Finland loses its vocation

September 14, 2001

More than 70 per cent of Finnish school-leavers are choosing to continue their study by enrolling in higher education rather than on vocational courses.

According to the ministry of education, the numbers are among the highest - if not the highest - in the world.

The seemingly insatiable appetite for higher education may be explained in part by Finland, being the only member country within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development that does not offer diploma-level courses.

In the 1990s, an overhaul of the education system led to diploma-level education being replaced by polytechnics.

Holders of vocational certificates have become eligible to continue their studies towards the ylioppilastutkinto , which allows them access to higher education.

Tertiary education may seem to offer school-leavers a route to career success but industry leaders have expressed concern.

"We feel it would be sufficient if no more than half of all applicants entered higher education," said Kari Purhonen, director of the Industry Employers' Association.

Earlier this year, the association carried out a survey that reveals that demand for vocationally trained staff far exceeds supply.

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