Vilnius (picture from Wikimedia)From hyper centralisation to a new outward-reaching perspective: like all Lithuanian institutions, the educational system has followed the movement of reforms and democratisation instituted by the country since its independence in 1990. Vocational education and training (VET) has also been restructured to prepare young people for work within the context of the new market economy and competition.

To harmonise its system with the European Union, Lithuania has set up a national qualifications framework covering 5 levels. The social partners (Lithuanian Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Trades) have been broadly invited to participate in the development process. Indeed organising the validation and recognition of qualifications is a field in which they are decision-makers.

Since 2014, the career education programme for general education schools and VET schools was approved and will be introduced in relevant institutions. It defines the aims of career education, principles of implementation and the set of career competences that students should acquire at school.

The Centre for Development of Qualifications and Vocational Education and Training implemented the ESF-funded project Development of qualifications and creation of the modular VET system with the goal of developing the national system of qualifications through sector-based occupational standards and corresponding national modular VET curricula.

The Lithuanian education system – 2014


Lithuanian system (© Onisep / Elise Veteau)




The vocational pathway in Lithuania


School is compulsory for children between 6 or 7 and 16 years of age.


Secondary education

At the end of primary school, towards 10 or 11 years of age, pupils enter the 1st cycle of mainstream secondary education from years 5 to 10. They can then choose a mainstream pathway in high school or enter one of the 3 streams proposed by vocational schools :

  • Level II VET programmes for pupils who have completed the 1st cycle of secondary education (at the age of 16 or 17) and quite simply wish to have a vocational qualification. Studies last for 2 years and lead to a qualification corresponding to level III (skilled worker diploma).
  • Level III VET programmes are designed for pupils who have finished the 1st cycle of secondary education (at the age of 16 or 17) and wish to acquire both a vocational qualification and a certificate of secondary education. These studies last for 3 years and lead to a qualification corresponding to level IV. The pupils are awarded a skilled worker diploma and a school-leaving certificate which allows them to continue studies in higher education.
  • Level IV post-secondary VET programmes are designed for students holding the school-leaving certificate. These studies last for 1 or 2 years depending on the trade, and lead to level IV qualification.

For pupils aged 14 years who have not completed the 1st cycle of mainstream secondary education, level I VET programmes are available. The courses last for 2 to 3 years. The level of qualification obtained corresponds to level II of the National and European Qualifications Framework.

Apprenticeships are relatively rare.


Higher education

Higher education is either vocational or academic (University).

Level IV VET targets secondary school leavers who want to acquire a vocational qualification. Training lasts for 1 or 2 years depending on the trade.

Pathways in specialised fields lasting 3 or 4 years can also be followed in higher VET institutes (Kolegdja).


Key figures

  • The percentage of employees participating in on-the-job training, at 25%, is higher than the EU average of 20%. (CEDEFOP – 2017)
  • In 2013, 6,3% of young people aged between 18 and 24 had left school at an early age with a level of studies not exceeding basic secondary education. (Eurostat – 2014)
  • In the vocational streams, there is a maximum of 19 pupils per class.

Last update : 19/03/2018