Immigrants’ educational pathways

Vocational education Pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education Liberal adult education

The launch of literacy training in liberal adult education, the reform of basic education for adults and enhancing the flexibility of language skills requirements in vocational education and training (VET) support the education of immigrants. Strengthening immigrant students’ basic competence and skills and clarifying the division of tasks between the reviewed forms of education are the key to making the educational pathways smoother.

To accelerate immigrants’ educational pathways, the flexibility of the language skills requirements in VET was enhanced, basic education for adults was reformed and literacy training was launched in liberal adult education institutions. The reforms entered into force on 1 January 2018. The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) has evaluated the effects of the implemented reforms. The results of the evaluation consist of four different sets of material: surveys directed at education providers, surveys directed at teachers, the material of the events organised for the focus groups and the material of the webinars.

Reforms made in the education system support the education of immigrants

Liberal adult education institutions have adopted their new education task well, the reformed structure of basic education for adults has harmonised and clarified the teaching at the national level, and it is possible for applicants with weaker language skills to receive a study place in VET as a result of the enhanced flexibility of the language skills requirements in VET. The legislation concerning the reviewed education and training supports the realisation of the educational pathways.

– Although the reforms entered into force fairly recently, the provision of basic education for adults, VET and literacy training in liberal adult education to immigrants is on average realised well, comments Senior Advisor Raisa Hievanen.

To further enhance the smoothness of the educational pathways, the responsibilities of the reviewed forms of education and training must be clarified and students’ basic competence and skills must be ensured

Immigrant students’ smooth and appropriate progress on the educational pathway is complicated by the differences education providers appear to have with regard to the objectives of each training and what kind of competence is required of students at the beginning and end of the training. Students who do not achieve strong basic knowledge and skills will be in a vulnerable position in the disruptions of the world of work.

– It is important that the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment continue the dialogue with the educational institutions and TE Offices to form a shared understanding of the roles that the different forms of education play in the education of immigrants. This will make it easier to direct students to training that meets their needs, says Senior Advisor Tarja Frisk.

Literacy training is organised in liberal adult education and as part of basic education for adults. In these two types of literacy training, the objectives and the target group seem ambiguous and partly overlapping.

– There are different views of the target groups of these two types of training and different regional models exist for organising the training. Among other things, this is reflected in what kind of training the student is directed to and in the regional solutions to who organises literacy training, says Senior Advisor Hanna Väätäinen.

Different learners need flexible study paths

Immigrants are not a group of people with uniform competences and for many immigrant students, fast educational pathways are appropriate. However, especially for those immigrants who have started their studies in Finland with weak basic knowledge and skills, the aim of completing the education and transferring to the world of work faster may risk their social and financial equality in the long term.

– While our education system must better enable slow educational pathways for those students whose basic competence and skills need to be strengthened, it must also support a flexible transition to the world of work for immigrants with stronger skills, says Senior Advisor Kirsi Mustonen.


For further information, please contact

Raisa Hievanen.jpg
Senior Evaluation Advisor
Tarja Frisk.
Counsellor of Evaluation

Other evalutions conserning immigrants’ education in Finland