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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 Finland comprises the following main features:

  • competence-based approach;
  • personal competence development plan for each learner charting and recognising previously acquired skills;
  • VET teacher profession is attractive;
  • early leaving from education and training is low and decreasing; leaving VET early is still more common than in general education;
  • participation in lifelong learning is high, also due to VET participation.

Distinctive features ([1]Cedefop (2016). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Finland. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8100_en.pdf
):

National qualification requirements have been based on a competence-based approach since the early 1990s. Flexibility of vocational qualifications has increased, for example by diversifying opportunities to include modules from other vocational qualifications (including further and specialist vocational qualifications) or university of applied sciences degrees. More flexibility will allow students to create individual learning paths and increase their motivation for completing their studies. It is also meant to give education providers an opportunity to meet regional and local labour market demands more effectively. Studies in upper secondary VET are based on individual study plans, comprising both compulsory and optional study modules. Modularisation allows for a degree of individualisation of qualifications:

  • a clearer range of qualifications that better meets the needs of working life;
  • a single competence-based method of completing qualifications;
  • competence-based and individual study paths for all.

The Finnish National Agency for Education reformed all 43 initial, 65 further and 56 specialist vocational qualifications in 2017-18. The fundamental goal of this reform was to reduce the number of qualification titles from 360 to 164 and offer broader programmes, strengthen the competence-based approach of vocational qualification requirements and the modular structure of qualifications. This supports building flexible and individual learning paths and promotes validation of prior learning.

A career as a VET teacher is generally considered attractive, reflected in the high number of applications to enrol in vocational teacher training programmes that invariably exceed intake. While up to a third of the applicants are admitted annually, there are major variations between different fields.

There is growing concern over the risk of social exclusion of young people. In 2018, among 20 to 24 year-olds, 11.8% were neither in employment nor in education and training. Youth unemployment is on the increase; the rate for 15 to 24 year-olds was 20% in 2014, 21.4% in 2016 and 20.4% in 2019. Both rates have improved in recent years ([2]Source: Statistics Finland.).

The government introduced the youth guarantee programme from the beginning of 2013. This offers everyone under 25, as well as recent graduates under 30, a job, on-the-job training, a study place or rehabilitation within three months of becoming unemployed.

Dropout from vocational education and training is far more common than from general upper secondary education, although it is not high in European terms (7.4% in the 2016/17 school year). Prevention of both dropout from education and exclusion from society is a policy priority: every individual who drops out of education and the labour market is seen as being both a personal tragedy and a significant cost to society. A programme was set up in 2012 to develop anticipatory and individualised procedures in guidance and counselling and create pedagogical solutions and practices supporting completion of studies, as well as work-centred learning environments and opportunities. There is also emphasis on creating practices to recognise prior learning more effectively. An additional EUR 4 million has been allocated to this programme. The results of these projects will be seen in 2020 at the earliest.

A new Act on VET was adopted in June 2017 and entered into force on 1 January 2018. Its objective has been to renew VET legislation, the financing system and create a more competence-based and customer-oriented system.

Data from VET in Finland Spotlight 2016 ([3]Cedefop (2016). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Finland. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8100_en.pdf
), updated in May 2019.

 

 

Population in 2018: 5 513 130 ([4]NB: Data for population as of 1 January; break in series. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

It increased by 1.6% since 2013 mainly due to immigration ([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, but the share of young people remains slightly above the EU-28 due to immigration. Since 2000, annual immigration to the country has more than doubled, reaching 249 500 or 4.5% of the population in 2017. This is also due to the increased number of asylum seekers in 2015-16 ([6]Statistics Finland:
www.tilastokeskus.fi/tup/maahanmuutto/maahanmuuttajat-vaestossa/ulkomaan-kansalaiset_en.html#tab1483972171375_1
).

The old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase from 31 in 2015 to 50 in 2060 ([7]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).). This will also force the retirement age to increase, reaching 62.4 years in 2025 ([8]In 2017 it was 61.2 years. Source: Finnish Centre for Pensions:
www.etk.fi/en/statistics-2/statistics/effective-retirement-age/
).

 

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

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

According to population forecasts, the proportion of those aged over 65 is increasing faster than the EU average. This is mostly due to the ‘baby-boomer’ generations, born after World War II, reaching pensionable age.

Demographic challenges will impact the availability of the labour force, growth of the economy and, thus, provision of welfare services. The changing population structure will also require improving attainment, preventing early leaving from education and training, facilitating young people’s transition to further education and making flexible learning paths for completing qualifications.

Because of the demographic challenges, e.g. ageing population, the demand for labour in social and welfare services will grow in the future. According to the National Agency for Education ([9]https://www.oph.fi/julkaisut/2011/koulutus_ja_tyovoiman_kysynta_2025), demand for new employees in health care and social services will be nearly 120 000 in the period from 2008 to 2025. This has an impact on VET as, for example, practical nurses and dental assistants receive VET qualifications.

The country has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish.

Education and training institutions teach in Finnish and Swedish, but bilingual providers also exist, providing education in some foreign languages, mostly in English. In the Sámi language regions VET is also provided in a Sámi language.

The language of instruction for initial and continuing VET is decided in the licence for VET provision, granted by the education ministry.

Most companies are small- and medium-sized.

The highest share of the labour force is in human health and social work, manufacturing and in wholesale and retail trade.

 

Employees (age 15 to 74) by economic sector in 2018

Source: Statistics Finland. https://www.tilastokeskus.fi/tup/suoluk/suoluk_tyoelama_en.html

 

The main export sectors are ([10]Source:
https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/fin/ [accessed 2.4.2019].
):

  • machines (23%) ([11]E.g. broadcasting equipment, electrical transformers.);
  • paper goods (16%) ([12]E.g. coated paper, wood pulp.);
  • metals (14%) ([13]E.g. stainless steel, raw zinc.);
  • transportation goods (11%) ([14]E.g. cars, ships.).

Relatively few professions require a specific type of education. Education requirements mainly exist in health care, teaching, rescue and security jobs. Also the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church requires its employees to have education in the field. Such professions usually require a higher education degree.

A few regulated professions require a vocational qualification. Examples are nurses, prison and security guards, construction divers and chimney sweeps.

The labour market is, therefore, considered flexible.

Total unemployment ([15]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) (2018): 6.1% (6.0% in EU-28); it increased by 1.2 percentage points since 2008 ([16]Eurostat table une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

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

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series; low reliability for ISCED 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. In Finland, the financial crisis had less impact on unemployment than in other European countries.

During the crisis there was only a slight increase in unemployment, and the difference between the unemployment rates of the three categories above remained quite stable.

Young people (15-24) with low qualifications (ISCED 0-2) are much more exposed to unemployment than older people who have more working experience. Higher level qualifications also mean less unemployment for young people.

The employment rate of VET graduates (age 20-34, ISCED levels 3 and 4) has increased since 2014 by 2.2 percentage points and reached 79.8% in 2018.

 

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

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

 

This increase was slower compared with the increase in employment for the same age group graduates of all education types (+2.5pp) in the same period ([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 Finland 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 Finland. Cedefop research paper; No 67. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/finland_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study.pdf

Completion of both upper secondary and tertiary studies is one of the objectives of national education policy. Finland has one of the highest shares of 25-64 year old people with higher education qualifications (43.7%) and one of the lowest shares with low qualifications (11.7%) in the EU.

 

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

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

 

Attainment of Finns aged 25 to 64 has increased significantly since 2000 and slightly more rapidly than in the EU-28 on average ([18]https://findikaattori.fi/en/). Since the 1990s the expansion of adult education and training, as well as the creation of the competence-based qualifications system, offered many ‘baby-boomers’ born after World War II an opportunity to complete a VET qualification.

For more information about VET in higher education in Finland please see the case study from Cedefop's changing nature and role of VET in Europe projectt [18a]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 Finland. Cedefop research paper; No 70. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/finland_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study_0.pdf

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower- secondary

upper -secondary

post-secondary

not applicable

71.6%

100%

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

 

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

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

 

The male/female share in vocational upper secondary programmes is equal. In further qualification programmes, there are more females.

In 2017, 43% of all male VET students studied in one particular field, i.e. engineering, manufacturing and construction. Business and administration and services both accounted for 17% of all male VET students. Around one-third (31%) of women were enrolled in health and welfare, 20% in services and 25% in business, administration and law.

The share of early leavers from education and training was 8.3% in 2018. The share has decreased since 2009 by 1.6 percentage points (-3.6 percentage points in the EU) and it is very close to the national 2020 target of not more than 8%.

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

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

 

The overall duration of education and training is influenced by delays at transition points ([19]For example, young graduates from upper secondary education at age of 19 cannot always enter higher education due to limited places available; they often apply several years in a row in order to enrol.) and the overall time spent in each programme. The latter is now being addressed by the new financing mechanism that gives more weight to the effectiveness of studies and is pushing towards timely acquisition of qualifications.

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

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

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

 

Participation in lifelong learning is traditionally high in Finland. It has increased by 3.4 percentage points since 2014, reaching 28.5% in 2018. It is almost three times higher than the EU-28 average (11.1% in 2018).

VET is an important form of adult education. In 2016 almost 70% of those completing vocational upper secondary qualifications in Finland were under 25. Almost half of those taking further vocational qualifications completed their studies under the age of 35, and over half of those taking specialist vocational qualifications were over 40.

 

VET learners by age group in 2010-17

Source: Statistics Finland (Vipunen). https://vipunen.fi/

 

The share of adults (aged 25 and above) in initial and continuing VET has been increasing both in absolute numbers and proportionally. In the programme aiming for upper secondary vocational qualification the share of adults has been increasing and was 36% in 2017. In further qualification the share has varied between 81-86% and in specialist qualification it has remained roughly the same at 95%.

The education and training system comprises:

  • early childhood education and care (ISCED level 0);
  • pre-primary education (ISCED level 0);
  • primary education and lower secondary education; (ISCED levels 1 and 2), also called basic education;
  • optional additional year (ISCED level 2) (age 16);
  • Upper secondary education (ISCED level 3 and 4);
  • Tertiary education (ISCED levels 6, 7, and 8).

Early childhood education and care (varhaiskasvatus, småbarnsfostran) is not compulsory and participation requires the payment of a small fee. It is provided to children up to age six.

Pre-primary education (esiopetus, förskoleundervisning) is compulsory and it is provided to learners aged 6 years old.

Basic education (perusopetus, grundläggande utbildning) is compulsory. It is divided into primary education, provided in grades 1 to 6, to learners aged 7 to 12, and into lower secondary education, provided in grades 7 to 9, to students aged 13 to 16 years old.

The optional additional year is provided to students at age 16. Its purpose is to improve grades and to prepare for vocational education or familiarisation with the working life.

After basic education students can complete training preparing them for VET (ammatilliseen koulutukseen valmentava koulutus, utbildning som handleder för yrkesutbildning). This preparatory education and training provides students with capabilities for applying to VET, leading to qualifications, and fosters their preconditions for

completing qualifications. Preparatory education and

training for work and independent living (työhön ja itsenäiseen elämään valmentava koulutus, utbildning som handleder för arbete och ett självständigt liv) is available for those who need special support due to illness or injury. It provides students with instruction and guidance according to their personal goals and capabilities.

Upper secondary education (toisen asteen koulutus, utbildning på andra stadiet) is provided in grades 10 to 12, to students aged 17 to 19 years old. It is divided into general (lukiokoulutus, gymnasieutbildning), and vocational (ammatillinen koulutus, yrkesutbildning).

Tertiary education (korkeakoulutus, högskola) is provided by universities (yliopisto, universitet) and by universities of applied sciences (ammattikorkeakoulu, yrkeshögskola).

Promoting employment and self-employment are key elements of VET. Guided and goal-oriented studying at the

workplace is an essential part of VET. Studying at the workplace is either based on apprenticeship or on training agreement. Both can be flexibly combined. Learning at the workplace can be used to acquire competence in all vocational qualifications as well as promoting further training or supplementing vocational skills. Studying at the workplace can cover an entire degree, a module or a smaller part of the studies.

Initial VET (for young people) and continuing VET (for adults) are organised under the same legislation and principles ([20]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170531).

Initial VET (vocational upper secondary programmes) provides learners with vocational skills they need for entry- level jobs. It also supports learners’ growth into good and balanced individuals and members of society, and it provides them with the knowledge and skills needed for further studies and for the development of their personalities. A holder of a vocational upper secondary qualification has broad-based, basic vocational skills to work in different tasks in the chosen field, as well as more specialised competence and the vocational skills required for work in at least one section of the chosen field.

Continuing VET (further and specialist programmes) provides more comprehensive and specialised competences and requires labour market experience. They are mainly acquired by adults in employment with an IVET qualification; however, this is not a precondition for the taking of the qualification. A holder of a further vocational qualification has the vocational skills that meet work needs and that are more advanced or more specialised than what is required in the vocational upper secondary qualification. A holder of a specialist vocational qualification has vocational skills that meet work needs and that are highly advanced or multidisciplinary.

All programmes are competence-based. This means that completing a qualification does not depend on where and how competences have been acquired. All learners who have completed basic education may enrol in VET, but each provider decides the selection criteria. In some regions there is a competition for potential learners between general upper secondary and VET schools. VET often attracts more applicants than there are places available, especially in programmes in social services, health and sports, vehicle and transport technology, business and administration, electrical and automation engineering, and beauty care.

Study units (also known as modules)

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational units:

• compulsory;

• optional.

In addition to the above, all initial vocational qualification programmes include units that consist of common, rather than specific, vocational competence:

• communication and interaction competence;

• mathematics and science competence;

• citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

Key competences help students to keep up with the changes in society and working life. In the wake of the 2018 VET reform (Vocational Education and Training Act 531, adopted in 2017 and in force since 2018), key competences are no longer addressed as a separate part of vocational competences. They have been modified so that key competences are included in all vocational skills requirements and assessment criteria. The key competences for lifelong learning are: digital and technological competence; mathematics and science competence; competence development; communication and interaction competence; competence for sustainable development; cultural competence; social and citizenship competence; and entrepreneurial competence.

Personal competence development plan

At the beginning of VET studies objectives for competence development are recorded in a personal competence development plan for each learner. A teacher draws up the plan together with a learner. An employer or another representative of a workplace or other cooperation partner may also participate in the preparation of the personal competence development plan, when required. The plan includes information on, for example, identification and recognition of prior learning, acquisition of missing skills, demonstrations of competence and of other skills, and the guidance and support needed. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The learner can also include units from general upper secondary curriculum, other vocational qualifications (incl. further vocational qualifications and specialist vocational qualifications) or degrees of universities of applied sciences in his personal competence development plan. The plan can be up-dated during the studies whenever necessary.

Work-based learning

Work-based learning (WBL) is provided mainly in real work environments (companies). If this is not possible, it can also be organised in school facilities.

The 2018 reform aimed to increase the share of work-based learning in VET by offering more flexibility in its organisation. All learners take part in WBL and any form of WBL (training agreement or apprenticeship training) may be taken by learners in any qualification programme. WBL may be provided during the whole programme duration and cover the whole qualification, a module/unit, or a smaller part of the programme. The most suitable method for a learner is agreed in the personal competence development plan.

The legislation does not stipulate a maximum or minimum amount of work-based learning but it strongly recommends that VET providers organise at least part of the learning at the workplace. The form of WBL may vary during the studies. A learner may transfer flexibly from a training agreement to apprenticeship training when the prerequisites for concluding an apprenticeship agreement are met (see Section 2.5.2). Work-based learning is guided and goal-oriented training at a workplace, allowing learners to acquire parts of the practical vocational skills included in the desired qualification.

Training agreement

This type of WBL can be offered in all initial and continuing VET programmes. At the very beginning of the training, the personal competence development plan shall be designed by the teacher/guidance counsellor, working life representative and the learner. The WBL periods are defined in this plan.

Learners are not in an employment relationship with the training company. They do not receive salary and employers do not receive any training compensation. But companies gladly recruit people with work experience. Within this system, the learners acquire some experience during their studies and the learner and the company get to know each other. It is possible to change from a training agreement to an apprenticeship training contract, if prerequisites for concluding an apprenticeship agreement are met.

A training agreement period can also be conducted abroad, as an exchange period, e.g. within the Erasmus+ programme or through other programmes or individual arrangements.

Apprenticeship training contract

Any qualification can be acquired through apprenticeship training – a work-based form of VET that is based on a written fixed-term employment contract (apprenticeship contract) between an employer and an apprentice, who must be at least 15 years old. Working hours are at least 25 hours per week. Apprenticeships have been used mainly in further and specialist vocational education. Since the 2018 reform, there is no indication in the legislation where the theoretical part should be acquired. In fact, the word ‘theory’ is no longer in use. Instead, ‘learning in the working place’ and ‘learning in other environments’ terminology applies. If the company is able to cover all the training needs, there is no need for the learner to attend a school venue at all. Learners themselves find work places for the training. The employer has no obligation to keep the apprentice employed after the training period is completed.

VET providers are responsible for initiating the contract. The demand and supply of contracts/work places are not always in balance. There are regional and field-specific differences but usually there are not enough apprenticeship places in companies.

Apprenticeship training is based on the requirements of the relevant qualification, according to which the learner’s personal competence development plan is drawn up. It considers the needs and requirements of the workplace and the learner. Approximately 70-80% of the time used for learning takes place in the workplace where the apprenticeship contract is concluded. Periods of theory and in-company training alternate but a common pattern does not exist; it is agreed in the personal competence development plan.

The employer pays the apprentice’s wages according to the relevant collective agreement for the period of workplace training. For the period of theoretical studies, learners receive social benefits, such as a daily allowance and allowances for accommodation and travel expenses. The education provider pays compensation to cover the costs of training provided in the workplace. The employer and VET institution agree on the amount of compensation before the training takes place; a separate contract is prepared for each learner.

At national level, the general goals for VET and the qualifications structure ([21]Qualification structure is a system of qualifications. It defines how many there are initial, further and specialist VET qualifications: their share, titles and competence points (total and for common units; their division within the qualification is decided by the Finnish National Agency for Education).) are determined by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The ministry also grants the licences for education provision. The Finnish National Agency for Education decides the national requirements of qualifications, detailing the goals and core content of each vocational qualification.

 

Main VET stakeholders

Source: Finnish National Agency for Education.

 

Vocational qualification requirements are developed in broad-based cooperation with stakeholders. The national qualification requirements have been based on a learning-outcomes approach since the early 1990s. Consequently, close cooperation with the world of work has been essential.

Cooperation with the world of work and other key stakeholders is carried out in order to ensure that qualifications support is flexible and promotes efficient transition to the labour market, as well as occupational development and career change. In addition to the needs of the world of work, development of VET and qualifications takes into account consolidation of lifelong learning skills, as well as the individuals’ needs and opportunities to complete qualifications flexibly to suit their own circumstances.

The Ministry of Education and Culture grants authorisations to VET providers, determining the fields of education in which they are allowed to provide education and training and their total learner numbers. VET providers determine which vocational qualifications and which study programmes within the specified fields of education will be organised at their vocational institutions.

To enhance the service capacity of VET providers, they have been encouraged to merge into regional or other strong entities. Across Finland, education providers cover all VET services and development activities. Thus, vocational institutions offer initial and continuing training both for young people and adult learners. Vocational institutions work in close cooperation with the labour market. Their role is to develop their own provision in cooperation with the labour market on the one hand, and to support competence development within small and medium-sized enterprises on the other. This strategy for vocational institutions has been a necessary means of ensuring and increasing the flexibility of education and training. Consequently, larger vocational institutions can offer enough vocational modules to ensure that learners can customise their programmes and choose studies that match changing needs for competences.

Vocational institutions can organise their activities freely, according to the requirements of their fields or their regions, and decide on their institutional networks and other services.

VET providers

Around 70% of VET providers are privately owned and 24% are owned by joint municipal authorities (Figure 10). There are 145 VET providers in total (Figure 10); this is considerably fewer than in 2006 as they have been strongly encouraged to merge. This cost-efficiency trend in education has been apparent since the mid-1990s. The ministry encourages VET providers towards voluntary mergers to ensure that all education providers have sufficient professional and financial resources to provide education.

 

VET providers by ownership

NB: Data as of 30 April 2019. In addition, there were 16 private VET providers who did not receive the licence, but can continue providing VET for a transitional period.
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

 

The most common types of VET provider are vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and the service sector) ([22]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. car manufacturers) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Private vocational institutions operating under the 2018 VET Act are supervised by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Similar to public VET providers, they receive government subsidies and have the right to award official qualification certificates.

Out of 145 VET providers in total, there are 26 specialised vocational institutions, which are generally maintained by manufacturing and service sector enterprises. They are national private institutions, also referred to as ‘government dependent private institutions’, which provide training for their own needs outside the national qualifications structure described above, and which mainly focus on continuing training for their own staff. The specialised vocational institutions (also national private institutions) have been authorised by the Ministry of Education and Culture to provide education and training. Although these institutions receive state funding, most of the costs are covered by the owners of these enterprises (or by the enterprises responsible for them).

Current financing system

Education is publicly funded through public tax revenue at all levels. This has been perceived in Finland as being a means of guaranteeing equal education opportunities for the entire population irrespective of social or ethnic background, gender and place of residence. Funding criteria for receiving state funding are uniform for public and private VET providers.

Private funding only accounts for 2.6% of all education expenditure. Its share is slightly higher in upper secondary VET and higher education, but still remains below 5%.

Public funding is mainly provided by the State (30%) and local authorities (municipalities) (70%). VET providers decide on the use of all funds granted. In upper secondary VET, operating costs per learner vary between EUR 6 488 for all apprenticeships (companies cover most of the costs) to EUR 27 956 in special needs VET ([23]The most recent available data of 2017.).

In VET (excluding apprenticeships and special needs), funding varies by study field. Total VET funding is 1.5% from government spending and 13% from the spending of the Ministry of Education and Culture (2019).

 

Operating costs per learner in upper secondary VET by study field in 2012, 2014, 2017 (euros)

Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

 

At the beginning of 2018, the unit price of apprenticeship training was increased to the same level as that of institution-based training. This is expected to encourage education providers to increase their offer of apprenticeship training. In addition, if the apprentice is a long-term unemployed jobseeker, lacks professional skills, or is disabled, the employer may also receive a state-funded pay subsidy.

The 2022 financing system for better performance

With the amendment to the Act on the Financing of the Provision of Education and Culture (532/2017) that entered into force at the beginning of 2018, a single coherent funding system was established for all VET programmes. The Act includes one uniform funding system for the provision of VET covering vocational upper secondary education and training, vocational further education and training, apprenticeship training and labour market training leading to a qualification (see Section 2.9.3). Funding criteria are uniform irrespective of the type of education provider.

The new system of funding is moving away from the current model of core funding and a very small element of performance funding (5%), towards one based on funding divided into core, performance and effectiveness and strategy.

 

Share of VET funding elements from 2022

Source: Ministry of Education and Culture; Finnish National Agency for Education (2018). Finnish VET in a nutshell. ISBN: 978-952-263-592-1.

 

  • 50% core funding is based on the number of students; it is important for forward planning and ensuring future provision of VET in all fields and for all students;
  • 35% performance funding is based on the number of completed qualifications and qualification units; it is meant to steer education providers to target education and qualifications in accordance with competence needs and to intensify study processes;
  • 15% effectiveness funding is based on students’ access to employment, pursuit of further education and feedback from both students and the labour market ([24]VET providers must collect these data. The system is not fully operational yet as the new financing system will be ready in 2022.); it aims to encourage education providers to redirect education to fields where labour is needed to ensure that education corresponds to the needs of the working life and that it is of high quality and provides the students with the competence to study further;
  • in addition, a relatively small amount of strategy funding (decided by parliament) will be made available; it is meant to support development and actions that are important from the education policy standpoint. It could be used, for example, for VET national development projects, skills competitions and developing education provider networks (e.g. mergers).

The new funding system will gradually be introduced and will be fully operational in 2022.

 

VET funding elements 2018-22 (%)

Source: Ministry of Education and Culture.

 

In VET, there are:

  • teachers of vocational units, teachers of common units, special needs teachers;
  • trainers.

Teaching is a popular profession in Finland. The popularity of vocational teacher education has been consistent over many years, largely because of the flexible arrangements for completing studies. While up to a third of the applicants are admitted annually, there are major variations between different fields.

Those who apply for a place in vocational teacher education are, on average, older than applicants of other forms of teacher education. This is because applicants are required to have prior work experience in their own field. The average age of applicants and those admitted as learners is approximately 40 years.

The proportion of women among applicants and teacher training learners has increased noticeably in recent years. Unlike in other teacher education programmes, it is more difficult for women than for men to gain a place in vocational teacher education. Regarding salaries and terms and conditions of employment, there are no remarkable differences between teachers in general education and VET.

Although there are no official data for trainers ([25]In-company trainers (nationally referred to as workplace instructors) are responsible for supervising learners during their on-the-job learning periods or apprenticeship training in enterprises.) on the attractiveness of their profession, the general impression is that trainers are generally satisfied with their training tasks. In many cases, they perceive more responsibilities and autonomy as recognition of their professionalism; time spent with young learners away from normal routine is also considered to be a reward. Trainers participate in the competence demonstrations involving trainers in learner assessment at the workplace. This assessment plays a significant role on learners’ final qualification certificates.

 

Teacher and trainer qualifications

Source: https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1998/19980986#L5

 

First, teachers of vocational units must have an appropriate higher education degree in their own vocational sector. If such a degree does not exist, it can also be supplemented by the highest possible other qualification in the sector. One specific challenge has been to find qualified teachers in some fields. Another challenge is the sometimes limited shop floor experience of teachers with a university degree. In some fields, therefore now possible to acquire teaching qualifications by completing a specialist vocational qualification (ISCED 4) or some other qualification or training that provides solid competence in the field concerned.

Second, they have a pedagogical teacher training qualification with 60 ECTS credit points, and third, they need relevant work experience in their own field. Teachers of vocational units take teacher’s pedagogical studies at five vocational teacher education institutions (universities of applied sciences) while teachers of common units (such as languages and mathematics) generally complete them at universities.

The content of teacher training is updated continuously by vocational teacher education colleges. Teacher education institutions enjoy wide autonomy in deciding on their curricula and training arrangements. Legislation sets the qualification requirements, but only at a very general level.

Requirements for trainers

Trainers are generally experienced foremen and skilled workers. They frequently have a vocational or professional qualification but hold no pedagogical qualifications.

There are no formal qualifications requirements for trainers in Finland. Their participation in continuing professional development is also left completely up to them and their employers.

There are, however, training programmes available for trainers that follow national guidelines (as recommended by the Finnish National Agency for Education). According to the guidelines, training for trainers comprises three modules, providing participants with the capabilities required in order to: plan training at the workplace; provide vocational competence demonstrations; instruct VET learners and assess their learning; and impart vocational skills. The Finnish National Agency for Education recommends that, where possible, people acting as workplace trainers should participate in the training of trainers. VET education providers are responsible for providing the training.

There is also plenty of autonomy for continuing professional development (CPD) for VET teachers. The CPD obligation of teaching staff is defined partly in legislation and partly in the collective agreement negotiated between the Trade Union of Education in Finland and the employers’ organisation.

Most continuing training is provided free of charge and teachers enjoy full salary benefits during their participation. Funding responsibility rests with teachers’ employers, mainly local authorities. Training content is decided by individual employers and the teachers themselves.

The Parasta osaamista project set up a network for improving VET teacher’s CPD. It started in 2016 and is coordinated by Jyväskylä university. The aim of the project is to support education staff during the implementation of the 2017-2018 VET reform. Emphasis is put on developing coherent practices; unifying quality criteria; promoting competence-based and customer-oriented VET in cooperation with the world of work; mapping the competence needs of VET staff; developing tools and operational models for workplace learning; and the induction of workplace instructors.

The 2016 teacher education development programme (Opettajankoulutuksen kehittämisohjelma) also aims to adopt a systematic and coherent structure for teachers’ competence development during their careers. It is recommended that education institutions prepare competence development plans, which will be underpinned by strategic plans and evaluations of competence by education providers. Particular attention is being paid to building up the vocational skills of young teachers and their opportunities for receiving support. CPD, promoting the integration of Finnish language learning into the vocational studies, language awareness focused teaching and collaborative instruction, is being organised.

VET schools offer short courses/events to upskill workplace instructors in relation to various themes, such as how to guide special needs learners at the workplace. The Parasta osaamista project also offers support for workplace instructors.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([26]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

 

 

Skills anticipation activities are well established and linked to policy-making. For more than a decade, socio-economic factors such as the effects of the economic recession, the gradually decreasing labour force, and the ageing population have increased the need to improve the match between supply and demand skills. As a result, significant investment in skills anticipation has been undertaken by the government and its partners. The aim is to steer the education system – both VET and higher education – to meet the needs of the labour market.

At national level, the Finnish National Agency for Education, which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Culture, produces long-term (10+ years) national forecasts ([27]https://beta.oph.fi/fi/tilastot-ja-julkaisut/julkaisut/osaaminen-2035) on the demand for labour and education needs in support of decision-making. It is supported by the skills anticipation forum, established in early 2017. The Ministry of Education and Culture decides on study places by field of education (around 10). At regional level, councils anticipate skills needs in the municipalities in the region. The forecasting data is also used for guidance and employment counselling to provide information regarding future employment opportunities. The Finnish National Agency for Education also supports regional forecasting efforts, which are carried out under the supervision of regional councils. The goal is to steer the number of learner places in education and training provision to ensure that it matches developments in the demand for labour as closely as possible.

In general, there is a high degree of stakeholder involvement in skills anticipation activities. Major trade unions, employers, regional councils, and representatives of education institutions are involved in anticipation exercises. The responsibility of education providers for anticipating and responding to labour market changes has increased, as operational targeting and steering powers ([28]It means among other things that VET providers can decide within the limits of the licence received from Ministry of Education and Culture what qualifications and training programmes to offer.) have been devolved to universities, universities of applied sciences, and VET providers. Providers are required to play an active role in addressing the national/regional labour market skills needs.

In addition, a wide range of national and regional EU-funded anticipation and forecast projects are carried out by organisations such as research institutions, labour market and industry organisations, VET providers, universities and universities of applied sciences. In particular, regional anticipation activities have developed rapidly in the past decade. Key players in these activities include regional councils, the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres), VET providers, and higher education institutions.

Governance and funding of the relevant exercises are the remit of three ministries (Education and Culture, Finance, Economic Affairs and Employment). These ministries engage in a variety of skills anticipation exercises, taking advantage of the long-term baseline forecasts of economic development produced by the Institute for Economic Research (Valtion Taloudellinen Tutkimuskeskus), a specialised state institution under the Ministry of Finance. The first regional anticipation projects were launched at the beginning of the 2000s. The ministries mostly finance development prognoses of branches, which also include the demand for labour.

Skills anticipation influences government policies on VET, higher education and adult education. Forecasts of future skills demand have an impact on decisions about education supply. Skills anticipation also has an impact on curriculum planning in VET and higher education institutions.

Dissemination of the data generated by skills anticipation exercises is an important element of the anticipation activity. The aim is to make the output from anticipation exercises accessible to a wide audience (policy-makers, employers, jobseekers and young people, etc.) through a range of channels including reports, workshops and online publications. Despite the focus on dissemination of skills anticipation data, there is a need to improve the user friendliness of the existing database to improve information for learners, job seekers and employers ([29]This section is based on Cedefop’s Skills Panorama (2017). Skills anticipation in Finland. Analytical highlights series.
http://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/analytical_highlights/skills-anticipation-finland
).

Quantitative anticipation

The Finnish National Agency for Education is responsible for quantitative anticipation. It has developed the Mitenna model for anticipating long-term demand for labour and educational needs. The model provides long-term data on changes in the demand for labour, natural wastage of labour ([30]A reduction in the number of employees, which is achieved by not replacing those who leave.), demand for skilled labour and educational needs. Quantitative anticipation is used to provide information on quantitative needs for vocationally and professionally oriented education and training in upper secondary vocational education and training, university of applied sciences education and university education. The focus is on anticipating the demand for labour over a period of circa 15 years ([31]Growth in competencies for Finland: proposed objectives for degrees and qualifications for the 2020s (Suomi osaamisen kasvu-uralle. Ehdotus tutkintotavoitteista 2020-luvulle).
http://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/handle/10024/75163
).

Qualitative anticipation

The Finnish National Agency for Education coordinated a project on future competences and skills, known as the VOSE project, between 2008 and 2012. The aim of this project was to create a process model for anticipating vocational competence and skills needs for the future (looking 10 to 15 years ahead).

The knowledge produced through the model serves different levels of education, including vocational, university of applied sciences and university education. Anticipatory knowledge may be utilised, for example, in the national core curriculum, in curriculum planning and the development of the content of education.

The development of the anticipation model has involved social partners representing the piloted sectors (the real estate and building sectors, the social, welfare and health care sectors and the tourism and catering sectors), representatives of research institutions and of various fields of education, as well as other experts in the sectors in question.

The anticipation model created in the VOSE project is now used in the qualitative anticipation of education and training. The model is used to anticipate the skills needs in 2 to 3 fields every year ([32]https://www.oph.fi/english/education_development/anticipation).

National forum for skills anticipation

The National Forum for Skills Anticipation (Osaamisen ennakointifoorumi) serves as a joint expert body in educational anticipation for the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish National Agency for Education. The system consists of a steering group, anticipation groups and a network of experts. The task is to analyse changing competence and skills needs; their impact on the development of education on the basis of the anticipation data; and to promote the interaction of education and training with working life in cooperation with the Ministry and Finnish National Agency for Education. Anticipation groups consist of representatives of employers, employees, education providers, educational administrators, teaching staff and researchers in each field. Anticipation groups are involved in both qualitative and quantitative anticipation work. There are nine anticipation groups representing the following fields:

• natural resources, food production and the environment;

• business and administration;

• education, culture and communications;

• transport and logistics;

• hospitality services;

• built environment;

• social, health and welfare services;

• technology industry and services;

• process industry and production.

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([33]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast) and European Skills Index ([34]https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/indicators/european-skills-index)

The VET curriculum system consists of the:

  • national qualification requirements;
  • education provider´s competence assessment plan;
  • learner`s personal competence development plan.

 

Designing VET qualifications

Source: Finnish National Agency for Education.

 

National qualification requirements

Before the 2018 reform, the national qualification requirements for different qualifications were often updated every five to 10 years on average or whenever necessary, either partially or completely. Since 2018, updating the qualifications became a continuous process based on the changing needs in the world of work and the results of anticipation of skill needs.

The starting point for updating a qualification may be changes in the skills needs in the labour market. These changes can lead to a change of the qualification requirements, or even the qualification structure, of initial, further and specialist vocational qualifications. Changes to the qualification structure also require qualification requirements to be renewed. The process of preparing a qualification requirements document usually takes one to two years.

Within the national qualifications framework (NQF), the Finnish National Agency for Education has placed upper secondary vocational qualifications and further vocational qualifications at level 4 (referenced to level 4 of the EQF) and specialist vocational qualifications at level 5. The ECVET system ([35]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/events-and-projects/projects/european-credit-system-vocational-education-and-training-ecvet) was put into practice in Finland in 2014 and from the beginning of August 2018, in accordance with ECVET recommendations, vocational upper secondary qualifications have covered 180 credit points; further vocational qualifications 120, 150 or 180 credit points; and specialist vocational qualifications 160, 180 or 210 credit points. One year of full-time study corresponds to 60 credit points.

The qualification requirements are drawn up under the leadership of the Finnish National Agency for Education in tripartite cooperation with employers, employees and the education sector. Self-employed people are also represented in the preparation of qualification requirements in fields where self-employment is prevalent. The qualification requirements determine: the units included in the qualification; any possible specialisations made up of different units; selection of optional units in addition to compulsory ones; the vocational skills required for each qualification unit; the guidelines for assessment (targets and criteria of assessment); and the ways of demonstrating vocational skills.

The qualification requirements and the vocational competences form the basis for identifying the types of occupational work processes in which vocational skills for a specific qualification can be demonstrated and assessed.

When an update is initiated, the Finnish National Agency for Education sets up a qualification project, inviting experts representing employees, employers and teachers in the field to participate. In the course of its work, the expert group must also consult other experts in the world of work. Once the expert group has completed a draft version of the new qualification requirements, the document will be sent to representatives of unions, organisations, the world of work and VET providers for a broad consultation process. Following this process, the Finnish National Agency for Education adopts the qualification requirements as a nationally binding regulation.

The Finnish National Agency for Education determines the working life committee under which the specific qualification will fall, or establishes a new working life committee for the new qualification. Working life committees are tripartite bodies consisting of employers and employees’ representatives, teachers and self-employed people. They play a key role in the quality assurance of VET. They ensure the quality of the implementation of competence demonstrations and competence assessment and develop the VET qualifications structure and qualification requirements.

Vocational qualifications are structured in a modular way. These modules comprise units of work or activities found in the world of work. Each vocational qualification unit is a specific occupational area, which can be separated into an independent and assessable component. The vocational skills requirements determined for each qualification unit focus on the core functions of the occupation, mastery of operating processes and the occupational practices of the field in question. These also include skills generally required in working life, such as social skills and key competences for lifelong learning. All qualification requirements share a common structure.

The targets of assessment defined in the qualification requirements indicate those areas of competence on which special attention is focused during assessment. The criteria for assessment have been derived from the vocational skills requirements. The assessment criteria determine the grades awarded for units in upper secondary vocational qualifications and the standard of an acceptable performance in further and specialist qualifications. The section entitled ‘Ways of demonstrating vocational skills’ describes how candidates are to demonstrate their vocational skills in vocational demonstrations.

The qualifications requirements adopted by the Finnish National Agency for Education are published in electronic form on the Finnish National Agency for Education website.

Competence assessment plans

Competence assessment plans are prepared by the respective education provider for each training programme or qualification. The plan details the guidelines and procedures adopted by the education provider regarding the implementation of competence assessment. The plan includes how the following aspects are to be carried out (who does what, how, where it is registered and how the student, staff and stakeholders ([36]Teachers, guidance and counselling staff and assessors of competence.) are informed): recognition of prior learning; demonstration of competence; skills assurance before the demonstration of competence; assessment; certification; preparatory programme planning; and monitoring the implementation of the plan itself.

The competence assessment plan is used by teachers, guidance personnel and assessors of competence. The feasibility of the plan is self-monitored and self-assessed by VET providers as part of their quality assurance system. The plan is attached to the application for a licence to provide VET.

Learner personal competence development plan

At the beginning of VET studies objectives for competence development are recorded in a personal competence development plan for each learner. A teacher draws up the plan together with a learner. An employer or another representative of a workplace or other cooperation partner may also participate in the preparation of the personal competence development plan, when required. The plan includes information on, for example, identification and recognition of prior learning, acquisition of missing skills, competence demonstrations and other demonstration of skills, and the guidance and support needed. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The learner can also include units from general upper secondary curriculum, other vocational qualifications (incl. further vocational qualifications and specialist vocational qualifications) or degrees of universities of applied sciences in their personal competence development plan. The plan can be up-dated during the studies whenever necessary.

Involvement of the world of work in developing qualification requirements and quality in VET

The representatives of the world of work participate in the anticipation of skills and education needs both nationally and regionally, for example through anticipation groups, advisory committees and through consultation processes. They participate in drawing up the qualification requirements at national level and they are represented in working life committees.

At regional level the representatives from enterprises participate in the organisation and planning of training and skills demonstrations, regional committees as well as assessment of skills demonstrations. This allows continuous feedback from the world of work.

In 2017, the former 30 national education and training committees were replaced by nine anticipating groups representing different vocational fields (see Section 3.1.3). Members of these groups are representatives of employers, employees and self-employed entrepreneurs, as well as VET providers, higher education institutions, teaching staff, researchers and educational administration. The anticipating groups are appointed until 2020. Their tasks include:

• analysing changing and new competence and skills needs of working life and their implications for different levels of education;

• offering recommendations for the development of VET programmes;

• strengthening cooperation between upper secondary VET and higher education;

  • providing public authorities with recommendations on new development needs and cooperation between the world of work and education.

Continuous improvement of VET quality is a key priority in Finland. The following activities are essential when assuring that vocational education and training meets the requirements of the world of work.

 

Stakeholder roles in assuring VET quality

Source: Finnish National Agency for Education.

 

The quality assurance of VET consists of VET provider´s own quality management, national VET steering and external evaluation.

VET legislation sets the frame for VET providers’ operations. The law requires that the VET provider is responsible for the quality of qualifications and programmes offered and for their constant improvement. VET providers have to have a functional quality assurance system in place. According to the law, they must evaluate the quality, effectiveness (employability, pursuit of further education and feedback from learners and working life) and ‘profitability’ (i.e. how well the operations have met the needs of the learner and the world of work, and have the resources been used in an optimal way) of the qualifications, programmes and other operations. The purpose of VET provider self-evaluation is to recognise strengths and targets to be developed. The ministry offers non-compulsory criteria for self-evaluation to support the process.

The national VET steering includes legislation and regulations related to financing and qualification requirements. It also includes quality strategy, quality award competition, government subsidies for quality improvement, supporting materials produced by the ministry and the agency and criteria for self- and peer evaluation.

According to the VET legislation, VET providers also have to participate regularly in external evaluations of their operations and quality management systems and publish the main results of those evaluations. External evaluation includes the quality assurance of competence demonstrations and competence assessment made by the working life committees and evaluations made by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre.

Supervision of qualifications

Working life committees are responsible for the supervision of qualifications. Their aim is to ensure the quality and working life orientation of VET. They are statutory bodies of elected officials, appointed by the Finnish National Agency for Education to manage a public duty.

The committees’ duties are:

• ensuring the quality of the implementation of competence demonstrations and assessment;

• participating in the development of qualification structure and vocational qualifications;

• processing learners’ rectification requests concerning competence assessments.

Working life committee members handle these tasks for three years, in addition to their regular duties. A maximum of nine members may be appointed to each working life committee. They must represent employers, employees, teachers and, if self-employment is common within the sector in question, self-employed professionals. There are 39 working life committees. Each working life committee is responsible for one or more qualifications. Working life committees participate in developing the qualification structure and in designing the qualification requirements. They also participate in quality assurance of skills demonstrations and assessment through national feedback, follow-up and evaluation data, and may also visit the skills demonstrations events, when necessary. Finally, they handle the requests related to the rectification of assessment.

Quality assurance of VET providers

The legislation on VET gives education providers a great deal of freedom in deciding on the measures concerning their education provision, use of public funding and quality management. The legislation obliges the providers to evaluate their training provision and its effectiveness as well as to participate in external evaluations. This means that the education providers need to have their own operating system that contains relevant and functional quality management measures (selected by VET providers).

Self-evaluation and external evaluation supports VET providers’ continuous improvement and results-oriented performance. Through evaluation, providers obtain information about major strengths and development needs. VET providers monitor, assess and analyse results achieved systematically through means such as surveys, quantitative indicators and self-evaluation. In VET, data and information are most often collected through queries ([37]VET provider collects feedback from learners twice: at the beginning of studies and at the end.) and assessments of learning outcomes. The VET provider collects the feedback from learners and saves the learners´ answers in the online system that has been developed for this purpose. The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish National Agency for Education have access to the results.

External evaluation of training is frequently ([38]The term used in the legislation.) carried out, for example, by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre. Internal audits, benchmarking and peer reviews are other methods employed in evaluation.

Learner feedback

Starting from 2020, one sixth of effectiveness-based funding will be granted to VET providers based on the feedback from learners. The feedback is collected via a centrally designed questionnaire which learners answer twice: at the beginning of the studies and at the end, once the learner has demonstrated all the skills and competences needed for the qualification. Learner feedback and its collection are regulated in the legislation.

In the questionnaire, the learners respond to statements rating them on a five-point scale from one (strongly disagree) to five (strongly agree). At the beginning of their studies learners are required to rate statements relating to the following themes: flexibility of starting time of studies and content of the individual programme; accreditation of prior learning; and support and guidance needed. At the end of their studies, learners give feedback concerning the following themes: flexibility in studies; the ways in which teaching facilities and the learning environment supported studies; receiving support and guidance during studies; equity between learners and workers at the workplace; opportunities to study and learn in the workplace; gaining of entrepreneurial competence; and assessment of their individual competence and readiness for the working life and further studies.

New quality assurance guidelines

The new quality assurance guidelines are currently being discussed by stakeholders to be published by the end of 2019. Since 2011, VET quality strategy has been in place, drawn up by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The 2018 reformed system has increased the significance of the quality management, together with the providers’ role in managing VET. The new strategy is supposed to cover all parts of the national quality assurance system:

• VET providers’ quality management;

• national steering of VET;

• external evaluation of VET;

except the method that VET providers may select themselves.

Validation of non-formal and informal learning has relatively long and established roots in Finland and the legislation and policies are well developed and detailed. However, there is no one single law for this; laws and regulations for each field of education define validation separately. These fields include general upper secondary education, vocational education and training (including continuing VET), and higher education. The core message of the legislation is that validation of non-formal and informal learning is a subjective right of the individual and the competences of an individual should be validated regardless of when and where they have been acquired. Validation is based either on:

• documentation presented; or

• competence demonstration.

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

Equal opportunities are a long-standing fundamental principle of the Finnish education policy. The background of learners, including their financial circumstances, should not be a barrier to participation in education. Most education provision is publicly funded and free for learners from pre- primary to higher education levels. In addition, financial support for learners of all ages is available.

Financial support for full-time learners

Financial support is available for full-time VET learners. The main forms of support are study grants, housing supplements with transport subsidy and government guarantees for student loans. The first two of these are government-financed monthly benefits, while student loans are granted by banks.

Study grants

A study grant is available as soon as eligibility for child benefit finishes at the age of 17. The monthly amount before tax ([39]Learners pay taxes from their allowances if they receive income from other source(s).) is between EUR 38.50 and 249.01 depending on the age, marital status and type of accommodation.

Housing supplement and transport subsidy

The housing supplement covers 80% of the rent, but may not exceed EUR 201.60 per month. In addition, school transport subsidy is available when the distance between home and school exceeds 10 km and the monthly cost of travel is at least 54 euro.

Government guarantees for student loans

The government guarantees that student loans (with some exceptions) are available to learners who are receiving a study grant. A loan guarantee can, however, also be granted to learners, who are not receiving a study grant, if they live with their parent and they are 18–19 years of age and attend a secondary level education institution, or if they are under 17 and live alone.

Student loans are available from banks operating in Finland. The lending bank will check the loan guarantee details with the social insurance institution of Finland (Kansaneläkelaitos or Kela) when granting a loan. Interest, repayment and other terms and conditions applying to the loan are agreed between the bank and the learner. The amount of the loan is EUR 300 per month (in secondary education for learners under age 18) or EUR 650 per month (in secondary education for learners of age 18 or older )

Learning material supplement

Although upper secondary education is free of charge, learners are required to buy their own learning materials (for instance, books, toolsets and any other materials). A learning material supplement of EUR 46.80 per month (equal to approximately EUR 1 400 for three semesters) is to be granted from August 2019 onwards for VET learners if they are:

  • between age 17 and 19 and living with their parents/guardians;
  • 17 years old and living on their own; or
  • under age 17 and their parents’ annual income is less than EUR 41 100.

Study leave for employees

All employees in a contractual and public service employment relationship are entitled to study leave when the full-time employment relationship with the same employer has lasted for at least one year ([40]In one or multiple periods.). The maximum length of study leave with the same employer is two years over a period of five years. If the employment has lasted for less than a year, but for at least three months, the maximum length of study leave is five days.

The studies must be subject to public supervision. The study leave is unpaid unless otherwise agreed with the employer.

Employment Fund support for adult learners

The Employment Fund administered by social partners of the Finnish labour market supports employees’ professional development leading to a qualification. In 2015, the Employment Fund granted EUR 157 million in adult education allowances and scholarships for qualified employees.

Adult education allowance

An adult education allowance is available to employees and self-employed people who wish to go on a study leave for at least two months. The allowance is a legal right and can be granted to an applicant who has a working history of at least eight years (or at least five years by 31 July 2010), and who has been working for the same employer for at least one year. To qualify for the allowance, the applicant must participate in studies leading to a qualification or in further vocational training organised by a Finnish education institution under public supervision. The duration of the allowance is determined on the basis of the applicant’s working history and ranges from 2 to 15 months. Since 1 August 2010, the amount of the allowance has been equal to the amount of the earnings-related unemployment allowance. For example, in 2019, on the basis of a monthly salary of EUR 2 000, a learner will receive a gross education allowance of EUR 1 185.34 ([41]https://www.tyollisyysrahasto.fi/en/benefits-for-adult-students/full-adult-education-allowance/).

Scholarships for qualified employees

A scholarship is available for those who have completed a vocational, further or specialist qualification. The amount of the one-time scholarship is EUR 390 and it is tax-free. The scholarship must be applied for within a year after completing the qualification.

Depending on the agreement between employer and employee, an employer who takes on an apprentice may receive training compensation to cover the costs of training provided at the workplace. The amount of compensation to be paid to the employer is agreed separately with employer and VET provider as part of each apprenticeship contract. Average training compensation varies between EUR 100-200 per month for initial VET qualification and EUR 10-100 per month for continuing VET. It is funded by the municipal funds and is paid either by the local apprenticeship centre or the education institution providing apprenticeship training.

Guidance and counselling start at the beginning of basic education and continue through all education levels. The guidance and counselling provided within the education system are complemented by guidance services offered by public employment offices.

In upper secondary VET, guidance counsellors play a key role in coordinating, planning and implementing guidance and counselling. VET learners have a right to receive guidance and every VET provider has a guidance counsellor available (providers can share this service).

Teachers also play a big role in giving guidance for learners. But guidance is also an integral part of the work of all teachers. A teacher’s task is to guide and motivate the learners to complete their qualifications, support them in the planning of their further studies, help them to find their strengths and develop their learning skills. Guidance and counselling should enable all pupils to reach the best results possible for them. In the workplace, guidance is coordinated by a qualified trainer.

Teachers working as guidance counsellors in Finnish schools must have a teacher training qualification at Master’s level, supplemented by studies in guidance and counselling.

The topics covered by guidance and counselling include different education and training options and the development of learners’ capabilities to make choices and solutions concerning education, training and future career. Educational support and guidance also covers areas such as support for learning according to the individual capacity of the learners, school attendance and learner welfare.

There have been few major changes in guidance and counselling in recent years but, within the 2018 VET reform, the role of guidance and counselling has been emphasised. VET was made more individual and flexible for learners.

Learners’ individual needs and existing competences are taken into account in all vocational studies. A personal competence development plan is prepared for each learner. The plan is drawn up by the teacher or guidance counsellor together with the learner and, when applicable, a representative from the world of work. The plan identifies and recognises the skills previously acquired by the learner and outlines what kind of competences the learner needs and how they will be acquired in different learning environments.

In addition to guidance and counselling related to learning methods and practices, the personal competence development plan includes information on necessary supportive measures. The support received by a learner may include special teaching and study arrangements due to learning difficulties, injury or illness, or studies supporting learning abilities.

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

Specialist VET,

WBL varies

ISCED 454

Work-based specialist VET, tailored individually, leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 454 (Erikoisammattitutkinto)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

454

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

19+

Usual completion age

19+

Length of a programme (years)

The duration depends on a person´s prior learning; usually it is less than 2 years ([59]Duration depends on the prior learning of the student, especially in the case of further and specialist vocational programmes, and is defined in the personal competence development plan of each learner.)

  
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?

It is possible to collect moderate student fees; on average 15% of the costs of the training.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship;
  • programmes that comprise work-based learning but are not apprenticeships or fall under a training agreement category.
Main providers

The most common type of VET providers is vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and service sector) ([61]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. a car manufacturer) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

The share of work-based learning (WBL) is individually planned for each learner in the personal competence development plan.

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

Specialist vocational qualifications (continuing VET) are for adults who usually have work experience or other prior learning.

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

Admission to further vocational qualifications is decided on a case-by-case basis, taking work experience into consideration. However, work experience or prior qualifications are not a precondition for enrolling.

Assessment of learning outcomes

No final examinations exist in VET. Once learners successfully complete all the studies included in their personal competence development plans, the VET provider grants a certificate for the entire qualification or for one or more units of the qualification. All VET programmes ensure eligibility for higher education studies.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The national qualification requirements define the required vocational competence, principles of assessment and how the competence is demonstrated. They are drawn up by the Finnish National Agency for Education in cooperation with working life partners ([62]Representatives of the employees/self-employed and employers (altogether called ‘working life’ in Finland).).

Each qualification has a number of competence points:

  • 180 for initial/upper secondary vocational qualifications;
  • 120/150/180 for further vocational qualifications;
  • 160/180/210 specialist vocational qualifications.
Examples of qualifications

Specialist vocational qualification in horse care and management ([63]The specialist vocational qualification in horse care and management comprises four competence areas and qualification titles (in parentheses):
- managing horse stables operations (head groom);
- working as a specialist in farriery (farrier (SQ));
- equestrian sports management (equestrian sports manager);
- riding instruction (riding instructor (SQ)).
)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter the labour market
    • employed full time
    • employed and in education;
  • continue with further education.
Destination of graduates

NB: 2016 data (most recent).
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017([64]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170673)) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

General education subjects

N

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational study units:

  • basic and field-specific study unit(s) (compulsory);
  • specialised study units (compulsory and optional);
  • communication and interaction competence;
  • mathematics and science competence;
  • citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 4

Initial VET programmes

WBL varies

ISCED 354

Mainly school-based VET programmes (also available as apprenticeship) leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (Ammatillinen perustutkinto)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

19

Length of a programme (years)

3 ([44]Duration depends on the prior learning of the student, especially in the case of further and specialist vocational programmes, and is defined in the personal competence development plan of each learner.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship;
  • programmes that comprise work-based learning but are not apprenticeships or fall under training agreement category.
Main providers

The most common type of VET provider is vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and service sector) ([46]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. a car manufacturer) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

=70-80% ([47]The share of work-based learning (WBL) is individually planned for each learner in the personal competence development plan.)

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

A vocational upper secondary qualification (initial VET) is designed for young people who may not have any work experience and for adults who, for example, don´t have any formal qualification or who want to change their profession.

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

Admission to initial VET programmes requires a basic education graduation certificate.

Assessment of learning outcomes

No final examinations exist in VET. Once learners successfully complete all the studies included in their personal competence development plans, the VET provider grants a certificate for the entire qualification or for one or more units of the qualification. All VET programmes ensure eligibility for higher education studies.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The national qualification requirements define the required vocational competence, principles of assessment and how the competence is demonstrated. They are drawn up by the Finnish National Agency for Education in cooperation with working life ([48]Representatives of the employees/self-employed and employers (altogether called ‘working life’ in Finland).).

Each qualification has a number of competence points:

  • 180 for initial/upper secondary vocational qualifications;
  • 120/150/180 for further vocational qualifications;
  • 160/180/210 for specialist vocational qualifications.
Examples of qualifications

Initial vocational qualification in horse care and management ([49]Qualification holders manage daily stable maintenance and horse care tasks and are able to carry out the essential maintenance tasks associated with horse care, such as care of hooves and tack. In addition to basic competence in the field, qualification holders have specialist skills to work either as a groom or a riding instructor in various sectors of the horse industry.The qualification titles produced by the vocational qualification in horse care and management are groom and riding instructor.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter the labour market
    • employed full-time
    • employed and in education;
  • continue with further education.
Destination of graduates

NB: 2016 data (most recent).
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017([50]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170673)) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

General education subjects

Y

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational study units:

  • basic and field-specific study unit(s) (compulsory);
  • specialised study units (compulsory and optional).

In addition to the above, all initial vocational qualification programmes include study units that consist of common rather than specific vocational competence:

  • communication and interaction competence;
  • mathematics and science competence;
  • citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

Y

Key competences help students to keep up with the changes in society and working life. In the wake of the 2018 VET reform, key competences are no longer addressed as a separate part of vocational competence. They have been modified so that key competences are included in all vocational skills requirements and assessment criteria.

The key competences for lifelong learning are: digital and technological competence; mathematics and science competence; competence development; communication and interaction competence; competence for sustainable development; cultural competence; social and citizenship competence; and entrepreneurial competence.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

The share of vocational upper secondary (IVET) learners in 2017 was 73% of all VET learners ([51]https://vipunen.fi/en-gb/_layouts/15/xlviewer.aspx?id=/en-gb/Reports/Ammatillinen%20koulutus%20-%20opiskelijat%20-%20aikasarja_EN.xlsb).

EQF 4

Further VET,

WBL varies

ISCED 354

Work-based further VET, tailored individually, leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (ammattitutkinto)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

19+

Usual completion age

19+

Length of a programme (years)

The duration depends on a person´s prior learning; usually it is less than 2 years ([52]Duration depends on the prior learning of the student, especially in the case of further and specialist vocational programmes, and is defined in the personal competence development plan of each learner.)

  
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?

It is possible to collect moderate student fees; on average 15% of the costs of the training.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship;
  • programmes that comprise work-based learning but are not apprenticeships or fall under a training agreement category.
Main providers

The most common type of VET providers is vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and service sector) ([54]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. a car manufacturer) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

The share of work-based learning (WBL) is individually planned for each learner in the personal competence development plan.

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

Further vocational qualifications (continuing VET) are for adults who usually have work experience or other prior learning.

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

Admission to further vocational qualifications is decided on a case-by-case basis, taking work experience into consideration. However, work experience or prior qualifications are not a precondition for enrolling.

Assessment of learning outcomes

No final examinations exist in VET. Once learners successfully complete all the studies included in their personal competence development plans, the VET provider grants a certificate for the entire qualification or for one or more units of the qualification. All VET programmes ensure eligibility for higher education studies.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The national qualification requirements define the required vocational competence, principles of assessment and how the competence is demonstrated. They are drawn up by the Finnish National Agency for Education in cooperation with working life ([55]Representatives of the employees/self-employed and employers (altogether called ‘working life’ in Finland)).

Each qualification has a number of competence points:

  • 180 for initial/upper secondary vocational qualifications;
  • 120/150/180 for further vocational qualifications;
  • 160/ 180/210 specialist vocational qualifications.
Examples of qualifications

Further vocational qualification in horse care and management ([56]The further vocational qualification in horse care and management comprises eight competence areas and seven qualification titles (in parentheses): provision of equine-assisted services (provider of equine services); provision of horse breeding service (same as previous); provision of equine massage services (horse massage therapist); farriery (farrier); tack-making (tack-maker); riding instruction (riding instructor (FQ) ); training and coaching riding horses (trainer of young riding horses); provision of training services in harness racing (trainer of trotters).)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter the labour market
    • employed full time
    • employed and in education;
  • continue with further education.
Destination of graduates

NB: 2016 data (most recent).
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017([57]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170673)) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

General education subjects

N

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational study units:

  • basic and field-specific study unit(s) (compulsory);
  • specialised study units (compulsory and optional);
  • communication and interaction competence;
  • mathematics and science competence;
  • citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available