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Sweden: partial IVET qualifications for adults

Government goals include lowering unemployment rates, counteracting a shortage of qualified labour and integrating newly arrived immigrants. Although the ambition is that all young people in Sweden should complete upper secondary education and obtain a full qualification, the government has also options for partial qualifications in adult IVET.

The National Agency for Education was given a government mission to propose vocational packages for adults, after consultation rounds with the national programme councils; these comprise a broad cross-section of industry representatives and social partners in the vocational area for which the programme provides education and training. The packages should meet labour market needs, as nationally standardised clusters of courses that will constitute not only partial qualifications but also building blocks that can be transferred and accumulated towards a full qualification. The mission was later amended to include introduction programmes, aimed at young people not eligible to enter an upper secondary VET-programme. Many of these are recently arrived immigrants who do not have enough Swedish to begin upper secondary education before they turn 20 years of age and are consequently referred to adult education. The packages are viewed as potential entry points to working life. A job combined with generous opportunities to later add whatever is missing, to accumulate parts to a full qualification, is government strategy.

A challenge has been to identify narrow skills that do not open up for low-paid jobs. While some industries are more willing to define tasks that can be performed with a narrow set of skills, learned during one or two terms, others are reluctant. In tourism, as an example, there is a shortage of skilled labour, but also a breadth and difference in depth in the need for skills to perform the various tasks. The industry has defined a vocational package consisting of a cluster of courses, taking one term to learn, for host functions related to seasonal jobs available in ski resorts in winter or camping grounds in the summer; the person must have sufficient knowledge of Swedish to handle the tasks needed for the job. Another one year package leads to a qualification needed for assistant jobs in hotels and conference arenas.

In December 2017, the National Agency for Education presented partial IVET packages for adults. Although adult IVET providers are not obliged to offer them, they will likely become a national standard and be put into effect in autumn 2018.

Read more:

Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden. (2016). Vocational education and training in Europe
– Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports. http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/sweden-vet-europe-country-report-2016