13 June 2017
New competition lights up Latvia’s skills development path
Every tradition has a beginning – and the Baltic nation of Latvia hopes a new tradition of skills competitions are now on the way to being established.
SkillsLatvia 2017 – the country’s first national skills competition for young professionals – drew 96 Competitors from 30 vocational education and training (VET) schools together to demonstrate their abilities and their passion for pursuing a career, under the slogan “The doer wins!”
Encompassing 16 skills, the Competition – organized by Skills Latvia, part of the Latvia’s State Education Development Agency (VIAA) – broke new ground for the promotion of vocational education, skills-focused study programs, and the importance of developing new capabilities that meet the needs of the job market. Held from 20-22 April 2017, it welcomed students, teachers, employers, and other young people who are already turning their thoughts to where the world of work might ultimately take them.
“SkillsLatvia 2017 confirms that a bright mind, talent, an acquired trade, and ‘golden hands’ have always been appreciated in Latvia,” said Kārlis Šadurskis, Latvia’s Minister of Education and Science, who described work-based learning as “another step towards improving quality of education”.
“Students of VET schools are messengers attesting that the level of vocational education in Latvia is high, and that we can be proud of it.”
Competitors were tasked with completing practical, on-the-spot assignments whose criteria meet the standards of established international skills competitions, with industry professionals evaluating their performance. They competed for medals – but also the chance to represent Latvia at WorldSkills and EuroSkills.
Open to all, SkillsLatvia 2017 also included visitor hours where the public had the opportunity to acquaint themselves with various professions, participate in a ‘career think-tank’ segment, test their skills at a profession demonstration parade, and obtain information about VET schools and higher education institutions in Latvia.
Describing SkillsLatvia 2017 as “an excellent way of assessing how modern and competitive vocational education in Latvia is” and how it aligns with the labour market, Dita Traidās, Director of the VIAA said, “For VET schools, this is an opportunity to evaluate the content and attractiveness of their study programs among young people, but for future students it is a platform from which they can make their career choice and get acquainted with various professions.”
“I am sure that the Competition will become a long-term benchmark of vocational education in Latvia, in the same way that the WorldSkills Competition is in countries all over the world.”
In the last academic year, 28,950 students were enrolled in vocational education programs in 65 VET schools in Latvia, with the number having either remained stable or shown a slight increase in recent years. The proportional share of VET students in Latvia, compared to students in general education, is also gradually rising and has now reached 38.2%, with the European Union’s funding for VET being identified as one of the key reasons for this trend.
Visit Skills Latvia's website for additional information.