Costa Rica launches dual vocational education and training


A total of eight companies, three vocational schools and 34 trainees are involved in the first dual training courses in Costa Rica, which has been officially launched now. The significance of this step for young people, for the companies and for the country was highlighted at two opening ceremonies.

The Costa Rican Ministry of Education (MEP) marked the start of the 2022 training year in February/March by introducing dual VET (Educación y Formación Técnica Profesional Dual, EFTP dual), a new training pathway which combines theoretical teaching with practical implementation of knowledge at a company. This is the first time that this type of training has been deployed in the Costa Rican education system after the passing of a law on dual technical training in October 2019.

The opening ceremony took place on 4 March 2022 in the Coyol Free Trade Zone in Alajuela to the north of the capital city San José. The formal ceremony attracted a series of high-profile attendees such as the President of the Republic Carlos Alvarado, Minister of Education Steven González, President of the Free Trade Association Carlos Wong and further representatives of government authorities. The focus was also placed on the participating companies and on the trainees themselves.

The National Education Institute (Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje –  INA), the Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CICR) and the company INTEL had previously formally ratified the start of dual training by signing a cooperation agreement at the INA.

Carlos AlvaradoPresident of the Republic of Costa Rica at the opening ceremony

The dual training programmes provided by the National Education Institute and the Ministry of Education will enable trainees from various areas to receive technical training that is more closely related to reality. This is what companies in Costa Rica require.

The first dual training programmes

34 trainees are pursuing the training programmes in three different specialisations. Twelve trainees are beginning courses in industrial electronics at the Technical Vocational School (Colegio Técnico Profesional – CTP) of Atenas. A total of four firms are responsible for the company-based training in this area. Among them are the Costa Rican dairy and food cooperative Dos Pinos, SMC Ltd., CooperVision and Abbott. The latter three all specialise in the advanced manufacture and production of medical devices.

Ten more trainees embarked upon their dual training in the field of web development at the San Pedro de Barva Technical Vocational School (CTP). Accenture and Kaizen, two experienced technology services providers, are both taking part. Accenture is a company which operates the world over and which also provides dual training in Germany, for example. At the opening event, the company UNICIT also committed itself to starting dual education programmes. Furthermore, Intel is cooperating with the INA training centre in Cartago, which specialises in industrial repair and maintenance. The company has offered training places to a total of twelve dual trainees. The evaluation of the participating companies is that the dual training has got off to a very positive start.

There is no doubt that dual training is an outstanding instrument for preparing talented Costa Rican youngsters to work in sectors where there is a high level of demand. It also encourages disadvantaged population groups to enter the labour market and thus improves quality of life for many families.

Ileana Rojas Saborío, Managing Director of Intel Costa Rica and Vice President of the Global Design Engineering Group

The economic and social partners, who played a key role in establishing the dual system, believe that companies will enjoy a range of benefits. Recruitment costs will fall, they will receive access to talent trained within the organisation, and productivity and quality of services or products will improve thanks to qualified skilled workers. Carlos Wong, Managing Director of the Coyol Free Trade Zone and Executive President of the Free Trade Zone Association, sees dual training as providing clear economic growth potential:

Dual training means that young people who are willing to learn are able to get support from companies in the Free Trade Zone. This will allow us to use strategy and foresight to increase the degree of specialisation of the companies in order to achieve further growth.

Carlos Wong, Managing Director of the Coyol Free Trade Zone and Executive President of the Free Trade Zone Association

Handover of the dual training agreement to the first trainees by Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado (center) and Education Minister Steven González Cortés (left)

The 34 trainees received particular attention at the opening ceremonies and view their personal futures with optimism. “This great national initiative encourages all young people to learn and to become part of the excellent supply of skilled workers in the country,” commented Alexandra Carvajal Astorga, a trainee in industrial electronics at the CTP Atenas, “Dual vocational education and training permits us to prepare to meet the day-to-day requirements of the companies.”

Speaking about the new training system, Education Minister Steven González Cortés said: “We endeavour to put attractive training offers in place. Innovative education and training arrangements form part of a national strategy which will enable Costa Rica to increase its competitiveness by producing the skilled technical workers which trade and industry need.” Furthermore, he states:

The trainees are given the opportunity to work in various roles in accordance with the demands and conditions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Steven González Cortés, Minister of Eduaction in Costa Rica

The act on dual vocational education and training was passed on 15 October 2019. The Vocational Education and Training Commission (Comisión Asesora y Promotora de la Educación y Formación Técnica Profesional Dual – CAP) was founded in September 2020. It operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Public Education. The aims of the commission are to promote dual technical VET, to advise the competent bodies working in this area and to secure a link between the public and private sectors. Preparations for the implementation of dual VET were undertaken in 2020 and 2021 with the close support of GOVET. GOVET has been assisting with the establishment of the dual system in Costa Rica since 2016. In future, further training occupations will be introduced in line with the needs of the companies, and the dual system will be expanded successively.