Yesterday, the joint ministry building in Tallinn hosted the international vocational education conference that discussed the current state of vocational education in Estonia and introduced the latest OECD report, offering a chance to discuss where vocational education in Estonia and the rest of Europe is heading. Students from vocational educational institutions were participating in organizing the conference.
At the heart of the report compiled by the OECD is the search for working cooperation models between education and private enterprise. The recommendations in the report focus on cooperation between general and higher education with vocational education – in other words, how to ensure smooth transitions for students from one education level to the next and on to the job market. Apprenticeship and the reasons for and possible solutions to bottlenecks through cooperation will also be discussed.
“Issues concerning cooperation models for vocational education and its interest groups are important for Estonia - especially matters related to cooperation with companies,” said the secretary general of the Ministry of Education and Research, Mart Laidmets, noting that the report’s recommendations confirm that Estonia has taken the right steps in modernizing the school network. “For example, by establishing state upper secondary schools, we have laid the groundwork for the preservation of strong basic schools and the inception of new ones and have given students options for continuing to study in vocational education. In this way, we give every student a chance to choose a profession that matched their interests and skills and the needs of the region,” added Laidmets.
As a very important recommendation, the report also lays out a proposal to create new, larger curricula in vocational secondary education to prepare students for state examinations that pave the way to higher education and at the same time train them in their profession. The proposal will be activated already this year as a pilot programme of the four-year IT academy starting at three vocational schools. The programme will be open to talented basic school graduates and allow them to take state examinations needed for entering higher education as well as acquisition of a IT-related profession with many work practice opportunities.
Participants who discussed the needs for changes in vocational education at the conference were OECD education and skills experts Montserrat Gomendio and Pauline Musset, Cedefop expert Anastasia Pouliou, Ministry of Education and Research deputy secretary general Ivar Sikk, Kuressaare Regional Training Centre vocational teacher of the year Merit Karise, director general of Circle K Estonia Kai Realo, chairman of the management board of the Information Technology Foundation for Education (HITSA) Heli Aru-Chabilan, University of Tartu professor Marju Lauristin, participant in a top civil service programme organized by the Government Office civil service excellence centre Ingar Dubolazov, Tartu Art School director Kadi Kreis, Viljandi Vocational Education Centre director Tarmo Loodus and member of the management board of the Qualifications Authority Tiia Randma. The conference was moderated by Johannes Tralla.
Various vocational schools took part in organizing the conference. Tartu Art School students designed the conference logo and all electronic and paper materials, for Tallinn Polytechnic School students, the conference is photography and video transmission practice and will produce brochures and neck cards from the materials designed, students from the Heino Eller School of Music in Tartu designed the conference audio theme and pieces recorded by the students will be played during breaks to set the mood, Räpina School of Horticulture students designed the floral arrangements, Ida-Viru County Vocational Education Centre students are providing the catering and services, and Kuressaare Regional Training Centre, Tallinn School of Service and Tallinn Construction School students made the conference keepsakes.
See OECD report