Further education and vocational training is secured by upper secondary schools and higher education institutions, employer organisations, public administration and self-government bodies and their educational institutions, non-profit organisations and professional and commercial entities.
Provision to raise achievement in basic skills
Courses providing basic education
Courses of basic education (základní vzdělání; ISCED 244) are open to persons without the basic education, it means to those who finished their compulsory attendance at a basic school (základní škola) before completing the final year. However, the vast majority of pupils successfully complete basic education, and thus the number of such persons is generally small in Czechia (around 6 % in proportion to all school leavers in a given school year, including special basic schools). For this reason, also the number of persons attending mentioned courses is small. In 2022/23, the number of pupils in courses for completing basic education was 93 (source: Statistical Yearbook – Education. Performance Statistic Indicators).
Both the basic schools and the upper secondary schools (střední školy) can organise such courses, upon authorisation of their organising body and regional authority. The courses must be in accordance with the Framework Education Programme for Basic Education. There are no age limits for participation in the course.
Courses can be organised in an on-site or distance form of education. The length of the course in both forms is determined by the school head, on the basis of the level of prior education of the learner. The maximum duration of the course is one school year. However, for those who have not acquired basic education during one year, it is possible to repeat the course. The courses always start at the beginning of a semester.
After completion of the course, the learner has to take examinations in subjects set by the school education programme for the last year of basic education. Having successfully passed the examinations, the learner receives a certificate.
Taking the examinations is possible also without prior education in the course.
Language education of adults, carried out at language schools authorised to organise state language examinations (jazykové školy s právem státní jazykové zkoušky), is subject to the Education Act, the details are specified by the Decree on Language Schools Authorise to Organise State Language Examinations. The schools are part of the education system. The education objectives are identical with objectives of the relevant level of mainstream education.
In addition, private training institutions provide language education.
LANGUAGE SCHOOLS AUTHORISED TO ORGANISE STATE LANGUAGE EXAMINATIONS
The language schools authorised to organise state language examinations may be divided into departments of individual languages or departments of interrelated languages. A course is the organizational form of instruction at a language school. Courses may be divided into groups. The highest number of pupils in a group is 18.
A language school can offer the following courses:
- basic course aimed at the acquisition of language basics in the total amount of 420 lessons;
- intermediate course aimed at perfecting and extending the language knowledge in the total amount of 280 to 315 lessons;
- preparatory courses for the state language examinations;
- conversation courses;
- special courses the content and scope of which shall be specified by the school education program determined by the language school.
The language school specifies and publicizes the offered courses, criteria for admission and enrolment dates for individual courses. The language schools plan courses and set relevant admission requirements themselves.
The school year in language schools authorised to organise state language examination is usually set in a similar way as the school year in basic and upper secondary schools (základní školy and střední školy). Distance learning is also possible.
In case of private institutions, the course offer, admission criteria, school year organisation, etc. are up to their decision (e.g. summer courses).
The language school authorised to organise state language examinations assesses the pupils' educational results at least twice in a school year and it acquaints the pupils with this assessment. Those who did not meet the study requirements at the end of the school year may not be enrolled into a higher course.
Upon pupi's request, the language school issues a certificate on successful completion of the course.
There are two independent systems of certification in language education: the traditional Czech system of state language examinations used by the language schools authorised to organise state language examinations, and adopted systems of international certification of individual languages, which are carried out by accredited (often foreign) institutions.
Education at language schools authorised to organise state language examinations may be completed by a basic, a general or a special state language examination. A state language examination may be taken even without previous education at a language school. Only the applicants who have successfully passed the general state language examination, or another language examination corresponding in its content and extent to the general state language examination, may take special language examination.
The basic state language examination corresponds to B2 level of CEFR, the general state language examination to C1 level and the special state language examination to C2 level.
A state language examination consists of written and oral parts. The Ministry of Education specifies the written part of the examination and sets out the dates of such examinations.
State language examinations in individual languages take place in front of an Examination Board which consist of the Chair appointed by the Ministry of Education and two other members. The Board members must be teachers with professional qualifications in relevant languages.
The evidence of successful passing of the examination is a certificate on the state language examination.
COURSES FOLLOWING A MATURITA EXAMINATION
Some types of language education of adults are intended especially for the secondary school-leavers. This is the case of the one-year post-secondary foreign language courses following a Maturita examination in the day form. Such courses are run by providers on a list maintained by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs according to a special Decree. The courses have the character of post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED 454). The participants who successfully passed their Maturita examination (maturitní zkouška) in the same year have the official student status. Students are offered foreign language courses at several levels of difficulty and usually they can take a state or internationally acknowledged examination after completing the course. Apart from the chosen language, it is often possible to study a second (subsidiary) language.
In the area of digital literacy, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports accredits retraining programmes aimed at personal computer use in general but also at concrete topics (such as web sites creation, computer graphics, management of operation systems). The MEYS has accredited a Digital Literacy retraining programme since 2023, which reflected the demand of the labour market. This programme provides basic digital competencies and skills.
Employers also often provide for IT courses and training aimed at increasing digital literacy of their employees.
In general, many IT courses aimed at development of digital skills are organised by numerous private education institutions, non-profit organisations, community centres and libraries. However, these courses are not managed or monitored at the central level.
Furthermore, in the area of ICT education, the European certification system of the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) is used. The ECDL is a worldwide educational concept in the field of computer (digital) literacy and digital knowledge and skills. It originated in the 1990s with support of the European Commission. The ECDL concept defines international standards, more precisely the minimum learning contents, in the form of so-called ECDL Syllabi, and defines a method of impartial and independent testing of digital knowledge and skills.
Provision to achieve a recognised qualification during adulthood
In the framework of adult education, a great attention is currently paid to the development of vocational or professional skills. It is also the most notably developing area with the biggest systemic and financial support. The fact that the development of professional competences is very closely related to the competitiveness of the individual on the labour market plays a major role. On the national level, vocational education is regarded as a determining factor of the international competitiveness on the global labour market.
Vocational education is largely provided by the employers, private education institutions and by schools providing vocational education.
Schools may organize adult education courses leading to acquirement of the level of education. In this case, it is an initial education covered by the Education Act. However, schools may provide other educational opportunities (usually for a fee) to adults, depending on their possibilities and the interests of the participants. The majority of adult people attend courses at upper secondary level – ISCED level 3 (mainly in vocational and technical branches, not general ones) and tertiary level – ISCED 6 or 7.
Courses of basic education (kurzy pro získání základního vzdělání) are intended for persons who have finished their compulsory attendance at a basic school (základní škola) before completing the final year. Courses can be provided both by basic and upper secondary school.
Upper secondary schools (střední školy) can also organize adult education leading to the acquirement of upper secondary education. It is usually organized in a form other than on-site study; its goals are identical to the goals of on-site study.
Upper secondary schools most often provide the follow-up study and shortened study (nástavbové studium and zkrácené studium).
The follow-up study extends the permeability of the education system. After having attained secondary education with the VET certificate (střední vzdělání s výučním listem – ISCED 353), it is possible to upgrade the qualification in the follow-up study and to complete the secondary education with the Maturita certificate (střední vzdělání s maturitní zkouškou – ISCED 354) which is a condition for working in several trades, and for access to tertiary education. For the follow-up study, individual courses and their connection to the 3-year courses of the secondary education with the VET certificate have been set.
The shortened study leads to extension of the qualification; it can be of two types:
- shortened study to obtain upper secondary education with the Maturita examination (zkrácené studium pro získání středního vzdělání s maturitní zkouškou) – ISCED 354 – the participants must have the Maturita certificate in another field;
- shortened study to obtain upper secondary education with the VET certificate (zkrácené studium pro získání středního vzdělání s výučním listem) – ISCED 353 – the participants must have the VET certificate or the Maturita certificate in another field.
The above-mentioned types of education are organised by schools providing upper secondary education in the relevant fields of study.
Fields of study of upper secondary and tertiary professional education are defined by the Government Regulation on the System of Fields of Studies in Basic, Upper Secondary and Tertiary Professional Education which also lays out the fields of the follow-up study.
The organisation of adult education at schools depends on the learners' demand, on the long-term policy objectives of respective regions and on the capacity of individual schools. The right of a school to offer education in other than the on-site form or to organise shortened courses or the follow-up study begins when this offer is recorded on the school register, which also states the authorised number of pupils.
Admission requirements can generally be set only for studies providing a defined level of education.
Admission requirements for other forms of study at the upper secondary and tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) offering a defined level of education are usually identical to admission requirements for the on-site study of the same level (at upper secondary schools and at tertiary professional schools).
The admission requirement for the follow-up study (ISCED 354) is the VET certificate (ISCED 353) from a three-year course of study in the relevant field.
The admission requirement for shortened study to obtain upper secondary education with the Maturita examination (ISCED 354) is the Maturita certificate (ISCED 344/354) in another field.
The admission requirement for shortened study to obtain upper secondary education with the VET certificate (ISCED 353) is the VET certificate (ISCED 353) or the Maturita certificate (ISCED 344/354) in another field.
Teaching methods and forms
The choice of teaching methods in adult education is the responsibility of the individual teacher who should try to reflect the specifics of adult education, participants’ level and type and content of the course.
In general, independent study plays an important role in adult education and learners' professional experience is also applied. The distinguishing feature of the different forms of adult education at upper secondary schools and tertiary professional schools is the amount of independent study.
According to the Education Act, adult education at upper secondary schools and tertiary professional schools takes one of the following forms:
- evening courses (večerní studium) with regular classes several times a week totalling from 10 to 18 hours a week, usually in the afternoon and evening;
- distance study (dálkové studium) from 200 to 220 consultation hours in a school year;
- distance study mostly in the form of e-learning (distanční studium) – self-learning mainly via information technologies, supported by individual consultation;
- combination of study forms (kombinované studium) – education using on-site and one of the forms of education mentioned above.
The duration of these forms is at most one year longer than on-site courses. Details are included in the relevant educational programme, which usually also recommends teaching methods.
In the 2022/23 school year, the upper secondary education provided by upper secondary schools in other than the on-site form was attended by merely 1.7 % of all learners at this educational level (excluding follow-up study and shortened study). Alternative forms of study are typically most common in follow-up and shortened courses, where over 40 % of pupils did not study on site in 2022/23. (Source: Statistical Yearbook – Education. Performance Statistic Indicators.)
In study programmes organised by schools, the learners are assessed continuously in regular consultations. Like the on-site students, learners in other study forms receive grades twice in a school year.
After passing the required exams, graduates of other than on-site studies (according to the Education Act) receive a certificate or a degree of the same value as that of on-site students at upper secondary education and tertiary professional schools.
Provision targeting the transition to the labour market
Retraining is one of the tools of active employment policy. In general, it focuses on the adaptation of the labour force to changes in the labour market, i.e. to acquire a new qualification or upgrade, extend, deepen, or update existing qualifications. Most participants are employment seekers registered with the Labour office. In these cases, the general objective is employability, with the concrete aim of preparing them for a certain job, of supplying them with certain skills required by the labour market.
Retraining courses are intended for persons with a defined status on the labour market: either the participant is registered as an employment seeker (unemployed) at some of the Labour Office's branches, or the course is prepared for employees of a certain employer, that is e.g. changing the production programme.
The retraining is regulated by the Act on Employment, the details are specified by the Decree on Retraining of Job-seekers and Employees and the Decree Stipulating the Essentials of an Application for the Accreditation of an Educational Programme, the Organisation and the Form of Completing the Education in a Retraining Institution.
If courses organised by an upper secondary school (střední škola) or a tertiary professional school (vyšší odborná škola) are to be recognised as retraining for registered unemployed persons, it has to be upon agreement with the relevant Labour Office branch. Schools provide mostly such a type of further education that corresponds to their specialisation. Schools do not have to apply for accreditation in the fields they teach normally. In other fields of study, they must apply to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for accreditation. In general, the fields of retraining courses organised by schools or other institutions are influenced by labour market needs and they change over time and geographical area.
In retraining courses, the on-site, possibly combined form of study is preferred to a distance one, as the distance form does not help the socialisation of the trained person. It is not possible to use the combined form of study for skills training. Study material of high quality and effective feedback must be assured.
The leavers of all types of schools who did not succeed in the labour market are offered the so-called non-specific retraining courses, preparing job applicants for employment with the aim of increasing their employability. The courses focus on computer literacy, management, marketing, accounting, banking, labour relations and preparation for private enterprise in combination with intensive foreign language training.
Educational programmes aimed at supporting of specific social groups with more difficult access to the labour market or at a risk of social exclusion also exist. It regards the education of young people or fresh school leavers, those who re-enter the labour market after a break caused by maternity leave, persons above 50, or other reasons, persons from socially excluded background or the background at a risk of social exclusion, with insufficient knowledge of the Czech language, with physical disabilities, etc.
Such education is realized with the long-term support primarily from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, their directly managed organizations and operational programs.
Provision of liberal (popular) adult education
Adult education has a long tradition in Czechia. Initially, it was rather a matter of individual interest. The beginning of edification activities dates back to the period of the enlightenment. In the course of the 19th century, many cultural-enlightenment institutions and associations were established. Nowadays, such education is generally provided by cultural institutions (established by municipalities), commercial organisations, or schools.
Education is a more or less regular element of the work of museums and galleries, including lectures, seminar series, or exhibition commentaries. Libraries organise a range of cultural and educational activities (lectures in various topics, exhibitions, courses, etc.). Community culture centres traditionally organise lectures and courses in different areas (including but not limited to musical instrument tuition, dancing, and social deportment courses) according to people's interests.
Also the leisure time centres (střediska volného času) - the school facilities for developing personal Interests which are primarily aimed at leisure activities of children and youth - organise many courses and other activities for adults (e.g. sports, arts, arts and crafts, music, drama, languages, ICT, etc.).
According to the Higher Education Act the higher education institutions (vysoké školy) can provide also lifelong learning courses in addition to their regular study programmes. The courses can be professionally oriented or aimed at personal development (e.g. the University of the Third Age, courses for public). Internal rules of individual institutions specify the conditions of such courses.
Admission requirements only apply in cases when the course is organised as further education and prior knowledge is needed (e.g. musical instrument tuition).
Civic education helps people to adapt to historical and social changes. It is generally of a cultural nature, with the aim of developing civic literacy, active citizenship or generally cultivating the public space. It is provided mostly by different cultural institutions, non-governmental and non-profit associations.
Other types of publicly subsidised provision for adult learners
In-company and sectoral training
In-company and sectoral education and training is usually focused on the professional and personal development of employees and does not lead to acquirement of an educational level.
The Labour Code contains part Professional Development of Employees which sets the rights and obligations of both employees and employers in this area.
The employee is required to maintain, extend, and update the qualifications. The employer is obligated to provide training to the employees without qualifications, or those transferred to another workplace or a new type of work for reasons on part of the employer. The employer is also obligated to assure a vocational practice to graduates who have less than two years of work experience. The employer is entitled to require the employee to develop the qualification (it involves maintaining and refreshing) and the employee is obligated to follow this. Upgrading of qualification involves also acquiring or extending the qualification.
The employer covers the costs of training, vocational practice, and qualification development; employee receives a salary or wage. In case of the upgrading of qualification, the same rules apply only in case that the study (courses or other form of training) is conformed to the relevant needs of the employer. Where the form of vocational training is expensive, the employer and the employee can conclude the so-called qualification agreement, which obligates the employee to remain in employment with the employer for a period up to five years (maximum) or reimburse the employer for the costs.
In-company or sectoral training, various further vocational training and language courses are organised for participants with various entrance levels of education and the organisers or educational institutions define them individually.
In certain occupations, the employees are obligated to update their knowledge and skills and in given periods to undergo re-examinations set by special legal rules. Sectoral training with a high level of obligation for workers is typical in some sectors where there is continuous innovation (traditional examples are medicine and the health service as a whole and a range of technical professions) or for some employers (in education, the judiciary, banking or public administration).
In-company training aims at improving current performance or at the introduction of new tasks within the organisation.
Courses organised by employers are most often aimed at specific skills related to the performance of respective occupations, and at language learning. Courses are also commonly oriented at managerial skills and soft skills development, including practical knowledge of information and communication technologies as well as team-work.
In the state administration, education of employees is focused on information and communication technologies, legislative education in the areas of public administration and EU standards, economic and language courses, and personal skills course, especially in communication skills. Training is generally provided by specialised educational institutions.
Compulsory trainings of safety at work and fire protection take place across sectors. In some occupations, for example technical professions, special further education is compulsory.
Forms of education in employment typically include courses and practical training sessions, induction plans, or simulations at the workplace. The use of independent study and e-learning has become increasingly more common, while workshops, seminars, conferences and fairs are currently less frequent.
Self-contained adult education systems (professional, sectoral), which are covered by legislation, have their own systems of certification, which are usually not transferable into other professions/sectors, but usually nationally accepted. The participants of accredited retraining courses and courses concluded by a professional qualification examination according to the Act on Verification and Recognition of Further Education Outcomes gain national certificates.
Providers of further education are not obliged to register or to report on the content of the courses, so such information is available from surveys. The Czech Statistical Office (Český statistický úřad) carries out regular Labour Force Surveys, providing them to Eurostat. Czechia repeatedly participates in several Eurostat surveys: Continuing Vocational Training Survey (CVTS), Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Adult Education Survey (AES).
Lifelong learning at higher education institutions
In addition to their regular study programmes, higher education institutions (HEIs – vysoké školy) can provide also lifelong learning courses according to the Higher Education Act. The courses can be professionally oriented (e.g. in-service training of education staff) or aimed at personal development. Internal rules of individual institutions specify the conditions of such courses. Lifelong learning courses are either paid or are free-of-charge.
Participants in lifelong education are not considered to be university students. However, according to the Higher Education Act, a HEI can recognise up to 60 % of the credits necessary to obtain a degree in case successful graduates of lifelong learning courses become students of regular accredited (degree) study programmes.
Within lifelong learning programmes (sometimes called 'Year Zero'), some higher education institutions (e.g. Law Faculty, Charles University) accept applicants who passed an entrance examination but were not admitted to regular courses due to a lack of capacity. These students can take subjects according to the study plan for Year 1 and if they satisfy all prescribed study requirements, they can be excused from the entrance examination for the following academic year and become students of regular courses. The studies have the character of post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED 444). The participants (before being admitted to regular courses) do not have official student status.
Some higher education institutions and commercial education agencies offer preparatory courses for entrance examinations for many fields of study and in a broad scope for those applicants who were not admitted to regular study programmes. Education agencies also organise courses whose content is similar to the first year of higher education (these are sometimes called 'Year Zero'). Participants in these courses do not have official student status and cannot enjoy various student benefits. Some education agencies therefore offer courses combining one-year post-secondary foreign language courses and training for entrance examinations for the chosen field of study with student status maintained.
If need be, courses can be organised for very limited target groups where the social status is the admission requirement. These can be e.g. courses to help homeless persons to get out of their situation, or educational courses in prisons.