The main priority for vocational education and training (VET) is to become an attractive and highly valued part of education and lifelong learning. VET programmes are designed for learners of different ages and educational backgrounds.
The vocational education and training (VET) system in Lithuania covers initial (IVET) and continuing (CVET) vocational education and training. Initial VET (IVET) offers learners opportunities to acquire the first qualification. Continuing VET (CVET) is designed for learners who seek to improve a qualification they already have, acquire a new one or gain a competence needed to do specific jobs (perform functions) as specified in regulations.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport is responsible for shaping and implementing VET policy.
There are 65 public and 2 private VET institutions in Lithuania attended by over 45,000 students. These institutions are restructured as self-governing institutions in order to attract businesses into their management and to bring VET closer to labour market demands. Social partners have the right to initiate new qualifications, standards and VET programmes.
Since 2003, competence assessment has been detached from the training process and since 2012 it has been carried out by accredited institutions. Social partners, enterprises and employers' associations may apply for accreditation. Employer representatives participate in designing and assessing VET programmes according to labour market needs. They are also involved in organizing training and may participate in the management of VET institutions and become their shareholders. Currently, social partners, enterprises and municipal authorities participate directly in managing self-governing IVET providers, which comprise a quarter of all VET institutions.
Vocational schools provide both training leading to a qualification, as well as basic or secondary education. The duration of programmes can be either two or three years, depending on whether it is intended to provide basic or secondary education, or adapted to persons with special needs. The duration of studies for students who have already acquired secondary education is 1 to 2 years. Requirements for vocational education and training programmes are set out by the General Requirements and Vocational Education and Training Standards of the Ministry. Vocational education and training programmes are developed by VET providers in cooperation with employers.
The VET programme consists of two parts. The first part applies to all schools in the country and defines the fields of professional activities, competences, teaching goals, and assessment provisions. The second part is optional and covers teaching methods, subject programmes, teaching aids, etc. The programme must include Entrepreneurship, Civil Protection, Ecology, Information Technologies, and Foreign Language for Specific Purposes as subjects or modules.
Although VET in Lithuania is school-based, practical training and training in enterprises are a major part of VET. In IVET, practical training comprises 60 to 70 percent of the total time allocated to vocational subjects, of which 8 to 15 weeks is organized in a company or a school-based practical training facilities simulating working conditions. Enhancing the implementation of apprenticeship is considered a national priority and relevant policy initiatives are in progress.
Formal CVET is designed for people with different education attainment levels, from primary to post-secondary; in some cases, a vocational qualification or work experience is a prerequisite. Programmes last no longer than one year and lead to a vocational qualification at EQF levels 1-3, recognized by the state. Practical training comprises 60-80% of the programme, half of it preferably taking place at an enterprise. Formal CVET for unemployed and those notified of dismissal is funded by a voucher system, which allows the unemployed to choose the training provider. The provision of training is based on contracts between the local public employment service, the unemployed and, if applicable, the enterprise. After training, the employer undertakes to employ the person for at least six months.
The final assessment of qualifications is an independent process performed by accredited competences assessment institutions.
Having completed the vocational education programme and passed examinations, students obtain a vocational qualification. Students who have completed their secondary education can continue their studies at colleges or universities. Successful graduates as well as graduates who have work experience according to their qualification receive additional points when entering higher education institutions.
In order to improve accessibility and quality of practical training, 42 sectoral practical training centers for relevant branches of industry at 33 VET institutions were established using aid from EU Structural Funds. These centers are being used not only by students of VET institutions, but also by students of universities and colleges. Well-equipped practical training facilities are open to everyone who is seeking to enhance or acquire a profession.
The sectoral practical training centre is a VET institution or a division providing initial and continuing vocational education and training services to all residents of Lithuania and equipped with modern practical training facilities for one or several branches of industry.