VET in Poland (IVET and CVET)

Polish VET system for which the Minister of National Education is responsible is provided at upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary levels. VET at higher education level is in the scope of responsibility of the Minister of Science and Higher Education.

  1. At upper secondary level, students can gain vocational qualifications in a 3-year basic vocational school (ZSZ) or in a 4-year upper secondary technical school (technikum). VET students may take external exam(s) confirming vocational qualification(s), which is/are conducted separately for each qualification specified in a given occupation. The exams are organised during the learning process, not only at its end as it used to be. Upper secondary technical school enables also taking so called maturity exam which gives entrance to education at tertiary level. Graduates of basic vocational schools can upgrade their knowledge in 3 year upper secondary general schools for adults  (LO dla doroslych) starting with the second grade. They may also upgrade their skills or gain new qualifications (requalify) at vocational qualification courses leading (after passing an exam) to qualifications.
  2. At post-secondary non-tertiary level graduates of general and technical upper secondary schools  can gain vocational qualifications in a post-secondary school (szkola policealna) where learning process does not last longer than 2,5 year.
    Polish VET at technical schools and post secondary schools is mainly school-based with the share of practical training in total VET programme of 50%, whereas in basic vocational schools the proportion of practice to theory is 60% to 40%. After passing each external exam confirming vocational qualification, students obtain a certificate confirming one particular qualification. Only after they pass exams for all qualifications required in an occupation (1, 2 or 3) and achieve a required education level, they receive a diploma confirming vocational qualifications.
    Apprenticeship training is chosen by approximately 60% of students in basic vocational schools. It is organised in small and medium enterprises, mainly in handicrafts. After passing the external exams in crafts, apprentices obtain apprentice certificate (swiadectwo czeladnicze) or, if their employer does not belong to the Polish Craft Association,  they pass exams at Regional Examination Boards and obtain diploma confirming vocational qualifications.
  3. Adult learning and CVET
    Existing basic vocational and technical schools for adults since 1st September 2012 are being replaced by more flexible system of VET courses for adults organized mainly by IVET schools, continuing education centres and practical training centres.
    VET for adults is organised mainly in out-of-school forms, such as:
    a) vocational qualification courses. Completing a vocational qualification course allows to take an external examination confirming vocational qualification, conducted under the same conditions and according to the same rules as for IVET students.
    b) occupational skills courses – courses for separate units of learning outcomes specified in a given qualification.
    c) other courses related to occupations included in the classification of occupations and specialisations meeting labour market needs, including courses conduced in cooperation with labour offices.
    Apprenticeship for Adults is in the scope of responsibility of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy.  The aim of this particular active labour market programme, provided by the Local Labour Offices, is to improve employability of unemployed and job seekers, by helping them to confirm their skills and qualifications formally.

Governance of VET

The educational policy at the secondary level is formulated by the Ministry of National Education, co-operating with other Ministries: the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (artistic schools), the Ministry of Agriculture (agricultural schools), the Ministry of Environment (forestry schools), the Ministry of Justice and other ministers responsible for particular occupations. Higher education policy is designed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. The management and administration of the  VET system in Poland has a three level structure: national (Ministries), partially regional (school superintendent – kurator, mainly in the area of pedagogical supervision), district authorities (governing upper secondary schools). Social partners are involved in developing VET system. They can give opinions on the changes planned to be introduced in VET.

Distinctive features of VET in Poland (both IVET and CVET)

In order to improve the quality and the attractiveness of vocational education and training, specific tools were introduced:

  • The classification of occupations in VET - a kind of register in which occupations possible to acquire within IVET and CVET have been defined. Each occupation is made of 1, 2 or 3 qualifications. There are 200 occupations and 252 qualifications in the classification.
  • One VET core curriculum for all occupations (since 2012). Separate vocational qualifications within specific occupations are described in the core curriculum for vocational education as a set of expected learning outcomes: knowledge, occupational skills, as well as personal and social competences.
  • Two optional curricula for VET – subject centered curricula or modular curricula – modular curricula are based on vocational tasks, called “modular units”. Such curricula combine theory with practice. The modular curricula can be easily modified, depending on the needs of the labour market. 
  • Vocational qualification courses (since 2012),- a short and flexible way to acquire separate vocational qualification in CVET and take external exams confirming qualifications. After aqcuiring all qualifications (1, 2 or 3) required in a given occupation students receive the diploma confirming vocational qualifications.
  • Extramural examinations in VET as a validation tool – the possibility to confirm knowledge, skills and competences acquired in different learning contexts, including professional experience (non-formal and informal learning). Extramural examinations are designed for persons who want to confirm their education level or vocational qualifications without going to school/attending courses.

Quality assurance in Poland

Legal basis:

Guidelines on assuring quality of education (both general and vocational) are set in the following regulations in Poland:

  • the regulation of the Minister of National Education of 7th October 2009 on pedagogical supervision, (OJ of 9th October 2009);
  • the regulation of the Minister of National Education and Sport of 20th December 2003 on accreditation of establishments and centres providing continuing education in the out-of-school forms (OJ of 30th December 2003).

Processes and mechanisms for quality assurance

According to the Act on the Education System, pedagogical supervision is the guarantee for quality in education. It is performed by education superintendents, who observe, report and give advice on how to improve the education process at all education levels (vocational and general, public and non-public) up to the post-secondary non-tertiary level.

The regulation of the Minister of National Education of 7th October 2009 on pedagogical supervision sets requirements for primary, lower secondary, upper secondary schools as well as art schools, continuing education centres, practical education centres and the centres of professional development in the following areas:

  1. The outcomes of school/ centre activity.
  2. The processes at school/ centre.
  3. School’s/ centre’s functioning in the local environment, especially in the area of cooperation with students’ parents.
  4. School’s/ centre’s management.

There is an on-going, regular external evaluation conducted in the above mentioned areas, which is the basis for assessment with the use of scale from A (the best/highest level) to E (meaning the school insufficiently meets a required criterion). In result, this approach influences the quality assurance in education sector. This regulation also places on the school/ centre headmaster the obligation to conduct internal evaluation and use its results to improve the quality of school’s/ centre’s functioning.  The internal evaluation helps in gathering information on the school’s/ centre’s performance, the quality of its work and the effectiveness of its actions. It is also a useful tool for designing plans for future. Internal evaluation is used to diagnose quality deficits and plan further developments aiming at improving quality. Except evaluation also other forms of pedagogical supervision such as control and support are applied.

Other interesting practices with regard to quality

National Centre for Supporting Vocational and Continuing Education (KOWEZiU) is a central, public, national-level institution, subject to the Ministry of National Education. It provides professional development services for teachers and support in implementing actions and initiatives related to VET. Quality Assurance National Reference Point  was established in KOWEZiU in September 2012. The website designed for the purpose of promoting quality assurance circle, the IT tool and other information on EQAVET will present also “The quality standards for vocational education and training” (described below) in 4 language versions: Polish, English, German, French and Russian.


Within the project co-financed by ESF "A vocational school, the school of a positive choice," “The quality standards for vocational education” have been developed with regard to the recommendation of the European Parliament and the Council of 18 June 2009 on the establishment of European reference framework for quality assurance in education and training. The main aim of standards is to guide and support school headmasters and teachers in developing internal quality assurance systems and preparing internal evaluations. The quality standards for VET provide a comprehensive document covering all aspects of training presented in 10 thematic areas and contain direct references to all legal acts regulating education and training, including changes implemented since September 2012, as well as the desired target state to achieve in each area. Thus, this tool also supports directors and teachers of VET schools/centres in the implementation of changes resulting from the modernization of VET system in Poland. Furthermore, the standards are a form of national approach to implementing in Poland the EQARF / EQAVET initiative. It is expected that “The quality standards for VET”, despite voluntary basis for their use, will contribute to improving the quality of education in both IVET and CVET schools and centres.


Moreover, for all public and private institutions providing continuing education, including continuing education centres, practical training centres and professional development centres, a mechanism for accreditation has been created in January 2004. It is a  voluntary submission to the procedure of quality confirmation. The accreditation (granted in the form of an administrative decision) is made by the regional superintendents of schools. It is based on the analysis carried out by the team of experts who investigate school’s functioning. The information on accredited units is entered in the register kept by the superintendent, which is available to the public. Accredited bodies, on their request, may also be registered in the database run by the regional labour office. Local  labour offices are encouraged to use this database while organizing publicly-funded training for unemployed people and job seekers. Accreditation may cover all or just a part of the education provided. The establishment applying to become an accredited institution has to fulfil the following requirements:

  1. provide a base which is equipped with teaching aids, where:
    -    the rooms guarantee proper education process,
    -    the teaching methods applied are compliant with educational goals and involve ICT,
    -    equipment is continuously adjusted to changing technology to be state-of art and modern,
    -    the teaching and learning environment is compliant with the health and safety procedures.
  2. employ qualified staff:
    -    staff should be qualified and have professional experience adequate to what they  teach;
    -    staff work is systematically assessed,
    -    there are conditions for professional development of staff;
  3. develop materials for teaching and enable access to this materials
    -    curriculum is prepared with regard to new technologies,
    -    there is evaluation procedure in place, the results of evaluation are used to improve curricula and organisation of education.

The accreditation may be cancelled by the superintendent if the above mentioned requirements are no longer fulfilled.

VET system in Poland from 1st September 2012

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