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Organisation of post-secondary non-tertiary education


6.Secondary and post-secondary higher education

6.10Organisation of post-secondary non-tertiary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Types of institutions

Vocational training institutes

The main providers of post-secondary, initial vocational training are the vocational training institutes (IEK). Pursuant to law 4763/2020, they operate in the context of formal education, i.e. education offered in an organised educational context, leading to certificates recognised at national level by the public authorities.

According to law 4763/2020, vocational training institutes (IEK) aim at 

  1. providing initial vocational training to graduates of non-compulsory secondary education, ie General Lyceums and EPAL, as well as to holders of equivalent degrees and
  2. providing corresponding qualifications to the trainees, with the teaching of scientific, technical, professional and practical knowledge and the cultivation of appropriate skills, in order to facilitate their professional integration and to ensure their adaptation to the changing needs of the production process.

Vocational training institutes (IEK) operate as flexible bodies for the continuous provision, adjustment and modernization of the qualifications of the human resources and their mission is to provide essential and standard professional knowledge tools and qualifications in order to facilitate the mobility of workers, while strengthening the economy of the country, contributing to the growth of productivity and  the economic growth.

Vocational training institutes (IEK) may be public or private.  Attendance in public vocational training institutes is free of charge. 

The supervision of public IEK of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and the design of the educational framework lies with the General Secretariat for Vocational Education, Training and Lifelong Learning and Youth of the Ministry of Education.  The National Organization for the Certification of Qualifications & Vocational Guidance (EOPPEP) is responsible for the certification of IEK ‘outputs’.

According to law 4763/2020, Experimental and Thematic vocational training institutes have been established.

The public and private IEK may provide lifelong or distance vocational training, education-training modern or asynchronous or mixed, based on the Specialties' Training Guides.

Post-secondary year – apprenticeship class

The post-secondary – apprenticeship class which is optional, belongs to the post-secondary vocational training and constitutes an education path that, upon completion and certification exams leads to EQF 5. The post-secondary-apprenticeship class includes:

  1. Apprenticeship with on-the-job training at a rate of at least fifty percent (50%) of the total duration and
  2. specialty laboratory courses offered in School Laboratory (S.E.) or laboratory centers. Vocational schools (“epaggelmatika lykeia”/EPAL) are overall for the implementation of the Post-Secondary Year - Apprenticeship Class.


Post-secondary non-tertiary education includes Colleges. Colleges provide non-formal post-secondary educational and training services. They are private institutions.

They deliver study programmes based on validation and franchising agreements with higher education institutions located abroad and recognised by the respective authorities of their country. The progammes they offer lead to bachelor or master’s degrees and last for 3 years.

Degrees, qualifications, credentials, certificates and any other documentation administered by colleges are professional equivalent to higher education qualifications gained through the formal Greek education system.

The students of the Colleges can carry out the internship provided by the curriculum of their specialty, as it is defined by the partner Higher Education Institution of the foreign country, under the responsibility of the College.

Geographical accessibility

Vocational training institutes

126 Public Vocational Training Institutes (IEK) operate in Greece's major cities.  They provide specialties and organise departments in accordance with the national and regional needs of the national economy, as well as the recommendations of the competent educational authorities and stakeholders. Two IEK’s are also operate in Detention facilities/Prisons.

According to law 4763/2020, for the housing of public IEK, Secondary Education school buildings, EC and school laboratories, as well as other buildings are used, which meet the relevant conditions, following decisions on the allocation of the necessary operating spaces by the competent body on a case-by-case basis. The public IEK may have organized laboratories to provide laboratory training.

The public IEK of the Ministry of Education and Religions, which at the end of two (2) consecutive years of training from the training year 2020-2021 onwards, have a total annual number of students / trainees per year that does not exceed one hundred (100), are put into suspension operation or merged with other public IEK.

Especially for the public IEK of the Ministry of Education and Religions operating in large Regional Units (Central, South, North, West Sector of Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki), the corresponding total number of students / trainees per year for the implementation of the previous paragraph is set at two hundred (200).

In particular, public IEK of the Ministry of Education and Religions in remote, insular, border areas and in regional units with a population of less than fifty thousand (50,000) inhabitants, may operate with a total annual number of students / trainees less than one hundred (100).

By decision of the General Secretary of Vocational Education, Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth of the Ministry of Education, public IEK's departments operate outside their headquarters or in neighboring municipalities of the regional unit to which they belong. 

Post-secondary year – apprenticeship class

Peripheral Secondary education Coordinators   , in collaboration  with secondary education experts for Apprenticeship,  Directors of the Laboratory Centers and  Directors of the EPA.L. record the Apprenticeship Class specializations  to be offered by the EPA.L., provided that apprenticeship positions have been secured with employers and  required laboratory infrastructure existed .

Upon completion of recording, the Regional Directors of Primary and Secondary Education issue an invitation to submit applications for  specialties to be offered.

Admission requirements and choice of school

Vocational training institutes

Vocational Training Institutes can be attended by graduates of upper secondary school, General or Vocational or equal level structures. Trainees are not allowed to attend more than one specialty at the same time included practical training/intership or apprenticeship . 

Post-secondary year – apprenticeship class

In the Post-secondary- Apprenticeship Class, pursuant to law 4763/2020, starting from the school year 2021-2022, are enrolled in the following order of priority:

a) holders of a diploma and a degree from vocational upper secondary schools (EPAL) and the Unified Special Vocational secondary and upper secondary school (ENEEGY-L), as well as the holders of equivalent degrees in related specialties.

b) the holders of a general upper secondary school (GEL)  graduation certificate or a degree of secondary cycle of studies in a vocational upper secondary school  EPAL in related specialties.

Age levels and grouping of pupils/students

Vocational training institutes

Vocational training institutes (IEK) are attended by secondary level graduates who usually are 18 years or older.  

Pursuant to law 4763/2020, aiming at the uninterrupted monitoring and completion of the training in the public IEK in the  responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Religions, it is possible to grant scholarships to trainees based on social and economic criteria.

By decision of the General Secretary of  Vocational Education, Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth, may be determined correspondence of specialties of EPAL with specialties of I.E.K., for the registration of EPAL students in IEK. 

Post-secondary year – apprenticeship class

According to law 4763/2020, the Post-Secondary Year - Apprenticeship Class is addressed to the graduates of the secondary technical education of non-compulsory formal education, using a scoring process defined by the relevant Regulation. The age of the apprentices is, therefore, from 18 years and over.

Organisation of the school year

Vocational training institutes

The organization of student life, enrollment's criteria and procedures, transfers and mobility between specialties, as well as issues related to courses' theoretical and laboratory part are set by IEKs' Regulation (K5 / 160259 / 15-12-2021).

According to the above-mentioned Regulation, the teaching year in vocational training institutes (IEK) starts on the first Monday of October, unless this is a Saturday or a Sunday, in which case it is postponed until the next Monday. The teaching year ends on 30 June. It includes two semesters.

Enrollments are completed by the last working day of September while trainees' applications for Transfers  are submitted twice a year:

  1. for the winter semester from the 1st to the 10th of July 
  2.  for the spring semester, after the publication of the study results of the winter training semester and before the beginning of the spring semester courses. Special   transfer procedures and deadlines are provided for trainees attending courses in detention facilities.

Dates and deadlines differ for Private IEK according to Private IEK Regulation

Mobility procedures (classification and change of specialty) based on the specialties' curricula are also foreseen. Trainees are not allowed to attend   classes and complete their   internship at the same time.

in case in which in one or more IEK scheduled teaching hours are not completed, teaching hours will be covered either by increasing the hours of the weekly program (Decision of IEK's  Administration) or by semester extension decided by the competent General Secretary.

Training and any training procedures do not take place during the Christmas and Easter holidays, official public holidays and summer holidays, as well as on the days of local holidays, due to religious festivities or anniversaries.

Pursuant to law 4763/2020, the study at IEK is determined by the following:

  • Vocational training begins during the winter or spring semester, lasts at least four (4) and may not exceed five (5) semesters in total, according to the Specialty Training Guides, including those of the internship or apprenticeship period.
  • The trainees of IEK carry out the internship or apprenticeship, under the responsibility of IEK in which they study.
  • The internship period may be continuous or partial, after the successful completion of the theoretical and laboratory training of the fourth semester, unless otherwise specified in the Training Guides, and must be completed, in any case, within twenty-four (24) months from the end of the last semester of theoretical and laboratory training. Intership can be subsidized.
  • The training of the graduates of the upper secondary vocational education (EPAL), as well as of the holders of equivalent vocational education degrees, after registered in IEK, lasts from two (2) to three (3) semesters, including an internship or apprenticeship period, if it is a title in a specialty of the professional field from which they graduated from EPAL or equivalent structure of secondary vocational education.

Post-secondary year – apprenticeship class

The Post-Secondary Year - Apprenticeship program starts on September 1st of each year and ends on August 31st of the following year. The period of providing the specialty laboratory courses may start on October 1st. The on-the-job learning period can take place from October 1 of each year to August 31 of the following year. The program is completed after the completion of  the laboratory course  hours of the specialty and the  duration of workplace learning, as  specified in Specialty's Training Guide.

Organisation of the school day and week

Vocational training institutes

Teaching in IEK takes place 5 days a week, Monday through Friday, while the weekly training timetable is set by the specialty training guides.

The teaching is organised according to specialisations.  Each specialisation has its own, unique and comprehensive set of courses, organised in specific teaching hours per week.  

Training in public vocational training institutes takes place mainly in the evenings, while the duration of the teaching session for all subjects is 45 minutes.  

IEKs are housed on the premises of secondary education institutions, although other buildings may as well be used, provided they fulfil the relevant requirements.

Post-secondary year – apprenticeship class

During the post-secondary year – apprenticeship class, the following apply:

  1. Programme of laboratory subjects of specialisation.  They last 203 hours.  This programme is taught one day per week for 7 hours in laboratory centres and/or school laboratories of EPAL.  In case the teaching of some sessions does not occur, the teaching hours are replaced until the completion of the total duration of the programme of laboratory subjects of specialisation. 
  2. Programme of education at the workplace.  It lasts 32 hours per week.  It is divided in 4 days, besides the weeks that include official holidays and the time the company is closed.  In each case, the educational programme at the workplace lasts for full 9 months.  It is implemented in public sector bodies, in legal person or company and in subjects that are relevant to the specialisations that are announced.