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Establishing legal framework for employers’ participation in the development and implementation of vocational education

On April 23, 2015 the Parliament of Latvia adopted several amendments to the Vocational Education Law, which is the main legal regulation in vocational education sector. The introduced amendments increase the compliance of vocational education with labour market needs at sectoral, institutional and education programme implementation level.

In order to promote employers’ actual involvement in the development of vocational education at sectoral level, the new amendments outline functions of Sectoral Expert Councils. These tripartite Councils include representatives from state and local governments, employers’ organisations and trade unions. The establishment of such institutions is voluntary, and decision may be made by sector. 12 Councils have been established already in 2011 in the terms of ESF project “Development of sectoral qualifications system and increasing the efficiency and quality of vocational education” (2010-2015). Thus, this institutional arrangement has proved to be successful in practice, but it lacked legal and regulative framework.

The Councils will participate in the development of sectoral qualifications structures, make proposals for the necessary professions and appropriate specializations in the sectors, as well as propose the necessary number of vocational education students in particular sector. Furthermore, the Councils will participate in the design of vocational education programmes, coordinate the elaboration of and review occupational standards and professional qualifications’ requirements, as well as participate in licensing and accreditation of vocational education institutions and programmes.

The representatives of Councils will participate in the development of content for vocational education programmes and professional qualification examinations, as well as in the qualification examinations. It should be noted that with these amendments social partners will have opportunity to be directly involved in the development of education content. The Councils will coordinate and promote cooperation between vocational education institutions and social partners.

In order to promote development of vocational education in accordance with the requirements of labour market at institutional level, the amendments to the Law introduce the establishment of a collegial advisory body – a Convent – at each vocational education institution. The Convents will be composed of the head of vocational education institution, the representatives from local government and supervising ministry, as well as employers or employers’ organisations. The Convent will be able to make proposals in relation to the development strategy of education institution, as well as contribute to its cooperation with the local enterprises to ensure students’ practice placements outside school and work-based learning opportunities.

In order to provide a closer link between vocational education and the real work environment at level of education programme implementation, the term “work-based learning” was defined in the Law as one of the attainment forms of vocational education. Students acquire the theoretical aspects at vocational education institution, but the practical aspects necessary for performing a certain professional activity – at an enterprise. Work-based learning has been implemented for the last two years in the form of a pilot projects and it was well-received both by students and employers.

Amendments will enter into force on May 15, 2015.

 

Source: Saeima

30.04.2015.