According to the preamble of Act LXXVII of 2013 on Adult Education, the aims of the Act are “to make Hungarian inhabitants capable of meeting the challenges of economic, cultural and technological development; enter the world of work successfully; succeed in life and have an improved living quality as a result of adult learning, it is necessary to have better organization in vocational, foreign language and state-supported training and improve the quality of the content and reinforce the supervision of implementation”.
The main targets of adult education, vocational education and adult training are:
- encouragement of adults to obtain missing educational attainment and/or qualifications in order to make an informed choice of vocation and qualification that will qualify them to fill in one or all positions of one or more vocation;
- to develop economy and the competitiveness of knowledge
- to introduce publicly funded, competency based and vocational training programmes for groups disadvantaged in the labour market, especially for low-qualified adults in order to improve their employability;
- to boost language competencies to meet the challenges of economic, cultural and technological development
- contribution to meeting the new knowledge demands of the information society, development of digital competences.
In 2019 and 2020, there were significant changes in the fields of adult education and training, and vocational education and training. The legislator aspires for the opportunity of the adults to participate in a knowledge-based practical learning, to give them professional knowledge adapted to the present age and to make them easier to enter the labour market based on their learning outcomes. During the development of the new training system, in accordance with the transitional provisions, adult training, vocational education of adults and adult education run parallel by considering the new and the old regulations until 31 December 2022 at the latest.
As a result of the transformation, vocational education and training has been separated from the public education system. The regulation of vocational education and training is closer to that of higher education, as both result in the acquisition of a qualification, which requires more flexible regulation.
Adult learning in Hungary
Based on the laws on education and training, one has the right to study throughout his or her life. Adult learning can take place in institutions providing basic, secondary and tertiary education in the form of full-time, evening, correspondence and distance learning. According to the profiles of the different types of institutions, adult learning is possible in the fields of adult education, vocational education of adults and adult trainings. The following figure shows the learning opportunities and obtainable qualifications for adults:
Education for adults in higher education is subject to the Higher Education Act (Act CCIV of 2011). Higher education opportunities and environment for adults are discussed in the 7th Chapter
Adult education is the school-based, formal, public education provided for adult learners. In this sense, adult education is a type of training where „the student receives school-based education matching the student’s workplace, family or other activities, as well as his/her knowledge and age.” As the above activity is mainly organised by public educational institutions, the Public Education Act (Act CXC of 2011) regulates it. The Act has a separate part for the special provisions on adult education (Section 60 of the National Public Act).
Based on the Public Education Act, presently, students may start a new school year only in adult education from the year they reach the age of 17 in the case of an eight-grade primary school, or when they reach the age of 25 in the case of a secondary school. In secondary schools, students may continue their studies within the frame of adult education from the school year when they reach the age of 16. In Hungary, education is obligatory until the end of the academic year in which the student reaches the age of 16.
Upper secondary vocational schools are institutions providing education in art, pedagogy and general knowledge, operating with five grades, of which four years are general education and vocational training according to the Vocational Education and Training Act, while the fifth year is exclusively vocational training. Upper secondary vocational schools prepare adult learners to obtain an upper secondary school leaving certificate and a vocational qualification defined in the Vocational Education and Training Act.
Vocational education of adults
From September 2020, vocational education takes place in the school system – in technicums and vocational schools - and provides a state-recognized secondary qualification and vocational qualification after a successful vocational exam.
Acquisition of a vocation from the Register of Vocational Occupations (Szakmajegyzék) is only possible in the vocational education. The Register of Vocational Occupations is regulated by Annex 1 of Government Decree 12/2020 (II.7) on the implementation of the VET Act (last amendment: Government Decree 800/2021 (XII.28)). A translation key between the former National Vocational Qualifications Register (NVQR) and the new Register of Vocational Occupations helps to navigate between the old and new professions and sectors.
Vocational training prepares learners to fill a job or to perform a specific work activity that does not require a higher level of qualification. Vocational education includes the education of basic vocations, the two units of which are basic sectoral knowledge and special professional skills; and it also includes vocational education that prepares for a partial vocation. The education of basic vocations can only take place in a vocational training institution, while the preparatory education for a partial vocation can take place in a vocational training institution or in an adult training institution. The training and the examination are separated from each other, the qualifying examination can be taken at state-accredited examination centre.
Adult training includes vocational training built on the VET Act (Act LXXX of 2019) as well as other trainings. Vocational trainings can be completed in the framework of legal relationship of adult education. The term refers to the trainings built on vocational education or trainings that are not available as basic qualifications, but prepare learners to fill a job or to perform specific work activities. Other trainings include organised trainings aimed to form and develop competences. They do not qualify as vocational trainings and are covered by the Adult Education Act. State-recognised certificates for the learning outcomes are not available, so one can’t obtain a vocational qualification after finishing the training.
Under the effective law, from 1 September 2020 an adult training activity is subject to notification. The notification can be filed to the Pest County Government Office, which is the state administrative body of the adult education.
From 1 September 2020, all adult education activities that are partly or fully funded by the state budget or by a European Union grant, or if these are vocational trainings or prepare students for a partial vocational qualification have a permitting obligation. Permissions are not granted for training programmes, but at the institutional level for adult training activities by the Pest County Government Office.
Adult training is qualified as a service, so the relevant provisions of Act LXXVI of 2009 on the General Rules of Taking up and Pursuit of Service Activity also have reference to it.