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In the European Union, workplace-based training (WBT) has been recognised as one of the best ways to motivate a trainee to get into vocational education, to promote youth employment and to ensure the compliance of the training with the requirements of the labour market. WBT is a type of vocational training where a trainee acquires practical skills and knowledge in actual workplace in a company for at least a half of the training period, but theoretical knowledge is acquired in a vocational education institution. Successful implementation of WBT directly depends on the wish of entrepreneurs to take part in such a training model.
In Latvia, the procedures for organizing and implementing workplace-based training are established by the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 48 of 15 July 2016: “Procedures for Organizing and Implementing Workplace-Based Training”.
The decisive role in Latvia in terms of apprenticeship and traineeship is the programme “Youth Guarantee”, within the framework of which young people, within four months after registration in the SEA or reception of the status of a Youth Guarantee customer, are ensured a high-quality offer for a job, traineeship, apprenticeship as well as education, including education programmes, upon accomplishment of which a recognised professional qualification is acquired.
The regulatory framework for IVET training in Latvia is based on the Vocational Education Law (1999). The content of the IVET programmes is defined by relevant national vocational education standards by the Cabinet Regulations “On the National Vocational Secondary Education Standard and the National Vocational Education Standard” (2008) and the relevant occupational standards. The regulatory framework for the apprenticeship in the craft sector is established in the Crafts Law (1993), which also defines a craft apprentice as “someone who has joined a craft company or an educational institution and signed a training contract”.
The law provides for trade union involvement in the development and implementation of IVET in Latvia.
The Vocational Education Law states that sector skills councils, trade unions, and other public organisations have the right, inter alia, to participate in defining the occupational standards and educational programmes; and to participate in the provision and evaluation of the quality of VET. This work is done by the Tripartite Cooperation Sub-council of Vocational Education and Employment, which is made up of equal numbers of representatives from trade unions, employers’ organisations and Ministries.
In order to reach the initially planned outcome of the Youth Guarantee – 9700 supported, involved NEETs and the result indicator of 6500 NEETs, who have acquired professional qualification of the second or third level, several measures for involvement of the target group were implemented within the project in 2015 in order to increase the admission rate to the 12-month and 18-month vocational education programmes, with the measures based on the analysis of the previous project activities and results:
- the strategy for communication and visual identity has been developed; within the framework of which it is possible to create a more successful and recognisable publicity for the implementation of project measures that would complement each other for the implementing bodies of the project phase of both Youth Guarantee projects, and it would be possible to plan and carry out different advertising and publicity measures on the basis of it both in social media and when developing publicity materials more successfully than up to now; we plan to create Facebook, Twitter accounts on the basis of the common identity of Youth Guarantee;
- in order to motivate young people aged 17–29, who are not working and studying, to use the Youth Guarantee benefits, the SEDA implemented a socio-educational campaign “Atmet BEZdarbību!” (Give Up INactivity!) throughout Latvia from 13 August to 9 September 2015. (visual materials can be viewed here)
Here the information on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee measures in the time period from 01.01.2014 till 31.05.2015 can be found – involvement of unemployed youth in the support measures, employment, regarding the implemented training programmes (in Latvian).
Section 1 Paragraph 4 of the Education Law establishes that “education is a process of systematic acquisition of knowledge and skills and development of attitudes, and result thereof. The educational process includes teaching and upbringing activities. The result of education is comprised of the totality of the knowledge, skills and attitudes of a person”.
The use of the results of learning in the learning process is ensured by the national standards for education and professions, the system of state examinations, as well as licensing and accreditation of educational institutions and programmes.
In the vocational and higher education, there is a system for assessment and recognition of knowledge, skills and competences achieved beyond formal education.
To assess learning achievement, 10-grade system is used on the basis of the following criteria:
The amount and quality of knowledge acquired;
Skills and abilities acquired;
Attitude towards learning;
The dynamics of learning achievements.
Upon finishing primary school, students take centralised examinations, the number and contents of which is established by the MoES.
Students, who have been assessed in all subjects of the basic education programme both yearly and in state examinations, receive a certificate of basic education and a transcript of records. The assessment of school subjects, in which a centralised examination is held, is attested by a certificate of basic education. The documents attesting basic education entitle to continue education in any secondary-level education programme, also in a Youth Guarantee programme, that is described above.
Apprenticeship and traineeship for youth are financed from the funds granted to the implementation of the Youth Guarantee (national budget, ESF and Youth Employment Initiative funding).
Basic and secondary education in Latvia are free of charge.
Within the higher education programmes, the state covers the fee for acquisition of education for a certain number of study places according to the state order in the respective study year, the relevant students may (possibly) receive a state-awarded scholarship. For the rest of study places, each institution of higher education may determine a fee for acquisition of education.
The most important suggestions for further changes in the implementation of the Youth Guarantee programme and related political initiatives are the following:
necessity to improve the exchange of information among the schools and local municipalities regarding young people exposed to risk, in order to decrease even more the number of young people who have left school early;
improve the relation between granting allowances and youth involvement in programmes;
necessity to develop a high-quality workplace-based training system in close cooperation among schools and employers;
necessity to strengthen and improve the availability of career guidance at schools in order to motivate students, who wish to leave school, to join vocational education programmes;
interrelate the interest-based education system in Latvia with other social, healthcare and employment services, thus embracing a larger amount of young people exposed to risk;
to strengthen the capacity of the SEA and social services of local municipalities, particularly with regard to counsellors who work with young people at risk of social exclusion;
to expand support measures for acquisition of work experience for NEETs.
The Latvian Chamber of Crafts is solely responsible for vocational training in the crafts sector. Latest figures show that there were 29,855 young people involved in vocational training in Latvia in 2014/15. This represents a significant year-over-year reduction since the 2008/09 figures (38,819). 43% of them were women. Latest figures from the Latvian Chamber of Crafts show that approximately 50 craft apprentices passed the journeymen/women examinations in 2014 – a very significant drop since the late 2000s. The non-completion rate in IVET is high – 55%; 11,478 students started the 1st year of their courses (in 2010/11) but only 5,154 completed the 4th year (in 2014/2015).
IVET qualifications are classified at Level 2 and 3 in the Latvian Qualifications Framework (EQF Level 3 and 4). Craft qualifications are recognised in the crafts sector but not in the formal education system, therefore they are not incorporated in the Latvian Qualifications Framework. Craft apprentices enter into a training contract with employers, but not an employment contract, and are not considered workers and, based on this, they may not join a trade union. The issue of pay for craft apprentices and IVET students on work placements is not regulated. Evidence suggests that some of them are paid. The minimum monthly wage in Latvia (2015) is €360.