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

3.5. Modernisation of continuing vocational training (CVT)

In order to move toward an open and democratic society, life long learning opportunities must be provided for adults, so that they may acquire experience that will allow them to evaluate situations from all aspects and act freely and appropriately. Today people have understood that continuing education offers a new level of freedom, both in terms of self-expression and in terms of guaranteed social status. This has been proven by the constant increase in demand for continuing education.

3.5.1. CVT provision (from the supply side perspective)

In 1999, according to data of the Ministry of Education and Science, 210,777 participants attended adult continuing education programmes (201,910 in 1998). All together 6,044 training programmes were on offer (3,012 in 1998). The greatest number of students is ages 18-40. Courses of short duration are most popular.

As can be seen, the most programmes are offered in social sciences - these are programmes having to do with entrepreneurship, for example, bookkeeping and taxes, real-estate brokerage, changes in legislation.

Continuing vocational education programmes are offered by state and local government as well as private providers and non-government organisations. A total of 390 education establishments in Latvia provide continuing education, of these 72 are Ministry of Education and Science licensed vocational and continuing education establishments.

The main providers of continuing education are:

· Private education institutions;

· Line ministries and organisations subordinated to or co-operating with them, for example, MoES Teacher Training Support Centre, the Ministry of Agriculture Latvian Agricultural Consultation and Education Support Centre, the Ministry of Welfare Medical Professional Education Centre etc.

· Continuing education departments and university distance education centres;

· Enterprise training centres;

· Professional associations, e.g., the Latvian Medical Association and the Latvian Chamber of Crafts;

· Regional Adult Education Centres;

· Folk schools.

The largest providers of continuing education have united in the Latvian Association of Adult Education and the Latvian Association of Adult Economic Education.

Some continuing education courses are also provided through distance learning.

3.5.2. CVT provision (from the demand side perspective)

In 1999 by data of CSB the greatest number of enrolees were in such adult education programmes: transport services (which include driver courses); emergency aid (it is compulsory for new drivers); economic education (it includes different business courses); teacher training and language courses.

Each year there is an increase in the number of persons involved in continuing education. By data of CSB the number of enrolees in adult education in 1996 was 100800 (8% of economically active population), in 1999 - 210777 (17,5%). But the data of CSB show only the approximate number of enrolees, as continuing training not always can be separated from practical work. Courses are most often attended by persons with a higher education background who are motivated not to lose their professional skills and continuously acquire new knowledge (see fig 12.).

It is interesting that according to the results of the 1999 Central Statistics Bureau Labour Force Survey, 47% of all job seekers had an incomplete basic, a basic or a general secondary education, that is, they had no professional background. However, this group represents only 28% of the total number of persons who are involved in continuing education programmes. While in November of 1999, 9.7% of job seekers had completed higher education, and among those who attended continuing education programmes 35% were holders of higher education diplomas. This indicates that more must be done in order to raise the general level of education of the population, because people of no particular professional background have difficulty becoming involved in continuing education, as they have no skills to up-grade and the learning process itself causes them difficulty.

3.5.2.1. Participation of employed in vocational training sponsored by enterprises

CSB in cooperation with Leonardo da Vinci programme is carrying out survey on vocational training sponsored by enterprises. The results will be available approximately in March, 2001.

Since there are no normative acts to stimulate employers to sponsor the continuing education of their employees, then it is currently up to the free will of employers, and each decides individually how much and whether at all to invest in the continuing education of staff.

3.5.2.2. Participation of unemployed in vocational training

The vocational training and retraining of registered unemployed is financed by the state and organised by the State Employment Service (SES). To ensure selection of the most efficient and high-quality providers of vocational training and retraining for the unemployed, calls for tender are organised which are open to state (43% of participants) and private (57% of participants) education establishments. In order to compete for state funding the education establishment must be accredited.

Compared to 1998, in 1999 there has been an increase in the number of training establishments which participate in calls for tender, as well as an increase in the number of programmes offered.

In 1999 29,395 (4.9 thousands more than in 1998) unemployed persons wished to acquire a new or to raise an existing qualification. In the limits of state funding only 33% of them were supplied with training.

Since training and retraining can only be provided for part of the unemployed who wish to learn, a new procedure for opening classes was implemented in 1999. Prior to the beginning of the course, the unemployed persons’ professional knowledge and suitability to the chosen profile was evaluated using tests. According to test results, specialists from training establishments and the SES selected the most suitable candidates for participation in classes.

In 1999 the largest number of unemployed persons was trained in the following profiles in demand on the labour market: 788 bookkeepers, 653 dressmakers, 633 computer operators, 526 sales clerks, 509 cooks. In total in 1999 13,088 unemployed persons graduated training courses and 50.6% of them have found employment.

Almost half of the unemployed (47%), who were trained through the SES had no professional background, 52% were in the age group 30 to 49, and 25% in the age group 18 to 25.

In 1999 the number of long-term unemployed persons involved in vocational training decreased by 10%. As such people have difficulty to adapt to the new economic conditions, it is useful to send them to vocational training only after enrolment in other active employment measures (e.g., job seekers clubs or paid temporary public services).

3.5.2.3. Participation in individually motivated vocational training (adult education)

Each year the number of individually motivated participants of continuing education programmes increases, which can be seen from the increase in the proportion of participants’ fees in the funding of continuing education.

Participation in individually motivated continuing education in large part is related to participation in personal development or hobby courses. In Latvia there are 6 folk schools operating in rural regions with the goal of providing rural residents with a well-rounded education. The folk schools try to continue the traditions established in the period of the first Republic, i.e. the development of civic education.

In Riga and other large cities there are many training centres that specialise in providing certain skills, for example, language centres, computer centres, etc. As they are interested in attracting as many participants as possible, the courses are offered both in the mornings and in the evenings, and on week-ends, and it is possible to arrange individual tuition at a convenient time - it all depends on the participant’s financial capacity.

The fact that state funding is mainly expended on retraining of the unemployed leads to the commercialisation of continuing education, and only persons who are capable of paying for their education can participate in individually motivated continuing education, while the rest must wait until they become unemployed.

3.5.3. Responsible bodies

Since a law on adult education (note: adult education in the Latvian context is understood as any education pursued by adult persons, and is not equated to literacy and numeracy courses, as in adult basic education) has not yet been passed, the responsibility of institutions is not yet legally defined.

The Law on Education prescribes that local governments organize adult education. There are Adult education centres in every region.

Professional associations, chambers are responsible for continuing education of their members, as they deal with rights for practicing in defined occupation (issuing of certificates etc.).

Ministry of Education and Science issues licences and accredits the institutions of continuing vocational training which can award officially recognized vocational qualification.

Ministry of Welfare is responsible for training of unemployed and disabled.

The coordination between different authorities is weak.

3.5.4. Financing

Funding for adult education is increasing annually. In 1999 it was 11,568,886 LVL, which was an increase of 3%, compared with 1998. State budget funds make up approximately 48% of all funding for adult education; state funds are spent mostly on training for the unemployed.

In 1999, as compared to 1998, funding for continuing education from employers has decreased, while funding from participants has increased, which means that individually motivated adult training is increasing, because employers give preference to already trained staff. Employers do sponsor further training for their employees, which is in the interests of the enterprise, but they do not wish to train persons who have no basic knowledge.

3.5.5. Social dialogue and involvement of social partners

Co-operation between the government and the public is co-ordinated by the Tripartite Council for Co-operation in Vocational Education and Employment (see section 3.4.4).

Since legislation does not assist employers who make efforts to invest in continuing education, then employers are more interested in training their current staff than in development of the system as a whole.

Professional associations are interested in the continuing education of their members and in the evaluation of their skills, as they are interested in the development of an open and fair labour market.

3.5.6. Curricula development

The educational establishments are responsible for curricula development.

MoES have developed requirements for curriculum, at the beginning of 2001 they are handed in the Cabinet of Ministers for approval. The duration of CVT programmes must be 1/3 of the same level full- time vocational programmes. The unified qualification exams that lead to level 2 and 3 vocational qualifications will be introduced starting from September 2001. They will be unified for both IVET and CVT graduates.

3.5.7. Assessment and certification of the skills (including access to formal qualifications and diplomas)

An examination of curriculum content and skills testing in continuing education must take into account that adult education includes both formal and informal education. Formal education leads to the conferral of a state recognised diploma. Informal education includes both courses aimed at meeting labour market needs, following the latest technologies, and hobby courses. The greater part of continuing vocational education is precisely informal education, which ensures that persons do not lose their qualifications and acquire new knowledge.

Figure 14: The scheme of CVT

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Only programmes of continuing vocational training which have been accredited by the Ministry of Education and Science lead to a certificate of vocational qualification. The accreditation procedure evaluates the quality of implementation of the vocational education programme.

Officially recognised education in a crafts profession can be obtained by taking a journeyman’s or master craftsman’s qualifying exam at the Latvian Chamber of Crafts (LCC). Based on the 1993 Law on Craftsmanship the state has given the LCC the right to evaluate the level of vocational qualification of craftsmen in 159 vocations and to confer a document attesting to the corresponding level of professional knowledge. Qualifying examinations are organised and implemented by the professional associations within the Latvian Chamber of Crafts.

If a journeyman has worked for 5 years in his trade, then he can apply for a master’s examination, and upon passing the examination (creation of a masterpiece and a test of theoretical knowledge), can receive a master craftsman’s diploma. By mid-year in 2000 the LCC had also conferred 30 honorary master craftsman’s diplomas, which are bestowed on persons who have worked over 40 years in their trade and have made significant contributions to the training of apprentices.

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