The competence-based, customer-oriented approach and increased effectiveness of vocational education and training (VET)

Vocational education


The aim of the evaluation was to look at the competence-based and customer-oriented approach and the operational efficiency of VET (the state of the competence-based approach) and to examine the relevance, effects, risks and change needs in the related policy measures (evaluation of the impacts of policy measures).

The evaluation supported the Vocational education and training reform (2015–2019), which aimed at reforming VET by making it a competence-based and customer-oriented system, increasing learning at workplaces, increasing the number of individual study paths and reforming education and training to better respond to the changing competence needs of working life, individuals and society. By improving effectiveness, the education system was also adapted to the scarcer resources of the public economy.

The evaluation was targeted at all VET providers and covered all forms of VET leading to a qualification.

The evaluation was targeted at the core activities of VET providers, at customer processes closely related to them and at resources supporting the customer processes.  The main evaluation and data collection methods were thus self-evaluation, workshops, an evaluation panel, seminars and interviews. Information was gathered from different groups (providers, teaching staff, students, working life representatives, interest groups and representatives of the educational and employment administration).

The assessment was funded by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The main results

  • The competence-based approach has provided a good foundation for a structural change in VET. It has simplified the qualification system, broadened qualifications and increased customer-orientation by making the studies more flexible and more individualised, by intensifying the cooperation between working life and education providers and by bringing VET closer to working life.
  • With the competence-based approach, there will be less regulation in the qualification system, the steering system will be lighter and education providers will have more autonomy and responsibility.
  • The competence-based approach has significantly changed the work and job descriptions of teaching staff, which has greatly challenged the development of their competence and capacities.
  • The provision of a sufficient number of workplaces and workplace instructors, the competence of workplace instructors and securing sufficient support and guidance for students and workplace instructors will be critical for the successful implementation of the competence-based approach.
  • The role of quality management and quality assurance will be more and more important as competence is increasingly acquired at workplaces and other learning environments.
  • From the point of view of the competence-based, customer-oriented approach and operational efficiency, there is a lot of unused potential in the cooperation between education providers.
  • Cost structures have changed because of the competence-based approach and will continue to do so when the reform progresses. The focus will move to providing advice and guidance to students, learning at workplaces, cooperation between education providers, development of the competence of the staff and development of pedagogical practices and learning environments. In the future, more appropriations will be needed and they will have to be more clearly allocated to developing these activities.
  • With reforms made in funding, efficiency and effectiveness will become more important, which will support the provision of working life-oriented and competence-based education and training.

Policy brief in Finnish | Policy brief in Swedish | Policy brief in English


Further information

Kirsi Hiltunen

Kirsi Hiltunen

Head of Unit
Management and administration, Vocational education, Early childhood education
+358 29 533 5508 Helsinki