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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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Pathways and progression for vocational education and training graduates in Estonia

For initial vocational education and training (VET) graduates in Estonia, many learning pathways are open in principle, but rarely travelled. The optional extra year of education that helps upper secondary VET graduates to qualify for higher education attracted very few students each year. This is a major challenge, since the prospect of progression is often the key tool to attract good candidates into the VET track. This chapter gives recommendations on facilitating progression beyond VET into higher education, on developing hybrid programmes within VET schools, and on further developing Estonia’s already strong professional examination system.

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