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Outline of initiatives launched by international donors in the field of CVT.

In Latvia, through the financing of international donor organisations, several major and minor programs in the field of CVT are being implemented. However, it should be noted that these programs are broader in character and do not deal exclusively with CVT:

  • PHARE programme "Business Education Reform Programme";
  • PHARE programme "Higher Vocational Education and Training Reform Programme"
  • PHARE Tempus CME "Flexible Learning Strategy in Latvian Higher Education"
  • A joint project between Latvian Chamber of Trade and Commerce and South Westfalen Chamber of Trade and Commerce (Germany)
  • PHARE programme "Business Education Reform Programme"

Programme period: August 1996- December 1998

Programme budget: 1 MECU

The Business Education reform in Latvia has been initiated under a Latvian- Danish bilateral project. During the period from autumn 1994 till spring 1997 3-year business education curricula for 9th grade graduates and a 1-year curriculum for 12th grade graduates have been developed under this project. 15 schools are running these programmes. All of them have implemented and continue 3-year curriculum, 6 of them are running 1-year curriculum.

Aim of the programme: To help the Latvia Government to reform and develop business education system, including secondary and higher professional business education and further education.

Programme tasks:

  • To develop 2-year business curricula at college level according to the requirements of labour market with specialisation in 4 profiles: 1. Economy. Accounting and taxation; 2. Marketing and sales; 3. Transport and logistics; 4. Marketing and advertising.
  • To develop programmes for adult vocational education
  • To prepare proposals for the introduction of multi-level business education into vocational education and training and to commence its implementation
  • To train teachers, to provide consultations in curriculum development methodology and in the development of teaching materials
  • To provide training for school managers and administrative staff
  • To provide pilot schools with the necessary technical equipment and teaching materials, to train teachers for the effective use of the new equipment in the teaching process
  • To expand the network of schools providing business education to be equally spread throughout the territory of Latvia
  • To popularise business education

Results of the project:

Draft concept for professional business education is developed, 2-year business curricula at college level and programmes for adult vocational education are created, teachers and school managers have been trained, pilot schools are provided with the necessary technical equipment and teaching materials, the network of schools providing business education is expanded.

Within the framework of this program various business CE program modules are being developed and offered. Also the Adult Business Education Program was created within this framework. Currently programs are being developed in 2 major directions - accountancy and marketing, and it should be noted that it is being organised in several cities - Liepaja, Jurmala, Riga. Also one year CVT business programs are being offered in several cities and towns.

Within PHARE Higher Vocational Education and Training Reform Programme an idea is being promoted on starting regional vocational training and examination pilot centres - consortia.

 

PHARE programme "Higher Vocational Education and Training Reform Programme"

Programme period: May 1997- December 1998

Programme budget: 1,5 MECU

Aim of the programme: To promote further development of Latvia’s human resources and institutions according to requirements of modern democratic society and market oriented economy in the sphere of secondary, post-secondary and higher professional education

Programme tasks:

  • Further development of 4-year professional curricula commenced under the "Vocational Education and Training Reform Programme" and completion of the development of new teaching materials
  • The provision of 18 pilot schools with the necessary technical equipment to assist the teaching of general subjects
  • Development of the strategy of higher professional education
  • Development of a methodology for national occupational and educational standards system
  • Strengthening of the capacity of the Centre for Vocational Education
  • Development of the concept for regional education and examination centres

Results of the project:

Pilot schools are provided with the necessary technical equipment, new teaching materials are developed, the conditions and requirements for qualification examinations are developed, the draft concept for strategy of higher professional education and the draft concept for methodology for national occupational and educational standards system are developed, the plan of development of the Centre for Vocational Education is elaborated, the concept for regional education and examination centres is elaborated and 2 pilot centres are selected.

The aim of the project is to create in Latvia 2 regional vocational training and examination pilot centres - consortia. The planned outcome is:

  1. Conception for Centre's organisational structure and financing principles
  2. Creation of an operational Model of the 2 pilot centres
  3. Established relations with similar centres in Europe

The underlying Concept for the creation of Regional Centres is the following:

  1. Creation of Co-operation network of all vocational training institutions
  2. Securing of basic education, continuing education, re-training, acquisition of practical skills, examination
  3. Aiming at involvement of young people, the unemployed and the ones on the labour market

An important mission of the Centre would be to secure links with the regional labour market, in order to secure equilibrium between demand and offer and to provide the necessary places for practise. The Centre must be co-ordinated by regional authorities incorporating representatives from local governments, social partners and educators.

The aim for creating these regional centres - consortia is to:

  1. Decentralise the administration of the vocational training institutions
  2. To improve the possibilities for vocational training in the regions
  3. To improve the links between the training institutions and the labour marker, thus having the necessary places for practice
  4. To increase the efficiency in the use of financial, material and human resources in the region
  5. To improve conditions for attracting financial resources to the training institutions
  6. To secure vocational training adequate to the needs of the region
  7. To improve the co-operation between the local labour market actors and educational workers

At this stage the competition for right to establish these regional centres is over, and 2 regions have been selected for execution of the task.

PHARE Tempus project "Flexible Learning Strategy in Latvian Higher Education"

Project period: 2 April 1998 - 31 March 1999

Project budget: 47 000 ECU

The project was initiated by the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science in view of the increasing need for restructuring the university continuing education services and for promotion of the flexible learning approaches.

The aim of the project is to create a National Strategy for the development of Flexible learning system for university CVT services. It is based on needs analyses, identification and assessment of existing models in European countries, selection and adaptation of the good practice and final production of a model suited for the Latvian higher education system. All state higher education institutions are involved in needs analysis and also the results will be disseminated on a broad scale. In the development stage opinion from main higher education decision making bodies will be sought.

A joint project between Latvian Chamber of Trade and Commerce and South Westfalen Chamber of Trade and Commerce (Germany)

Project period: 1997 - 2000

Project budget (CVT part): 140 000 Ls

CVT activities are only part of the project, and the main CVT activities are: improvement of the material provisions in CVT, teacher training, new technologies, and creation of data basis.

Ongoing developments in FOUR key thematic areas

The role of state, regional authorities and other actors

The role of the Ministry of Education and Science regarding CVT should be enhanced (in collaboration with other institutions). It needs to be noted that after 1990ties with the dramatic changes in the labour market and education, many of the well established and functioning approaches to CVT have ceased to exist (the so called Qualification Improvement Institutes were successfully operating for many years in all branches). Now space is left for the development of a new and modern approach, but previous good practice should not be neglected.

In the Ministry of Education there are 2 departments are directly related CVT issues.

1.The Department of Vocational Education Development has a focus on initial vocational education and training and is currently working on the development of Vocational Training Development Concept aiming at further development of the existing vocational training system.

2. The Department of Continuing Education has a focus on CVT in the context of regional development (in co-operation with 26 regional Adult Education Centres), CVT in Universities Adult Continuing Education Departments, on CVT in public organisations and local governments, on CVT of teachers. Recently work has started on the development of Concept for Continuing Education and Training which aims at addressing the CET needs also from the lifelong learning perspective. Transfer of knowledge and skills from EU countries in working out this Concept would be of great value.

As already stated in the Introduction, the role of the state regarding the implementation of CVT is manifested through activities of branch Ministries. On the one hand - each Ministry has its Staff (Personnel) Development Department, which jointly with the State Administration School organises the CVT of civil servants. On the other hand, each branch Ministry has its subordinate or co-operation organisations/institutions dealing with continuing vocational training in the given branch. However, as indicated in answers to questionnaires about CVT needs and provision, the current system needs to be optimised.

In this respect the opinion of the State Administration Reform Office needs to be sought, as minor and major changes regarding state administration system, including CVT, can be initiated with the support from this institution.

On the one hand, in analysing the questionnaires, we found evidence that the competence of Ministry Personnel Departments needs to be broadened. The CVT of the civil servants in branch Ministries could be tailor made and organised by their Personnel Departments. That would allow the civil servants acquire more skills in strategic planning and organisation of work. As civil servants are responsible for the implementation of state policy, their raised competence on labour market issues would allow to solve CVT problems in each branch more efficiently. However, expertise from EU CVT providers would be needed.

The function of the State Administration School would be organising training for civil servants on broad general issues, which are of relevance to all ministries. This training might be dealing also with European integration issues with invited experts from EU countries etc.

At the same time several respondents mentioned lack of Continuing Professional Development Centres/ Institutes within branches as a hindering factor for CVT enhancement. Such Institutions used to exist previously and were performing an important function. Provided a new operational model could be found for such institutions, it would allow to involve in CVT a large section of professionals, at the same time keeping a record on developments in the field and producing the needed recommendations.

The success of the Local Governments' Training centre with 8 affiliated branches in the regions is clear evidence that such flexible competence centres are immediately reacting to the demand from the labour market and are popular among the employers and the employees. Local Governments Training Centre is offering CVT for the administration and civil servants for local governments. (see table 1.)

A comparison of the most popular courses among the ones offered in years 1996 and 1998 (in the range of priority) represents a radical shift in priorities among course participants which in its turn indicates to the changes in the labour market demand for CVT. At the same time the table represents the potential of a flexible training unit and its ability to respond to demands from the labour market.

Regarding the CVT provision at regional labour markets - the role of the existing 26 Regional Adult Education Centres needs to be supported and enhanced. It is important to integrate the efforts of all regional CVT providers, in the sense that it contributes to a better labour market policy and economic development.

Table 1

1996

1998

English language Latest legislative acts on local governments
Psychology of communication Regional development and planning
PC for beginners Technologies for decision making
Latest developments in legislation Development of project proposals
Stress management Accountancy in local governments
Acts on Local Governments’ Competence Budget
Art of presentation Documentation and data keeping in office
Coping with extreme situations Presentation skills
Behaviour in business environment Unemployment and its control
Presenting information in writing Organisation of work
Business and ethics Communication psychology
Budgets of local governments Rural tourism
Diplomatic protocol PC medium competence
Accountancy in local governments Latest changes in legislation
Documentation and data keeping in office Diplomatic protocol
Decision making technology PC for beginners
Taxation system Stress management
Market economy Taxation system
Brainstorming Presenting yourself in a written form
Arranging your working environment Business and ethics

A Pilot Project on consolidating and developing regional training and employment organisations (involving 3 – 4 regions for comparison and follow-up, e.g. Dobele, Rezekne, Cesis) using the expertise of Regional universities might produce hints for future solutions. Certainly, supporting adult education legislation and CVT legislation development is crucial in this aspect. As success generates success, it is vital to brake the vicious circle of hopelessness in rural regions and start with promoting the development of traditional crafts and industries in the given region. And again the role of media needs to be stressed - special TV and video programs on " success stories" should increase the personal initiative and self-assurance of the rural population.

Universities are major providers of continuing vocational training, and their role should be promoted and enhances, according to the draft Concept for Continuing Education and Training. The potential of University Continuing Education Centres is not yet fully appreciated. They need to become flexible self-financing units in offering CVT (or continuing professional development) to the university staff and to the industrial and other sectors outside, including the general public. This is a well-developed system in British, French and other universities. By nature being important educational and technology centres with high academic potential, the present role of University Continuing Education Centres must be changed in principle. They should offer their expertise for:

  • Competence based staff training programs (also tailor made)
  • Promotion of principles of a "learning organisation" and "learning climate" in organisations which are still vastly unknown principles in Latvia
  • Access and training in new technologies, improved information access and exchange
  • Models and approaches for Universities' co-operation with industry and commercial sectors
  • Team work skills and transfer to task-based schemes
  • Project development, management and fund raising skills
  • Skills for work in international environment (foreign language skills, communication skills, networking skills)
  • Flexible learning strategies
  • Improved training of trainers and methodological approaches
  • Up-to-date learning materials
  • Research in the field of continuing vocational training

Also the problem of competent teaching staff and up-to-date programs in CVT can best be addressed through universities. At the same time, orders from industry would allow to raise the salaries of the University staff enabling them to concentrate efforts on their professional duties (it is no secret that university teachers are underpaid and often are forced to undertake 3 - 4 jobs).

CVT as part of a system

There are developments in Latvia, which have proved themselves vital for the co-ordination of adult and continuing education activities.

In 1996 the Adult education Consulting Board was established which is an inter-institutional body incorporating representatives/ decision makers from ministries, local governments, employers associations, trade unions, universities, non-governmental organisations etc.

This well-established network allows for immediate dealing with relevant issues in an effective way. Thus, all drafts of legal acts and development concepts have been discussed by the Council, which allows many opinions to be taken into account in a democratic way. E.g. the Concept of Adult Education, the Concept for Financing Adult Education, the draft Law on Adult Education, the Flexible Learning Concept and other important documents all have been discussed and approved by the Council.

Reference on history of the development of Adult education policy in Latvia

  • In 1993 in co-operation with Ministry of Education and Science and International Co-operation Institute of Association of Adult Education of Germany the Association of Adult education of Latvia was established.
  • In 1995 Cabinet of Ministers approved the model statutes of Adult Education Centre. At present there are 26 regional Adult Education Centres. The Adult Education Centre regulations have been worked out, which reflect the need for forming adult education centres using the existing education institutions as a basis, delegating them a small target financing and definite functions, including responsibility for horizontal information exchange between educational institutions in the district, state; work out, within limits pedagogue and organisational qualification improvement, teaching materials, programme distribution. Much still needs to be done in order to improve co-operation between schools, employment services, labour market, information distribution organisations and employers. In several regions the Consultative Councils of Adult Education are created that are consultative advisory institutions without status of legal entity. These Councils are usually created by Adult Education Centres and municipalities.
  • A Consultative Council of Adult Education at the ministry of Education and Science was affirmed by the Ministry in November, 1996. Almost all organisations involved in the continuing training are represented in this Council. The Consultative Council of Adult Education includes 23 members from different governmental and non-governmental organisations.
  • The state Concept for Adult Education was accepted by Minister of Education in February 1998. The concept for adult education as solution of adult education problems foresee:
  1. to improve sizing up the situation and analysis in adult education,
  2. to carry out organizing measures for continuing development of adult education,
  3. to promote further involvement of employers in adult education,
  4. to promote increasing of the professional assocciation role in adult education,
  5. to carry out legal regulations for adult education.

Adult education concept foresee as one of the main goals:

  • to provide everyone with posibility to perfect everyone’s knowledge corresponding his/her interest and needs, age and previous education level;
  • to compensate scarsity of education appearing during transition period;
  • to solve social adaptation and integration problems developing adult education system regarding to life-long-learning concept.

Several regions in Latvia have similar Councils at regional level which in many cases allows to work more efficiently. A Pilot Project on Regional Adult Training Centres and their co-operation with Continuing Education Consulting Boards would be of great value for harmonisation labour market training issues in Latvia.

Also the role of NGOs needs to be further promoted, as they tend to show signs of greater flexibility under situation of constant change. The given examples will show the wide range of programmes offered.

Example:

65 licensed professional and complementary education establishments are registered in Latvia in 1998. Most popular offered courses on acquiring professions are the following:
Accountancy - 9,5%
Sewing specialists -8.9%
Computer use - 9.5%
Hairdresser -6.8%
Woodsman, sawmill’s worker 7.5%
Entrepreneurship - 4.1%

Example

Continuing training for medium medical staff is carried out by Professional Education Centre of Medicine, Division of post-diploma education. Three types of post-diploma courses are provided in Professional Education Centre of Medicine:

  • for specialisation:

nurse-anesthesist, nurse of physical therapy, nurse of functional diagnosis, nurse of surgery, nurse of social health care, nurse of paediatrics, nurse of diet etc.

  • approximately 50 different qualification improvement courses: psychology, theory of social care, pharmacy, paediatrics, infectology, physical rehabilitation, endocrinology, midwifery, oncology etc.

The new programmes for 15 courses have been developed in 1997 - social psychology, children’s health care, blood and blood illnesses, health care of parturient woman and pregnant woman, nephrology etc.

  • for employees of medical establishments without medical education - 4 courses in 1997
  • courses without interruption of work. This type of training courses is realised in a hospital or a medical establishment parallel to work in profession. This type of courses is financed by the employer - a hospital or medical establishment that realises its training programme evaluated by Professional Education Centre of Medicine. Such kind of courses are organised in many regional hospitals - Dobele, Ventspils, Daugavpils, Aizpute, Liepaja, Priekule, Balvi, Strenči, Saldus, Cesis, Jelgava, Riga, Preiďi etc.

Table 2.Participants of courses for medium medical staff:

  1995 1996 1997
Courses for specialisation 495 455 486
Courses for improving of qualification 5196 4762 5331
Courses without interruption of work - 2098 4861
Total 5691 7315 10678
308 trainers are involved in all of these courses.

The Register of Nurses is maintained by the Professional Education Centre of Medicine under the supervision of the Ministry of Welfare.

Table 3. Register of nurses

Registered specialities beginning registered persons 01.10.97 registered persons 30.07.98
Nurses

Nurses for dentists (included in nurses register, 30.09.1996)

01.01.95 13 230 14 414
Doctor’s assistant 08.02.96 1730 2016
Cosmeticians 08.02.96 253 377
Midwives 30.09.96 570 656

Through this Register the employers can at any time obtain information regarding both the actually working and the potentially working middle-level medical persons including their education level and upgrading.

This kind of register may be a beginning of new trends in the co-operation between employers, employees and professional training.

Example Latvian Folk School (LFS) is a public, non-profit organisation offering vocational training and continuing vocational training. It has a central office in Riga and 17 branch offices in regions of Latvia. The review of LFS activities during 1997 indicates that non-governmental organisations have an important role in providing CVT for the general public and also as providers of services for the governmental institutions. Also their capacity for offering a wide range of programs to a large target group is considerable.

Table 4. Latvian Folk School Activities

Number of participants on courses annually

7 - 9 thousand

Number of participants annually on CVT courses

85 - 90% of total number

Number of programs

337

Number of teachers involved

342

CVT courses in percentage

 

Accauntancy

25,69%

Various specialists (electricity, drivers)

19,57%

Market economy, entrepreneurship

4,52%

PC courses

7,19%

Training of the unemployed

4,61%

Civil servants

17,94

Law education

8,58%

Currency operations

5,79%

Other

6,08%

Quality

Quality in CVT can be secured through development of adequate pedagogical framework, provision of accredited programs and a system for awarding of qualifications. Certainly training of trainers is a key issue, and solutions might be sought through closer links between labour market actors and universities, the latter having great academic and professional potential, also with regard to program development etc

.

Fig 3. Education Quality Control

Finance

At least 136 institutions in Latvia have been active in adult education in 1995 and at least 112000 students have attended these. Approximately 100800 students participated in adult education programmes in 1996 and 120907 in 1997.

Fig.4. Financing of adult education

The investment of employers to continuing training is rising. Investments of the employers to continuing training are rising up more than twice in comparison with 1995. The data on institutions dealing with adult education have been obtained from State Statistical Bureau. In order to obtain a more accurate information on the employers’ interest and investment in CVT, it is necessary to organise a special survey.

CVT as part of an active labour market policy

Law on employment foresees that one of the main goal of State Employment Service is "mediation function in training, up-grading and retraining of specialists." The active measure -- courses for the unemployed and disabled jobseekers professional training, retraining and up-grading successfully solve this function. The better positions in labour market can be obtained by specialists that have been prepared in compliance with labour market demands.

The professional retraining of unemployed and disabled job-seekers is organised in accordance with requirements of "Law on State and local municipalities order" that foresees using of State order in accordance to decision of Competition Committee.

State Employment Service gather and analyse information on employers forecast on demand for employees in future, compare number of unemployed in definite speciality and free working places registered in State Employment Service, analyse all accessible data on labour market research, success of trained unemployed in job findings.

The State Employment Service carries out competition of educational programmes for retraining of the unemployed. Every educational establishment (state or private) has the right to take part in competition, and in the case of success it is contracted by the state and receives state funding for its unemployed retraining programme. The criteria of quality for each competition on State order depend of results of previous competition, financial costs and employment situation in country. The main quality assessment criteria in 1998 as follows:

  • needs of national economy,
  • education establishment working quality,
  • material and technical conditions of education establishment,
  • pedagogical staff quality of education establishment,
  • possibilities of providing practical placements according to needs of educational programme,
  • success of the trained unemployed in job finding.

All information about competition activities and results is useful to prepare next competition.

Fig 5. The dynamic of competition

 

Growth of educational establishments involved in competition for realising unemployed training courses causes growth of offering training programmes in different specialities, possibilities for more comprehensive knowledge and for supplementary speciality.

Special attention was paid to professional courses (for example, welders, cookers, and accountants). Great demand was for programmes with widely basic education acquiring some family occupations (plasterer-bricklayer-tiler; baker-confectioner) or acquiring necessary knowledge in entrepreneurship (hairdresser-entrepreneurship; roofer-entrepreneurship).

The popularity of training courses organised by State Employment Service is comparatively high, even with tendency to increase in popularity among socially handicapped people.

Fig 6. The demand and offer of the State Employment Service

The state financing from social funding increases in accordance with interest on retraining, aspirations on more comprehensive knowledge given by definite education programmes, implementation of innovations.

Table 5. Funding for professional training and retraining :

Funding assigned from budget (Lats) Practically used funding (Lats)
1995. g. 2 122 250 2 118 726
1996. g. 2 169 180 2 016 482
1997. g. 2 324 193 2 323 667
The main criterion on unemployed training programme efficiency is trained person competitiveness in labour market.

 

Fig 7.Access to labour market

It should be mentioned that percentage of unemployed who found a job in regional level depends of national economy development in each region. In 1997 the highest level was in Ventspils city - 92.2%, Saldus district - 69.4%, Valmieras district - 67,8%. In Riga City this percentage was 57.7%, but in Riga district only 31.4%, Talsu district - 30,0%, Liepajas district - 20,8%. In Latgale region it was 34,5% in Ludzas district, 34,8% in Daugavpils district.

The year of 1998 comes with the new tendencies -

  • organising of unemployed retraining courses regarding to employers demand and employers guaranteed job providing. The State Employment Service receives demand for employers to prepare 5000 employees on different specialities in 1998. The main interest was from different sewing, foot - wear producing, wood - processing, food - producing, trade enterprises side. Some narrow specialised enterprises also have interest on employees trained by State Employment Service due to difficulties to find such kind of specialists among professional educational establishment graduates.
  • the second new tendency in 1998 is - training place close to living place due to several reasons that delayed unemployed to change living place for a long time. The training process in 1998 takes part not only in Riga, big cities and district centres but also in different small towns and in small rural districts, for example - Livani, Vilaka, Olaine, Dagda, Barkava, Ergli, Kalnciems, Zuras, Zaube.
  • the third new tendency in 1998 is to pay attention on training quality and as an experiment State Employment Service will start to use existing examination centres for assessment of given knowledge and their adequacy to qualification requirements. For example, the qualification exam for welders which will be trained in different places in Latvia will take place in Examination Centre for Welders that was organised on the base of Riga 3. vocational school.

Training in and for enterprises

In 1998, during the period from July to September the Chamber of Industry and commerce was organising a telephone survey in order to re-estimate the employers’ attitude towards CVT. During this survey construction and building enterprises were selectively interviewed in all regions of Latvia. All in all 32 enterprises took part in the survey, with the highest number of employees being 300 and the lowest only 7. The results of the survey are as follows:

  • Training of the personnel is done according to actual need, only 6% of the enterprises plan their training
  • In most cases training of the personnel is the responsibility of the administration
  • In 80% of cases the training refers to the staff, in 20% of cases it refers to the administration
  • 29% enterprises do not experience any barriers or problems in training their personnel
  • The main obstacles in training of the personnel are:
  • Lack or shortage of finances 36%
  • Discrepancy between the training needs of the enterprise and the available programs 13%
  • No possibility to offer the employee an educational leave 13%
  • Inadequate place for the training sessions 6%
  • Lack of information on the offered training courses 3%.
  • The main functions of continuing vocational training are:
  • adaptive,
  • innovative
  • carrier promotion
  • providing of re-training

The employers are currently most interested in the adaptive function, so that their employees may carry out the specific tasks of the enterprise. Also in the innovative function is considered to be important. The promotion of carrier often is the employees own responsibility. Re-training is normally the function attributed to the unemployed, but there are also cases when the employers are interested to re-train some of their workers.

The employees' knowledge and skills are kept up-to-date and in compliance with the enterprises' needs by taking training courses within the enterprise or outside it. The data from entrepreneurs questionnaires indicate that normally the employees are trained outside the enterprise – at state, private, local governments, employers organisations, and the standard programs offered by the training organisation are used. On rare occasions the training providers tailor programs especially for the needs of the enterprise. In recent years the number of continuing vocational training providers has grown, especially in Riga and the largest cities. A wide range of possibilities exists – one can obtain the initial vocational training (like secretary, welder, masseur) and also continuing professional development (e.g. manager of a production unit acquires communicative and team work skills; employees with commercial education background acquire the basic technical knowledge in the branch they are working). Each training provider develops its own training program and offers it to the potential clients either through media or directly to the client. The trainers/teachers are either those working in the training organisation (Business Advisory Centre, Personnel Management Centre, Mercury International etc.) or those on contract. If the training provider aims at training the unemployed, the programs need to be licensed at the Vocational Training Centre. In other cases the client is the one who decides whether the offered program suits him well. Only in rare cases when carrying out training for some specific profession, there must be an agreement with relevant institutions and organisations. However, it is not a rare occasion when programs of poor quality are being offered to clients (to enterprises or natural persons). In those cases the Act on Consumers Rights Protection may be of help. E.g. chartered accountants are being trained according to programs of 55 and 130 hours. In order to fight poor quality programs, which are offered in the training market, the continuing vocational training providers should agree upon criteria for quality assurance. There are many offers for programs on PC literacy, languages, entrepreneurship, and still the enterprises often cannot find exactly the type of program they need. Often the enterprises need training on very specific issue, and in those cases they usually try do the training themselves, by setting up training centres of their own (like in the case of LATTELEKOM, Latvijas dzelzcels/Latvian Railway), or by using their employees as training providers, or by invited external lecturers. Using own employees as training providers seems to be a time and resources saving measure as well.

 

The aims of continuing vocational training within an enterprise are:

  • to secure acquisition of specific professional skills by employees,
  • to encourage the employees to stay with the enterprise
  • to provide motivation of employees through training
  • to enhance communication within the enterprise
  • to secure personnel policy development

Questioning among employers indicates that training is rarely planned in advance, usually it is a reaction to an immediate need, e.g. a new PC software, or certain changes in accountancy system or taxation system need to be acquired etc.

Decision on personnel training is usually taken by the Administration. Personnel training are normally the responsibility of the Administration, the Personnel Department, and the Training Department and of a specific person in charge. This all depends on the size of the enterprise. Planning of training is usually a feature of economically stable enterprises, and they also allocate funds for that. This is extremely important, as continuing vocational training (with the exception of training of the unemployed) is a service one needs to pay for, and the fees are being paid by either the employer, the employee, or partly by the employer and partly by the employee. Fees for language PC courses are usually covered by employees themselves, as these are already considered as routine skills. The training fees are higher in Riga. In other parts of Latvia they are usually lower, depending on the populations and employers ability to pay, and their readiness to invest in continuing vocational training. As the offer of training services in Riga is better than in other parts of Latvia, there is a tendency now among the training providers to offer their services outside Riga.

Example of Grindeks

State joint stock company under privatisation GRINDEKS - one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Latvia is among those organisations where the mastery of working skills is considered essential in the future development of the company and its competitive ability in the market.

It is of the utmost importance for GRINDEKS to have a highly skilled highly trained staff because the production of medicine and pharmaceuticals is a narrow specialisation and there are few such companies in this field in Latvia. Latvia’s vocational schools do not train all types of specialists required at GRINDEKS. It is therefore the responsibility of GRINDEKS to organise the training and development of all the newly recruited and existing employee’s so that they are fully prepared to carry out their work efficiently and skilfully.

The training system employed by GRINDEKS is focused not only on the acquisition of skills for special purposes, but also on the fulfilment of individuals personal qualifications and knowledge, taking into consideration the constant process of the development of science and technology world-wide.

Under the provisions of the Education Laws of the Republic of Latvia the employer is required to provide employees with the opportunity to improve their professional skills and to train for new professions. Implementation of this process is defined by the regulations laid down by the appropriate ministry. The employee’s responsibility is to take specific interest in their own training and retraining needs in line with individual job requirements. The regulations concerning employee’s instruction, training, knowledge assessment and certification are specified by GRINDEKS.

The main actors are the management and the staff of GRINDEKS.

Great attention is paid to the employee’s interests when working out their individual training plans at GRINDEKS. The company’s training department is in contact with a wide range of specialists from many different fields of activity.

Three factors are of paramount importance in defining the employee’s skills:

  • Legislative Acts of the Republic of Latvia;
  • requirements of the administration of the company regarding the level of employee’s skills;
  • the suggestions and aspirations of the employee in question.

The following legislative acts are used at GRINDEKS in defining the individual employee’s skills:

  • The Law on implementation of high quality medicine production;
  • The Law on Labour Protection and Safety;
  • Laws and Regulations of Welfare Ministry and the Cabinet of Ministers.

In order to provide the training efficiently and according to the company’s and employee’s interests, the training department operates as a part of the personnel department. The main objectives of the training department are to:

  • identify the training needs;
  • arrange the training plan;
  • follow the training process.

GRINDEKS company’s in- house training system consists of:

1) initial training- compulsory for all the new comers. Initial training lasts for a period of one week to one month depending upon the degree of speciality and responsibility. Following initial training the employees will be tested on the knowledge acquired from training and only after satisfactory levels of proficiency have been attained will they be allowed to commence working independently with the GRINDEKS organisation.

2) adaptive training- on a regular basis for every employee. The employee may participate in the adaptive training after they have finished the initial training and are allowed to commence working independently. The training department arranges the programme for the adaptive training depending upon the degree of speciality and the programmes are accessible to every employee of the company. As the adaptive training is compulsory for the employees, they are regularly tested on the knowledge in order to identify their qualification and clarify the level of the additional training and find out the employee’s individual desires for improvement of their own proficiency and skills.

3) additional training defined by the employee’s desires and the development trends of the company. Additional training is carried out on a voluntary basis. General tendency of the company’s development is taken into consideration when planning the adaptive training. Three major trends are of particular importance in additional training

  • the impact of the information society;
  • the impact of the economic internationalisation;
  • the impact of the scientific and technical world.

All employees should know the history of the company and its internal working regulations. Each employee is provided with a job description which outlines the individual responsibilities in detail.

Staff members have larger possibilities to participate in working out the adaptive training programme. The training department prepares the information on the training possibilities. This offer covers courses, seminars and conferences organised in Latvia and abroad. From this offer the employee may choose the most appropriate way how to improve his professional qualification and afterwards writes the application for the specific training. The arrangement of the training plan for the company is based on these applications. Several factors affect the arrangement of the training plan - finances, who are the training providers, when and where the courses or seminars are organised, will the specific employee be able to participate in the specific course or seminar.

The legislative system in Latvia does not encourage the entrepreneurs to train their employees. Consequently the financing of the training results from the employer’s comprehension on education as the investment in company further development and competitive ability. Certain financial resources are assigned for the employee’s training at GRINDEKS every year. It is not a constant sum of money and it may vary according to the company’s financial situation and current development needs. Considering the fact that company- provided training is not encouraged in Latvia, in case of administrative or strategic changes in GRINDEKS, the training system might be affected as well.

The company "Grindeks" includes 630 employees, 90% of them participate training programmes every year. The company realised 20 training programmes every year.

 

Training Centre of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a structural unit of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the study rooms in Riga, Liepâja, Daugavpils, Valmiera, Cçsis and Ventspils. The Training Centre realises seminars up to 3 days on the current issues in entrepreneurship and different courses of the duration of several months. The participation was 1257 (3868 hours) persons in 1996 and 1383 (4488 hours) in 1997. The programmes are developed by the teachers in co-operation with the representatives of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry considering the recommendations and wishes of business representatives. The training programmes for the unemployed are accepted by the Professional Education Centre. There are adapted also the programmes developed by foreign partners.

At the Training Centre teachers are the staff of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (4 persons), invited lecturers (42, of which 6 in Riga, 2 in Valmiera, 7 in Cçsis, 25 in Liepâja, 2 in Daugavpils). There are regularly invited foreign lecturers within the framework of different projects (in 1997 - 16 teachers).

Participants of the courses are mainly chief managers of business companies and enterprises, proprietors, employees, and unemployed. Rarely - other interested groups or persons.

Technical facilities for the delivery of training are seven with modern equipment provided study rooms, two of them - computer classes (in Liepâja and Valmiera). The Training Centre is working on self-financing principles.

The Training Centre is collecting and summarising the information on the delivered courses and seminars in Latvia and on the selected topics abroad. During 1998 it is planned to realise the "Continuing Education Base" to be able to provide the information on different training possibilities for the members of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and for other interested groups. After the requirement by the members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry the Training Centre prepares the information on training possibilities.

Table 6. Topics of seminars:

Topic of seminar

Hours

Credit opportunities and problems in Latvia

6

Motivation of financial services and product acquisition

5

Basic sales principles

8

Increase of commercial potential in the business companies

12

Creative marketing

18

Direct marketing

6

Product management

12

Sales management

12

Publicity management in the enterprise

10

Automatic identification and bar-coding of goods

4

International arbitration

5

Quality provision and quality management (introductory seminar)

16

Record keeping for managers

16

Record keeping for officers, secretaries, secretaries-accountants

24

Record keeping for accountants, economists, marketing specialists

16

Basic record keeping

20

Stress management

12

Conflict management

12

Psychological aspects of staff management

16

Business communication

6

Business correspondence in English

24

English

24; 56; 75

English for beginners

part 1 - 140 h, part 2 - 160 h

German

24; 75

Management of finances

56

Accounting

72;120 ;310

Study course "Accountant",

310

Study course "Computer operator"

120

Accounting for small enterprises

40

Record keeping and office administration

40

Study course "Retail sales shop assistant"

368

Computer training for beginners

20 ;33

Automated design tools for everyday purposes and in solving engineering technical tasks on MASTERCAM basis

40

EXCEL for beginners

20

English in the UK  
Specialised courses in the UK  
Specialised courses in Latvia + practice in Germany  
The individual focus

Only employers provide employees with job and only employees who’s training is based on demand of employees have easier access to labour market and it is a reason for State Employment Service to make more active co-operation with employers. In 1996 the average number of enterprises giving data on vacancies was 822 per month but in 1997 their number reached 1055 and in the first quarter of 1998 is already 1300. Since 1994 twice a year local offices of State Employment Service carry out inquiry on employment situation in enterprises. 4500 enterprises are asked in January of 1997, 5100 in July of 1997 and in January of 1998 almost 6000. The inquiry of 1998 foreseen increasing the rate of employment about 0.2%.

The local offices of State Employment Service pay attention not only to statistical analysis but also try to work out employment promoting plan together with representatives of local municipalities. 26 districts and 7 cities is working out this plan for 1998.

State Employment Service co-operates with different state institutions, professional associations and educational establishments. The Consultative Committee for education establishments providing training for unemployed and disabled job-seekers was established in 1997.

For example, foot-wear enterprise "Daugava" provides with job all persons trained by Estate Employment service and successfully passed qualification exams (more than 200 employees during 1,5 year). For more productive co-operation State employment Service asks employers to register vacancies and inform about level of salaries.

Professional Career Counselling Centre - PCCC

The main organisation responsible for the vocational orientation and guidance is the Professional Career Counselling Centre, which works under the authority of the Ministry of Welfare's Labour Department. It was created 10 years ago and its main objective is to give consultations to students and unemployed persons on choices pertaining to questions of educational and professional decisions. Professional Career Counselling Centre has main office in Riga and 5 branches- in Daugavpils, Liepâja, Lîvâni, Rçzekne and Valmiera.

The Centre’s development plans include, along the already existing 5 branches, consultative chapters will be opened in all districts of Latvia.

Simultaneously it is currently fulfilling functions of methodical and co-ordination centre for professional orientation in Latvia.

The Centre’s basic activities are:

  • Student counselling, that is, assisting students to recognise their interests and abilities, introducing young people to profession content and forms of attaining a speciality and regulations and encouraging independent decision making in relation to their education and career selection.

In 1997 7000 school leavers was consulted by Professional Career Counselling Centre that is about 14% of students leaving schools (forms 9 and 12).

  • Unemployed consultation. The main objectives - to assist them in selecting the most suitable type of work in the case of re-qualification, as well as in mastering job searching methods and skills to present oneself to the employer. This work is done on contractual basis with the State Employment Service. The 2062 unemployed persons were consulted in 1996 Year, the 2407 in 1997 and already 1530 in the first half of 1998.
  • Co-ordination and teaching work in the field of professional orientation in Latvia. The Centre has worked out the Professional orientation concept for the Republic of Latvia, which was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in November of 1994. The centre provides training of VET teachers in vocational counselling and professional orientation. A programme has been worked out and teaching has been done for administrators of Job Searcher Clubs.
  • Scientific and methodological work - working out new methods of research and approbation, including the creating of a computerised data base. A profession register is created, where in a standardised way the working conditions are described and which contains psychological distinctions and the requirements of the employed person.

The counselling in the Centre is possible also for students of professional and higher education establishments, employed population and job seekers. The Centre has the mobile consultation group for students of schools in rural areas.

The main directions of PCCC are the following:

  • psychological counselling in the field of choice of education and profession and in the field of professional adequacy;
  • summarising information on educational establishments and educational programmes

The information on possibilities to acquire new profession or to improve professional skills is very important in the work with adults in the field of professional adequacy or professional counselling. It means that information on offer in the field of professional continuing training is an important part of the consultative work.

The data base on educational programmes and educational establishments in the field of secondary professional education, higher education, professional continuing training is formed and regularly updated by PCCC. This information is structured due to help visitors with multishaped representations in the field of acquiring skills, specialities, education providing firms.

For example, the training courses in Riga in 1998 are organised and offered in the following areas:

  • computer training (different kind) - organised by 30 educational firms,
  • accounting - 19 firms,
  • management/entrepreneurship - 19 firms,
  • English - 17 firms,
  • German - 14 firms,
  • secretary/office employee - 13 firms,
  • drivers- 13 firms,
  • hairdressers - 11 firms,
  • Latvian- 10 firms,
  • French- 9 firms,
  • waiters/barkeepers - 8 firms.

The unemployed is forwarded from State Employment Service. 44% of all unemployed seeking counselling are without professional education and the main problem for them is right choice of speciality and continuing training courses for acquiring this speciality. Other 56% of the unemployed had professional or higher education but they had difficulties to find job in their specialities. The main problem for them is:

  • choice of alternative speciality and appropriate training,
  • need for new skills in existing speciality regarding modern technologies (computer skills) or/and modern communication skills (language skills).

PCCC gives more consultations to unemployed women than men (percentage 83:17). It means that retraining and choice of continuing professional courses are more actual problems for women, or women are simply more active in looking for chances.

As a result of consultation, training of new speciality or improvement of skills for existing speciality are recommended for 62% of unemployed seeking consultation.

The main choices of the unemployed after consultations in such cases are the following:

  • secretary - 12%,
  • cooker/confectioner - 11%,
  • accountant - 10%,
  • salesman - 10%,
  • computer using - 9%,
  • entrepreneurship/management - 6%,
  • hairdresser -5%,
  • waiter/barkeeper -4%,
  • specialist of social care - 4%,
  • governor/ baby 4%,
  • carpenter 3%.

Very often after acquiring new professional skills people have difficulties to find a job. On the one hand, employers give priority to specialists with previous working experience, on the other hand job seekers miss skills necessary for job finding process and for presentation of their own professional potential during the interview with employer. This group of questions is discussed during consultations. A special seminar programme also is worked out by PCCC for acquisition of these skills.

Third Part: Presentation of concrete contexts where possible projects could start development process

Presently a major task in Latvia is to create a system for continuing vocational training, which would be open, flexible and accessible to:

  • persons on the labour market
  • person returning to the labour market after a longer break
  • persons in search of job
  • the unemployed

To this effect 2 relevant events recently took place in Latvia:

  1. A joint seminar of Chamber of Trade and Commerce (Latvia) and South Westfalen Chamber of Trade and Commerce (Hagen, Germany) on 10 September, 1998 - "The Role of CVT in the encouragement of entrepreneurship"
  2. A joint seminar on 23 September for University Rectors, Continuing Education Department directors and top and middle officials from the Ministry of Education and Science - on current needs analysis in University CVT services and on prospective development of National Strategy for restructuring University CVT services in compliance with modern developments in the labour market and in the context of the principles of lifelong learning.

During both seminars a decision was taken to organise further debate in October and November and make specific decisions and conclusions about the role of CVT in the Latvian educational system, about the aims and policy implementation instruments, about urgent developments in the system.

The seminar organised by the Chamber of Trade and Commerce concentrated less on Universities' CVT, it was dealing with a wide spectrum of representation from governmental, regional and non-governmental sector which allowed for drawing basic conclusions already at this stage of the discussion.

In order to develop a flexible continuing education system in the country, the following steps need to be taken:

1. It is necessary to identify CVT needs and fields. At this stage it is not an easy task to make a forecast of the professions in demand and CE directions, as no deep analyses has been made and information has not been collected in a systemic way. Therefore it is necessary to:

  • Organise a labour market research within branches
  • Collect a detailed information from the employment department and other state institutions

2. Programs in compliance with the labour market demand need to be developed, and quality needs to be assessed. To do this:

  • A closer link needs to be established between the employer and the educational workers
  • Employers' interest for development of programs needs to be fostered
  • Trainers need to acquire methodologies for work with adults

3. Adequate learning methods need to be implemented which would also increase the quality of CVT. To do this:

  • Acquisition of practical skills needs to be enhanced
  • Use of latest technologies and equipment needs to be encouraged
  • Flexible and distance education approaches need to be implemented on a broad scale and become routine practice in CVT

4. The potential clients must be provided with the necessary information:

  • The existing information data base on CVT needs to be up-dated
  • Information on CE services needs to be advertised more effectively
  • A system must to be created for acquiring information on specialities needed on the labour market
  • CVT Consultancy services for enterprises and employees need to be provided

5. CVT financing system needs to be created with built in incentives

  • Enterprises implementing educational projects must be given tax allowances
  • Employers must be given tax exemption on training fees
  • Trainers must be given adequate remuneration

6. Vocational training legislation needs to be harmonised

  • CVT structure and development models need to be specified
  • The tasks and responsibilities of those involved in CVT need to be defined - who can and may be offering CVT
  • A decentralised and flexible CVT system needs to be secured
  • Vocational Training Centre needs to be re-organised, so that it also fulfils the function of CVT centre

7. System for qualification certifying documents needs to be further developed

  • Branch qualification system needs to be developed
  • Evaluation criteria - qualification standards need to be developed, if a qualification is to be acquired during CVT process
  • The licensing and accreditation procedure needs to be secured
  • System for educational documents/certificates needs to be further developed

An important task in the national legislation is to develop a system for awarding CVT qualification documents. An educational establishments might be the ones issuing course certificates; those having taken an accredited program might be issued a diploma. In order to obtain a qualification certificate, an examination should be taken, the evaluation being done by independent commission.

It is of prime importance to organise in Latvia "CVT survey in Enterprises".

A work group needs to be created which would submit for discussion to the Tripartite Consulting Board and subsequently to the Cabinet of Ministers a proposal on tax allowances for those enterprises which are involved in educational process, and on employers tax exemption on training fees.

Fourth part: Conclusions and recommendations

Due to the situation in Latvia that currently a debate on CVT is ongoing and specific preliminary conclusions have been drawn during 2 seminars/debates of national importance (1) Chamber of Trade and Commerce and (2) University Sector - the points of view of competent national and regional authorities have been dealt with in Part Three of the current report. It should be noted that in both seminars senior and middle state and municipal administrators participated, as well as high rank representatives from employers' organisations, public organisations, universities, schools of higher education and other relevant institutions. Thus, in Fourth Part of the current report we will be dealing with proposals for ETF and NO network.

Proposals for ETF:

  1. Supporting the existing networks and developing co-operation between education providers and employers; stimulating also the involvement of employers' organisations
  2. Launching initiatives for restructuring higher education CVT services in compliance with the modern labour market developments and the principles of lifelong learning, especially through developing CVT programs in the newly born non-university sector of Latvia's higher education
  3. Assistance for CVT institutional development in an organised and systemic way
  4. Assistance in training of trainers in CVT (and in VET system as a whole), support for the development of CVT programs
  5. Exchange of international experience and dissemination of practice for CVT quality assurance in EU member states and beyond.

Proposals for NO network:

  1. To be involved in all the activities which have been formulated as proposals from Latvia to ETF

To act as a mediator between the ETF and national institutions

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