Recommendation 1: Continue improving the quality and relevance of vocational education

In 2009 Latvia embarked on a comprehensive reform to improve the attractiveness and quality and relevance of vocational education through the involvement of social partners. Good progress has been made with the reorganisation of the school network which is nearing completion, but progress on the reform of the curriculum has been slow. MoES should speed up this work also to ensure the overall reform doesn’t lose its momentum. The empowerment and professionalisation of the SECs will be a prerequisite for this.

MoES’s work-based learning pilot is without a doubt a positive development but even though its scope was increased in 2015 its coverage is expected to remain insufficient. Further expansion of the pilot will be essential to assess the feasibility of such a work-based learning model in the Latvian context. Latvia should draw on the expertise of the existing apprenticeship system organised by the Chamber of Crafts to develop its model and follow through with its intention to incorporate this apprenticeship system into formal education.

A quality work-based learning system will require a proper legal framework regulating the relationships between the apprentice and company (e.g. on pay and training requirements) and may need a system of financial incentives to facilitate the provision of learning opportunities on the employers’ side but employers will also have to play their part and take responsibility for and ownership of the new work-based learning model as they have much to gain from it.

Lastly, the scale of the reform in Latvia will require more careful monitoring and evaluation in order to keep it on track and identify innovative and successful practice that should be shared across the system. MoES has recognised this and aims to strengthen its management information system and policy analysis capacity within Latvia. To support these efforts, and the reform process in general, Latvia should consider introducing a number of new data sets and research studies allowing it to: 1) track young people’s progression through education and beyond into the labour market; 2) monitor and forecast labour-market changes and institutional responsiveness at local, regional and sectoral level; and 3) monitor employer behaviour and demand for skills.

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