Danish vocational educational and training (VET) is still suffering from lack of attractiveness and high drop-out. The Danish parliament has agreed on several new initiatives aimed at making VET an attractive choice and supporting completion. The initiatives focus on content and quality of VET provision, and on easing progression from primary schools into vocational education for young people.
Vocational colleges still face problems with recruitment and low completion rates. Important factors are the lack of focus in municipalities responsible for primary education, and the lower status and negative social value attributed to vocational education by parents and young people. Further, vocational institutions saw a decline of financial resources due to falling numbers of students, while cutting short education affects opportunities to develop and create new and more attractive learning environments.
In recent decades Denmark has been facing an ongoing challenge of increasing number of young people choosing general upper secondary school over VET. Different national initiatives are addressing this challenge, with a political agreement opening the way to new approaches in lower secondary schools.
A majority of the parliamentary parties in Denmark agreed on reform of preparatory education at the end of compulsory education to support young people who are not yet ready to enrol in upper secondary education. The agreement implies a new preparatory basic education to equip them to a youth education or a job.
Knowledge centres are being appointed to help educate students in vocational education and training (VET) to handle technological development and match the competences that companies demand in a digital labour market. The centres will also support other VET schools in their work on the digitalisation of education, resulting from new technologies, and in developing and testing new teaching and training methods that all VET schools can use in their work with talents and educational development.
The second national student proficiency measurement in VET shows that students continue to thrive. Students in practical training in companies thrive more those in school practice. The same applies to students with an immigrant background compared to students with Danish descent and descendants.
In January 2016 the Danish Ministry of Education established an expert group with eight central members from the education and research and from the labour market. The group is to provide recommendations on how to tailor the Danish system to meet the needs of young people better, so that more of them begin and complete post compulsory education within seven years of completing compulsory schooling: currently about 20% do not.
The Introduction of entry requirements for VET programmes in 2015 enabled applicants without the necessary admission requirements to take an entrance examination at a vocational college.
Young Danish athletes in swimming or handball choose mainstream secondary education rather than vocational training. The reason is probably to be found in the fact that secondary education has a more extensive system of special programmes for approved Team Denmark students (elite athletes) than vocational training. They give Team Denmark students more flexibility and time to practice sport.
In 2016 Denmark organised two conferences with participants from the Nordic countries. These events focused on common Nordic challenges in vocational education and training (VET) and sought deeper understanding of the similarities, differences and current issues concerning both researchers and VET teachers.