In 2011, Swedish upper secondary education was reformed. The current system consists of twelve vocational education and training (VET) programmes and six higher education preparatory programmes. These cover 2500 study points and are divided into several orientations.

Swedish VET is mainly governed and administered by the education system. There are programme councils at national and local levels, whose main purpose is knitting together VET and working life. The members of these councils are social partners and VET administrators.

The number of learners in VET programmes is decreasing. Education within the industrial sector is attracting fewer students while industrial development requires a high level of qualifications and theoretical and practical skills. The consequence is a lack of skilled labour and new educational needs.

The Swedish government has initiated two separate commissions to analyse upper secondary education and propose adjustments. These are the VET programmes commission, which has recently been given added instructions, and the Attractive upper secondary education for all commission.

Added instructions to VET programmes commission
The VET programmes commission’s added instructions aim at influencing VET from working life. Some of the added instructions are:

  • to analyse how cooperation between school and working life can be strengthened, and what are the possibilities for apprenticeship to influence working life;
  • to examine interests and possibilities for ‘profession colleges’, a concept where VET initiatives mainly come from working life, and proposing how the current technology programme can be completed with industrial orientations;
  • to propose how match between young peoples’ choice of VET and the labour market can be improved;
  • to propose adjustments within VET.

Attractive upper secondary education for all
Instructions for the second commission are to analyse and give proposals on:

  • stronger support to upper secondary students;
  • aesthetic subjects within all upper secondary programmes;
  • how all upper secondary programmes can be preparatory for higher education;
  • whether adjustments within programmes are necessary.

Proposed changes
In March 2015, a sub-report was submitted, suggesting a VET orientation programme. The programme is one of six higher education preparatory programmes and would still be so with the added VET orientation. This would provide learners with a combination of advanced practical and theoretical knowledge needed by industry : cooperation with the labour market is a prerequisite.

The new vocationally oriented programme is suggested to take longer than recent study programmes (covering 2800 study points instead of 2500). The suggested changes are influenced by the Swedish Technology College. The new programme is meant to be set up as a trial. Municipalities may apply for participation and government subsidies are provided for the purpose.