The Swedish government considers that apprenticeship programmes at upper secondary schools have an important role in easing young people’s entry to the labour market. An apprenticeship centre was therefore established under the auspices of the Swedish National Agency for Education. The budget for 2014 also includes several other proposals geared at increasing attractiveness of apprenticeship programmes.
Following the 2011 upper secondary school reform , apprenticeship education was introduced into the regular education system in Sweden as one of two pathways in initial vocational education and training (IVET) programmes at upper-secondary level. Upper secondary schools are responsible for providing apprenticeship education along with school-based programmes.
Goals and syllabi for these two pathways are the same, but learners in apprenticeship education spend at least half of their time at one or more workplaces. Apprenticeship education has not, however, attracted young people and accounts for only around 5 % of leaners in upper secondary IVET programmes. Upper secondary schools that offer apprenticeship education are partly limited due to difficulties in finding workplaces.
During past years the government launched several initiatives to increase quality of work-based learning and increase attractiveness of IVET programmes in general. To support VET providers, employers and social partners in developing apprenticeship education and quality of work-based learning the Swedish government decided to create an apprenticeship centre. The centre works to:
- stimulate provision of apprenticeship education in upper secondary schools;
- promote young people’s interest in apprenticeship education;
- support and give advice to VET-providers, employers and social partners and train supervisors at workplaces;
- stimulate cooperation at regional level between schools and the world of work.
The government has also put forward several other proposals such as financial incentives to stimulate apprenticeship education among stakeholders. This includes giving apprentices an extra allowance as compensation for expenses for the time they spend in a training contract. The compensation should be seen as an additional supplement to the ordinary study allowance that all upper secondary school students are entitled to. To encourage more employers to offer apprenticeship education the government has also suggested an increase in grants available for VET providers. Even though upper secondary schools apply for support, most grants are earmarked for employers or employers receiving apprentices.