02 SES 14 C, Enhancing the Standing of Vocational Education and the Occupations It Serves
In Finland, the upper secondary level consists of general education and vocational education, which can also be combined to pass a matriculation examination and obtain a vocational qualification. Quite different from other Nordic and European countries, participation rate for vocational education has increased for the past two decades and is now quite close to upper secondary education. Statistics show that 42.5 per cent (n=24459) of completers of the 9th grade of comprehensive school continued their studies in vocational education (Official Statistics of Finland, 2016a). Majority of the VET students (84.5%, n=276 946) participate in institution –based education (Official Statistics of Finland, 2016b). According to Virtanen and Tynjälä (2008), one reason for this is successful incorporation of on-the-job learning into school-based VET. Standing of VET is quite strong in Finland, as the system has been acknowledged for its overall quality (Räisänen & Räkköläinen, 2014) and the possibilities it offers for further studies (Virolainen & Stenström, 2014). Attractiveness is partly due to the reforms carried out during 1970-1990 that opened up routes to further and higher education providing general eligibility for universities and polytechnic institutions of higher education (Pylväs, Rintala, & Nokelainen, in press). According to Virolainen and Stenström (2014), other reasons behind the development are the system characteristics (on-the-job learning periods, competence tests), policy characteristics (youth qualifying for unemployment benefits) and improved image of vocational education (skills competitions, visibility in media). In the light of this, it is interesting to see the effects of the new legislation (“Finnish VET reform”, active 1.1.2018) that aims to improve the effectiveness and quality of VET by creating a competence-based customer-oriented system and increasing learning in the workplace. The effects of the forthcoming law (and the new funding model) are already visible in the form of merging of VET institutions and public discussion about quality of teaching and learning in the workplaces especially for the younger VET students (Nokelainen & Rintala, 2017).
Official Statistics of Finland. (2016a). Entrance to education. studies of completers of the 9th grade of comprehensive school 2000 – 2016. Helsinki: Statistics Finland. Retrieved from: http://www.stat.fi/til/khak/2016/khak_2016_2017-12-13_tau_001_en.html Official Statistics of Finland. (2016b). Vocational education. Appendix table 2. Students in vocational education by type of education 2016. Helsinki: Statistics Finland. Retrieved from: http://www.stat.fi/til/aop/2016/aop_2016_2017-09-27_tau_002_en.html Nokelainen, P., & Rintala, H. (2017). Pääkirjoitus [Editorial]. Ammattikasvatuksen aikakauskirja [Journal of Professional and Vocational Education], 19(1), 4-8. Pylväs, L., Rintala, H., & Nokelainen, P. (in press). Integration for holistic development of apprentices’ competences in Finland. To appear in S. Choy, G. Warvik, V. Lindberg, & I. Berglund (Eds.), Integration of vocational education and training experiences: Purposes, practices and principles. Springer: Singapore. Räisänen, A., & Räkköläinen, M. (2014). Assessment of learning outcomes in Finnish vocational education and training. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 21(1), 109-124. Virolainen, M., & Stenström, M-L. (2014). Finnish vocational education and training in comparison: Strengths and weaknesses. International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, 1(2), 81-106. Virtanen, A., & Tynjälä, P. (2008). Students' experiences of workplace learning in Finnish VET. European Journal of Vocational Training, 44(2), 199–213.
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