Challenges in Vocational Special Education

Vocational special education faces a number of challenges due to, for example, societal situation, changes in educational system, aims set for education that subsequently reflects on families and individuals’ lives.

Currently the task for VET is to offer students the necessary knowledge and skills in order for them to be able to work as a professional or to start their own businesses. In addition, the aim of VET education is to support students’ development to become responsible human beings and citizens in society, to support lifelong learning and to offer the necessary skills and knowledge for further education, personality development and personal hobbies (OPH 2012).

The reputation of VET education has increased over the recent years. It is appreciated and youths have become more interested in practical skill development.  However, remoteness and variety of working life can hinder youths’ career decisions. Educational decisions are not always clear although youths are required to apply for upper secondary education. Psychological development does not necessarily go hand in hand with physiological development and some youths are required to make educational decisions at too early a stage in their developmental process. In that case, they do not fully understand the educational possibilities available and do not necessary have their own areas of interest. Dropping out of studies is an issue that has been raised in VET colleges.

Along with structural and contextual changes in education, the need for special education seems obvious. An increased number of students requiring special education partially indicate the real need for SEN but it also indicates changes in the service system. Recognition of SEN has improved, special services have been developed and more attention has been paid to special education in colleges. We should not forget the effect of societal factors in increasing the need for SEN.  Statistics in Finnish

More attention has been paid to support youths’ commitment to society and to prevent their social exclusion. The government has added in its plan a new initiative called Youth guarantee meaning that each young person under 25 and recently graduated people under 30 will be offered a job, on-the-job training, a study place, or a period in a workshop or rehabilitation within three months of becoming unemployed.

Youth guarantee 2013

Increasing participation in society and preventing social exclusion are first and foremost educational challenges. In addition to vocational secondary education there are several other possibilities for vocational training.