Around one in four university graduates, even those who have completed postgraduate degrees, are enrolling at vocational training institutes (IEKs), according to a study conducted by the General Confederation of Greek Workers’ Center for the Development of Educational Policy (KANEP-GSEE), reflecting the fact their academic degrees did not secure them the job they had hoped for.
The study showed that the percentage of IEK students with a previous degree in higher education has increased almost fivefold in the last eight years.
IEK schools provide initial vocational training services, with about 100 specialties. Students choose areas of study mainly related to the university degree they hold.
In the 2019-20 academic year, the total number of trainees at public IEKs was 30,539, with 36,643 at private ones.
More specifically, according to KANEP-GSEE’s research data, in 2020, 23.9% of students at IEKs were graduates of universities (9.9%) or Greek technical colleges (9.2%), while 4.8% held a master’s or doctoral degree.
This trend took an upward swing during the crippling financial crisis of the previous decade. Tellingly, in 2012 the percentage of university graduates who studied at IEKs was 5.2%.
The study showed that apart from unemployed graduates, IEK students also include trainees, regardless of their level of education (high school, tertiary), who either want to specialize in order to develop professionally in their current job (and perhaps increase their salary) or want a career change and are focusing on a completely different line of work.
There are also cases of retirees seeking personal development who want to make creative use of their free time, as well as young men whose motivation for enrolling in an IEK is to postpone being conscripted for military service.
The Education Ministry is aiming to upgrade IEKs, while a bill that is currently being drafted includes a provision according to which university entry exams will also pave the way for admission to public IEKs.
Speaking to Kathimerini, Education Minister Niki Kerameus said the “goal is to provide our young people with study options and career opportunities.”