Hungary: liberal and developmental choices

Laczik A., Farkas É. (2022). Hungary: liberal and developmental choices. In: Tutlys, V., Markowitsch, J., Pavlin, S., Winterton, J. (2022). Skill Formation in Central and Eastern Europe. Berlin, Germany: Peter Lang Verlag.


This chapter offers an overview of the developments and trends in vocational education and training (VET) and adult education over time. We argue that the Hungarian VET system and general education had deviated from the rigid centralised and autocratic system prior to 1989 establishing a benchmark for the discussion of post-1989 developments in initial and continuous VET. The period 1989-2010 will be discussed first, beginning with the first free general election and Hungary’s accession to the EU in 2004. The period since 2010 will be discussed in light of the political power of FIDESZ as this greatly influences the frequent top-down policy changes in VET. The two periods witnessed considerable reforms that were both quantitative and qualitative in character. The first period is characterised by decentralisation, liberalisation and democratisation, whereas the second period is linked to the growing power of the FIDESZ party, and in general a move to centralisation, autocracy and nationalism.

We primarily discuss the developments of VET and adult education in the context of political, economic and societal changes in Hungary, but will also reflect on developments in adult education. We will demonstrate how VET is changing in Hungary to support economic growth and how changes in the economy, labour market and employment impact on VET provision. Targeted VET and adult education provisions are often regarded as a remedy for economic failings. In Hungary, however, economic inefficiency remains, despite the relatively well educated population, largely because of a lack of long term strategic planning within VET, general and adult education systems. We therefore question the effectiveness of the VET system in Hungary.