalities for providing civic integration training courses for adults, and from student fees. Additionally there is a subsidy scheme for companies to cover their costs when offering learning places in dual tracks (BBL);
  • in higher professional education (HBO) funding is partly fixed and partly based on number of enrolled participants and output/outcome results (number of diplomas). Part of funding is performance based and rewards achievements towards targets set by providers themselves. Contracted activities paid by enterprises and or individuals/employees and income from tuition fees paid by students are other sources of funding. Companies benefit from subsidies when offering learning places in dual higher VET.

The Ministry of Education administers almost all central government expenditure on education through a specialised agency (DUO - Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs). DUO plays a key role in administration and financing state-regulated VET. There is a complex but direct financing relationship between DUO and schools for upper secondary vocational education. Funds are channelled either directly to schools or indirectly through municipalities. Municipalities fund special projects (e.g. to reduce early leaving from education and training).

In VET, there are:

  • teachers
  • teaching assisting jobs, i.e. teacher assistant, instructor;
  • in-company trainers (supervisors or tutors).

In upper secondary vocational education teachers cooperate in teams in which tasks are divided among team members, e.g. assessment, study- and career guidance, expert teacher, educational designer. The extent to which these roles are implemented differs per school. There are no fixed roles within teams, besides the role of teacher leader ([36]OECD (2016). TALIS Initial teacher preparation study: country background report: The Netherlands.https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/rapporten/2016/12/21/oecd-talis-initial-teacher-preparation-study-country-background-report-the-netherlands).

The education professions act (Wet BIO, 2016) regulates competence standards for teachers and other educational staff in primary, general secondary, vocational secondary and general adult education. It requires schools to maintain a competence document for all teachers.

Teachers in upper secondary vocational education have to have either a first degree teaching license (Master), a second degree teaching license (Bachelor) or a teaching certificate (a higher education diploma is obligatory to obtain a teaching certificate).

In 2012 the education ministry, aiming to better train and raise the number of VET teachers, introduced:

  • a distinct graduation track dedicated to VET in higher professional education (in place since 2016);
  • quality criteria entering the teaching profession from another background.

Recently, requirements are introduced for instructors (teaching personnel responsible for the vocational skills training of learners). Instructors should also meet professional, didactic and pedagogical standards ([37]https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/documenten/besluiten/2018/04/09/besluit-bekwaamheidseisen-onderwijspersoneel).

Trainers responsible for in-company learning of upper secondary VET students (both in apprenticeship and in school based track) must be qualified at least at the same level for which he/she is supervising work-based learning. Furthermore, trainers must be able to share their expertise with students and are required to have pedagogical skills (validated by diplomas/certificates). The quality of the trainers is one of the criteria for accreditation of companies providing work-based learning. Accreditation is one of the legal tasks of the Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (SBB). Training for trainers is offered by private providers.

VET institutions have relative freedom in their approach of professional development of teaching staff. Teachers are entitled to 59 hours of training and professional development annually, complemented by additional training depending on the discipline of their expertise ([38]In VET institutions teachers of different disciplines are working in teams responsible for delivering educational programmes to one or more subgroups of students). Teachers are also receiving a personal budget for professional development of 0.8% of their annual salary. The 2013 national technology pact foresaw increased funding for teacher training focused on technology. Moreover, enterprises are offering short internships for VET teachers and trainers. VET teacher CPD is also promoted through regional partnerships between VET institutes and teacher training institutes. In addition, VET teachers have access to funding to help them acquire a Master qualification that corresponded to the subject they were teaching ([39]Cedefop (forthcoming). Developments in vocational education and training policy in 2015-19: the Netherlands. Cedefop monitoring and analysis of VET policies.).

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([40]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

The set-up and governance of skill anticipation in the Netherlands can serve as an exemplar case. The Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA - Researchcentrum voor Onderwijs en Arbeidsmarkt) ([41]http://roa.sbe.maastrichtuniversity.nl/?portfolio=poa-project-onderwijs-arbeidsmarkt-2) is the institute in the Netherlands that specialises in labour market forecasting and skills anticipation. Its labour market forecasts aim to increase transparency and improve the match between education and the labour market. The work is financed and co-steered by key national education and labour market stakeholders.

Two approaches to skills anticipation can be distinguished: top-down and bottom-up. In the top-down approach, a general forecasting model covering the whole labour market uses national data sources to generate information relevant for policy makers and for guidance purposes. ROA publishes a report every second year, which includes an overview of education and labour market trends as well as analyses of expected labour market developments in the light of particular policy issues.

In the bottom-up approach, partial labour market forecast models are used, for example for a single sector or occupation or for a selection of them, with input from specific (ad hoc) data sources. This can be complementary to the top-down approach.

The national social security agency (UWV - Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen) is involved in cooperation with ROA and SBB ([42]Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (Samenwerkingsorganisatie Beroepsonderwijs Bedrijfsleven - SBB).) to match information on demand and supply in the labour market, at sectoral and regional level.

The generated labour market information caters to the needs of:

  • youth and jobseekers, as they are able to base their education choices on the mid-term labour market perspectives of different education tracks;
  • different groups of policy makers, as they are able to make informed decisions on whether to open new education tracks or amend existing ones;
  • companies and their sector organisations, as it gives them a chance to act on expected skills shortages in the near future.
  • public and private employment services, as they use the information to shape training policies for their beneficiaries.

SBB is responsible for labour market research focused on further developing the structure of qualifications in upper secondary VET. The nine sector chambers within SBB take on this task. Educational institutions are responsible for attuning their VET provision regionally. Regional training centres sometimes carry out their own market research to gain insight into expected labour market needs for qualified employees at regional level.

Private commercial training providers have their own marketing strategies (including market research), so they can offer courses that are relevant to potential target groups and labour market needs.

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)

The qualification design process differs between parts of the VET system:

  • in lower secondary pre-vocational education: examination syllabi are laid down in a framework by the education ministry and developed by the Foundation for Curriculum Development in the Netherlands (Nationaal expertisecentrum leerplanontwikkeling – SLO);
  • in upper secondary VET: the national qualification system (nationally referred to as ‘qualifications structure’) defines the desired output of qualifications. There are three steps:
    • social partners develop and determine/validate vocational/occupational standards. This process takes place in committees at sub-sectoral level referred to as ‘market segments’ in the national context;
    • social partner and VET representatives develop qualification profiles (educational standards as output), which are adopted by the education ministry. This is done within SBB ([45]Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (Samenwerkingsorganisatie Beroepsonderwijs Bedrijfsleven - SBB).);
    • VET colleges develop curricula in cooperation with training firms based on qualification profiles;
  • in higher professional education (HBO) qualifications and programmes are developed by schools and accredited by the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation. A curriculum is part of the accreditation request. The education ministry decides whether an accredited programme is to be publicly funded or not.

Qualification and curriculum development in upper secondary VET

The qualifications system for upper secondary VET comprises competence-based qualifications and contains occupational standards covering one qualification profile or several interrelated ones. They describe desirable learning outputs of VET programmes related to a specific vocation or group of occupations, to citizenship and further learning.

Since 2016 qualifications have been clustered for better transparency and functionality. Definitions of qualifications are broadened, with a general part (language-, numeracy-, citizenship- and career management skills), a basic vocational part applicable for all occupations in the qualification, several profile modules (specific for the profile within the qualification) and optional modules. Currently the qualification framework includes 179 qualifications, 491 profiles (specialisations within a qualification) and almost 1000 optional modules ([46]www.sbb.nl). Broader definitions of qualifications and optional modules are expected to give VET colleges more leeway to adapt curricula to labour market needs. Companies and educational institutions jointly develop optional modules to quickly respond to innovations or emerging needs within their region. Regions will be also afforded some leeway to draft optional modules themselves to be able to respond to regional needs and/or to help learners progress through the education and training system.

The nine sector chambers within SBB are the link among sectoral education, labour market stakeholders and the executive branch of SBB; they also contribute in shaping general qualification policies, are responsible for keeping the qualification system up-to-date, promote the quality of learning in enterprises, and interpret and validate information on VET and the labour market.

Schools are primarily responsible for curricula and their modernisation. Authority with regard to learning arrangements is assigned to them by the constitution. This does not mean, however, national government remains completely aloof. It can stimulate developments and innovations that have consequences for the modernisation of curricula.

A national quality assurance approach and a methodology for internal and external evaluation are in place. So far upper secondary IVET and higher VET (HBO) have quality assurance systems, the first based on supervision and inspection, the latter based on self-evaluation, review and accreditation. A common quality assurance framework for VET providers is in place and applies also to workplace learning. For recognised CVET courses (in the official registry) offered by private providers the same rules apply as in IVET.

Quality assurance in upper secondary VET

The education ministry through the education inspectorate and VET providers themselves are responsible for quality assurance in upper secondary VET. The VET law mandates VET providers to set up a quality assurance system. They are relatively free to design and set up their systems, but have to ensure regular quality assessments that include the arrangements in place for teacher training. Upper secondary VET institutions’ annual reports are the basis for external quality evaluation by the education inspectorate.

Internal monitoring and control: upper secondary VET colleges have small executive boards and internal supervisory boards. Middle management is accountable to the executive board. Participation of students, teachers and parents in decision making is regulated in the act on work councils.

Vertical monitoring and control: the education Inspectorate is in charge of the external supervision, checking whether statutory provisions are met and quality assurance is in place. The assessment framework covers five quality areas: (i) educational process; (ii) school climate; (iii) learning outcomes; (iv) quality assurance and ambition; and (v) financial management. Supervision is proportional in nature, meaning it is stricter where deficiencies are found, and the inspectorate follows up by monitoring whether required improvements have been put in place.

In 2017, the Inspection Framework for external supervision was renewed. One of the most important changes is to make a distinction between statutory requirements and quality factors defined by the schools themselves. Self-defined quality factors pertain to the objectives and ambitions set by the school itself above and beyond the basic quality level. In its reports, the Inspectorate will draw a clear distinction between judgements related to statutory requirements and the assessment of performances on the self-defined quality indicators above and beyond those enshrined in law.

Horizontal dialogue: Using self-chosen tools, the executive board of a VET college is expected to develop and sustain good relations with important local/regional stakeholders: employers, local governments and regional organisations.

Guidelines and standards promote a culture of continuous improvement. Stakeholders (including the inspectorate, VET providers, students/learners and teachers/trainers and VET expertise centres) have contributed to its development. Stakeholders take part in setting VET goals and objectives and their involvement in monitoring and evaluation has been agreed. An advisory committee consisting of all important VET stakeholders meets several times a year to discuss further developments. All EQAVET indicators are used ([47]http://www.eqavet.nl/_images/user/Eqavet_Leaflet_NL.p_20131030151118.pdf).

Quality, responsiveness and innovation capacity in upper secondary VET have been core policy priorities in the past few years. Extra (partly performance-based) funding is introduced to increase quality. The responsible minister has concluded quality agreements with all VET institutions, which makes them responsible and accountable for their performance. The quality agreements are the basis for quality plans for 2015-2018 and again for 2019-2022 drafted by VET providers themselves. VET colleges should elaborate strategic plans to improve the quality of VET in line with regional needs and in close collaboration with regional stakeholders, young people in a vulnerable position and equal opportunities for all students.

Validation of prior, non-formal and informal learning is an instrument that has been promoted in the Netherlands for the last fifteen years. A comprehensive validation system that encompasses all education levels and sectors is in place.

In line with discussions and proposals made in the last few years, from 2016 onwards there are two formal validation procedures:

  • Validation for the labour market: Recognition/ documentation of prior learning – a formal procedure for the employed and jobseekers that leads to the award of a validated skills portfolio (certificate). Validation is possible for sectoral, formal VET and HE qualifications. This type of validation is most used. The certificate offers no legal right for exemptions for learning or exams in formal VET of Higher professional education. For this procedure the National Knowledge Centre Validation of Prior Learning ([48]http://www.nationaal-kenniscentrum-evc.nl/) is the implementing organisation for quality assurance of these certificates.
  • Validation for education: Accreditation/ certification of prior learning (APL) – a formal procedure in which a candidate can get his/her learning outcomes assessed against a national qualification standard to obtain a formal qualification in VET or HE. Validation supports access to education and training at all levels. Although both VET and HE qualifications can in theory be obtained through validation, in practice this depends on demand and is currently most common in upper secondary VET.Validation in the educational route is supervised by the education inspectorate or NVAO ([49]Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation (Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatie Organisatie).).

Individuals themselves or their employers have to pay for validation. Financial support is often provided by sectoral training funds (for employers), tax benefits (for individuals), or for people with occupational disability benefits – by the national social security agency (UWV).

For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database ([50]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/european-database-on-validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning).

Student finance act

The student finance act of 2000 aims to cover the education costs of students over 18 in full-time education. The finance system for upper secondary VET students comprises 4 financing components: a basic grant, a supplementary grant (depending on the level of parental income), a free/discounted public transportation card and a loan. Learners do not have to refund the basic grant, the supplementary grant and their public transportation fees when they graduate within 10 years. Students in VET courses at level 1 and 2 are exempt from paying back the grants, as well as the loans.

From September 2015,the finance system for students in higher education has been changed. The most important change is the abolition of the basic grant. As a consequence the share of the loan has increased. By way of compensation, the repayment period is increased from 15 to 35 years. Furthermore, students do not have to refund the supplementary grant and public transportation fees when they graduate within 10 years.

Right of enrolment in VET

New legislation to ‘ensure the right of enrolment in VET for all’ was adopted in 2016 and came into effect on 1 August 2017. The main reason for the introduction of this legislation is to tackle problems in the transition from lower secondary education to upper secondary VET, as one third of the early school leavers drops out during the transition period for the following reasons: they regret their study choice or as a result of unclear, or confusing intake procedures in upper secondary VET colleges. The aim of this Act is to smoothen the transition from lower secondary to upper secondary VET. This has to be achieved by better (study) guidance facilities before and during the transition phase, by bringing forward the registration date (the first of April) for students leaving lower secondary education for upper secondary VET and by strengthening the position of students in the VET college intake procedures.

Until 2014, tax deduction measures for employers encouraged them to offer training placements for students in VET. This tax facility has been replaced by a subsidy-system. This subsidy is meant to cover costs of learning places for students in the pre-vocational education, upper secondary VET, higher professional education and PhD students.

CVET is partly influenced by sectoral collective labour agreements. It can be financed through sectoral funds for training and/or research and development; There are about 85 of these funds, which are foundations governed by social partners. Most funds are financed by a payroll levy. Employers pay this levy to the training fund for their sector and can benefit from reimbursements for the cost of training their employees. Some funds limit their activities to the distribution of financial resources while others pursue active labour market policy. To stimulate participation in education and training, the funds use a variety of measures to cover the costs of training, training leave or examinations.

Since 2011, career orientation and guidance (LOB) in VET was promoted through the project Stimuleringsproject LOB in het MBO. In this project, VET-schools cooperated in the development and implementation of career orientation and guidance systems. Since July 2017, a national expertise centre for career orientation and guidance ([51]https://www.expertisepuntlob.nl/) is operational. It operates cross-sectoral and supports pre-vocational education (VMBO), general secondary education (HAVO-VWO) and upper secondary VET (MBO) in improving the career orientation and guidance of pupils and students.

Labour market information caters to the needs of learners from pre-vocational education (VMBO) and upper secondary VET (MBO) and jobseekers. This information should help them to make a considered choice for an education program; based on the labour market perspectives of the different options. For students looking for work-based placements in both VET tracks (school-based and dual) in an 'accredited work placement company', SBB ([52]Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (Samenwerkingsorganisatie Beroepsonderwijs Bedrijfsleven - SBB)) provides information via a portal ([53]https://www.stagemarkt.nl/Zoeken). SBB also provides information on mid-term job prospects for all upper secondary VET programmes and supports pre-vocational and VET schools to inform learners about job prospects ([54]https://www.s-bb.nl/onderwijs/studie-cijfers).

Please also see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

Associate degree,

2 years

ISCED 554

Associate degree (AD) programmes (short-cycle higher education programmes) leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 554
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

554

Usual entry grade

14+

Usual completion grade

15+

Usual entry age

18 for upper secondary general education

20+ for upper secondary VET graduates

Usual completion age

19+

Length of a programme (years)

2

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

N

A tuition fee is compulsory. For 2018/19 this fee is EUR 2 060.

For students starting for the first time in higher professional education tuition fees are reduced by half.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

120 ECTS ([68]European credit transfer and accumulation system.) points

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

Information not available

Main providers

Universities of applied sciences (hogescholen) providing these programmes are publicly financed providers. Non-subsidised, private providers can offer similar programmes if they have appropriate accreditation.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

The responsibility for curriculum development and assessment is in the hands of the universities of applied science. Various curricula and learning environments exist even for programmes related to the same profession.

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

Information not available

Main target groups

AD programmes are of particular interest to those with a VET qualification from professional or middle management upper secondary VET programmes (MBO 3 or 4).

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

Access requirements are a completed professional or middle management upper secondary VET programme (MBO 3 or 4).

Access is also possible to graduates of upper general secondary education.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The responsibility for assessment is in the hands of the universities of applied science. The Dutch-Flemish accreditation body (NVAO) accredits the programmes once every six years. Higher professional bachelor degrees are awarded by the institutions themselves. Official recognition of programmes is granted as long as they are accredited by NVAO.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Associate degree (AD) diploma.

Examples of qualifications

Information not available

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can continue to higher professional bachelor programmes; their remaining study load is subject to exemptions granted by each programme.

Destination of graduates


Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

N

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

2.4% of students in higher professional education (AD, professional bachelor and professional master programmes) are in Associate Degree programmes ([69]2018:
https://www.onderwijsincijfers.nl/kengetallen/hbo/studenten-hbo/aantallen-ingeschrevenen-hbo [extracted 23.5.2019].
).

EQF 6

Higher professional

bachelor

programmes

4 years

ISCED 655

Higher professional bachelor programmes leading to EQF level 6, ISCED 655 (HBO)
EQF level
6
ISCED-P 2011 level

655

Usual entry grade

14+

Usual completion grade


Usual entry age

18 for upper secondary general education

20+ for upper secondary VET graduates

Usual completion age

21+

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?

N

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

N

A tuition fee is compulsory. For 2018/2019 this fee is EUR 2060.

For students starting for the first time in higher professional education tuition fees are reduced by half.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

240 ECTS ([70]European credit transfer and accumulation system.) points

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

Higher professional education provides programmes for professions requiring both theoretical knowledge and specific skills. They are almost always closely linked to a particular profession or group of professions and most programmes include an internship. Higher professional education can also be attended part-time as part of professionally oriented adult education, and, for the last 10 years, in dual learning tracks.

Students (in 1 000s) in higher professional education, 2014-18

Source: www.onderwijsincijfers.nl [extracted 17.6.2019].

Main providers

Higher professional bachelor programmes are provided by publicly financed universities of applied sciences (hogescholen). Non-subsidised, private providers can offer similar programmes if they have appropriate accreditation.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

The responsibility for curriculum development and assessment is in the hands of the universities of applied science. Various curricula and learning environments exist even for programmes related to the same profession.

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

Higher VET programmes are open to learners aged 17 or older.

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

Admission requires an upper secondary general or vocational education qualification. Some bachelor programmes apply additional admission criteria relating to the subjects learners studied in prior studies. Generally, these criteria do not apply to middle management upper secondary VET (MBO 4) graduates, as they currently have a legal right to enter Higher professional programmes. However, by law universities of applied science can apply stricter admission criteria also for MBO 4 graduates for specific programmes.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The responsibility for assessment is in the hands of the universities of applied science. The Dutch-Flemish accreditation body (NVAO) accredits the programmes once every six years. Higher professional bachelor degrees are awarded by the institutions themselves. Official recognition of programmes is granted as long as they are accredited by NVAO.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Learners can receive a Higher professional bachelor degree upon successful completion of their studies.

Examples of qualifications

The programmes cover one or more of seven areas of study: ‘green’/agriculture, technology, economics and services, health care, behaviour and society, culture and arts, and teacher training.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

A professional bachelor degree gives access to professional master degree programmes in higher professional education and university master degree programmes. A bridge programme for professional bachelor graduates often precedes their entry into an academic master programme.

After completing the first year of a professional bachelor’s programme, entrance to university bachelor programme is possible.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

General education subjects

N

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

95% of all students in higher professional education (AD, professional bachelor and professional master programmes) are in professional bachelor programmes ([71]2018:
https://www.onderwijsincijfers.nl/kengetallen/hbo/studenten-hbo/aantallen-ingeschrevenen-hbo [extracted 23.5.2019].
).

EQF 7

Professional master’s

programmes

1 year

ISCED 757

Professional master’s programmes leading to EQF level 7, ISCED 757
EQF level
7
ISCED-P 2011 level

757

Usual entry grade


Usual completion grade


Usual entry age

21+

Usual completion age

22+

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?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Information not available

Is it offered free of charge?

N

A tuition fee is compulsory. For 2018/2019 this fee is EUR 2 060.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Information not available

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

information not available

Main providers

Professional master’s programmes are provided by publicly financed universities of applied sciences (hogescholen). Non-subsidised, private providers can offer similar programmes if they have appropriate accreditation.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

The responsibility for curriculum development and assessment is in the hands of the universities of applied science. Various curricula and learning environments exist even for programmes related to the same profession.

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

information not available

Main target groups

Higher professional bachelor programmes graduates

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

Access is provided to holders of a higher professional bachelor degree.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The responsibility for assessment is in the hands of the universities of applied science. The Dutch-Flemish accreditation body (NVAO) accredits the programmes once every six years. Higher professional bachelor degrees are awarded by the institutions themselves. Official recognition of programmes is granted as long as they are accredited by NVAO.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Professional master’s degree

Examples of qualifications

Information not available

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete a Professional master’s degree can enter a Ph.D. programme.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

N

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

2.7% of all students in higher professional education (Associate Degree, professional bachelor and professional master programmes) are in professional master programmes ([72]2018:
https://www.onderwijsincijfers.nl/kengetallen/hbo/studenten-hbo/aantallen-ingeschrevenen-hbo [extracted 23.5.2019].
).

Post-secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 4

Specialising

programmes,

1 year

ISCED 453

Specialising programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 453
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

453

Usual entry grade

16

Usual completion grade

16

Usual entry age

20

Usual completion age

20

Length of a programme (years)

1

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

A tuition fee is compulsory from the age of 18.

For 2018/2018 this fee is EUR 1155

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Information not available

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

These programmes offer two different learning pathways:

  • school-based; or
  • apprenticeship (dual pathway)

School-based and dual tracks in upper secondary VET lead to the same diplomas; there is no reference to the track on the diploma.

Main providers

Subsidised VET programmes at upper secondary level are offered by 43 regional, multi sectoral VET colleges (ROC – regionale opleidingscentra), 10 specialist trade colleges (vakscholen: specific for a branch of industry), 10 agricultural training centres (AOC – agrarische opleidingscentra) and one school for people with disabilities in hearing, language and communication. Private, non-subsidised providers can offer VET programmes as long as their programmes are accredited by the ministry.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

In the school-based track (BOL – beroepsopleidende leerweg) practical periods in companies make up at least 20% of study time up to a maximum of 59%. The dual or apprenticeship track (BBL – beroepsbegeleidende leerweg), training takes place in companies at least 60% of study time.

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

in-company practice (internships)

The responsibility for curriculum development and assessment is in the hands of the upper secondary VET schools. Various curricula and learning environments exist even for programmes related to the same profession.

Main target groups

Professional and middle management upper secondary VET programmes graduates

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

Access requirements are a completed professional or middle management upper secondary VET programme (MBO 3 or 4).

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment of learning results is the responsibility of schools. The law stipulates that companies providing work-based learning have to be involved. Qualification standards serve as benchmarks for assessments. The education inspectorate supervises quality of examinations (content, level and procedures at programme level).

Obligatory central examinations in Dutch language, English and basic maths have been introduced.

Passing the exam in Dutch language and English is compulsory to obtain a diploma. For basic maths this is not yet the case.

Diplomas/certificates provided

VET learners receive a specialist upper secondary VET qualification.

Examples of qualifications

Manager team/department/project, instructor upper secondary vocational education

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Progression to higher professional education, especially dual or part-time tracks, is possible.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

General education subjects

Y

Dutch language, English, basic math

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

Information not available

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 1 or 2

Lower secondary

pre-vocational

school-based programmes,

4 years

ISCED 244

Lower secondary pre-vocational school-based programmes . Within lower secondary pre-vocational education four tracks exist: two general programmes, the theoretical and the combined pathway (to be merged into one new pathway in 2021) leading to EQF 2 (ISCED 244) (VMBO- theoretische leerweg and gemengde leerweg). In the mixed pathway 4 hours a week are VET oriented.; Two VET oriented programmes, the basic level vocational learning pathway and the advanced level vocational pathway leading to EQF 1 or 2 (ISCED 244). (VMBO – voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs – basisberoepsgerichte or kaderberoepsgerichte leerweg), In these programmes 12 hours a week are VET oriented.
EQF level
1 or 2
ISCED-P 2011 level

244

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

13

Usual completion age

16

Length of a programme (years)

4

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education is compulsory for learners from five to 16 years old. 16- and 17-year-olds without a general or basic vocational qualification at upper secondary level are required to continue learning, the so-called ‘qualification duty’ (kwalificatieplicht).

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

Information not available

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

These programmes offer both vocational and general programmes. The first two years consist of general subjects. In years three and four, learners choose a learning pathway characterised by ‘level differentiation’, programme orientation and transfer possibilities in the education system. The four learning pathways are:

  • theoretical learning pathway; those graduating from it can proceed to upper secondary vocational education, especially long courses at highest levels of upper secondary or continue in the fourth year of upper secondary general education. Programme content is general in character;
  • Combined learning pathway; similar to theoretical learning pathway, apart from 10 to 15% of study time dedicated to vocational subjects. Progression routes in upper secondary VET are the same as for theoretical learning pathway;
  • advanced level vocational learning pathway; preparation programme for long courses in upper secondary VET with mostly vocational subjects;
  • basic level vocational learning pathway (EQF 1); preparation programme for short courses in upper secondary VET with mostly vocational subjects. Within this pathway, pupils with learning difficulties can follow a dual track, combining learning and working.

In the third year of VMBO, learners in vocational programmes have to make a choice between the 10 vocational profiles.

Whereas the vocational pathways were most popular in the past, since 2011most learners in the third year of secondary education were in one of the general pathways.

Learners in third year of VMBO by programme orientation (2008/9 – 2017/18)

Main providers

Secondary education schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

information not available

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

Programmes are available for young people

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

Entry in pre vocational education is based on the advice given by the primary education school.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Central, national examinations and school examinations are held, which are important for obtaining the diploma. The education inspectorate supervises quality of school exams

Diplomas/certificates provided

Lower secondary pre-vocational diplomas have no labour market currency as learners are expected to continue in upper secondary VET or in general education.

Central examinations in Dutch language and basic maths have been introduced. Passing the exam in Dutch language is compulsory to obtain a diploma. For basic maths this is not yet the case.

Examples of qualifications

Agriculture, building, mobility and transport, economy and business, health and welfare.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete lower secondary pre-vocational school-based programmes can continue in upper secondary VET or general education. They are not expected to enter the labour market, as their diplomas do not have such value.

To facilitate progression from lower secondary pre-vocational education to upper secondary VET, pre vocational education schools cooperate with VET schools to smoothen transition.

Destination of graduates

In 2019 89% of graduates directly progress to upper secondary vocational education programmes ([57]www.onderwijsincijfers.nl own calculations 2018 [extracted 24.4.2019].).

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

The first two years consist of general subjects.

Dutch language and basic maths.

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

information not available

In 2017 54% of the students in the third year of lower secondary education are in pre vocational education. 25% of students in third year of secondary education are in the two vocational tracks in pre-vocational education.

Practical labour-oriented

programmes for students

with learning difficulties

ISCED 253

Practical labour market-oriented programmes for students with learning difficulties (PRO - praktijkonderwijs, EQF 1) is available
EQF level
Not applicable
ISCED-P 2011 level

253

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

13

Usual completion age

17

Length of a programme (years)

5 years

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education is compulsory for learners from five to 16 years old. 16- and 17-year-olds without a general or basic vocational qualification at upper secondary level are required to continue learning, the so-called ‘qualification duty’ (kwalificatieplicht).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Secondary education

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

N

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

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

Information not available

Main providers

Provided by individual schools for practice oriented education (praktijkscholen) or as a part of comprehensive secondary education schools.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

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

Programme is available for young people not able to enter pre vocational education (VMBO). It prepares learners for participation in the labour market and society.

For each student a personal development plan is drawn up, including both practical and theoretical subjects, self-reliance training with assignments such as shopping, cooking, doing odd jobs around the house and traveling independently, personal empowerment and employee skills training.

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

Learners with learning deficits in reading, writing and/or numeracy skills, IQ between 50-88,

Assessment of learning outcomes

information not available

Diplomas/certificates provided

School diploma and/or branch-specific certificate. No formal qualification.

Examples of qualifications

Not Applicable

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can progress to entry level upper secondary VET programmes (level 1).

Destination of graduates

Approximately 40% progress to entry level upper secondary VET programmes (level 1)

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

Information not available

Total number of learners in this programme is almost 30.000 (total number of learners in secondary education is close to one million) ([58]https://www.onderwijsincijfers.nl/kengetallen/vo/leerlingen-vo/aantallen-leerlingen-in-het-vo [extracted 23.5.2019].)

EQF 1

Entry level

Programmes,

1 year

ISCED 254

Entry level upper secondary vocational education programmes leading to EQF level 1, ISCED 254 (MBO 1 – entreeopleiding middelbaar beroepsonderwijs)
EQF level
1
ISCED-P 2011 level

254

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

16 to 17

Usual completion age

17

Length of a programme (years)

1

Within four months after starting an entry course youngsters over 17 are told whether they will be allowed to continue in the same study programme. This means that schools do not remain responsible for young people making insufficient learning progress.

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education is compulsory for learners from five to 16 years old. 16- and 17-year-olds without a general or basic vocational qualification at upper secondary level are required to continue learning, the so-called ‘qualification duty’ (kwalificatieplicht).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Upper secondary IVET programmes can also function as CVET.

Is it offered free of charge?

A tuition fee is compulsory from the age of 18.

For 2018/19 this fee is EUR 1155

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Information not available

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

These programmes offer two different learning pathways:

  • school-based; or
  • apprenticeship (dual pathway)

School-based and dual tracks in upper secondary VET lead to the same diplomas; there is no reference to the track on the diploma.

VET legislation mandates accreditation of companies offering work placements to VET students; accreditation has to be obtained for each qualification both for training places in the dual and the school-based track. SBB ([59]Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (Samenwerkingsorganisatie Beroepsonderwijs Bedrijfsleven - SBB).) is responsible for the accreditation process. Names and addresses of the accredited companies are available on a national website ([60]http://www.stagemarkt.nl).

Main providers

Subsidised VET programmes at upper secondary level are offered by 43 regional, multisectoral VET colleges (ROC – regionale opleidingscentra), 10 specialist trade colleges (vakscholen: specific for a branch of industry), 10 agricultural training centres (AOC – agrarische opleidingscentra) and one school for people with disabilities in hearing, language and communication. Private, non-subsidised providers can offer VET programmes as long as their programmes are accredited by the ministry.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

In the school-based track (BOL – beroepsopleidende leerweg) practical periods in companies make up at least 20% of study time up to a maximum of 59%. The dual or apprenticeship track (BBL – beroepsbegeleidende leerweg), training takes place in companies at least 60% of study time.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • in-company practice (internship) is obligatory.

The responsibility for curriculum development and assessment is in the hands of the upper secondary VET schools. Various curricula and learning environments exist even for programmes related to the same profession.

Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

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

Admission is limited to school leavers from lower secondary education without a diploma, and to graduates of practical labour market-oriented programme

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment of learning results is the responsibility of schools. The law stipulates that companies providing work-based learning have to be involved. Qualification standards serve as benchmarks for assessments. The education inspectorate supervises quality of examinations (content, level and procedures at programme level).

Central examinations in Dutch language and basic maths have been introduced but are not yet compulsory for qualification.

Diplomas/certificates provided

VET learners receive an entry level qualification (EQF 1). Diplomas are recognised by the education and training and labour authorities.

Examples of qualifications

Upper secondary VET programmes are offered in four different areas of study (nationally referred to as ‘sectors’): green/agriculture, technology, economics, and health/welfare.

Examples of entry level qualifications:

assistant construction, living and maintenance worker, assistant service and care worker, assistant installation and construction technology worker.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Entry level courses are aimed at qualifying youngsters to entering programmes at the next level (basic level upper secondary VET programmes), as well as guiding youngsters not capable to make this step, to work.

Destination of graduates

information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

It is possible to acquire an entry level diploma by validation of prior learning.

General education subjects

N

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

EQF 2

Basic vocational

programmes

1-2 years

ISCED 353

Basic level upper secondary vocational education programmes leading to EQF level 2, ISCED 353 (MBO 2 – basisberoepsopleiding middelbaar beroepsonderwijs)
EQF level
2
ISCED-P 2011 level

353

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

14

Usual entry age

16 to 17

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

1 to 2

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Individuals who have left education before obtaining a diploma at MBO 2 level (or equivalent) are defined as early school leavers.

Education is compulsory for pupils from age five to 16. 16 and 17 year-olds without a general or basic vocational qualification at upper secondary level are required to continue learning, the so-called ‘qualification duty’ (kwalificatieplicht). This arrangement was introduced in 2008 to reduce early leaving from education and training

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Upper secondary IVET programmes can also function as CVET.

Is it offered free of charge?

A tuition fee is compulsory from the age of 18.

For 2018/19 this fee is EUR 1 155

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Information not available

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

These programmes offer two different learning pathways:

  • school-based; or
  • apprenticeship (dual pathway)

School-based and dual tracks in upper secondary VET lead to the same diplomas; there is no reference to the track on the diploma.

Most learners take part in the school based track, which also appears to be gaining popularity. Between 2008 and 2015 the share of learners in apprenticeship has decreased due to the economic recession. However more structural reasons like upward mobility and growing preferences from youngsters and employers for school based education, could not be excluded. In the last two years the share of learners in the dual track has increased slightly, due to the increased enrolment of adults.

VET legislation mandates accreditation of companies offering work placements to VET students; accreditation has to be obtained for each qualification both for training places in the dual and the school-based track. SBB ([62]Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (Samenwerkingsorganisatie Beroepsonderwijs Bedrijfsleven - SBB)) is responsible for the accreditation process. Names and addresses of the accredited companies are available on a national website ([63]http://www.stagemarkt.nl).

Main providers

Subsidised VET programmes at upper secondary level are offered by 43 regional, multisectoral VET colleges (ROC – regionale opleidingscentra), 10 specialist trade colleges (vakscholen: specific for a branch of industry), 10 agricultural training centres (AOC – agrarische opleidingscentra) and one school for people with disabilities in hearing, language and communication. Private, non-subsidised providers can offer VET programmes as long as their programmes are accredited by the ministry.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

In the school-based track (BOL – beroepsopleidende leerweg) practical periods in companies make up at least 20% of study time up to a maximum of 59%. The dual or apprenticeship track (BBL – beroepsbegeleidende leerweg), training takes place in companies at least 60% of study time.

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

in-company practice (internships)

The responsibility for curriculum development and assessment is in the hands of the upper secondary VET schools. Various curricula and learning environments exist even for programmes related to the same profession.

Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults (16-35).

Participants in the school-based track are mainly youngsters, while most learners in the dual track are 23 or over, this is because this track is also used by companies to upgrade their employees.

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

Access requirements are at least a basic pre-vocational education diploma, a completed entry level upper secondary VET programme, or proof of successful completion of the first three years of upper secondary general education or pre-university education.

To enrol in the dual/apprenticeship track a contract (an employment contract in most cases) with a firm is mandatory. There is no such obligation for the school-based track.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment of learning results is the responsibility of schools. The law stipulates that companies providing work-based learning have to be involved. Qualification standards serve as benchmarks for assessments. The education inspectorate supervises quality of examinations (content, level and procedures at programme level).

Passing central examinations in Dutch language is compulsory to obtain a diploma. Central examination in basic maths is not yet compulsory.

Diplomas/certificates provided

VET learners receive a basic level upper secondary VET qualification (EQF 2). Diplomas are recognised by the education and training and labour authorities.

Examples of qualifications

Upper secondary VET programmes are offered in four different areas of study (nationally referred to as ‘sectors’): green/agriculture, technology, economics, and health/welfare.

Examples: bricklayer. assembly mechanic, security officer, care and well-being assistant,

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Progression to professional upper secondary VET programmes (MBO 3) and (for some students to) middle management upper seconday VET programmes (MBO 4) is possible.

It is the ‘official’ minimum qualification level for the labour market. The term ‘official’ implies that it is the minimum desirable education level for every citizen.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

It is possible to acquire a basic level upper secondary VET diploma by validation of prior learning.

General education subjects

Y

Dutch language and basic maths

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

17% of learners in upper secondary VET programmes

EQF 3

Professional education

Programmes,

2-3 years

ISCED 353

Professional upper secondary vocational education programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 353 (MBO 3 – vakopleiding middelbaar beroepsonderwijs)
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

353

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

15

Usual entry age

16 to 17

Usual completion age

19

Length of a programme (years)

2 to 3

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education is compulsory for pupils from age five to 16. 16 and 17 year-olds without a general or basic vocational qualification at upper secondary level are required to continue learning, the so-called ‘qualification duty’ (kwalificatieplicht). This arrangement was introduced in 2008 to reduce early leaving from education and training.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Upper secondary IVET programmes can also function as CVET.

Is it offered free of charge?

A tuition fee is compulsory from the age of 18.

For 2018/2018 this fee is EUR 1155

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Information not available

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

These programmes offer two different learning pathways:

  • school-based; or
  • apprenticeship (dual pathway)

School-based and dual tracks in upper secondary VET lead to the same diplomas; there is no reference to the track on the diploma.

Most learners take part in the school based track, which also appears to be gaining popularity. Between 2008 and 2015 the share of learners in apprenticeship has decreased due to the economic recession. However more structural reasons like upward mobility and growing preferences from youngsters and employers for school based education, could not be excluded. In the last two years the share of learners in the dual track has increased slightly, due to the increased enrolment of adults.

VET legislation mandates accreditation of companies offering work placements to VET students; accreditation has to be obtained for each qualification both for training places in the dual and the school-based track. SBB ([64]Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (Samenwerkingsorganisatie Beroepsonderwijs Bedrijfsleven - SBB).) is responsible for the accreditation process. Names and addresses of the accredited companies are available on a national website ([65]http://www.stagemarkt.nl).

Main providers

Subsidised VET programmes at upper secondary level are offered by 43 regional, multi sectoral VET colleges (ROC – regionale opleidingscentra), 10 specialist trade colleges (vakscholen: specific for a branch of industry), 10 agricultural training centres (AOC – agrarische opleidingscentra) and one school for people with disabilities in hearing, language and communication. Private, non-subsidised providers can offer VET programmes as long as their programmes are accredited by the ministry.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

In the school-based track (BOL – beroepsopleidende leerweg) practical periods in companies make up at least 20% of study time up to a maximum of 59%. The dual or apprenticeship track (BBL – beroepsbegeleidende leerweg), training takes place in companies at least 60% of study time.

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

in-company practice (internships)

The responsibility for curriculum development and assessment is in the hands of the upper secondary VET schools. Various curricula and learning environments exist even for programmes related to the same profession.

Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults (16-35).

For upper secondary VET (level 1 to 4): participants in the school-based track are mainly youngsters, while 46% of those following a dual track are 23 or over, this is because this track is also used by companies to upgrade their employees.

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

Access requirements are:

  • a pre-vocational secondary education certificate/diploma; or
  • proof of successful completion of the first three years of upper secondary general education or pre-university education.

To enrol in the dual/apprenticeship track a contract (an employment contract in most cases) with a firm is mandatory. There is no such obligation for the school-based track.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment of learning results is the responsibility of schools. The law stipulates that companies providing work-based learning have to be involved. Qualification standards serve as benchmarks for assessments. The education inspectorate supervises quality of examinations (content, level and procedures at programme level).

Central examinations in Dutch language and basic maths have been introduced. Passing the exam in Dutch language is compulsory to obtain a diploma. For basic maths this is not yet the case.

Diplomas/certificates provided

VET learners receive a professional upper secondary vocational education qualification (EQF 3). (MBO 3 – vakopleiding middelbaar beroepsonderwijs)

Diplomas are recognised by the education and training and labour authorities

Examples of qualifications

Upper secondary VET programmes are offered in four different areas of study (nationally referred to as ‘sectors’): green/agriculture, technology, economics, and health/welfare.

Examples: all-round carpenter, care provider disability care, financial administrative assistant.

Participation (%) in upper secondary VET (level 1-4) by area of study (2013-2017)

Source: DUO 2018 (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs - Service Institution Education).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Progression to middle management upper secondary vocational education programmes (MBO 4) is possible, as well as to specialising programmes at post-secondary level.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

It is possible to acquire a professional upper secondary VET diploma by validation of prior learning.

General education subjects

Y

Dutch language, basic maths

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

25% of learners in upper secondary VET programmes

EQF 4

Middle management

VET programmes,

3-4 years

ISCED 354

Middle management upper secondary vocational education programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (MBO 4 –middenkaderopleiding middelbaar beroepsonderwijs)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

15

Usual entry age

16 to 17

Usual completion age

19 or 20

Length of a programme (years)

3 to 4

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education is compulsory for pupils from age five to 16. 16 and 17 year-olds without a general or basic vocational qualification at upper secondary level are required to continue learning, the so-called ‘qualification duty’ (kwalificatieplicht). This arrangement was introduced in 2008 to reduce early leaving from education and training.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Upper secondary IVET programmes can also function as CVET.

Is it offered free of charge?

A tuition fee is compulsory from the age of 18.

For 2018/2018 this fee is EUR 1155.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Information not available

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

These programmes offer two different learning pathways:

  • school-based; or
  • apprenticeship (dual pathway)

School-based and dual tracks in upper secondary VET lead to the same diplomas; there is no reference to the track on the diploma.

Most learners take part in the school based track, which also appears to be gaining popularity. Between 2008 and 2015 the share of learners in apprenticeship has decreased due to the economic recession. However more structural reasons like upward mobility and growing preferences from youngsters and employers for school based education, could not be excluded. In the last two years the share of learners in the dual track has increased slightly, due to the increased enrolment of adults.

VET legislation mandates accreditation of companies offering work placements to VET students; accreditation has to be obtained for each qualification both for training places in the dual and the school-based track. SBB ([66]Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (Samenwerkingsorganisatie Beroepsonderwijs Bedrijfsleven - SBB).) is responsible for the accreditation process. Names and addresses of the accredited companies are available on a national website ([67]http://www.stagemarkt.nl).

Main providers

Subsidised VET programmes at upper secondary level are offered by 43 regional, multi sectoral VET colleges (ROC – regionale opleidingscentra), 10 specialist trade colleges (vakscholen: specific for a branch of industry), 10 agricultural training centres (AOC – agrarische opleidingscentra) and one school for people with disabilities in hearing, language and communication. Private, non-subsidised providers can offer VET programmes as long as their programmes are accredited by the ministry.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

In the school-based track (BOL – beroepsopleidende leerweg) practical periods in companies make up at least 20% of study time up to a maximum of 59%. The dual or apprenticeship track (BBL – beroepsbegeleidende leerweg), training takes place in companies at least 60% of study time.

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

in-company practice (internships)

The responsibility for curriculum development and assessment is in the hands of the upper secondary VET schools. Various curricula and learning environments exist even for programmes related to the same profession.

Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults (16-35).

Participants in the school-based track are mainly youngsters, while 46% of those following a dual track are 23 or over, this is because this track is also used by companies to upgrade their employees.

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

Access requirements are:

  • a pre-vocational secondary education certificate/diploma; or
  • proof of successful completion of the first three years of upper secondary general education or pre-university education.

To enrol in the dual/apprenticeship track a contract (an employment contract in most cases) with a firm is mandatory. There is no such obligation for the school-based track.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment of learning results is the responsibility of schools. The law stipulates that companies providing work-based learning have to be involved. Qualification standards serve as benchmarks for assessments. The education inspectorate supervises quality of examinations (content, level and procedures at programme level).

Obligatory central examinations in Dutch language, English and basic maths have been introduced.

Passing the exam in Dutch language and English is compulsory to obtain a diploma. For basic maths this is not yet the case.

Diplomas/certificates provided

VET learners receive a middle management upper secondary VET qualification (EQF 4).

(MBO 4 –middenkaderopleiding middelbaar beroepsonderwijs).

Diplomas are recognised by the education and training and labour authorities.

Examples of qualifications

Upper secondary VET programmes are offered in four different areas of study (nationally referred to as ‘sectors’): green/agriculture, technology, economics, and health/welfare.

Examples: planner installations, dental nurse, catering manager.

Participation (%) in upper secondary VET (level 1 to 4) by area of study (2013-2017)

Source: DUO 2018 (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs - Service Institution Education).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Progression is possible to:

  • higher professional education;
  • two-year associate degree programmes (short-cycle higher education, EQF 5);
  • to specialising programmes at post-secondary level.
Destination of graduates

39% of graduates of middle management upper secondary VET programmes enter Higher professional bachelor programmes, while 61% of them enter the job market.

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

General education subjects

Y

English, Dutch language, basic math

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

54% of learners in upper secondary VET programmes

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