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Vocational Education and Training in Estonia

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One of a series of studies on vocational education and training, this review assesses the vocational education and training (VET) in Estonia and provides policy recommendations.



Estonia does very well in terms of student achievement on PISA, and the results from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) are also excellent. Unemployment levels are low. But despite recent reforms, VET remains relatively low status compared to general education, dropout rates are too high for comfort, and apprenticeships, despite recent efforts, fail to attract many young people. Suggested approaches to improve VET in Estonia include the expansion of work-based learning within all VET programmes and measures to increase the number of apprentices. Tackling dropout should be done by a set of complementary measures, including support in basic skills for those students lagging behind. Building pathways between VET and general education options can help improve the status of VET. More and better career guidance, especially before the key grade 9 transition point, is also needed.

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Developing the foundations of the vocational education and training system in Estonia

Only about one-quarter of the youth cohort enters vocational programmes at the upper secondary level, many of those with weak school attainment. Many students in Estonia attend full-cycle schools, which provide general education throughout the 12 grades, which biases the decision against vocational education and training (VET). While dropout rates have fallen, around one-quarter of entrants failing to complete. Apprentice numbers, although increasing, remain low and limited to adults. This chapter gives a set of recommendations that aim at removing the bias against VET and reducing dropout, while continuing to develop work-based learning. It also recommends better monitoring of VET participation by gender and student background.

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