The Role of the Social Partners in the Development of
Vocational Education in Latvia


This report is elaborated with the financial support of European Training Foundation.

Elaboration of the report was organised by Latvian National Observatory

This report does not represent the official opinions of European Training Foundation or Latvian National Observatory, but the one(s) of its authors who represent different social partner institutions.

(c) Latvian National Observatory
(c) European Training Foundation
(c) Inese Pūkaine, Irena Rudzate, Baiba Ramina, Inta Paeglite

Riga, 1997

Final version was written and edited by:

Inta Paeglite

Free Trade Union Federation, director of training centre

Inese Pukaine

Latvian Employers Confederation, assistant-director general

Irena Rudzate

Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, head of training centre

VET-related information was gathered, analyzed and supplied by

Baiba Ramina

National Observatory of Latvia, researcher

Also participated in drafting the answers:

Aris Bisers

Ministry of Education and Science, head of Department of Professional Education

Vija Galvina

Firm "Grindeks", head of training division

Janis Gutbergs

State Employment Service, head of division

Peteris Malzobs

Enterprise Support Centre, director

Dzintra Tillere

Ministry of Education and Science, deputy director of Professional Education Centre

Maija Upmane

Ministry of Education and Science, head of Adult education division

 

List of acronyms

LBAS

Free Trade Union Federation

LDDK

Latvian Employers Confederation

LCCI

Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

ESC

Enterprises Support Centre

SMEs

Small and medium enterprises

VET

Vocational education and training

 

Summary

Latvia like other Eastern European countries does not have a long tradition of social dialogue. Under the socialist regime all the system of social protection was highly centralised and strictly administrated. Many changes have occurred in the new independent Republic of Latvia. Basic principles of creating of social dialogue are determined by several legislative documents.

Free Trade Union Federation (LBAS) and Latvian Employers Confederation (LDDK) were established after the renewal of independence. They take part in creating of the new legislation in the field of social policy. The appropriate draft laws are discussed in the tripartite consultative council with participation of LBAS and LDDK.

The consultative council of the social partners operates at 5 levels:

- legislative level;

- executive level;

- interest level;

- professional level;

- enterprise level.

 

In some cases the local governments organise local tripartite bodies, which study employment problems, education of unemployed as well as the demand for definite professions in their territory.

The social dialogue in vocational education at the level of branches is at its initial stage whereas the process of social dialogue at the level of enterprises and firms is closely linked to the collective agreements concluded.

The workshop organised by Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry with participation of the main interested organisations could be considered as the starting point of social dialogue in vocational education.

Social partner organisations - Latvian Confederation of Employers, Free Trade Union Federation are represented in the Working group for drafting of the new concept on the vocational education. These organisations have co-operation projects with foreign partners of different countries and it is of good help to use their experience in reforming the vocational system in Latvia.

Involvement of social partners in vocational education is connected with the promotion of entrepreneurship in the country and formation of unified vocational system.

I Introduction : General overview on the role of social partnership

Legal framework

Since regaining of political independence in 1991, transition from the planned economy to the free market economy has begun. Before 1991 industrial enterprises in Latvia were oriented to operate with the huge Soviet market. Their growth created a great demand in labour force that was recruited in the republics of the former USSR.

The initial phase of the market economy was followed by an unexpectedly great decline of production and further on the living standard of several categories of population dropped. Under the socialist regime all the system of social protection was highly centralised. In Latvia, as well as in other countries with economies in transition, the whole system concerning labour relations has to be changed and transformed. There are a lot of new labour laws and regulations in the pipeline. The most important legislative project in the field is the new Labour Code of the Republic of Latvia which will probably come in force in the nearest months. Other laws and regulations have to be revised - some simply don't work, some are a relict of the Soviet Union laws. At present, there are no special Labour Courts in Latvia. At a situation where the legal basis is often unclear or contradictory, and the relevant institutions are just in the process of being developed, much depends on good-will of all the involved sides. The concept of 'social dialogue', the general idea of some "institutionalised" exchange of opinions among the social partners themselves and the state, as a moderator. Basic principles of creating of the social dialogue are determined by several legislative acts: Labour Code of the Republic of Latvia, the Law on Collective Bargaining, the Decree No.70- r of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia on the Tripartite Consultative Council of Employers, State and Trade Union."

Labour relations are regulated by the Constitution, the Constitutional Law "Rights and duties of Inhabitants and Citizens", Labour Code of the Republic of Latvia as well as Laws "On Employment"," On Medical and Social Protection of Disabled People"," On Social Security", "On Non-governmental organisations", "On Trade Unions", "On Safety at a Working Place", "On State Civil Service" and collective bargaining.

Regulation of activities of social partners organisations

Tripartite Consultative Council of Employers,
State and Trade Union.

In Latvia the principles of social partnership are implemented by the three main partners - the Government, Employers and Workers. On October 19,1993 the Tripartite Consultative Council of Employers, State and Trade Union whose activities are regulated by its Statutes was set up following the Decree No. 70-r of the Cabinet of Ministers of LR. Tripartite Consultative Council is the highest body of tripartite framework. This is a result of the composition of the Council where- generally- besides the Minister (of Welfare) himself, the President and Vice-Presidents of both social partner organisations (LDDK and LBAS ) are included.

The Tripartite Consultative Council has mainly the umbrella function for the Latvian tripartite system. The planned frequency of the Council meetings was roughly ten times a year, but this objective was not possible to achieve because of the restructuring of the ministries.

The responsibility for organising the meetings of the Tripartite Councils, lies with a permanent secretariat and a secretary (a civil servant of the Ministry of Welfare).

Tasks of the Tripartite Council are :

    • to analyse the social economic situation in the country;
    • to analyse and prepare proposals for submission to the Council of Ministers for labour and socio-economic legislation acts.

The Parliament passes plenty of normative acts and the objective of the Tripartite Council is to harmonise the interests of all the three partners and to make decisions binding for all the three partners- workers, employers and the government in order to reduce social strain in the country.

The Tripartite Council is a co-ordinating, consultative institution made of the representatives of employers', Trade Unions and the Government. It can be a mediator in the conflict situations between partners, reconsider issues of social- economic development if some of partners would like submit to the Council. It functions independently and in its functioning it complies with the legislation of the Republic of Latvia, legislative documents of the Council of Ministers, ILO Conventions and Recommendations, which have been ratified by the Republic of Latvia and with its own Statutes.

The Tripartite Council is based upon the agreement of the three partners and its decisions are binding for all the three parties. The Tripartite Council has the right to submit proposals to the Council of Ministers regarding improvement of legislation. Decisions of the Tripartite Council are of recommending nature.

The Tripartite Council consists of 12 representatives from all the three partners (plus "external" experts). The Chairperson of the Tripartite Council is a representative of the government - the Minister of Welfare. It has also helpful that all the three partners have been and are participating in the ILO annual Conferences and other meetings held by International Labour Office.

Representatives of the Government- are appointed by a Decree of the Council Ministers of Republic of Latvia and they are the following : State Minister of Self-government Affairs, Adviser to the Council of Ministers on Welfare Affairs, State Secretaries of Economy, Finance, Communication, Justice, Environment and Regional Development, Education and Science, Agriculture Ministries, Director of Labour Department of Welfare Ministry, Director of the State Labour Inspection.

Representatives of Employers and Trade Union sides are appointed by resolutions of top executive bodies of these organisations.

Representatives of Employers- are represented at the Council by the Latvian Employers Confederation ( LDDK ), which is the head organisation for employers in Latvia.

Representatives of Workers - are represented by the Free Trade Union Federation of Latvia (LBAS).

2. The Social Security Consultative Council of Employers, Employees and the Government was set up on August 26, 1994.

The general direction of the Latvian social insurance system was mainly discussed in the Social Security Consultative Council of Employers, Employees and the Government. Discussions at the meetings of this Council included questions regarding fulfilment of the social insurance budget in the state, collection of social taxes. The speed of changes in this area can be demonstrated by the fact that seven new laws have been adopted since 1995.

3. The Labour Protection Council of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia, Trade Union and Employers was set up on May 17, 1994.

The Labour Protection Council consists of 15 members, five are nominated from each side. The frequency of the meetings is similar to those of the Tripartite Consultative Council. The activities of the Council have lead to practical results and improvements. "Regulations on Elections of Shop Stewards and Activities of Bilateral Co-operation Institutions" has been approved by the Council, an agreement has been reached to propose to the Tripartite Consultative Council to list all the mandatory labour safety activities in the collective agreements, standardisation program of state labour safety has been approved, etc. Being less "political" than the Tripartite Consultative Council, the Labour Council has been able to establish itself as an advisory group for "technical questions" in a very broad scope of questions regarding labour, labour safety and labour standards.

As a consequence to the fact, that topics which are dealt by the different tripartite councils are mainly related to legislation, which, naturally, has to be nation-wide, all these tripartite bodies mentioned above in Latvia are organised at the national level exclusively.

Self-governments have set up local tripartite councils, which participate in the development of the regional employment policy programs and training of the unemployed in their administrative territory.

Structure of Organisations

TRADE UNIONS

In contrary to most other countries in transition, where itis quite usual that on an overall level the trade union organisation is fragmented into many confederations, in Latvia one main trade union organisation has survived.

Employees are represented by the Free Trade Union Federation of Latvia (LBAS) to have a dialogue with the Government and with Latvian Employers Confederation concerning social- economic and labour legislation issues. This new independent trade union organisation was established at the beginning of the 90's. It "replaced" the Trade Unions of the soviet period, which were founded in May 1945. The new union organisation LBAS re-defined its functions and declared its independence from all the political parties and it is organised democratically. LBAS has democratic Statutes and it is independent of any direct influence of the state.

LBAS is a member of the Baltic Trade Union Council and it participates in the activities of ILO. LBAS membership is voluntary. LBAS is the largest trade union centre in Latvia. At present, LBAS unites some 29 member organisations. Most of the individual unions are based in industry and agriculture Employees in the civil service form the second biggest group. As a general principle, there is a branch orientation. For 1996, LBAS acccounts for 3.300 local trade union organisations in enterprises and public institutions. The main legal basis for Trade Union activities is the "Law on Trade Union" of 13 December,1990. Congress holds the highest decision making power. The structure of LBAS is shown in Annex.

Free Trade Union training centre is a structural unit of Free Trade Union Federation. Its main objectives are, firstly, training of employees and leaders of affiliates in order to develop their level of qualification and, secondly, co-ordination of educational activities among participating organisations. The training centre carries out different training programmes and prepares methodical materials.

Employer's Organisations

One of the main problems of Employer's Organisations is that the organisations as such as well as their functions and purpose, are virtually unknown by the public. This is not surprising, since genuine employers who have been independent from the state didn't exist before the beginning of the transformation process.

In Latvia, the Latvian Employers Confederation (LDDK) was founded in Mid 1993 as an umbrella organisation of several branch associations. Its two founding organisations are the Latvian Employers Central Union (the organisation of state-enterprises) and the Latvian Private Enterprise Union.

One of the main functions of a Western European Employers' Confederation is to co-ordinate and to organise the collective bargaining process. It should be noted that the whole system, the machinery and procedures for collective bargaining at a branch or at national level are still at the very beginning in Latvia. Therefore, one of the tasks of the Confederation (LDDK) is to help to establish "the system". Specific legislation may be needed for that purpose. This should also ease the build-up of the employers' framework at different levels.

Employers in this partnership process are represented by Latvian Employers Confederation (LDDK). LDDK was registered in the Register of non-governmental organisations of Ministry of Justice of Latvia as a non-governmental organisation onSeptember 6, 1993. It was registered in the International Employers' Organisation (IOE) on June 6,1994 and it became a member of the International Labour Organisation. LDDK activities are based on its Statutes and the law "On Non-Governmental Organisations". The law "On Employer's Organisations" is submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers of LR for reviewing and passing to the Saeima (the Parliament). LDDK membership is voluntary. General Assembly holds the highest decision making authority. It is convened once in two years, it elects the President, Vice Presidents and the Board which is operating in between General Assemblies. The structure of LDDK is shown in the Annex.

 

In contrary to the most of the Central and East European countries, in Latvia, there is, at the overall level, only one main Employers' Confederation which is also a member of the International Organisation of Employers. This doesn't exclude other groups and business organisations, which may have, to a certain degree, similar objectives. As wel as in other countries in transition, a special organisation for state-run companies has been founded- "The Confederation of Industrialists of Latvia" and has, above all, "industrial interests". It can be mentioned that with the ongoing privatisation process, the (former) state-managers are losing influence. One important group of business organisations in the countries in transition consists of the various chamber organisations. The focus of these organisations is trade and commercial interests.

The Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry(LCCI) is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation that represents the economic interests of entrepreneurs of Latvia and promotes entrepreneurship. LCCI is the member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Corresponding member of Eurochambers and the member of the Baltic Sea Chamber of Commerce Association. The Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chamber of Craft don't conclude some kind of common agreements with trade unions, they practically do not claim to represent their members in their capacity as employers. Most of the bigger Latvian enterprises are members of Latvian Employers Confederation and the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry but it could be noted that 80% of all members of LCCI are SMEs.

Representation at a national, sectoral, regional, company level

The Free Trade Union Federation of Latvia (LBAS) and Latvian Employers Confederation are recognised as social partners' organisations by the Cabinet of Ministers of LR (the Decree No.70-r of the Cabinet of Ministers of LR, 1993).

LBAS - is the greatest trade union centre in Latvia, it unites 29 sectoral trade union organisations and represents 258 000 employed people (total number of employed people in Latvia is approx. 1 million ). It comprises 26 regional and urban trade union centres, 29 member organisations and 3300 local organisations. LBAS represents employees at:

    • Commissions of Saeima (the Parliament),
    • Committee of the Cabinet of Ministers of LR,
    • Tripartite Consultative Council of Employers, Cabinet of Ministers of LR and Trade Union,
    • Social Security Consultative Council of Employers, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia and Trade Union,
    • Labour Safety Council of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia, Trade Union and Employers.

 

LDDK- unites more than 80 individual entities and joint- ventures, 16 sectoral and regional associations, nearly all branches and sectors are represented. One fifth of LDDK members have their main business in agriculture and forestry - wood processing is quite important sector at the economy for Latvia. For this reason the LDDK member organisation with the biggest number of individual members - more than 400, is based there.

Roughly 30% of members are based in the manufacturing industry (electrical engineering, pharmaceuticals) and construction, one fifth comes from transport and tourism, the rest are financial services (insurance, banks). Mostly, the market leaders are members of the confederation. Total membership is approx. 330 000 working places. Members are drawn from all kinds of organisations. LDDK unites employers of private, state and joint- venture companies as well as sectoral and regional employers organisations.

LDDK is represented in :

Commissions of Saeima (the Parliament);

Committee of the Council of Ministers;

Tripartite Consultative Council of Employers, State and Trade Union;

Social Security Consultative Council of Employers, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia, and Trade Union;

Labour Safety Council of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia, Trade Union and Employers.

Terms of Representation of Social Partners

Consultative representation of the social partners is at 5 levels:

-legislative power (the Saeima);

-executive power (the Council of Ministers);

-related issues (labour safety, social security, professional training);

-professional and sectoral level;

-company level.

 

Representation is based on ILO Conventions and Recommendations ratified by Saeima :

    • Convention No.144 "On Tripartite Consultations Promoting Introduction of International Labour Standarts",1976,
    • Convention No.87 "On Freedom of Association and Protection of Rights to Establish Organisations", 1948,
    • Convention No.98 "On the Rights to establish Organisations and Conclude Collective Bargaining ",1949.

Predominant Forms of Social Dialogue

(collective bargaining, participation in tripartite bodies, etc.)

In the context of social dialogue, Free Trade Union Federation and Latvian Employers Confederation take part in the development of social policy in the country, including legislation on employment and regulation issues. The following documents are signed between these bodies :

General Agreement on Basic Principles of Social Partnership, 22 July, 1996;

General Agreement on Minimum Wages, 19 February, 1997;

Agreement on Training in Labour Safety, 13 May, 1997.

 

Tripartite Consultation Councils are acting at the following levels:

  • national ;
  • related issues (labour safety, social security);
  • professional / sectoral;
  • company level.

 

Important Issues on which Social Dialogue is focusing

A variety of issues have been covered on the basis of social dialogue and social partnership. The following issues and legislative documents are included :

  1. Law on Social Security;
  2. Law on the State Pensions;
  3. Law on Social Tax;
  4. Law on Maternity and Sickness Benefits;
  5. Law on Social Assistance;
  6. Law on the Private Pensions Funds;
  7. Law on Mandatory Social Insurance against Unemployment;
  8. Law on Employment;
  9. Law on Mandatory Social Insurance against Work Injuries and Occupational Diseases;
  10. Law on Vocational Education and Training;
  11. Labour Code of Republic of Latvia;
  12. Law on Arbitration ;
  13. Law on Strikes;
  14. Provisions on Employment Procedure for Foreigners and Non-citizens ;
  15. Provisions on Instructions of Labour Safety ;
  16. Methodology of Assessment of Manual Labour and defining of Qualification Categories;
  17. Provisions on Compensation of Work Injuries;
  18. Provisions on Procedure of Investigation and Registration of Accidents Caused by Dangerous Equipment ;
  19. Law on Employers Organisations, etc.

II General situation regarding the involvement
of Social Partners in VET

Legal framework

The Concept and the draft Law on Vocational Training have been recently submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers of LR. These will form the actual legal basis for the involvement of social partners in VET.

On the way to free market economy VET system should also undergo changes in order to become flexible concerning the demands of the labour market. Unfortunately, the development of entrepreneurship and economic situation are far ahead the VET reform, thus forming a gap between the labour market and potential of vocational education and training system. VET should become an integral part of the free market economy.

Forms, levels, fields and issues of involvement

Analysing the present situation concerning the involvement of social partners in VET, one can see that it is not sufficient in many forms and levels.

The reason for this could be related to mutual lack of information and interest, but the reason is misunderstanding of the role, place and meaning of social partners in VET. This could be explained by the fact that the new-type relationships between employers and workers, as well as the co-operation between social partners and educational institutions are a completely new form of co-operation, which was not present in the previous system. It could however be mentioned that the role and impact of trade unions in VET used to be comparatively great in the previous system due to the involvement of trade unions at many levels of VET.

Relationships between the employers and employees have changed radically. The employers are looking for an employee who has :

  • comprehensive professional skills ( vocational education and training) ;
  • decision making skills (general education);
  • communication and know-how delivering skills.

 

The nature of the skills requested has changed as well:

- Demands for qualified employees and wide-profile specialists has increased;

- Development of technologies has led to changes in the essence of work;

- in SME the management structure is not very hierarchical which leads to higher responsibility for all the staff.

From that one could draw a conclusion : the higher qualification = the higher payment; the higher payment = the higher productivity.

The social partners, employers and employees, are both interested in In the working process, which in turn is inevitably related to the vocational education and training and its further development.

To successfully involve social partners in the development of VET, it is necessary to support the stability of entrepreneurship. To implement this objective it is necessary:

- to know conditions for improvement of entrepreneurship and economic situation;

- to determine the main priorities of national economy and to plan the development of the new sectors of national economy;

- to develop co-operation programmes between the Government and employers.

 

To provide development of VET system and involvement of social partners in this process it is necessary:

to have a uniform VET system linked to the general education system.

 

1.Legal basis.

The Draft Law and the Concept on Vocational Education and Training.

Purpose - development of a Concept for VET which would make a uniform education system together with adult professional education, general and higher education, thus providing options for a life-long education. On the basis of this Concept legal basis has to be adopted which would provide functioning of the VET system, specify duties and rights of all the entities involved in VET.

Social partners- are included in the preparation of this Draft Law for VET system.

Institutional reforms

Establishment of a National Educational Council including representatives of different education levels and social partners.

Objectives -

1) specification of functions and duties of the partners,

2)VET strategy,

3)co-operation with educational institutions of other levels,

4) research of the labour market.

Purpose- to organise VET infrastructure.

 

Social partners

- nominate their representatives to the National Educational Council;

- consult working groups for the preparation of new standards;

- participate in financing and preparation of new curricula;

- provide in-company training;

- support teachers qualification;

- inform about new technologies;

- together with the support institutions develop qualification descriptions and tests.

Involved organisations

The development of involved organisations should be favoured by assigning financial resources. The functions and duties of these organisations have to be defined. Mechanisms for close co-operation between VET and social partners, thus providing functioning and development of VET have to be formed instead of just episodic co-operation with the social partners. All of the organisations mentioned above are involved in the drafting on new law on professional education.

Distribution of tasks within the various interest groups has to be specified:

  1. sectoral employer's organisations deal with analysis and studies of their specific interests;
  2. Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is involved in education on specialities pertaining to business and economics. Like in most of the Chambers of Commerce of EU countries (Germany, France, Spain etc.) vocational education is one of the main priorities of LCCI. The commission on vocational education was established within the Board of the LCCI in 1995. Vocational education is also one of the priorities of the co-operation project between LCCI and Southwestfalen (Germany) Chamber of Commerce (1997-2000). The activities of LCCI in VET is reflected in Annex.
  3. Latvian Self-Government Association participates in the specification of the regional development tendencies so that particular regional needs for VET are met;
  4. LEC is involved in labour policy studies, i.e. together with the support institutions it defines and implements curricula complying with the state-of-the-art in the labour market.
  5. Latvian Chamber of Craft is involved in the professional education by a Law on craftsmanship adopted in 1993. Trade education and craftsman qualification can obtain in state or private trade schools or in the craftsmanship enterprises under guidance of craftsman. The training programmes are worked out and affirmed by co-operation between Chamber of Craft and ministry of Education and Science. Latvian Chamber of Craft is involved in drafting of new law on professional education.

The Labour Market

There is a need to pursue research concerning the labour market needs, results of such a research would be the basis for the further development of the future curricula. Such studies so far have been pursued out by State Statistics Committee of LR, namely, "Labour Force Survey" and Latvian Employers Confederation has carried out two surveys "Professions and Specialities Required on the Labour Market" and "Labour Market and VET". LEC has also undertaken information gathering among the entrepreneurs for "Compliance of Profession Classificator of LR with the Needs of the Labour Market".

Educational system is the basis for one's entrance into the labour market. General situation in the labour market depends on the accuracy and orientation of VET. The feedback from the educational system to the labour market and further on to the whole labour system has to be integrated, nonce individual functioning of any of these segments would cut off the interaction, consequently, the quality of the result is decreased.

The two before mentioned systems - the educational system and the labour market system - are not operating autonomously, they are both closely related to the national economy and its changes.

Due to this, it is necessary to establish information exchange between the two systems. It can be defined by an explicit national program which would set the demands of the labour market and main directions of development of VET.

The economic system in its turn influences two other systems - political and social, as political changes lead to changes of the Government's policy, which inevitably will affect the educational system and the labour market. Political, economic and social systems together form this complex mechanism where the educational system and the demand of the labour market has to interact. Specification of the needs of labour market has to be done in two directions :

a) studies of traditional businesses in the labour market in Latvia;

b) development tendencies of new businesses and sectors.

Purpose- to establish a mechanism of close co-operation between professional education system and social partners, which by self- regulation would provide functioning and development of VET.are maintained carried out by the Professional Education Centre of Medicine under the supervision of the Ministry of Welfare. Through this register the employers can at any time obtain information regarding both the really working and the potentially working middle-level medical persons including their education level and improving of skills.

 

Register

beginning

registered persons on October, 1997

Nurses

01.01.1995

13230

Nurses for dentists (included in nurses register)

30.09.1996

 

Doctor's assistant

08.02.1996

1730

Cosmeticians

08.02.1996

253

Midwives

30.09.1996

570

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

Curricula, development, implementation and teachers qualification

Purpose - to have standard classification of professional curricula in Latvia complying with the UNESCO standard classification of professional curricula( ISCED).

Objectives:

- development of a standard classification of curricula in Latvia corresponding to the labour market,

- creation uniform entrance regulations,

- creation of uniform examination methods,

- improvement of teacher qualification,

- establishment of methodological centres providing methodological support for schools and social partners.

Social partners - together with the methodological centres:

  • participate in the development, improvement and elaboration of new description of professions;
  • consult development of new education standards;
  • provide quality of in-company training programmes;
  • inform about the current development tendencies in technologies;
  • participate in the assessment of students qualification;
  • provide practical training of VET pedagogues.

 

Structure of educational establishments (please see education scheme in Annex)

Purpose - to reduce the number of and to rearrange the schools of low output quality, concentrating financial resources and forming Professional Training Centres.

Social partners - are involved in a well-developed investment policy and provide in-company training facilities.

Principles of financing

Purpose - to work out new financing principles for VET, based on:

1) the State Budget;

2) financial resources of employers;

3) investment within framework of international co-operation.

To achieve this it is necessary to :

  • work out stimulation and motivation principles for employers;
  • create a favourable taxation system.

Social partners- should develop awareness that it is necessary to increase the quality of the labour market.

The main task is to have a mutual understanding between all the participants of the VET system- educational institutions, social partners and the community in this transmission period from planned economy to the free market.

Overview of the recent developments of social dialogue in the following thematic VET areas

In accordance to the real situation, where social dialogue in VET is at its initial stage and the new law on Professional Education is at a drafting stage, the real situation os described below laying stress on the weak points where development of social dialogue is necessary.

Allocation of financial resources

Education establishments in Latvia are financed by:

    • state budget,
    • local government budget,
    • the means of legal and physical bodies,
    • international foundations and projects.

 

I. Initial training.

In Latvia the financing of initial VET is still arranged according to the principles of the pre-independence period, which are mechanically based on the curriculum, number of the students and number of student groups. The analysis shows that each year 52% of the total funding for initial VET comes from the budget of the Ministry of Education and Science, 14% - from budgets of other state institutions and 34% from the expenses of municipalities.

The institutions of higher and vocational education are mainly under the oversight of the central state institutions - Ministry of Education and Science or other ministries. They are financed according to the budget resources of the appropriate ministries provided for those educational institutions.

The municipalities have some vocational institutions, however the vages of teachers and thesocial tax are covered by the budget of the Ministry of Education and Science anyway.

The financing of VET is not sufficient for providing high quality of education.

    • role of social partners

At present there is no legal way for social partners to take part in the allocation of financial resources for the initial vocational education, because it is not foreseen in the legislation of Latvia. Theoretically it is possible - through an agreement between a vocational school and employers. Supporting of schools with supplies of materials but not with financial resources is observed at present. For example, some schools are supported with materials for interior and exterior works, with materials for tailor works. Certainly, such support so far is insignificant in the total scale, since the social partners are not directly involved in the financing of initial vocational training. There is no any facilitation for employers who support education, regulated by legislation of Latvia (such as e.g. tax exemptions).

 

II. Continuing training.

The continuing training is financed by:

    • state,
    • local government,
    • private funding,
    • international foundations and projects.

The investments of employers to continuing training is rising. For example, investments of the employers to continuing training was 22,1% from total budget in 1996 in comparison with 10% 1995.

The State does not promote employers to invest the funds in VET or in continuing training. Professional continuing training in accordance to core skill continuing training is financed by the employers or by the participants themselves.

For example, the Training Centre of Chamber of Commerce and Industry is financed by participants. Entrepeneurship Supporting Centre is financed by the Privatisation Foundation, PHARE financial support and employers payments. The continuing training of employees is financed mainly by employers in contrary to training of unemployed which is financed by State.

Three types of vocational education could be enumerate:

    • education of youth- financed by state,
    • education of employees- financed mainly by employers,
    • retraining of unemployed persons- financed by state from funding of social insurance.

 

The financing of VET is a crucial question for social dialogue.

Development of qualification and training standards

1) Initial Vocational Training

Professional Education Centre-

Methodological centres of Professional education at ministries of Education and Science, Culture, Welfare and Agriculture deal with development of qualifications and training standards for initial VET.

Classification of Occupations carried out by the Labour Scientific Research Institution of Latvia in 1994 and revised every year is the background for the development of qualification and training standards. The social partners are not satisfied with the current Classification of Occupations due to its non-flexibility. It could be mentioned that the aim of the Classification of Occupations should be registration of occupations in the labour market but not so much as a list of qualifications as currently awarded in education. The necessity of a dialogue between the employers and the authors of Classification of Occupations is noticed.

Qualification is conferred by educator- education establishment or Chamber of Craftsmanship. Qualification is conferred after assessment of final work or final examination.

    • role of social partners

Unfortunately employers only are involved in the development of qualification and training standards at present. Involvement of trade unions needs for development .

 

1.Participation in the final examination.

In the recent years representatives of employers have also participated in the final examinations as well as in the accreditation of VET programmes.

The independent examination commissions take part in qualification examinations. These commissions includes also representatives of employers, usually as chairman of commission. Membership of examination commissions is confirmed by the ministry supervising the school, but also schools can make their own proposals .

There is a weak point of co-operation at prsent when the ruling accent is acquaintances, friendly relationships, and there are no formal rules regulating particpation in the examination commissions.

2. Participation in the approvement of curricula

The training programmes are co-ordinated with employers. The curricula of a school can not be approved without an assessment by employers. Unfortunately there are not relevant professional associations for all occupations.

 

In total the employers are involved:

  • as consultants or experts with the aim to be involved in developing the new educational programmes,
  • in part-time teaching, advising and consulting the students at practical placements or supervising graduation theses;
  • as lecturers at the teachers' upgrading seminars;
  • as members of the Higher Education Council and School Boards of secondary vocational/technical schools.

 

There are two concepts of standards reflected in the new draft law on Professional education:

  • standard of qualification- under responsibility of Ministry of Welfare and employers;
  • standard of education - under responsibility of Ministry of Education and Science.

It is foreseen in the new draft law that social partners will be involved in the working out of both standards.

Establishment and management of a continuing training system and/or activities (both for employed and unemployed people)

So far there has been no close co-operation between the initial VET and the adult education and training organised by employers in Latvia. However, a shift in this direction can be observed. Continuing training system includes:

  • popular training,
  • professional continuing training( in Latvia or abroad),
  • unemployed training.

Consultative Council of Adult Education

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:

  • Ministry of Education and Science,
  • Ministry of Welfare,
  • Ministry of Economy,
  • Ministry of Environment,
  • Ministry of Agriculture,
  • Ministry of Culture,
  • Ministry of Finance,
  • Local Government Union of Latvia,
  • Adult Education Society of Latvia,
  • Adult Economic Education Association of Latvia,
  • Latvian Science Association,
  • Pedagogy Scientist Association of Latvia,
  • Latvian Employers Confederation,
  • Chamber of Craftsmanship,
  • higher education institutions,
  • Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
  • National Radio and Television Council,
  • Latvian Free Trade Union,
  • State Centre of Youth Initiative.

 

The main goal of the Council is to advance improvement and development of adult education system. Under the competence of the Council is:

  • to analyse situation in the adult education,
  • to make proposals for strategy and tactics in adult education system,
  • to participate in the drafting of legislative acts concerning adult education,
  • to develop co-operation between governmental and non-governmental organisations concerning adult education,
  • to evaluate projects on adult education and to recommend them for financing,
  • to take part in the elaboration of the experts report on the adult education programmes according to the demand of adult education institutions,
  • to provide advise on adult education upon request of the ministries and other institutions,
  • to carriy out investigations on adult education,
  • to analyse foreign experience in the field of adult education.

Regional level

All districts have formed adult education centres. 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. Social partners are included in the Co-ordination Council of the Adult Education Centres.

Self Governmental Training Centres also are a part of adult education in the regional level.

The type of VET usually regarded as ² adult education² , most of all, is private in a form of different courses, training centres, etc. providing a non-diploma education and charging tuition fees from the learners.

 

Example 1. The continuing training is carried out also at the ministry of Agriculture by Agriculture Support Centre and it is financed from the state budget, international projects and by Confederation of Farmers. There is a specific feature of the social dialogue in agriculture - employers and employees are often the same persons.

Example 2, Continuing training for nurses is carried out by Professional Education Centre under supervision of ministry of Welfare. There are after diploma courses:

  • for specialisation, 10 courses and 455 participants in 1996,
  • for improving of qualification, 48 courses and 4762 participants in 1996,
  • for employees of medical establishments with/without medical education, 4 courses in 1996.

The second type of training courses for nurses is realised in hospital or medical establishment with continuous working period. This type of courses is financed by employer- hospital or medical establishment and hospital is realised its training programme affirmed by Professional Education Centre. This kind of courses is realised in many regional hospitals and there were 2098 participants in 1996.

Sometimes the big companies don't use the local option of professional education for continuing training of employees, but rather prefer continuing training abroad.

 

The facilitations for employees combined work with learning is foreseen in the Latvian Labour Code.

Regarding the in-company training, it is known, that in the newly established powerful companies as well as in the branches of Western companies starting their business in Latvia there is an important component of in-company training: they train their new employees in foreign languages, computer skills, management, business and/or the appropriate professional skills. However, when training the personnel for their internal needs, the companies do not provide any diploma education, therefore they are not obliged to report to or to undergo any quality assessment by the Ministry of Education and Science or related structures. Fore the reasons described, more precise information on in-company training is lacking.

 

Financing of adult education:

Breakdown of the financing of adult education in 1996:-

state budget

45,5%

tuition fees paid by the learners

28,8%

enterprises, firms, organisations

22,1%

municipal budget

1,2%

other sources (foreign financing)

2,2%

Participation in adult education programmes

Approximately 100800 students participated in adult education programmes in 1996.

The most required programmes were programmes for development of professional skills. The popularity of core-skill programmes also rose up. The new programmes are offered for participants of adult education,for example, social protection, social care and insuring of food quality.

 

Percentage of adult education learners by programmes, 1996.

retraining of unemployed persons

10%

education in economics

15%

education on law

7%

agriculture

3%

liberal education

19%

improvement of professional skills

32%

pedagogy, psychology

7%

civil servant training

7%

 

Due to the requirement of clients, the organisers of continuing training lay stress on professional training. There are noprecise data about age and education level of learners, but there is a predominance of persons aged19-40. There are about 215 in Latvia establishments offering adult education programmes and most of them are private.

The continuing training is carried out by many organisations- Entrepreneurship Support Centre, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Adult Education Association, regional adult education centres, Latvian Adult Economic Education Association and others.

40% of all learners participate continuing training courses organised by private establishments, 31% of learners participate courses organised by state establishments, 11% participate courses in the public organisations and 9%- local government establishments and little number of learners participate courses organised by other organisations.

Unemployed training

The State Employment Service is the body responsible for unemployed training and retraining.

The training and retraining of unemployed started in 1992. Its legal basis is the on Cabinet regulations "On professional training and requalification of unemployed", issued in 1994.

The necessity for training and re- qualification of unemployed increases due to the quantitative and qualitative discrepancy between the demand and offer on the professional aspect.

 

Year

Percentage of unemployed persons forwarded for training or requalification, out of total unemployment

1993

3,7%

1994

6,2%

1995

7,6%

1996

9,7%

 

Many different training programmes and courses have been offered for the unemployed by Latvian State Employment Service, which include acquirement of new, well required on labour mark The continuing training is carried out by many organisations - Entrepreneurship Support Centre, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Adult Education Association, regional adult education centres, Latvian Adult Economic Education Association and others.

The ministry of Welfarecarries out a competition on educational programmes for retraining of unemployed persons. Every educational establishment (state or private) is allowed to take part in the competition, and in the case of success it will be contracted by the state and receive state financing for its unemployed training programmes. At present there is a lack of real co-operation between unemployed training and social partners and it could be mentioned that there is not legal basis for this co-operation.

So far there is no uniform state supervision and strategy for continuing training.

Quality assurance and accreditation of vocational training

Initial VET

    • legal basis

Quality assessment of the programmes and institutions is carried out by programme accreditation. In 1994 Regulations on accreditation of VET education programmes were issued. Accreditation includes quality evaluation of the programme, of pedagogical staff and of the facilities of the school. Successful accreditation gives the school in question the right to award state-recognised diplomas.

    • role of social partners

The role of social partners is insufficient because trade union is not at all involved in accreditation of programmes and quality assessment

  1. Accreditation of programmes

The employers take part in accreditation commissions of initial VET programmes. Representative of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and also representatives of branch associations take part in the assessment of the facilities and technical equipment and intellectual potential of school programmes organised by Department of professional education of the Ministry of Education and Science,.

The accreditation of VET programmes is carried out by the Ministry of Education and Science. In this sector, in fact, a real "accreditation" is carried out by the most for programmes of the private educational institutions. In these cases the curricula are carefully studied by 1-2 specialists of the appropriate field who are employees of Professional Education Centre and those nominated by Professional education centre. The "Accreditation commission" in this case is a group that carries out an inspection visit to the educational institution and finally takes the decision. This group usually includes employers.

However, in the case of these state VET institutions which are under supervision of ministry of Education and Science, the formal accreditation procedure is usually not carried out. Instead, there are "standard" or "template" curricula developed by Professional education centre which can be adapted or modified by VET schools and the modifications are then again approved by Professional education centre. As an alternative, a school can develop the curriculum independently and then present it to Professional education centre for approval. In all the cases regarding "secondary" VET the main criterion for accreditation/approval is: whether the curriculum actually leads to fulfilment of qualification standards in the given profession.

The training and retraining programmes for unemployed also are affirmed by Professional Education Centres.

Unfortunately the way how the social partners could be involved in the accreditation of programmes is not regulated at present.

 

2.Quality assessment

Organisation of the centres for practical training and examinations has begun in order to ensure equal requirements for qualification's awarding. Students' knowledge and skills are tested according to qualification requirements in the five of such centres that are already working: for welders, interior and exterior workers, tailors, electricians, metal treatment workers.

The co-operation with social partners in quality assessment must be developed and it is foreseen in Draft Law on Professional Education.

The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for organisation of external assessment of programmes. Ministry organises improvement of uniform tests and examinations, as well as the accreditation of private schools. The representatives of professional associations and branches associations are included in all these activities.

As an example it could be mentioned, that since 1994 uniform State examination for nurse qualification is established. Only successful passing of this examination gives access to register as a nurse.

Qualification examination has 2 parts: testing of practical skills and theoretical knowledge. Theoretical knowledge is assessed in a written test.

2. Continuing training

Continuing training courses are offered only as non-diploma education and certificates are issued to participants of these courses.

The assessment of quality of unemployed retraining courses is estimated from:

    • the number of job-placed unemployed,
    • the results of qualification exam,
    • the popularity of education establishment and programmes in question among the unemployed persons .

It is necessity to increase the responsibility of employers in the quality assurance and accreditation of vocational training. Nevertheless, there are some difficulties to involve them in the quality assessment and accreditation of vocational training because these activities are neither financed nor regulated by state.

Fact

Free Trade Union and Latvian Employers Confederation are not involved in quality assurance and accreditation of vocational training.

Linking training institutions with enterprises (in particular SMEs)

Evaluation of the current situation

The links between VET system and employers were in fact lost during the transitional period of the early 1990's. Historically part of the VET schools were even located inside the biggest enterprises and most of the schools sent their students to the enterprises to complete practical training and practical placements. Many of these big enterprises which were completely oriented towards the soviet economy and soviet market collapsed during the first years of independence and the links between VET and enterprises were lost to a great extent due to this. Links with enterprises is one of the weak points of today's VET system in Latvia. Being occupied by their own severe existence problems, industrial enterprises seem much less interested in co-operation with VET schools. For this reason most of the practical training has shifted from the enterprises back to schools, which, on their turn lack modern equipment necessary for these purposes.

The share of practical training in the curricula of initial VET

The practical training and practical placements are foreseen in the Order of Ministry of Education and Science, 1992. For example, the share of theoretical and practical training for schools under the supervision of Ministry of Education and Science is the following:

 

Name of school type

Duration of studies (years)

Theoretical studies

Practical training and practical placements

Pre-diploma practice (hours)

vocational basic school

1

30%

70%

490

vocational basic school

2

30%

70%

840

vocational secondary school

3

40%

60%

840

vocational gymnasium

4

50%

50%

960

professional secondary school

4-5

75%

25%

1000- 1200

 

The schools sometimes have no possibility to provide practical training of students due to the poor material supplies and technical equipment. The dialogue between school and employer is carried out for providing the students with placement for practical training. Some part of employers are ready to organise practical training at the enterprises. The practical training at the enterprises is organised for such professions as waiters, cookers, interior and exterior workers, brick layers, car mechanics, welders and others. Most of the placements are in the SMEs. But there are some difficulties due to the lack of allowances for employers supporting vocational training. At the present situation educator looks for an enterprise, but the employer usually doesn't try to find educator. On the other hand, the schools have possibilities to offer training courses for enterprises financed by tuition fees.

As an example the experience of Jugla Secondary Trade School could be mentioned, where a training and examination centre for interior and exterior workers was opened and where courses "New technologies, materials and literature" for vocational training pedagogues regularly take place and where the firms "Tex-Color", "Kauf", "Thorman & Co", "Maris-Interior" acquainted participants with their new production and characteristics and properties of the new materials. The school signed a contract with these firms and the firms supplied the school with the new materials and students master practical skills and knowledge in working with definite material of a definite firm.

As regards to unemployed retraining, it should be mentioned, that links between the training institutions and enterprises are developing every year. Some concrete agreements have been concluded between the State Employment Service and the enterprises in order to prepare workforce for them.

For example, sewing firms "Latvija" and "Aurora" concluded agreements this year with the State completion of courses. This training programme is carried out by the training firm "Buts". 100 foot-wear producers were prepared for enterprise "Daugava" in Daugavpils and almost all of them are working now. This enumeration could be continued since the co-operation between the State Employment Service and the enterprises is on the stage of development and widening.

These examples demonstrate that co-operation at the level of enterprises is developing. Nevertheless more must be done to work out the co-operation at the level of branches.

The co-operation between VET and employers is being re-established in new ways during the last 1-2 years and the main actors from the employer's side so far are Latvian Employers Confederation, the Chamber of Commerce and industry and the Chamber of Craftsmanship. To involve enterprises in the VET system, it is useful to co-operate with Latvian Employers Confederation and with Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as with the professional associations of different branches, which have concrete links with the enterprises. Professional bodies in Latvia so far exist just in a few professions, but new ones appear in the recent years and their role is increasing with the ongoing work towards integration into the internal market of EU.

In order to find out the employers opinion on VET, Latvian Employers Confederation, as well as Latvian Chamber of Commerce and industry have begun surveys among their participants. Allowances are necessary for employers supported education. The allowances may stimulate employers to support continuing and initial professional education and to try to find ways for co-operation with educational establishments.

 

It is foreseen in the new Law of Vocational education that the professional education should be closely related to the needs of enterprises and organisations. Linking training institutions with enterprises would be one of the directions of social dialogue.

 

Identification of skill needs and planning of training

Due to the lack of a conception of national economy there is no State management and strategy in the planning of training and identification of skill needs although the regular scanning of labour market with participation of social partners is necessary in Latvia.

The discussions regarding the preparation of the new Law on Vocational Education started in the last years. The working group drafting the Law on professional education includes representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Latvian Employers' Confederation as well as representatives of the Trade Unions, who represent the interests and express the opinions of the social partners in the identification of skill needs and planning of training.

No regular surveys on employment of the graduates from concrete schools or programmes are available so far. Since 2 years the ministry of Education and Science carries analyses the data on unemployed graduates from initial training at VET schools.

The need for concrete skills and certain education level depends on the trends of labour market.

The task of social partners in VET is to balance the supply and demand of labour market. At present the development of labour market is spontaneous and a regular scanning of labour market is necessary in prder to organise planning of vocational education.

New activities of social partners in the regional level could be mentioned as an example. In terms of the project on regional development of Liepaja the labour market and unemployment problems in connection with social mobility are studied and analysed. Representatives of town Council and the Council of directors, representatives of Board of special economic zone, regional Employment Service, regional Adult Education Centre, regional division of Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other organisation are included in this process. At present the first stage of project is completed. The main aim of the project is to work out regional development for further 20 years. Development of economic indicators, improvement of quality of life, increasing of income of population is foreseen as a result of the project . The project is realised in co-operation with partners from Belgium. Colleges from Belgium have experience on regional planning and supply Latvian partners with methodology on SWOT analysis for different development strategies. The participants worked in several groups - business and economic, social group, environmental group and infrastructure group. The results of the first stage show the lack of qualified workforce in Liepaja in spite the high level of unemployment. At present the project is continued and necessity on involvement of social partners in professional education of this region is noticed.

 

 

 

 

 

In the text below two examples are shown on professional education in the enterprise "Grindeks" and Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Enterprise Support Centre.

Both examples characterise situation when professional education is well organised in the enterprise and organisation, but social dialogue does not take place due to incorrect understanding of concept on social partners and social dialogue. The firm "Grindeks" has a trade union unit who is not involved in professional education.

Case study

Identification of Skill needs and Planning of Training on the experience of company "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.

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.

Case Description

Participants

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

Determination of employee's skills and the planning of training cannot be considered as a part of the social dialogue, because in most of the Latvian companies, like in companies of most other European countries, training is an integral part of the management task. 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. Representatives of trade unions are however not involved in this process.

 

Organisation and Implementation

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.

 

Latvian Classification of Professions defines what the specialist in a specific field should know about the speciality and what skills in general are compulsory for him.

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

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.

GRINDEKS company has an in- house training System. It consists of:

1) initial training- compulsory for all the new comers;

2) adaptive training- on a regular basis for every employee;

3) additional training defined by the employee's desires and the development trends of the company.

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.

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.

 

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.

The arrangement of the training programmes also depends on the training providers: whether they are local lecturers or external training providers. As it is difficult in Latvia to receive exact information on different training providers, the entrepreneurs are trying to solve this problem by summarising the information available from the mass media and using the offers of the training possibilities from different training providers. The quality of the training offer can be tested only by participating in the courses or seminars.

The place and the time of carrying out the training programme is not of less importance. If the training is carried out abroad, additional expenses should be considered. The number of employees able to participate in training programmes is limited because of the lack of the knowledge of foreign languages. If the training is carried out during the work hours, the employee cannot do his direct job.

Currently in Latvia the training providers are mostly offering courses and seminars during working hours and there are few firms or educational establishments providing courses after the working hours or during the weekend.

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.

 

Results and Expectations

Three parts are involved in the process of defining the employee's skills and qualification- the government with its legislative acts, the requirements of the employer regarding the level of the employee's skills and the suggestions and aspirations of the employee's. The employer is involved directly in this process without the mediation of the trade unions. Management and staff participates in the working out of the training plan. Considering the fact that company- procvided training is not encouraged in Latvia, in case of administrative or strategic changes in GRINDEKS, the training system might be affected as well.

Involvement and interests for social partners

As the employee's training is an important factor for economic development, it is necessary to pay special attention to this important question during the three partial negotiations stimulating the entrepreneurs to invest in people. The defining of the skills and the planning of the training should be not only the management task but also the part of the social dialogue on the company level.

Linking Training Institutions with SMEs on experience of Enterprise Support Centre and Chamber of Commerce and Industry

 

Linking

Outline Description

 

Training for the entrepreneurs is provided by the following training institutions:

- Colleges(private and public);

- Vocational schools(private and public);

- private firms;

- or the entrepreneurs organising internal training.

 

Large companies are more interested in the education of their workforce than small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). It results from objective and subjective factors, such as unstable economic situation and legislative system and lack of employer's interest in investing in people. Two training institutions- the Enterprise Support Centre (ESC) and the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) have chosen SMEs as their target group for training and have good links with SMEs. The main factor in formation of successful relations between SMEs and both training institutions is to offer the training programmes in the appropriate time and for the reasonable price.

Participants

Participants are training institutions and SMEs. Both training institutions- ESC and LCCI are non- profit organisations and have their regional branch offices.

ESC was founded with the PHARE assistance and its main objective is to advise the entrepreneurs on how to start their business. The target group for ESC are new companies who are just starting their activities in business. The main objective of LCCI is to promote entrepreneurship and represent the interests of their members. LCCI has a Training Centre and the training is mostly focused on how to conduct business. The target group for LCCI Training Centre are companies with more experience in business activities.

Organisation and Implementation

In comparison with large enterprises SMEs do not have their own training department or training manager and so in most cases this serves as an obstacle for making investments in people and successfully arranging the training programmes.

The 'weak points' when offering the training for SMEs are the following:

- in most cases SMEs don't consider investment in education as an useful activity stimulating the growth of their business;

- there is no responsible person who is in charge of the employee's training;

- SMEs cannot afford to send their employees to participate in long-term training courses and they are mostly interested in short-time courses and seminars;

- lack of financial resources for the training;

- because of lack of training needs analyses, it is difficult to consider the current training needs

 

The training institutions should consider all these factors when offering training for employees. Training in SMEs therefore depends on the manager's or owner's competence so both training institutions are focusing their training activities mainly to this target group. ESC offers their clients 3 or more day training programmes on how to start the business, how to plan the finances, accounting basis etc. The staff members of ESC are well trained to conduct the seminars themselves. They have developed their own training programmes and have adapted different international training programmes for the specific local market.

LCCI Training Centre mainly hires external lecturers, sometimes the LCCI employees are conducting the seminars. As the target group of LCCI are such companies where the employees have already acquired the basics of business education and their intention is to improve their business knowledge in different specific subjects, like marketing, credit management, international sale etc.. so it is more efficient to hire specialists of the specific field to do the seminars.

Both training institutions are customer orientated and work out their training offers basing on the entrepreneurs' current needs. ESC offers their previously developed programmes and through discussions and consultations involves the entrepreneurs in the development of new training programmes.

In order to identify the current training needs, LCCI Training Centre carries out questionnaires among the member companies, consults with the entrepreneurs and carefully examines the seminar evaluation forms where the participants of different training activities are asked to express their ideas and desires. Currently LCCI is working on the implementation of Quality System so the clarification of the entrepreneur's training needs is carried out according to the procedures of the Quality Manual. LCCI is a membership organisation and has its network that serves as an advantage for LCCI Training Centre to find and identify their clients. The LCCI members regularly receive information on the current training offer. During different activities carried out by LCCI, it is possible to make direct contacts with the entrepreneurs, meet them in person and discuss their ideas and consider their training needs. Seminar evaluation forms are mainly aimed at the fulfilment of the specific training theme but at the same time helpful information on how to plan the future training offer can be obtained.

Both training institutions offer training for unemployed, considering them as a potential businessmen and potential employees of SMEs. Though LCCI and ESC have formed closer links with the entrepreneurs than vocational schools or private training institutions and are more acquainted with the entrepreneur's needs and desires concerning business education, the order of getting the licence for training the unemployed is very complicated process. This problem might be solved by regulations included in the Law on Vocational Education in Latvia, where the right to issue Qualification belongs to Special Qualification Centre and an independent Examination Commission makes its final decision. The employers and the employees will be represented in this commission.

In large companies the training institutions can develop their training offer according to the specific needs of the specific enterprise, working out completely new programme or adapting the existing one to the concrete situation. In Latvia the demand for this kind of training programmes is small as in the current economic situation the companies are occupied with their own severe existence problems and seem much less interested in education of the staff. Joint ventures and branch offices of foreign companies have been an exception. Considering the fact that SMEs often lack long term vision and have short life, it is difficult to plan and work out the training programme to meet the needs of a specific business.

Forming the links with SMEs, the fact that the employer cannot let the employee to participate the full day in the seminar or training course, should be taken into account. Therefore ESC following the interests of their clients is offering seminars and training courses in the evening. LCCI in general is offering day-time training with the exception of some language or PC courses. At the moment there is no demand among the customers of the LCCI for the organisation of the training after the work hours because the representatives from SMEs willingly participate in the training programmes for the target group of large enterprises as it is a good possibility for them to acquire new knowledge and make new business contacts.

An important factor for the successful realisation of the training programmes in SMEs is finances. As the legislative system in Latvia is not stimulating to invest in entrepreneur's education and the tax policy does not promote entrepreneurship, it is very complicated for SMEs to find resources for employee's education. ESC being an organisation founded with the financial assistance from EU and getting some financial support from the Privatisation Foundation, can afford to offer their training programmes cheaper than other training institutions. LCCI is completely self financing organisation so it has to cover all the training expenses. In order to receive high quality education, SMEs should be granted with the financial support by receiving tax discount or by forming special foundation. National SMEs Support Programme might be of great benefit for the successful implementation of training programmes in SMEs.

Results and Expectations.

There are different training providers in Latvia offering their training programmes for entrepreneurs. Two training providers focus their training offer to SMEs and have formed close links with them. The legislative system that promotes the entrepreneurship and supports the development of SMEs is of primary importance for the successful realisation of employees training in Latvia. Training providers have to identify the current training needs and adjust their offer to meet the specific needs of SMEs. The training providers have to make sure that SMEs are obtaining all the necessary information on their training offers.

Involvement and interests of the Social Partners

Social partners should take the initiative in formation of successful links between training institutions and SMEs. This concerns both- continuing vocational training and initial vocational training. During the dialogue with the governmental institutions it is of utmost importance to include the question on how to find the possibilities for tax discounts for the SMEs and to form special foundation for supporting the training of SMEs employees.

Conclusions

On the whole the co-operation between VET education establishments and the social partners is not satisfactory because of several reasons :

    • absence of deep traditions (they were not formed during the period of planned economics);
    • incompleteness of relationships between educators and social partners;
    • the lack of a national strategy for the improvement and development of these relationships.

 

The situation in VET reforms has a great impact on social dialogue and it is a reason to notice the main factors influencing VET.

Main problems of existing VET system are:

  • uncompleted legislation. Act on Education adopted in 1991 determines only the management of primary vocational education. There is no legislation on the role and responsibility of social partners for the content of education programmes and level of professional qualifications;
    • there is no structure for ensuring a joint system of basic vocational education, further education and retraining;
    • problems caused by insufficient development of the network of support institutions (methodical centres, consulting institutions);
    • uncompleted mechanism of quality assessment (accreditation of institutions, evaluation of students' knowledge and skills)
    • unsatisfactory amount of investments for elaboration and implementation of new programmes;
    • great number of VET schools with small number of students and obsolete technical equipment;
    • aged pedagogical staff;
    • small budget. State financing covers only wages of pedagogical staff, partial compensation of transport expenses and communal expenses. There is no financing for development;
    • inadequacy of labour market investigations.

 

The successful development of the VET system is not possible without support and understanding of all the society. Therefore the dissemination of the information about problems and success of VET is needed including:

    • co-operation with social partners
    • information of society on the results of reform
    • professional orientation and consulting

 

The point of view of Latvian Employers Confederation is following:

Analysis of present situation in the development of social dialogue in VET shows insufficient involvement of employers in the spheres such as planning of VET strategy, drafting of programmes and others. The lack of real understanding about role and importance of social partners in the VET reforms are noticed among professional education forming institutions.

Regulation adopted by Cabinet of Ministers, 1993 recognises two organisations as official consultative social partners of State- Free Trade Union Federation as representation of employees and Latvian Employers Federation as representation of employers interests. It is defined also by International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention Nr.144 ratified by Saeima (Parliament).

Social partners and partnership is possible only between representatives of definite interests such as social economic, labour law. That is the reason why they are social partners and form social dialogue. The government consults its social partners (not more than two) at the national level and forms tripartite consultations on problems of social economic and labour law involving all interested parties- government, employees and employers to guarantee the social balance in the state.

The groups of business organisations as well as employers organisations exists in a whole world. It could be mentioned that activities of both organisations have different aims. The business organisations represent commercial and business interests of employers nevertheless they don't conclude collective agreement with trade unions (social partners) because it is not included in their duties and it is a reason why they could not included in the status of social partners in the State.

It is important to speak about social dialogue and social partnership in the professional education and to involve ministry of Education and Science (representative of government in this case) in the dialogue.

Unfortunately the lack of correct assessment and understanding of terms "social dialogue" and "social partnership" and also correct assessment and understanding of role and importance of social partners is noticed.

 

Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as an entrepreneur's organisation is in dialogue with ministry of Education and Science since 1991 and participates in various commissions on VET. It is reality today that ministry of Education and Science has accepted LCCI as one of its social partners. LCCI is interested in the development of VET and express desire for participating in such VET areas:

  • assessment of qualification,
  • to participate in providing with practical placements using its direct links with enterprises,
  • to take part in National Council on VET as a social partner.
  • The LCCI opinion on analysis of present situation is:
  • the lack of experience on forming and improving social dialogue is noticed,
  • the lack of experience on role of social partners at all levels,
  • to develop ways of involvement of SMEs in social dialogue.

 

A necessity is felt to rise the role of trade unions in the social dialogue. Trade unions have a too small impact on VET because they are not essentially involved in VET process at present. The trade unions are ready to take place in vocational education activities.

 

The Free Trade Union Federation is of the opinion that:

  1. The social dialogue in the sphere of professional education at the state level is only at its initial stage. Tripartite consultative council including state, employer and trade unions will make it possible to arrange many questions in the sphere of professional education where decisions before that were carried out only by ministries without consultations with social partners.
  2. There is a need for correct understanding of concept on social partners and social dialogue from the side of the ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Welfare and other state institutions.
  3. It is important to promote co-operation between social partners at the level of branches forming corresponding structures in the employer's organisations and trade unions.
  4. It is important to form trade unions at the private enterprises and to conclude collective agreement for successful social dialogue in the level of enterprises.

 

The activities of employers in the social dialogue are noticed contrary to weak involvement of employees. There are several reasons for little involvement of employees in VET. One of them is that many enterprises have no units of trade unions.

 

The social partners should take the initiatives that help in an indirect way to provide continuing vocational training for SMEs.

The role of social partners will mainly have to focus on informing on, structuring and monitoring of continuing vocational training towards SMEs. The forming of social dialogue in SMEs presents difficulties due to:

  • small number of employees often obstructed to form trade union units,
  • low interest of employers to join in employers society.

 

 

 

The new Law on VET will be an actual legal basis for the involvement of social partners in the professional education and training.

It is foreseen in the draft of new law that trade union participate (in the area of its competence and regulations) in such activities:

  • the drafting and implementation of State strategy and policy on VET,
  • the drafting of standards of professional educational and professional qualification,
  • the assessment of professional education and professional qualification,
  • the accreditation and licensing of professional education establishments and programmes.

The competence of employers also is foreseen in the draft of new law on VET and it will be following:

  • to participate in the drafting of State strategy and policy on VET,
  • to participate in the implementation of VET providing students with placements for practical training,
  • to participate in the drafting of both- education and qualification professional standards,
  • to participate in the assessment of professional education and professional qualification.

 

It would be useful to carry out programmes to educate social partners how to improve social dialogue. There is lack of persons educated in social dialogue in Latvia. It is useful to organise study visits for representatives of employers and employees to European Union organisations.

 

In spite to the difficulties mentioned, social partnership is developing and features of social dialogue could be noticed in VET areas. The collective agreements are concluded at the enterprises level. As positive statement in the branch and state level Tripartite- state, employers, employees- Consultative Council on VET is formed in conformity with ministry of Education and Science due to develop social dialogue and social partnership on VET.