Vocational Education and Training

"Get a decent profession first and then..." Many of us happened to hear that phrase that, in spite of its manipulative nature, has not lost its relevancy so far. Because now, when more that half of working-age individuals have obtained a higher education, those knowing how to manufacture, build, sew, repair, and cook are in the highest demand in the labour market.

The vocational education and training (VET) is an integral part of the education system of Ukraine. It is a complex of pedagogical and organizational and management measures aimed to ensure that individuals get knowledge, abilities and skills pertinent to a certain profession, develop their competence and skills, develop general and professional culture.

Objectives of the vocational education and training in Ukraine

  • exercise of the right of individuals to get a profession (initial vocational education) and their pre-professional education, retraining, and advanced training.
  • meeting the demand of the country's economy for skilled and competitive workers in the labour market;
  • facilitation of the government employment policy implementation;
  • ensuring conditions for operation and development of vocational (vocational technical) training institutions of various forms of ownership and subordination.

pre-professional education means obtaining initial professional knowledge and skills by persons not previously engaged in a blue-collar occupation;

basic vocational training means obtaining by persons not previously engaged in a blue-collar occupation of the VET or vocation at any other education and qualification level thus ensuring appropriate level of vocational qualification required for efficient professional activity;

retraining means vocational technical education intended for acquiring another occupation by workers who have obtained basic vocational training;

advanced training means vocational technical education of workers that allows expanding and deepening earlier acquired professional knowledge, abilities and skills at the level as required by industry or service sector.

Ukrainian nationals, foreigners and stateless persons staying legally in the territory of our country have equal rights. Restrictions are allowed due to medical and age parameters, as well as such indicators of vocational aptitude as determined by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. Moreover, the state gives priority in admission and creates conditions for high-quality level of training at vocational (vocational technical) training institutions to individuals having special educational needs by implementing the inclusion policy in education and providing equal conditions to individuals with physical and mental restrictions.

The Ukrainian modern VET system ensures acquiring an occupation thus training future professional employees for domestic industry, agroindustrial complex, construction industry, trade, public catering, service industry, transport industry, housing and utilities, telecommunications.

Vocational education and training is obtained by individuals in state-owned and municipally-owned vocational (vocational technical) training institutions free of charge.

In most vocational (vocational technical) training institutions, students having no secondary complete general education have the opportunity to obtain it concurrently with the vocational training. Thus, in 2015, the number of such students comprised 61% of the total number of all students. Consequently, they can pass External Independent Testing together with their fellows of the same age and, if desired, go to college.

Statistical Data

Vocational (vocational technical) training institutions are aimed at achieving various targets and provide hundreds of occupations to various branches of economy. One third of institutions (just over 33%) belongs to educational institutions training specialists for industry; 29.5%, for agriculture; about 17%, for construction industry; just over 7%, for service industry; shade less 6%, for trade and public catering; 5.5%, for transport industry; about 1.3%, for housing and utilities, and less than 1%, for telecommunications sector.

However, the number of vocational (vocational technical) training institutions has gradually, but in a consistent manner, decreased over the recent years. For instance, their number all through Ukraine totalled 983 in 2013, 940 in 2014, and already 817 in 2015. It is understandable that a part of educational institutions remained in temporarily occupied territories of the Crimea and Donbas, but the essence of processes extends further. The statistics obviously prove so: from 2015, when the number of educational institutions was 817, it decreased to 792 by the time prior to the academic year 2016-2017.

The strongest influence is on the part of the decreased student cohort. Thus, if, in 2013, 389.5 thousand students received vocational training of any level in all institutions; in 2014, 314 thousand; in 2015, just over 303 thousand; and in the academic year 2016-2017, that number decreased to 285.8 thousand. In the same year, the VET system turned out 152.8 thousand qualified workers.

It is understandable that the same reasons caused the changes that took place in the Region Rating by number of educational institutions and students therein. Thus, according to the data for 2015, leading Regions by the number of educational institutions include Lviv (58 institutions), Dnipropetrovsk (60 institutions), and Kharkiv Regions (51 institutions); the lowest number is in Chernihiv (20 institutions), as well as in Chernivtsi and Zakarpattia Regions (16 institutions in each). In reference to the number of students, Lviv Region is leading again (23,999 persons), Dnipropetrovsk (21,747 persons) and Odesa (14,788 persons); the lowest number is in Zakarpattia (6,148 persons), Chernihiv (5,171 persons) and Luhansk Region (5,815 persons), a significant part of the territory of which region is within the Antiterrorist Operation Area.

VET Reform - Does It Make Sense?

The "rollback" of vocational education and training in Ukraine - reduction in the number of vocational (vocational technical) training institutions and the number of students therein - is far from being a phenomenon of recent years. This is a complex and contradictory process to be seen in the context of decades and global economic and educational processes. Specifically, in recent years in Ukraine it was caused, first of all, by:

  • the determination of young people (and parents of upper-form pupils) to get higher education, very often, regardless of its quality, the low status of VET in contrast to a diploma of a higher education institution;
  • incomprehension of the VET prospects in the current economic environment;
  • inadequate lack of material and technical support in many vocational (vocational technical) training institutions;
  • some migration processes occurring both at the domestic level (from rural areas to cities, from a district centre to a megapolis; exit of people from temporarily occupied territories) and at the trans-border level (breadwinning).

Consequently, the attempts to deal with the matters of vocational education and training in Ukraine make sense only when other problems and challenges faced at the national and global level are resolved: economic, political, educational, demographic, etc.

At the same time, in Ukraine, we have the situation when the labour market just needs qualified workers. This phenomenon is also seen in large cities and rural areas and district centres where a significant number new companies have been launched - factories, agricultural companies, service and catering businesses, where new infrastructure projects are implemented such as construction of roads, loading terminals, etc. Business community is ready to pay qualified workers more than, say, to holders of diplomas issued by second-rate higher education institutions. Obviously, those processes will only intensify and speed up in the years immediately ahead.

Therefore, striving to supply work force to economy and ensure top-paying jobs for individuals, the Government and the Ministry of Education and Science, in particular, make a considerable effort to overcome the crisis in the VET system.

In accordance with the Government's Medium-term Priority Action Plan for 2017-2020, elements of dual education are introduced in the VET sector. It is more flexible and modern form of vocational training providing for close interaction between the education and production spheres engaged in training skilled staff of a certain occupational area. The main task of the dual education is to bridge the gap between theory and practice, train staff according to actual economic conditions and requirements of particular employers. It provides for the increase in practical classes (30% of theory and 70% of on-the-job training), engagement as lecturers craft instructors directly from industry, introduction of training according to a block and modular principle (the topic is studied in the educational institution, then it is consolidated in practice in the workplace), adaptation of the assessment system to the conditions and requirements of actual production operations.

Under the dual education, in 2015 a pilot project was launched on the basis of three educational institutions training house painters, cooks, and lathe operators. The 2017 cohort proved the efficiency of the pilot project: the employment of former students totalled 97%, the quality of vocational training increased by 12-17%, and the educational institutions decreased their expenses for utilities and training materials. Therefore, in the academic year 2017-2018, the project was expanded: from 1 September 2017, elements of dual education were introduced in 49 vocational training institutions for 54 blue-collar occupations in 25 regions. More than 300 employers have been engaged in the organization of vocational and on-the-job training.

Moreover, subject to the structure of budget allocated for education, expenses per student acquiring vocational education and training increase. It means enhancement of facilities and resources of educational institutions, better quality expendable materials, supply of computer hardware and state-of-art equipment, etc.

 The data excludes the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol, and a part of the Antiterrorist Operation Area.

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