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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in vocational education and training and adult learning


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.3National reforms in vocational education and training and adult learning

Last update: 19 October 2022


A new indicator will be used to monitor the internationalisation of VET 

Estonian VET learners and teachers have been benefiting from mobility grants provided by the Erasmus+ program since 2014. However, no methodology has been established so far to collect the mobility data. To monitor the internationalisation of VET and to support the planning and analysis of mobility policy and measures, it is necessary to ensure quality data on VET learners´ and teachers´ mobility.

In 2021, a national mobility indicator has been developed to monitor the internationalisation of vocational education and training: the share of VET graduates who have participated in short-time learning mobility (%). Students who have participated in learning mobility for at least 2 consecutive weeks during their studies are taken into account.

Learning mobility will be prioritised in the development plans of VET schools. Data collection and analytics on Erasmus+ and other mobility schemes have been improved. From January 2022, VET schools start submitting mobility data according to the new methodology.

The creation of the new indicator is in line with the Council Recommendation of 24 November 2020 on vocational education and training that encourages the creation of opportunities for learning mobility of vocational learners and staff and sets an EU-level objective for 8 % of learners in VET to benefit from learning mobility abroad.

In the Estonian Education Strategy 2021-35, the promotion of learning mobility in VET includes the following:

  • develop additional measures to increase the mobility of teachers, vocational teachers, support specialists and university teaching staff, in particular within the European Union;
  • create opportunities for short-term mobility of Estonian pupils/ students;
  • ensure the recognition of periods of learning mobility at all levels of education by improving the international comprehensibility and transparency of certificates and diplomas;
  • provide foreign language learning and education in foreign languages for both VET learners and teachers/trainers.

Merger of upper secondary schools for adults with VET schools improves learning conditions and resource efficiency 

In the academic year 2021/22, there are 10 upper secondary schools for adults in Estonia, where 91% of students study at ISCED 3 level. One of the biggest developments in adult education in recent years has been the partial integration of adult upper secondary schools with vocational schools. To prepare for the integration, negotiations were launched with local governments in 2018. In the process launched in the 2019/20 academic year, five schools have been merged and negotiations are underway with several municipalities (managers of schools).

Merger improves the learning conditions of students, provides them with additional options, reduces redundant school space and improves the efficiency of resource use. A study is planned to assess the effects of the merger.

Although part-time upper general education is intended primarily for adult learners, it is also popular among young people due to the flexibility of studies. Half of the students in the upper secondary education for adults are up to 19 years old. Compared to the previous five years, in 2021/22 the share of young people in part-time general education has increased 2021/22.


The Adult Education Act will be amended 

The planned amendments will create a two-stage quality assessment system for continuing education institutions with the goal of providing higher-quality education to adults. Previously, finding a suitable, high-quality provider of continuing education has mostly been the responsibility of the learner; the latter have, however, lacked sufficient reliable information for decision-making. The amended Act will enable prospective learners to make a more conscious choice between different providers of continuing education.

The current version of the Adult Education Act, adopted in 2015, does not require most continuing education institutions to apply for an activity licence. Qualifying institutions are instead permitted to submit a notice of economic activities. The proposed amendments will provide for more efficient supervision of economic activities and, if necessary, the deletion of institutions from the register. This should, in turn, lead to a better balance between the freedom of establishment of continuing education providers and the rights of learners, thus providing improved protection for the learners.

New provisions also include the evaluation of the content of the training provided by continuing education institutions operating with state support. Providers of continuing education passing this form of assessment would be permitted to participate in public procurements and use state budget funds for providing continuing education. An assessment certificate should also significantly improve the perceived reliability of the institution.

Future plans also include creating a public feedback system for continuing education institutions where interested parties can see the results of feedback provided by learners and donors regarding the continuing education institutions.

Another planned amendment to the Act requires continuing education institutions to record the personal data of all participants in a national register. This will provide the foundations for a digital lifelong learning file containing information on all diplomas, certificates, and other documents describing and certifying the person’s knowledge and skills awarded in the course of their life.


Amendments to the law help to improve the quality of continuing education 

The Adult Education Act regulates the field of continuing education and training. The act sets the requirements for continuing training institutions, organization of training and disclosure of information. Preparations have begun to amend the act in order to streamline the continuing training market and increase the quality of training by specifying the requirements for continuing training providers.

At present, the law regulates in particular the activities of continuing training institutions that organize in-service training funded by the state or local government or the European Structural Funds, and training for which additional requirements are set in the relevant legislation (driving schools, Estonian language courses preparing for the standard-determining exam). The updated law is scheduled to enter into force in 2022.

e-learning opportunities for adults now on one website 

During the COVID-19 crisis, the website was completed in cooperation with the Estonian Adult Educators Community, the Ministry of Education and Research and the European Adult Education web environment EPALE.

The website brings together distance learning opportunities for adults in Estonia. Trainers can announce their e-trainings through the page, learners get all the information in one place and easily find the necessary training. The website offers free and paid e-learning courses, webinars and other online learning opportunities for adults. The use of the website is free of charge for all and may include all professional and non-formal e-learning, webinars, workshops and other digital learning opportunities for adults, regardless of the environment, language and cost.

The abrupt transition to distance learning due to the COVID-19 crisis changed the plans of training providers and forced the introduction of more e-learning opportunities. In the first week, 70 training institutions added more than 300 different e-courses to the website's calendar, and the website is in active use.