Learning Expedition / Chapter 4 – Apprenticeship: a new stake to fit companies’ needs
Estonia is well positioned in terms of education and professional training. There are a high score in acquiring basic knowledge and a high rate of students in higher education (46,6% in Estonia against 37,9% in Europe in 2014). Furthermore, both the employment rate of young graduates and the rate of public investments in education are higher than the European average. We also notice that there is a significant difference between women and men in education: in 2014, 15,3% of young men left the initial education system in favour of apprenticeship, against only 7,5% of young women. This shows the interest of students for apprenticeship. This is one of the major challenges the Estonia will have to face in the coming years!
The Estonian government has also another objective: increasing professional training in companies. The rate of professional training in companies was 12,9% in 2012; the objective is to reach 20% by 2020. The Estonian government wish to implement measures to deliver diplomas that fit companies’ needs.
The teaching profession is not really attractive in Estonia. Indeed, the proportion of young people, especially men, in educational professions is low. Furthermore, there is a limited interest given to teaching diplomas. Amongst those who have been trained to be teachers, many eventually choose not to work in schools. The majority of Estonian teachers are women. Men represent 14% in general education and 38% in professional education. There is a growing proportion of elderly teachers: 45% in 2005, 50% in 2012 and 50,6% in 2014.
Besides teachers in general and specialised education, the third category teaches students in apprenticeship and professional trainers in companies. However, we shall not overestimate their role in education as there is no requirement in terms of qualification and skills to hold this position. Companies even hire, on their own, professionals they judge skillful to hand down knowledge to apprentices. Nevertheless, professional trainers often teach students practical skills through professional situations and may miss out on theoretical fundamentals.
During recent years, Latvia has made remarkable progress regarding young people that drop school and leave without a diploma. The rate of academic success has increased thanks to a specific attention given to basic knowledge. The rate of academic success in Latvia is higher than the European average. Nonetheless, there is still work to do to improve the quality of teaching, professional training and higher education (European Commission, 2015). In Latvia, in professional education, requirements in terms of qualification are relatively high: 93% of full-time teachers hold a degree in the service sector and a degree in teaching. These degrees are mandatory to be able to teach.