Concepts and definitions

Apprenticeship training

In the statistics on vocational education, apprenticeship training refers to apprenticeship training leading to a vocational qualification. Apprenticeship training is mainly training organised at the workplace in connection with practical tasks, which is supplemented if necessary by studying in other learning environments.

Apprenticeship training leads to the same initial vocational qualifications as vocational training organised in educational institutions. Further and specialist vocational qualifications can also be attained through apprenticeship training.

Curriculum-based basic vocational education

In the statistics on vocational education, curriculum-based basic vocational education refers to education for which a curriculum has been specified (targets, entity and scope of studies, core contents, assessment). Qualifications obtained in the education are initial vocational qualifications for which the required prior education is completion of the syllabus of comprehensive school education.

Education

Education refers here to education leading to a qualification or degree.

Education leading to a qualification or degree (qualification or degree-oriented education) refers to education leading to the completion of the full syllabus of comprehensive school (school-leaving certificate), completion of the full syllabus of upper secondary general school (matriculation examination certificate), International Baccalaureate certificate, Reifeprüfung certificate, European Baccalaureate certificate, Gymnasieexamen certificate, initial vocational qualification, basic vocational qualification, specialist vocational qualification, university of applied sciences degree, higher university of applied sciences degree or university degree.

Education leading to a qualification or degree is classified by the classification of education.

Educational system

The Finnish educational system is comprised of the following:

Pre-primary education is provided in Finland to 6-year-old children, usually at children's day care homes. Some 6-year-old children receive pre-primary education in comprehensive schools. Attendance of pre-primary education has been compulsory since 2015.

Comprehensive school education is general knowledge education provided for entire age cohorts. All children permanently resident in Finland must attend compulsory education. Compulsory education starts in the year of the child's seventh birthday.

Compulsory education finishes when the syllabus of comprehensives school education has been completed (9-year comprehensive school), or 10 years from the start of compulsory education. In exceptional cases compulsory education may start already at the age of six and last 11 years due to a disability or illness. A student who has received a leaving certificate from comprehensive school in the same year or in the year before it may continue to attend optional additional education (10th grade).

Post-comprehensive school education, or upper secondary general education and vocational education represent secondary level of education. Upper secondary general school education is education leading to a matriculation examination. Its scope is three years and it gives general eligibility to further education. Vocational education can be either educational institution-based or apprenticeship training. In apprenticeship training, most of the studying is comprised of learning through practical work tasks at a workplace. The qualifications are initial vocational qualifications attained in three years, which also give general eligibility to further polytechnic or university studies.

Further and specialist vocational qualifications represent further vocational education. They, as well as initial vocational qualifications can be attained in a skills examination that can be taken irrespective of the way of acquisition of professional skills, and in which skills can be proven on the basis of preparatory education for a skills examination or work experience.

Attainment of university of applied sciences degrees takes 3.5 to 4.5 years and higher university of applied sciences degrees requiring work practice 1-1.5 years. Attainment of lower university degrees takes three years while higher university degrees take two years longer. Attainers of higher level university degrees may continue their studies to licentiate and doctorate level degrees.

Further vocational education

Further vocational education refers to education leading to a further of specialist vocational qualification. Further and specialist vocational qualifications are obtained with skills examinations, that is, vocational skills are assessed in separate examination situations. Skills examinations for further and specialist vocational qualifications can be taken irrespective of the way of acquisition of vocational skills. Vocational skills can be acquired through education, working life or hobbies.

Initial vocational education

Initial vocational education refers to vocational education leading to a qualification. Qualifications obtained in initial vocational education are initial vocational qualifications for which the required prior education is completion of the syllabus of comprehensive school education. The aim of initial vocational education is that once a student has obtained a qualification, he/she will possess broad, basic skills in an occupation and specialist skills as per the completed training programme.

Until 2021, initial vocational qualifications can be obtained either by completing a curriculum (young students) or by passing a skills examination (adult students). Starting from 2018, the initial qualification may also be completed as education in educational institutions, based on a training agreement, apprenticeship training and/or a combination of these. The scope of studies for initial qualifications is 180 credits, or three years. The education can be shorter than this as the student’s previous skills are taken into consideration. A skills examination can be passed without attending preparatory education for it by demonstrating in skills tests the knowledge and skills required for the attainment of vocational skills.

New student

New students in vocational education refer to students who become registered at the educational institution during the calendar year studying in initial vocational education, further vocational education and specialist vocational education.

Preparatory education for further vocational qualifications

In the statistics on vocational education, preparatory education for further vocational qualifications means education that is adult education and prepares for an examination for a further vocational qualification. A further vocational qualification can also be obtained without attending preparatory education. In an examination for a further vocational qualification the examinee demonstrates that he/she possesses the vocational skills required of a skilled worker.

Preparatory education for specialist vocational qualifications

In the statistics on vocational education, preparatory education for specialist vocational qualifications means education that is adult vocational education and prepares for an examination for a specialist vocational qualification. A specialist vocational qualification can also be obtained without attending preparatory education. In an examination for a specialist vocational qualification the student demonstrates command of the most demanding tasks in the field concerned.

Preparatory initial vocational education for a skills examination

In the statistics on vocational education, preparatory initial vocational education for a skills examination refers to education in which the aim is the attainment of a vocational qualification by means of a skills examination. The scope of studies for initial qualifications is 180 credits, or three years. The education can be shorter than this as the student’s previous skills are taken into consideration. A skills examination can be passed without attending preparatory education for it by demonstrating in skills tests the knowledge and skills required for the attainment of vocational skills.

Preparatory vocational education for a skills examination

Initial, further and specialist vocational qualifications can be obtained through skills examinations irrespective of the way vocational skills have been acquired. As a rule the qualifications are attained in connection with preparatory education for a skills examination. The providers of the education are obliged to organise the skills examinations as part of the preparatory education.

Provider of education

In the statistics on providers of education and educational institutions and in the statistics on vocational education, providers of education refer to bodies entrusted with the task of providing education. The task of provision of education is defined in law (comprehensive school education) or in a licence to provide education or maintain an educational institution granted by the Ministry of Education or similar public authority. Providers or education are usually municipalities, joint municipal boards, or private corporations or foundations. Statistics Finland has assigned an individual system ID for each provider of education.

Qualification/Degree

In the statistics on vocational education, a qualification refers to vocational secondary, post-secondary or tertiary level qualifications, and further and specialist vocational qualifications. The data on qualifications describe the full calendar year.

Student

Students in vocational education refer to students who are registered at the educational institution during the calendar year studying in initial vocational education, further vocational education and specialist vocational education.

Training agreement

In education based on a training agreement, the student acquires skills at the workplace in connection with practical tasks, which are supplemented if necessary by skills acquisition in other learning environments. The student is not in an employment relationship, for which reason he/she is not paid wages or other compensation.

Vocational education

Vocational education refers to initial or further vocational education leading to a vocational qualification. Initial vocational education is education leading to upper secondary level vocational qualifications. Education leading to further or specialist vocational qualifications are further vocational education.

Until the end of 2021, vocational education can be curriculum-based education or preparatory education for a skills examination. New students are no longer admitted to these types of education. According to the Vocational Education and Training Act (531/2017), vocational education and qualifications can be completed as education in educational institutions, based on a training agreement, apprenticeship training and/or a combination of these starting from 2018.

Apprenticeship training is mainly training organised at the workplace in connection with practical tasks, which is supplemented if necessary by studying in other learning environments. Apprenticeship training is an employment contract between a student and an employer.

In education based on a training agreement, the student acquires skills at the workplace in connection with practical tasks, which are supplemented if necessary by skills acquisition in other learning environments. The student is not in an employment relationship, for which reason he/she is not paid wages or other compensation.

Referencing instructions:

Official Statistics of Finland (OSF): Vocational education [e-publication].
ISSN=1799-1986. Helsinki: Statistics Finland [referred: 25.11.2020].
Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/aop/kas_en.html