VET in Cyprus comprises the following main features:
- a strong cultural trend towards general secondary education followed by a demand for tertiary education qualifications;
- the enhancement of lifelong guidance and counselling services as a mean to increase VET attractiveness;
- a shift to the learning outcomes approach (which can be considered at an early stage) followed by a strong commitment to establish their use.
Distinctive features ():
Cyprus has a long-standing tradition of tripartite consultation (government, trade unions and employers’ organisations) and social dialogue. The social partners are involved in:
- planning in an advisory and consultative capacity;
- education reform promoted by the government;
- boards of directors of institutions dealing with human resource issues;
- identifying education and training needs and setting priorities in education and training.
Vocational education and training in Cyprus is mainly public. Provision of secondary VET including evening technical schools, the apprenticeship system and post upper secondary VET is free of charge, while various adult vocational training programmes are offered for a limited fee.
Financial incentives for participation in adult vocational training are provided by the Human Resource Development Authority of Cyprus (HRDA) (), a semi-government organisation. The Human Resource Development Authority reports to the government through the competent minister who is the minister of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance. It is governed by a 13-strong tripartite board of directors, comprising government, employer and trade union representatives.
Funding provided by the Human Resource Development Authority has encouraged enterprises and their employees to participate in training and development activities.
Cyprus has a high level of educational attainment. There is a strong cultural trend among Cypriots in favour of general secondary education followed by higher education. The economic crisis that Cyprus faced in 2012-15, together with the efforts to increase VET attractiveness, have contributed to a significant increase in the number of students who enrol in technical schools. In 2014, VET attracted 15.1% of the upper secondary learners compared to 12.7% in 2011.
The recent economic crisis, and its adverse effects on the labour market, has been a critical challenge for education and training.
Training has been redirected to respond flexibly and effectively to the crisis, with targeted actions for the unemployed, economically inactive, and the employed.
A major challenge is to address the young as well as long-term unemployment. Actions are being taken to promote employability of young persons and the long-term unemployed, through individualised guidance, training and work placements.
Another challenge for education and training, which features prominently in the current education reform, is to encourage adult participation in lifelong learning activities and increase VET participation among the young. A comprehensive, attractive, flexible and high quality VET system is being developed to respond better to the needs of the economy. Core measures are promoting tertiary non-university programmes offered by institutes for technical and vocational education, which were accredited in 2017 by the Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (DIPAE) as public schools of higher vocational education and training, upgrading secondary technical and vocational education curricula and raising the quality and competences of secondary technical and vocational education teachers. There are also actions to upgrade the apprenticeship, designed to constitute a viable, alternative form of training for young people.
These measures are included in the strategic plan for technical and vocational education 2015-20 and the proposal of the education ministry for upgrading the apprenticeship, approved by the
government in 2015.
EU tools for validating acquired skills, such as the Cyprus qualifications framework (CyQF) (), will improve horizontal and vertical permeability of education and training systems. The development of a competence-based system of vocational qualifications by the Human Resource Development Authority which is an integral part of the national qualifications framework is expected to strengthen the ties between VET for young people and vocational training for adults, improving their knowledge and skills.
Data from VET in Cyprus Spotlight 2016 ().
Population in 2018: 864 236 ()
It decreased by 0.2% since 2013 due to negative natural growth ().
As in many other EU countries, the population is ageing.
The old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase from 21 in 2015 to 55 in 2060.
Population forecast by age group and old-age-dependency ratio
Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].
Participation at upper secondary VET has been increasing since 2013, despite the decreasing birth rate in the early 2000s.
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs10 & demo_gind [extracted 14.5.2019].
Most companies are micro-sized. According to social insurance data () for 2017, 92.6% of enterprises employed 1-9 persons, while 6.2% employed 10-49 persons. Only 1.1% employed over 50 persons.
Main economic sectors:
- financial and insurance activities;
- wholesale and retail trade;
- real estate activities;
- public administration and defence;
- professional, scientific and technical activities;
With the exception of tourism and construction sectors, these sectors are not strongly linked to VET qualifications.
In general, there are few limitations/restrictions in the labour market, especially in occupations where health and safety is of concern.
For some occupations/professions, it is compulsory to hold specific certificates/diplomas or to be registered at the appropriate professional body.
For example, it is required by law that all engineers are registered members of the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber () the statutory technical advisor to the State and the umbrella organisation for all Cypriot engineers. The chamber issues relevant certificates and licenses.
Also, the department of electrical and mechanical services of the transport ministry is the competent authority for the implementation of the legislation in fields of electrical installations and auto-mechanical repairs such as the law which regulates the profession of automobile technicians.
Furthermore, according to a recent regulation, it will become compulsory for plumbing, heating and cooling systems technicians to hold the appropriate vocational qualification issued by the Human Resource Development Authority through the system of vocational qualifications, in order to practice the profession.
Total unemployment () (2018): 7.3% (6.0% in EU28); it increased by 4.2 percentage points since 2008 ( ).
Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2008-18
NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series; low reliability for ISCED 0-2 and 5-8, age 15-24.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].
Unemployment is distributed unevenly between those with low- and high-level qualifications. The gap has increased during the crisis as unskilled workers are more vulnerable to unemployment. In 2018, the unemployment rate of people with medium-level qualifications, including most VET graduates (ISCED levels 3 and 4) is still higher than in the pre-crisis years.
Employment rate of 20-34 year old VET graduates increased from 72.4% in 2014 to 76.6% in 2018.
Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)
NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].
The increase (+4.2 pp) in employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates in 2014-18 was lower compared to the increase in employment of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+6.2 pp) in the same period in Cyprus ().
Education traditionally has high value in Cyprus. The share of the population aged up to 64 with higher education is 44.1%. The share of those with low or without qualification is 17.7% that is below the EU28 average (21.8%).
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 on 16.05.2019]
Share of learners in VET by level in 2017
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [extracted 16.5.2019].
In upper secondary VET, the share has increased by 3.2 percentage points since 2013.
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].
There are more males in VET. Based on data provided by the education ministry, for the school year 2018/19, the 78.1% of learners in all VET programmes at upper Secondary level are males. Also, in tertiary (non-university) programmes offered by the education ministry (MIEEK), approximately 60% of the learners are males.
At upper secondary level, for the 2018/19 school year, the most popular field of study and specialisations among males were Cooks and waiters and Automobile engineering and car electrics and electronics. Among females the most popular fields were also ‘cooks and waiters’ and ‘hairdressing’().
The share of early leavers from education and training has decreased from 11.7% in 2009 to 7.8% in 2018. The result is below the national target of not more than 10% and the EU28 average of 10.6%.
Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18
NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training; 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].
Drop-out rate from VET: Information not available
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].
According to Eurostat (Labour Force Survey()), the share of 25-64 year-olds participating in education and training over the four weeks prior to the survey was 6.7% in 2018, which is lower than the EU average of 11.1% in 2018 and the national target for 2020 of 12%.
VET learners by age group
Source: CYSTAT and Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs05 [extracted 24.4.2019].
The education and training system comprises:
- pre-primary education(ISCED level 0);
- integrated primary and lower secondary education (ISCED levels 1 and 2, ISCED 244) (hereafter basic education which is compulsory till the age of 15);
- upper secondary education (ISCED levels 4 and 3 for apprenticeship-learners who leave formal education between grades 8-10) (EQF 4 (ISCED 344, 354)and respectively 3);
- post-secondary not tertiary education (EQF 5, ISCED 554, 454);
- higher education (EQF 6-8, ISCED 655, 766 and 767 for post-graduate studies at master level (1-2 years)), ISCED 864 for PhD programmes).
Education in Cyprus is available from the pre-primary to the postgraduate levels. It is compulsory at the pre-primary, primary (grades 1 to 6), and lower secondary (grades seven to nine) levels, until the student reaches the age of 15.
In upper secondary education, which lasts for three years (grades 10 to 12) there are two types of schools: the unified lyceum and technical schools.
The number of higher education places in Cyprus is rather limited as there are only three public and five private universities. A large proportion of young people continuing to higher education enrol in educational institutions abroad.
Government regulated VET provision leads to four qualification levels (2- 5) that are the same as in the European qualifications framework (EQF).
European qualifications framework levels 2-3 VET qualifications are only offered in the form of apprenticeship ().
There are several VET learning options:
- at upper secondary level VET is provided at technical schools for students aged 15-18 and evening technical schools, as well as in the afternoon and evening classes of technical schools for adults;
- the education ministry also offers formal education programmes free of charge, in both the theoretical and practical directions, through the two evening technical schools, one in Nicosia and another in Limassol, to further promote participation in secondary vocational education and support the integration of school dropouts in the workplace and in society in general;
- also three-year programmes are provided in the context of the afternoon and evening classes of technical schools, which are administered by the Department of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education and Training (STVET). They offer a variety of courses such as plumbing, electrical installations, engineering, computers, car mechanics, cooking and graphic design.
VET at tertiary level
VET at tertiary, non-university level is provided at public and private institutes/colleges offering people the opportunity to acquire, improve, or upgrade their qualifications and skills. Successful completion of these accredited programmes, which may last for two-to-three years, lead to a diploma or higher diploma awarded by the institution (European qualifications framework level 5). The public post-secondary institutes of VET () were accredited in 2017 by the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (CYQAA) ( ) as public schools of higher vocational education and training. They offer two-year accredited programmes that lead to the acquisition of a diploma ( ).
There are four public institutions of tertiary education (non-university level) offering programmes in forestry, culinary arts and other vocations.
Training for employees
The main bodies promoting training provision for the employed are the Human Resource Development Authority, the education ministry, the labour ministry, and other ministries and public institutions. Moreover, private institutions such as colleges, training institutions, consultancy firms and enterprises offer a variety of courses for adults, including many that are not subsidised by the Human Resource Development Authority.
Other ministries offer, usually relative to their mandate training:
- the labour ministry offers short modular programmes for employees in technical occupations and management through the Cyprus Productivity Centre (CPC) ( );
- the Higher Hotel institute of Cyprus (HHIC) offers upgrading courses to employees in the hotel and restaurant sector( );
- the agriculture ministry is offering training to farmers, foresters and forestry graduates. These courses are offered mostly by the agricultural educational centres;
- the Cyprus academy of public administration is training civil servants;
- the health ministry is responsible for the planning and coordination of continuing professional development of public sector nurses;
- the justice and public order ministry promotes the training of police officers and sergeants provided by the Cyprus police academy. The police academy also offers part-time training in the use of computers for police members.
Training for the unemployed
The main bodies promoting training provision for the unemployed are the Human Resource Development Authority in cooperation with the labour ministry and the education ministry. The Human Resource Development Authority offers the following training activities:
- training programmes for the unemployed aim at the participation of the unemployed who are registered with the public employment services in training programmes for specific occupations/themes that the Human Resource Development Authority of Cyprus defines after consultation;
- employment and training of tertiary education graduates;
- training of the long-term unemployed in enterprises/organisations;
- multi-company training programmes.
The apprenticeship system was a two-year initial VET programme providing practical and theoretical training to young people who had not successfully completed their secondary compulsory education and wished to be trained and employed in technical occupations. This was terminated with the graduation of the last intake of apprentices in June 2013 and was replaced by the New Modern Apprenticeship (NMA) which started its operation in the school year 2012/13.
In 2007, the council of ministers approved the proposal for the establishment of the New Modern Apprenticeship, which provides an alternative pathway for education, training and development for young people who withdraw from the formal education system and is geared towards meeting the needs of the labour market. As of September of 2015 the council of ministers, assigned full responsibility for the operation of the apprenticeship to the Department of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education and Training (STVET) () of the education ministry. The improvement of the quality of the apprenticeship and the enhancement of its relevance to labour market needs is implemented as approved by the council of ministers in August 2015.
The apprenticeship, which is co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the government of Cyprus, is directed towards young people between 14 and 21 years of age at two apprenticeship levels (preparatory and core). Participation in the apprenticeship is not part of compulsory education and is free of charge. The apprenticeship targets two distinct groups of students:
- students who have not completed compulsory education lower secondary programmes (third grade of gymnasium) can enrol at the preparatory apprenticeship level. The preparatory apprenticeship has been introduced to provide support to early school leavers between the ages of 14 and 16, by giving them a taste of VET, and helping them to choose a specialisation when they proceed to the core level of apprenticeship; and
- students who have either successfully completed compulsory education or successfully completed preparatory apprenticeship can enrol at the core apprenticeship level.
Preparatory apprenticeship does not involve employment but constitutes an alternative form of education and training for students between 14 and 16 years of age who have the opportunity through this programme to develop their numeracy, literacy and digital skills, to explore their talents and abilities through creative arts, and to take part in workshops related to technical occupations. Such workshops include carpentry, plumbing and mechanics. The curricula are developed by the trainers. Participation in these workshops is part of the programme and does not lead to individual qualifications. Students also receive individual counselling from psychologists according to their needs. Students who complete preparatory apprenticeship (ISCED 2, EQF level 2) may proceed to the core apprenticeship level or, if they wish and provided they succeed in a special set of exams, they may re-enter the formal education system.
Core apprenticeship lasts three years and involves both training at school and practical training in enterprises. Apprentices sign a contract with their employer which mainly regulates their terms of employment. Apprentices follow practical training in enterprises for three days per week where they are remunerated for their work and receive theoretical training for two days per week by attending classes at technical schools.
New curricula have been developed for car mechanics, plumbing/central heating, welding/metal constructions, bakery/confectionery, carpentry/furniture making, electrical installations, and home appliances technicians by trainers chosen through a competitive process. The curricula have been developed for the theoretical subjects of the core apprenticeship, such as Greek, maths, physics, English, information technology, and technical specialisations. The curricula of technical specialisations incorporate the standards of vocational qualifications developed by the Human Resource Development Authority). The content of training in enterprises is based on a training plan developed by the school trainer and the enterprise trainer working together and agreed by the employer. The enterprise training of the apprentice is monitored by regular visits of the school trainer to the enterprise and a monthly report prepared and submitted to the apprenticeship officer.
Teachers of the theoretical training that takes place at school are teachers of secondary technical and vocational education. Following the development of new curricula, a training of trainers programme has been implemented for preparatory apprenticeship trainers.
Learn more about apprenticeships in the national context from the European database on apprenticeship schemes by Cedefop: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/apprenticeship-schemes/scheme-fiches
The education ministry has overall responsibility for the development and implementation of educational policy, while labour ministry has overall responsibility for labour and social policy.
As of September 2015, the government assigned full responsibility for the operation of the New Modern Apprenticeship (NMA) to the Department of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education and Training (STVET) of the education ministry.
The Directorate General for European programmes, Coordination and Development () is responsible for European funds and programmes, coordination of government work, research, technological development and innovation, lifelong learning and the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy.
The Human Resource Development Authority of Cyprus has an important role in vocational training. It is a semi-government organisation whose mission is to create the necessary prerequisites for the planned and systematic training and development of the human resources of Cyprus.
Public funds administered mainly by the education ministry are the primary source for financing VET.
The financing provided by European social fund has played an important role in the promotion of participation due to the increased level of funds available which led to the introduction of new training programmes. Many training programmes that are co-financed by European social fund are addressed to the unemployed and groups at risk of exclusion from the labour market.
Expenditure on Education (% on GDP)
Public expenditure on education
Total expenditure on education
NB. *: provisional. n.a.: not available
Source: CYSTAT (2018a).
Expenditure on VET (% on GDP)
Public expenditure on VET
Expenditure per student in 2010-16 (EUR)
NB: Most recent data.
As far as VET for adults is concerned, the Human Resource Development Authority subsidises a variety of training activities, implemented by public and private institutions and enterprises, which are addressed to employed and unemployed persons.
The funds of the Human Resource Development Authority come from the human resource development levy of 0.5% on the payroll of employers excluding the government. Enterprises and vocational training centres are directly involved in training activities and prepare and submit training programmes to the Human Resource Development Authority on a continuous basis. In general, the subsidisation covers about 80% of the eligible total costs.
In VET there are:
- teachers of the theoretical part;
- apprentice tutors;
- trainers of vocational training.
Teachers of the theoretical part teach in upper secondary vocational schools, in the school-based component of apprenticeships and in VET Higher education (non-tertiary) institutes. Teachers at all levels of school education are university graduates with a Bachelor’s degree as a minimum qualification. A very small number of VET teachers employed at technical schools hold a diploma or similar qualification from colleges or other similar educational establishments of tertiary (non-higher) education in courses of at least three years duration and were appointed at a lower salary scale.
Apprentice tutors are employees of the enterprise where the in-company training component takes place. No specific training is needed to perform these duties.
Upgrading the continuous professional development of teachers and the enhancement of the quality, attractiveness and efficiency of VET and new modern apprenticeship are important challenges for the education system of Cyprus. This is reflected in the education reform, which is a long process involving all VET stakeholders, as well as in the strategies and policies of the education ministry.
People who want to become trainers of vocational training must successfully go through the assessment and certification procedure following the system of vocational qualifications and acquire the trainer of vocational training qualification (European qualifications framework/Cyprus qualifications framework level 5, system of vocational qualifications level 5). Through the multi-company training programmes scheme, train the trainer programmes are offered to prepare trainers for assessment and certification.
Certified trainers of vocational training, deliver approved and subsidised courses, by the Human Resource Development Authority, both at vocational training centres as well as in companies for in-house training.
The Cyprus Pedagogical lnstitute () (CPI), according to a council of ministers decision (August 2015), is the official department of the education ministry which runs teachers’ professional learning. It offers a variety of free-of-charge training programmes that are repetitive and compulsory for teachers, mainly because they are provided by the education laws or their service plans or because these programmes are developed with reference to the current needs and the context of schools.
For example, the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute provides compulsory courses for newly appointed VET head teachers and deputy head teachers. These courses are offered once a week, during a school year, from October to May.
In addition, the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute in collaboration with the directorate of secondary technical and vocational education offers training programmes on various subjects of the curricula to all teachers. Optional seminars on instruction and pedagogy are also offered by the institute during the afternoons and they are open and free for all teachers.
Based on the new decision of the council of ministers (July 2017) emphasis is given on schools-based professional learning which is closely related to the annual school improvement plan.
The technical schools have the opportunity to receive systematic support from the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute on an annual basis. At the beginning of the school year, schools are expected to utilise a needs assessment procedure in order to define their specific needs and target a single priority theme. Then, according to their needs, each school has to organise its own training programme for the teachers, making use of plethora of training programmes offered by the Institute or elsewhere. Based on its training, each school designed its own action plan.
Some technical schools participated in this programme of systematic support from the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute and followed the methodology of action research as well as other methodologies for teachers’ professional learning, like lesson studies or teachers’ rounds. Teacher rounds is a collaborative form of lesson planning, peer observation and occurs in the classroom, in real-time. It entails intentional reflection, observation, inquiry and collaboration. Every member of the group of teachers are reflective partners and take-away something from the lesson.
At the same time, a legislative framework for professional learning at an individual level is currently being discussed in the negotiations on the new teachers’ evaluation framework.
For trainers of vocational training, the Human Resource Development Authority offers programmes through the multi-company training programmes scheme to prepare trainers for assessment and certification or further enhance their training skills in ad hoc subjects.
More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers().
The assessment of skill needs is operated by the Human Resource Development Authority. The finance ministry provides projections for the growth of the economy. The education ministry is responsible for the identification of educational and special skill needs.
For the systematic employment forecasting and the identification of skills gaps, the Human Resource Development Authority conducts the following research studies:
- long-term employment trends and forecasting in Cyprus.
The Human Resource Development Authority provides 10-year employment forecasts on a regular basis every two to three years. The latest study of employment forecasts for Cyprus was completed in 2017, covers the period 2017-27 and provides forecasts for employment needs in all economic sectors (three broad sectors, 21 main sectors and 52 sectors) and in all occupations, 309 in total (173 high level occupations, 130 middle level occupations and 6 low level occupations), covering the whole spectrum of the Cyprus labour market ();
- annual investigations for the identification of employment and training needs with the involvement of the social partners ( ).
This study provides annual estimates for the number of persons needed for specific occupations and the needs for specific skills. On the basis of these estimates, suggestions are put forward for the implementation of training programmes. In the study, the views of enterprises, social partners and other stakeholders are collected and analysed through specially designed questionnaires;
- studies on specific sectors.
There are two recent such studies. The first one is the Identification of blue skills in the Cyprus economy, a study which examines and analyses the blue economy and blue occupations, maps out the blue economy of Cyprus and identifies blue skill needs in the Cyprus economy for the period 2016-26 (). It provides forecasts for employment demand in economic sectors and occupations which are part of the blue economy. The second one is the Identification of green skill needs in the Cyprus economy ( ). This study examines and analyses the green economy and green occupations, mapping out the green economy of Cyprus and identifying green skill needs in the Cyprus economy for the period 2017-27;
- the finance ministry, provides projections for the growth of the economy, which include forecasts of value added, productivity and employment, and submits proposals for the required policy changes.
See also Cedefop’s skills forecast () and European Skills Index ( )
In Cyprus until recently there has been relatively limited implementation of frameworks and mechanisms regarding the transparency of qualifications and systems for the recognition of competences and qualifications so the development of a competence-based system is a high priority. The system of vocational qualifications is in place for the assessment of the competence of a person to carry out a specific job in real or/and simulated working conditions.
The system of vocational qualifications is designed for the assessment and certification of the competence of a person to carry out a specific job in real or/and simulated working conditions. The system of vocational qualifications is based on Vocational Qualifications Standards (VQS) developed by the Human Resource Development Authority. The vocational qualifications standards define the tasks and the required knowledge, skills and competences for each vocational qualification. At the same time, the vocational qualifications standards define the framework for the training and development of the candidates to be prepared for a successful assessment, in order to obtain the certification of their vocational qualifications. The system of vocational qualifications developed by the Human Resource Development Authority is integrated, at levels 2 to 7, within the Cyprus qualifications framework.
The standards that are developed are discussed by technical committees of vocational qualifications and approved by the board of directors of the Human Resource Development Authority.
To date, seventy two vocational qualifications have been developed by the Human Resource Development Authority with the contribution of technical committees comprising representatives of industry, employers and workers and education and training institutions.
The system of vocational qualifications has adopted the four phases of the validation procedure according to the European Recommendation on Validation of non-Formal and Informal Learning ().
The description of the four phases follows:
Identification involves the determination of the learning outcomes gained through formal, non-formal and informal learning. The identification takes place in approved by Human Resource Development Authority the Centres for Assessment of Vocational Qualifications (CAVQ).
At first, information is provided to the candidates about the system of vocational qualifications requirements. The identification arises from an interview in which the centres for assessment of vocational qualifications obtains information from the candidates related to their education and work experience, in particular to the learning outcomes. Then the candidates are advised to choose a specific qualification standard according to their knowledge, skills and competence. The results of this phase are written down in the identification and documentation report.
Documentation entails sufficient proof of the knowledge, skills and competences, which have been identified during the previous phase. The candidates submit to the centres for assessment of vocational qualifications any relevant documents proving the acquisition of the learning outcomes through formal, non-formal and informal learning. i.e. educational and vocational qualifications, employment experience confirmation, social insurance statements. The results of this phase are described in the identification and documentation report.
If the candidates decide to proceed with the assessment in order to acquire the certificate of vocational qualification they have to fill in and sign the application form. The application form should be accompanied by the identification and documentation report and all the relevant documents.
When a group of up to three candidates is formed the director/manager of centres for assessment of vocational qualifications submits to the Human Resource Development Authority for approval the application forms attached with the identification and documentation report and the relevant documents.
The Human Resource Development Authority approves the candidates’ applications, provided they are compatible with the criteria of the system of vocational qualifications. In this case, the candidates can proceed for assessment.
The assessment of learning outcomes is carried out by two approved assessors for every team of up to three candidates, in two to five meetings, of three-hour duration each, in an approved centre for the assessment of vocational qualifications. The centres for assessment of vocational qualifications may be public or private training centres, which are certified by the Human Resource Development Authority as vocational training centres and have certified training facilities.
The assessment is based on the vocational qualification standard and the main assessment method is the observation of candidates in real or simulated working conditions. The assessment of vocational qualifications may also include, depending on each standard, interview, oral exam, written exam and project. The results of the assessment are depicted on the report of candidate’s assessment.
The assessors are independent experts, certified trainers and should comply with specific academic and professional criteria. The assessors are trained by the Human Resource Development Authority and sign a contract regarding the terms of reference as assessors of the system of vocational qualifications.
As far as the quality assurance is concerned, every centre for the assessment of vocational qualifications is obliged to carry out at least one internal audit during each team’s assessment, to provide internal quality assurance for each assessment. Additionally, each assessment is externally verified through an on the spot visit by an independent verifier authorised by Human Resource Development Authority. The results of the checks’ verifications are depicted in separate reports.
Candidates’ assessment reports are submitted to Human Resource Development Authority, which validates the results of the assessments. Τhe successful assessment of the candidates in all task areas constituting the vocational qualification standard and all methods of assessment is the necessary condition for the certification of the candidates.
The Human Resource Development Authority being the awarding body approves the assessment through the relevant documentation and proceeds to the certification of the candidate. If a candidate has succeeded in only a part of the qualification task areas, an affirmation (partial certification) is provided only for these task areas. In these cases, the candidate is given the opportunity of reassessment in the failed tasks and/or methods of assessment.
Also accredited vocational training centres offer training programmes which are based on the vocational qualifications standards and prepare participants for assessment and certification.
The council of ministers on 18 May 2017 () approved the establishment of the national qualifications authority, with the powers to further enhance the quality assurance systems in education and training, to monitor and integrate the scheme for the validation of non-formal and informal learning in the Cyprus qualifications framework after its completion, to monitor the Cyprus qualifications framework/European qualifications framework levels on the certificates, diplomas and Europass documents, to further strengthen the legal aspect of the Cyprus qualifications framework and to develop a registry for the Cyprus qualifications framework:
- for the secondary VET (IVET) ( ) the respective inspector of each field of study ( ) is responsible for the proper implementation of the IVET curricula and ensures that the teaching material is adequately covered by using effective teaching methods. The constant assessment of the progress of learners, alongside with a final examination are instrumental for the evaluation of an educator’s work;
- for tertiary education there are two bodies responsible for Quality assurance, one is the Cyprus council for the recognition of higher education qualifications, an independent body responsible for the recognition of diplomas awarded by higher education institutions and the other is the Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education ( ), an independent body responsible for the external evaluation and accreditation of all higher education institutions;
- for continuing VET (CVET) the body responsible is the Human Resource Development Authority. Quality is assured by checking the programmes that a training provider wishes to implement and by accreditation of these providers (a vocational training centre status is granted). Also, accreditation of vocational training facilities and trainers for vocational training (system of vocational qualifications/Cyprus qualifications framework/European qualifications framework level 5) is granted after appropriate qualitative assessment.
In 2013, the education ministry set up an interdepartmental committee with the task to develop and monitor the implementation of a comprehensive action plan for the validation of non-formal and informal learning, in line with the Council Recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning (2012/C 398/01). The action plan was successfully developed.
The council of ministers on 18 May 2017 () approved the establishment of the national qualifications authority, with the powers to further enhance the quality assurance systems in education and training, to monitor and integrate the scheme for the validation of non-formal and informal learning in the Cyprus qualifications framework after its completion, to monitor the Cyprus qualifications framework/European qualifications framework levels on the certificates, diplomas and Europass documents, to further strengthen the legal aspect of the Cyprus qualifications framework and to develop a registry for the Cyprus qualifications framework.
The education ministry coordinates the implementation of the project ‘Establishing a mechanism for the validation of non-formal and informal learning’. The project is co-funded by the European social fund and the Republic of Cyprus.
This project has supported a mapping study of the current situation in Cyprus regarding the validation of non-formal and informal learning. Based on the results of the study, an overall national action plan for the establishment of mechanisms for the validation of non-formal and informal learning in Cyprus was developed in early 2018. This was put into public consultation in May 2018. In October 2018, the council of ministers, with Decision No 85.959, dated 16 October 2018, approved the national action plan, which foresees setting up a validation mechanism and its pilot implementation. The first results from the pilot operation of the mechanism in the fields of adult education, youth and volunteering are estimated to be available at the end of 2019.
In the system of vocational qualifications a validation procedure consisted of four phaseshas been developed. The procedure is aligned with the European Recommendation on Validation of non-formal and informal learning ().
The four phases are:
- identification: at this stage the learning outcomes gained through formal, non-formal and informal learning are determined. The identification takes place in approved by Human Resource Development Authority centres for assessment of vocational qualifications. As first step information on the system of vocational qualifications is provided to the candidate and through an interview they are advised to choose a specific qualification standard, relevant to their set of knowledge, skills, competence. The results of this phase are described in the identification and documentation report;
- documentation: This phase entails sufficient proof of the previously identified knowledge, skills, competence. The results are recorded in the identification and documentation report. If the candidates decide to proceed with the assessment in order to acquire the certificate of the vocational qualification they have to fill and sign an application form. When a group of three candidates is formed the director/manager of the centre for assessment of vocational qualifications submits the application forms and all paperwork to the Human Resource Development Authority for approval;
- assessment: if the Human Resource Development Authority approves the applications which are examined against the criteria of the system of vocational qualifications the candidates may proceed with assessment. This is carried out by two approved assessors in 2 to 5 meetings and is based on the relevant vocational qualification standard. The results are depicted in the assessment report. The assessors are trained by Human Resource Development Authority;
- certification. The assessment reports are submitted to Human Resource Development Authority, the results are validated, and full or partial certification is given.
For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database ()
Allowances, meals and travel subsidy
- the provision of secondary technical vocational education including evening technical education, the apprenticeship system and public tertiary vocational education are free of charge;
- various lifelong learning programmes which are considered VET are sponsored (i.e. offered for a small fee);
- a government grant ( ) is paid to parents with a child in tertiary education based on specific income and property criteria;
- student allowances ( ) are also provided to students based on specific financial criteria. There are four type of allowances, maximum allowance in brackets: for housing (EUR 1 800), for feeding (EUR 1 092), for buying university books (EUR 300) and for buying or upgrading a computer (EUR 500). The amount that each student is allowed, is calculated based on an elaborate point system.
Study leave for employees
- educational leave schemes, which are applied in the public sector in Cyprus, provide public-sector employees with the opportunity to take educational leave for studies which are relevant to their job provided that they are awarded a scholarship from, through or with the approval of the government or any other authority approved by the Council of Ministers;
- in some sectors, leave of absence for education and training purposes is included in the collective agreements, thereby ensuring a certain level of education and training. Such sectors are the hotel industry, banking sector, cabinet making and carpentry industry and private clinics.
Incentives for the unemployed
The VET programmes for adults which are implemented by public and private institutions, are provided free of charge and participants receive training allowances which are paid by the Human Resource Development Authority. The amount of the allowance varies depending on the programme.
The financing provided by the European social fund has played an important role in the promotion of participation due to the increased level of funds available which led to the introduction of new training programmes. Many training programmes that are co-financed by the European social fund are addressed to the unemployed and groups at risk of exclusion from the labour market.
Wage subsidy and training remuneration
The funds of the Human Resource Development Authority come from the human resource development levy of 0.5% on the payroll of employers excluding the government.
Enterprises are directly involved in vocational training for adults and prepare and submit training programmes to the Human Resource Development Authority on a continuous basis. In general, the subsidisation covers 80% of the eligible total costs. The Human Resource Development Authority provides subsidies to the employers. In the case of single-company initial and continuing training programmes (), eligible costs include the cost of trainers, the personnel cost for trainees, administrative expenses and cost of training materials.
As regards the multi-company continuing training programmes (), the Human Resource Development Authority provides the subsidies directly to the training providers and the employer covers the remaining cost.
Enhancing the provision of guidance and counselling services to all population groups is a policy priority for Cyprus. The main bodies delivering guidance and counselling in Cyprus are the Counselling and Career Education Service (CCES) of the education ministry, the employment service, and the Euroguidance centre Cyprus of the labour ministry, the Human Resource Development Authority, the youth board of Cyprus and certain private organisations. Guidance is provided to students in secondary and tertiary education, to both the unemployed and employed as well as to the economically inactive.
An important development with regard to guidance was the establishment in March 2012 of the national forum on lifelong guidance, which was a basic step in the upgrading of all guidance and counselling services in Cyprus. Its mission is to act as an advisory body to the government policy makers in the field of lifelong guidance. All major stakeholders, such as the education ministry, the labour ministry, the Human Resource Development Authority the youth board of Cyprus and the social partners are represented in the Forum.
Guidance and counselling for students is provided mainly by the education ministry, the Euroguidance centre in Cyprus of the labour ministry, the Human Resource Development Authority and the youth board of Cyprus.
The counselling service provides counselling to students which aims at the development of their personal awareness related to their needs, interests, abilities, and skills. In this way they can take informed decisions about their personal lives, education and careers.
The whole process of achieving personal awareness is facilitated through educational and vocational guidance/counselling throughout upper secondary education. In addition, to become acquainted with the world of work, the students have the opportunity to attend presentations given by professionals in different fields and visit workplaces. Each school organises career days where professionals and staff from higher education institutions give lectures to students. Personal and group counselling, administration and analysis of psychometric tests along with presentations to classes of all levels, are provided to students by qualified guidance school counsellors. Also, school counsellors give lectures to parents to inform them about the educational options of their children.
The counsellors have undergone post-graduate education in counselling and/or career education/guidance. They are placed in schools of secondary education as well as at the central and regional offices of the counselling service offices of the education ministry. The counsellors at the central offices give support to the counsellors placed in schools and they are also responsible for many publications that address the needs of the counselling and career education service. They also provide counselling and career guidance services to the public.
An open school day, organised by the Department of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education and Training (STVET), has been established to raise public awareness and increase initial VET attractiveness. During the open school day, students of the third year of lower secondary education and their parents are given the opportunity to visit a technical school of their choice and be guided by teachers and students to the various facilities of the school. Moreover, an exhibition of the students’ achievements is organised at each technical school, to further promote awareness of the career possibilities provided by initial VET programmes.
Additionally, students attending technical schools receive traineeships in the specialisation of their choice as part of their curriculum. Furthermore, the third year of studies in the practical direction of technical schools combines a school-based environment with a real workplace as final-year students are placed in industry for one day per week, where they follow a practical training programme.
Each year, the education ministry organises the international education fair where the students and other interested parties receive educational information about universities´ study programmes, entrance requirements, fees and scholarships. Over 200 higher education institutions and universities from 35 countries, as well as the national universities and colleges usually attend the fair.
The Cyprus guidance and counsellors association, member of the Organisation of secondary school teachers of Cyprus, also organises an annual careers fair and more than 150 organised professional bodies and organisations participate.
The British Council and the education USA, a USA Department of State network, with the participation of different universities and colleges from the UK and the USA respectively, also organise education fairs, to provide information to prospective students for further studies in these countries. In recent years, education fairs are also organised by institutions of other countries.
- guidance and outreach Cyprus national report ( );
- Cedefop’s labour market intelligence toolkit ( );
- Cedefop’s inventory of lifelong guidance systems and practices ( ).