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.



Estonia has experienced extensive reform in its vocational education and training (VET) system in recent years. As a result, Estonia’s VET system is very well-designed: the engagement of employers is strong, in particular through a system of occupational qualification and standards, which underpins the development of programmes. About 25% of students at the upper secondary level are enrolled in a vocational programme, delivered by 30 different VET providers. There is a relatively new apprenticeship system that is growing quickly. Educational and labour market outcomes are also good: young Estonians do extremely well on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), and unemployment rates are very low. Despite Estonia’s efforts in reforming their VET system, however, some concerns remain. This OECD review assesses both the strengths of the Estonian VET system and the challenges it faces, making proposals for how those challenges might be addressed.


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