A longitudinal study followed learners that enrolled in professional programmes in the school years 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15. Given that the expected time to complete any professional programme is three years, the study assessed the learners’ situation in 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17.
The objective was to measure the success rate (percentage of learners completing the programme in three years), the proportion of grade retention, transfers to other programmes and the dropout rate.
The variables analysed were the gender, age, level of school allowances (that are granted according to socio-economic needs), region of the secondary school, nature of the educational institution and learners’ previous educational background.
The study concluded that the success rate of professional programmes increased (from 53% in 2014/15 to 60% in 2016/17), as a result of a reduction in the percentage of learners completing in more than three years.
Learners seem to benefit from curricula permeability. The majority of learners have an educational background in general programmes. While learners from other education offers showed higher dropout rates (31% for CEF, 23% for vocational programmes) and 47% alternative education curricular offered only by the education ministry), learners from general programmes had higher success rates (70%).
Another interesting finding is that older learners have lower success rates. Up to the age of 15, the success rate was 80% while 17 year-olds had 43% (meaning that they were retained more than once). This higher grade retention in lower secondary education may lead to smaller probabilities of success in upper secondary education.
The success rate among learners from higher socio-economic households, and thus, who do not benefit from school allowances, is lower (56%) than those who benefit (63%). According to the study, one possible explanation may be related to the public perception that these programmes are not suited to pursue tertiary education. Since families with high socioeconomic status have stronger ambitions for their children, it is likely that they are more reluctant to allow them to enroll in VET programmes, unless they have shown distinctive learning difficulties. As a consequence, learners from these households who enroll in professional programmes are part of a restricted group that is characterised by having strong educational struggles and, therefore, expected to have a smaller probability of success. This idea is strengthened when researchers crossed-over the analysis concerning their ages. Learners from families with high socioeconomic status are the ones who enter professional programmes later. This means they had more grade retentions in their educational path and will have less success while in upper secondary education.
To conclude, the study highlighted that the areas with the highest success rate were health, safety and hygiene at work (76%), technology of chemical processes (75%) and accounting and taxes (73%). Contrarily, the areas with higher dropout rates were civil construction and engineering (28%), transport services (22%) and electricity and energy (20%).
For more information check the “Situation of learners three years after enrolling in VET” study at Directorate-General of Statistics of Education and Science (DGEEC) website.