Recommendation 3: Increase efforts to raise participation in lifelong learning
Despite the policy support for lifelong learning in Latvia, lifelong learning is underdeveloped and participation is low. This while the evidence suggests many of the working-age population lack the skills to become more productive. Latvia should therefore consider how the reforms in vocational education can further support the wider goal of promoting a culture of lifelong learning. Positive developments in this respect are the development of modular vocational education programmes and professional qualifications which will facilitate the portability of skills and the recognition of prior learning. The VECCs are also a positive development for promoting lifelong learning.
Although some important measures have been taken recently to improve career guidance in and beyond schools, Latvia should step up its efforts to establish a coherent career guidance system. in the economic recession the focus shifted from providing career guidance for school students to supporting the unemployed. This makes it crucial to re-establish career guidance in the education system.
Latvia should consider reviewing its incentive structures to Latvian employers for workforce development. Micro-businesses and SMEs in particular will need greater incentives to invest in training and to create the “decent jobs” which make the best use of their employees’ potential.
The effective implementation of Latvia’s lifelong learning strategy will require a full overview of the formal and non-formal education and training opportunities available. Currently no such overview exists with particular gaps in knowledge about programmes offered by the municipalities. The government should therefore carry out its intention to strengthen its data collection on all formal and non-formal education and training opportunities, including those within enterprises, offered throughout the country (MoES, 2014; Cedefop, 2015).
Latvia may need to reconsider how responsibility for the implementation of its lifelong learning strategy is distributed. Realising its goals for increased adult participation rates in education and training will require strategic co-ordination and collaboration across national and local levels, involving key stakeholders such as vocational schools, companies and NGOs. At present, responsibility for lifelong learning is fragmented across ten different institutions, possibly too many for such a small country. This may have slowed down the implementation of Latvia’s lifelong learning strategy.