Skills and labour market

Changes in various areas are needed to maintain Estonia’s basic principles, achieve the strategic goals and meet the development needs. Targeted and coordinated cross-sectoral cooperation is important. The changes that need more attention than the proposals presented and negotiated during the preparation of the strategy are tied into five thematic bundles. Their implementation is monitored on the basis of a more detailed action plan each year and, if necessary, adjustments are made based on domestic events affecting
the development of Estonia and changes in the foreign environment.

Making the education system learner-based and flexible

We will ensure the abundance and availability of learning opportunities, smooth and flexible movement between levels and types of education, and the application of the principles of the modern learning approach to ensure as far as possible, a learner-centred approach that supports the development of a self-directed learner and the maximum application of each person’s potential. To this end, we will integrate formal and non-formal education and general and vocational secondary education and develop a common secondary education standard. We will continue to optimise the school network, and create regional education centres with the aim of creating new forms of learning and opportunities for connecting general, vocational and higher education and nonformal learning, including youth work, and facilitating such transitions. We will link regional education centres with regional and local stakeholders to support the development of a regional business environment and the preparation of the workforce.

We will increase the teaching of general and future competencies in the curricula of different levels and types of education, and integrate more practical experience and skills into them in cooperation with employers. We will guarantee high-quality youth work available throughout Estonia, which creates opportunities for all young people to gain diverse development, success, experience, and independence. We will support teaching in Estonian, while developing digital teaching materials in Estonian at all levels of education and in lifelong learning. We will support evidence-based development and implementation of diverse learning methods and techniques (including digital pedagogy) in order to personalise and individualise learning and enrich it with technology (learning analytics, kratts, etc.).

We will ensure that the learning movement in the European education area is free of obstacles. International mobility and cooperation are enhanced by the population’s knowledge of foreign languages, which is why the learning of languages is supported. At the same time, we will provide opportunities to learn the Estonian language and (digital) solutions for compatriots living elsewhere and other interested people.

We will bring people’s knowledge, skills and attitudes in line with the needs of the labour market and structural changes in the economy

We will modernise the adult education system (incl. development of a combined funding model and quality assurance principles, changes in tax and support systems, involvement of a network of cultural institutions) to prepare people for future work and adaptation to structural changes in the economy. We will develop a skills and needs forecasting system (OSKA) and will be able to use big data to better match education and labour market needs. In higher and vocational education, we are developing a system of certification of partial qualifications and expanding the target group and specialties of the workplace-based study form.

The focus is on more effective support for the return to the labour market of unskilled and inactive people (including the elderly, young people not in education, training or employment, people with a care burden) and the prevention of older people leaving the labour market. This is especially true in the regions of North-Eastern and South-Eastern Estonia, to ensure regional balance of the labour supply and demand throughout Estonia. We will also expand learning opportunities for people with higher skill levels and education, paying attention to areas of smart specialisation and general and future competencies.

We are preparing for future work

Changing business models and forms of work require society’s willingness for the necessary changes in regulatory framework for future work. To this end, we will, if necessary, redesign the tax system, labour law and social protection rules to comply with the new forms of work, so that they will also ensure equal treatment for, for example, creative freelancers, workbits and via platforms (including cross-border employees) employees. The spread of non-traditional forms of work is accompanied by the need to support teleworking opportunities, modernise the working environment (including digital infrastructure) and ensure safety regardless of the form of work. We will develop curricula to shape the knowledge and skills needed for future work, increase the readiness of teachers, lecturers and trainers, and modernise learning environments for the implementation of updated curricula.

We will improve the quality of higher education and increase the efficiency of its funding

In order to improve the quality and international competitiveness of higher education, we will expand work-based learning, industrial PhD and master’s degree studies in business, and improve the internship system. We will strive for gender balance in higher education. We will support the preservation and development of Estonian-language curricula in higher education and the development of professional and research languages. We are reviewing the funding model for higher education, including updating the system of student loans, study grants and scholarships. At the same time, access to higher education must not be impaired. We will ensure that education will respond to the needs of the society and the labour better, and higher education and research and development will be better integrated.

We will create a talent-friendly environment

To encourage the development of talents, we create a whole system for noticing and supporting a talented learner. It is important to expand and promote integrated learning opportunities in science, technology and creativity, and to ensure the proliferation of teachers needed to teach them at all levels of education, as well as in hobby education. We will develop a legal space that advances the skills necessary for smart entrepreneurship and, if necessary, helps to attract talent to Estonia from elsewhere. Attention needs to be paid to the development of talent policy programmes, including measures for international students.

We will increase social cohesion and equal opportunities in education and the labour market

The shrinking working-age population will lead to changes in the balance between the local and foreign workforce. By creating equal opportunities in education and the labour market, we will modernise adaptation and integration services, organisation of education and language learning for learners with a mother tongue other than Estonian, and develop solutions that would keep the local population active in the Estonian labour market. We will also pay greater attention to facilitating the return to Estonia. To promote equal opportunities, we will develop inclusive education, integrate educational, social and health care, cultural and labour market support services, develop measures to support the minimisation of the pay gap, and reduce gender segregation in education and the labour market.

Last updated: 24.08.2021