Modularisation of vocational programmes and occupational standards
The content of vocational education is currently being restructured around a flexible modular approach. This is done as part of the ESF project, development of a Sectoral Qualifications System and improvement of the Efficiency and Quality of Vocational Education and Training, which started in 2011. With this development latvia is following the trend in several other European countries to modularise vocational education programmes to enable them to adapt to changes in work technologies and organisation and to give students greater labour market flexibility (Pilz, 2012).
The modular approach is considered by some to be a “pump of innovation in education” (oECD, 2004). in latvia, it is seen as a key driver to make vocational education more attractive and flexible, help reduce the numbers of early leavers from education, and facilitate the recognition of skills gained outside the formal education system (MoES, 2014). The National Centre for Education (ViSC) is leading the work on the modularisation of vocational education programmes, establishing professional standards and aligning level descriptors with the EQF. The approach will divide programmes into modules based on learning outcomes, including the use of relevant teaching/learning methods and indicators of achievement. dialogue on alternative forms of assessing and evaluating learning outcomes in relation to the new modular approach has begun (Cedefop, 2015).
in 2013/14 a total of 56 modular vocational education programmes and the content of professional qualification exams for 30 professions were developed. The modules include sector-specific and general competences, and complementary specialisation modules help learners acquire specific competences within a sector. Modules for adult learners have been identified as well, thus supporting interaction between initial and continuing vocational education and training. Moreover in 2013/14, a total of 80 professional standards or basic requirements of specialisation qualifications, according to the needs of the economic sector concerned, had been elaborated or improved.
Progress in the development of modular programmes and occupational standards has been slower than planned, however. A recent progress report by the European Commission (2015) concluded that less than half of the profession standards, planned modular programmes and contents of the qualification exams have been updated and the reform is due to continue until 2023 (European Commission, 2015).