First-ever evaluation of the learning outcomes of future youth and leisure instructors, with extremely positive results

Vocational education Virpi Pietiläinen

Based on the remarkably high grades, the various areas of expertise were well mastered in vocational skills demonstrations by future youth and leisure instructors. Almost all of the demonstrations were recorded in actual working situations, and male and female students achieved equally good results. With the vocational education reforms, the degree will be replaced next year by the Vocational upper secondary qualification in Education and Instruction.

The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) has evaluated the learning outcomes of the students in the Vocational Qualification in Youth and Leisure Instruction. The evaluation covered all students that had started studying towards the Vocational Qualification in Youth and Leisure Instruction in vocational upper secondary education and training (VET) in autumn 2013. The evaluation continued until their graduation in spring 2016. The evaluation material was compiled from the grades given for the students’ demonstrations of their vocational skills, and from the complementary material describing the organisation of the demonstrations. The evaluation involved a total of 16 providers and almost 400 students. The results of the evaluation were published on 11 December 2017.

Working methods well mastered, but slightly lower grades for theoretical knowledge

Almost two thirds (65%) of the students received a grade of excellent in the vocational skills demonstrations, 31% received a grade of good, and 4% satisfactory. The most common grade in all other areas of knowledge except for theory was excellent.

The students mastered the work process, work methods, equipment and material and key skills for lifelong learning almost equally well. On the other hand, knowledge of the theory behind the work received lower grades than the other areas of expertise. For one third of the demonstrations the grade for all of the areas of expertise was excellent.

There were no differences between the genders in the grades. Unlike the evaluations for many other basic vocational degrees, the grades for the demonstrations did not vary significantly from one location to the next.

Almost all demonstrations in actual working-life settings before the reform

From the beginning of next year, a reform in vocational education will enter into force, which will increase the amount of on-the-job learning. The greatest strength of the Youth and Leisure Instruction education programme is that it is very strongly centred on working life. In addition, even before the reform comes into effect most of the demonstrations – 90% – are done in actual working-life settings.

– Most of the demonstrations that were carried out in the workplace were in the public sector, including in youth centres and schools. The contents depend on the part of the degree for which the demonstration is being given, but in general they relate to the planning and guidance of various kinds of clubs and activities for different kinds of target groups, says evaluation expert Jukka Jalolahti.

On-the-job learning positions and demonstration places that are in line with the degree objectives were widely enough available, and most of the students’ demonstrations corresponded to the vocational skills requirements of the qualification requirements. Nearly all students with special needs also gave their demonstrations at workplaces.

– Based on the material, special-needs students carried out much the same tasks as other students. There was practically no need for adjustments to the vocational skills demonstrations, Jalolahti explains.

Processes related to the organisation and quality of the demonstrations were on average at the developing level, and in some cases even at the advanced level. Almost all the teachers were pedagogically qualified. There was found to be some degree of variation among the education providers that participated in the working life periods. Of the education providers, 33% reported that none of the full-time vocational teachers in the youth and leisure instruction programme had participated in a working life period within the last five years. By contrast, one-fifth of the education providers reported that all the full-time vocational teachers had participated in working life periods during that time.

The evaluation process also brought to light some needs for development in the collection and use of monitoring and feedback data collected by education providers. A particular need for development was identified in the collection and processing of feedback, which is presently occasional and needs to be made more systematic.

Participants graduate from the programme as youth and leisure instructors. About 65 percent of the students are female. The qualification is relatively small, as only about 400 new students a year are admitted. Most of the first-time applicants are admitted. In the new qualification structure for vocational education, 1 August 2018 the Vocational Qualification in Youth and Leisure Instruction will be replaced by the Vocational Qualification in Education and Instruction. The current degree will then become part of a larger qualification.


Jalolahti, J., Stylman, V., Räkköläinen, M. and Kilpeläinen, P. Vocational competence in Vocational Qualification in Youth and Leisure Instruction. Publications 25:2017. Finnish Education Evaluation Centre.

For more details, please contact:

Evaluation Expert Jukka Jalolahti, tel. +358 29 533 5516 (available 27–29 December)

Counsellor of Evaluation Mari Räkköläinen, tel. +358 29 533 5527

Evaluation Expert Veera Stylman, tel. +358 29 533 5555