Absence of a post-secondary level from the Cyprus education system, changing needs of the economy due to rapid development of technology, the knowledge-based society and the EU’s priorities regarding lifelong learning for its citizens, have all urged establishment of post-secondary institutes of vocational education and training (VET).
In the first two years of their operation, post-secondary institutes of vocational education and training have attracted interest from a growing number of young Cypriots. During the academic year 2013/14, the total number of students attending the first and second years of the programmes reached 400. This is a significant increase since the 2012/13academic year, the first year of the institutes’ operation, when 196 students took part. Since demand is very high and the number of applicants exceeds the number of available places, a student placement system with selection criteria has been applied, favouring in particular, young unemployed individuals.
Post-secondary institutes of VET began their operation in November 2012. Their objective is to provide students with the necessary knowledge and skills so they are better prepared to enter gainful employment. They provide an alternative learning pathway to secondary education graduates who do not wish to proceed with studies at tertiary level, thus improving VET’s image in Cyprus.
They operate in public technical schools, supervisedby the Ministry of Education and Culture (Department of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education), covering all the major geographical areas of Cyprus. Attendance is free of charge. Programmes last for two years, on a five-day basis. Attendance includes practical training in enterprises.
Curricula development is an ongoing process. The programmes have been especially designed to be relevant to labour market needs following research on employment prospects in Cyprus. They are regularly evaluated, revised and updated, taking into account the views and suggestions of all the relevant social partners and stakeholders. The programmes currently on offer are:
- management of natural gas industrial and residential installations;
- gas handling pipes welding and industrial structures;
- specialist baker and confectioner;
- computer networks and communications;
- electrical and industrial refrigeration installations;
- installation and maintenance of photovoltaic systems and wind turbines;
- industrial and residential automation;
- organic vegetable production.
This development complements establishment of new modern apprenticeship in an effort to increase participation in VET and encourage further participation in lifelong learning.