The Ministry of Education, in cooperation with the National Institute for Technical and Vocational Education, has been working on a gradual reform of the final examination that aims at increasing the quality of vocational programmes at upper secondary level. Since 2005 the reform has been taking place via projects supported from the European Social Fund.
The reform entails a systemic change in the process of vocational programmes completion that means an end to the current situation where each school prepares its own final examination content. The fundamental feature of the new final examination (NZZ) is a uniform content for each specific field of education (e.g. bricklayer, toolmaker, baker, hairdresser, etc.) that is developed jointly by vocational school teachers and experts from industry.
The process of unifying the final examination requirements leads to an increased level of comparability of learning outcomes and has a major influence on the quality of educational provision and the students’ employment prospects. There has been major progress in the reform that can be demonstrated by the fact that a growing number of schools administer the uniform exams each year for an increasing number of students. In 2003/2004 uniform assignments were developed for 3 fields of training and tested in 34 schools. In 2007/2008 there were as many as 70 examinations set for virtually all three-year vocational training programmes that were administered by some 50% of schools.