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 expert group work resulted in in the report Better ways to a post compulsory education (Bedre veje til en ungdomsuddannelse) published in March 2017. Analysis showed that many young people get lost in the system; they cannot understand and accommodate themselves to the existing structures. Consequently, reselections and dropouts are significant issues. Also, the preparatory education system has been fragmented because different initiatives for different target groups have been implemented over time, with diverse goals and in different political contexts. The existing broad range of complex initiatives for preparatory education are incoherent and overlapping, offered by diverse types of institution, with uneven financial foundations, and thus different, and sometimes conflicting, incentives for actions.
The main conclusion of the report is that more integrated and holistic efforts are needed so that multiple institutions and organisations collaborate more efficiently. The expert group has formulated 10 recommendations grouped into four coherent themes:
- establishing a new goal that includes all young people, aiming at 90% of a youth cohort completing a post compulsory education, and the last 10% obtaining vocational competence through vocational experience (internships, vocational mentors etc.);
- strengthening municipal youth programmes to focus on early guidance and individual support for students in the last years of compulsory school, while emphasising the strengths rather than limitations of the student’s abilities. Young people should have one contact person designated to them in the municipality. Clear stakeholder responsibilities in the transitions between education institutions should be covered in the municipal programmes;
- a new preparatory education system should be established that encompasses the broad range of preparatory initiatives, but also improves flexibility, progression, and transparency of the system. Accession to different preparatory programs should be based on the individual education plan, rather than the existing practices of target group assessment or visitation. Responsibility for the preparatory programs should be given to the municipalities, governed by a unified management and financial model based on stable funding and de-bureaucratisation;
- focus on capacity building, follow-up activities and tools, and inclusion of best practices in implementing strategies for better ways to post compulsory education. Professional competence development for professionals, aiming at developing common professional norms and pedagogic and didactic practices across institutions and professions, is needed.
According to the expert group, there are already many resources and efficient pedagogic and vocational traditions and practices in place, as professionals often put in extraordinary and extended actions to reach the best outcomes. The expert group recommend these examples as the foundation for the implementation and development of a new preparatory education system.
Following these recommendations, it is expected that political initiatives will be launched before summer 2017.