One of the Government’s strategic choices is to upscale vocational education and training (VET) from the status of a forced solution for few, to a conscious choice and employment tool for many. This choice is directly linked to the country's economic recovery.
VET structures need to be reorganised and empowered to respond to the crucial role they can play towards achieving economic growth and combating youth unemployment. The main areas of the Government’s VET policy are:
- joint strategic planning of VET to avoid overlapping and to address the needs of the Greek economy and labour market;
- autonomy of vocational upper secondary education schools (EPAL) and post-secondary training institutes (ΙΕΚ) by taking into consideration the active role of the local community representatives;
- direct connection between vocational education, training and lifelong learning and the labour market enabling social partners to participate in planning;
- certification of non-formal and informal learning;
- reliable career guidance to learners through early career orientation at lower secondary education (gymnasium) as well as entrepreneurship programmes in collaboration with local businesses.
As the European experience has shown, coordinated interventions in VET and lifelong learning can lead to increase of productivity and economic growth, and at the same time, to reduction of the unemployment rate, especially among young people.
It is also worth noting that Cedefop's Skills forecast: trends and challenges to 2030 refers to job needs in Europe that are expected to require a reshaping:
- low qualifications will fall from 34% in 2011 to 21% in 2030;
- medium qualifications will slightly rise from 44.3 in 2011 to 46% in 2030;
- high qualifications will rise from 21% in 2011 to 32.9% in 2030.
The trends recorded in Greece follow the general European trends and trace a stronger demand for mid-level skilled jobs. This is another reason for the Government’s focus on VET. Further, the expected changes in the economy create unavoidably a need for new skills that are acquired through VET.