Millions invested in Latvian vocational schools / Article


Schools have been fitted with modern equipment, dormitories have been renovated and other improvements have been made. This means that technical offerings in vocational schools are starting to outperform those in general education schools, but there is still a long way to go to break the stereotype that it is not glamorous to study in a technical school. or professional.

Latvia has 60 educational institutions offering vocational education programs. Of these, 39 are public and municipal educational institutions, 11 are colleges, eight are private educational institutions and two are general education institutions. The Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for 26 vocational education institutions, 18 of which are located outside Riga. Development guidelines aim to achieve a 50/50 student balance by 2020.

“Stereotypes, which are often the reason why we do not choose vocational schools, come from parents and grandparents. They have an outdated view that vocational training means lower wages and that universities are the silver bullet.

Currently, almost 80% of vocational education establishments have modern infrastructure. We do everything to make vocational education attractive, ”explains Rūta Gintaute-Marihina, director of the vocational and adult education department of the Ministry of Education and Science.

Gintaute-Marihina cites Germany as one of the best examples in Europe where the development of the vocational education system is a national priority, providing the workforce with the necessary specialists. “The market needs more IT specialists, as well as welding specialists. These professions have a relatively high salary, but still lack specialists.

Riga Art and Media School Director Maija Vanaga chairs a school where attendance has doubled in the past five years. The plan to increase competitiveness by building a new campus. Vanaga found that young people tend to choose vocational schools because they want to develop their skills and find jobs faster. 40 to 50% of students continue their studies at university after graduation.

“We don’t have unemployed students. Very rarely. Everyone finds work. When they get internships, employees see how well they are doing and then offer a job, ”Vanaga explains.

There is, however, a downside to the success of vocational schools. “At least 20% of our students go to work abroad after graduation, or even before, because the demand for our welders is very high. Even specialties such as the tower operator or the locksmith are in demand, also on ships. Employers are happy to bring these specialists abroad to work, ”says Voldemārs Leitāns, director of Vocational School No. 3 in Riga.

The school representatives interviewed consider that the mission of Latvian employers should be to attract these professionals with competitive salaries, so that they are not tempted to go abroad to find work.

Employers have also been important players in improving vocational education institutions in recent years. “We have noticed a change in both the environment and attitudes towards these schools. Whereas previously it was decided by the ministries, now employers and schools cooperate to help dictate the content of the curriculum in vocational schools, so we are very satisfied with the results ”, said Līga Meņģelsone, general manager of the Confederation of Latvian Employers.

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