Latvian national Observatory report 2000
MODERNISATION OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING IN LATVIA

3.4.4. Social dialog and involvement of social partners

The role of social partners in development of VET is growing every year.

In 1993 the National Tripartite (employers, state and union organisations) Council for Co-operation (NTCC) began to function. The state is represented by the Ministries of Welfare, Economics, Finance, Justice, Agriculture, Education and Science and Environmental Protection and Regional Development. Employees’ interests are represented by the Latvian Confederation of Free Trade Unions in which 27 sectoral and professional unions are united, and employers are represented by the Latvian Employers Confederation in which 95 employers organisations are united. In 1999 the NTCC has established a sub-council - the Tripartite Council for Co-operation in Vocational Education whose mandate was expanded in 2000 with the establishment of the Tripartite Sub-council for Co-operation in Vocational Education and Employment.

The main functions of the sub-council are:

1. to review drafts of state development plans, concepts and normative acts concerning vocational education, human resource development and employment and draw up proposals for improvements;

2. to evaluate proposals and submit suggestions to state and non-government organisations dealing with vocational education and employment, concerning

  • effective use of financial resources for development of vocational education and human resources, promotion of employment;

  • the number of state financed students at vocational education (in regions and in total);

  • organisation of vocational guidance and counselling and continuing vocational training;

  • changes in the structure of the network of VET schools, training and examination centres (TEC), and other institutions dealing with VET;

  • elaboration and up-dating of educational programs and occupational standards;

  • organisation of graduation exams at VET schools and TEC, and awarding of professional qualifications;

  • organisation of licensing and accreditation.

3. to co-ordinate the foundation and activities of regional councils for co-operation in vocational education and employment;

4. to fulfil other tasks concerning vocational education, human resources development and employment.

In April, 2000 the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia passed the statutes of the Council for Co-operation in Vocational Education. This council includes one representative each of the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Economics, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Welfare, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Latvian Union of Local Governments, the Latvian Employers Confederation, the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Latvian Confederation of Free Trade Unions and one representative each of the vocational education establishments under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Council for Co-operation in Vocational Education is a public consultative and co-ordinating institution which has been established in order to promote co-operation among state and local government, employers and union organisations in making decisions concerning national policy and planning and implementation of strategy in vocational education.

The functions of the Council for Co-operation in Vocational Education are:

1) to draw up proposals concerning the improvement of vocational education policy and strategic planning,

2) to submit drafts of laws and other normative documents concerning vocational education

3) to develop the network of vocational education establishments, training and examination centres and other institutions linked to vocational education,

4) to co-ordinated the co-operation of ministries involved in the provision of vocational education.

In contrast to the Tripartite Sub-council for Co-operation in Vocational Education and Employment, the Council for Co-operation in Vocational Education includes also representatives from vocational education establishments.

3.4.5. Curriculum development

The Professional Education Centre (PEC) deals with accreditation of VET establishments and programmes.

If a private education institution wants to start work, it must be registered in the MoES register of education institutions. Then a licence must be received from the PEC. The licence gives the right to confer a certificate which attests to graduation from the establishment in question. To confer state recognised education documents, the institution must receive accreditation of educational programmes. To pass accreditation, education programmes must meet the requirements of the Law on Education and other normative acts. If a new programme is going to be opened, it also must receive accreditation. An accreditation of the institution as a whole is required in order to organise unified qualification exams.

Curricula are developed by vocational education establishments, based on guidelines established by the VCED and PEC, which are in turn harmonised with national standards for vocational and secondary vocational education. The drafting of occupational standards is organised by the PEC. Curriculum improvement and development is based on occupational standards, because these standards indicate labour market requirements for a certain occupation In March 2001, 12 occupational standards were registered in the Register of Occupational Standards. They were from such fields: computer sciences, public catering, wood processing and manufacture, metalwork and publishing.

The standard for vocational secondary education determines the following structure for curricula:
Secondary vocational education leading to a level 3 vocational qualification:

Relation of theory to practice is 50:50.
General subjects vs. professional subjects - 60:40.
Distribution of general subjects:

language and communications 45%,
math, natural sciences, technologies 33%,
social science and cultural studies 22%.

National graduation examinations take place in four general subjects and include a qualification exam. A programme of vocational education is considered to be completed if the student has received a final mark of not less than 4 - “almost satisfactory” - or “pass” in all of the subjects included in the programme, in the practical training activities and qualifying training placement; has passed the national graduation examinations for programmes of secondary vocational education, both subject exams and the qualification exam, with a mark not lower than 5 - “satisfactory”.

A programme of vocational secondary education is considered partially completed if the student has received final marks in all subjects included in the programme of study, has completed practical training activities and the qualifying work placement, and has partially passed the national graduation exams, that is the qualification exam, with a mark not lower than 5 - “satisfactory”.

The vocational education standard proscribes the following content for programmes of study:
Vocational education, leading to a level 2 vocational qualification:

Relation of theory to practice is 35:65,
General academic subjects vs. professional subjects - 60:40,
Distribution of general subjects:

language and communications 45%,
math, natural sciences, technologies 33%,
social science and cultural studies 22%.

The national graduation exam consists of the qualification exam.

A programme of vocational education is considered completed if the student, following completion of basic education, has undergone a programme of vocational education and has received a final mark in all subjects studied within the programme, in practical training activities and the qualifying work placement; has passed the national graduation exam for the vocational education programme, that is, the qualification exam, and has received a mark not lower than 5 - “average”.

3.4.6. Legislation

Vocational education in Latvia is regulated by the following laws passed by the Saeima (parliament):

The Law on Craftsmanship (1993), determines the basis for education in the crafts professions (including the apprenticeship system);

The Law on Education (1998) regulates the education system as a whole, determines the rights and responsibilities of the state, local governments, public organisations, professional associations, private persons, educational establishments, parents and teachers, as well as the types and levels of education and the types of educational establishments.

The Law on Vocational Education (1999) determines:

the principles of organisation and facilities for vocational education, and the principles for granting qualifications;

the division of tasks and competences and the relationships among the state, employers, teachers and students;

the paths leading to the acquisition of vocational education;

the principles of funding vocational education.

In 1999 - 2000 the following normative acts concerning vocational education were passed:

Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No. 302 (1999) “On the procedure for licensing general and vocational education programmes to be implemented by education establishments”, which determine the process by which the Ministry of Education and Science issues licences to education establishments for the provision of general education, vocational basic education, vocational education, vocational secondary education, first level higher vocational education, and continuing vocational education;

Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No. 400 (1999) “On the procedure for accreditation of general and vocational education programmes and establishments.” These regulations determine how education programmes for the achievement of general basic or secondary education, basic vocational education, vocational education, vocational secondary education or a state recognised qualification of level 2 or 3, as well as education establishments that deliver these programmes, are to be accredited.

Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No. 418 (1999) “On the procedure for the certification of directors of education establishments”. These regulations determine the process and goals of attestation of directors of basic vocational education and vocational secondary education establishments operated by state and local governments, as well as the categories of professional qualification to be granted and related salary bonuses.

Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No. 41 (2000) “On the procedure for conferring documents which attest to the acquisition of vocational education and qualifications as well as documents concerning the partial completion of an accredited programme of vocational education”. These regulations determine what kinds of certificates of vocational education and qualifications are to be issued in Latvia, and determine their form and content.

Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No. 73 (2000) “Regulations concerning teachers’ wages” determine a new procedure for the payment of teachers’ salaries.

Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No. 211 (2000) “Regulations on the national vocational secondary education standard and the national vocational education standard”. These regulations determine national standards for vocational education and vocational secondary education.

Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No 303 (2000) “Regulations on minimum expenses per one student for implementation of VET programmes.” These regulations determine minimum expenses per one student per one year for implementation of basic vocational, vocational, vocational secondary and first level higher professional education programmes.

Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No 304 (2000) “Regulations on occupational standards”. These regulations determine that the MoES is responsible for the register of occupational standards.

Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No 347 (2000) “Regulations on requirements for education and professional qualification of teachers.“ Concerning VET these regulations will be in force from September 1, 2004.

Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No 383 (2000) “Regulations on vocational qualifications, what can be acquired by passing unified qualification examinations”. These regulations name level 2 and 3 vocational qualifications what can be awarded only by passing unified qualification exams. They will be in force from September 1, 2001.

MoES Instruction No. 703 (1999) “On the confirmation of the Classification of Education of the Republic of Latvia”. The task of the Classification of Education of the Republic of Latvia is to establish a framework for the creation of a register of education programmes and to ensure the establishment of a unified statistical data base on education as well as a basis for comparison with the 1997 UNESCO International Standard Classification of Education and statistical data of other countries.

MoES Instruction No. 57 (2000) “Statutes on qualification exams for vocational education in industrial and crafts professions”. The statutes describe the organisation, process and funding of qualification exams and determine the range of students who are eligible to sit these exams.

3.4.7. Weaknesses, strengths and future government priorities for the IVET system

Strengths:

  • Legislation and normative acts are worked out according to EU requirements. This is a stable foundation for elaboration of education content meeting the demands of the labour market and for assurance of education quality.

  • IVET system is opened to all classes of society. It gives opportunity to youngsters more quickly become independent. Student incentives (dormitories, personal maintenance grants) involves to system students from low-income and vulnerable families. Remedial classes take back to educational system those who by any reason have dropped out.

  • Active and fanatical people work at VET schools, although the funding from state is low, they seek the opportunities for development. Part of schools participates in different international programmes obtaining new experience, methodologies and equipment. Different kinds of entrepreneurship are used to own extra money for development.

  • The cooperation with social partners is growing. Becoming economically more stable they can devote more attention to VET development. Employers begin to acknowledge that trained employees cannot appear of themselves.

Weaknesses

  • The IVET institutions are under different jurisdiction, and there is a lack of co-ordination between state institutions involved in VET. It hinders the process of reforms, as it is difficult to approximate opinions of different authorities, the state financing is not used goal-based.

  • The financing system of VET does not correspond to the demands of a modern VET system. The low salaries force teachers to seek for job outside educational system. The lack of good teachers and trainers is becoming a great problem for VET.

  • Great part of new enrolees enter VET schools with very low level of knowledge, as it is possible to acquire certificate of basic and general secondary education with marks - very, very poor in all subjects. The lack of prior knowledge doesn’t allow to follow the vocational programme, many students drop out because of poor progress in studies, but VET schools do not have funding to provide remedial courses for those who want to improve their knowledge.
  • The involvement of local government is weak. There are no plans for regional development. The youth is leaving regions.
  • There is no system that stimulates employers to fund IVET. There is no institution that promotes cooperation between schools and employers.

Government future priorities:

In the 1998 MoES adopted the Education Development Strategic Programme 1998 - 2003. In 2000 the MoES has worked out a new draft of the Education Development Programme. It states such priorities for development of VET:

The VET system reform priority is development of colleges and elaboration of necessary normative acts, as well as implementation of first level higher vocational programmes.

VET administration priorities are strengthening of social dialogue and co-ordination of mutual co-operation of ministries for effective and rational usage of state funding.

The VET content development priority is elaboration of occupational standards and draft educational programmes.

The VET quality provision system priority is implementation of unified qualification exams in all state, municipal or private VET establishments, both for IVET and CVT.

 

Back to table of contents                                To next chapter