Naxos (© EV)Greece is currently undergoing an acute crisis leading to a low employment rate and high unemployment. Several structural reforms are underway. In the fields of vocational education and training (VET), reforms have revamped institutions and modes of qualification.

In parallel, they have also modernised and developed continuous education by introducing horizontal mobility between various courses and introducing a qualification system in compliance with European standards.

Knowledge of the Greek language is an asset in finding work placements and facilitating integration in the working world. Good English skills are also an important factor and can sometimes offset a low level in Greek, but it is essential to enrol in classes to gain a minimum level in Greek.


The Greek education system – 2014


Greek System (© Onisep / Elise Veteau)




The vocational pathway in Greece


School is compulsory from the age of 6 to 15.


Secondary education

Secondary education starts with the Gymnasio, at the age of 12. On completing their studies at the Gymnasio, pupils are awarded a school-leaving certificate called Apolytirio Gymnasiou which enables them to enrol in the 2nd cycle of secondary education.

The 2nd cycle of secondary education takes place at the Lykeio. Studies here last for 3 years. From the 2nd year, pupils must choose between mainstream education and the « science and technology » stream. At the end of the cycle, pupils take a school-leaving certificate at the Lykeio which enables them to go to university or a higher institute of technical education.

Among the vocational education and training establishments are:

  • the upper institute of vocational training (Epaggelmatika Lykeia – EPAL) which gives both mainstream education classes and vocational and technical classes, and also offers workshops. This 3-year course allows pupils to move on to higher education following an examination.
  • the vocational education and training school (Epaggelmatikes Scholes – EPAS) which alternates between vocational and technical classes and workshops. On completing this two-year course, pupils obtain a vocational certificate which does not allow them to continue in higher education.


Higher education

The institute of vocational training (Instituto Epaggelmatikis Katartissis – I.E.K.) which provides initial or complimentary training alternating between theoretical classes and classes in workshops.  The training is validated by diplomas in vocational training recognised by the Member States of the European Union. It is open to school-leavers over the age of 18 coming from high schools or vocational schools.



This training programme targets school-leavers coming from the Gymnasium. It generally covers 4 semesters. It combines 4 days a week in an enterprise with 1 day a week in school (EPAS Mathiteias, which comes under the aegis of the Department for Employment and Labour and the Ministry of Employment). Apprentices sign a contract with the employer and receive a wage. The qualifications they work towards are at the level of secondary education and are geared to the needs of the labour market.


Key figures

  • In Greece, 67% of people aged between 25 and 64 followed schooling up to the upper secondary education level at least (2011).  (OECD – 2013)
  • 31% of students in higher education were enrolled in the vocational pathway (2011). (OECD – 2013)
  • About 14,000 young people have chosen the apprenticeship stream to gain qualifications in 2008. ( – 2012)

Last update : 09/07/2014