In 2010, the State Education Development Agency in cooperation with four partners – the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia, the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia, the National Centre for Education, and the State Education Quality Service – started to implement an ESF project called ‘Development of sectoral qualifications system and increasing the efficiency and quality of vocational education’ (project period: 1.12.2010-30.11.2013). The aim of this project is to establish a qualitative vocational education content provision system that functions continuously and corresponds to the needs of economic sectors.
The Avanza programme (Plan Avanza) supports learning and training activities in telecommunications, information and communication technologies (ICT) providing participants with high-level knowledge, qualification and internationally recognised training in ICT. The programme is meant for professionals and employees working in SMEs and its objectives are to consolidate knowledge of new technologies, encourage use of IT services, support teleworking, increase competitiveness and improve businesses´ productivity by using specific training and sale-promotion techniques.
As part of the budget for 2013, parties across the political spectrum have agreed significant funding to improve VET provision.
Poland, highly ranked in Europe in terms of share of population with at least lower secondary education in the 20-24 age group, is also very successful in reducing early school-leaving (ESL). Currently, the ESL rate in Poland, oscillating at a level of 5%, is among the lowest in Europe. The national 2020 strategy assumes it will be further reduced to 4.5%.
The National Agency for Vocational Education and Training (NAVET) is responsible for an integrated information system (IIS) for data collection and storage. The agency manages and provides data and information on demand. The system is part of the e-government of the country.
A decline in attractiveness of secondary IVET studies and dissatisfaction of employers with graduate supply has led to a radical, yet disputed intervention by the government. Stricter rules for secondary school admission were approved by the parliament by an amendment to the Act on VET. A grade point average in grade 8 and the first half of grade 9 of lower secondary school was introduced as a regulating indicator valid from the 2014/15 school year.
‘First job’ is a national agreement signed by the government and social partners in Bulgaria in September 2012. Related to the initiative schemes have been launched targeting unemployed young people up to age 29; these are funded by the operational programme ‘Human resources development’. Activities include either vocational training or training in key competences, with the aim of increasing participants’ employability on the labour market.
On 11 December, German Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan hosted ministers responsible for vocational training from several Member States at a conference in Berlin. The event, held with the support of the European Commission, concluded with the signing of a memorandum of cooperation in vocational training in Europe between Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain, which aims to launch cooperative activities “to encourage and support dual forms of job-related vocational training”. Acting Director Christian Lettmayr was at the Berlin conference to deliver a keynote speech.