Measured by grades, the competence of students studying to become practical nurses is excellent, but there is room for improvement in their theoretical competence

Vocational education suvialatalo
Sosiaali- ja terveysalan opiskelija harjoittelee tekohengitystä nukelle.

Based on the grades given, the education in social and health care produces excellent competence and there is not a great deal of variation between education providers or students. The main development need in students’ competence was identified in their command of the theoretical knowledge underpinning the work and in their cooperation and interaction skills.

The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) has evaluated the competence and pedagogical activities produced by the Vocational Qualification in Social and Health Care. The evaluation data consisted of self-assessments of the education providers and students, interviews with workplace instructors and the utilisation of already existing data repositories and material. The evaluation covered approximately 21,564 students and all 48 education providers offering the qualification in question.

Basic skills of the profession and cooperation and interaction skills the strength in students’ competence – education providers invest in medication competence

According to the evaluation, the key strengths in students’ competence were the basic skills of the profession, such as practical skills in the daily activities and competence related to the use of working methods and equipment. Cooperation and interaction skills were both a strength and an area requiring improvement.

– Students’ cooperation and interaction skills must be strengthened as they are the key skills required in the work tasks of the sector and their importance in the work tasks will be further emphasised in the future, says Counsellor of Evaluation Paula Kilpeläinen.

A need for improvement was also identified in mastering the theoretical knowledge underpinning the work and in medication competence. However, according to the evaluation, education providers invest in medication competence and also find it a key competence in the profession of practical nurses. Especially the role of the workplace and the workplace instructor were considered important in the development of medication competence.

Satisfaction with the working-life orientation of the education and with demonstrations although there is room for development in workplace instructors’ guidance and assessment competence

According to the evaluation, the working-life orientation in the education is high as workplaces are the key learning environments. Students also found they had learnt most at the workplaces. However, the objectives of education and training organised at the workplace sometimes remained unclear for both the students and the workplace instructors and there were differences in the familiarisation practices between education providers in work-based learning.

Education providers, workplace instructors and students were generally satisfied with the demonstration activities. Almost all demonstrations are implemented at workplaces in genuine work tasks and the different parties find that demonstrations correspond to the vocational skills requirements in most cases. In addition, both the education providers and students found that assessment had mainly been implemented in accordance with the criteria, and a large majority of the students (more than 88%) considered the assessors competent and well-informed.

However, according to the evaluation, there was wide variation between education providers in ensuring the competence of workplace instructors.

– As workplaces are the key learning environments, it is particularly important to ensure that workplace instructors have sufficient guidance and assessment competence. With the increase in apprenticeship training, competence is increasingly acquired and demonstrated at workplaces, Kilpeläinen says.

Need for development also in teachers’ competence – visiting workplaces must be supported.

According to the evaluation, the measures ensuring teachers’ sufficient guidance and assessment competence are implemented well in the education, but there is need for development in teachers’ competence specific to the vocational field in the constantly changing world of work.

– Working life periods for teachers were found the most feasible ways to maintain and improve the competence of teachers. At the same time, they enable the guidance and familiarisation of students and workplace instructors at workplaces and lighten the guidance and assessment burden of workplace instructors. Teachers’ visits to workplaces should indeed be supported and seen as activity that benefits all parties, says Kilpeläinen.

The education provided good capabilities for the world of work and fairly good capabilities for further studies.

According to the nationwide VET feedback, the majority of the students were satisfied with the education in the sector and found that the education had provided them with competence and vocational skills they could use. A clear majority also found that the education had improved their capabilities for moving to the world of work, working or further studies, for example in higher education.


The new qualification requirements for the Vocational Qualification in Social and Health Care were introduced on 1 August 2018. Judged by the number of students, the sector is one of the largest sectors in vocational education and training with approximately 12,000 students starting their studies every year. 


The publication in Finnish: Paula Kilpeläinen. Ammatillinen osaaminen ja pedagoginen toiminta sosiaali- ja terveysalan perustutkinnossa (‘Vocational competence and pedagogical activities in the Vocational Qualification in Social and Health Care’). Publications 6:2021. Finnish Education Evaluation Centre. 


Further information:

Paula Kilpeläinen, Counsellor of Education, tel. +358 29 533 5557, paula.kilpelainen @