In recent years—like numerous countries across the globe—the emphasis on STEM education has increased significantly in Latvia. Based in Riga, Latvia, Riga State Technical School is one of the leaders in STEM implementation in the field of vocational secondary education. It is the most versatile vocational education competence center in Latvia. Presently, the school offers 39 accredited vocational education programs in 14 different vocational secondary education program groups—as well as professional development and further education programs to more than 2000 students.
Navigating through the Odds
At a meeting on 29th December 1919, the Cabinet Ministers of Latvia decided to open a technical secondary school as a state educational institution. By 1940, 1505 students graduated from the technical school and many of them pursued successful careers. However, the operations of the school were interrupted during the Soviet occupation.
In 1940, the administration and some training programs in the technical school were replaced. The German occupation period from 1941 to 1944 was also difficult for the school. However, the training continued despite the wartime challenges. After the war in 1945, the technical school was named “Riga Industrial Polytechnical School”. Later, it was renamed “Riga State Technical School” in August 1991.
Since the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Latvia in 1990, Riga State Technical School has grown significantly. Adapting to the requirements of an open economy, it changed the training programs in terms of content. The school also made significant investments in practical training equipment and environmental arrangements. In 2016, a new Innovation and Technology Center was established at Riga State Technical School. This year, the Center has planned to complete the third round of the European Regional Development Fund SAM Project and the Multifunctional Hall.
In-depth STEM Education
Riga State Technical School provides in-depth learning of STEM-related disciplines and prepares its students to pursue similar education at the next level as well. At the Technology and Innovation Center, students are provided with advanced equipment to acquire practical knowledge and skills in mechanical engineering, metalworking, woodworking, energetics, railway, and printing industries. Additionally, Riga State Technical School is one of the leaders in terms of education offered at the level of secondary vocational education—in professions such as programming and computer systems technician, material chemistry technician, etc.
Robust Career-Counseling Services
In recent years, Riga State Technical School has developed robust career counseling services for its students. The teachers-career counselors at the school offer individual or group career support counseling, appointments, and tours for pupils of general education schools—to know and explore the educational opportunities offered, get an idea of the dormitory, training environment, and technical provision.
The school works closely with the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia—in the preparation of labor market specialists—so that the outcome of the educational programs is relevant to the employers’ requirements. For several years, it has been recognized as the employers’ recommended vocational secondary education institute in Latvia.
The Students’ Self-Government
Students’ self-government at Riga State Technical School is the organization of the most active and conscientious students. It works to defend the students’ rights and manage different cultural and educational activities for them as well as teachers. Students’ self-government supports the involvement of students in the activities of different sport groups. Moreover, they are active participants of young people’s dance collective “Pavediens (The Thread)”.
Sustaining the Impacts of the Crisis
The COVID-19 outbreak posed several challenges for educational institutes across the globe. Practical learning was halted due to the stay-at-home orders and other pandemic impositions. However, the unprecedented situation did not majorly affect the process of practical lessons at Riga State Technical School. The work-based learning approach and the implementation of internships at employers provided an important base for maintaining the quality of the practical skills of students.
During the crisis, the students of Riga State Technical School were able to prove themselves with excellent achievements in professional skills competitions. They were the winners of the Graphics Design and Web Technologies competitions at SKILLS/LATVIA 2021. Moreover, they won the first prize both individually and as a team at “The Wise Accountant 2021” competition.
Preparations for the Future
Riga State Technical School is set to put the new Multifunctional Hall in service in the autumn of 2021, providing a plethora of opportunities for students to both engage in sports activities and organize events across the wider spectrum. It expects to quickly return to the onsite training process, as it is essential for the implementation of practical subjects as well as for the full provision of internship in both technical school and internship companies. The challenges for the school in the near future are related to the integration of new learning content into the study process, as well as quality monitoring across all levels.
The European Union has declared 2021 the European Railway Year to promote the use of trains as safe and sustainable transport. Heeding Rail Baltica’s new railway infrastructure project, Riga State Technical School has offered new education programs—such as the Renewable Energy Technician Program—in the context of the challenges of the railway sector, as well as updating the potential for alternative energy in the future.
The school is already outlining the developments of the future labor market in communication with industry representatives. This will allow it to respond to the most pressing challenges, both in the definition of future occupations and in the development and implementation of new study programs.
Being an RSTS Student
Riga State Technical School believes that only a comprehensive specialist of knowledge and skills who is ready to acquire new knowledge can be prepared for the challenges of the labor market in the 21st century. Thus, it looks forward to the interest of young professionals in demonstrating themselves—both in various professional skills competitions in the sector and in the acquisition of general education and professional subjects.
Students choosing Riga State Technical School should be aware of the employers’ expectations from graduates of a vocational education institution. From the school’s point of view, they should have a desire to acquire a profession and be ready to pursue an internship during the training process at the employer. Moreover, an ideal Riga State Technical School student should consider the possibilities to study at the next level and pursue a lucrative career after graduating from the school.