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Vocational education and training

Vocational education and training are very practically-oriented and provide the student with the necessary skills for working life. The education and training are intended for young people completing their basic education and for adults who are already working. After vocational education and training, you can start working or apply to a higher education institute.

In vocational education and training, you can study the following fields:

  • education
  • humanities and the arts
  • social sciences
  • business and administration
  • natural sciences
  • engineering
  • agriculture and forestry
  • health and wellness
  • services.

In addition to vocational education and training, you can also apply to general upper secondary school after comprehensive school. You can also complete a double degree by studying at a vocational institute and general upper secondary school at the same time. Read more about general upper secondary schools on the InfoFinland page General upper secondary school.

Studying in vocational education and training

At the beginning of your studies, a personal competence development plan (HOKS) is drawn up for you. The plan includes a list of the skills you already have, as well as what and how you will study further. The plan will also indicate what support you need during your studies.

In vocational education and training, studying is flexible. You move at your own pace and study time is influenced, for example, by whether you have previously acquired learning and how quickly you learn new things. You can complete studies in different ways and in different environments. You can study, for example, at the workplace, at an educational institute or online. You can complete an entire qualification or only parts of the qualification.

In vocational education and training, you demonstrate your skills and complete parts of the qualification mainly in demonstrations. In demonstrations, you do practical work assignments in real work situations at a workplace. Two evaluators assess how well you have achieved the professional skills required for the degree.

Link redirects to another websiteFinnish National Agency for Education

Information on demonstrations

Applying for vocational education and training

You can apply for vocational education and training in Finland after you have completed the comprehensive school syllabus or have acquired the corresponding skills in other ways. The education provider assesses whether the applicant’s skills are sufficient to complete the qualification.

You can apply for a vocational upper secondary qualification through the continuous application process throughout the year or through the upper secondary level joint application process February-March. The joint application process is primarily intended for those who are graduating comprehensive school. Application for a vocational qualification or a specialist vocational qualification is always through the continuous application process.

Read more on the InfoFinland page Applying for education and training.

Vocational qualifications

You can complete a vocational upper secondary qualification, vocational qualification or specialised vocational qualification.

Vocational upper secondary qualification

A vocational upper secondary qualification provides the basic skills required in the field. Completing a comprehensive school-based qualification takes roughly three years. All upper secondary qualifications include some common studies, such as communication and interaction skills, mathematics and natural sciences, and social and working life skills.

Vocational qualification

A vocational qualification is more in-depth than a vocational upper secondary qualification. It is usually carried out alongside work or through apprenticeship. Apply for a vocational qualification if you already have basic training in the field or skills acquired at work.

Specialist vocational qualification

In a specialist vocational qualification, you acquire even more advanced competence. A graduate with a specialist vocational qualification can complete the most demanding jobs in the field. You can apply for a specialist vocational qualification if you have completed basic training or other studies in the field and have worked in the field for several years.

On-the-job learning

During studies, it is possible to combine different learning environments and ways to study. You can complete an entire qualification or parts of it flexibly at the workplace in practical work tasks. On-the-job learning is agreed through apprenticeships or training agreements.


Apprenticeship (oppisopimus) means learning through working. You work in your own field and study alongside work. Any vocational upper secondary qualification or parts of it can be completed through apprenticeship. An apprenticeship often also involves studying at an educational institute.

If you are interested in studying with an apprenticeship, contact the advisory service of your preferred educational institute. You will receive help finding an apprenticeship place at the educational institute and TE Office. You can also agree on an apprenticeship with your current workplace.

At work, you will be guided by a workplace instructor, who can be your supervisor or another employee at the workplace. The employer will pay you salary. You will agree on the salary with your employer. It must be in accordance with the collective agreement for the sector. If you do not receive pay for time spent on theoretical studies, you may be entitled to apply for daily allowance, travel allowance and family allowance. You may receive them if you are covered by Finnish social security. Ask for more information at your educational establishment.

Education agreement

Training agreement (koulutussopimus) is also on-the-job learning. A training agreement allows you to complete parts of a qualification. The student is not employed and receives no salary during the training.

Link redirects to another websiteThe Finnish National Agency for Education

Information on training agreements

Preparatory education for programmes leading to an upper secondary qualification TUVA

TUVA is preparatory education for programmes leading to an upper secondary qualification .

TUVA education may suit you if

  • you are an adult, but have not yet completed secondary education
  • you need preparatory education before continuing to secondary vocational education or general upper secondary education
  • you want to improve your Finnish- or Swedish-language skills before continuing to an upper secondary qualification

During your TUVA education, you can raise your basic education grades to improve your chances of entering secondary education. In addition to that, you can complete general upper secondary education and vocational education studies.

TUVA education lasts 38 weeks. You can also complete just part of the curriculum. You can then apply for a study place suitable for you such as in general upper secondary or vocational education.

TUVA education is organised by vocational institutes, general upper secondary schools and comprehensive schools.

You can apply for TUVA education in the joint application process in the spring, or through the continuous application process all year round. Read more in the service.

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