Qualifications and studies in vocational education and training
The qualifications structure in vocational education and training (VET) has three levels. There are three types of qualifications: vocational upper secondary qualification, further vocational qualification, specialist vocational qualification.
There are up to 160 vocational qualifications: 43 vocational upper secondary qualifications, 65 further vocational qualifications and 56 specialist vocational qualifications.
Vocational upper secondary qualification
A holder of a vocational upper secondary qualification has broad-based basic vocational skills to work in different tasks in the field as well as more specialised competence and the vocational skills required in work life in at least one section of the field. A holder of a further vocational qualification has vocational skills that meet the needs of work life and that are more advanced or more specialised than required in the vocational upper secondary qualification. A holder of a specialist vocational qualification has vocational skills that meet the needs of work life and that are highly advanced or multidisciplinary.
A vocational upper secondary qualification can be obtained through school-based vocational upper secondary education and training or as a competence-based qualification.
Both further and specialist vocational qualifications are competence-based qualifications, completed as part of vocational further education and training.
Vocational upper secondary education and training is designed primarily for students who have just completed basic education and for others who have no work experience or vocational skills.
It is also possible to obtain simultaneously both a vocational upper secondary qualification and a matriculation examination; in such a case the student studies in vocational upper secondary education and training and is eligible to take part in the matriculation examination. Studies completed in general upper secondary education are accredited as part of VET and the vocational qualification, and once the student has successfully completed both the matriculation examination and the vocational upper secondary qualification he or she also receives a matriculation examination certificate.
Competence-based qualifications are primarily designed for people who already have work experience or who are in work life. It allows them to demonstrate their vocational skills and their command of work-life tasks in a competence test. Prior demonstrating their skills the students can take part in preparatory training for competence-based qualification. Education providers have a personalisation duty, which means that they must help candidates apply for a competence-based qualification and related preparatory training and in completing the qualification and acquiring the required vocational skills.
In addition to vocational qualifications and study modules, it is also possible to complete different kinds of preparatory education as part of vocational upper secondary education and training as well as other vocational further education and training as part of vocational further education and training. There are two types of preparatory education:
- preparatory education for vocational upper secondary education and training (VALMA) as well as
- preparatory education for working life and independent living (TELMA).
Other vocational further education and training is designed for students who want to expand their vocational skills to areas where there is no VET leading to a qualification available
Vocational special needs education
Vocational special needs education is designed for students who need special support in learning and studying regularly or on a long-term basis due to learning difficulties, disabilities, illness or other reason. Special needs education refers to systematic pedagogic support that is based on the students’ personal objectives and skills as well as special arrangements for teaching and studying.
The purpose of special needs education is to enable the students to meet the vocational skills requirements and learning objectives for the qualification or the education. However, in special needs education exceptions can be made to the qualification requirements by adjusting the vocational skills requirements, learning objectives and skills assessment as deemed necessary from the perspective of the students’ personal objectives and skills.
Costs of vocational education and training
Completing a vocational upper secondary qualification as well as associated education and training, including preparatory training, is free of charge for the students. Students in vocational upper secondary education and training do, however, pay themselves for some of the materials they need, including textbooks as well as tools, equipment and materials for their own use during and after training. School meals are free of charge, and students are eligible to get reimbursement for travels costs.
It is possible to charge students a reasonable fee for training that prepares for further and specialist vocational qualifications as well as for other vocational further education and training.
Applications to vocational upper secondary education and training are mainly submitted through the joint application procedure.
Those who have completed the basic education syllabus or comparable earlier syllabus can apply for vocational upper secondary education and training. Even persons who have otherwise sufficient skills to complete the education can be accepted as students. Some of the study places can be reserved for students who have completed general upper secondary school and the matriculation examination.
A factor relating to the health and functional capacity of an applicant may not preclude admission. However, persons whose state of health or functional capacity makes them incapable of acquitting the practical tasks or on-the-job learning included in the syllabus where the safety requirements relating to studies so entail and where the impediment cannot be removed with reasonable measures.
The grounds for student admission to education and training leading to a vocational upper secondary qualification are provided by a decree of the Ministry of Education. The grounds include:
- prior general performance at school and weighted grades,
- order of preferences in the application,
- work experience and
Extra points are given to those who have just completed basic education or additional basic education. Education providers decide themselves whether they organise an entrance exam or an aptitude test.
Those interested in apprenticeship training should contact directly the vocational education and training provider organising apprenticeship training in the region. If an applicant for apprenticeship training already has work, the readiness and suitability of the workplace for apprenticeship training should be first examined. Those applicants without work can find a workplace suitable for apprenticeship training either by themselves or in cooperation with the education provider organising apprenticeship training.
Those interested in a further or a specialist vocational qualification should contact directly the education provider organising preparatory training or the organiser of competence-based qualifications. Both further and specialist vocational qualifications are completed in competence tests either based on skills acquired in work life or after completing the preparatory training for competence-based qualification. While most students do participate in preparatory training prior to the demonstration of skills, preparatory training is not compulsory.
More information about VET and how to apply Studyinfo.fi
Finnish VET is based on work orientation. Vocational upper secondary education and training always includes on-the-job learning. On-the-job learning means guided and goal-oriented training at a workplace, and its purpose is that students learn part of the practical vocational skills included in the qualification during this period. The scope of on-the-job learning in vocational upper secondary education and training is at least 30 competence points.
Apprenticeship training means studies organised mainly as part of work tasks at the workplace where the student has an employment contract. These studies are supplemented with theoretical studies.
Apprenticeship training can be completed as part of any of the three vocational qualifications: upper secondary, further or specialist vocational qualification. Even vocational further education and training that does not lead to any qualification can be organised as apprenticeship training. Entrepreneurs can complete apprenticeship training in their own enterprise.
Apprenticeship training is based on a fixed-term written contract between the employer and the student who is at least 15 years of age. During the training that takes place in the workplace the employer pays the student wages in accordance with the relevant collective agreement. For the period of theoretical studies, the student receives students’ social benefits, such as a daily allowance and reimbursement for travel and accommodation costs. The employer is reimbursed for the costs of providing training at the workplace.