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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Developments and current policy priorities


8.Adult education and training

8.2Developments and current policy priorities

Last update: 27 November 2023

In 2019, the Act on Vocational Education and Training has replaced the previous VET act (Act CLXXXVII of 2011 on Vocational Education and Training). The new Vocational Education and Training Act has significantly transformed the previous system of VET, that had an impact on adult education and training as well. Act on Adult Education has been going through a major change too.

Due to the connection between the two laws and the complementing government decrees, it is necessary to take into account the provisions and priorities of vocational training when discussing adult training.

Milestones in the training of adults:

  • The first Act dealing with adult training was adopted in 2001, Act CI. of 2001 on adult education. In addition to labour market trainings, the act also regulated cultural and social trainings.
  • The regulation created a two-level operation of adult training organisations: registered training providers (mandatory registration) and accredited institutions. The aim of the institutional and program accreditation was to fulfil a strong role in market regulation and quality assurance at the same time. By 2010, approximately 15% of the institutions providing adult training became accredited adult training institutions.
  • The volume and financing of adult training became more and more differentiated, in addition to the traditional actors - such as the state, companies and the individual participating in the training - the European Union entered, which has been playing an increasingly important role in this field.
  • In 2013, as a result of the renewed goals, licensing (authorisation) became the main form of regulation instead of accreditation but it was applicable only to a part of the sector – the programmes relevant to the labour market.
  • With the renewal of vocational training and adult training in 2019, the aim is to make the training of adults a complex unit. The Adult Education Act, which is still in force, regulated the field of adult training with the aim of enabling members of society to meet the challenges of economic, cultural and technological development, to successfully integrate into the world of work, to be successful throughout their lives, and to improve the quality of life with the help of adult learning and training.

Long-term Government strategies

During the development of the Hungarian government strategy, the emphasis on human resources is of paramount importance. Skilled labour is essential for the development of the economy, so the government places great emphasis on close co-operation with corporations in the development of appropriate strategies.

The main framework is the “Industry 4.0 Strategy” adopted in December 2017, which, in addition to several measures, with the establishment of Sectoral Skills Councils helps to present the corporate demand in education and the strengthening of practical training in vocational and adult training. With this strong co-operation, institutions and corporations are providing dual training, which helps young people get additional modern and useful vocational knowledge. Nevertheless, it is essential to make adult training more flexible, to evaluate and validate existing professional skills, to achieve more efficient and targeted training.

A document, titled VET 4.0- Mid-term Policy Strategy of Vocational and Adult Education Renewal and the response of the vocational training system to the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, was released in 2019 and approved by Government Decree (1168/2019., III. 28). It focuses on VET based on employment needs. VET 4.0 strategy defines the systematic renewal and development of VET and adult training by 2030. Its principle is that one of the keys of the competitiveness of the Hungarian economy is the training of quality professionals. The following highlights are the strategy’s statements about adult education and training:

  • The results of a comprehensive study from 2016, which is referred in the Strategy, showed that 32,8% of the Hungarian population aged 25-64 participated in school-based or in out-of-school education in 2015. This is a 5.6% increase compared to data form 2011. Participation rates for both women and men increased: nearly 34% of women and 31,6% of men belonged to this group. The level of education was the most decisive factor in participation in training. While only slightly more than 17% of those with up to eight-grade basic school attended some form of learning, the same can be said about one-third of those with an upper secondary school leaving examination and 55% of those with a tertiary education qualification.
  • In recent times, targeted government interventions and programmes based on European Union subsidies have led to an increase in the training of people with lower education level. At the same time, it can be stated that almost 1 million people are already involved in adult education, which means a good quantitative basis. In Hungary, there is not a quantitative but a qualitative problem in lifelong learning. The previously existing adult education and training did not offer flexible learning opportunities, it was not focused on the needs of the economy, its efficiency was inadequate.
  • The number of participants in adult education has increased by providing a free second qualification opportunity, and this high number is stable. The structure of adult education is going through major changes and is increasingly adjusted to the needs of the economy. Training trends show that while VET is less attractive to the single structure school age population because its low social prestige, it is reversed in adulthood when it becomes a goal to acquire a “good” profession. It is also noticeable, that there are professions, which only become more interesting definitely in adulthood, by their age-specific characteristics. It is also worth monitoring this at the regulatory level.
  • The Strategy states that the practice of forming age groups in trainings should be avoided. There are several European examples of using qualification level instead of age groups as the basis of the training groups.

Suggestions made in the VET 4.0 Strategy:

  • The numbers of vocations in the National Vocational Qualifications Register is several times higher than the EU average. Thanks to that, the Hungarian training system is characterized by fragmentation and specialization. Therefore, a radical reduction of the numbers of vocations on the NVQR is recommended, in order to make the trainings transparent and to adapt the content of the training to the needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • In international comparison, the rate of companies that train their own employees, is low. The rate of companies that train their own employees shall be increased within small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Internal trainings are organised on site, and based on the company’s manufacturing and service processes, and as a result of accelerating technological revolution, these are expected to be further appreciated in the future.
  • A greater proportion of the VET contribution, which is one of the incomes of the National Employment Fund, shall be returned to training tasks. The VET contribution is paid to develop professional training. In view of the increase in government revenue from the VET contribution, it is proposed that a greater proportion, preferably the whole, of the VET contribution should be invested in the development of VET.
  • Scarce and specifics of labour reserves request focused and target group centralised solutions. Trainings should be based on competence assessment and development, rest on labour market expectations, in order to make the target group with competence shortages suitable for employment and retraining.

The strategy identifies intervention points that respond to the challenges of Industry 4.0. Its statements and key indicators about adult training are the following:

  • Based on the Digital Labour Force Programme, a demand-driven, output-regulated adult education and training system is needed. The school system should answer the needs of the medium- and long-term labour market, while short-term expectations related to new investments, capacity expansion and modernization should be solved by adult training. Key indicators: continued participation of minimum 200 enterprises in the work of Sector Skills Councils; reduction of the number of vocations to less than 200.
  • VET and adult training system should provide professionals with the knowledge and competences expected by companies in the occupational structure required by the economy. According to the principle of the new structure, the school system is supposed to provide a wide range of sectoral, professional knowledge and competencies that employers expect. With this basic sectoral knowledge, the special professional skills in dual practical training can be effectively acquired. With this steady basic vocational knowledge and the ability to learn, professionals finishing school will be able to renew their knowledge through their career in the system of adult and company training. Key indicators: 19 sectoral training centres with the involvement of 100 enterprises, 10,000 learners – part of them adults - trained in the form of an employment contract.
  • The development of digital skills in two different target groups appears in adult education. The knowledge of professionals working in companies needs to be renewed in large numbers (in connection with the renewal of technologies), to be able to design, install, operate and maintain robotic processes. In addition, the knowledge of disadvantaged job seekers needs to be improved as well, since it has become a requirement to be able to work in a digitalized environment in semiskilled operator jobs as well. Key indicators: digital skill levels are added to the description of every vocation in the Register of Vocational Occupations.
  • uniform labour market forecasting system should be established and operated, which enables data-driven decision-making processes. Key indicator: labour market needs of 1000 employers are uploaded in the system.
  • In recent times, employment pacts have been established at county level, in cities with county rights and in micro-regions. Connected to that, it is also important that county chambers should integrate the needs of local companies. Adult training has a major role in meeting short-term labour market needs.  The Employment Pacts (founded in 2018, at the county level, in cities with county rights and in micro-regions) needs can be used to plan the resources available and based on this, state-funded and market-based adult training institutions can develop their training programmes. Key indicators: 40 digital training courses developed for vocational qualifications; 3000 professionals involved in the trainings; cooperation with the Employment Pacts of the capital and the 19 counties
  • A multi-component program addressing the causes of early school leaving without qualification is needed to reduce drop-out rates. Obtaining a partial qualification is a basic requirement to complete compulsory education. Key indicators: 100 school workshop programmes per year with the participation of 1200 students; 50 competency-developing classes per year with 500 students. Adult learners are also involved in these programmes.
  • uniformly elaborated quality management system must be established, which makes the results of processes transparent and provides a basis for improving quality at the level of VET centres. Key indicators: a unified database and quality management system in the VET Centres, administration of VET students in a unified electronic system
  • Support for short-cycle company trainings that respond to the needs of Industry 4.0 is desirable, with reducing training time in adult education and training, recognising and validating previously acquired qualifications or knowledge gained in practice. Blended learning, which merges benefits of contact and distance education is recommended to emphasize in adult education and training. Key indicators: 10.000 participants in short-cycle company trainings responding the needs of the Industry 4.0 and 10.000 participants in blended courses.
  • One of the key elements to the competitiveness of the national economy is to improve the production and the service efficiency of Hungarian SMEs and to give innovation a greater role in their operation. Therefore, training programmes should be specifically built upon the needs of SMEs and be specialized in their development. Key indicator: participation of 2000 SME’s in special training programmes.
  • It is suggested to move from a process-controlled adult training system to an output-controlled one. Output-controlled operation of adult training is interconnected to the establishment of independent examination centres and examination in a standardized manner. Key indicator: establishment of 50 independent examination centres.
  • The real efficiency and effectiveness of the training can be examined on the score of the rate and success of those who complete the training with the acquired qualification in the labour market. The Digital Labour Force Programme is an IT system that follows the path in the labour market of those who acquired state-founded qualifications, based on an already existing digital data collection and records. Key indicator: follow-up the labour market path of 200 people graduated from school and adult training centres.

According to the findings of the strategy, there are two segments in the adult training system that require stronger output control:

  1. NVQR trainings and other authorised vocational trainings: in the case of public school-based training, during the  evaluation of the outcome, it must be confirmed that the person acquiring the qualification has the professional capacity and the competencies that employers expect. In the case of non-governmental vocational trainings, exams  shall take place in independent examination centres to provide uniform assessment.
  2. Vocational trainings that do not provide qualifications and certifications, and on-the-job trainings may require output control when the amount of state funding reaches 50%. In these cases, it is also important to operate a cost-effective and professional control system.

In October 2016, the Government adopted the Digital Education Strategy (DES) within the framework of the Digital Success Programme (DSP), which is implemented by the Centre for Digital Pedagogy and Methodology. The main goal of the DES is to ensure that no one leaves the education and training system without the proper digital competences. The DES also has objectives for adults: ‘The vision for adult learning is to make every Hungarian citizen a member of the digital community; to significantly reduce the digital divide and the number of those who have no digital competences or who do not or rarely use such competences, while enabling people to first reach and later exceed the EU average in terms of their general digital competences. The overall strategic goals are: to enhance the competitiveness of the labour force, the active social participation of citizens and social inclusion by increasing society’s digital literacy level and the participation of adults in digital learning.’

Strategy-based provisions in the field of adult training

Based on the document entitled Vocational Education 4.0 – Mid-term Policy Strategy of the Vocational and Adult Education Renewal, in 2019 the National Assembly created the new Act LXXX of 2019 on VET and modified the Act LXXVII of 2013 on Adult Education.

The Government adopted the Government Decree 12/2020 (II.7) on the implementation of the VET Act and the Government Decree 11/2020 (II.7) on the implementation of the Adult Education Act.

In accordance with the acts and the implementing regulations, a systemic transformation of vocational and adult training has begun in 2020. In agreement with the transitional rules, the trainings started in the old system and the trainings started in the new system continued in parallel until 31 December 2022.

The aim of adult training that serves the establishment of a knowledge and work-based society and economy and the implementation of the Vocational Education 4.0 strategy is to enable the Hungarian workforce to respond flexibly to the challenges of technological developments, to ensure job stability and the creation of new jobs, and to meet labour market needs effectively and quickly. The renewal of adult training in 2019-2020 were based on the following criteria:

  • Measurable (Big data driven) graduate tracking system: the effectiveness of trainings becomes comparable by anonymously linking training and labour market administrative databases.
  • Adult trainings reflecting real labour market demands: the planned renewal of the uniform labour market forecasting system helps to identify the needs. The systems’ aim is to forecast labour market needs and trends.
  • Administrative system: reducing administrative burdens will increase the efficiency of adult training providers, the types of required data becomes less, reporting gets simpler and digitalised.
  • Increasing the number of participants in trainings: introducing new financing instruments; prioritising trainings based on real labour market needs that provide usable competences.
  • Output-controlled adult training system: by establishing accredited examination centres independent of training providers, the competences of participants can be measured regardless of the length or the content of the training or the recognition of prior knowledge.