Spotlight on VET in Hungary
Mar 28th 2018

VET in Hungary

The education system has undergone substantial transformations since the 1990s. Since 2013, governance of schools has been centralized while and vocational training has been reformed in 2015 to offer quality training in accordance with changing labor market needs. IVET and adult training is led by the economy ministry with other ministries having responsibilities on specific vocational qualifications and the human resources ministry of on learning outcomes and framework curricula. Business and industry are involved in national advisory bodies and, increasingly, in decision-making on VET-related issues. Apprenticeships were introduced in upper secondary VET in 2012 and have been coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce and industry. The chamber’s role in shaping VET and adult training has been expanded by the introduction in 2015 of a chamber guarantee for securing training places for VET learners. Social partners are involved in VET policy through participation in advisory bodies, and particularly the National Council for Vocational and Adult Training, the main advisory body on VET. The council has a consultative role preparing opinions, proposals and draft legislation for decision-making VET for young people Vocational programmes are available to learners at age of 14. VET is offered at upper secondary, postsecondary and tertiary level. To increase VET attractiveness, the content of upper secondary VET programmes was reformed in 2015 offers:

  • Four-year (five- in bilingual courses) VET programmes (szakgimnázium) combining vocational and general education. Learners acquire upper secondary school leaving certificate (ISCED 344) giving access to higher education and a basic qualification registered in the National Qualifications Register (NQR). Learners can continue with one additional VET year at post-secondary level to acquire a higher level VET qualification at ISCED level 454.
  • Three-year practice-oriented VET programmes (szakközépiskola) leading to ISCED 353 NQR qualification. They do not allow access to higher education but offer an increased share of practical training in relation to the earlier (phasing out) system. Learners can enroll in two-year follow-up programmes to obtain the upper secondary school leaving certificate allowing progression to higher education. People who hold a master craftsperson certificate and have at least five years’ relevant work experience can enroll in two-year post-secondary VET programmes to acquire a VET qualification at ISCED 454.
  • Bridging programmes for learners who have completed at least two years of the lower secondary education, but have not completed all four years, leading to partial or a first basic vocational qualification listed in the NQR and giving access to upper-secondary three-year practice-oriented VET programmes.

Higher education VET programmes are provided by higher education institutions. Programmes require upper secondary school leaving certificate and award ISCED 554 vocational qualifications. Graduates can transfer credits to a bachelor (BA/BSc) programme in the same field. Apprenticeship is getting more popular. Since 2015, apprenticeships can also be offered in higher VET. In upper- and post-secondary VET, learners sign a contract with the company, while in higher VET the company concludes a cooperation agreement with the higher VET institution and an employment contract with the student.

VET for adults

VET programmes at secondary, post-secondary and tertiary education are open to adults in full-, part-time or distance learning. Outside the formal school system, adult training includes, among others: courses run by economic chambers preparing for master craftsperson exams, mandatory further training programmes for a given occupation, vocational programmes leading to NQR qualifications, courses for the unemployed and other vulnerable groups, and other vocational, language and general courses. Recently, the Chamber of Commerce has developed new training programmes for occupations in demand in the labor market. A major characteristic of adult learning is that training is open to the training market and adapted to the learners’ needs. The prerequisite to enroll in such programmes is that a contract is signed between the VET provider and the learner and the content of the programme has been formally approved by the state before the course starts.

Distinctive features of VET The national qualifications register (NQR), in place since 1993, comprises state-recognized (partial, full or build-on) vocational qualifications that can be acquired either informal upper and post-secondary IVET or outside the formal education system. NQR qualifications entitle holders to practice the occupation specified in the ‘vocational and examination requirements’ set for a given qualification. The register has a modular, competency-based structure and is updated annually in accordance with labor market needs. Since 2015, the revision process is run by the chamber of commerce in coordination with the ministries responsible for the qualifications, companies and VET schools in close relation with the economy. Young people and adults need to pass the practice-oriented complex examination to successfully complete upper- and post-secondary VET programmes. To improve quality and efficiency in a heavily fragmented institutional VET structure, 44 regional integrated VET centers were created and since 2015 have run under the responsibility of the economy ministry. A shortage job list is issued each year on the basis of recommendations from the county development and training committees based on employment and employability data and labor market needs forecasts. To encourage training in shortage jobs, practice providers are offered incentives and students received grants. In school-based VET, students enrolled in programmes to acquire the first qualification in shortage jobs may receive a scholarship, on the basis of their performance. Challenges and policy responses Despite a slight decrease in 2015, youth unemployment remains crucial and coexists with great skills shortages and mismatches. The demographic decline has negatively affected enrolment in VET, especially in practice-oriented programmes. One-third of VET learners leave education without qualifications mainly due to the disadvantaged social-economic background and low basic skills. Changes in VET related legislation in 2015 aim to support the image, quality and attractiveness of vocational education and training in line with European policies and national priorities set for 2016-20. Bridging programmes replaced the previous caching-up programmes. They are available in both general and vocational stream and allow low performers and/or students coming from deprived backgrounds to acquire the basic skills necessary to enroll in upper secondary. In the vocational stream, learners can achieve a partial basic qualification before moving to upper secondary VET. VET programmes updated in 2015 and offered as of 2016/17 aim to ease access to occupations in demand, therefore balancing labor shortages and skills gaps. Upper secondary VET programmes offer a first vocational qualification while easing progression routes. Quality and relevance of practical training is a priority. The percentage of practical training in companies has considerably increased; minimum pedagogical knowledge has been made compulsory for company trainers. The chamber’s guarantee (2015) measure creates closer links with the labor market. Enrolment in apprenticeships was increased by 74% since its introduction in 2012. Adult learning for all is being promoted. Acquiring a second qualification registered in the NQR is free of charge and, since 2015, without age limit; the measure opens up 300 out of a total of 650 NQR qualifications to older workers. The Chamber of Commerce has been developing new training programmes for occupations in demand in the labor market. Programmes facilitating further education are designed to help the inclusion of the Roma in those areas where they are most affected.

By Izabella Élő
EUROPEA Hungary, NA