Supply of vocational education and training in English extended
From the beginning of 2023, 8 new education providers will have the right to provide qualifications in English. It means that the supply of education and training in English will expand by 50 per cent and now total 23 education providers have the right to provide 61 different kinds of qualifications in English. The decision will expand the supply of education in English especially in the fields of cleaning and property services, accommodation, restaurant and catering services, tourism services, health and social services, and mechanical engineering and production technology.
In Finland many sectors are experiencing labour shortages, and therefore it was necessary to increase the supply of vocational education and training in English. Providing more education and training to complete a qualification in English widens the educational opportunities of foreign-language speakers and helps them find employment. Another aim is to strengthen the vitality and competitiveness of regions.
The prerequisite for the authorisation to provide vocational qualifications in a foreign language is that the education provider makes sure that the students develop, improve and achieve sufficient skills in Finnish and Swedish as part of the education and training to complete a qualification in English. Education providers must have close cooperation with employers so that employers, too, are committed to the education to ensure their access to skilled labour. Ensuring that employees want to stay working in a sector requires that these students have the possibility to acquire Finnish language and cultural skills to get a job in Finland.
Current Government Programme defined objectives for VET
In June 2023, Finland’s 77th Government was appointed and the outcome of the negotiations on the Government Programme was published. The Government set the goals for VET. These main goals are:
- Reducing discontinuation of studies.
- Promoting the use of training agreements and apprenticeship training.
- Guaranteeing access to contact teaching, workplace instruction and support for learning.
- Restructuring the financing of VET by introducing stronger incentives for education providers to ensure that students complete their studies, find employment and transition to further studies; reviewing the indicators used in effectiveness-based financing, as well as their monitoring; introducing incentives for students to complete micro-credentials.
- Strengthening cooperation between VET and business and industry to ensure VET better meets the needs of working life and reduces labour market mismatches.
- Ensuring a wider offering of VET studies provided in English.
- Including more physical and health education into qualification requirements.
The goals agreed on in the Government Programme do not come to effect immediately but will work as a guideline that the Government will intend to follow through its term of office. For example, legislative amendments must be prepared before bringing them to the Parliament for approval.
Preparatory education for an upper secondary qualification
Preparatory education for an upper secondary qualification (TUVA) combines voluntary additional basic education, also known as 10th grade, with preparatory education for general upper secondary education (LUVA) and preparatory education for vocational education and training (VALMA). TUVA education will start on 1 August 2022.
The goal is to ensure that preparatory education is available as close as possible to the student's home. A student could, for example, apply for preparatory education provided by an upper secondary education provider, even if his goal is to transfer to vocational education and training, or the other way around. The student would also not need to know whether he intends to apply for upper secondary education or vocational education and training when starting preparatory education.
International competence as an optional part of all IVET qualifications
New optional qualification unit allows VET students to gain work experience in international environments. The new unit brings opportunities especially to those students whose fields have not traditionally had international mobility as a part of their training.
The unit consists of the following parts:
- preparing to work in international environments
- interaction in international networks
- working in an international environment
- applying and sharing international competence
The new unit does not require a working period abroad.
Programme for the sustainable development of vocational education and training and the green transition
The Programme for the sustainable development of vocational education and training and the green transition supports the achievement of the global Agenda 2030 objectives in VET and addresses the challenges posed by climate change and biodiversity loss in the functioning of VET institutions. Development work focuses on actions to strengthen a sustainable future in the following themes:
- development of a roadmap for the sustainability of VET and of education providers’ sustainable development programmes;
- strengthening, innovation and piloting an active culture of experimentation that will strengthen a sustainable future.
Digital service package for continuous learning
The aim is to develop a digital service package for continuous learning, which would consist of interconnected smart e-services and related information reserves. Every individual (including employed persons) would have easy access to career planning online: to identify their own interests, constraints and skills, to define a future target state and to identify opportunities from the perspective of competence development and employment. Alongside the transfer of TE services and the preparation of the labour market service model, the Finnish Government is preparing a number of other reforms that will improve the services for jobseekers and promote employment, such as the reform of digital TE services. The positive employment impact will be generated by the combined effect of these reforms.
Government proposal for a minimum number of school social workers and psychologists per pupil / student
Both comprehensive and upper secondary schools must have at least one social worker per 670 pupils / students and one school psychologist per 780 pupils / students. The law will enter into force at the beginning of 2022.
The statutory school social worker and psychologist / student ratio ensures more equal access and quality of these services in different parts of Finland. Better support for children and young people in schools promote the extension of compulsory education, improve opportunities to tackle bullying and also help to fill learning and well-being gaps caused by the corona.
In addition, there will be some clarifications for school social worker eligibility requirements.
The government has admitted 29 million euros special state subsidy from 2023 onwards for hiring school psychologists and social workers.
10 million euros was granted in 2021-22 as a special state grant to 120 municipalities and joint municipal authorities to be used for the recruitment of school psychologists and social workers and for the strengthening of collective pupil welfare services and preventive work.
The service system for continuous learning
The service system for continuous learning will be reformed in 2021. Key measures include increasing the provision of education that considers different life situations as well as the needs of the world of work and strengthening the structures of the bond between work and competence. The digital solutions to be introduced by 2023 will form the framework and platform for the services in continuous learning. Guidance will make it easier to reach out to different target groups at work and outside work. Foresight and its utilisation will be improved.
Compulsory education extended until age of 18
Compulsory education will end when a young person reaches the age of 18 or has completed an upper secondary qualification,6 general upper secondary education and matriculation examination or vocational qualification. The reform will enter into force on 1 August 2021. Young people finishing their basic education in spring 2021, mainly those born in 2005, will be the first age group affected by the reform.
From August 2021 upper secondary level students will get free:
• instruction (already free of charge)
• daily school meal (already free of charge)
• textbooks and other learning materials required in instruction
• tools, clothing, ingredients and other materials required in instruction
• the 5 tests required for completing the matriculation examination at the end of the general upper secondary syllabus and, in the case of these tests, retake of rejected tests
• school journeys of seven kilometres or more
• in some special cases, accommodation and travel costs.
In education programmes where special equipment, such as musical instruments and sports equipment are used, and which are also used by the students outside instruction, the costs will still be paid by the students. All above mentioned will be free of charge until the end of the calendar year in which the student will be 20 years. The period of free education could also be extended for justified reasons, for example due to illness. Extending compulsory education is one of the objectives laid down in the Government Programme. The reform will raise Finland’s level of education and competence, decrease learning gaps and increase equality in education. The extension of compulsory education is also expected to increase the employment rate.
Action plan to prevent bullying
The Ministry of Education and Culture, in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, has prepared a comprehensive action plan to prevent bullying, teasing, violence and harassment in schools and educational institutions.
The means of the program range from actions to prevent bullying to teacher training aiming to promote well-being of pupils and students by various means. The goal is to ensure that every child and young person can attend school safely and to ensure zero tolerance for school bullying.
Activities to fight against bullying need to begin already in early childhood education and care. According to the action plan a separate programme is needed to support emotional intelligence and social skills in early childhood education and care as a means of preventing bullying and teasing.
Provisions on bullying and harassment in the Act on General Upper Secondary Education and in the Act on Vocational Education and Training should be made more specific. Therefore, there is a need for some amendments to current legislation.
The action plan includes 14 measures, for example
• Equipping children with necessary tools to develop emotional intelligence and social skills already at the early childhood education.
• Providing adequate training for teachers so they can detect and prevent bullying and loneliness among pupils, granting teachers and principals the authority to intervene in disagreements and act against bullies if needed
• Hiring more psychologists for schools.
Institutions are also encouraged to cooperate with police, social workers and youth workers to ensure a safe and peaceful environment.
Bullying and teasing takes also place outside school time, at pupil’s leisure time. Youth workers meet students and young people outside of school and therefore the government considers it important to introduce the methods and practices used by youth workers in schools and educational institutions
Program measures in Finnish Ohjelman toimenpiteet