Reference year 2019
Introduced in 2011.
It originated from formal VET at upper secondary level including more work-based learning than formal VET.
The legal basis sets only the maximum age limit to access upper secondary education, which is 20 years old. After that, adult education starts.
Typically, between 16 and 18/19. Adult education is offered for learners above the age of 20.
In 2018/19 there were 352,300 students in upper secondary school (gymnasieskolan) in Sweden. Of those, 99,200 students participated in a vocational education programme for upper secondary school. Over 13,300 students participated in the Apprenticeship program at upper secondary school (12 percent of those in upper secondary VET and 3 percent of all those in upper secondary education). There was an increase of over 1,100 apprentices compared with the previous year. While the number of vocational students in general has decreased, the number participating in apprenticeship has increased.
In the Swedish National Qualifications Framework (SeQF), apprenticeship qualifications are obtained at Level 4, corresponding to EQF level 4.
Programme code 304 in the ISCED mapping.
ISCED 354 for learners in upper secondary level.
ISCED 343,353 for learners 17-20 years with special educational needs.
The Vocational Diploma for upper secondary education can be achieved upon completion of upper secondary vocational education, either in school-based education or in an apprenticeship.
The final qualification (as well as the subjects) are the same for both tracks, and for young students as well as for adults in adult education at upper secondary level. The final qualification (Diploma) comprises minimum 2,500 upper secondary school credits (students may have more credits), equivalent to 2,500 hours of training. Of these 2,500 credits, the student may have failed up to 250 but still graduate. A ‘pass’ grade is required for a final project.Yet, adult education is much more flexible and normally adults cover 800-1600 credits (instead of 2,500) so they do not receive a full upper secondary diploma, while they could if they wanted.
After completing an upper secondary or adult vocational education, either through school-based education or an apprenticeship, learners receive a Vocational Diploma for upper secondary education.
Normally, the final qualification indicates that the student has been an apprentice, but in some minor cases, due to the computer programme that the school uses, this is not reported.
Before considering new graduates fully qualified for a given trade, in some sectors an additional period of on-the-job training or work placement in a company (färdigutbildning) is required after the completion to the Vocational Diploma.
All students have the right to study the courses that will give eligibility for entry to higher education. In some VET programmes, these courses are built into the programme structure, while in other programmes the learner may need to take the courses as additional to their programme.
Apprenticeships are not available at the higher vocational level. Students who have apprenticeship qualifications from upper secondary level may continue studying within higher vocational education programmes.
There is no such organisation. However, an apprenticeship centre was set up at the National Agency for education (see Q38). The centre is run by the Swedish National Agency for Education and its tasks cover to different extent all policy challenges of apprenticeship, including supporting and giving advice to VET-providers, employers and social partners in, for example, the organisation of apprenticeship education and training for supervisors at workplaces, as well as stimulating cooperation at regional level between schools and the world of work.
There are 12 national programme councils (nationella programråd), one for each of the 12 national vocational programmes, consisting of 6 to 10 representatives from industry, representatives of employer and employee organisations within the specific vocational area, and some national or regional authorities. The national programme councils work as permanent forums for dialogue between the National Agency for Education (Skolverket) and labour-market stakeholders on the quality, content and organisation of VET. The national programme councils are not decision-making bodies, as they have a consultative function with respect to the National Agency for Education. The overall aim of their work is to make the VET pathway at upper secondary level more responsive to the needs of stakeholders and to improve correspondence between VET programmes and labour market demands (Skolverk, 2012). As the apprenticeship scheme is a mode of delivery for VET programmes, they are key players also in relation to the scheme. At the local level, every upper secondary school offering VET programmes, regardless of the scheme, can organise one or several local programme councils (lokala programråd) (37) to support closer cooperation between education providers, employers and their representative organisations, and trade unions (38) on each specific programme the school offers. Although the law does not specify their tasks, the local programme councils may assist schools on several levels: arrange workplace-based learning placements for their students for both schemes; organise and assess diploma projects; and address issues such as workplace environment, workplace safety, working hours, and the expectations of the different stakeholders, as far as students’ presence at the workplace is concerned (Cedefop, Flash TCR on apprenticeships in Sweden, p. 35).
To further support VET-providers, employers and social partners in developing apprenticeship education and the quality of workplace-based learning, the Swedish Government decided in December 2013 on the establishment of an apprenticeship centre.
For each apprenticeship education for adults, it is required that a vocational council (yrkesråd) is established. The council shall include representatives of employees and employers and representatives of the teachers and students of the apprenticeship education. Other school staff and other relevant stakeholders from working life may also be included. Vocational councils are regulated in the Ordinance on state subsidy for regional adult VET (Förordning 2016:937 om statsbidrag för regional yrkesinriktad vuxenutbildning).
They have a role in helping the schools by providing information and support about the working life.
5Training at the workplace
Within Apprenticeship at upper secondary level, at least half of the learning must take place in the workplace. In adult apprenticeships, at least 70% must be in the workplace.
Upper secondary schools are responsible for finding apprenticeship placements in companies and deciding on how to organise, plan and follow up on the implementation of the apprenticeship. That said, learning may be organised flexibly in a variety of ways according to the needs of the various parties. One school may have so called ‘apprenticeship classes’ where learners are enrolled in different vocational programmes and meet at school for common lessons in the foundations of subjects. Another school may have just a few learners within a vocational programme pursuing the apprenticeship pathway. Whereas many will start their workplace-based learning during the first year at upper secondary school, others will start in their second or third year. This is due to that Sweden has a very decentralized school system where the national agency of education determines (together with the social partners) what should be taught, and all how and where is up to the school to decide.
Companies have to sign training contracts with each apprentice.
The apprentice must also be appointed a supervisor/trainer, who must have ‘the necessary skills and experience’ for the task and who is considered ‘generally suitable’.
There is an increased focus on the supervisor’s important role in delivering high quality workplace-based learning. The National Agency for Education for Education has therefore developed a web-based course for the supervisors of apprentices at workplace. The course consists of four introductory general modules and a supplementary module. The introductory modules review e.g. receiving and introducing the apprentice, responsibilities of different parties, upper secondary VET in general, pedagogical methods, and monitoring and feedback practices. The supplementary module delves deeper into supporting and stimulating the apprentice and planning the work. The introductory modules are estimated to require two days and the supplementary module one day to complete. The course is not compulsory, but in order for the employer to receive the extra state subsidy, the supervisor must have completed this course or an equivalent training.
No sanctions, but, in practice, should the company fail to provide training in accordance with the education contract, the school would not continue co-operation with that company.
6Contract and compensation
If the employer chooses to employ the apprentice and an apprenticeship employment contract is signed, the status of the apprentice is that of a student vis-à-vis the tripartite learning agreement and should not perform tasks without a guidance of a supervisor at the workplace. Simultaneously they also have the status of an ‘apprentice employee’ vis-à-vis the employer, when it comes to endurance and other aspects if there is a regulation about that in the collective agreements of that trade.
Governance and regulations are, with a few exceptions, the same irrespective of whether the vocational programme is school-based or an apprenticeship. Regulations steering apprenticeships were introduced in the Education Act and in the Upper Secondary School Ordinance following the reform in 2011 (Regulations and general guidelines on study and vocational guidance (SKOLFS 2013:180). Steering documents in the form of curricula, diploma goals and syllabuses are drawn up by the Swedish government and by the National Agency for Education.
A training contract is obligatory for every apprentice according to the national School Law (Skollagen 2010:800 Chapter 16 § 11a). This is a written agreement arranged for each learner and workplace, to be signed by the learner, school-head, and the legal entity or person responsible for the workplace training part of the apprenticeship. The head of the school shall ensure that such contracts are signed, while the school will monitor whether the education contract has been implemented. The training contract should specify the content and scope of the workplace-based learning. The training contract shall include:
- what parts of the education are to be carried out at the workplace and the extent of these parts; how many weeks of in-company training each semester and what times to apply for the training in the workplace;
- how responsibility is shared between employer and school for possible damage caused by the apprentice during workplace learning;
- the terms of the agreement and the grounds for termination of the agreement before the term of the agreement expires; and
- which teacher at the school and what supervisor at the workplace should be contact persons for the workplace-based part of the education.
In addition, each apprentice has his/her individual learning plan.
If the employer chooses to employ and pay wages to the apprentice, an apprenticeship employment contract must be signed by the employer and the apprentice, as per the Act on Apprenticeship Employment (Lag 2014:421om gymnasial lärlingsanställning), part of the Labour Code. It is not required that the employer hires the apprentice either during or after the studies.
Upper secondary schools are responsible for finding the in-company placements and deciding on how to organise, plan and follow up on the delivery of learning within the apprenticeship and registering the formal training agreement.
All students studying in upper secondary school receive a monthly study allowance. Since 2014, an apprentice can also apply for a supplement to cover extra living costs, for example transportation to the workplace and lunch. These subsidies are also funded by the Swedish government.
As of July 2014, learners attending apprenticeship education in upper secondary school may be employed in what is called upper secondary apprentice employment. This means that the apprentice can be offered employment while still in education in accordance with adapted labour law provisions.
7Financing and incentives
The state pays the study allowance and the supplement to cover extra living costs for apprentices at upper secondary schools.
In cases where the apprentice has an employment contract, the employer pays the salary.
The major part of school funding comes from municipal tax revenues, but parts of the funding also comes from a central general government grant to the municipalities. This is supplemented by targeted central government grants for special initiatives. For apprentices, the vocational education organiser can apply for an extra government grant per apprentice and year.
For apprentices, the vocational education organiser can apply to receive an extra government grant per apprentice and year, of which 83 % is earmarked for the employer receiving the student. Moreover, the workplace can receive an additional subsidy if the trainer/supervisor of the apprentice has participated in a training programme that has been approved by the National Agency for Education for Education.