The share of people without secondary education is becoming more widespread in Estonia among younger age groups. At the same time, having secondary education is important for the people themselves to have better opportunities in life (smaller risk of unemployment and inactivity; higher wages (Anspal et al, 2011)) but also for the entire society (to ensure labour supply in the context of labour shortage; lower costs on social and unemployment benefits and services). Therefore, it is important to discuss which opportunities do people without secondary education have to attain it.

The aim of this research is to analyse the supply of vocational secondary education to adults and its learning arrangements, to analyse the factors supporting or hindering taking up formal education and the needs and attitudes towards vocational secondary education among the target group. To achieve this, the analysis relies on the data of Estonian Education Information System, Estonian Labour Force Survey, 12 interviews with adults with low educational attainment, 2 focus group interviews with representatives of vocational education and adult upper secondary schools, 2 interviews with career counselors working with adults (Unemployment Insurance Fund) and anoverview of information available for learning for adults in the schools’ web sites.

The main conclusions from the study are:

  1. The priority should be in adjusting vocational secondary education according to the specific needs of adult learners. Currently they are not considered as target group of vocational secondary education which creates and enhances the entry barrier: information on learning opportunities is geared towards young learners and schools do not have the resources or skills to consider the specific needs of adult learners.
  2. It is important to empower low-educated adults in taking up formal education. Making the decision to take up formal education is not an easy one. It is impacted by psychological barriers, preconceptions about learning, the attitudes of others and practical barriers that make it difficult to start formal education studies. Adults with low education need support in overcoming these barriers and raising the motivation to take up formal education.

See also

Anspal, S., Järve, J., Kallaste, E., Kraut, L., Räis, M. L., Seppo, I. (2011). The Cost of School Failure in Estonia. Eesti Rakendusuuringute Keskus CentAR. Research report for the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.

Räis, M. L., Kallaste, E., Kaska, M., Järve, J., Anspal, S. (2014) Põhi- ja keskhariduseta täiskasvanute tasemeharidusse tagasitoomise toetamine. Tallinn: Eesti Rakendusuuringute Keskus Centar.