Project introduction


Benefit for entrepreneurs

Benefit for education

Professional qualification




Benefit for educational institutions
List of study packages and stand-alone courses






Benefit for educational institutions:



I.                   Operating instructions

1.    Different user roles

Every user has a role, specifying available/allowed activities in the system. Role of Administrator is special.  In addition to the main activities, e.g. management of system’s core data, the Administrator has possibility and rights to perform all the other activities allowed to other user roles. In the table below this possibility has not been pointed out to emphasize activities that should be main functions of an Administrator.



User role


Educational organisation

Certification authority


Activities associated with courses

Course management





Study programs management





Search courses










Activities associated with certification exams

Certification exams management





Certification exams search










Activities associated with questionnaires

Questionnaires management





Answering to the questionnaires





Reports about skills of employees










Workforce needs table










System management (incl. user accounts, skills, professions and organisations)














2.    Activities

2.1. Activities associated with courses

2.1.1.   Study programs management

Enables user to add new study programs, change descriptions of already existing programs, or remove unnecessary study programs.

  • To add a description of study program click on link add study program at the lower left border of the screen image. On the opened page a name of study program can be entered into the corresponding field. User with rights of Administrator can additionally select an educational organisation associated to the curriculum. Ordinary user can associate study program only with own educational organisation. For saving changes click on the button save. If you do not want to save changes, click on the button cancel and the system displays the previous page.

  • To change the description of study program click on the link edit study program on the right side of corresponding exam row. On the opened page the name of study program can be changed in the corresponding field. User with rights of Administrator can additionally select also an educational organisation to be associated to the study program. For saving changes click on the button save. If you do not want to save changes, click on the button cancel and the system displays the previous page.

  • To remove a study program click on the link remove study program on the right side of corresponding study program row. The system asks for confirmation whether you are sure when deleting the certification exam. The study programs associated also with some another course could not be removed.

2.1.2.   Course management

Enables user to add new courses, change the existing ones and remove unnecessary courses. User can set a course description, one or several course times, skills to be advanced by this course, and study programs to be associated with the course.  

  • To add a course click on the link add course at the lower left border of the screen image. On the opened page a name of course, short description and link to the course homepage can be typed into corresponding fields. User with rights of Administrator can additionally select an educational organisation to be associated to the course. Ordinary user can associate the course only with own educational organisation. For saving changes click on the button save. If you do not want to save changes, click on the button cancel and the system displays the previous page

  • To change the course click on the link edit course on the right side of corresponding course row. On the opened page you can set course times and locations, associate skills with courses, and associate study programs with the course.

    • To change course name and description click on the link edit course description.

    • To set session time click on the link add course time. On the opened screen image you can enter course date, time, duration in minutes and location.
      To change course time you can edit the corresponding description of session time by clicking on the link edit course time. In case of need it is also possible to delete existing time by clicking on the link remove course time.

    • To set the skills to be advanced by the current course you should select corresponding skill from the selection rectangle of skills subset and click on the button add skill. In the selection rectangle are shown only those skills, which have not been associated to the course yet. In case of need it is also possible to unlink the skill from a course by clicking on the link remove skill. It does not delete the skill from system permanently but only unlinks, and the skill can be associated with a course again, if necessary.

    •  To associate a course to a study program select corresponding study program from the selection rectangle of study programs subset and click on the button add study program. In the selection rectangle are shown only those study programs, which have not been associated to the course yet. In case of need it is also possible to remove the link between skill and a study program by clicking on the link remove study program. It does not delete the study program from system permanently, and the study program can be associated with a skill again, if necessary.

  • To delete a course click on the link remove course on the right side of corresponding course row. The system asks for confirmation of deletion request, and after clicking on the Yes button deletes the course from database.





1.    Background of the higher and vocational education in the partner states

1.1.   ESTONIA

By Prof. Jyri Papstel

1.1.1. General overview of the higher and vocational education system related to the sector in Estonia


Currently Estonia’s educational system (Fig. 1.1) consists of compulsory basic education (grades 1-9), followed by upper-secondary education (gymnasium – grades 10-12 or a vocational school). The general education stream related to this sector usually offers higher education (at a university or at a higher applied educational institution) and vocational education.


Structure of the educational system in Estonia



Over 70% of the students admitted are studying in universities and near 20% in private higher educational institutions. The total number of students accounts for approximately 2% of the total number of inhabitants in Estonia.


The Estonian higher education system is binary and consists of universities (ülikool) and applied higher education institutions (rakenduskõrgkool). The higher education institutions can be state, public or private institutions. The administration of higher education establishments is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education.


The applied higher education institution (rakenduskõrgkool) and a vocational school (kutseõppeasutus) are institutions of which purpose is to guarantee non-academic higher education and to impart professional skills and abilities.


Education body

Level of education

Years of study


Number of students per year (2003 admittance) of the sector

Tallinn Technical University

Higher Academic Education

Bachelor level study (after gymnasium), generally 3 years, and in few disciplines up to 4 years

MSc  1 to 2  yrs

PhD  3 to 4 yrs

MSc/BSc in Product Development, Automotive Engineering, Production Engineering and Management

228 (BSc)

48 (MSc)

13 (PhD)

Tallinn College of Engineering


Higher Vocational Education

Engineering level 4 yrs.

Technician level 2.5 yrs

Technicians in metalwork and car mechanics, engineers in car mechanics and machinery


Tallinn Industrial Education Centre

Secondary Vocational Education

After gymnasium 1-2.5 yrs, after basic school 3-3.5 yrs

Welders, mechatronics, metalworkers, car mechanics


Tallinn Mechanical Vocational School in Lasnamäe

Secondary Vocational Education

After gymnasium 1-2 yrs, after basic school 3 yrs

Welders, car mechanics, metalworkers, shipbuilders, automation worker



1.1.2. Qualification award system

Qualification Award System has been developed in Estonia taking into consideration the objectives of rapid changes in economy, short lifetime of products, new materials and technologies, higher requirements to the work efficiency, higher requirements to the product quality and the need for qualified labour force.


Qualification Award System is common for all the industrial branches and has the following main principles of measurable qualifications (1), common and comparable measuring system both in Estonia and internationally (2), motivation for life-long learning (3) and flexible initial, further and retraining system (4).


Qualification Award System has three important stages so in development process as in action:

1.       Determination of contemporary professional skills and their levels and on the basis of these development of vocational standards

2.       Conformation of vocational training and professional requirements

3.       Determination of criteria, order and conditions of certification



Continuous improvement


The basic documents for the Qualification Award System are Vocational Standards.

Vocational Standard is a document that sets out the requirements to knowledge, skills, proficiency, experience, values and personal qualities on a specific vocational qualification level. Vocational Standards set up professional qualification (knowledge, skills, experience); social qualification (communication skills) and personal qualification (personal qualities).


The groups of vocational standards in Estonian machine building and apparatus industry are given on the figure below.


Metal engineering, machinery and apparatus sector


1.1.3. Apprenticeship (internship) system for students, recruiting system for graduates - other cooperation with companies


After the first study year students have compulsory shop floor hands on activities working as machine operators, welders, in foundry and locksmiths. These activities are organised in the faculty workshops. After the third year students have to find the apprenticeship place in some company for two month.


About the same scheme is in the high school of applied sciences and in the vocational school but with different structure and length of activities.

There is no special recruitment system of graduates. Everybody is responsible to find the work. However often the graduates continue the job in the companies they were on apprenticeship or did their graduate work.


1.1.4. Adult training and life-long learning

Some adult training courses are available at TTU (pneumatics, CAD), Tallinn Industrial Education Centre (welding, machining, machine automation), Tallinn Mechanical Vocational School in Lasnamäe (welding, car mechanics, metalworking), Võrumaa Vocational Education Centre (welding, machining), Tartu Vocational Education Centre (metalworking). Consortium of educational institutions established so-called E-university, offering number of e-learning courses, but currently only few of them (pneumatics, quality management) are directed to the sectoral needs.


1.1.5. Conclusions - problems in Estonia – lack of qualified labour force – why?

        Workers of the sector are relatively old, not experienced in modern technologies;

        output of vocational institutions does not satisfy the need for qualified labour force.

        At the same time vocational institutions offer adult training on a limited scale and on relatively similar subjects.

        Curricula of educational institutions do not answer to the requirements of vocational standards.

        There is a clear need for co-operation between educational institutions and enterprises.




1.2.   HUNGARY

By Gizella Keresztesi, Mihály Szántai, Dr. Ferenc Boór

1.2.1. General overview of the higher and vocational education system related to the sector in Hungary

In Hungary, children start school at age six (or seven). The eight-year elementary school divides into three segments (4-2-2 years) after that the primary education can be continued in 8-, 6-year high schools (gymnasium) – with passing successfully a general (i.e. nation-wide uniform) entrance examination into the specific schools – or in 4-year high schools. At the latest after completing primary (elementary) graduation the 14-year-old students may choose again from three different possibilities:

Studies can be continued in a high school, vocational high school, or vocational school. The former two possibilities offer four years scholar qualification, while the latter one offers at least two, albeit generally three years training course. Someone who decides to complete a vocational school (i.e. technical training institute) learns a specific trade (electrician, carpenter, turner, etc.). The vocational high school also offers primarily technical training, but these institutions – as the high schools all – provide maturation diplomas as well. Most students continue their education at high schools. Studies are mandatory until the age of 16th.

Simplified structure of the education system in Hungary

If someone wishes to pursue higher graduation following high school, with obtaining the (required level and specific type of) maturation examination may attend a college or a university. University graduation lasts normally five years, while college offers at least three years of training. Thus, university training is on a higher level, and certain disciplines may only be pursued at that level. Postal or night universities are used to obtain university degree after having a diploma of college graduation (BSc) after three- or four-year university courses or college qualification. Post- gradual qualification can be purchased after having the diploma of university graduation (MSc.) and completing an advanced professional qualification (Post-university) or in the form of doctorate (Ph.D.) qualification.

1.2.2. Qualification award system

In the elementary qualifications (training) nursery schools, primary schools, secondary education- and boarding schools are included. Finishing the 8th year of school, the scholar can give a general knowledge exam; the certificate gives elementary scholastic qualification.

The leaving certificate of high school qualification (maturation diploma) proves high school graduation after finishing the “gymnasium” or vocational high school.

The vocational school (i.e. general vocational training in scholastic system) provides a leaving certificate of specific qualification (i.e. intermediate graduation in mechanics, electronics, informatics, etc.)

The (stand-alone) vocational training without/out of scholastic system (organised by or in the frame of technical colleges, skilled worker training institutes – e.g. labour centres – and vocational schools can be executed after the 16th year. After performing the requirements of vocational schools, the learners can pass the professional or qualification examination, getting a leaving certificate of specific skill or qualification certificate diploma.

Higher educational training can take part in higher educational institutes (University, College). They give general university (MSc) or college (BSc) qualification, graduate specialisation, postgraduate qualification and training, PhD or master degree courses.

National Adult Training (NAT) Institute is dedicated to developing a well trained and professionally competent staff force that will confidently face the challenges of the competitive market place. Besides providing in-house training, the NAT also encourages staff members to pursue professional qualifications or academic qualifications. They will get a professional qualification. Professional Qualification Award System has been established to recognise staff achievements in this respect.

1.2.3.     Apprenticeship (internship) system for students, recruiting system for graduates - other co-operation with companies

In the Hungarian educational system the students after finishing their 1st to 4th university year and in the final (diploma) term must take part in internship programs. This can be executed at the university department’s or laboratories or in different external institutes or companies. This compulsory training (except for diploma term) takes one month and has to be done in the summer vacation time (in special cases in the examination period before the holiday). The diploma program lasts in the final 14-week education term and its successful completing is required for attending final university state examination.

The scope of duty of the student in the 1st year is skilled worker job, in the 4th year and final term of university graduation it is a job requiring university qualification. The requirement of this apprenticeship and its evaluation is fixed in official directives and reports. The uncompleted training time has to be recovered.

At vocational schools the apprenticeship program is a bit different; the student has one-day practical work per week in his three-year period of study.

Generally the students have got special contracts ensuring their apprenticeship in the specific companies after finishing their studies, and following they can find their future in the companies.

1.2.4. Adult training and life-long learning

Adult training can be realised in scholastic or in non-scholastic educational system: employee’s high schools, employees’ technical college, semi-high education qualification programs, and adult courses. The minister of education runs regional labour development and qualification centres for supplying the adult training scope of duties.

Basic scheme: “Competence Certificates” is regarded nowadays as one of the most suited forms of answering present needs of industrial/servicing companies willing to upgrade their human resources. The fields concerned may be of course specific scientific or engineering skills or beyond managerial industrial management (re-engineering, automation of a production line).

Typically, these certificates would last between 12 and 18 months (corresponding to a workload of about 300h of courses and lab hours or internships). They could be the first step towards obtaining of a complete degree. They have to be recognised as useful by the involved professional sectors.

These certificates could be preceded by an “Acquired Skills Acceptance” examination of concerned applicants in order to assess their previously acquired skills either through professional activities or academic studies.

1.2.5. Conclusion - problems in Hungary – lack of qualified labour force – why?

Working in the mechanic sector means not one of the “cleaner” jobs. Primary this is the reason that the number of personnel choosing this domain shows a drastically decreasing tendency.

The main reasons of lack of qualified labour force are:

        The salary level is not proportional with the hardness and responsibility of the job

        The migration of the workers to EU countries (where with the same labour investment the benefit is several time higher) is increasing

        Relatively bad working conditions in some area of metal industry

        Management problems

        Monotony of the jobs requiring lower skills

There is also need for stronger co-operation between educational institutions and enterprises.


1.3.   SWEDEN

By Mattias Larsson

1.3.1. General overview of the higher and vocational education system related to the sector in Sweden


The Swedish school system is based on two parts: the compulsory school and the non-compulsory school. The compulsory school includes the regular compulsory school and a number of special schools (Sami school, schools for pupils with learning disabilities etc.) and is typically 9 years long. The non-compulsory school includes the upper secondary school (3 years) and the municipal adult education.  


Text Box: Fig. 1.1. The Swedish educational system







After the upper secondary school more than a third of the students continue to the postsecondary level with universities and higher educational institutions located in 20 towns and cities across the country. As a complement to the more traditional forms of education a new form of education, the Advanced Vocational Education (AVE), has been introduced during the last couple of years. The goal with AVE is to provide the market with professionals that do not only posses the traditional knowledge but also wide-ranging proficiency.


At present there is no direct counterpart to a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in the field of engineering. A högskoleingenjör (BSc level) may be conferred on completion of at least 120 credit points and a civilingenjör (MSc level) on completion of 180 credit points. However, a civilingenjör is usually referred to as a Master of Science in Engineering and a högskoleingenjör is usually referred to as Bachelor of Science in Engineering. 


Table 1: Main educational providers in the Stockholm municipality (Engineering degrees)

Education body

Level of education

Years of study

(Engineering degrees)



Number of students per year (2003 admittance) of the sector

Royal Institute of Technology

Higher Academic Education

- Bachelor of Science in Engineering (”Högskoleingenjör)

3 yrs

- Master of Science in Engineering (“Civilingenjör”)

4.5 yrs

- Licentiate of engineering 

2  yrs

- Doctor of Engineering  

4 yrs

MSc programmes available in:

- Biotechnology  

- Chemical Engineering  

- Civil Engineering  

- Computer Science and Engineering  

- Electrical Engineering  

- Engineering and Business Management  

- Engineering Physics  

- Information and Communication Technology  

- Materials Engineering  

- Mechanical Engineering  

- Media Technology  

- Microelectronics  

- Surveying  

- Vehicle Engineering

608 (BSc)

1828 (MSc)

~300 (PhD)

Stockholm board of undergraduate studies


Advanced Vocational Education

2 years

Technicians in CADCAM, robotics and electronics


Stockholm board of undergraduate studies


Gymnasium and Vocational Education

3 years

- Electricity Programme

- Energy Programme

- Vehicle  Programme 

- Industry Programme 

- Technology Programme 



1.3.2. Qualification award system


At the end of the upper secondary school program, students receive a final grade (leaving certificate), which is a compilation of the grades for all of the courses included in the study program. Objectives and criteria’s for the upper secondary school are stated by the national agency of education (skolverket) or the responsible municipalities (local courses). Objectives and criteria’s for an AVE certificates are stated in the curricula of each AVE and the appointed management groups are responsible for their fulfilment.


In order to pass a certain course the students have to pass all involved elements. This may include group assignments, laboratory work, homework etc. Usually each course ends with an examination, written or oral. Based on the results the student is usually awarded on e three level scale. The grades range from fail (Underkänd, U) to pass (Godkänd, G) and to pass with distinction (Väl Godkänd, VG). Some institutions apply a four level system ranging from fail (U) to pass (3) to pass with distinction (4) and to pass with special distinction (5). In the field of engineering (professional degrees) it is common practice to use the four level number scale.


Each course is usually defined by a levelling system from A to D and should correspond to approximately 20 credit points in a certain subject. A-level courses are intended to introduce the subject while D level courses are more in-depth.


1.3.3.     Apprenticeship (internship) system for students, recruiting system for graduates - other cooperation with companies


Some programmes include extensive apprenticeship and field studies as a part of their education although this is not usually the case. In the engineering study programmes shorter group assignments are sometimes performed in close cooperation with companies but no extensive apprenticeships.


Final degree project work

In order to achieve a certain degree the students must fulfil their final degree project work. The final degree project is intended to demonstrate the student’s ability to apply knowledge acquired during the course of studies, and that the student is able to carry out a specific task in an independent manner. The final degree project corresponds to 10 credit points for bachelor programmes and 20 credit points for master programmes.


The final degree project may be undertaken at the school, at an industrial site, in a private company, or at a research institute in Sweden or abroad. However, a faculty member must always act as the supervisor. The project work may be of a theoretical and/or experimental nature, depending on the student's background and interests. The project is summarised into a written report and finally presented at a seminar.


The student is responsible for finding a suitable degree project among those offered by departments or companies. Before the project work starts it must be approved by the supervisor at the school. The final courses and the project work should together constitute the student's individual profile of skill and proficiency.


The final degree project should be performed individually or in pairs. If students work together, each student's work should meet the demands on an individual final degree project. The thesis is generally written in Swedish or English and should always include an abstract in English.


Recruiting system for graduates

Many companies report vacant positions to the Swedish employment agency and advertise in newspapers. The employment agency puts all open positions on a web site and this is probably the most used method to find a new job. It is also very common that graduates are employed after their final degree work if this is performed in cooperation with a company.


1.3.4. Adult training and life-long learning


The Royal Institute of Technology offers courses specifically designed to meet industry needs. These courses are often given on a full time schedule to suit company personnel and are given on demand. Apart from this all courses at the university are open to the general public providing there is still place for more students. For adults without academic background there it a possibility to fulfil the entrance requirements by studying at the upper secondary adult school. And finally there is an opportunity for professionals that want to further extend their knowledge in a certain field to applying to the Advanced Vocational Educations offered by most municipalities.


Table 2: Form of education that the companies have used


Participation among companies

Internal courses

81 %

Private education companies

76 %


36 %

Public education

10 %

Other companies

8 %

Others (industry organisations etc.)

6 %

Source: NUTEK


1.3.5. Conclusion - problems in Sweden – lack of qualified labour force – why?


One problem in Sweden in the relatively low interest among students for science and technology subjects in general. Although there is a lack of qualified personnel in this field the universities find it difficult to attract enough students.


The solution to this problem is not obvious and will require new initiatives from the industry, the educational institutions and other supporting organisations.


Hence, it is really important to educate specialist that are really needed by the industry tomorrow and to have updated prognoses concerning the industry need.


1.1.   Italy

1.1.1. General overview of the higher and vocational education system related to the sector in Italy



2nd cycle

For the age group 15-18 years old, a compulsory school attendance is implemented (“obbligo formativo”). From the age of 15 diplomas and qualifications may be gained in ‘alternanza’ school/training/apprenticeships.  The recent education reform aims to introduce ‘passarelle’, this means the possibility to pass from one type of school to another during the phase of obbligo formativo (15-18 years).


1.1.2. Qualifications, diplomas and degrees pertaining to the mechanic sector


(1) Technical schools - among the diplomas in the metal work sector are the following (5 years) are mechanic surveyor, electric surveyor and industrial surveyor.

(2)State vocational schools - after three years students gain qualification, after five the professional maturity diploma.

(3) Vocational training: (two years-qualification) examples of qualifications in the metalwork sector are mechanic assembler, carpentry and welding, machine tools operator, press operator and general mechanic. In addition as a one-year specialisation the following specialisations are CAD operator, CAD technician,, production technician with CAD/CAM systems, project technician CAD-CAM, quality systems technician, machine and automation systems operator, operator-programmer CNC tools, welder, press technician and technician of production quality control.


(4) Apprenticeships offer similar qualifications as listed above (point 3) are considered to be inferior to qualification gained through training. The recent school reform will upgrade the apprenticeship qualifications.

(5) Politecnics (3 years)

eg: Mechanical engineer diploma degree

Electrical engineer diploma degree, and other specialities including, aeronautics, computer, electrical, communication, vehicle, environmental etc.


(6) University (5 years)

eg: Mechanical engineering laurea degree

Electrical engineer laurea degree, and other specialities, including aeronautics, computer, electrical, communication, vehicle, environmental etc.


(7) I.F.T.S. (Higher training) 1200 hrs

‘Personalised’ training modules for gaining training credits that can be recognised by universities for  studies and by employers.  Open to workers and unemployed, usually with a diploma, but in some cases specific competencies gained through employment may be recognised

1.1.3. Adult training and life-long learning

There are several possibilities for workers: vocational training agencies offer free of charge short-term training courses mainly in CAD, quality management, and safety. Firms can also apply for funding for organising training courses to suit their needs; high schools and universities offer specialised courses to gain higher qualifications.  Local employment offices can define training courses for the unemployed to respond to demand for workers.

1.1.4. Qualification award system

Vocational training is very involved with an eye to the future training, projects are based on skills and competencies referring to professions. A recent reform has made Provinces not only responsible for Vocational training but also fro local Employment policies. This will mean in time a reduction of the gap between training qualifications and the needs expressed by the world of employment.


One of the ambitious aims of the Italian government is to end the traditional dichotomy between education and training. This will be achieved by linking up a series of interconnections between the two systems.


The study of training credits is also a busy area with plans to recognise school, training and apprenticeships credits, and an eye to the future with the development of lifelong learning and the recognition of workplace learning.  In some areas there is already a transversal recognition of qualifications (including qualifications in the metal work sector for example the welding sector).

1.1.5.     Apprenticeship system - work experience organised by training schools and institutes, universities, and employment agencies.

Students who have completed compulsory schooling (over 15) can apply for training/guidance experience in firms relative to their field of study:

        not more than four months for secondary school students

        not more than 6 months for unemployed

        not more than 6 months for high school students

        not more than 12 months for university students

        not more than 12/24 months for people with a disability


The promoting agency (school, employment office, university, etc.) must guarantee the presence of a tutor who will be responsible for educational/organisational aspects.  The firm must nominate a person as contact for the promoting agency. The responsibility of this person within the firm is not defined.

Work experience organised by training institutes

All vocational training courses of over 600 hours must include 30% of work experience in firms. The tutor from the training institute must define the experience with the person nominated within the firm.

1.1.6. Conclusions

One problem in Italy is the lack of specialised labour, younger people are not interested in the more humble jobs in the mechanic sector, there is a shortage of younger students wanting to gain just qualifications, whereas universities and Polytechnics are facing the increasing number of requests from potential students by applying entrance requisites.

Most graduates in mechanical engineering find employment quite easily.



2.5.1 General overview of the higher and vocational education system related to the sector in Finland



The Finnish educational system is made up of basic, secondary and higher education levels. Vocational education belongs to secondary education, is the other half thereof, higher vocational education is mainly provided by polytechnics[1] but also by universities. 

The structure of the Finnish education system is illustrated in the chart below.




Figure The structure of the Finnish education


Training in metal engineering and metalwork is given in vocational institutes and in  polytechnics. The focus of this report is on the National Qualifications system; i.e. higher education provided by polytechnics (Bachelor of Engineering) and schools of technology (university-level engineers) will only be dealt with to a minor extent.


The Ministry of Education on Finland has the overall responsibility for the development of adult education and training.  The Adult Education Council consisting of representatives of different interest groups (trade unions and other social parties) assists the Ministry.  The Ministry’s domain includes the preparation of legislation and general decisions concerning education.  The National Board of Education, which is an expert body subordinate to the Ministry of Education, assists the Ministry in preparing decisions on education policy. Local authorities organise adult education on their own initiative: they maintain the majority of general upper secondary schools for adult students, adult education centres, vocational adult education centres[2] and other vocational institutions.

The owner of adult education provider  could be the State of Finland, local authorities, joint municipal boards, as well as a private organisation such as an association, foundation and enterprise. Most of the adult education institutions in Finland receive support from public funds, irrespective of their form of ownership. Adult education provision in Finland can be categorised in four types based on the finance of training: 

1.       Voluntary vocational adult education is divided into long-term and short-term studies.  The former may be funded by the state, the respective local authority of the studying person and the studying person him/herself.  The state and the studying person fund the latter.

2.       Personnel training is normally financed by an employer.  By nature, personnel training or staff-development training is primarily short-term further training and employees are trained according to the employer’s own operational strategies.

3.       Employment training (labour market training) is financed by the Ministry of Labour thorough regional authority[3].  Most training is further supplementary training.  The primary target group consists of unemployed people and those at risk of unemployment.  Adult employment training also increasingly aims to complete qualifications.  Local employment offices select students and applications for training are submitted to them. Employment training is free of charge and the studying persons are supported financially by the state.

4.       Additional vocational training arranged in the form of apprenticeship training lasts 4–12 months and leads to a further or specialist vocational qualification.  Apprenticeship training is financed almost entirely by the state: apprenticeship training providers are granted a state subsidy.

2.5.2 Qualification award system


The National Qualification system is a three-level structure consisting of vocational, further and specialist's qualifications. The different qualifications can be taken, for example, in vocational schools, vocational adult education centres and polytechnics. In metal industry there are also vocational institutes run by the industry and the Metalworkers' Union. The qualifications relating to machinery and metal industry are the following:


Study Programme                              Vocational qualifications

Automation Technology and Maintenance         Automation Assembler

Maintenance Fitter

Casting Technology                              Founder

Foundry Patternmaker


Manufacturing Technology                                                Precision Mechanic
Mechanical Fitter
Instrument Maker


Further Qualifications                                   Specialist's Qualifications

Welders                                                                           Welders

Mechanical Fitters                                                            Mechanical Fitters

Machinists                                                                        Machinists

Plater-welders                                                                  Platers

Base Metal Industry                                                          Instrument Makers

Construction Sheet-metal Workers                    Casting Technology

Industrial Pipefitters                                                          Foundry Patternmaking

Instrument Makers

Casting Technology

Foundry Patternmaking


The vocational qualification takes 3 years, further and specialist's qualifications take up from six months to one year and the training is carried out on the basis of personal study plans drawn up for the students. Usually people who come to do a further or specialist's qualification have been in working life for some years except for those studying in the mentioned industrial vocational schools who often continue directly.


Vocational adult education is an integral part of vocational training. Some of the training can be state financed employment training. There are about 1000 institutes arranging adult education, most of them offering training to young students as well. In 2001 there were about 90 000 adults in vocational basic or further training.

Relating to vocational education the institutes offer

-            Studies included in a qualification

-            Preparative training for skills demonstration tests (further and specialist's qualifications). Qualifications are awarded through skills demonstration test, i.e. it is the way the student can to prove that he/she has the competences and skills the occupation requires.

-            Training on apprenticeship basis; either for learning a job or specialising.

-            Further training in order to improve and deepen one's working life skills.


In the following  there are some figures concerning the  training possibilities in machinery and metal industry in 1999-2002. The figures represent the studying places available in basic training. In addition to these there are a lot of more places in  skills demonstration test education, for example in vocational adult education centres.


Table     Number of studying places in basic vocational education in machinery and metal industry in 1999-2002


2002                          2001                          2000                   1999

                                       Young  Adults  All     Young  Adults All     Young  Adults All   Young Adults All

Secondary level









































In 2003 there were there 3457 studying places for youths in secondary education and 60 places for adult students in basic vocational training. On top of these there were 66 additional places. In polytechnics there were 1165 studying places for youths and  229 for adult students.


The following chart shows the number of students who searched and actually started studies in machinery and metal industry in 2001.


Table     Number of students searched and started basic studies in machinery and metal industry in 2001.


Primarily searched












Secondary level






Secondary level


















2 316




2 731


2 603


















Started / Primarily searched (%)






Secondary level














Approved skills demonstration tests are a prerequisite for the award of the qualification. Through skills demonstration tests the skills acquired through work, apprenticeship and  training courses can be converted into an official certificate. The tests are meant to assess the qualities needed in  working life and are therefore made in close co-operation with it. They are spread over the whole studying time and are arranged in conditions as real-life as possible, either during contact studies or the on-the-job training. On-the-job-training means that the student learns the practical tasks at a work place. The aim is to increase co-operation with the enterprises an facilitate recruiting, i.e. improve the students' possibilities to move into working life and enterprises' possibilities to find skilled workforce


The boards of examiners supervise the tests and award diplomas. The further qualification taken in Finland is valid in all EU countries. The professional certificate is a clear proof of the level and quality of professional skills.


Finnish vocational education and training is institution-based to a very large extent. Taught courses form the core of the programmes. In order to create closer cooperation between vocational education and training and the world of work, efforts are being made to increase the proportion of apprenticeship training to some 10 % of all entrants.


2.5.3 Apprenticeship


Apprenticeship is a unique way to merge vocational studies with factual learning. Apprenticeship has long traditions, it is being developed all the time and is subsidised. Apprenticeship suits as well young as adult students. It is tailored according to the needs of the student and the workplace and aims at vocational, further or specialist's qualifications. According to the development plan for 1999-2004, apprenticeship is developed as an alternative for vocational secondary education and as a form of further vocational training for those in working life. The number of apprenticeship students has quadrupled in 1990s. In 2000 there were 13 000 vocational qualification students and 12 900 in further and specialist's training.


Apprenticeship contract is an employment contract binding the student and the employer. The student must have a possibility to practise the occupation wherefore the employer must provide him/her with varied suitable tasks. There are apprenticeship offices and centres in Finland which help with the practical arrangements of apprenticeship training. In 2000 the number of apprenticeship graduates in technical studies were 3392 and in 2001 there were 38314 apprenticeship students  in vocational adult training.

2.5.4 Adult training  and life-long learning


In the following there are some figures relating to the skills demonstration tests done.


Table    Number of those participating in and passing the test in machinery and metal industry in 2001


Those participating in the test:

Vocational qualification             365

Further qualification      596

Specialist's qualification 29

Those passing the test:

Vocational qualification             147

Further qualification      266

Specialist's qualification 21



Table     Qualifications done by adults in machinery and metal industry in 1997-2000


                        1997     1998     1999   2000

Vocational qualification





Further qualification            92        136      154      211

Specialist's qualification      3            14         17         9          


It has been proposed by the Metalworkers' Union that the collective agreement should presuppose that a personal training plan is drawn up, which is based  both on  the training needs of the worker and the objectives of the company. This is not, however, so far included in the collective agreement but the aim is to guarantee working life -long learning and, through this, a  balance between the workers' skills and the development of the company activities. Improving work and workplaces and investing in employees is a must if metal companies wish to enhance their image.


Skills Finland is association that aims at enhancing the appreciation of Finnish vocational training and  knowledge. Taitaja  (i.e. professional) is a skills competition for young talents in different vocational schools. The competition attempts to improve craft skills. Virtual learning is one means of developing the qualities of employees. Elmonet a is virtual information system the purpose of which is to function as a practical tool for those developing metal and electronics industry. The pages contain good practices and practical tools and models applicable to the development the industry and professional knowledge. In addition the pages include  a database of all ESR-financed projects carried out in metal and electronics industry since 1995.


One projects aiming at enhancing the image of metal industry is Komes, an on-the-job-training project, action models are being developed in order to attract more young people to take a job within  machinery and metal industry.


The earlier discussed further and specialist's qualifications belong to further training; they are meant for adults and qualification can only be achieved through a skills demonstration test.


On-the-job-training is part of vocational qualification training in secondary education. The student doing his/her on-the-job-training period has not an employment contract with the employer. Tonet is an information channel for companies, educational organisations and students as well as all those interested in developing on-the-job-training as part of vocational secondary education. It is a practice oriented guide which gives information on how learning is transferred to a new learning environment i.e. a workplace. 


Among people already at work, on-the-job-training is an often applied training form, for example in work safety and cabin assembly training, since it enables the workers to learn through the phases of their work and at their workplaces. Relating to work safety, a topical issue at the moment is a so-called Work safety card. Work safety card is specifically meant for people working at a common workplace (contractor & subcontractors). Those who have done the training have 1) basic competencies for work and workplace initiation, 2) know-how to recognise  ambient dangers, 3) knowledge of work safety and co-operation at a workplace


Additional further training is provided, for example, by the institute of the Metalworkers' Union, called Murikka. The Murikka institute trains, for example, workers in working capacity and work safety matters as well as in job content development and virtual information search. There are also job-specific further training (e.g. sheet metal work at he moment) and courses of longer duration the aim of which is to train the workers in self-development in order for them to keep up with the rapid changes in today's working life. The international aspect is included in certain courses, for example in the continuing work safety training. The course contents are under continuous elaboration in order to match up to the requirements of the members and those of working life. 


Retraining becomes necessary, for example, for health reasons. Retraining can be carried out in form of courses, apprenticeship or  vocational qualification training. Before the training an examination can be carried out in order to work out a person's studying needs and his/her aptitude for the new job. 


Another reason for retraining are changes in the structure of the economy. Thus the projects dealing with retraining in metal industry have to a great extent related to Target programme 4: 'Adapting staff to a change in the economic structure and production system'. As mentioned in connection with qualifications earlier, retraining for an new occupation can be done through a skills demonstration test.


2.5.5      Conclusions- problems in Finland - lack of qualified- why ?


In conclusion the work force demand prognosis for Southwest Finland will be viewed. The reason for focusing on Southwest Finland is that it is the main operative area of the Finnish Innomet project.


One of the biggest challenges for the work force in the metal industry sector is ageing. It is widely known that  ageing work force must be kept in employment since metal sector does not attract newcomers. In a very recent study it was found out that machinery and metal industry will suffer most from skilled work force shortage. The need for different qualifications now and in 5 and 10 years' time span is illustrated in the table below:


Table Need for different qualifications


Qualification needed

At present

In 5 years' time

In 10 years' time


















It has been estimated that almost 40 000 people aged 55-65 will retire from metal industry by 2010. Those graduating from vocational secondary education will cover about half of the need for new work force. Reasons for this are the small number of studying places, the mentioned lack of interest and relatively many who leave off studies. The shortage is predicted to culminate in 2006, after which the industry will before long face a  situation with no skilled work force available.


Accordingly, there should be new training structures and tools for how not only to sustain the working capacity of the ageing work force in the field but also how to increase and develop working capacity, willingness to work and most notably, the skills. Some experts suggest that  life long learning principles serve as a starting platform in order to meet the challenge of ageing work force. Thus, it is not a surprise that life long learning is also a topical issue for metal and engineering industry in Finland. Additionally, it has been argued by employers of the field that life long learning may  be a suitable construction to develop certain desired characteristics of employees such as self-management (initiative – entrepreneurship, innovativeness, development-orientation), interaction (ability for teamwork, fluidness of communication) and monitoring skills (ability to analyse development and trends in the environment, to evaluate present situation and future perspectives, to understand one’s own challenges and threats in different situations).

According to the Finnish Ministry of Education, the major objectives of lifelong learning are

1)      to achieve a high level of education and promote learning-to-learn skills among the population

2)      to expand learning opportunities as concerns both quantity and forms of provision

3)      to recognise informal learning as a valid form of learning alongside institutional education

4)       to secure necessary funds with a combination of public and private financing

5)      to promote co-operation between partners influencing the structures of this entity.



2.6  Comparative conclusions of partner regions

Optional educational schema in partner states


Comparing the educational systems in partner states the optional schema could be drawn as shown in the figure above.


Compulsory 9-year basic education is needed. Then the upper secondary level gymnasium or vocational school one can select. Both levels give the opportunity to continue on the higher educational level in technical universities or in the applied higher educational institutions. But after the vocational school graduates as rule begin in industry, as they have the needed speciality.


Just now the reorganisation of the educational system takes place in Europe taking into account the Bolognas’ charter. So, in different countries the bachelor studies lasting from 3 to 4 years. Therefore it is conditionally shown in the figure this level not university level but higher educational level and it is consisting of applied studies as well. Graduates from the applied higher educational institutions have enough practical skills to begin their workman way after the graduation. But there are problems with bachelor studies.


However Bolognas’ charter declares that after bachelor’s graduation young people have to be able to begin work it is not real in the field of engineering activities. Hence, this is the milestone at university level to define the further direction for specialisation.


There is the opportunity to continue on the master’ level after the applied higher institution, but it depends on the country, which additional conditions the applicant has to fulfil. (For example in Estonia they have to do additional module of 8-12 CR of theoretical subjects in the field of specialisation).

Of course in different countries number of parallel opportunities to specialise from different levels exists but all of them can be reduced to given optional schema in order to be able to compare the qualifications of graduates.


[1] In Finland, a polytechnic (an AMK-institution) is an university with a vocational bias; vocationally specialised multidisciplinary training institution.

[2] The Finnish partner (Turun AKK) represents this educational institution form.

[3] In Southwest of Finland this regional authority is TE-Centre i.e.,  The Employment and Economic Development Centre of Southwest of Finland. There are totally 15 TE-Centres in Finland (see http://www.te-keskus.fi).





The system is capable for monitoring of human resources quality and quantity in every participating enterprise of the network. A common key matrix is used in order to connect the terms of enterprise and educational organisations – to define the link between the profession (company level) and vocation (obtained through education).


This will give companies the opportunity and benefit to upgrade employees within the latest courses of manufacturing and management based on global industry needs and with the state of the art of educational methodologies. For increasing mutual trust the professional non-profit organisations as well as local authorities should take the initiative in creation or support such networked systems.


In addition, through cooperation and open dialogue the image of metalworking, engineering and apparatus sector is also improved between education institutions, students, companies and other organisations.


Finally, having the study results in partner countries - the list of needed qualified labour force with their qualification content is introduced as a source material for further development.


Results at this phase of the project are used to revise and develop the INNOMET database test version.  However in long perspective when a critical mass of companies are involved to the system results could be used as a basis for the educational institutions in order to elaborate complementary study and training programmes and modification of existing ones.


In long-term this system can contribute to a better efficiency and transparency of needed education and training in this sector based on private sector labour force demand. Through the development of the cooperation environment between schools and enterprises, the system can also improve practices and access to e-learning and life-long learning platforms.


The system also enables evaluation of regional vocational needs at governmental level, and serves as a tool for compiling study national or regional agreements. An important key factor is concurrent development and implementation of vocational standards, including different levels for workers, engineers and managers.


The initiated INNOMET system demo can also be transferable to other industrial sectors, e.g. for forest or textile industries, across the European boundaries.


In conclusion, it is important to note that during this Leonardo da Vinci II project only a demo version of the INNOMET system is developed, the success and future sustainability of the database depends on the developments and initiatives in each partner region independently. However, very positive feedback among network partners has been received in all partner areas to continue with follow-up projects since the end of 2004-2005.