The Finnish national board of education has reformed all its 52 vocational qualifications. The fundamental goal is to strengthen the learning-outcome approach of vocational qualification requirements and the modular structure of qualifications, which supports flexible and individual learning paths and promotes validation of prior learning.
The scope of vocational upper secondary qualifications is, according to the European credit system for vocational education and training (ECVET) recommendation, 180 credits. One year of full-time study corresponds to 60 credits.
The structure of a vocational qualification is:
- vocational studies: 135 credits;
- core subjects: 35 credits;
- free-choice modules: 10 credits.
The core subjects are regrouped into four larger entities:
- communication and interactive ability;
- mathematical and scientific competences;
- competences needed in society and world of work;
- social and cultural competences.
Validating prior learning, learning at the work place and quality assurance, that is assessing learning outcomes at work places in real working situations, are also emphasised in the reformed qualifications. The reformed regulations will come into force on 1 August 2015.
Students create their personal study plans and benefit from individualising their studies; learning providers must take into account each student’s individual needs. This applies equally to talented students and those with learning difficulties. The use of individual learning pathways is increasing, and, with them, previously acquired competences can be recognised and validated. Students may have obtained relevant skills from working life, a former school, international study, work placement periods, family and leisure activities, or through the media.
Flexible study pathways and free-choice modules also promote equality in education and reduce unnecessary study overlaps. A modular qualification structure is the key to maintaining motivation and reducing drop-out rates. Drop-out students can continue their studies at another time and complete their qualification at a later stage.