02 SES 17 B, Skill Formation
A comprehensive vocational education and training (VET) reform has been taking place in Latvia over the past ten years. The reforms concern both the institutional developments and the VET content – with a shift to a competence based approach. The worlds of education and work are being brought closer to each other through a continuous social dialogue – in order to contribute to skills’ formation in compliance with the modern labour market developments. With an active involvement of the Sector Expert Councils and other relevant stakeholders the national system of qualifications has been created. This allows also for a more targeted approaches to work-based learning (WBL) which is a high level VET priority in Latvia since 2013 – with the adoption of the respective legal basis in 2016. A network of well-equipped VET Competence centres allows for piloting and implementing new type of modular VET programs in compliance with the sector qualifications’ structure and in the context of life-long learning. Initial and continuing VET programs are being offered and implemented not only in accordance to national level short-and-medium term labour market forecasts, but also in response to the local and regional needs. The VET Competence centres together with their advisory bodies – the Conventions consisting of representatives from the local government, local employers, the respective VET Competence centre administration, the relevant ministry and other stakeholders - are working towards becoming important regional players to promote regional development, excellence, innovation and sustainability. Increasing attention is being paid for early career guidance and counselling to support the future employment choices of young people and for reskilling and upskilling of the existing labour force – to use the available resources in an efficient and meaningful way. A particular attention is also being paid to the assessment, transfer and validation of learning outcomes (competence), given the fast changes in the study and work environments and challenges in the lifelong learning perspective. The paper will review these developments in the light of political-economic orientation of the skill formation policy in Latvia in the aftermath of the economic crisis. The research is based on the literature review, critical analysis of the policy documents and analysis of the available statistical data.
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