Ukrainians have the right to receive education and to work in Latvia. Children may enter pre-school education in the municipality where they reside. Young refugees are exempt from the State examinations at upper secondary level. They may choose to study in Latvian or, where available, in minority languages.
VET is accessible to refugees. After assessing learners’ existing competences in accordance with VET curricula, providers offer individual learning plans and decide on the necessary support measures, including individual counselling, mentoring, and support by psychologists or social pedagogues. Free study materials (and EUR 50 for additional materials) and school meals are also offered for all refugees from Ukraine. In addition, a monthly scholarship of EUR 76 (EUR 108 in arts programmes) is provided for each VET learner at upper secondary level. Obtaining a professional qualification requires passing the professional qualification exam.
Local authorities have 5 days to evaluate and offer suitable education programmes to newly arrived and registered refugees. The authorities are required to contact the education ministry immediately (within 1 day) should there be no relevant VET programme available in their city/county. In such cases, the ministry will ensure that adequate support is provided.
Higher VET learners are entitled to a EUR 140 monthly scholarship until end-June 2022. Latvia has also established a Special Support Scholarship Fund to support Ukrainian civilians in pursuing higher education and scientific activities. Ukrainian university students can continue their studies in Latvia with the same State support as Latvian students.
Despite the VET offer, the vast majority of Ukrainian refugees are currently in general education programmes (21 in VET).
Provided their qualification is recognised, Ukrainian VET teachers can work as teachers assisted by mentors in Latvia. They can also work as teacher assistants. The National Centre for Education has published a call for Ukrainians to apply for work in schools.
The Ukrainian Secondary School in Riga has designed a ‘Ukrainian studies’ module (Ukrainian language and literature, history of Ukraine, folk studies, elements of Ukrainian culture in home economics, dance, music and visual arts) to help preserve and develop the Ukrainian language and culture in Latvia.
Latvian language courses
The education ministry organises the development and publication of teaching materials for the Latvian language in accordance with existing curricula. As a support measure for Ukrainians, a 120-hour language course is offered free of charge.
The national public employment service (State Employment Agency) helps Ukrainians to find a job, and offers language courses as well. To receive job search support, registering as unemployed or as a jobseeker is not required. One must register with the service to be eligible for the Latvian language course (120 hours) and a small allowance. Learners who pass an exam receive a certificate of proficiency in the State language.
The Erasmus+ project ‘National coordinators for implementation of European Agenda in adult learning in Latvia’, in cooperation with the Latvian Language Agency and local municipalities, offers 20-hour Latvian language courses with more than 100 adult Ukrainians already participating.
Individual qualifications recognition is at the discretion of employers. A fast track process is available for recognition of medical qualifications for those with foreign medical degrees.
Regulations and professional standards require knowledge of Latvian. A lack of language skills is the main challenge when it comes to integrating refugees in the national education and labour market. Another challenge specific to VET is the differences between the VET systems of Latvia and Ukraine.
What works well
Access to public employment services without bureaucratic formalities works well for jobseekers and produces good results. Immediate availability of public childcare services supports adults’ integration into the labour market. Social networks that link employers with potential employees also play an important role in ensuring successful integration.
Information and resources for Ukrainian refugees, teachers, trainers, and other professionals available online: