General themes

Summary of main elements ( 1 )

The vocational education and training (VET) system of Cyprus is constantly being developed to respond better to the needs of the labour market.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth has overall responsibility for developing and implementing education policy. The Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance has overall responsibility for labour and social policy and the Human Resource Development Authority of Cyprus (HRDA) plays an important role in vocational training.

VET is available at secondary and tertiary education levels.

At upper secondary level, general education programmes (83.1% of enrolments in 2018/19) are with lyceums, including evening lyceums; VET programmes (16.9% of enrolments in 2018/19) are with technical schools, including evening technical schools. Horizontal and vertical movement across upper secondary education is possible upon successful completion of specific examinations. Technical schools offer two types of 3-year programmes, theoretical and practical, leading to EQF 4 school-leaving certificates, equivalent to those of secondary general education schools. Specialisations are selected in the first year. Graduates are eligible for admission to universities and other tertiary education institutions in Cyprus and abroad. Both streams are mainly school-based: they combine general education subjects with VET subjects and integrate practical training in enterprises at the end of the first and second years. The theoretical stream is mostly for those who wish to continue to higher education and the practical one is mostly for those oriented more towards entering the labour market.

VET is also available through the apprenticeship system, which addresses young people between the ages of 14 and 18. 'Preparatory apprenticeship' (EQF 2) can last up to 2 school years, depending on the level and age of the apprentice. Young people aged between 14 and 16, who have not completed lower secondary programmes, may participate. After completing 'preparatory apprenticeship', graduates can either continue to 'core apprenticeship' or upper secondary programmes, provided they pass entrance examinations.

'Core apprenticeship' lasts for 3 years. Eligible candidates must be less than 18 years old to apply and must have either completed a lower secondary programme (EQF 2) or 'preparatory apprenticeship' or dropped out of upper secondary programmes. On successful completion, participants may continue with evening technical school programmes, which lead to an EQF 4 certificate, and receive an upper secondary education qualification (school leaving certificate) in 2 years instead of 3. The apprenticeship certificate (EQF 3) allows access to several regulated occupations, provided all other requirements of relevant legislation are met.

VET at tertiary, non-university level is provided at public and private institutes/colleges, offering an opportunity to acquire, improve, or upgrade qualifications and skills. Successful completion of these accredited programmes, which may last from 2 to 3 years, leads to a diploma or higher diploma awarded by the institution (EQF 5). The public post-secondary institutes of VET were accredited in 2017 by the Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education as public schools of higher vocational education and training; they offer accredited 2-year programmes leading to a diploma.

Vocational training for adults is extensively available in Cyprus for the employed, the unemployed, vulnerable groups and adults in general, through a mixture of public and private provision: colleges, training institutions, consultancy firms and enterprises. The employed usually participate in training programmes for job-specific skills to meet company needs. The unemployed and vulnerable groups acquire both horizontal and job-specific skills to improve their employability. Training schemes targeted at these groups combine training with either employment in an enterprise or job placement to acquire work experience. The HRDA provides subsidies through several relevant schemes for training the employed and unemployed.

Distinctive features ( 2 )

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;
  • supporting education reform;
  • governance (in boards of directors of institutions dealing with human resource issues);
  • identifying education and training needs and setting priorities.

VET is mainly public. Secondary VET – including evening technical schools and the apprenticeship system – and public higher (tertiary/non-university) VET are free of charge, while various adult vocational programmes are offered for a limited fee.

Financial incentives for participation in adult vocational training are provided by HRDA, a semi-government organisation under the remit of the labour minister.

HRDA funding has encouraged enterprises, employees and the unemployed to participate in training activities.

Cyprus has a high level of educational attainment. There is a cultural trend to favour general secondary education followed by higher education. However, the economic crisis of 2012-15, combined with efforts to increase VET attractiveness, have resulted in an increase in upper secondary VET enrolments (by 4 percentage points from 2011 to 2017).

The 2012-15 economic crisis, and its adverse effects on the labour market, has challenged the VET system.

In response, training has been redirected, targeting mainly the unemployed, economically inactive, and the employed.

A major challenge is to address youth and long-term unemployment. Actions are being taken to promote the employability of young people and the long-term unemployed, through individualised guidance, training and work placements.

Another challenge is to encourage adult participation in lifelong learning (4.7% in 2020, 12% national target for 2020) and to increase VET participation among the young (16.9% at upper secondary level in 2019). Core measures include:

  • promoting tertiary non-university VET programmes;
  • upgrading secondary technical and vocational education curricula;
  • improving the competences of VET teaching staff. There are also actions-included in the 2015-20 strategic plan for technical and vocational education, to upgrade apprenticeship, making it an attractive form of training for young people.

The Cyprus qualifications framework (CyQF) supports the validation of non-formal and informal learning and is expected to improve horizontal and vertical permeability. The further development of a competence-based system of vocational qualifications by the Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA), is expected to improve the skillset of young people and adults.

The COVID-19 outbreak has challenged the VET system. In response, distance learning was implemented and, in March 2020, HRDA allowed CVET providers of subsidised training programmes to utilise e-learning methods ( 3 ).

Demographics

Population in 2020: 888 005 ( 4 )

It has increased by 4.8% since 2015 ( 5 ) mainly due to the inflow of third country citizens.

As in many other EU countries, the population is ageing.

The old-age-dependency ratio is expected to increase from 25 in 2021 to 46 in 2070.

 

Population forecast by age group and old-age-dependency ratio

Image

Source: Eurostat, proj_19ndbi [Extracted 7.5.2021].

 

2017/18 enrolments in secondary technical and vocational education (STVE) include 4 711 learners in the theoretical and practical streams as well as evening technical schools.

2018/19 enrolments in STVE include 4 658 learners in the theoretical and practical streams as well as evening technical schools ( 6 ).

The birth rate was 11.3 in 2003 and 11.4 in 2004 ( 7 ).

Economics

Most companies are micro-sized. According to social insurance data ( 8 ) for 2020, 92.5% of enterprises employed 1-9 persons, while 6.4% employed 10-49 persons. Only 1.1% employed over 50 persons.

Main economic sectors:

  • wholesale and retail trade;
  • real estate activities;
  • public administration and defence;
  • professional, scientific and technical activities;
  • financial and insurance activities;
  • information and communication;
  • transportation and storage;
  • education;
  • construction;
  • tourism.

With the exception of the tourism and construction sectors, these sectors are not strongly linked to VET qualifications.

Labour market

There are generally few limitations/restrictions in the labour market, especially in occupations where health and safety are 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 ( 9 ) the statutory technical advisor to the State and the umbrella organisation for all Cypriot engineers. The chamber issues relevant certificates and licences.

Also, the department of electrical and mechanical services of the transport ministry is the competent authority for the implementation of the legislation relating to electrical installations and auto-mechanical repairs, such as the law which regulates the profession of automobile technicians.

According to a recent regulation, it is 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 ( 10 ) (2020): 6.7% (6.2% in EU27); it decreased by 4.8 percentage points since 2016 ( 11 ).

 

Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2010-20

Image
Cyprus - 2021 - 2

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 6.5.2021].

 

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 2020, 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.

The employment rate of 20 to 34-year-old VET graduates increased from 73.5% in 2016 to 80.6% in 2020.

 

Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)

Image

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 6.5.2021]

 

The increase (+3.6 pp) in employment of 20 to 34-year-old VET graduates in 2016-20 was lower compared to the increase in employment of all 20 to 34-year-old graduates (+7.1 pp) in the same period in Cyprus ( 12 ).

Share of high, medium and low level qualifications

Education traditionally has high value in Cyprus. The share of the population aged up to 64 with higher education is 44.9%. The share of those with low or without qualification is 16.8%, below the EU27 average (21.3% in 2020).

 

Population (aged 25 to 64) by highest education level attained in 2020

Image

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011. Low reliability for 'No response' in Czechia and Latvia
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 15.6.2021].

 

VET learners by level

Share of learners in VET by level in 2019

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

not applicable

16.9%

100%

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [Extracted 6.5.2021]

In upper secondary VET, the share has increased by 1.3 percentage points since 2015.

 

Share of initial VET learners from total learners at upper-secondary level (ISCED level 3), 2019

Image

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [Extracted 6.5.2021].

 

Female share

There are more males in VET. Based on data provided by the education ministry, for the school year 2019/20, 83% of learners in all VET fields and specialisations at upper-secondary level are males. Also, in public higher (non-tertiary) VET programmes offered by the education ministry, approximately 60% of the learners are males.

At upper secondary level, for the 2019/20 school year, the most popular fields 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 ( 13 ).

Early leavers from education and training

The share of early leavers from education and training has increased from 7.6% in 2016 to 11.5% in 2020. The result is below the national target of not more than 10% and the EU27 average of 10.2%.

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2011-20

Image

NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_14 [Extracted 6.5.2021] and European Commission, https://ec.europa.eu/info/business-economy-euro/economic-and-fiscal-pol… [accessed 08.09.2021].

 

Drop-out rate from VET: information not available

Participation in lifelong learning

Lifelong learning offers training opportunities for adults, including early leavers from education.

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2009-20

Image

NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training
Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [Extracted 6.5.2021].

 

According to Eurostat (Labour Force Survey ( 14 )), the share of 25 to 64-year-olds participating in education and training over the 4 weeks prior to the survey was 4.7% in 2020, which is lower than the EU-27 average of 10.8% in 2020 and the national target for 2020 of 12%.

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 until 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);
  • Higher (tertiary/non-university) professional VET programmes, (EQF 5, ISCED 554, 454);
  • Higher (tertiary/university) 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 pre-primary to the postgraduate levels. It is compulsory at the pre-primary, primary (grades 1 to 6), and lower secondary (grades 7 to 9) levels, until the student reaches the age of 15.

The strategic plan for technical and vocational education and training 2015-20, approved in April 2015 reformed the public VET system ( 15 ).

In upper secondary education, which lasts for 3 years (grades 10 to 12) there are two types of school: the lyceum and technical schools.

The number of higher (tertiary/university) education places in Cyprus is limited, as there are only three public and six 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 ( 16 ).

There are several VET learning options:

  • at upper secondary level VET is provided at technical schools for learners aged 15-18;
  • the education ministry also offers formal education programmes free of charge, in both the theoretical and practical streams, through the five evening technical schools (second chance schools), to further promote participation in secondary vocational education and support the integration of school dropouts in the workplace and in society in general;
  • also, 3-year programmes are provided in the context of the afternoon and evening classes of technical schools (lifelong learning VET programmes), which are administered by the Department of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education and Training (STVET). These offer a variety of courses such as plumbing, electrical installations, engineering, computers, car mechanics, cooking and graphic design.

Higher (tertiary/non-university) VET

VET at higher (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 2-to-3 years, leads to a diploma or higher diploma awarded by the institution (EQF level 5). The public post-secondary institutes of VET ( 17 ) were accredited in 2017 by the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (CYQAA) ( 18 ) as public schools of higher VET. They offer 2-year accredited programmes that lead to the acquisition of a diploma ( 19 ).

There are four higher VET (tertiary/ non-university) public institutions of 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 (HRDA), the education ministry, the labour ministry, and other ministries and public institutions. 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 HRDA.

Other ministries offer training, usually relative to their mandate:

  • the labour ministry offers short modular programmes for employees in technical occupations and management through the Cyprus Productivity Centre (CPC) ( 20 );
  • the Higher Hotel Institute of Cyprus (HHIC) offers upgrading courses to employees in the hotel and restaurant sector ( 21 );
  • the agriculture ministry offers 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 HRDA, in cooperation with the labour ministry and the education ministry. HRDA 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 HRDA defines after consultation;
  • employment and training of tertiary education graduates;
  • training of the long-term unemployed in enterprises/organisations;
  • multi-company training programmes.
  • vocational training of the unemployed in organisations of the public and broader public sector, local government authorities, non-governmental organisations and non-profit institutions

The apprenticeship system was a 2-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 had approved the proposal for the establishment of the NMA as an alternative pathway for young people who withdraw from the formal education system; it 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) ( 22 ) of the education ministry. Improving the quality of the apprenticeship and its relevance to labour market needs is implemented as approved by the Council of Ministers in August 2015.

The apprenticeship, which is jointly 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 core apprenticeship is not part of compulsory education and is free of charge. The apprenticeship targets two distinct groups of learners:

  • learners 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;
  • learners who have completed either compulsory education or preparatory apprenticeship can enrol at the core apprenticeship level.

Preparatory apprenticeship does not involve employment but offers an alternative form of education and training for learners 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. Learners also receive individual counselling from psychologists according to their needs. Learners 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 3 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 3 days per week where they are remunerated for their work and receive theoretical training for 2 days per week by attending classes at technical schools.

Curricula have been developed for car mechanics, plumbing/central heating, welding/metal constructions, bakery/confectionery, carpentry/furniture production, electrical installations, graphic design, hairdressing, preparation of food and beverages, retail sales, building and construction works and home appliances technicians. 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 (HRDA). 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 education policy, including lifelong learning, while the labour ministry has overall responsibility for labour and social policy.

The Department of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education and Training (STVET) of the education ministry is responsible for the apprenticeship system.

The Directorate General for European programmes, Coordination and Development ( 23 ) is responsible for European funds and programmes (including the Recovery and resilience facility plan for Cyprus, the Cyprus operational programme THALIA, Erasmus + and the National reform programme), coordination of government work, research and technological development and innovation.

The Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA), a semi-government organisation, creates 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, along with European funds.

The financing provided by the European Social Fund (ESF) 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 jointly financed by ESF are addressed to the unemployed and groups at risk of exclusion from the labour market. The National recovery and resilience plan 2021-26 and the Cyprus operational programme THALIA, 2021-27, also include planned training programmes for the unemployed and groups at risk of exclusion from the labour market.

Expenditure on Education (% on GDP)

 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019*

Public expenditure on education

6.6

6.4

6.3

6.1

5.8

6.9

Total expenditure on education

8.8

8.8

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

n.a.

NB. *: provisional. n.a.: not available

Source: CYSTAT.

Expenditure on VET (% on GDP)

 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

 

Public expenditure on VET

0.3

0.3

0.3

0.3

0.3

 

Source: CYSTAT.

 

Expenditure per student in 2010-16 (EUR)

Image

NB: Most recent data.
Source: CYSTAT.

 

Total public expenditure for secondary technical vocational education and training (STVE) was estimated to be EUR 60.1 million in 2017 and EUR 61.5 million in 2018 (CYSTAT). The share of secondary technical and vocational public expenditure was estimated to be 4.9% of total public expenditure on education in 2017 and 4.8% in 2018 ( 24 ).

Expenditure per student in secondary general education was estimated to be EUR 10 411 in 2017 and EUR 10 884 in 2018; in upper secondary VET it was estimated to be EUR 12 991 in 2017 and EUR 13 606 in 2018 ( 25 ).

VET for adults is met by The Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA) which subsidises a range of training activities, implemented by training institutions and enterprises, addressed to the employed and unemployed.

HRDA funds mainly 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 continuously prepare and submit training programmes to HRDA . The subsidy covers about 80% of the eligible total costs.

VET teacher types

In VET there are:

  • teachers for the theoretical part;
  • apprentice tutors;
  • trainers of vocational training.

Teachers for the theoretical part teach in upper secondary technical and vocational schools, in the school-based component of apprenticeships, and in higher (tertiary/non-university) VET institutes. Teachers at all levels of school education are university graduates with a bachelor degree as a minimum qualification. A small number of VET teachers employed at technical schools hold a diploma or similar qualification from colleges or other similar education establishments of tertiary (non-higher) education in courses; these are of at least 3 years duration and 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 improving the quality, attractiveness and efficiency of VET and the apprenticeship scheme are important challenges for the education system in 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 wish to become vocational training trainers must pass the assessment and certification procedure of 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 courses approved and subsidised by the Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA), both at vocational training centres and in companies for in-house training.

Continuing professional development of teachers/trainers

The Cyprus Pedagogical Institute (CPI) ( 26 ), according to a Council of Ministers' decision (August 2015), is the official department of the education ministry which runs teachers' professional learning. The same decision approved a new framework for teachers' professional learning (TPL) ( 27 ). It offers a variety of free-of-charge training, repeated and compulsory for teachers, either because they are provided by the education laws or their service plans or because these programmes are developed with reference to the teachers' current needs and the school context.

For example, the CPI 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.

CPI, in collaboration with the Department of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education and Training, also 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 decisions of the Council of Ministers (August 2015 and July 2017), emphasis is given to school-based professional learning.

All schools, including technical schools, have the opportunity to receive systematic annual support from the CPI under the scheme of the special support programme for TPL. At the beginning of the school year, schools are expected to follow 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 teachers, making use of the many training programmes offered by the institute or elsewhere. Based on its training, each school designs its own action plan. Every year, a small number of schools can implement their teacher professional learning action plan with the support of a facilitator from the CPI.

Technical schools have participated since 2017 in this programme of systematic support and followed enquiry-based methodologies like action research lesson studies or quality teacher rounds. This methodology was implemented systematically in the technical schools participating in special support Programme for TPL. It is a collaborative form of lesson planning, peer observation and occurs in the classroom, in real-time. It entails intentional reflection, observation, enquiry and collaboration. All members 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 in vocational training, the Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA) offers programmes through the multi-company training programmes scheme to prepare trainers for assessment and certification or further enhance their training skills in various subjects.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ( 28 ).

Anticipating skill needs

The assessment of skill needs is operated by the Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA). 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, HRDA conducts the following research studies:

long-term employment trends and forecasting in Cyprus.

  • HRDA provides 10-year employment forecasts on a regular basis every 2 to 3 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 six low level occupations), covering the whole spectrum of the Cyprus labour market ( 29 );
  • annual investigations for the identification of employment and training needs with the involvement of the social partners ( 30 ).

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 such studies. The first 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 ( 31 ). It provides forecasts for employment demand in economic sectors and occupations which are part of the blue economy. The second is the Identification of green skill needs in the Cyprus economy ( 32 ). 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 ( 33 ) and European Skills Index ( 34 ).

Designing qualifications

Until recently there has been limited implementation of frameworks and mechanisms for qualifications transparency and systems for the recognition of competences and qualifications: development of a competence-based system is a high priority. The vocational qualifications system 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 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. It is based on vocational qualifications standards (VQS) developed by the Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA). These standards define the tasks and the required knowledge, skills and competences for each vocational qualification. At the same time, they define the framework for the training and development of candidates to prepare for successful assessment to obtain certification. The system developed by HRDA is integrated, at levels 2 to 7, within the European and Cyprus qualifications framework (EQF and CyQF).

In order to be in line with the needs and developments of their corresponding professions, the standards developed are reviewed by technical committees, comprising representatives of industry, employers and workers and education and training institutions, and are approved by the board of directors of the HRDA.

In the programming period 2014-20, two projects are jointly financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the HRDA. The first is the Expansion and operation of the system of vocational qualifications (SVQs), expected to award 4000 certificates. The second project is the Development of vocational qualifications standards (VQS). Started in 2019, it is expected that the 72 existing VQS developed during the programming period 2007-13 will be revised and new VQS will be developed. By the end of 2021, the second project will be completed with the approval of 167 VQS.

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 ( 35 ).

The four phases are as follows.

  • Identification

Identification involves determination of the learning outcomes gained through formal, non-formal and informal learning. It takes place in centres approved by the HRDA for assessment of vocational qualifications (CAVQs) which sign an agreement on the terms of their operation, after their representatives receive HRDA training.

Candidates are given information about the vocational qualifications requirements system and interviewed to collect information about their education and work experience, particularly relevant to the learning outcomes. Candidates are advised to choose a specific qualification standard according to their knowledge, skills and competence. The results are documented in a report.

  • Documentation

Documentation provides proof of the knowledge, skills and competences identified during the previous phase. The candidates submit any relevant documents proving the acquisition of the learning outcomes through formal, non-formal and informal learning: educational and vocational qualifications, employment experience, and social insurance statements. These 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 complete an application form which 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 HRDA for approval the application forms, identification and documentation report and the relevant documents.

  • Assessment

HRDA approves candidate applications, provided they are compatible with the criteria of the system of vocational qualifications. In this case, candidates can proceed to 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 3-hour duration each, in a centre approved for the assessment of vocational qualifications. These may be public or private training centres, certified by HRDA and having certified training facilities.

The assessment is based on the vocational qualification standard. The main assessment method is observation of candidates in real or simulated working conditions. It may also include, depending on the standard, interview, oral exam, written exam and project. The results are provided in the candidate's assessment report.

The assessors are independent experts and should comply with specific academic and professional criteria. They are trained by HRDA and sign an agreement regarding their terms of reference.

 

Each 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. Each assessment is also externally verified through an on-the-spot visit by an independent verifier authorised by HRDA. The results are detailed in separate reports.

  • Certification

Candidate assessment reports are submitted to HRDA, which validates the results. The successful assessment of the candidates in all task areas for the vocational qualification standard and all methods of assessment required for candidate certification.

HRDA, as the awarding body, approves the assessment through the relevant documentation and certifies the candidate. If a candidate has succeeded in only part of the qualification task, an affirmation (partial certification) is provided for these areas. In such cases, the candidate is given the opportunity of reassessment in the failed tasks and/or methods of assessment.

Accredited vocational training centres also 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 ( 36 ) approved the establishment of the National Qualifications Authority, with the powers to improve 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 (CyQF/EQF) levels on the certificates, diplomas and Europass documents, to strengthen the legal aspect of the Cyprus qualifications framework and to develop a registry for the CyQF:

  • for secondary VET (IVET) ( 37 ) the respective inspector of each field of study ( 38 ) is responsible for the proper implementation of the curricula and ensures that the teaching material is adequately covered by using effective teaching methods. The constant assessment of the progress of learners, alongside 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; the other is the Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education ( 39 ), 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 (HRDA). Quality is assured by checking the programmes that a training provider wishes to implement and by accreditation of these providers (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).

To achieve this, the education ministry coordinates the implementation of the project Establishing a mechanism for the validation of non-formal and informal learning. The project is jointly funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Republic of Cyprus. It has supported a mapping study of the current situation in Cyprus regarding the validation of non-formal and informal learning. From the results of the study, an overall national action plan 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 in adult education, youth and volunteerism. The pilot mechanism is not yet in place: the first results are estimated to be available at the end of 2022.

The Council of Ministers on 18 May 2017 ( 40 ) approved the establishment of the National Qualifications Authority, with the powers to improve 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 (CYQF) after its completion, to monitor the CYQF /European qualifications framework (EQF) levels on the certificates, diplomas and Europass documents, to strengthen the legal aspect of the CYQF and to develop a registry for the CYQF. Discussions are under way for finding the means to support further the National Qualifications Authority so it could perform its tasks in a more effective way.

In the system of vocational qualifications, a validation procedure consisting of four phases has been developed. The procedure is aligned with the European Recommendation on validation of non-formal and informal learning ( 41 ).

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 centres for assessment of vocational qualifications (CAVQs) approved by Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA). CAVQs sign an agreement with HRDA regarding the terms of their operation, after their representatives receive training by HRDA. As a 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 provides 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 HRDA for approval;
  • assessment: if the HRDA 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 two to five meetings and is based on the relevant vocational qualification standard. The results are detailed in the assessment report. The assessors are trained by the HRDA;
  • certification. the assessment reports are submitted to the HRDA, 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 ( 42 ).

Allowances, meals and travel subsidy

  • the provision of secondary technical and vocational education (STVET) (including evening technical and vocational education), of the apprenticeship system and of public tertiary vocational education and training are free of charge;
  • various lifelong learning programmes which are considered VET are subsidised (i.e. offered for a small fee);
  • a government grant ( 43 ) 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 types of allowance (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, ensuring a certain level of education and training. Such sectors include the hotel industry, banking sector, cabinet making and carpentry industry and private clinics.

Incentives for the unemployed

VET programmes for adults, implemented by vocational training centres and enterprises, are provided free of charge and participants receive training allowances which are paid by the Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA). The amount of the allowance varies depending on the programme.

The financing provided by the European Social Fund (ESF) 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 jointly financed by ESF 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 (HRDA) 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 continuously prepare and submit training programmes to the HRDA. The subsidy generally covers 80% of the eligible total costs. HRDA provides subsidies to the employers. In the case of single-company initial and continuing training programmes ( 45 ), eligible costs include the cost of trainers, the personnel cost for trainees, administrative expenses and cost of training materials.

For multi-company continuing training programmes ( 46 ), HRDA provides the subsidies directly to the training providers and the employer covers the remaining cost.

Improving the provision of guidance and counselling services to all population groups is a policy priority for Cyprus. The main bodies delivering guidance and counselling are the Career Counselling and Educational Services (CCES) of the education ministry, the public employment service (PES), and the Euroguidance centre Cyprus of the labour ministry, the Human Resource Development Authority (HRDA), the Youth Board of Cyprus and certain private organisations. Guidance is provided to learners in secondary and students in tertiary education, to both the unemployed and employed as well as to the economically inactive.

An important development related 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 government policy makers in lifelong guidance. All major stakeholders, such as the education ministry, the labour ministry, HRDA, the Youth Board of Cyprus and the social partners are represented in the Forum.

Career guidance for jobseekers is provided by labour counsellors employed in all district and local offices of the PES. The guidance services offered by PES specialise in supporting the unemployed in finding and placing them in suitable jobs, providing guidance, counselling and information services for professions and career prospects, as well as for available employment opportunities in Cyprus and Europe, providing information on existing vocational training and education opportunities in various professions, providing information on employment conditions based on applicable collective agreements and labour legislation, and providing personalised service to vulnerable groups of people, who face particular difficulties in finding work.

Career guidance and counselling for learners is provided mainly by the CCES, the Euroguidance centre Cyprus of the labour ministry, HRDA and the Youth Board of Cyprus.

More specifically, CCES maintains offices in all public secondary schools, both general and vocational, as well as in the central career guidance offices at the education ministry. CCES were first introduced in the Cyprus education system, as part of a pilot scheme, in 1964/65.

The main stated goal of CCES is to assist learners and other individuals to meet the general goals of the education ministry:

  • the healthy development of the learners' personalities;
  • the development of problem-solving skills in order to deal effectively with their personal, educational, professional and social problems.

The main objective of the service is 'to provide specialised assistance through counselling and guidance to all interested individuals in order to deal effectively with their personal, educational, career and social problems'. Emphasis is placed on:

  • self- awareness and assistance in acquisition of soft skills;
  • self- approval and self-confidence;
  • self-actualisation;
  • decision-making and problem-solving skills;
  • healthy adjustment to the school and social environment;
  • critical thinking and effective use of appropriate information.

School counsellors work with individuals or small groups of learners (normally 2-4), through timetabled sessions during class periods (usually around 45 minutes). Shorter sessions during breaks are also available. Sometimes learners may be accompanied by their parents. These shorter sessions can cover a wide range of issues such as guidance on educational and career choices (sometimes by using psychometric tests), disciplinary and relationship issues, and any other related issues that might concern the student population.

Counsellors liaise with other teachers, parents and with a range of external services and professionals, including educational and clinical psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists and the police, in relation to the problems that learners might face. Specifically, in the case of learners with special needs (with physical disabilities and/or learning difficulties) the counsellor plays a vital role in convening case conferences to determine an action plan for addressing their distinctive needs within the school. Similar approaches are also used for learners with literacy problems or with challenging behaviour within the school.

Alongside their guidance and counselling work, the counsellors undertake a variety of administrative and informative tasks. These may include maintaining student records for guidance purposes, writing reference letters for overseas universities, organising parents' evening meetings relating to educational choices and potentially delivering preventive programmes to teachers and learners.

Learners also have the opportunity to become acquainted with the world of work, through presentations given by professionals in different fields and organisational tours. Each school organises career days where professionals and staff from higher education institutions give informative lectures/presentations to learners.

For a person to be eligible to work as a school counsellor in public secondary schools, an accredited first degree in any subject taught in secondary education and a postgraduate qualification in counselling or/and careers guidance are required.

School counsellors are allocated 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 those 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.

Through various actions, the CCES constantly tries to expand its services in order to include the general population (e.g. NEETs, early school leavers), while assisting them to reflect on their capabilities and giving them options for either employment or further education and training. The national Resilience and recovery plan will be used to improve CCES further and to address skills mismatch.

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. In these open days, learners in the third year of lower secondary education and their parents can visit a technical school of their choice and be guided by teachers and other learners to the various facilities of the school. Each technical school organises a demonstration of learner achievements, to promote greater awareness of the career possibilities provided by initial VET programmes.

Learners attending technical schools receive traineeships in the specialisation of their choice as part of their curriculum.

Each year, the education ministry organises the international education fair where learners and other interested parties receive information about university study programmes, entrance requirements, fees and scholarships. Over 200 higher education institutions and universities from 35 countries, as well as national universities and colleges, usually attend the fair. In 2020 the education fair did not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The British Council and 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.

Please see:

  • guidance and outreach Cyprus national report ( 47 );
  • Cedefop's labour market intelligence toolkit ( 48 ).
  • Cedefop's inventory of lifelong guidance systems and practices ( 49 ).

Vocational education and training system chart

Programme Types

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • work practice in enterprises
  • participation in workshops
Main providers

The main provider is the education ministry.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • in-company practice
  • workshops
Main target groups

Young people aged 14-16 who have withdrawn from the formal education system.

They receive individual counselling according to their needs.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners must be at least 14 years old to enrol.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment of preparatory apprenticeship learners is a combination of their attendance and conduct record throughout the year, their individual project work throughout the year and their performance at final exams in Greek language and mathematics.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Preparatory apprenticeship certificate (Πιστοποιητικό Προπαρασκευαστικής Μαθητείας).

Examples of qualifications

Not applicable

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete preparatory apprenticeship can enrol in core apprenticeship (EQF 3) or continue their studies to EQF 4 (upper secondary technical and vocational education or upper secondary general education) provided they succeed in a special set of exams.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

General education programmes constitute the main part of this programme, since learners attending preparatory apprenticeship are taught maths, modern Greek, English, computers, music, theatre, art, physical education and technology.

Key competences

Yes

Numeracy skills (maths), mother tongue (Greek language), digital skills

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available ( 50 )

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning
  • apprenticeships
  • work practice
Main providers
  • schools
  • enterprises
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

>=70%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • in-company practice
Main target groups

Programmes are available for early leavers from education (young people, including adults, up to the age of 18 years old, who have either completed a lower secondary program (EQF2) or preparatory apprenticeship or dropped out of upper secondary programmes).

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners must be aged 15-18 old to enrol.

  • minimum age: 15 
  • maximum age: 18
  • previously acquired qualification/education level: lower secondary education leaving certificate ( 51 ) or preparatory apprenticeship certificate ( 52 )
Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment of apprentices for the theoretical training they receive in technical schools follows the rules of the education system with regular tests and final examinations. During the practical training, apprentices are assessed by their supervisors and their grades appear on the apprenticeship certificate (EQF level 3).

Diplomas/certificates provided

Apprenticeship certificate (Πιστοποιητικό Μαθητείας)

Allows access to several regulated occupations (e.g. building contractor and electrician) provided that all other requirements of the relevant legislation are met.

Examples of qualifications

Currently, the apprenticeship system in Cyprus offers the following specialisations :

  • car mechanics
  • plumbing/central heating
  • welding/metal constructions
  • bakery/confectionery
  • carpentry/furniture production
  • electrical installations
  • graphic design
  • hairdressing
  • preparation of food and beverages
  • retail sales
  • building and construction works
  • home appliances technicians
Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who complete core apprenticeship can enter the labour market or continue their studies at EQF level 4 (only in evening schools which they can complete in 2 years instead of 3).

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

2.6% ( 54 )