Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Main types of provision


8.Adult education and training

8.4Main types of provision

Last update: 27 November 2023

Adult Education and Training is provided through various channels. Formal education structures such as General Formal Adult Learning Settings (Second Chance Schools) offer education to those who have not completed compulsory education. Vocational Training Schools/ESK and Vocational Apprenticeship Schools/EPAS of the Greek Public Occupation Service (DYPA) offer training at the post-lower secondary level, while Vocational Training Institutes/IEK and Post-Secondary Apprenticeship Programs offer training at the post-secondary vocational level.

Public Lifelong Learning Centres/KDVM offer continuous vocational training, reskilling, upskilling, and general adult education. Municipalities and Higher Education Institutions also offer programs for adult learning. During the Covid pandemic, long distance education means were also deployed for the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs' educative structures.

Provision to raise achievement in basic skills

Scholeia defteris efkairias - second chance schools

Second Chance schools were established in 1997 by law 2525/1997. According to Law 4763/2020, they are under the responsibility of the General Secretariat for Vocational Education and Training, Life Long Learning and Youth/Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, which  establishes their educational framework and supervises them. To enroll one must have reached the minimum age of 18 years and not completed compulsory education, having obtained a primary school leave certificate. Attendance is free of change.

The aims of Second Chance Schools are:

  1. completion of compulsory education for people that have reached the minimum age of 18 years.  
  2. connection of learners to the education and training systems.
  3. acquisition of current knowledge, skills and attitudes that can help to their socio-economic inclusion and advancement.
  4. reinforcement of learners’ self-esteem and
  5. contribution to their inclusion or improvement of workplace  status.  

The curricula of Second Chance Schools are designed to be open and flexible, with a focus on providing knowledge, developing skills, and fostering positive attitudes. The core of the curricula includes subject areas and literacies that are aligned with the 8 basic competencies of the European Reference Framework. In addition to these core subject areas, preparatory classes may also be offered to help individuals prepare for the exams required to obtain a primary school leaving certificate, as well as classes to teach Greek language to immigrants and refugees who wish to enroll in Second Chance Schools.

The Second Chance Schools' curriculum is designed to be intensive and lasts for 18 months, divided into two nine-month periods spanning across two school years. Classes are held in the evenings between 4:30 or 5:00 pm and 8:30 or 9:00 pm, with a weekly schedule covering 21 teaching hours. Upon successful completion of the program, students are awarded a certificate equivalent to the lower secondary education leaving certificate.

The curriculum is designed to be flexible and open, allowing for a constant redefinition of goals and modification of content to adapt to the students' needs. Teaching methods are innovative and based on the unique way in which adults acquire knowledge, incorporating an experiential approach to learning, group learning, and interdisciplinary approaches.

The Second Chance Schools not only provide knowledge but also social competencies like communication, cooperation, and problem-solving. Students are supported in their learning path by the counselling services provided by the school, which includes a psychologist and a career counsellor for each institution.

Τhe following courses are taught in Second Chance Schools:

  •     Greek Language
  •     Mathematics
  •     Information Technology
  •     English Language
  •     Social Education
  •     Environmental Education
  •     Natural Sciences
  •     Arts Education

To ensure the best functioning of Second Chance Schools, two advisory bodies have been institutionalized. The Career Counselor provides personalized and group counseling to facilitate and support learners in entering or re-entering the labor market. Meanwhile, the Psychologist-Counselor intervenes in a supportive way for individuals or groups that face difficulties within this education framework, while also supporting the teaching staff in facing the problems that arise.

Second Chance Schools are co-funded by European and national resources through the operational programs of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. Currently, there are 66 Second Chance Schools (and 22 branches), and 12 Second Chance Schools located within correctional institutions. These schools operate in all districts. As of the school year 2020-2021, 5,352 learners were enrolled in Second Chance Schools. However, as of January 2022, the number of enrolled learners decreased to 4,634.

Provision to achieve a recognised qualification during adulthood certification

Scholeia defteris efkarias - second chance schools

Second Chance Schools, also known as Scholeia Defteris Efkarias (SDE), were established to address social exclusion and support individuals aged 18 years and older who have not completed compulsory education. By offering a flexible and open curriculum, SDE provides graduates with the opportunity to acquire knowledge, develop skills and attitudes, and obtain a certification equivalent to the lower secondary education leaving certificate, recognized by the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP) and corresponding to level ISCED 2. This certification helps smooth their integration into social, financial, and professional structures, and prevent the risk of social exclusion and marginalization.

Post-lower secondary Vocational Education and Training

Vocational Training Schools/ESK and Vocational Apprenticeship Schools/EPAS of DYPA

According to Law 4763/2020, new learning pathways at all levels (3-5) of the National/European Qualifications Framework have been created. Specifically, post-lower secondary Vocational Education and Training of level 3 is provided at Vocational Training Schools/ESK and Vocational Apprenticeship Schools/EPAS of DYPA. The main objectives of these schools are:

  • To offer vocational education and training services to graduates who hold a certificate of compulsory education or any equivalent certificate.
  • To address early school leaving, upskill basic skills of holders of compulsory education certificates or equivalent certificates, and facilitate their integration into the labor market.
  • To promote the inclusion of vulnerable social groups in professional life, with regard to Vocational Training Schools/ESK.

Attendance in Vocational Training Schools/ESK and Vocational Apprenticeship Schools/EPAS of the Public Occupation Service, DYPA lasts for two years and is divided into Grade A and Grade B. Grade A is open to Lower Secondary leaving certificate holders or those holding an equivalent certificate without the need for an entrance exam. Trainees who progress from Grade A can enroll in Grade B. Each specialization in Grades A and B includes practical training or work-based learning, as outlined in the Training Guide. Attendance is free of charge, and both in-person and distance vocational training options are available, including synchronous, asynchronous, or mixed-distance education and training, based on the Training Guide for each specialization. Each trainee is limited to attending only one Vocational Training School/ESK and Vocational Apprenticeship School/EPAS of DYPA, and they cannot simultaneously enroll in other education or training structures. Trainees who successfully complete their attendance at a Vocational Training School/ESK or Vocational Apprenticeship School/EPAS of DYPA receive a Level 3 VET certificate (certification required). Public Vocational Training Schools/ESK under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs will operate as decentralized bodies under the Secretariat General for Vocation Education and Training, Lifelong Learning, and Youth of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, as established by Law 4763/2020. Currently, Vocational Training Schools/ESK have not been established, as this law was recently enacted.

Vocational Apprenticeship Schools/EPAS of DYPA operate on the basis of law 4763/2020

Attendance last two years. EPAS learners in the morning attend the “work-based learning program” (work placement in enterprises) that lasts 6 hours and, in the evening, (in the schools) they attend theoretical and laboratory courses in pertinent specializations.

Vocational Apprenticeship Schools/EPAS of the Public Occupation Service (DYPA) successfully implement the dual Apprenticeship system since 1952. Apprentices acquire vocational experience in real working conditions in enterprises of all domains of national economy and in plenty technical specializations.

At Vocational Apprenticeship Schools/EPAS of DYPA can enroll Gymnasio leave certificate holders or holders of any other equivalent certificate, age15-29. For their admission the following criteria are taken into account: grade of certificate leave, social criteria (such as family with many children, family with three children, orphan learners, law family income, etc).

The Act ‘EPAS OAED Apprenticeship/Work placement’ is part of the Operational Programme ‘Human Recourse Development, Education & Lifelong Learning”-  Executive Structure Partnership Agreement 2014-2020 and is co-funded by the European Social Fund.

Currently 50 DYPA EPAS are operating as well as 6 Experimental EPAS (tourism domain). During the year 2021 there were 7.645 apprentices.

Vocational Education: Epangelmatika lykeia - EPAL (vocational upper secondary schools) and Special needs vocational lower – upper secondary education schools  

During the 2021-2022 school year, 78,491 students (including 11,603 adults) attended Day Epangelmatika lykeia - EPAL (vocational upper secondary schools). Evening Epangelmatika lykeia - EPAL (vocational upper secondary schools) had 24,434 students (including 23,853 adults), and Special needs vocational lower – upper secondary education schools had 3,598 students (including 1,795 adults). Further information for these education structures are provided in Chapters 6 and 12. 

Vocational Education: Epangelmatika lykeia - EPAL (vocational upper secondary schools) and Special needs vocational lower – upper secondary education schools  

During the 2021-2022 school year, 78,491 students (including 11,603 adults) attended Day Epangelmatika lykeia - EPAL (vocational upper secondary schools). Evening Epangelmatika lykeia - EPAL (vocational upper secondary schools) had 24,434 students (including 23,853 adults), and Special needs vocational lower – upper secondary education schools had 3,598 students (including 1,795 adults). Further information for these education structures are provided in Chapters 6 and 12. 

Post-secondary Vocational Training

Institouta Epangelmatikis Katartisis - Vocational Training Institutes

The Post-Secondary – Apprenticeship Programme was launched in 2017 as a pilot project under the Law 4386/2016. According to the Law 4763/2020, the Post-Secondary – Apprenticeship Programme is now implemented under the Secretariat General for Vocational Education and Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. The SPAEE at the district level is responsible for supporting the programme. The Post-Secondary – Apprenticeship Programme classes are held at EPAL schools. The objectives of the Post-Secondary – Apprenticeship Programme are:

  • To provide initial vocational training services for graduates of non-compulsory secondary vocational education as well as holders of equivalent certificates.
  • To reskill vocational qualifications for graduates of non-compulsory secondary vocational education, through a learning path that deploys existing vocational knowledge, skills and competencies.
  • To further reinforce the inclusion of graduates of non-compulsory secondary vocational education in the labor market by acquiring work experience deploying the apprenticeship methodology.

The programme has the following enrollment priorities:

  1. Holders of EPAL and ΕΝΕΕGy-L leaving certificates, degrees/πτυχίο, as well as holders of equivalent certificates in related specializations.
  2. Holders of mainstream upper secondary schools (GEL) and EPAL degrees in related specializations.

The program lasts for 11 months and begins on September 1st of each year, ending on July 31st of the following year. The applied apprenticeship methodology includes apprenticeship with work-based learning, which comprises at least 50% of the total program duration, and laboratory specialization courses at EPAL School Laboratory (ΣΕ) or Laboratory Centers (EK). The distribution between the laboratory classes and the work-based learning is defined in the Training Guide for each specialization.

Upon completion of the Post-Secondary – Apprenticeship Programme, graduates receive a Certificate of Successful Training (BEK) from the school units after being assessed for the laboratory course and the work-based learning program. The Certificate of Successful Training is a prerequisite for participating in the exams for the certification of qualifications and the acquisition of a diploma in vocational specialization, education, and training of level 5. These exams are conducted annually by EOPPEP -the National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance. Graduates can optionally attend a Preparative Certification Program, of a total of 35 hours, to thoroughly prepare for participating in the certification procedures and acquiring a level 5 certificate.

Graduates can be placed in Vocational Education Institutes (IEK) pertinent specializations, with an exemption from courses already taught or can be placed in another semester than the first one in relevant IEK specializations. Post-Secondary – Apprenticeship Programme graduates who hold a Diploma of Vocational Specialization, Education, and Training of Level 5 of the National Qualifications Framework after passing the exam for initial vocational training certification can enter Higher Education Departments of a specialization relevant to their diploma.

The Post-Secondary – Apprenticeship Programme is financed by both national and European Union resources. In  April 2022, there were approximately 2,800 apprentices in the program.

Further information are available at Chapter 6.

Provision targeting the transition to the labour market

(Provision of non -formal learning)

A basic priority of the Operational Unit for National Partnership Agreements (Partnership Agreements on funding through European Regional Developmnet Fund (ERDF) with the Ministry of Labour & Social Insurance-Division of Employment and Social Economy is to respond to the necessity of reinforcing employability to reduce unemployment and the risk of social exclusion.

It aims at empowering the unemployed by reinforcing their skills so that they can re-enter into labour market in qualitative and sustainable working positions in the dynamic fields of Greek economy, taking into account the developmental priorities of the country and the European directions for further developing and  enriching the productive model that derives from transforming economy. Therefore, the Operational Unit for Partnership Agreements of the Ministry for Labour and Social Insurance-Division of Employment and Social Economy focuses on Active Employment Policies and places emphasis on planning and implementing  training programs for upgrading knowledge and skills; on the integration and or re-integration of unemployed adults in the labor market, or/and improvement of their status into the labour market so as to respond effectively to the impact of  technological development, digital economy, climate change to the working environment.

Within this framework, the interventions of the Operational Unit for National Partnesrhip Agreements  of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance  focus on active integration policies for the training and upskilling of the unemployed adults in  consistence with modern and anticipated labor market needs, tailoring individual needs and interests. The interventions pay particular attention to age/social groups of high unemployment rates or/and difficulties in having access to the labor market, such as NEETs, women, and long-term unemployed. These interventions are a cohesive assortment of services for unemployed adults, that include vocational guidance, theoretical training, and job placement (mainly in private sector enterprises), while all skills  and knowledge aqcuired during the training is accredited. The number of vocational counseling sessions, the structure and duration of the training program (theory and practice) may vary depending on the trainees  or the specific characteristics of the target group.

In addition to the integration measures, the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance provides theoretical training courses that include vocational counseling services and training in "soft" / "horizontal" skills along with vocational uskilling in the domain of services. (Joint Ministerial Decision: 79732/27-07-2020 "Framework of qualitative specifications for planning and implementing Continuous Vocational Training programs co-funded by the European Social fund."

The framework also includes community service programs that aim to reinforce the integration/re-inntegration of unemployed adults into the labor market by employing them in job placements related to community service while providing training to reinforce and upgrade skills and qualifications. Emphasis is placed on groups that face a high risk of social exclusion, such as long-term unemployed adults, low-qualified unemployed, and 55+ unemployed, who initially need to work in a "protected environment" while maintaining and upgrading their employability. 

The methodology for implementing these programs involves the use of a training voucher system, which operates as a provision and management system for training services and other related services. The training voucher has an economic value that is exclusively used for the exchange of services provided by the training provider to the unemployed. To be eligible for the training voucher, both the unemployed individual and the provider must be registered on the relevant registers and meet specific criteria. In addition, other systems may be developed within consortia between program beneficiaries.

Vocational training voucher

  In order to facilitate access  into the labour market for unemployed individuals, the Operational Unit for Partnership Agreements NSRF of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance  has developed the "Vocational Training Voucher" system. This involves training programms that target unemployed individuals in various professional fields. The duration, content, and geographic distribution of each program varies, depending on the specific program.

These training programs are co-funded by national resources  and the European Union (European Social Fund) and aim to provide continuous vocational training services to unemployed individuals,  leading to placements in private sector positions. Each program has specific criteria and procedures that must be followed.

Unemployed individuals who are chosen and wish to participate can be registered in a registry of beneficiaries and are entitled to a Labour Market Voucher. This voucher allows unemployed candidates to receive both theoretical education and an internship in the private sector, leading to smooth integration of the trainee into the working environment of the company.

 Internship cannot exceed 6 months in total. In addition, the training provider offers support and counselling services to guide trainees before and during the internship. These services include identifying and appropriately matching the educational needs/competences of the trainees with the needs of the companies, as well as placing, monitoring, and supervising the trainee during the period of internship. There are also additional services available to help transform the trainee's internship into an employment contract with placement t in the company where the internship was completed.

Provision of learning for general (non- formal and non-vocational) adult education

Public Lifelong Learning Centres/KDVM)

According to Law 4763/2020, Public Lifelong Learning Centres are institutions that offer non-formal learning services to adults. They provide continuous vocational training, reskilling, upskilling, and general adult education. To ensure the smooth functioning of Second Chance Schools, the following advisory bodies have been established:

  1. Career Advisor - provides personalized and group counseling to facilitate and support learners in entering or re-entering the labor market.
  2. Psychologist-Advisor - intervenes in a supportive manner for individuals or groups facing difficulties within this education framework and also assists teaching staff in addressing related problems.

To ensure effective operation, the centres must have the necessary educational facilities, digital infrastructure, and qualified personnel.

The programmes offered by Public Lifelong Learning Centres follow a coherent framework. For example:

  • Continuous vocational training or general adult education programmes have theoretical and/or laboratory parts, and may also include practical training. The programme duration is specified in each call or project announcement. 
  • Career guidance and orientation services are closely linked to training services and aim to help learners develop individual plans for upskilling, prepare for practical training (if applicable), and access and maintain employment.
  •  Distance learning programmes are accompanied by digital teaching materials.

Upon successful completion of a certified Public Lifelong Learning Centre programme, learners receive an attendance and certification certificate.

As Public Lifelong Learning Centres were established under Law 4763/2020, they have not yet been fully implemented.

Lifelong learning  programmes at municipalities

The EU co-funded Lifelong Learning Centres Programme is designed to promote education and lifelong learning for all ages. It aims to cultivate a positive attitude towards learning, provide equal access to education, encourage productive use of free time, improve employability and connect adults who did not complete compulsory education with adult education. The programme adheres to the principles of equality of opportunity and non-discrimination on the basis of race or origin, religion or belief, disability, gender and age. It is suitable for all adults, including the unemployed and employed, regardless of gender, attainment level, country of origin, religion or place of residence, as long as they have a genuine interest in acquiring knowledge and are willing to actively participate.

The programme also includes independent learning classes for vulnerable social groups, such as Romani, prisoners, Muslim minorities, migrants-repatriates, and the disabled, to ensure their full and equal integration into society.

Several municipalities implement general adult education programmes, with learning activities taking place at both national and local levels. The national programmes selected by municipalities cover various themes, including Economy-Entrepreneurship, Quality of Life-Environment, New Technologies, Language and Communication, Social Skills and Actions, Culture and Art, and Vulnerable Social Group Programmes. Local programmes proposed by municipalities are tailored to local needs and aim to foster residents' economic, social, cultural and personal development. About 186 municipalities provide these programmes, and between July 2019 and the end of March 2022, 614 programmes were completed. These programmes are expected to continue until 2023.

The Lifelong Learning Centres Scheme for National and Local Programmes AP7 & AP8 is part of the Education and Lifelong Learning Entrepreneurship Programme administered by the Ministry of Education. It is co-funded by the European Union (European Social Fund - ESF) and national resources.

Other types of publicly subsidised provision for adult learners

Hellenic open university

The Hellenic Open University (HOU) was established by Law 2083/1992 and operates according to the provisions of Law 2552/1997. Its mission is to provide distance education and training at the undergraduate and graduate levels by developing and implementing appropriate teaching materials and methodologies. HOU is an independent and fully autonomous institution of higher education in Greece. It is subject to state oversight, specifically by the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs.

Instruction is delivered through distance education, where students receive educational materials in printed, audiovisual, and, in some cases, electronic formats, which they study on their own time. Students are required to write essays on the subject matter and participate in final exams at the end of each ten-month study unit. Final exams are administered after each module and can be repeated once. They are held at the HOU headquarters as well as in other cities. Group counselling meetings are organised in major cities throughout the country to provide support to students during their studies.

HOU comprises four schools:

  •     Humanities
  •     Social Sciences
  •     Science & Technology
  •     Applied Arts and Sustainable Design.

To enroll in an undergraduate program at the Hellenic Open University (HOU), students must have obtained an upper secondary education leaving certificate or an equivalent certificate of secondary education, either in Greece or abroad. Priority is given to students above the age of 23, and 5% of available positions are reserved for students with special needs.

In cases where the number of interested candidates exceeds the number of available positions, an electronic draw may be conducted, overseen by a public prosecutor to ensure the integrity of the procedure.

The HOU offers the following degrees and certificates:

  • Bachelor's degree (ISCED 6), which requires successful completion of at least 12 modules
  •  Master's degree (ISCED 7), which requires successful completion of at least 4 modules
  • PhD degree (ISCED 8), which requires a relevant master's degree and the submission of a doctoral thesis
  • Certificate of Undergraduate Education, awarded to students who complete an undergraduate education program of shorter duration than that required for a bachelor's degree
  • Postgraduate Education Certificate, awarded to students who complete a postgraduate education program of shorter duration than that required for a master's degree
  • Certificate of Attendance and Laboratory of a Subject Unit, awarded to students who successfully complete one or more subject units.

Overall, the HOU is committed to providing distance education and training, with a range of programs and certificates designed to meet the diverse needs of its students.

The resources of Hellenic Open University (HOU) come from various sources such as the State's regular budget, the public investment programme, European, international and transnational programmes, its property development, as well as student participation payment, which are linked to the implementation of the system for distant teaching (as per article 9, law 2552/1997).

As of the academic year 2021-2022, HOU has a total of 44,208 students. The age range of the students is as follows:

  1. ages 18-24: 1176 students 
  2. ages 25-30: 6505  students
  3. ages 31-35: 6425 students
  4. ages 36-40: 7615 students
  5. ages 41-54: 8225 students
  6. ages 46-50: 6547 students
  7. ages 51-55: 4113 students
  8. ages 56-60:1683 students 
  9. ages 61-65: 532 students
  10. ages above  66: 207 students.