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TVET in Finland

Education System

The Finnish Education System (taken from "Finland. VET in Europe – Country Report 2009", see CEDEFOP Country Reports)

The Finnish education system is composed of nine-year basic education (comprehensive school), preceded by one year of voluntary pre-primary education; upper secondary education, comprising vocational and general education; and higher education, provided by universities and polytechnics. Adult education is available at all levels.In Finland, pre-primary education, basic education and upper secondary education and training, complemented by early childhood education and before- and after-school activities, form a coherent learning pathway that supports children's growth, development and well-being.Polytechnics offer work-related education in response to labour market needs. A polytechnic degree requires 3.5 - 4.5 years of full-time study. The requirement for polytechnic Master's programmes is a polytechnic degree or equivalent, plus a minimum of three years of work experience in the field concerned.

Vocational education and training (VET)

The post-compulsory level is divided into general education and initial and further vocational education and training. After basic education, 95.5% of school-leavers continue in additional voluntary basic education (2.5%), in upper secondary schools (54.5%) or in initial vocational education and training (38.5%). The aim of vocational education and training (VET) is to improve the skills of the work force, to respond to skills needs in the world of work and to support lifelong learning. VET comprises initial vocational training and further and continuing training.A total of 146 000 students attend initial vocational training every year. Of them, 4 500 attend access courses preparing for initial vocational training. The largest fields are Technology and Transport (c. 36%), Business and Administration(19%) and Health and Social Services (17%). The other fields are Tourism, Catering and Home Economics (13%), Culture (7%), Natural Resources (6%) and Leisure and Physical Education (2%).

In further training provided in the Ministry of Education and Culture sector, the annual number of students is about 40,000.There are 119 study programmes leading to 53 different vocational qualifications confirmed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The number of further and specialist qualifications, which are taken as competence-based qualifications, is 305.VET is intended both for young people and for adults already active in working life. They can study for vocational qualifications and further and specialist qualifications, or study in further and continuing education without aiming at a qualification.[1]

=Initial VET


  • The vocational qualification has been designed to respond to labour market needs.
  • The qualification is 120 credits, which takes three years of full-time study, unless prior learning can be counted towards the qualification.
  • The qualification is based on working life occupations and the competencies required.
  • The qualification includes at least 20 credits of on-the-job learning.
  • The training is built on the basic education syllabus. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments can be counted towards the qualification.
  • Matriculated students can also study in initial VET. Their prior studies are equivalent to some 30 credits, which are counted towards the vocational qualification.
  • A vocational qualification gives general eligibility for polytechnic and university studies.
At the Ministry of Education and Culture, matters relating to VET are administered by the Vocational Education Division.

= Qualifications and studies


Training for initial vocational qualifications is available in vocational institutions and in the form of apprenticeship training. It is also possible to take a competence-based qualification. By attending further training it is possible to take competence-based qualifications leading to both further and specialist vocational qualifications.

Students in upper secondary schools have the option of studying for both a vocational qualification and the matriculation examination at the same time.

=Fields in which VET is available


  • Humanities and Education
  • Culture
  • Social Sciences, Business and Administration
  • Natural Sciences
  • Technology, Communication and Transport
  • Natural Resources and the Environment
  • Social Services, Health and Sport
  • Tourism, Catering and Domestic Services
There are no tuition fees in initial VET. Students pay part of the costs, e.g. textbooks and personal tools, equipment and materials, which they keep after training. Meals are free. Modest fees may be charged for further vocational training.

The entry requirement is a leaving certificate from the comprehensive school (basic education) or an equivalent amount of studies. Students usually apply to VET through a national joint application system.

The vocational qualification provides extensive basic skills for different occupations in the field and more specialised skills in at least one sector. The aim is that a qualification holder has the necessary vocational competence, knowledge and skills for independent practice of the trade and for entrepreneurship in the field. The training includes vocational studies in the field concerned, general studies supplementing vocational competence (mother tongue, second national language, a foreign language, mathematics and science, humanities and social studies, health education, and art and craft subjects), elective studies and guidance counselling.Most studies in VET relate to the vocation. The vocational qualification is 120 credits, including 90 credits of vocational subjects, 20 credits of general core subjects and 10 credits of elective studies.

=On-the-job learning and skills demonstrations


On-the-job learning is guided and goal-oriented study at the workplace. In this work-based module, which is 20 credits or more, the student learns some of the practical skills included in the qualification.

At different points during their training in initial VET, students demonstrate the skills they have learned in tests arranged as either practical work situations or as practical assignments. These skills demonstrations assess how well the student has achieved the competencies needed in the labour market.

The aims and assessment criteria of the skills demonstrations are determined in the core curricula issued by the National Board of Education. The tests are devised and implemented in cooperation with business and industry and other employers. VET providers appoint special bodies to plan and set the tests and also appoint the examiners.Competence-based qualifications.

Finland has been developing competence-based qualifications since 1994. This system is intended to enable working-age adults to gain qualifications without necessarily attending formal training. It is possible to take competence-based vocational qualifications, further vocational qualifications and special vocational qualifications or only parts of them.

The competence-based qualifications are set and supervised by field-specific education and training committees. The committees agree on the organisation of the tests with providers of education and other communities. About 95% of candidates attend some training before taking a competence-based test.

Some 36,000 vocational qualifications are awarded annually, including 6,670 are competence-based qualifications. The annual number of further and specialist qualifications is 12,450.

=Apprenticeship training


Apprenticeship training is hands-on learning at a workplace complemented by theoretical studies. A contract of temporary employment (apprenticeship contract) is signed by the parties of the apprenticeship training.In apprenticeship training it is possible to study for initial vocational qualifications and for further and specialist qualifications. It is a training track chosen by some 9% of vocational students each year.

Apprenticeship training is based on a fixed-term agreement which a prospective trainee, aged 15 or more, concludes with the employer. Each student is given a personal study plan based on a core curriculum issued by the National Board of Education or on the requirements of the competence-based qualification in the field.About 70 to 80% of the training takes place at the workplace under the guidance and supervision of an on-the-job instructor. The supplementary theoretical instruction is given by vocational institutions.

The employer pays wages according to the collective agreement for the duration of the training. During theoretical training, the trainee is entitled to a daily allowance and subsidised travel and accommodation. The employer is reimbursed for the cost of the training.

TVET Institutions

UNEVOC Centre(s)


Further Links

CEDEFOP Country reports are available on VET systems of European Countries including Finland


page date 2010-07-01

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