Education sector begins to tackle workforce problems

Education sector begins to tackle workforce problems

Photo: Stock.XCHNG


• Latvia had a total of 839 elementary/high schools during the 2011/2012 school year. Latvia also has
65 professional education institutions, as well as 59 higher education institutions;
• Latvia allocates 0,6% of GDP for higher education;
• The most popular courses at Latvian higher education institutions are law, communication studies
and business management.

• In regard to the education sector, the "National Development Plan 2014-2020" foresees ambitious goals, like, for example, investments in research and development to reach 1,5% of GDP by 2020 (0,6% of GDP at the moment). This is to be achieved by attracting human resources, implementing innovation ideas, improving science infrastructure, promoting cooperation among higher education establishments, the private sector and those operating in the area of science and research, as well as transferring research and innovation ideas into business opportunities.
• The Education and Science Ministry has also drawn up a higher education and science reform implementation plan for 2013-2014. The ministry plans to concentrate on three areas – increasing the quality of study and science activities, consolidation of the higher education and science sector and more effective use of resources, as well as the internationalization and the improvement of the international competitiveness of the higher education and science sectors in Latvia. Representatives from the education and science sector have already called the plan a step in the right direction.

Financing for science sector dwindling
• This year, financing for the science sector has fallen to record low levels – LVL 17,3 million. In 2012, science sector financing reached LVL 17,57 million, in 2011 – LVL 17,56 million. However, during the so-called "years of abundance", financing for the science sector reached LVL 36,29 million in 2008, but then reduced to LVL 21,98 million during the first year of the economic crisis in 2009.
• Base financing for the science sector is at LVL 7,94 million in 2013, the same as in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, base financing was a bit larger – LVL 8,14 million.
• From 2009 to 2015, European Union structural funds are available for the science sector, totaling LVL 220 million, of which LVL 104 is investments in research and salaries for scientists, which, according to ministry calculations, is on the average LVL 14,9 million per year.
• In 2013, two new research grants will be announced, with total financing of LVL 27 million. The Education and Science Ministry informs that approximately LVL 10 million of these funds will be allocated to the ministry in the second half of 2013 as an advanced transfer.
• The ministry calculates that in addition to support programs for the science sector, the European Social Fund allocates grants for doctoral studies, which will be approximately LVL 45,8 million from 2009 to 2015.

Less total students, but more foreign students
• Apart from problems in education financing, another problem area mentioned is the drop in the number of students in higher education institutions in Latvia. The number of students studying at higher education institutions in Latvia has gradually decreased over the past several years – from 127 760 students in the 2007/2008 school year, to 97 041 students in the 2011/2012 school year. However, the number of students that have graduated and earned a degree has remained about the same – approximately 25 000 per year.
• Most students (64,1%) have paid full tuition, while 35,9% have received full or partial scholarships from the state or local governments. This proportion has not changed much over the past several years.
• During the 2011/2012 school year, the most popular courses at Latvian higher education institutions are social sciences, business and management, as well as law (42 021 students), even though this number has been showing tendencies of reducing. At the same time, permanent interest remains in engineering (14 059), as well as health care and social welfare (10 081).
• Despite the reduction in the number of students, there has been an increase in the number of foreign students studying at Latvian higher education institutions. There were 1 979 foreign students studying in Latvian higher education institutions during the 2010/2011 school year. However, during the 2000/2001 school year, there were a total of 7 917 foreign students at Latvian higher education institutions, which means that Latvia has the potential to accept more foreign students. At the moment, the country with the most students studying in Latvia at the moment is Germany – 370.

Role of vocational education in Latvia’s economy
• Various experts in the field have pointed out the crucial situation in the sector. The Employers’ Confederation of Latvia asserts that companies are lacking qualified, professionally educated employees, and that this shows that professional education institutions must transform themselves into prestigious education establishments which prepare high-quality specialists.
• Meanwhile, the Economy Ministry admits that vocational education schools must increase the programs they offer to prepare more agricultural specialists, metal-working, automotive and specialists operating in similar areas, as well as manufacturing equipment and machine operators.

Total financing for scientific research activities in Latvia (million, LVL)












Total financing from all sectors












Financing from the private sector












Financing from the state












Financing from higher education establishments












Source: Central Statistical Bureau

Useful links

Ministry of Education and Science 
State Education Development Agency 
European Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency 
European Training Foundation 
Latvian innovation portal 
General information about innovations in Latvia (Ministry of Economics) 
Information on inventions and inventors in Latvia 
Investment and Development Agency of Latvia 
Innovation Proposal Center 






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