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General themes

VET in Sweden comprises the following main features:

  • a highly decentralised system in which education providers are fully responsible for the provision of VET programmes;
  • the high number of recently arrived migrants caused the introduction many new VET study paths, allowing for partial qualifications;
  • participation in lifelong learning was above 30%

in 2017, making it the highest in the European

Union (Eurostat). It is provided in many forms and

learners can also acquire an upper secondary

vocational diploma.

Distinctive features ([1]Cedefop (2016). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Sweden. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8095_en.pdf
):

Modularised structure of upper secondary education

Modularised programmes allow learners in upper secondary school to transfer one or more courses to another programme, for example when changing study route. Municipal adult education at upper secondary level provides the same courses as secondary school, with a few exceptions, allowing learners to build on their earlier studies and, for example, gain higher education access.

Validation in adult education

Validation is possible in all municipal adult education courses at upper secondary level. A learner who has validation for part of a course does not have to attend classes in that part of the course. Even within higher vocational education, knowledge, skills and competences acquired through training, job experience or otherwise may be validated and recognised for part of a programme. Education providers are responsible for the process.

National programme councils with strong social partner involvement

To strengthen cooperation between education and the world of work, national programme councils include social partners for each of the national vocational programmes in upper secondary schools. The councils are a permanent platform for dialogue on quality, content and organisation of VET between national agencies and stakeholders.

Social partners and representatives from the public employment service are members of the Labour Market Council ([2]The role of the council is defined in the ordinance for HVET:
https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/forordning-20111162-med-instruktion-for_sfs-2011-1162
), an advisory body linked to the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education.

Sweden must strengthen efforts to ease the transition from education to the labour market

It is important to provide support for those furthest from the labour market. The government has focused on strengthening the link between education and the world of work, within both upper secondary and tertiary VET. An apprenticeship centre has been established to promote and increase provision of apprenticeships. The government has also adopted regulations on a professional introductory period of employment, including vocational training and the possibility of having an apprenticeship contract when in upper secondary school. Education contracts, agreements between young people, the employment services and the home municipality were introduced in 2015; these encourage unemployed young people aged 20 to 24 to start or return to studies to acquire an upper secondary qualification. Studies within the contract can be combined with work or practical work experience.

Investments for quicker introduction of newly arrived immigrants

Many newly arrived immigrants have training and experience in occupations in which there is a shortage of trained and experienced labour in Sweden. To reduce the time from arrival to first job entry, the government has started consultations with the social partners, the Swedish public employment service and other relevant government agencies on measures for creating ‘fast tracks’ into the labour market. The initiatives may include, for example, Swedish language training specific to the vocational field, quicker validation of skills and competences, assessment of foreign qualifications, and supplementary training.

Data from VET in Sweden Spotlight 2016 ([3]Cedefop (2016). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Sweden. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8095_en.pdf
).

Population in 2018: 10 120 242 ([4]NB: Data for population as of 1 January; break in series. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

It increased by 5.9% since 2013 due to high natural growth and migration ([5]NB: Data for population as of 1 January; break in series. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

As in other parts of Europe, Sweden has an increasing proportion of elderly people in the population. The 15-64 age group made up 63.1% of the population in 2015. By 2060 this proportion is anticipated by Eurostat to fall to 57.8%. In 2015 the elderly (65+) already outnumbered those under the age of 14 by 2.3 percentage points This difference is foreseen to increase further until 2060, when the elderly will make up 24.6% and the young 17.6% of the population.

The old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase from 31 in 2015 to 43 in 2060 ([6]Old-age-dependency ratio is defined as the ratio between the number of persons aged 65 and more over the number of working-age persons (15-64). The value is expressed per 100 persons of working age (15-64).).

 

Population forecast by age group and old-age-dependency ratio

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Demographic changes have an impact on VET. Since 2000, the population has increased by more than one million or 13.9% ([7]Statistics Sweden:
https://www.scb.se/hitta-statistik/statistik-efter-amne/befolkning/befolkningens-sammansattning/befolkningsstatistik/pong/tabell-och-diagram/helarsstatistik--riket/befolkningsutveckling-fodda-doda-in--och-utvandring-gifta-skilda/
), due to high nativity rates and immigration (see table below).

The high number of immigrants required introduction of measures to integrate them into society. Some of these measures were an increased offer of the Swedish language introduction programme (Språkintroduktion), as well as introduction of study paths leading to partial VET qualification.

 

Net population change 2000-17

Source: Statistics Sweden.

 

The country is multicultural and has a high number of immigrants asking for an increase in the offer of Swedish language classes and for VET qualification programmes. The importance of recognising prior learning has also increased. The National Agency for Education launched in March 2018 a skills mapping web-based tool ([8]https://kartlaggningsverktyget.skolverket.se/start) for people who have professional work experience from other countries. The tool assists individuals to become aware of their skills, which can shorten their study time and contribute to improved integration through access to the labour market ([9]Information is based on: Skolverket; ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

Most companies are small in Sweden. One-person enterprises without any employees dominate with almost one quarter of all enterprises. Only 0.1% of all Swedish enterprises are large, having 250 employees or more ([10]https://www.ekonomifakta.se/fakta/foretagande/naringslivet/naringslivets-struktur/).

Sweden has a long and successful industrial tradition and is an export-dependent country that competes in a global market. Manufacturing industry is dominant, with products like machinery, telecommunications, electronics, vehicles, medications, as well as iron, steel and paper products. Another important part of the Swedish export market is knowledge-intensive services such as research and development, ICT-services and intellectual property like patents or licences.

The labour market is considered flexible and only 41 professions are regulated in 2018, mostly in education and medicine.

Total unemployment ([11]Percentage of active population aged 25 to 74.) (2018): 5.0% (6.0% in EU-28); it has increased by 0.9 percentage points since 2008 ([12]Eurostat table une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2008-18

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary. Education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The unemployment rate for graduates aged 25-64 with ISCED level 5-8 qualifications, has been below 5% from 2008-18. Graduates with medium-level qualifications (ISCED levels 3 and 4), including most VET graduates, faced a slightly higher risk of unemployment but also had in 2018 only a risk of 3.6% of being unemployed. However, the unemployment rates of graduates at ISCED level 0-2 was much higher, and reached its peak in 2018 at 16.1%.

A characteristic feature of Swedish working life is that many professions are skills-intensive, requiring constant upskilling and lifelong learning. The unemployment rate is higher among persons born outside of Sweden, than among Swedish-born, and the increase among low-skilled adults is partly due to the large migration flows that peaked in late 2015.

The employment rate of VET graduates aged 20 to 34 increased from 88.0% in 2014 to 92.3% in 2018 and was always higher than the EU average (2014: 76.9% and 2018: 80.5%).

 

Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The increase in employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates in 2014-18 (+4.3 pp), was higher compared to the increase in employment of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+2.3 pp) in the same period in Sweden ([13]NB: Breaks in time series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

Education traditionally has high value in Sweden. In 2018 the share of the population aged 25 to 64 with higher education (43.1%) was higher than in most EU Member States (32.2%). The share of those with upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED 3-4) was 42.2%, lower than the EU average of 45.7%. The same applies also to the percentage of those holding an ISCED 0-2 level qualification (14.3%), which was lower than the EU average (21.8%).

 

Population (aged 25 to 64) by highest education level attained in 2018

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011. Low reliability for ‘No response’ in Czechia, Iceland, Latvia, and Poland. ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_pgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

Not applicable

34.1%

71.4%

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [Extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of initial VET learners from total learners at upper-secondary level (ISCED level 3), 2017

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The vocational programmes which most applicants put as their first choice in 2017 were building and construction, electricity and engineering and vehicle and transport. These programmes are highly male-dominated, which means that VET-programmes as a whole had a larger proportion of male than female applicants, 60 and 40 % respectively (see figure below) ([14]Information is based on: Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

 

Number of applicants, and gender distribution of VET programmes in 2017

Source: Skolverket (2017). Sökande och antagna till gymnasieskolan läsåret 2017/18.

 

The percentage of early leavers fell slightly from 2009 to 2018 from 7.0% to 9.3%; this is still above the national target of no more than 7%. However, throughout the years it was always better than the EU average, which decreased from 14.2% in 2009 to 10.6% in 2018.

According to the Education Act ([15]https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/skollag-2010800_sfs-2010-800) the municipalities are responsible for tracking and engaging early school leavers in activities. They mainly target young people under 20 without a completed upper secondary school diploma. Statistical data show that more than 106 000 learners reported by municipalities 2017/18 but that also more than 45 000 learners were deregistered the same year. One third of the deregistered learners had resumed or completed their studies ([16]https://www.skolverket.se/publikationer?id=4005).

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training; break in series.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_14 [extracted 16.5.2019] and European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/info/2018-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stability-convergence-programmes_en [accessed 14.11.2018].

 

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training.
Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Participation in lifelong learning was already at a high level in 2014, at 29.2%, and came back to this level in 2018 after a slight increase in between. It is the highest participation rate in the European Union; the EU-28 average in 2014-18, was close to 11%.

Lifelong learning is provided in many forms. Municipalities offer formal adult education where learners can also acquire an upper secondary vocational diploma. Individual modularised pathways for adults, set up according to specific needs, are the most common way to gain a qualification in a new field or study the courses required to access higher vocational or higher general education. At a non-formal level, folk high schools and private training providers offer various courses for adults. Several active labour market policy programmes (ALMP) for the unemployed are also vocationally oriented or feature different forms of work placement. Courses and programmes are financed through fees or by companies and organisations, with public grants also provided.

The Swedish Government has been implementing a major education initiative for lifelong learning and higher employment since 2015. The initiative involves state-funded training places in vocational adult education programmes at upper secondary level, higher vocational education, education at folk high schools and at universities and colleges. The objective of the initiative is mainly reskilling and upskilling the unemployed and reaching out to adults lacking upper secondary education, or with secondary vocational education needing completion ([17]Information is based on: Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

Learners in municipal adult education study courses which can be combined in various ways. Therefore, the data for adult VET is not comparable to that of upper secondary school and, due to a lag in official data, the latest analytical report on adult learners’ becoming established on the labour market is based on data for courses in 2011-13 ([18]Skolverket (2017). Uppdrag om uppföljning av sysselsättning efter avslutade studier inom kommunal vuxenutbildning [Employment following municipal adult educaiton]. Report 2017:01587.
https://www.skolverket.se/publikationer?id=3872
).

The data available provide information on the number of learners who have studied vocational courses of more than 800 credits, which corresponds to one year in upper secondary education. Of all learners in municipal adult education that completed their studies in 2013, nearly 16% (9 745 individuals), studied more than one year of VET courses, and nearly 10% studied between six months and one year. In comparison, there were almost 106 000 learners enrolled in one of the three years of upper secondary VET education for the youth.

The education and training system comprises:

• preschool education (ISCED level 0);

• primary and lower secondary education (ISCED levels 1 and 2, EQF level 2);

• upper secondary education (ISCED level 3, EQF level 4);

• post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED level 4, EQF levels 5-6);

• higher education (ISCED levels 5, 6, 7 and 8, EQF levels 6-8);

• municipal adult education.

From 2018/19, attending pre-school is mandatory for all children from the year they turn six. Compulsory school begins then at age seven and lasts nine years. VET starts after compulsory education before the age of 20. Learners can choose among one of the 12 vocational programmes (yrkesprogram) or six general preparatory programmes for higher education (högskoleförberedande program) in the upper secondary school (gymnasieskola). A diploma from completed upper secondary education is placed at EQF level 4.

Adults aged 20 and older, without upper secondary education who wish to change career paths can enrol in upper secondary VET courses in municipal adult education institutions (kommunal vuxenutbildning). If an upper secondary education diploma is achieved, the qualification is placed at EQF level 4.

At tertiary level, there are higher vocational education programmes (yrkeshögskoleutbildningar) leading to first or second cycle VET qualifications placed at EQF levels 5 and 6. This applies to education for professions requiring specific knowledge or certification to work in the profession. Many of these programmes are in health care and agriculture as well as in the education sectors ([19]Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2016). Vocational education and training in Europe - Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports.
https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/2016_CR_SE.pdf
).

There are several VET learning options:

Initial VET at upper secondary level leading to EQF 4 is available in the formal education system as:

  • school-based learning for the young and adults;
  • work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice) is mandatory in VET for the young, and encouraged through state grants in municipal adult VET;
  • distance learning, which is available in municipal adult VET-education.

Municipal adult education is flexible and based on the individual's needs as part- or full-time studies. Learners aged 20 or older can enter municipal adult education directly after graduating from upper secondary education, e.g. to study for eligibility to access tertiary education. A learner may also resume studies after being employed. For some, municipal adult education may be a CVET path; for others, it may be a continuation of the upper secondary IVET or GE-programme.

Formal VET is offered at EQF level 4 to 5. Apart from formal education, Sweden has a long tradition of liberal adult education (folkbildning), a type of non-formal learning which is typified by being ‘free and voluntary’, offered outside the school system. Liberal adult education covers education in folk high schools (folkhögskolor) and adult education associations (studieförbund) that are not restricted to state-determined curricula or syllabuses. Each folk high school or adult education association decides on the content and organisation of their own educational offerings. The folk high schools provide shorter and longer special courses. One- to three-year VET programmes are special courses for specific professions, e.g. journalist, recreation leader, treatment assistant, cantor or sign language interpreter. Both shorter and longer courses in crafts as well as art, music and drama are also common. Some vocational education is at post-secondary level and has special admission requirements, while some is at upper secondary level. ([20]Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2016). Vocational education and training in Europe - Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports.
https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/2016_CR_SE.pdf
)

Apprenticeship is, next to school based education, a possible pathway to studying a vocational programme at upper secondary school, aiming to prepare learners for the labour market. Upper secondary apprenticeship education can start in the first, second or the third year. From the moment apprenticeship education starts, half of it should consist of work-based learning (WBL). An education contract or learning agreement is obligatory for every apprentice; this should specify the content and scope of the WBL. The apprentice, the education organiser and the workplace should sign the contract and a contact person and/or a trainer/supervisor should be appointed. The school is responsible for the establishment of an education contract or learning agreement. In both pathways, the same syllabuses are applicable and successful completion leads to a vocational diploma.

Swedish upper secondary education is organised in 18 three-year national programmes, of which 12 are vocational programmes covering most vocational fields. The programmes are modular and organised in courses where one course is usually 100 credits. All programmes include foundation subjects, for example Swedish, English and mathematics, and programme- specific subjects, for example retailing and vehicle technology. The schools decide if a vocational programme should be provided as apprenticeship education and when the apprenticeship starts. The learner chooses between the pathways offered.

Apprenticeship education as part of formal IVET was only introduced in 2011. The development of apprenticeship education within the frame of the upper secondary school includes a broad spectrum of initiatives such as changes in upper secondary school regulations, financial incentives and support to schools and workplaces. Regulations steering apprenticeship education were introduced in the Education Act and in the Upper Secondary School Ordinance following the reform in 2011. Steering documents in the form of curricula, diploma goals and syllabuses are drawn up by the Swedish government and by the Swedish National Agency for Education.

In 2014, an apprenticeship centre (Lärlingscentrum)([21]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/news-and-press/news/sweden-apprenticeship-centre-established-2014) was created under the auspices of the Swedish National Agency for Education to promote apprenticeship, provide advice to VET institutions and employers, train supervisors at workplaces, and stimulate cooperation at regional level between schools and businesses ([22]Cedefop (2018). Developments in vocational education and training policy in 2015-17: Sweden. Cedefop monitoring and analysis of VET policies.http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/vetpolicy-developments-sweden-2017 and Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2014). Apprenticeship-type schemes and structured work-based learning programmes - Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet network series on apprenticeship and WBL.
https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2015/ReferNet_SE_2014_WBL.pdf
).

Unlike VET as a whole, the number of upper secondary VET learners enrolled in an apprenticeship programme ([23]Eurostat table tps00203 [extracted 25.1.2019].) has grown steadily since its introduction in 2011, with an average annual increase of over 1 000 learners, from 5 600 in 2013/14 to 12 280 in 2018/19 ([24]Source: Apprenticeship centre at Skolverket.). For the school year 2018/19 this meant that 12.5% of all VET learners followed an apprenticeship programme. Despite the positive trend, apprenticeship participation remains below expectations; there are also significant challenges in relatively low completion rates and high drop-out rates. The government ambition is to increase both participation and apprenticeship quality ([25]Cedefop (2018). Flash thematic country review on apprenticeships in Sweden. Luxembourg: Publications Office. Thematic country reviews.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/4169_en_0.pdf
).

Learn more about apprenticeships in the national context from the European database on apprenticeship schemes from Cedefop: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/apprenticeship-schemes/scheme-fiches

Governance for upper secondary VET

A distinct feature of the Swedish education system is that primary and secondary education is a goal-steered system with a high degree of local responsibility. The Swedish Parliament, the Government and the National Agency for Education draw up the overall national goals in legislation, but the main responsibility of funding lies with the municipalities, and provision is the responsibility of the municipalities and the organisers of independent schools (see table below for a summary of governance and responsibilities).

In addition to the public municipal bodies, private entities may also be approved as organisers and run independent upper secondary schools after approval from the Swedish Schools Inspectorate. Independent schools are regulated by the same legislation and governing documents as municipal schools and may offer both VET and higher education preparatory programmes. School organisers have a primary responsibility for distributing resources and organising activities so that learners attain the national goals.

 

Summary of governance and distribution of responsibilities in Swedish upper secondary education (including IVET)

Source: Skolverket.

 

Within the framework of national vocational upper secondary programmes, there is scope for flexibility and local adaptation. The core content, which consists of foundation subjects, programme-specific subjects and orientations, is nationally determined by the Government. The foundation subjects are the same for all VET learners, the programme specific subjects are the same for all learners in one of the programmes, and the courses in orientations are the same for learners in an orientation within a programme.

There are also programme specialisations. The National Agency for Education determines which courses and subjects adhere to the diploma goals of the programmes and makes these available for each programme specialisation. Schools can combine these different courses to create programme specialisations that meet the regional and local needs of the labour market and enable learners to focus their studies on a specific vocational outcome. Formally, the local adaptations in programme specialisations are decided by the organiser’s governing board, i.e. the local government for state schools, and by the school organiser for independent schools.

 

General programme structure for vocational programmes in upper secondary school

Source: Skolverket.

 

Governance for higher VET

Employers and industry representatives play a significant role in the planning of a higher VET programme and have an influence on its content. In contrast to upper secondary vocational education, education providers determine the content of the programmes in higher vocational education. The goals and orientation of the education and training programmes are expressed in terms of knowledge, skills and competences which learners are to have attained on completion. Information about the courses included and assessment criteria must also be given. In their applications, education providers also include information about the companies or organisations which have actively participated in developing and planning the programme. The Swedish Agency for Higher Vocational Education independently determines, following an application procedure, the programmes to be included as higher vocational education.

One important element in higher vocational education is learners' involvement in, and their opportunities to influence, the structure and delivery of the education. Each programme must have a plan to ensure that this is achieved. Teaching and teaching materials are determined by the governing group of the education provider, which is also responsible for carrying out systematic quality monitoring. The Agency of Higher VET also supervises the programmes through inspections and quality auditing.

Employers and industry contribute to and influence programme content by participating as lecturers, joining in projects, hosting study visits and offering work placements. Higher vocational education must also contribute to developing learner competences in entrepreneurship. Higher vocational education may also be run in the form of distance courses ([26]Information is based on: Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

Funding of upper secondary VET

Municipalities in Sweden are responsible for providing primary and secondary education to their residents, but residents are free to choose an education provider. Municipal and central government tax revenues provide the funding for primary and secondary education; they are equally entirely financed by public funds. The major part of school funding comes from municipal tax revenues, but parts also come from central government state grants to municipalities. Almost SEK 43 billion (EUR 4.2 billion) ([27]EUR 4.2 billion as of 10.4.2019.) was spent on upper secondary education in 2017. Almost 70% of the funding is provided by the municipal tax revenues ([28]https://skl.se/skolakulturfritid/forskolagrundochgymnasieskola/vagledningsvarpavanligafragor/samycketkostarskolan.2785.html#5.9f425ef147b396d4678201f,5.9f425ef147b396d467820f0,5.68e4adfe147afac12a43fbee,5.68e4adfe147afac12a43fc11).

Since access to education should be equal regardless of where in Sweden one lives, several state grants and other equity measures are available to ensure that all residents have access to education of the same quality.

All municipalities are guaranteed equivalent financial conditions in accordance with a special equalisation system. The general central government grant is, therefore, based on a number of different parameters such as population, population structure, social structure and the number of immigrants. Each municipality determines how it will allocate resources as this general central government grant is not earmarked and is supplemented by targeted central government grants for specific initiatives, such as apprenticeship education, adult vocational education and projects to develop the quality of work-based learning.

There are considerable differences in calculated cost between the different programmes, with vocational programmes being both the most diverse and also on the more costly end of the spectrum. The National Agency for Education has developed a system of calculating how much a learner should cost on average for a particular programme (riksprislistan). For some programmes there are differences in cost between orientations. This system is used by municipalities when financing education through the voucher system in independent schools. The most costly VET programme generates a voucher of more than twice as much as the least costly (see figure below).

Regardless of the governing body, both upper secondary school and municipal adult education at upper secondary level are free of charge for the learner. In adult education, however, learners must pay for their teaching materials themselves.

 

Average voucher cost per upper secondary VET programme per year as determined by the National Agency for Education, 2018

Source: National Agency for Education - Average cost per upper secondary VET programme. ( https://www.skolverket.se/skolutveckling/statistik/om-skolverkets-statistik/riksprislistan)
NB: EUR 1 was equivalent to SEK 10.33 on August 7, 2018.

 

Funding and state grants to adult municipal VET education

Municipalities are responsible for adult upper secondary education, but usually outsource to providers, public or private, in the education market. The Swedish Government has a goal to lower unemployment rates and provides a large share of the municipal funding for adult education through state grants. One part of the governmental strategy is to invest in vocational education and apprentice education for adults in order to counter a shortage of skilled labour, while giving people the opportunity to retrain for a new profession. The strategy also aims to reach groups who have not completed upper secondary education or who have vocational upper secondary education that needs to be supplemented.

On January 1, 2017 state grants for regional training of adults came in force ([29]Regeringen (2016a). Regulation 2016:937 on State grants for regional vocational training for adults.
https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/forordning-2016937-om-statsbidrag-for-regional_sfs-2016-937
). Regional vocational adult education (regionalt yrkesvux) aims to strengthen regional cooperation to meet labour market needs better. The regulation contains provisions on government grants for such training at secondary level in municipal adult education, if it is carried out in cooperation between a number of municipalities and employers and can include combined studies in Swedish as a second language and VET. SEK 5.5 billion ([30]EUR 525 million as of 10.4.2019.
https://skl.se/skolakulturfritid/forskolagrundochgymnasieskola/vagledningsvarpavanligafragor/samycketkostarskolan.2785.html#5.9f425ef147b396d4678201f,5.9f425ef147b396d467820f0,5.68e4adfe147afac12a43fbee,5.68e4adfe147afac12a43fc11
) (corresponding to EUR 532 million) was spent by the municipalities on adult education in 2017. The total state grant to municipal adult VET for 2018 is SEK 1.989 billion (corresponding to EUR 192.5 million) for 37 800 full-time learners ([31]The State grants to adult municipal VET awarded for 2018 amounted to SEK 1 579 billion which corresponds to 32 914 full-time learners and SEK 280 million was awarded for apprentices in municipal adult VET which corresponds to 3 154 full-time learners for one year. In addition, SEK 130 million was awarded in state grants to education of professional drivers which corresponds to 1 732 full-time learners for one year. (EUR 1 was equivalent to SEK 10.33 as of 7.8.2018.)).

Funding of higher VET

Higher vocational education programmes may be organised by state higher education institutions, municipalities, county councils and individuals or legal entities. These programmes are partially financed through public funding and are free of charge for the learner, with an exception for minor costs for a particular reason like a study visit and for teaching materials. Learners who attend publicly-funded programmes are eligible for student aid.

The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för yrkeshögskolan) approves and allocates state grants in response to applications from education providers. In 2018, almost SEK 2 billion (corresponding to EUR 194 million) of state grants was used for higher vocational education ([32]https://www.myh.se/Documents/Publikationer/Arsredovisningar/Arsredovisning-2018-MYH.pdf). A programme that has been approved may be offered a limited number of times as determined by the agency. Then a new application must be made to the agency to ensure that the competences provided by the programme meet the needs of the labour market.

Funding of liberal (non-formal) adult education

Today there are approximately 150 folk high schools (folkhögskolor) in Sweden. The majority of these are run by non-governmental organisations, non-commercial organisations, foundations or associations, and trade unions but county councils and regions can also be their governing bodies. The 10 largest adult education associations are also run by non-governmental organisations, associations and other organisations. Study circles and other activities are often provided by local or regional associations.

Liberal adult education is largely financed through support from the state, regions and municipalities. State support makes up around 70% of the grants to adult education associations and to folk high schools. Conditions for state grants to folk high schools and adult education associations are regulated in the State Grants for Adult Education Ordinance ([33]Regeringen (2015a). Ordinance 2015:218 on State grants for adult education Ordinance
https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/forordning-2015218-om-statsbidrag-till_sfs-2015-218
). The Swedish National Council of Adult Education (Folkbildningsrådet), a non-profit association, has been tasked by the Government to distribute grants, and also to follow up and evaluate activities. Tuition in folk high schools is free of charge and, in certain cases, gives the right to student aid. However, participants are required to pay for course literature, study material, lunch and any eventual residential costs. Study circles and other activities run by adult education associations are subject to fees and do not qualify for student aid ([34]Information is based on Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

In 2015, there were two categories of teacher and trainer in VET programmes:

  • vocational teachers;
  • general subject teachers.

In addition, there were trainers (practical training instructors at the workplaces supporting and monitoring students’ learning) deemed suitable for the task by the employer but without any formal qualification.

The Education Act of 2010 defines the educational requirements for being a teacher. Teachers of upper secondary education need to have a tertiary teaching degree. Teachers of vocational programmes need to have a vocational qualification at least at SeQF level 5, one SeQF level above the level s/he will teach (upper secondary VET programmes lead to SeQF level 4). The qualification is a vocational basic diploma awarded after 90 ECTS credits, out of which 30 ECTS credits comes from teacher induction.

In autumn 2011, four different programmes in teacher education were set up, one of which was designed specifically for vocational education teachers. Vocational teacher education included a core of education methodology, particularly general teaching knowledge and skills, as well as induction. Teachers of general subjects in VET programmes had to meet the same requirements as teachers in higher education preparatory programmes. According to the Education Act, teachers have to go through a certification process carried out by the National Agency for Education.

Entry requirements for vocational teacher training are graduation from upper secondary school and mastery of the relevant vocation. The Swedish Council for Higher Education (Universitets- och Högskolerådet, UHR) has specified, through an ordinance, entry requirements for each vocational subject for vocational teacher training. The ordinance states that specialised knowledge, obtained by experience and theory in the field, is required.

Due to the lack of qualified teachers, non-qualified, non-certified teachers can be also temporarily employed for a maximum of one year. The duration of their employment is restricted, to allow formally qualified teachers to take over this position. The legislation states that non-certified teachers have to be supervised by a certified teacher to assess and grade learners ([35]Cedefop (2018). Developments in vocational education and training policy in 2015-17: Sweden. Cedefop monitoring and analysis of VET policies.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/sweden_-_vet_policy_developments.pdf
).

The Education Act of 2010 states the educational requirements for being a teacher in the Swedish school system and that continuous professional development (CPD) is the responsibility of the head teacher and school founder. The legislation does not, however, give any specific information on how CPD should be carried out; this is regulated by the agreements of the labour market’s social partners.

CPD for teachers is regulated by agreements between the social partners. A supplement to the general labour standards regulated in an agreement between the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), the employers’ organisation for municipalities and local governments, and the employee organisations, regulates the conditions that apply to teachers. The supplement defines the time allocation during the academic school year for teachers employed by municipalities. Some independent, private actor governing boards of VET schools use the same agreements as publicly-organised schools; other independent governing boards do not.

The agreement sets teachers’ total worktime, and the regulated time that the employer controls, over one year. CPD is part of the regulated time and, as such, the time that the employer should allocate and plan for. The time allocated for CPD is on average 104 hours, or nearly 6% of the total worktime for teachers in one year. Many adult education teachers are employed according to the same annual framework but with a different time allocation, as adult education does not follow an academic year with school holidays and summer recess. The agreement states that the time spent for teacher CPD should be distributed for teachers to develop good conditions for students’ learning. It is at the discretion of the head teacher to distribute the CPD time and resources to optimise the learning outcomes locally. The allocation of CPD time, resources and focus areas is often negotiated with the employees. The provision for CPD is decentralised, meaning that each founder and school is responsible for CPD within the framework defined by the legislation and the labour agreements. As a consequence of the decentralised system, there is no systematically collected nationwide data on CPD for teachers in general or for vocational teachers in particular ([36]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([37]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

 

 

State agencies, like Statistics Sweden (SCB) and the public employment services, PES (Arbetsförmedlingen) monitor the Swedish labour market and publish their analyses regularly. The public employment service also offers Yrkeskompassen ([38]https://www.arbetsformedlingen.se/For-arbetssokande/Valj-yrke/Yrkeskompassen.html#/), a search engine for predicting future employment prospects for various professions and a list ([39]https://www.arbetsformedlingen.se/For-arbetssokande/Hitta-jobb/Inspiration-i-jobbsokandet/Nyheter/Nyheter-for-Arbetssokande/2018-08-29-Har-ar-listan-med-heta-yrken-dar-du-bor.html) of professions in demand in the various regions of Sweden.

However, skill needs and the provision of VET are not interlinked in Sweden. The provision of VET (and other upper secondary) programmes in upper secondary school ([40]In municipal adult education, the governing board of the organiser, i.e. the political body of the municipality, decides which courses the municipality will offer but there is always a right for adults to study courses to become eligible for admission to tertiary education.) is largely determined by the preferences of the learners, who choose their education. Since providers operate in a competitive market they adjust supply according to the learners’ demands. Ideally there would be a balance between the demand for education, the need for competence among the different business sectors on the one hand, and the supply, the provision of educated and skilled workers on the other. There appears to be a gap between demand and supply: there is a shortage of competence in some sectors and too many people educated in upper secondary school in fields in which there is no shortage. Guidance, information and similar incentives are the ‘soft’ means by which learners can be attracted and steered to specific vocational education programmes.

There are also structural challenges in the Swedish VET system when it comes to the municipalities’ potential to offer a broad supply of programmes and specialisations at upper secondary level. Municipalities are sometimes too small entities to be able to offer a wide range of different upper secondary programmes and orientations.

Municipalities can cooperate in confederations to coordinate the supply of upper secondary programmes, but challenges remain in this field, particularly in IVET, due to decreasing interest in VET paired with high costs for organising some VET programmes. Therefore, a commission of enquiry ([41]Regeringen (2018). Planering och dimensionering av gymnasial utbildning [Financing and steering of upper secondary education]. Ministry of Education Committee Directive 2018:17.
https://www.regeringen.se/rattsliga-dokument/kommittedirektiv/2018/03/dir.-201817/
) has been appointed to develop a regionally-based model for financing and steering of education at upper secondary level (including municipal adult education). The commission will present its proposal to the Government in February 2020 ([42]Information is based on Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

For further information please see also the national country reports on skills anticipation ([43]Skills Panorama webportal - Skills anticipation in countries, 2017. Analytical highlights series.
https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/analytical-highlights/browse-analytical-highlights?f%5B0%5D=field_collection%3A765
).

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([44]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast) and European Skills Index ([45]https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/indicators/european-skills-index)

Government design of the IVET structure

Since few professions are regulated in Sweden, most qualifications are determined by stakeholders and social partners. The Parliament, the Government and State agencies are responsible for education and have set up a structure for education provision to meet the needs of the individual, society and the labour market.

Consultation rounds and open consultation through meetings and websites are examples of methods used to collect views and proposals. If a revision is seen as necessary, the National Agency for Education ([46]The National Agency for Education (Skolverket) is the central administrative authority for the public school system, publicly organised pre-schooling, school-age childcare and for adult education. Visit their website at:
https://www.skolverket.se/
) organises an extensive review to inform the relevant parties of the decision on a new subject or course. Focus groups of teachers and learners are consulted; the work in progress is published on the agency’s website for teachers and stakeholders to express their opinions; proposals are written and quality assured in the agency to ensure that the curricula align with the legislation. Before the National Agency decides on a new subject or course, other national agencies, interest groups, social partners and stakeholders (including school organisers) receive a copy of the proposed changes and have a chance to comment. If a large section of the consultees or a single influential group is opposed to the proposal, the National Agency for Education may decide not to proceed or to revise the proposal. The same process is used for core and foundation courses which are decided by the Government. In these instances, the National Agency for Education acts on behalf of the Government and makes proposals to the Government after following the same review process.

When the quality assurance of the design, assessment, certification and review of the process is thorough and transparent, it is more likely that the final proposals will be accepted. If everyone concerned has a chance to express their opinions, the proposed education standards expressed in the documents are more likely to be adjusted to suit the needs of social partners and stakeholders and to be of a higher quality.

So, for example, in 2015 a government commission of enquiry ([47]Regeringen (2016b). En gymnasieutbildning för alla [High school education for all]. State report SOU 2016:77.
https://www.regeringen.se/rattsliga-dokument/statens-offentliga-utredningar/2016/10/sou-201677/
) (Gymnasieutredningen) was launched, which included the aims of studying how VET programmes can provide eligibility for tertiary education and analysing if it would be necessary to adjust the upper secondary programmes and orientations. Proposals from the enquiries are presented to the Government and frequently guide the Government in upcoming objectives for the education agencies aiming to develop curricula, syllabuses or to make amendments to the education structure. The drawing up of governing documents takes place for the most part at the National Agency for Education in close collaboration with different actors and stakeholder groups.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes ([48]What a learner is expected to know, be able to do and understand at the end of a learning sequence.) in upper secondary education are expressed in the curricula, diploma goals and subject syllabuses which describe the aim and long-term goals of the subject, the core content, and assessment criteria in the knowledge requirements for each of the courses. Learning outcomes in Swedish upper secondary education are expressed as the learners’ ’ability to’, ’knowledge about’, ’understanding of’ and ’skills in’. Knowledge requirements relate to these outcomes and are expressed using active verbs.

Gap between diplomas and expected qualifications in upper secondary VET

Within the structural framework it is foreseen that all VET programmes should cover 2 500 credits and last three years. Typically, 1 600 credits are allocated to VET-subjects, whereas the remaining credits are allocated to foundation subjects (Swedish, English, maths, physical health, natural science, and social science), diploma project and to individual options. There are, however, some industries that argue that there is too little vocational training in upper secondary education to reach a qualification needed in their sector. For traditional handicrafts like hairdressers, for example, graduates must work as employees for 3 000 hours before being able to take the exam leading to a journeyman certificate. Therefore, the vocational outcome of the hairdresser orientation of the handicrafts programme only leads to the informal title 'aspiring hairdresser.' Final examinations are performed by the hairdressers’ association but the qualification is still placed at the SeQF level 4 (EQF level 4) based on the level of acquired knowledge, skills, and competences ([49]The Swedish ordinance defining SeQF uses the term 'competences' for the EQF category 'responsibility and autonomy.').

Designing education in dialogue with stakeholders in upper secondary VET

In structured consultation, the National Agency for Education meets with schools and stakeholders to ensure that subjects and courses can be used to build qualifications which meet the needs of working life. For each vocational programme there is a national programme council with a broad cross-section of industry representatives and social partners in the vocational area for which the programme provides education and training. Some programme councils include representatives from public authorities like the Swedish public employment service (PES). One of the tasks of each programme council is to advise and support the National Agency for Education in relation to the adaptation, development and modernisation of the supply of education and the content of vocational education. This helps to ensure that the competences required by the labour market are met. The programme councils fulfil a consultative function and can suggest revisions but are not decision-making bodies.

At local level, there must be one or several local programme councils (lokala programråd) for cooperation between school and working life; they cover all vocational programmes in every upper secondary school. How these councils are organised and what their tasks are is not regulated. Possible tasks could be assisting the provider in arranging placements of work-based learning, and participating in organising and assessing diploma projects. A local programme council may also advise the school about skills needed locally and which courses the school could use in programme specialisations to meet the local needs.

Other forms of cooperation with stakeholders

There are many initiatives for cooperation at the regional level between school and working life, unregulated by the State. For example, actors on the labour market have initiated Teknikcollege ([50]The organisation Riksföreningen Teknikcollege Sverige uses the term Teknikcollege in English:
http://www.teknikcollege.se/teknikcollege-i-english/ Since Teknikcollege is used as a brand name, it is not translated in this report.
) (Technical College) and Vård- och omsorgscollege (Health and Medical Care College), a form of cooperation within the framework of upper secondary and tertiary education. Behind the Teknikcollege is the Industrial Council (Industrirådet) and different employer and employee organisations in the technology and industrial sectors. The Teknikcollege wishes to be a long-term competence provider that also works actively to promote quality in VET at upper and post-secondary levels. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, (SKL) together with a trade union, the Swedish Municipal Workers' Union (Kommunal) and the Association of Private Care Providers (Vårdföretagarna), started a similar initiative in a college for health and medical care, with a focus on ensuring the supply of skilled workers and further training for existing staff, as well as increasing quality in work-based learning for young people and adults.

Partial qualifications in VET

In October 2016 the Government commissioned the National Agency for Education to recommend vocational training 'packages' for adults. These 'packages' are clusters of courses agreed with the industry as entry points into the labour market. They will not only consist of partial qualifications, but will also include building blocks that may be transferred and accumulated towards a full qualification. In April 2017 the objective was amended to include the introduction programmes aimed at young, mostly recently arrived immigrants, who are not eligible for admission to an upper secondary VET programme. Fifty-eight packages covering a wide range of vocational areas had been developed by February 2018 but more are being continuously developed.

Designing qualifications in higher VET

In accordance with legislation and within the restrictions of funding allocations for higher vocational education programmes (yrkeshögskoleutbildningar) the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för yrkeshögskolan) independently determines, following an application procedure, the programmes to be included as higher vocational education. In contrast to upper secondary vocational education, it is the education providers who design the programmes in higher vocational education.

Programmes in higher vocational education must correspond to the needs of the labour market. For this reason, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education analyses and collects information about the skills in short supply in different industries and regions. The information is then used, together with the VET provider’s application, as a basis for assessing the programmes that are to be available in higher vocational education. External stakeholders such as employers and industry organisations, as well as central and regional authorities, also play an important contributory role in supplying information to the assessment and decision-making processes. The qualification demands imposed by employers and industries thus determine the programmes to be approved, where in Sweden they are offered, and how many study places are allocated to each programme.

The Labour Market Council (arbetsmarknadsråd) is a special body linked to the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education. The task of the council is to support the agency with information about the labour market: the vocational areas under development, the new qualifications that may be required, and the qualifications that need to be phased out. The members of the council, which is chaired by the head of the agency, are representatives of the public employment service and the social partners. The council members also function as a channel to their respective organisations in terms of synchronising the analyses.

For education and training programmes that require nationally equivalent content, the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education issues regulations on what knowledge, skills and competences all learners must have attained on completion.

Designing qualifications outside the formal education system

The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för Yrkeshögskolan) has been appointed by the Swedish Government as the national coordination point for the Swedish national qualifications framework, the SeQF. All government regulated education is referred to the SeQF in an ordinance ([51]Regeringen (2015b). Förordning om referensram för kvalifikationer för livslångt lärande [Regulation on the national qualifications framework]. SFS 2015:545.
https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/forordning-2015545-om-referensram-for_sfs-2015-545
), but qualification awarding bodies outside the formal education system may apply to the agency to refer their qualification to the SeQF. A precondition is that the awarding body conducts systematic quality assurance of the qualification. A group of experts reviews the application and serves as an advisory body to the Director General who determines the SeQF-level of the qualification. These decisions are valid for ten years ([52]Information is based on: Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

The extent to which the state governs the goals and contents of formal VET varies between different education forms. The following table shows the various responsibilities of agencies and governing bodies for controlling VET provision and assuring its quality.

 

Responsibility of goals, contents, diplomas and quality assurance in VET

 

 

Quality assurance for upper secondary VET

All school organiser governing bodies in Sweden are required by law to have a systematic quality assurance process in place. Quality assurance arrangements are not regulated in detail but it is common for schools to use indicators such as average grades, participation rates, completion rates and placement rates in their analysis. Most organisers also survey their learners' opinions on the education, facilities and their well-being.

Responsibility for supervision and quality auditing of both upper secondary school and municipal adult education rests with the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen). Regular supervision of schools is carried out on the basis of a number of assessment areas and points; quality auditing follows up a specific area. Vocational education, and especially apprenticeship education, is very much in focus within both regular supervision and quality auditing. Structured cooperation between education providers and the workplace has been shown to be an important factor for success in work-based learning.

Even though the education providers are responsible for carrying out systematic quality assessment, the Government supports and stimulates the development of quality in VET via different initiatives and specific funding schemes. This may include specific tasks delegated to the Swedish National Agency, e.g. to develop guidelines for work-based learning. Also, the Government has decided on an extensive funding scheme consisting of grants to schools wishing to develop the quality of work-based learning.

Quality assurance for tertiary VET

Programmes in higher vocational education are supervised by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Myndigheten för yrkeshögskolan) through inspections and quality auditing. Programmes are checked for compliance with existing legislation and other provisions. The agency performs three different types of inspection: introductory, regular and ad-hoc inspections following up particular issues or problems.

Introductory inspection is carried out for new programmes that start or have just started. The aim of such inspections is to determine whether there are the preconditions in place to deliver new, good quality programmes. Ad hoc inspections are carried out if there are complaints from a learner about the education programme itself or the education provider. The ad hoc inspections only examine the complaint area.

Quality assurance for qualifications outside the formal education system

Bodies outside the formal education system that have their qualifications placed in the national qualifications framework must apply systematic quality assurance processes in their education programmes. Their quality assurance process must be described in their application according to the EQAVET system ([53]Information is based on: Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

Validation in municipal adult education at upper secondary level is possible within all courses and must be based on the learner's circumstances and needs. The validation is mainly used to allow customising the content of the studies according to learner’s needs and shorten education duration, or to assess knowledge and skills that are required for eligibility for a particular education. The learner receives a certificate through validation, instead of a grade or diploma.

If the learner wishes to obtain a formal grade, he or she must pass an extended test covering all the content of the particular course. A 16 to 20 year-old learner in upper secondary education may also validate his or her knowledge and skills through an extended test. The purpose of this test, however, is not to individualise the learning to progress more rapidly through the education programme; it lets the learner have a second chance, if he or she has received a failing grade, or cover courses not previously studied if the learner changes programme or orientation. Documented knowledge and skills achieved by studies abroad, or through other means, may be credited to the learner at a pass level without the extended tests ([54]Information is based on: Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

Incentives for VET learners

Individuals with different backgrounds and in different life situations are given the possibility to study, thanks to a system of study allowances and student aid. Students have the right to different forms of financial support for both upper secondary and tertiary studies. Also, employees have the right to take leave of absence to attend education.

Swedish study support gives everyone the opportunity to study, irrespective of their financial background. The form and the size of the support vary depending on age and life situation and also on the scope and level of studies. The Swedish Board for Study Support (Centrala Studiestödsnämnden, CSN) is responsible for and administers most of the learner support. The education programmes entitled to support are determined by the Swedish Government through the Study Support Ordinance ([55]Regeringen (2000). Studiestödsförordning [Student support ordinance]. Ordinance 2000:655.https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/studiestodsforordning-2000655_sfs-2000-655). Special investments in higher levels of grant are used as an incentive for further studies. This applies, for instance, to the initiative for higher grants to learners in vocational education, where one aim is to encourage more unemployed people over the age of 25 to apply for vocational education.

The support is part of education policy and aims to increase social justice. It grants equal access to education for both men and women, and levels out differences between individuals and groups in the population. In 2018 more than 475 000 individuals aged 20 and above received financial support. Of these, almost 60% were women and 23% received support for studies at upper secondary level. Of all adults studying at post-secondary level and receiving support, 12% were studying in a HVET programme ([56]CSN (2019). Studiestödet 2018 [Student support 2018]. CSN report 2019/2.
https://www.csn.se/download/18.2020cba016a03060f9726e/1555075355558/Studiest%C3%B6det%202018%20webb.pdf
).

Studiestöd is the umbrella term for all study aid in the Swedish education system which includes grants and loans for different age groups. In 2018, the total support handed out was SEK 34.3 billion (EUR 3.3 billion) and the total debt the Swedish population has to the government is SEK 224.6 billion (EUR 21.74 billion). A total of 1 557 410 persons (almost 15% of the population) have studiestöd which include loans from the State, as reported in the reference above.

Study allowance for learners under the age of 20

Study allowance (studiehjälp) in the form of grants, supplementary allowance and boarding supplement can be paid to learners under the age of 20 who are studying in upper secondary school, municipal adult education or folk high schools. Under certain circumstances the grant can also be awarded for studies abroad. One prerequisite for receiving this grant is that the learner studies full-time and participates in the relevant courses. This means, for example, that a learner who is frequently absent runs the risk of losing the support and may be liable for repayment. The school has an obligation to report to the Swedish Board for Study Support when a learner is absent without a valid reason.

Learners who wish to live and study in a place other than their home municipality may apply for a boarding supplement from the Swedish Board for Study Support or from the municipality. This applies in cases where the specific education is not provided by the home municipality, or where the education programme is open to national admission. The grant makes it possible for learners to participate in specialist vocational education that is provided at only a few places in the country. In 2014 a supplement was introduced for learners attending apprenticeship education (lärlingsutbildning) in upper secondary school. The supplement is designed to cover extra living costs, for example travel to the workplace and lunch.

As of July 2014, learners attending apprenticeship education in upper secondary school may be employed in what is called an upper secondary apprentice position (Gymnasial lärlingsanställning, GLA). As a result, upper secondary apprentices can be offered employment while still in education, in accordance with adapted labour law provisions. An apprentice employed in such a position is remunerated by the employer and not entitled to the supplement.

Student aid for learners aged 20 and above

Student aid (studiemedel) can be granted to learners in post-secondary education, such as higher vocational education, supplementary education, and vocational education in folk high schools. Learners studying at upper secondary level who have reached the age of 20 are also entitled to student aid. They can apply for grants and loans and also for certain supplementary allowances. Parents of minors, for example, can receive a supplementary allowance. To be eligible for further funding learners must demonstrate satisfactory results in previous studies. The contribution for full-time learners is at most SEK 723 (EUR 69.25 as of April 10, 2019) per week and the loan at most SEK 2 720 (EUR 260.50 as of April 10, 2019) per week. The loan has a low interest rate (at 0.16 percent in 2019).

Despite the generous study support system there is still a part of the population refraining from education due to economic reasons. The Government has therefore introduced a new study allowance, the education entry grant ([57]The Swedish Board of Student Finance (CSN) webpage on education entry grants:
https://www.csn.se/bidrag-och-lan/studiestod/studiestartsstod.html
), that the municipalities have been able to distribute since mid-2017. The education entry grant is designed to recruit unemployed people, aged 25-56, with short previous education who need education at the primary or upper-secondary level to strengthen their ability to establish themselves on the labour market.

Current initiatives of State-funded adult education and training

The Swedish Government has been implementing a major education initiative for lifelong learning and higher employment since 2015. The initiative involves state-funded training places in vocational adult education programmes at upper secondary level, higher vocational education, education at folk high schools as well as at universities and colleges. The objective of the initiative is mainly reskilling and upskilling unemployed people; it also reaches out to adults lacking upper secondary education, or having secondary vocational education needing to be completed. Expanding the number of training places also provides adults with a general education increased opportunity to enrol in vocational education and training (VET). A substantial part of the initiative has been targeted towards upper secondary VET and apprenticeships for adults.

VET has traditionally been organised by each municipality. To stimulate development towards a broad supply of education and training corresponding to the needs in the different regions, the Government altered the conditions and introduced a new state grant in 2017, replacing previous state grants targeting vocational training and apprenticeships. The current state grant requires cooperation between at least three municipalities on the planning and supply of education and training at the regional level. The needs of the labour market should be met and planning should therefore be done in consultation with the public employment services and with different actors responsible for regional development.

Since 2009, Sweden's municipalities have had the opportunity to apply for state subsidies for an expanded implementation of VET for adults. In January 2016, the number of available places was expanded for the target group in need of vocational training, combined with studies in Swedish for immigrants or Swedish as a second language.

As of January 2017, constellations of three municipalities or more have been able to apply for state subsidies for adult VET to cover a broader range of potential learners. These subsidies can be combined with courses in Swedish for immigrants or Swedish as a second language at compulsory school level. The aim is to provide newly arrived adults with the opportunity to enrol in vocational education, thereby contributing to improved integration through access to the labour market.

Financial support for migrants in VET

For the past few years, employer and employee organisations in several sectors have signed work introduction agreements (yrkesintroduktionsanställningar). These aim at facilitating young (age 15-24) people’s transition from school to working life and safeguarding the long-term skills supply for companies. Most of these agreements are based on the principle that young people lacking professional experience are offered coaching and training during part of their working time. Normally the young person will hold a full-time position but the salary will amount to 75% of a full-time job, as part of the time will consist of vocational training. The training content has to be clearly defined and have a supervising trainer appointed by the enterprise. Interest in such positions has increased slowly since the introduction of financial incentives at the beginning of 2014. From 1 June 2016 the introduction agreements are also open to the long-term unemployed and newly arrived immigrants who are older than 25 ([58]YA-delegationens (2018) http://www.ya-delegationen.se/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/arsrapport-2018...).

A minimum wage, according to the collective agreement between the social partners of the employment sector, is paid by the employer to the employee ([59]Information is based on Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

State grants are predominately given to the governing board of education providers, even though the grants are intended to finance support activities in the enterprises. Some state grants, however, are directed to enterprises; examples are the regional funds available to stakeholder organisations to support quality improvement in WBL, or for measures intended to promote an interest in becoming a VET teacher ([60]Regeringen (2014). Ordinance 2014/375 on State grants and regional fundsfor the development of WBL.https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/forordning-2014375-om-statsbidrag-for_sfs-2014-375).

For employers who are offering work places in the scope of introduction agreements, the public employment services pays employment taxes of 31.42% as well as a compensation of SEK 115 (EUR 11 as of April 10, 2019) per day for the trainer in the workplace ([61]Information is based on: Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

Decreasing interest in upper secondary vocational programmes has led to an increased focus on, and investment in, information activities and study and career guidance. Ongoing changes in Swedish VET create the need for information and guidance to provide everyone with an overall view of the available study paths and what they can lead to. Increasing the attractiveness and quality of VET is an important priority for the Swedish Government.

Information and guidance about study and career paths in Sweden is integrated into different activities. The curriculum ([62]Skolverket (2013). Curriculum for the upper secondary school.
https://www.skolverket.se/publikationer?id=2975
) for upper secondary education states that the head teacher is responsible for ensuring that ‘study and guidance counselling is organised in such a way that learners receive information and guidance prior to making study choices in the school, and before choosing their future education paths and professions’; one of the explicit goals of the curriculum is that all learners ‘are familiar with the conditions of working life, especially within their study area, as well as the opportunities for further education, work placement and work in Sweden and other countries.’ The curriculum for compulsory school mirrors the curriculum in upper secondary school regarding study and guidance counselling; new legislation to provide practical vocational orientation (Praktisk yrkesorientering, PRAO) in compulsory school came into effect in 2018 ([63]Sveriges Riksdag (2010). The Education Act (2010: 800) 8a§; Sveriges Riksdag (2018). Act amending the Education Act.). The vocational orientation is compulsory and requires that learners in years 8 and 9 spend a minimum of 10 days in a workplace or, if the school cannot provide sufficient work-placements, in a vocational programme in upper secondary school.

The governing body or education provider has the main responsibility for guiding and recruiting learners for VET. General information on study and career paths, and on the labour market for different professions, is supplied by national authorities and industry organisations. Both the National Agency for Education and the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education are tasked to inform and disseminate knowledge about their respective areas. The National Agency for Education also functions as a national reference point for information on VET in Sweden and other EU countries, as well as countries in the EEA area.

Many national websites provide information and guidance for young people and adults. The portal Utbildningsinfo.se ([64]http://www.utbildningsinfo.se) includes search tools for education paths and providers. The site contains information about possible vocational outcomes, the situation on the labour market in the field, and funding and information on other important considerations when choosing a study path.

Information provided by the Swedish Public Employment Service focuses on finding jobs in different professions. The portal Yrkeskompassen (The Occupational compass) ([65]http://www.arbetsformedlingen.se/For-arbetssokande/Yrke-och-framtid/Yrkeskompassen.html) shows the labour market situation and future prospects for about 200 professions and contains information about national forecasts for one, five and 10-year periods. One-year forecasts are also available at regional level. The Occupational compass also provides descriptions of different professions and possible education paths.

The Swedish National Council of Adult Education (Folkbildningsrådet) is responsible for the information services of the Swedish folk high schools (Folkhögskolornas informationstjänst), whose tasks include contributing to the recruitment of course participants. The portal Folkhögskola.nu ([66]http://www.folkhogskola.nu) provides general information on vocational education and other courses given by folk high schools.

Vocational boards (yrkesnämnder) and other industry organisations supply information about professions and career paths through different means, and also about formal and non-formal education in their fields ([67]For example, the building industry’s vocational board. See
http://www.byn.se/ and Svensk Handel's career web:
http://www.karriarihandeln.se/
). This may cover websites, participation in industry specific trade fairs or inspiration days.

All these activities and web portals must also function to support study and vocational guidance counsellors in their work. Euroguidance Sweden is a national resource centre for counselling, which supports counsellors in their role of providing information about opportunities for studying and work placement abroad.

The municipalities are responsible for ensuring that young people and adults are offered education at upper secondary level. Before learners choose upper secondary school, many municipalities and regions take part in upper secondary fairs and open houses where schools and programmes are presented. Information meetings and guidance counselling are offered to those who wish to study in municipal adult education at upper secondary level. Education providers frequently market their education and courses via advertisements, web sites and direct marketing.

The Swedish National Agency for Education has developed the following web-based tools as a service to learners, teachers, guidance counsellors and other stakeholders in upper secondary education. The web-based system was launched on March 1, 2018. The Skills mapping tool can be used to assist learners and other stakeholders in planning an upper secondary education diploma within the framework of municipal adult education. The target group is people who have experience in professional work, or equivalent experiences, and need to have their vocational skills and competences validated. The tool is specifically adapted to newly arrived individuals and aims to assist in making more individuals aware of their skills; this, in turn, can shorten their study time and contribute to improved integration through access to the labour market. The Skills mapping tool is useful both in adult education and in upper secondary school, and for young new arrivals with work experience; it can also contribute to improved transitions between upper secondary school and municipal adult education.

Guidance counselling is also an important task of the public employment service (Arbetsförmedlingen) aimed at improving matching between job seekers and working life. In addition to the Occupational compass, job seekers are offered study and vocational guidance through brief telephone coaching sessions, or personal meetings with a counsellor at drop-in sessions. The public employment service is also responsible for what are called preparatory activities (förberedande insatser) aimed at aiding job seekers’ choice of work. The initiatives are tailored to the individuals and may be of a counselling, rehabilitation or orientation nature. They are intended for job seekers who need to prepare themselves for a labour market policy programme or a job.

The Higher Vocational Education Ordinance (Förordningen om yrkeshögskolan) lays down the responsibility of the governing bodies of education providers for ensuring that there is guidance and counselling concerning alternative study paths, admissions and entry, as well as vocational guidance. In their application to deliver education within the framework of higher vocational education, education providers must describe how this counselling will be provided. Student fairs, where information on higher vocational education providers, universities and university colleges is presented, are held regionally and in cooperation with education providers and the social partners. There are also industry-specific trade fairs, where education at both upper secondary and tertiary level is presented.

General information about higher vocational education is available through the web site of the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education ([68]http://www.myh.se). The agency also provides a web site intended for potential learners ([69]http://www.yrkeshogskolan.se). Besides general information about higher vocational education, this web site contains information about current higher vocational education programmes and links to various education provider web sites. Information about higher education studies is made available through the portal studera.nu ([70]http://www.studera.nu).

Study and career guidance is readily available for learners at all levels of the education system. There is, however, a challenge to reach those individuals who do not actively participate in education. Outreach and guidance measures to youths and young adults who are not in employment, education or training is further discussed in the ReferNet national report on guidance and outreach for the inactive and unemployed ([71]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/events-and-projects/networks/refernet/thematic-perspectives/guidance-outreach)([72]Information is based on: Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe: Sweden. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2019/Vocational_Education_Training_Europe_Sweden_2018_Cedefop_ReferNet.pdf
).

Please see also :

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 6

Higher VET

programmes

with WBL,

1-2 years

ISCED 554

Higher VET programmes at EQF level 6, ISCED 554.
EQF level
6
ISCED-P 2011 level

554

Usual entry grade

12

Usual completion grade

14

Usual entry age

19

Usual completion age

20-21

Length of a programme (years)

2

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Mostly.

Is it offered free of charge?

It is free of charge with some exceptions.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

The duration is calculated in HVET points; 200 points correspond to one year of full-time studies.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning;
  • work practice;
  • part-time studies (approximately one tenth of the programmes);
  • distance learning.
Main providers

Higher vocational education programmes may be organised by state higher education institutions, municipalities, county councils and individuals or legal entities.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

All programmes of 400 points (two years full-time studies) have a minimum of 25% WBL.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

In-company training.

Main target groups

Programmes are available to all young people and adults, who have successfully completed the upper secondary school leaving exam or who have the informal or non-formal training that provide prerequisite competence for completing the programme.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Entry requirement for leaners is the upper secondary school leaving certificate. The VET provider decides on specific entry requirements and many programmes also impose specific entry requirements including, for example, credit for specific courses in upper secondary school or work experience in the field. The provider may also declare an applicant eligible following what is known as an open assessment of qualifications, despite not fulfilling general and/or specific entry requirements.

Within higher vocational education, validation may be used to provide a basis for decisions regarding admission to programmes. Knowledge, skills and competences acquired through training, job experience or otherwise may also be validated and recognised as part of a programme. The education provider is responsible for the validation process.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The graduate receives an advanced diploma in higher vocational education (kvalificerad yrkeshögskoleexamen) if the learner has received at least the lowest passing grade in all courses included in the programme, has attained knowledge, skills, and competences at a SeQF Level 6, has accumulated at least 400 higher vocational education credits and has completed a diploma project.

A minimum of 25% workplace training must also have been included in the programme ([81]Regeringen (2009). Ordinance on higher vocational education. SFS 2009:130, Paragraph 13-14.
https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/Dokument-Lagar/Lagar/Svenskforfattningssamling/Forordning-2009130-omyrkes
).

The credit system differs from that of academic education and credits cannot automatically be transferred from higher VET to an academic institution. Each university, however, has the right to validate and transfer the credits from higher VET if it is deemed appropriate.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The VET graduate receives an advanced diploma in higher vocational education (kvalificerad yrkeshögskoleexamen) allowing them to enter the labour market. Graduation from this programme, does not offer access to any additional progression pathways.

Examples of qualifications

Information not available.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The credit system of these higher VET programmes differs from that of academic education and credits cannot automatically be transferred from higher VET to an academic institution. Each university, however, has the right to validate and transfer the credits from higher VET if it is deemed appropriate.

Destination of graduates

The programmes are intended to lead to a working position.

Awards through validation of prior learning

The education provider has the option to accept learners without the formal eligibility requirements if it is estimated that the applicant will be able to fulfil the programme. The education provider validates and decides in each individual case.

General education subjects

Y

Approximately 90 % of the programmes in higher vocational education also offer training in Swedish specific to the vocational field as additional support.

Key competences

Y

Approximately 90 % of the programmes in higher vocational education also offer training in Swedish specific to the vocational field as additional support.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The education provider has to define the learning outcomes in the application to the Agency for Higher Vocational Education to have the programme accepted.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available.

Post-secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

ISCED 454

Higher VET programmes at EQF level 5, ISCED 454.
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

454

Usual entry grade

12

Usual completion grade

13-14

Usual entry age

19

Usual completion age

20-21

Length of a programme (years)

1

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Mostly.

Is it offered free of charge?

It is free of charge with some exceptions.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

The duration is calculated in HVET points; 200 points correspond to one year of full-time studies.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning;
  • work practice;
  • part-time studies (approximately one tenth of the programmes);
  • distance learning.
Main providers

Higher vocational education programmes may be organised by state higher education institutions, municipalities, county councils and individuals or legal entities.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

WBL is not mandatory, but encouraged, in the one-year HVET programme.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

In-company training.

Main target groups

Programmes are available to all young people and adults who have successfully completed the upper secondary school leaving exam or who have the informal or non-formal training that provides prerequisite competence for completing the programme.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Entry requirement for leaners is the upper secondary school leaving certificate. The VET provider decides on specific entry requirements and many programmes also impose specific entry requirements including, for example, credit for specific courses in upper secondary school or work experience in the field. The provider may also declare an applicant eligible following what is known as an open assessment of qualifications, despite not fulfilling general and/or specific entry requirements.

Within higher vocational education, validation may be used to provide a basis for decisions regarding admission to programmes. Knowledge, skills and competences acquired through training, job experience or otherwise may also be validated and recognised as part of a programme. The education provider is responsible for the validation process.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The higher VET graduate receives a diploma in higher vocational education (yrkeshögskoleexamen) if the learner has received at least the lowest passing grade in all courses of the programme, knowledge, skills and competences at a SeQF level 5, and has accumulated at least 200 higher vocational education credits.

The credit system differs from that of academic education and credits cannot automatically be transferred from higher VET to an academic institution. Each university, however, has the right to validate and transfer the credits from higher VET if it is deemed appropriate.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The VET graduate receives a diploma in higher vocational education (yrkeshögskoleexamen), which is recognised as part of the formal education system and allows learners to enter the labour market. Graduation from this programme, does not offer learners access to any additional progression pathways.

Examples of qualifications

Information not available.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

The credit system of these higher VET programmes differs from that of academic education and credits cannot automatically be transferred from higher VET to an academic institution. Each university, however, has the right to validate and transfer the credits from higher VET if it is deemed appropriate.

Destination of graduates

The programmes are intended to enter the labour market.

Awards through validation of prior learning

The education provider has a possibility to accept learners without the formal eligibility requirements if it is estimated that the applicant will be able to fulfil the programme. The education provider validates and decides in each individual case.

General education subjects

Y

Approximately 90% of the programmes in higher vocational education also offer training in Swedish specific to the vocational field as additional support

Key competences

Y

Approximately 90% of the programmes in higher vocational education also offer training in Swedish specific to the vocational field as additional support

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The education provider has to define the learning outcomes in the application to the Agency for Higher Vocational Education to have the programme accepted.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available.

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

Individualised programmes for learners

not eligible for national

upper secondary programmes

ISCED 244, 341, 351

Individualised programmes for learners not eligible for national upper secondary programmes (introduktionsprogram) leading to ISCED 244, 341, 351
EQF level
Not applicable
ISCED-P 2011 level

244, 341, 351

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

10-12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

19

Length of a programme (years)

1-3

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Some of the introduction programmes include IVET courses, which lead to a certain number of credits, which can be counted as partial qualification when later following a VET programme.

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

N

Is it available for adults?

N

However the equivalent education (corresponding to a compulsory school qualification) is available in adult municipal education for those adults with lower education levels.

ECVET or other credits

The introduction programmes are intended to make learners eligible to apply for a national programme at upper secondary level or prepared for a vocation. As such the education is not credit-based. Courses from upper secondary education can, however, be included and these courses will generate credits in accordance with upper secondary education.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning;
  • work practice.
Main providers

In addition to the public municipal bodies, private entities may also be approved as VET providers and organise and run independent upper secondary schools after approval from the Swedish Schools Inspectorate. Independent schools are regulated by the same legislation and governing documents as municipal schools.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

WBL is possible, but not mandatory.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

In-company practice.

Main target groups

Learners who are not eligible for an upper secondary school national programme may, until they turn 20, apply for one of the four ([74]From 2011 until July 2019 there are five introductory programmes. The preparatory education programme (preparandutbildning) and the individual options-oriented programme (programinriktat individuellt val) will be replaced by un updated individual options-oriented programme aimed at having the same structure and goal for learners striving to become eligible for admission to either a VET programme or a higher education preparatory programme.) introductory programmes (introduktionsprogram).

These programmes offer learners an individually-adapted education, which satisfies their varying educational needs and provides clear educational paths. These paths may lead to entrance into the labour market, but also provide a foundation for further education by giving access to upper secondary programmes.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

The learner is eligible for a national programme in upper secondary education if he or she has passing grades in Swedish, English, maths and five more subjects from compulsory school. The maximum age to begin the programme is 20, if a learner is older, he or she will be referred to municipal adult education.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The teacher assesses the learning and grades the learner according to criteria of the knowledge requirements for each course.

Diplomas/certificates provided

After an introductory programme has been completed, the headteacher issues an upper secondary school certificate (Gymnasieintyg) specifying the education the learner has received ([75]Skolverket (2011). Upper secondary school, 2011. Stockholm: Skolverket, p. 31.
https://www.skolverket.se/publikationsserier/styrdokument/2012/upper-secondary-school-2011?id=2801
).

Examples of qualifications

The learner may study upper secondary courses leading to a partial qualification ([76]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/news-and-press/news/sweden-partial-ivet-qualifications-adults).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Those who successfully complete the individualised programme can access general and vocational upper secondary programmes.

Destination of graduates

In one out of the four introduction programmes that mainly focus on vocational content, 50% of the learners that began the programme in 2013 had completed a full upper secondary VET education in five years. Of these, 34% and 15% respectively, completed all requirements for an upper secondary VET diploma in five years ([77]https://www.skolverket.se/publikationer?id=4094).

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

The teacher validates the knowledge. The introduction programme is predominantly aimed to fill in the 'gaps' for a completed compulsory education to make learners eligible for upper secondary education.

General education subjects

Y

Most of the time general education subjects are part of this programme to ensure that graduates will have the necessary qualifications to enter upper secondary programmes. Eligibility criteria for upper secondary education are passing grades in Swedish, English, maths and five more subjects from compulsory education. In theory, a learner may have passed Swedish, English, maths but not the other five required subjects. However, that is quite rare.

Key competences

Y

The curriculum of upper secondary education applies and contains all key competences.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The same course construction as in compulsory school and upper secondary school.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 2

Programmes

for SEN learners, leading

4 years,

WBL >14%

ISCED 343 and 353

Programmes for SEN learners (Gymnasiesärskolan) leading to EQF 2, ISCED 343 and 353
EQF level
2
ISCED-P 2011 level

343, 353

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

20

Length of a programme (years)

4

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Information not available

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

N

Is it available for adults?

Y

There is equivalent education for adults with learning disabilities (Särvux) that, just like municipal adult education, is built on courses instead of programmes.

ECVET or other credits

2500 credits during four years and 3600 hours.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • school-based learning;
  • work-based learning in companies (minimum of 22 weeks).
Main providers

In addition to the public municipal bodies, private entities may also be approved as VET providers and organise and run independent upper secondary schools after approval from the Swedish Schools Inspectorate. Independent schools are regulated by the same legislation and governing documents as municipal schools.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

> 14%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

In-company practice.

Main target groups

Programmes are available to young people with special educational needs. An equivalent education is available for adults with special needs, but based on courses instead of programmes.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Special needs upper secondary schools offer national and individual programmes to learners with intellectual disability. Learners with special needs are individually assessed and placed in a national programme or individualised programme; the latter targets learners with more special demanding needs.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The teacher assesses the skills and knowledges and grades the learner according to set criteria required for each course. Grades are awarded for each course completed in the national programmes. If a

learner passes, he/she is awarded grade E, D, C, B or A. The highest grade is A and the lowest is E.

If a learner does not achieve the standard required for grade E, he/she receives no grade.

Diplomas/certificates provided

When learners have completed their education in national or individual programmes, they receive a special needs upper secondary school certificate (Gymnasiesärskolebevis) ([78]https://www.skolverket.se/getFile?file=3044). The certificate describes which skills and experiences the learner has acquired from the special needs upper secondary school and contains details of:

• the programme;

• subject areas or courses that the learner has studied;

• grades;

• the learner’s work-based learning or placement;

• the special needs upper secondary school work placement.

Examples of qualifications

Information not available.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Learners can continue in SEN education for adults; this is not considered as progression.

Destination of graduates

Information not available.

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available.

General education subjects

Y

Apart from the same general foundation subjects as in upper secondary education, an aesthetic subject is included. The courses are adjusted to the learner's preconditions and needs.

Key competences

Y

The curriculum of upper secondary education applies and contains all key competences.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The same course construction as in compulsory school and upper secondary school. Grade F, (not passing) is not applicable.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available.

Individual

modularised pathways

for adults (20+)

WBL possible,

% varies

ISCED 244, 344, 351, 353

Individual modularised pathways for adults (grundläggande nivå/compulsory level and gymnasial komvux/upper secondary level, including särvux/special needs education for adults with learning disabilities) at ISCED 244, 344, 351, 353.
EQF level
Municipal adult education provides the same education as compulsory and upper secondary education for the young. The difference is that it is course-based and individualised. If a learner fulfils the requirements for an upper secondary education, he or sh
ISCED-P 2011 level

244, 344, 351, 353

Usual entry grade

Minimum age is 20.

Usual completion grade

Not applicable.

Usual entry age

After age 20.

Usual completion age

Not applicable.

Length of a programme (years)

It is individualised.

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

It can be initial VET, or general education.

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

All adults are entitled to free education either to gain eligibility to tertiary education, or to complete an upper secondary degree.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

A learner in municipal adult education must accumulate 2 400 credits to obtain a diploma. 2 250 of these credits must be passed.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

• school-based learning;

• work practice (practical training at school and work- based learning in company).

Main providers

Municipal adult education is funded by the municipality and state grants to the municipalities. The municipalities either provide education or procure education from different providers.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

WBL is not compulsory, but there are incentives through state grants available for providers if 70% of the education is provided though WBL in IVET for adult apprentices. For adults with learning disabilities following special education, 50% of the education has to be provided as WBL for receiving state grants.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

In-company practice.

Main target groups

Programmes are available for adults without compulsory education, not having enough knowledge of Swedish, or who are not eligible to access tertiary education.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

All adults are entitled to free education to complete compulsory education as well as Swedish for immigrants, as well as the upper secondary courses to gain eligibility to tertiary education. But there is a distinction between eligibility and the right to education. In short, there is no right for adults to study a VET programme. An adult with a qualification at EQF 4 is not entitled to adult municipal VET education (but not prevented if the municipality is willing to finance it). However, all adults are entitled to study Swedish or English for eligibility to higher education.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The teacher assesses the learning and grades the learner according to criteria of the knowledge requirements for each course.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Municipal adult education at upper secondary level aims at providing adults with knowledge up to the upper secondary leaving certificate, granting them access to tertiary education. Nationally determined programmes do not exist in municipal adult education; instead courses are offered based on the needs and circumstances of the adult learner.

Examples of qualifications

Information not available.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Depending on the chosen programmes, graduates can acquire an upper secondary leaving certificate granting them access to tertiary education. They can also acquire vocational qualifications equivalent to IVET diplomas for the young or partial IVET qualifications ([79]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/news-and-press/news/sweden-partial-ivet-qualifications-adults).

Destination of graduates

Information not available.

Awards through validation of prior learning

All learners should be individually assessed and their previous knowledge validated to provide individualised education. A learner who has validated part of a course does not have to attend classes for that part of the course. If a learner wishes to receive grades in the validated courses, he or she will need to complete an extended test in the course.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Y

The curriculum of adult municipal education applies and contains all key competences. However, not all key competences are applicable to all individuals since a learner may only study one subject or course.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

The same course construction as in compulsory school and upper secondary school.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Learners in municipal adult education do not study a programme, but courses which can be combined in various ways. Therefore, the data for adult VET are not comparable to those of upper secondary VET and, due to a lag in official data, the latest analytical report on how fast adult learners found a job on the labour market is based on data for learners courses in 2011-13 ([80]Skolverket (2017). Uppdrag om uppföljning av sysselsättning efter avslutade studier inom kommunal vuxenutbildning [Employment following municipal adult education]. Skolverket report 2017:01587.
https://www.skolverket.se/publikationer?id=3872
). The data available provide information on the number of learners who have studied vocational courses of more than 800 credits, and of those who have studied 400-799 credits, and in which upper secondary programme these courses belong. Two thirds of all learners in adult education for which there are available data studied courses in health and social care.

EQF 4

VET programmes (school-based or apprenticeship)

3 years,

WBL >15% (*)

ISCED 353

VET programmes comprising ‘school-based education’ (skolförlagd utbildning) or ‘apprenticeship education’ (lärlingsutbildning) leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 353
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

353

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

19

Length of a programme (years)

3

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Unless someone returns to complete their education for a diploma after longer leave.

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

All upper secondary education for those under the age of 20 is free of charge. After age 20, learners have to pay for their own learning materials (like books).

Is it available for adults?

Y

All courses are available in municipal adult education.

ECVET or other credits

A learner in upper secondary school should accumulate 2 500 upper secondary credits. 2 250 of these credits must be passed to receive an upper secondary qualification and diploma.

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

• school-based learning;

• work practice (practical training at school and in-company practice);

• apprenticeships.

Main providers

In addition to the public municipal bodies, private entities may also be approved as VET providers and organise and run independent upper secondary schools after approval from the Swedish Schools Inspectorate. Independent schools are regulated by the same legislation and governing documents as municipal schools.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<15%

Or a minimum of 15 weeks, 23 hours per week, out of 2 430 hours.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practical training at school;
  • in-company practice.
Main target groups

Programmes are accessible to young people under the age of 20.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Learners need to have completed compulsory school, with passing grades in Swedish, English, maths and five more subjects before they turn 20 years of age.

Assessment of learning outcomes

The teacher assesses the learning and grades the learner according to criteria of the knowledge requirements for each course.

Diplomas/certificates provided

After completing upper secondary education, learners receive ’gymnasieexamen’ (upper secondary diploma). In VET, the diploma is ’Yrkesexamen’ (vocational diploma).

Examples of qualifications

Information not available.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Depending on the chosen individual modularised pathway, learners can progress to programmes at tertiary level.

Destination of graduates

Graduates can directly enter the labour market, or progress to HVET studies or other tertiary education.

Awards through validation of prior learning

A learner may take an extended exam to receive a grade instead of participating in a course. The procedure also applies for learners that have a fail grade or wish to gain a higher grade.

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Subjects are modularised in courses and learning outcomes are defined though core content and knowledge requirements for each course.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Of all upper secondary learners in national programmes, 28% are taking part in a VET programme in 2018/19. Of all learners in introduction programmes, 30% are in the VET-oriented vocational introduction (yrkesintroduktion) and programme-oriented individual option (programinriktat individuellt val).

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available

General themes

VET in the UK:

  • skills development is a major priority of all four countries ([1]See: Strategic development of VET under Section
    12. Shaping VET qualifications - design
    );
  • there is an increased demand for apprenticeships and skills-for-work;
  • across the UK there is a high participation rate (66%)([2]66% of UK workplaces that responded to the UK
    Employer Skills Survey 2017 had arranged on-the-job or off-the-job training for employees in the preceding 12 months, with on-the-job training slightly more popular. Adult and continuing education is part of the formal education system, but is also offered as non-formal training by employers and training providers.
    ) in adult and continuing education;
  • early leaving from education and training has decreased in the last decade and is slightly above the national target set at 10% ([3]Drop-outs under 15 years old are redirected to VET earlier that other school-age learners.).

Distinctive features: ([4]Cedefop ((2017). Spotlight on vocational education and training in the United Kingdom. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8111_en.pdf
)

The UK government has devolved decision-making powers in several areas of policy responsibility, including governance of VET, to the administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. While there are similarities between the systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, reforms are creating greater divergence and the Scottish system has always been different in many ways from those of the rest of the UK.

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different governance, regulation and quality assurance bodies. There is a complex institutional framework in the UK VET sector, with the policymaking authority for VET in England being the Department for Education, while the Department of Education and the Department for the Economy are responsible in Northern Ireland, and the Scottish and Welsh governments in Scotland and Wales respectively. The qualifications market in the UK is jointly driven by government policies and private interests. This has led to a large choice of qualifications and awarding organisations.

Matching qualifications with employer needs and increasing employer engagement with education and training are high priorities in the UK. The government’s July 2016 Post-16 skills plan proposes to simplify college-based VET in England by creating clear routes to occupations through qualifications developed with input from employers by 2019. The Regulated Qualifications Framework introduced in 2015 gives awarding organisations increased freedom and flexibility to develop qualifications that meet specific labour market needs. Qualifications are now expected to be validated and supported directly by employers rather than follow prescriptive rules and structures imposed by government agencies.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework retains its credit and unit-based structure. Colleges in Scotland align their provision to the needs of employers and the Scottish economy through outcome agreements and a broad range of qualifications through their new regional governance structure. The Scottish Funding Council works with colleges to ensure outcome agreements address priority needs within their regions and contribute to improving young people’s life chances. The Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce also encourages colleges to develop more productive partnerships with local employers, schools and authorities.

The Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales continues to add clarity on the qualifications system and recognises all forms of learning across all levels and abilities. Vocational qualifications have also been classified as either IVET or CVET to clarify their purpose and whether they are introductory or lead to occupational competence. In 2015, Qualifications Wales was established as an independent agency tasked with ensuring that the Welsh qualifications system and qualifications meet the needs of learners, and promoting public confidence in the qualification system. The 2016 framework for post-compulsory education in Wales proposes to develop stronger links between education policy, providers and provision, and social and economic goals to ensure the future needs of Wales are met.

Youth training, further education, and apprenticeship reforms in Northern Ireland aim to raise skill levels of young people and will provide clear pathways from introductory VET to apprenticeships – which will start at upper secondary technician level – and higher education. Employers will be connected to education and training providers through a strategic advisory forum and sectoral partnerships to ensure curriculum design and training structure meet their needs. Further, the entitlement framework now encourages collaboration between post-14 school provision and vocational further education college provision. Centres of specialism and expertise will be set up in colleges that will develop networks of experts who will share the latest developments in curriculum and skills training.

Data from Spotlight on VET United Kingdom 2016/17 ([5]Cedefop ((2017). Spotlight on vocational education and training in the United Kingdom. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8111_en.pdf
).

Population in 2018: 66 273 576 ([6]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

Population increased since 2013 by 3.7% due to natural growth and migration ([7]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

The UK old age dependency ratio is showing a trend towards an aging population, with more people reaching pension age. It is expected to increase from 28 in 2015 to 43 in 2060 ([8]Old-age-dependency ratio is defined as the ratio between the number of persons aged 65 and more over the number of working-age persons (15-64). The value is expressed per 100 persons of working age (15-64).).

 

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Demographic changes have an impact on VET.

The amount of job roles requiring intermediate and higher skills and education is rising in the UK and it is expected that it will become even more important to possess specialist skills and higher education in the coming years, in order to qualify for a more technologically advanced labour market.

The demographic trend towards an ageing population raises challenges for VET. There may need to be a renewed focus on adult education and upskilling to keep up with the needs of the labour market. ‘As working lives are getting longer and the pace of technological change is increasing, the number of significant changes an individual will have to adapt to during their working life will increase.’([9]Government Office for Science (2015). Future of education in an ageing population. Presentation for the Expert meeting, York, 13 July 2016.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/555576/future-of-ageing-education-expert-meeting-york.pdf [accessed 13.6.19].
)

Furthermore, efforts to curb immigration may result in a need to supply a greater number of intermediate skilled workers from the native labour force. The UK has relied on EEA skilled labour and curbs on immigration will impact on the skills profile of the workforce. ([10]Savour, B.; Keohane, N. (2019). Leading skills, exploring leadership in further education colleges: paper 1. London: SMF, p.14
http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Leading-skills-Exploring-leadership-in-Further-Education-colleges-Paper-1.pdf
)

 

Information not available

The UK has a market-based economy and is a major international trading power. Financial services as well as pharmaceutical, petroleum, automotive, aerospace, telecommunications and other technological industries play an important role in the UK’s economy, with the services industry being the largest contributor.

The UK labour market is demand-led and amongst the least regulated in the world. Skill shortages exist in various sectors.

The top five occupations experiencing shortages are currently finance, medicine associate professionals, nursing and midwifery, other health professionals and ICT ([11]Skills Panorama (2018).
Mismatch priority occupations in the United Kingdom. Cedefop analytical highlights.
https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/analytical_highlights/united-kingdom-mismatch-priority-occupations [accessed 3.8.2018].
).

The UK Government lists shortage occupations for work permit purposes and currently includes various engineering and technician jobs, medicine, health, science, teaching (secondary level), IT/computing, chefs and arts amongst other professions ([12]Home Office (2018
). UK Immigration rules - Appendix K: shortage occupation list from 6 July 2018 [accessed 3.8.2018]. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix...
).

UK NARIC ([13]UK NARIC is the National Agency responsible for providing information, advice and opinion on academic, vocational and professional qualifications and skills from all over the world:
https://www.naric.org.uk/naric/
) works with the UK immigration authority by providing recognition of formal qualifications from abroad to the most appropriate level within the UK education system.

 

Employment in the UK by industry

Source: Office for National Statistics (2018: employment by industry [accessed 6.7.2018].

 

Total unemployment ([14]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) (2018): 3% (6% in EU28); it decreased by 0.9 percentage points since 2008 ([15]Eurostat table une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2008-18

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education. ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education. ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

People with low qualifications experience higher unemployment rates compared to those with middle or higher level qualifications. Unemployment increased during the economic crisis (especially among young people aged 15-24 with low qualifications), but has regained the pre-crisis levels. Moreover, in 2018 unemployment rates are lower than in 2008 in all age groups.

Employment rate of 20 to 34-year-old VET graduates increased from 78.0 % in 2014 to 80.5% in 2018 ([16]Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

 

Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The increase (+2.5 pp) in employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates in 2014-18 was lower compared to the increase of all 20-34 year-old graduates (+3.2pp) in the same period in the United Kingdom ([17]NB: Break in time series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

See Cedefop (2018). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 3: the responsiveness of European VET systems to external change (1995-2015). Case study focusing in England. [17a]Cedefop (2018). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 3: the responsiveness of European VET systems to external change (1995-2015). Case study focusing in England. Cedefop research paper; No 67. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/england_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study.pdf

In 2018, the share of population aged up to 64 with higher education in the UK was the sixth highest in the EU28+(43.1%) and well above the EU average (32.2%)in the same group. The share of those with low level qualifications (19.6%) is below the EU average (21.8%) while middle-level qualifications is rather low (37.1%) compared to the EU average (45.7%) and the seventh lowest in the EU, following Spain, Portugal, Malta, Luxembourg, Iceland and Ireland.

 

Population (aged 25 to 64) by highest education level attained in 2018

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; low reliability for ‘no response’ in Czech Republic, Iceland, Latvia and Poland.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_pgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

See Cedefop (2019). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 6: vocationally oriented education and training at higher education level. Expansion and diversification in European countries. Case study focusing on United Kingdom. Cedefop research paper; No 70. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_cedefop_chang...

 

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

17.5%

46.6%

Not applicable

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [extracted 16.5.2019].

The share of learners in VET increased since 2013, by 5.7% and 2.9% respectively in lower and upper secondary education.

The share of upper-secondary VET learners compared to the total number of learners in upper secondary education increased from 43.8% in 2013 to 46.6% in 2017 (+2.9 pp) in the UK. UK was among the eleven EU28+ countries that had a positive change in the VET population while nineteen countries had seen a decrease in the share of upper-secondary VET population in the same period ([18]Data not available for the Netherlands.).

 

Share of initial VET learners from total learners at upper-secondary level (ISCED level 3), 2017

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Information not available

The share of early leavers from education and training has dropped by 5 percentage points from 15.7% in 2009 to 10.7% in 2018, close to the national target set for 2020 (10%) and close to the EU average share (10.6%) in 2018.

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training; break in series.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_14 [extracted 16.5.2019] and European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/info/2018-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stability-convergence-programmes_en [accessed 14.11.2018].

 

Education or training is compulsory up to age 16 (18 in England). Most VET programmes can be accessed from age 15/16, although learners can be introduced to VET earlier after dropping out of compulsory schooling ([19]In 2019, national achievement (completion) rates in the 19+ education and training and in apprenticeships were 88.3% and 67.3% respectively:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/789589/201718_NARTs_MainText.pdf
).

More information on early leaving from education and training is available in the Cedefop report 2017: United Kingdom - Leaving education early: putting vocational education and training centre stage ([20]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_-_leaving_education_early.pdf)

Lifelong learning offers training opportunities for adults, including early leavers from education.

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training.
Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Participation in lifelong learning decreased (-1.7 percentage points) from 16.3% in 2014 to 14.6% in 2018, at 3.5 percentage points above the EU-28 average (11.1%) in 2018.

In England, 2.2 million people registered with further education (FE) colleges in 2017/18, 1.4 million of those VET learners (63.3%) were adults ([21]Association of Colleges (2017). College key facts 2017/18. https://www.aoc.co.uk/sites/default/files/Key Facts 2017-18_1.pdf).

Adult and continuing education is part of the formal education system, but is also offered as non-formal training by employers and training providers.

 

Participation of 16-18 year olds in education and training in England in 2017 (%)

Source: Department for Education (2018). Participation in education, training and employment: 2017 [accessed 15.11.2018].

 

 

Participation of 16-19 year olds in education and training in Scotland in 2018 (%)

Source: Skills Development Scotland (2018). Annual Participation Measure for 16 – 19 year olds in Scotland 2018 [accessed 15.11.2018].

 

The education and training system comprises:

  • preschool education (ISCED level 0);
  • primary education (ISCED level 1);
  • lower secondary education (ISCED levels 2 and 3)
  • upper secondary education (ISCED 4);
  • higher/tertiary education (ISCED levels 5, 6, 7 and 8).

Pre-school education is provided in nurseries and children centres (years 0-5) (years 0-4 in N. Ireland).

Primary education is offered in schools:

  • from age 4 for 7 years in N. Ireland; or
  • from age 5 for 6 years in England and Wales; and
  • from age 5 for 7 years in Scotland.

Secondary school starts after completion of primary schooling. Lower secondary programmes last:

  • three years (grades 7-9) (Key Stage 3) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; or
  • two years (grades 8-9) (National 1-4/Intermediate 1) in Scotland.

Upper secondary programmes (grades 10 and 11) are available to learners over 14. (Key Stage 4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 5/ Intermediate 2 in Scotland).

[….]

Education or training is compulsory from the age of 5 (4 in N. Ireland) up to age 16 (18 in England).

There is a range of education and training providers within the UK VET sector. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, providers include lower secondary schools, school sixth forms, sixth form colleges ([22]Sixth form programmes are offered in years 12 and 13 in secondary general of vocational (college-based) programmes to often acquire an A level (EQF 4), but also vocational qualifications at the same level:
https://www.aoc.co.uk/sixth-form-colleges
), further education (FE) colleges ([23]See
https://www.gov.uk/further-education-courses. Further education colleges are accessible to both young people below 18 and adults; programmes include general academic study, key competences, general vocational programmes, study that may be focused on a specific sector as well as off-the-job apprenticeship training.
) and higher education institutions (HEIs) in addition to private training organisations and work-based learning providers ([24]See also Section VET governance/education providers for a full list of all education providers in the UK and the devolved administrations.).

Most VET programmes can be accessed from age 15/16, although learners can be introduced to VET earlier after dropping out of compulsory schooling or combining vocational subjects with general secondary study. Vocational education and training (VET) is available at secondary and higher education levels in the UK; (EQF levels 2 to 7).

Vocational education and training (VET) is available at secondary and higher education levels in the UK; (EQF levels 2 to 7). Most VET qualifications are taken at EQF level 3 and EQF 4 ([25]See also:
https://www.gov.uk/further-education-courses
) in the further education (FE) sector ([26]FE programmes are accessible to learners over 16 (end of compulsory schooling); a great number of adult learners follow such programmes.).

VET qualifications exist in a wide variety of sectors and prepare learners for work and further study. Programme duration varies by subject area, level of study and type of learning and is between one and four years.

School-based VET is provided in schools and colleges and includes:

  • predominantly school-based programmes that combine general academic study with VET elements;
  • broad VET programmes ([27]Broad vocational programmes cover a field of employment rather than an occupation. For example, students can take BTEC national qualifications in areas such as sport or performing arts.);
  • specialist occupational programmes;
  • work-based learning (technical and occupational learning) may take place both in a VET provider setting and a workplace, in the following forms:
    • (school) workshops;
    • in-company training for VET learners;
    • on-the-job apprenticeship training.

Learning options in formal (school-based) VET:

  • full-time;
  • part-time (evening classes;
  • distance learning;
  • in-company training on a block- or day-release basis;
  • combined with an apprenticeship, where technical and occupational learning takes place:
    • on the job,
    • of the job.

Apprentices are employed and are taught core, transferable skills. A national qualification is awarded upon completion ([28]See Section: Apprenticeships.).

Adult and continuing education is part of the formal education system, but is also offered as non-formal training by employers and training providers:

  • in formal VET, the same learning options apply for adults as for minor learners:
    • full-time;
    • part-time;
    • dual (apprenticeship) learning;
  •  
    • distance learning;
  • non-formal training is delivered:
    • on-the job;
    • off-the job.

Main vocational qualifications offered in the UK ([29]See also table UK national qualifications frameworks in relation to the EQF in Section
8. VET governance; and the
European inventory of NQF 2018
)

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales:

  • GCSEs: General Certificate of Secondary Education (RQF/CQFW levels 1 and 2 corresponding to EQF levels 2 and 3 respectively). GCSEs in vocational subjects are available in all three countries;
  • BTEC: Business and Technology Education Council qualifications RQF level 2 are offered in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (see also; Pearson What is a BTEC?)
    • BTEC Awards;
    • BTEC National Awards;
    • BTEC First Awards. (Pearson. About BTEC Firsts);
    • BTEC certificates;
    • BTEC Diplomas.
  • NVQ: National Vocational Qualifications are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. NVQs sit within the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland in place since 2015) and CQFW (Credit and qualifications framework of Wales).

In Scotland:

  • SVQ: Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. SVQs sit within the SCQF(Scottish credit and qualifications framework).
  • National Certificates are offered in both vocational and academic subjects mostly in full-time education
  • NPAs: National Progression Awards are usually short, more flexible programmes for employees or people returning to work, though are also taken as part of a wider curriculum of qualifications within the school or college setting

[National Certificates and National Progression Awards are National Qualifications Group Awards in which students accumulate credits towards distinctive group awards (EQF level 3 programmes). They allow entry to more advanced study and employment.]

  • Professional Development Awards
  • HNCs: Higher National Certificate
  • HNDs: Higher National Diploma

Recent developments ([30]See also Section: VET governance/apprenticeships.)

Apprenticeships in the UK are offered as basic training at secondary level to advanced education and training at higher education level. The table below shows at which levels training is available.

 

NQFs and apprenticeship levels in relation to the EQF

NB: EQF: European qualifications framework.
CQFW: Credit and qualifications framework of Wales.
NQF: National qualifications framework.
RQF: Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland.
SCQF: Scottish credit and qualifications framework.
Source: ReferNet UK, 2018.

 

Apart from the new apprenticeship standards in England ([31]In England most apprenticeship frameworks are in the process of being replaced by new apprenticeship standards developed by groups of employers from 2015/16. The new standards are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations, and apprentices are assessed by an independent assessor from industry or a separate training provider to the one the student attended at the end of the training.) it is the qualifications within the apprenticeship frameworks that are benchmarked to the NQFs ([32]National qualifications frameworks.), not the frameworks as a whole.

All UK apprentices are employed and off-the-job training is available from colleges and independent training providers and training organisations with which colleges subcontract. Independent training providers must be registered with the Register of Training Organisations to be eligible to deliver education and training services under the adult education budget in England.

-------------

Learn more about apprenticeships in the national context from the European database on apprenticeship schemes by Cedefop: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/apprenticeship-schemes/scheme-fiches

Governance of VET in the UK rests with the UK Government and Government departments in the Devolved Administrations ([33]The UK Government has devolved decision-making powers in a number of areas of policy responsibility to the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, such as governance for all levels and types of education, including VET. Whilst there are similarities between the systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, reforms are creating greater divergence and the Scottish system has always been significantly different in many ways to those of the rest of the UK.). Devolved Government legislation does not include detailed regulations, such as lists of approved qualifications, but the law provides for the respective

Government Ministers to issue the lists following advice from the relevant advisory body.

VET regulators and inspection/accreditation agencies in formal VET

Different inspection and review bodies exist in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; they are list in the table below:

England

Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) – schools and further education colleges

Scotland

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) - school, further education and higher education qualifications not awarded by HEIs

Education Scotland - schools and further education colleges

Wales

Qualifications Wales - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales (Estyn) - schools and further education colleges

Northern Ireland

Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) – schools, further education colleges and other providers delivering publicly-funded training programmes

Source: ReferNet UK.

In England, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) holds responsibility for inspection of schools and further education colleges. Ofsted considers the overall effectiveness of the outcomes for learners, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, in addition to the effectiveness of leadership and management. Schools and colleges are inspected by Education Scotland in Scotland, Estyn in Wales and the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) in Northern Ireland. Education Scotland evaluates the outcomes and impact of education provision, the service delivery, as well as the vision and leadership of providers. Estyn reports on the quality of education and training provided, the standards achieved by students, and whether colleges provide value for money. ETI Northern Ireland focuses on the learners’ achievements, the quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and the quality and effectiveness of the leadership and management of the curriculum.

Higher education provided at UK further education (FE) colleges is subject to quality review by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and QAA Scotland through their Higher Education Review that involves peer review, student involvement, as well as analysis of core and thematic elements.

In Scotland, HE in the form of HNCs ([34]Higher national certificate.) and HNDs ([35]Higher national diploma.) in tertiary colleges is subject to inspection and review by Education Scotland, not QAA Scotland. However, for those colleges which are constituent parts of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) or Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), their HNC and HND provision is subject to inspection and review by Education Scotland and review by QAA Scotland.

The Integrated Quality Enhancement Review methodology in Northern Ireland includes peer review, developmental engagement and summative review.

The Hazelkorn report ([36]Welsh Government (2016).
A framework for building a world-class post-compulsory education system for Wales [accessed 15.11.2018].
) recommends creating a new single body for regulation, oversight and co-ordination for the entire post-compulsory education and training sector in Wales. The Welsh Government White Paper Public Good and a Prosperous Wales – Building a reformed PCET system ([37]Welsh Government (2017).
Public good and a prosperous Wales: building a reformed PCET system [accessed 15.11.2018].
) set out how the new body, referred to as the Tertiary Education and Research Commission, would manage allocating resources, assuring and assessing quality, monitoring and managing performance and risk, regulation of the system and accreditation of institutions as well as strategic planning, co-ordinating, steering and providing advice of policy including a responsibility for research and innovation which all is envisaged to form a more coherent and integrated post-compulsory system.

National qualifications frameworks

Formal VET in the UK is organised within several national qualifications frameworks. The Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) was introduced in England and Northern Ireland in 2015 and encompasses academic and vocational qualifications. The RQF gives awarding organisations increased freedom and flexibility to develop qualifications that meet specific labour market needs. Qualifications are now expected to be validated and supported directly by employers to ensure qualifications measure the knowledge and skills necessary for industry, rather than follow prescriptive rules and structures imposed by government agencies. Level descriptors have been revised, but the same eight framework levels (plus entry levels, see table below) remain from the previous Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), and the existing qualifications continue to be offered until they are withdrawn by the awarding organisation.

The Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) also has the same levels as the QCF/RQF. The CQFW is a meta framework which comprises three pillars. These are regulated qualifications, higher education qualifications and lifelong learning qualifications, which include workplace continuing professional development and bespoke business training, as well as non-formal learning, recognition of prior learning (RPL), and assigned accreditation for learning.

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) comprises 12 levels and includes formal, and an increasing volume of non-formal qualifications.

The CQFW, SCQF and the previous QCF describe levels, qualifications and units in terms of learning outcomes as well as credits and notional learning hours. RQF qualifications have, from 31 December 2017, been described in terms of total qualification time ([38]Ofqual (2015).
Total qualification time criteria [accessed 22.2.2017].
) as credit allocation to units and qualifications is not compulsory within the RQF. National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. While NVQs sit within the RQF and CQFW, SVQs sit within the SCQF.

The UK qualifications frameworks correspond to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) as described in the table below.

UK national qualifications frameworks in relation to the EQF

EQF

RQF

SCQF

CQFW

8

8

12

8

7

7

11

7

6

6

10/9

6

5

5/4

8/7

5/4

4

3

6

3

3

2

5

2

2

1

4

1

1

Entry 3

3

Entry 3

 

Entry 2

2

Entry 2

 

Entry 1

1

Entry 1

Source: QAA (2014). Qualifications can cross boundaries: a guide to comparing qualifications in the UK and Ireland [accessed 4.6.2019].

There is not always an automatic right to progression from one level to the next within the frameworks as education providers retain the right to set the entry requirements to individual qualifications based on individual awarding organisations’ (see also ‘Shaping qualifications – design’) requirements. However, the unit-based structure of many qualifications opens up the possibilities for validation of prior learning and transfer of credit between qualifications (see section Validation of prior learning).

RQF levels are still to be referenced to EQF levels. An update on developments in England and Northern Ireland was presented in the EQF advisory group in February 2019, and an updated referencing report to reference the RQF and FHEQ to the EQF is planned to be presented in June 2019 ([39]Source: Cedefop (2019). European inventory on NQF 2018: UK - England and Northern Ireland, p. 16.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf
); an updated referencing report has been prepared by the SCQF Partnership and presented to the EQF advisory group in December 2018 ([40]Source: Cedefop (2019). European inventory on NQF 2018: UK- Scotland, p.14.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_scotland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf
); Wales is currently in the process of updating the referencing report due to the changes in the level descriptors, the creation of Qualification Wales and the changes to quality assurance in higher education. This report will be presented to the EQF advisory group in June 2019 ([41]Source: Cedefop (2019). European inventory on NQF 2018: UK- Wales, p.15.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_wales_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf
).

Apprenticeships in England ([42]See also section ‘ apprenticeships’)

The latest reform of apprenticeships in England is based on the Richard Review (2012). New apprenticeship standards are being developed by employer-led consortia (Trailblazer groups) ([43]See also: Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education: Trailblazer apprenticeship groups:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-develop-an-apprenticeship-standard-guide-for-trailblazers [accessed 26.8.2019].
) and the quality of the standards are being regulated by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education ([44]Changed name as of 31 January 2019:
https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/about/news-events/name-change-ushers-in-exciting-new-dawn-for-t-levels-preparations/
) (see section Quality assurance). New apprenticeships must include a work contract and at least 20% off-the-job training in addition to English and mathematics, but there is no longer a requirement to include an occupational qualification within the programme. Standards are linked to single professions and the unit-based structure of the previous apprenticeship frameworks has been replaced with holistic end-point assessment. The new apprenticeship standards are currently being phased in and run in parallel with the previous frameworks.

Policy making authorities

There is a complex institutional framework in the UK VET sector with the Department for Education (DfE) having policy-making responsibilities in England; the policy-making authorities for VET in Northern Ireland are the Department of Education (DE) and the Department for the Economy, in Wales the body is the Welsh Government’s Department for Education and Public Services and Department for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure, and, in Scotland, the Department of Learning and the Department of Lifelong Learning of the Scottish Government are responsible. The table below presents an overview of policy making authorities in the UK VET sector.

England

Department for Education (DfE) – all levels of education

Scotland

Scottish Government – all levels of education

Wales

Welsh Government – all levels of education

Northern Ireland

Department of Education (DE) – schools and teacher training

Department for the Economy – further education colleges and higher education

Source: ReferNet UK.

Education (and training) providers

There is a range of education and training providers within the UK VET sector. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, providers include lower secondary schools, school sixth forms, sixth form colleges ([45]Sixth form programmes are offered in years 12 and 13 in secondary general of vocational (college-based) programmes to often acquire an A level (EQF 4), but also vocational qualifications at the same level (
https://www.aoc.co.uk/sixth-form-colleges).
), further education (FE) colleges ([46]See
https://www.gov.uk/further-education-courses. Further education colleges are accessible to both young people below 18 and adults; programmes include general academic study, key competences, general vocational programmes, study that may be focused on a specific sector as well as off-the-job apprenticeship training.
) and higher education institutions (HEIs) in addition to private training organisations and work-based learning providers. An overview of education providers is presented in the table below.

England

Schools/academies – general academic and vocational secondary education

Further education colleges – secondary and tertiary VET

Independent training providers – secondary and tertiary VET

Higher education institutions – higher vocational education

Scotland

Schools – general academic and vocational secondary education

Tertiary colleges – secondary and tertiary VET

Private training providers – secondary and tertiary VET

Higher education institutions – higher vocational education

Wales

Schools – general academic and vocational secondary education

Further education institutions – secondary and tertiary VET

Colleges – secondary and tertiary VET

Higher education institutions – higher vocational education

Northern Ireland

Schools – general academic and vocational secondary education

Further education colleges – secondary and tertiary VET

Private, community and voluntary sector providers – secondary and post-secondary VET

Training organisations - – secondary and tertiary VET

Higher education institutions – higher vocational education

Source: ReferNet UK.

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, FE colleges represent the largest group of VET providers, offering education to learners that are predominantly 16 years old and upwards, including a large number of adult learners. FE colleges offer vocational learning at entry level (EQF 2) through to higher VET (EQF level 7). Students may attend FE colleges on a full-time or part-time basis and combine the study with an apprenticeship.

In Scotland, VET is mostly offered in colleges providing vocational secondary from EQF level 2 and higher education and by private training providers, but also in secondary schools (EQF 2 – 4) and higher education institutions (HEIs). The recent introduction of graduate apprenticeships ([47]Degree apprenticeships (in Scotland: Higher and Graduate apprenticeships) create a different pathway to obtaining university degrees. Whilst academic ability, including grades and numerical and reasoning skills are considered by the university or college, candidates are also interviewed for a job with a company (unless they are already employed with the company). Both employers and universities must be satisfied the applicant meets their respective requirements. There may therefore be a joint recruitment process.) means that VET is now increasingly being provided by HEIs in Scotland.

A large number of colleges exist in the UK, but many have in recent years merged to form larger regional units, a process that is still on-going in England.

University Technical Colleges (UTCs) (EQF 2-4) are VET institutions for 14-19 year olds in England. UTCs are formed through partnerships between universities, colleges and businesses to match national curriculum requirements to local needs and include work placements. UTCs combine core skills with early subject specialisation and links to higher education. Similarly, Studio Schools have been introduced in 2010([48]UK NARIC (2014).
Innovation in VET and the concept of Studio Schools A report prepared within Cedefop ReferNet network.
) for the same age range in England. These are small institutions offering vocational qualifications (at EQF levels 2-4), general qualifications (such as GCSEs) ([49]General Certificate of Secondary Education (RQF/CQFW levels 1 and 2 corresponding to EQF levels 2 and 3 respectively). See also:
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2016.pdf
) as well as teaching through enterprise projects and work placements ([50]UK NARIC (2014).
Innovation in VET and the concept of Studio Schools A report prepared within Cedefop ReferNet network.
).

To meet labour market demand for higher technical skills, a network of Institutes of Technology is being created in England focussed on skills development at qualifications framework levels 3-5 (EQF 4-5). These institutes will be sponsored by employers, registered with professional bodies and aligned with apprenticeship standards, and be both empowered and expected to design clear routes to employment in cooperation with employers and professional organisations. Moreover, funding from the government and employers was confirmed for five National Colleges in 2016. These National Colleges will focus on delivering technical skills at levels 4 to 6 (EQF levels 5-6) in the areas of digital skills, high speed rail, nuclear, creative and cultural, and onshore oil and gas.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is an executive agency sponsored by the DfE in England. Aside from funding learners aged between 3 and 19 and adult further education and skills training, the ESFA supports the building and maintenance programmes for schools, academies ([51]See also
https://www.gov.uk/types-of-school/academies
), free schools ([52]See also
https://www.gov.uk/types-of-school/free-schools
) and sixth-form colleges. A simplified, learner-led funding system is in place since 2013/14. Much of school-based VET is Government funded, but employers fund an increasing part of workplace training, such as in-company training and learning through specialist consultants and agencies.

An apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2017 to create long-term, sustainable investment in apprenticeships ([53]The levy is paid across the whole UK and a proportion of funding is distributed to all four nations according to population; however, the portions allocated to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not need to be used exclusively to fund apprenticeships and can be allocated to other VET training needs.). The levy is paid by all large employers in the UK with a paybill of over £3m a year. Levy payers and non-levy paying employers are able to access funding to support their apprenticeship training. In England a growing number of education providers now receive funding directly from the Government rather than through local authorities. These are academies, free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools (see section Apprenticeships). Privately funded training providers also operate within the UK VET sector.

The Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council, commonly known as the Scottish Funding Council, is the strategic body for the funding of teaching, learning, research and other activities across all levels of tertiary education in Scotland. Public (VET) schools are funded through and accountable to local authorities, with one exception being directly funded by the Scottish Government. Skills Development Scotland funds Modern apprenticeship programmes and other government funded programmes of learning.

Funding of VET in the Northern Ireland further education sector and for providers of specific Government-funded programmes is the responsibility of the Department for the Economy.

VET funding in Wales is traditionally the responsibility of the Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (also sponsored by the Welsh Government). In January 2014 the Welsh Government published its Policy statement on skills which set out its long term vision for employment and skills policy in Wales. This work was supplemented by the development of the Framework for co-investment in skills, also introduced in 2014, which sets out the principles for government and employer investment in skills ([54]Welsh Government (2014).
Framework for co-investment in skills [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The framework aims to provide a foundation for shifting the emphasis from a government-led approach to skills investment to a system influenced and led by employers. The investment made by employers, supported by the co-investment framework, will place them in a stronger position to challenge the skills system in Wales.

Learning opportunities for vulnerable groups (targeted measures)

Formal VET targeted at vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, such as people with disabilities and learning difficulties are mostly offered in the same providers as other students; however, additional funding is available.

Lifelong Learning Partnerships (LLPs) consist of a variety of education providers ranging from voluntary sector providers to further and higher education institutions as well as employers and trade unions. LLPs often reach out to disadvantaged communities and assist disadvantaged learners to engage with education and training again.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) updated its Equalities Action Plan for Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland and the Equality Challenge Fund in 2017 ([55]SDS (2017).
Equalities action plan for modern apprenticeships in Scotland [accessed 19.2.2019].
) for projects aimed at widening access to Modern apprenticeships. Organisations including charities, colleges and training providers have received funding to help boost Modern apprenticeship numbers among under-represented groups such as individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled people and care leavers as well as tackling gender imbalance in certain sectors. The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) outcome agreements require colleges and universities to produce access and inclusion strategies that define their inclusive practices and the impact this has on learners. The SFC expects colleges to evidence how they use funds to support students with educational support needs, including disabled students, to ensure they have an equal chance of successfully completing their programme of study ([56]Scottish Government (2016).
A fairer Scotland for disabled people See also: Scottish Funding Council (2016).
Guidance for the development of College Outcome Agreements: 2017-18 to 2019-20 [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Incentives for providers

VET providers across England continue to have the freedom and flexibility to determine how they use their adult education budget (AEB), working with Local Enterprise Partnerships and local commissioners to determine what the appropriate distribution of funding should be to best meet local needs. From 2019/20 academic year, approximately 50% of the AEB will be devolved to six Mayoral Combined Authorities and delegated to the Greater London Authority who will be responsible for commissioning and funding AEB provision for learners resident in their areas.

The Scottish Funding Council bases funding of VET providers on Outcome Agreements with colleges and universities. These Agreements include learner retention, articulation and progression into further and higher education and other positive destinations, such as employment. More emphasis within the Outcome Agreements is now being put on areas including widening access, gender, skills, innovation and apprenticeships.

In VET, categories of teachers and trainers are:

  • FE teaching staff ([57]Those teaching in FE colleges are usually referred to as lecturers (VET teachers) and those teaching work-based learning are normally called VET trainers.) in England are called teachers, trainers, lecturers, tutors, assessors, advisors and instructors;
  • teaching staff in the VET sector in Northern Ireland use the professional titles of lecturer, teacher, trainer, tutor and assessor;
  • teaching staff in the Scottish VET sector use the professional titles of teacher, lecturer, tutor, assessor and trainer;
  • VET teaching staff in Wales use the professional titles of lecturers, teachers, tutors, assessors and trainers.

Different training and registration requirements exist at secondary education level to further and higher education level across the UK:

In England VET teachers working in maintained secondary schools must meet the requirements of the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA), which includes a degree level qualification, GCSE ([58]General Certificate of Secondary Education (RQF/CQFW levels 1 and 2 corresponding to EQF levels 2 and 3 respectively); see also:
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2016.pdf
) level subjects in English, mathematics and science in addition to obtaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and completing an induction year. The same statutory requirement to hold QTS is not in place for VET teachers employed by publicly-funded free schools and some academies.

In Wales, those training to teach in local authority funded secondary schools are required to gain QTS and complete an induction period by meeting professional standards set by the Welsh Government. There is also a requirement in Wales to complete an undergraduate or postgraduate programme of Initial Teacher Education, which includes assessment against the QTS (Qualified Teacher Status). In addition there are minimum requirements for GCSE attainment including a standard equivalent to a grade B in the GCSE examination in English and/or Welsh and in mathematics.

Those teaching in FE colleges ([59]See
https://www.gov.uk/further-education-courses. Further education colleges are accessible to both young people below 18 and adults; programmes include general academic study, key competences, general vocational programmes, study that may be focused on a specific sector as well as off-the-job apprenticeship training.
) in the UK are usually referred to as lecturers (VET teachers) and those teaching work-based learning are normally called VET trainers. In England the criteria to teach at FE level are flexible in line with the criteria for teaching at higher education level, where the education provider decides upon the suitability of the teaching staff. Only voluntary professional registration exists (with the Society for Education and Training) ([60]Professional membership organisation for teachers and trainers in the UK. See:
https://set.et-foundation.co.uk/
). Advice about professional standards for teachers and trainers in education and training in England is provided by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) ([61]European training foundation (2014).
Professional standards for teachers and trainers in education and training – England [accessed 15.11.2018].
). In England it is not mandatory to obtain Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills (QTLS) status to teach in FE colleges, but it can be beneficial for teachers that also wish to teach at secondary level in maintained schools.

Teaching qualifications for the FE sector in England are available from higher education institutions and Ofqual-recognised awarding organisations ([62]Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation:
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofqual
). Teacher training also takes place in-house, and in both colleges for further and higher education. Associate Teachers work with less responsibility than Full Teachers/Lecturers in terms of curriculum development and delivery. In the FE sector, Associate Teachers are often known as instructors or trainers and should work under the supervision of a Full Teacher. FE lecturers in Northern Ireland must possess a degree level qualification or a qualification at QCF level 5 ([63]QCF qualifications (N. Ireland, see also Section
8. VET governance) continue to be offered until they are withdrawn by the awarding organisation.
) in a subject area relevant to the subject taught, plus three years relevant industrial experience. Lecturers must also possess or be enrolled in a teaching qualification, such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) (FE). In Wales, lecturers are required to hold a Certificate of Education, PGCE (FE) qualifications or Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and those employed as teachers in institutions in the FE sector in Wales are required to have, or to be working toward, these relevant teaching qualifications.

In Scotland, teachers must be registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), which sets the standards and qualifications required by teachers for professional practice. Scottish secondary VET teachers must hold a first degree, a teaching qualification such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE), or an undergraduate equivalent, such as the Bachelor of Education (BEd) or a concurrent degree, where a teaching qualification is studied alongside another specialism, e.g. a science or English. Additionally, English or English as a second or other language at Higher (SCQF ([64]Scottish credit and qualifications framework.) level 6/EQF level 4) and mathematics or applications of mathematics at National 5 (SCQF level 5) level is a mandatory requirement. The Scottish College for Educational Leadership provides programmes of learning for teachers after they have qualified; most notably the new Into Headship programme at SCQF level 11 (EQF 7) will be mandatory for all new head teachers from 2019. VET Trainers and VET teachers/lecturers in tertiary colleges do not need to register with the GTCS, although it is desirable and strongly suggested by the Inspectorate of Education – Education Scotland. It is moreover considered preferential to hold a GTCS recognised further education teaching qualification or be working towards one.

The Education Workforce Council (EWC) is the independent regulator in Wales for VET teachers in local authority funded schools, further education (FE) VET teachers and learning support staff in both school and FE settings. From April 2015, the requirement for professional registration was extended to FE teachers, and from April 2016 registration is also compulsory for school/FE learning support workers. Secondary VET teachers must possess a university degree, GCSE ([65]General Certificate of Secondary Education (RQF/CQFW levels 1 and 2 corresponding to EQF levels 2 and 3 respectively). See also:
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2016.pdf
) subjects and a teaching qualification.

FE VET teacher qualifications available in England, N Ireland and Wales include the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE for FE), which is a postgraduate programme leading to Full Teacher status, and in England the Level 3 Award in Education and Training, which is a short introduction to FE teaching, the Level 4 Certificate in Education and Training, and the Level 5 Diploma in Education and Training, which is the minimum qualification needed to obtain Full Teacher status.

There is no legal requirement for teachers in FE in England and N Ireland to complete CPD. On average, teachers completed 15 hours of CPD per year ([66]https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/continuing-professional-development-teachers-and-trainers-working-adult-education-and-78_en)

The Education and Training Foundation operates in England to improve professionalism and standards in the FE and skills sector and provides opportunities for CPD. Ofsted is the inspection agency for the quality of teacher education in England.

The Scottish College for Educational Leadership provides programmes of learning for teachers after they have qualified; most notably the new Into Headship programme at SCQF level 11 (EQF 7) will be mandatory for all new head teachers from 2019. In Scotland, it is recommended that VET teachers undertake six days of CPD annually ([67]https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/continuing-professional-development-teachers-and-trainers-working-adult-education-and-80_en)

In Wales, FE teachers should undertake 30 hours of CPD annually.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([68]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

Various methods are in place to anticipate skill needs:

  • the Labour Force Survey (LFS) results, published regularly by the Office for National Statistics, contain labour market statistics;
  • other national, regional and sectoral surveys and audits, such as the Employer Skills Survey ([69]Department for Education (2018).
    Employer Skills Survey 2017: UK [accessed 12.10.2018].
    ) and Working Futures ([70]UKCES (2016).
    Working Futures 2014 to 2024 [accessed 22.2.2017].
    ), used along with the LFS to determine labour market needs and gaps;
  • skills audits and surveys of employers’ opinions.

Other stakeholders involved in providing information and recommendations for skills provision include:

  • the Confederation of British Industry, whose research anticipates a growing skills gap with a particular need for higher level skills ([71]CBI/Pearson (2016).
    The right combination [accessed 22.2.2017].
    );
  • the Department for Education (DfE) launched a model to anticipate future demand for, and cost of, apprenticeships in initial and continuing VET in a system driven by employer demand in 2017 ([72]Department for Education (2017).
    Long-term apprenticeship model appraisal [accessed 15.11.2018]
    );
  • the Long-term Apprenticeship Model forecasts apprenticeship starts and costs for both levy and non-levy paying employers.

Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are independent, employer-led organisations working towards defining skills needs and skills standards in their industries. National Occupational Standards (NOS) ([73]See Section
12. Shaping VET qualifications - design.
) have been developed by SSCs and Standards Setting Organisations working with employers and national and regional organisations to specify competences required in the workplace.

In England, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) work towards improving local needs and bring together local and regional stakeholders in business and local authorities. LEPs and the new powers to English cities in the Localism Act are designed to give more freedom and a greater voice to local enterprises, in order to create a more demand-led qualification and skills system with a local focus.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has developed Skills Investment Plans for key sectors in collaboration with Industry Leadership Groups and other key industry players by analysing labour market and skills supply research. Regional Skills Assessment Plans take into consideration regional challenges and opportunities. The Employability, Skills and Lifelong Learning Analytical Services Unit is part of the Scottish Government and conducts research that supports policy developments in VET, higher education and lifelong learning. Topics for research include skills shortages and gaps and training opportunities. In Wales these functions are carried out by Knowledge and Analytical Services and the Labour Market Information Unit within the Welsh Government.

The Department for the Economy requires further education colleges in Northern Ireland to submit annual development plans in line with the Government’s priorities and adhere to Public Service Agreements and Funded Learning Unit models regarding finances in relation to strategic priorities. The skills barometer project built a model to estimate future skill needs and gaps by level, sector and subject area across a range of economic outcomes ([74]The project was undertaken as part of a three-year sponsorship arrangement between the Department for the Economy and the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre.).

VET qualifications - designers and concepts

The Regulated Qualifications Framework (England and N. Ireland) removed the requirements to structure qualifications in terms of units and learning outcomes ([75]The RQF gives awarding organisations increased freedom and flexibility to develop qualifications that meet specific labour market needs. Qualifications are now expected to be validated and supported directly by employers to ensure qualifications measure the knowledge and skills necessary for industry, rather than follow prescriptive rules and structures imposed by government agencies. Level descriptors have been revised, but the same eight framework levels (plus entry levels, see Table UK national qualifications frameworks in relation to the EQF in section
8) remain from the previous qualifications and credit framework (QCF), and the existing qualifications continue to be offered until they are withdrawn by the awarding organisation.
); however, qualifications currently available are largely unit- and outcomes-based and allow for flexibility in delivery of training, except for new apprenticeships in England ([76]In England most apprenticeship frameworks are in the process of being replaced by new apprenticeship standards developed by groups of employers from 2015/16. The new standards are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations, and apprentices are assessed by an independent assessor from industry or a separate training provider to the one the student attended at the end of the training.).

The qualification frameworks in Scotland and Wales continue to be learning outcomes and unit based. Adult learning in particular is often centred on individual learners’ needs both in terms of content and delivery method. Training programmes aimed at young people usually follow a more standardised structure. Qualifications and their broad content, unit and credit structure, learning outcomes and assessment standards are developed by independent awarding organisations in line with regulators’ regulatory requirements and industry experts’ and other stakeholders’ input.

Assessment of VET qualifications

Study programmes leading to formal qualifications at secondary and tertiary, non-university level are internally assessed within education providers and workplaces if appropriate, but are not awarded until assessments have been externally verified by awarding organisations (also called examination boards) in the UK. Education providers that are registered as examination centres by one or more awarding organisations can conduct examinations for qualifications awarded by these awarding organisations.

Assessment of practical training

Work-based learning is also assessed in workplaces by qualified assessors. Assessors are usually trained staff with industry experience and knowledge of assessment approaches. In order to assess some qualifications, the assessors are required to possess relevant assessor qualifications as well.

Apprentices completing the new apprenticeship standards in England ([77]See Section
7. Apprenticeships
) are assessed at the end of the programme of training by an Independent End Point Assessor who is required to have up-to-date and thorough knowledge and experience of the specific occupation and ideally possess a Level 3 (EQF 4) assessor qualification.

Validation of prior learning is also possible, see Section 14. Validation of prior learning

Awarding bodies

Awarding organisations are also responsible for awarding the final qualifications and organising external moderation of student achievement. These organisations are recognised to operate in England and Northern Ireland by Ofqual and CCEA ([78]Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment.) Regulation respectively. Recognised Awarding Organisations are entitled to award accredited qualifications which are listed in the Register of Regulated Qualifications and part of the RQF.

Awarding organisations with approved qualifications registered on the CQFW ([79]Credit and qualifications framework of Wales.) must be recognised by Qualifications Wales and are listed on the Qualifications in Wales database.

The main awarding organisation in Scotland is the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), which is a quasi-autonomous non-departmental public body and fulfils the roles of both an awarding body and an accreditation body. There are mechanisms in place to manage the potential conflict of interest between both parts of SQA; the Awarding Body is directly accountable to Scottish Government Ministers and the Accreditation function (SQA Accreditation) is accountable to a statutory Accreditation Committee and thence the Scottish Government. There are also a considerable number of other awarding organisations (including all higher education institutions with degree awarding powers) offering qualifications within the SCQF and also other organisations awarding qualifications often subject to accreditation by SQA Accreditation.

Occupational standards design - the role of employers

Most education and training programmes for young people that are publicly funded lead to a formally recognised qualification. This is part of the quality control process of VET. Education providers create curricula and deliver qualifications created by awarding organisations.

Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) ([80]Independent, employer-led organisations working towards defining skills needs and skills standards in their industries.) and other standard setting organisations, in association with employers, develop, maintain and update National Occupational Standards (NOS) to specify competences required to perform occupations and professions. NOS consist of units describing what individuals must be able to do, know and understand to perform specific jobs. NVQs/SVQs ([81]National vocational qualifications / Scottish vocational qualifications.) and many other vocationally related qualifications are entirely or largely based on NOS or, if relevant, learning outcomes that need to be met for certification. NOS are reviewed to ensure programmes and qualifications include new technologies, innovations and working methods used in the labour market. The Government in England have no longer been mandating the use of NOS within their vocational qualifications system after the end of 2016; however, qualifications designers in England can continue to use NOS if they wish. The development and review of NOS are still continued by the three Devolved Administrations, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Following the change from state funding of the SSCs to self-funded organisations, only the most effective SSCs that are valued by industry have remained operational.

National Skills Academies (NSAs) are employer-led organisations developing the infrastructure and learning resources needed to deliver specialist skills to industry sectors in England. NSAs also strive for training programmes resources to be up-to-date and relevant in the current job market.

VET reform in England - more direct employer engagement in VET design ([82]Department for Education (2018).
Introduction of T levels: policy paper [accessed 15.11.2018]. See also: Institute for Apprenticeships (2019).
What is an apprenticeship standard? [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The design process of VET is changing in England by moving away from a system in which a large number of awarding organisations develop qualifications based on National Occupational Standards (NOS) to a system where the outline content of new vocational qualifications (T levels) based on the knowledge, skills and behaviours related to occupations will be developed by employer-led consortia within 15 main technical routes. New apprenticeship standards (Trailblazers) are already being developed within the same 15 pathways. T level qualifications will be developed by a single awarding organisation for each of the occupational pathways. T levels, designed to be delivered in classroom-based settings, will be phased in from 2020 whilst apprenticeship trailblazers are currently run in parallel with the traditional apprenticeship frameworks.

The Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board (SAAB) is led by employers to strengthen their engagement in apprenticeships and aims to ensure that apprenticeships will be closely linked to areas of economic growth and job opportunities. SAAB oversees the development of apprenticeship frameworks and standards. The Wales Apprenticeship Advisory Board, have taken up a key role in developing policy objectives to ensure that apprenticeships are aligned to changing needs of the industry in Wales.

The Strategic Partnership strategy provides the background for UK Government financed projects in which enterprises, employer federations, trade unions, trade associations, public bodies and other stakeholders collaborate to solve sectoral and regional issues including learning and skills.

Strategic development of VET in England

Strategic development of skills and lifelong learning in England is the remit of the Department for Education (DfE). Design of future VET in England is influenced by reviews such as the Wolf Review of pre-19 vocational education, the Whitehead Review of Adult Vocational Qualifications ([83]Whitehead, N, UKCES (2013).
Review of adult vocational qualifications in England [accessed 15.11.2018].
) and the Richard Review of Apprenticeships ([84]Richard, D. (2012).
The Richard review of apprenticeships [accessed 22.2.2017].
). The former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published the Skills for Sustainable Growth strategy ([85]BIS (2010).
Skills for sustainable growth [accessed 15.11.2018].
) in response to the Wolf Review with details of a planned skills reform. The Plan for Growth ([86]HM Treasury and BIS (2011).
The Plan for growth [accessed 22.2.2017].
) strategy mentions that ‘the creation of a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe’ is one of the key skills actions and measures to be achieved. Rigour and Responsiveness in Skills sets out how Apprenticeship reforms, and funding only good quality VET in England, will be accelerated ([87]BIS/DfE (2013).
Rigour and responsiveness in skills [accessed 15.11.2018].
) (see VET learning options about Tech Levels and the Technical Baccalaureate under 4. EQF 4, ISCED 351, 354 [college-based VET]). Fixing the foundations – the UK Government’s productivity plan from 2015 – puts focus on the need to develop a highly skilled workforce to increase productivity ([88]BIS (2015).
Fixing the foundations[accessed 22.2.2017].
). Most recently the Post-16 Skills Plan sets out to streamline VET in England into 15 clear routes leading to skilled employment, either through two-year college courses or apprenticeships ([89]DfE/BIS (2016).
Post-16 skills plan [accessed 15.11.2018].
) as recommended in the Report of the Independent Panel on Technical Education ([90]Sainsbury, D. (2016).
Report of the Independent panel on technical education [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Strategic development of VET in Scotland

The Scottish Government provides details of skills support in the Skills for Scotland: Accelerating the Recovery and Increasing Sustainable Economic Growth ([91]Scottish Government (2010).
Skills for Scotland: accelerating the recovery and increasing sustainable economic growth [accessed 15.11.2018].
), the Review of Post-16 Education and Vocational Training in Scotland ([92]Scottish Government (2011).
Review of post-16 education and vocational training in Scotland [accessed 15.11.2018].
), the National Youth Work Strategy ([93]Scottish Government (2014b).
National youth work strategy 2014-19 [accessed 22.2.2017].
) and Adult Learning in Scotland: Statement of Ambition ([94]Scottish Government (2014c).
Adult learning in Scotland, statement of ambition[accessed 22.2.2017].
). The Government started a reform of the post-16 education which aims to increase efficiency and flexibility in learner provision and value for money as well as better meet regional needs. A further aim is to simplify the skills system so it is easier to understand for both individuals and employers. The Curriculum for Excellence includes more skills-for-work options for young people in addition to a greater emphasis on entrepreneurship ([95]Scottish Government (2009).
Innovation for Scotland [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The group responsible for the review of the curriculum comprised representatives from national and local Government, Education Scotland, higher and further education institutions, schools and the Scottish Qualifications Authority in addition to business interest groups, teacher unions and parent organisations. The Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce’s final report ([96]Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce (2014).
Education working for all! Final report [accessed 15.11.2018].
) from June 2014 includes recommendations on preparing school leavers for work, college education focused on employment and progression in learning, Apprenticeships focused on higher level skills and industry needs, and engaging employers with education and recruiting young people.

Strategic development of VET in Wales

The Welsh Government’s Programme for Government emphasises the importance of skills development in relation to economic growth and sustainable jobs. Qualifications are developed according to the CQFW high level principles. Future VET will be shaped by the Review of Qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds in Wales ([97]Welsh Government (2012).
Review of qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds in Wales [accessed 22.2.2017].
) (see Section 2.2.3 regarding the Welsh Baccalaureate), the policy statement on skills ([98]Welsh Government (2014).
Policy statement on skills [accessed 22.2.2017].
) and the Welsh Government’s Skills implementation plan ([99]Welsh Government (2014).
Skills implementation plan [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The latter emphasises the importance of aligning skills provision with the current and future jobs market, local needs and employer engagement. Welsh Government published Towards 2030: a Framework for Building a World-Class Post-Compulsory Education System for Wales in March 2016 ([100]Welsh Government (2016).
A framework for building a world-class post-compulsory education system for Wales [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The report’s recommendations include the aim to develop clear and flexible learner-centred learning and career pathways and to introduce more state regulation into the current market-demand driven education system.

Strategic development of VET in Northern Ireland

The Department for Employment and Learning’s (now: Department for the Economy) vision for skills development is articulated within the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland, Success through Skills – Transforming Futures ([101]DEL (2011).
Success through skills: transforming futures [accessed 4.6.2019].
), which sets the overarching strategy for the development of skills (including vocational education and training) in Northern Ireland. This strategy will be realised by focusing on those entering the labour force for the first time; up-skilling the existing workforce; and ensuring that those currently excluded from the labour force are provided with the skills to compete for jobs, retain jobs and progress up the skills ladder. To help achieve these ambitions, the Department works closely with the Department of Education to ensure there is a strong collaboration between schools, further education colleges, universities and employers.

Other reviews in Northern Ireland aiming to enhance and shape future VET policy include the new Northern Ireland Strategy for Apprenticeships ([102]DELNI (2014).
Securing our success: the Northern Ireland strategy on apprenticeships [accessed 4.6.2019].
) which recommends that Apprenticeships should be at least two years long and start from level 3 (EQF level 4) (see 3. EQF 4, ISCED 354 [Apprenticeship]). The Strategy for youth training from 2015 describes plans to create a baccalaureate-style curriculum that includes work-based learning that also replaces apprenticeship provision at level 2 ([103]Department for the Economy (2015).
Generating our success [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The 2016 Further Education (FE) Strategy gives colleges in Northern Ireland a major role in delivering apprenticeships and youth training as well as featuring prominently in strategic advisory forums and sectoral partnerships tasked with matching skills demand and delivery ([104]Department for the Economy (2016).
Further education means success [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Strategies to support learning opportunities for vulnerable groups

In Wales, the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) recognises lifelong learning such as vendor/industry/professional qualifications and smaller ‘bite size’ units of accredited learning. Such achievements can be highly positive and help to raise the aspirations of disadvantaged learners. The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) also recognises lifelong learning and bite size pieces of learning from all sectors and all types of organisations, including many aimed at disadvantaged and vulnerable learners. The SCQF includes two levels which are below level 1 of the EQF. At these levels the emphasis is placed on the learning which takes place as a result of learners’ participation in, and the experience of, situations as well as the carrying out of basic tasks. The inclusion of these lower levels allows the SCQF to be an inclusive NQF for all learners including those who may not have been successful in mainstream education.

The Northern Ireland Strategy for Further Education, Further Education Means Success published in January 2016, recommends that colleges, in partnership with organisations in the voluntary, community, public and private sectors, support diversity and social inclusion through widening access to provision for those with low or no skills or who experience other barriers to learning. The strategy commits the colleges to adopting international best practice in the use of technology enhanced learning to support and improve teaching and learning, and adopt flexible approaches to learning to meet the needs of learners and employers.

Additional funding for learning opportunities of vulnerable people is also available in England and Scotland in section: 9. VET financing mechanisms

Most education and training programmes for young people that are publicly funded lead to a formally recognised qualification. This is part of the quality control process of VET.

VET regulators and inspection/accreditation agencies in formal VET

Different inspection and review bodies exist in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; they are list in the table below (see also section 8 VET governance):

England

Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) – schools and further education colleges

Scotland

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) - school, further education and higher education qualifications not awarded by HEIs

Education Scotland - schools and further education colleges

Wales

Qualifications Wales - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales (Estyn) - schools and further education colleges

Northern Ireland

Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) - school, further education and non-degree higher education qualifications

Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) – schools, further education colleges and other providers delivering publicly-funded training programmes

Source: ReferNet UK.

QA arrangements for VET qualifications

Qualifications are designed and issued by independent awarding organisations. Those organisations set question papers or other assessments for their qualifications and examine candidates as well as reviewing examination centres’ assessment of candidates and reviewing and verifying the work and standards of the centres. The processes of external review of assessment in examination centres are often referred to as verification. Verification is conducted by qualified individuals with quality assurance of assessment qualifications at level 4 (EQF level 5).

During the review leading to the withdrawal of the regulatory arrangements for the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), for England, Ofqual ([105]The regulator of all vocational qualifications within the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland).) removed the requirement for awarding organisations to submit new vocational qualifications for accreditation before they are registered within the qualifications framework. Secondary school qualifications such as GCSEs ([106]General Certificate of Secondary Education (RQF/CQFW levels 1 and 2 corresponding to EQF levels 2 and 3 respectively). See also:
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2016.pdf
) and technical qualifications with detailed design rules are still subject to a spot check of the qualifications’ specification and a set of specimen assessment papers and mark schemes ([107]Ofqual.
Accreditation requirement [accessed 20.2.2019].
). The responsibility for quality assurance and relevance of other qualifications rests with the awarding organisations, although periodic Ofqual audits take place.

In 2016, CCEA ([108]Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment.) Regulation took over the regulation responsibility of vocational qualifications, within the RQF, that are exclusively provided in Northern Ireland. The work includes the recognition and monitoring of awarding organisations that operate in Northern Ireland and the accreditation of the qualifications they offer in Northern Ireland against published criteria and conditions.

Organisations which provide non-university qualifications can elect to be accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority Accreditation in accordance with the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s (SQA) regulatory principles, but this is not mandatory. All programmes accredited by SQA will be credit rated and included on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). However, organisations can also get programmes credit rated and included on the SCQF through a range of organisations which carry out this function. SQA’s Accreditation function has a mandatory remit to accredit certain vocational qualifications, including all Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). In addition, if an alternative competence based qualification is to be used as the mandatory qualification in a Modern apprenticeship framework then it must also be accredited by SQA. Certain other “licence to practice” qualifications must be accredited by SQA including the security sector and the licenced trade sector ([109]SQA Accreditation (2014).
Regulatory principles [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Qualifications Wales was established in 2015 to take over the responsibility of approving and reviewing qualifications, in addition to developing the design of new qualification requirements and commissioning awarding organisations to develop new qualifications, in Wales. Qualifications Wales is undertaking a long term programme of review and reform of vocational qualifications in each major sector of employment. Four out of eight sector reviews have been or are close to be completed ([110]Qualifications Wales.
Sector reviews [accessed 20.2.2019].
). The reviews aim to find out whether current qualifications are effective in meeting the needs of learners as well as addressing the needs of employers, learning providers and professional bodies.

QA arrangements in apprenticeship

The Institute for Apprenticeships started operations in England in 2017 as an independent statutory body with a remit to develop and maintain quality criteria for apprenticeships and assessment plans, support employer-led development of new apprenticeship standards and regulate the quality of apprenticeships, including both approval functions for apprenticeship standards and quality assurance of assessment ([111]Institute for Apprenticeships.
What we do [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The institute is due to also take over responsibility for implementing the T level reform and change its name to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education in 2019.

Employer-led sectoral partnerships are being set up in Northern Ireland as part of the apprenticeship reform to inform the approach for ongoing assessment and testing at the end of apprenticeships.

Non-formal training

Training organisations offering non-formal qualifications may register with the British Accreditation Council for Independent Further and Higher Education. Investors in People (IiP) is a nationally recognised business standard encouraging enterprises to invest in training. IiP certification gives an indication that an employer is committed to the development of workers.

There are generally less transfer opportunities to further and higher education for qualifications obtained outside a formal qualifications framework in the UK. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is granted at institutional discretion based on the RPL policy of individual awarding organisations in England.

Guidelines for the Recognition of Prior Informal Learning form part of the SCQF ([112]Scottish credit and qualifications framework.) in Scotland. There was previously a RPL network connected to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership which published a RPL toolkit ([113]SCQF (2010).
Facilitating the recognition of prior learning: toolkit. https://www.sqa.org.uk/files_ccc/RPLToolkitUpdatedDecember2010.pdf [accessed 15.11.2018].
) and an online guide that aims to increase and improve recognition of non-formal and informal learning as well as formal learning. While the RPL Network is no longer in operation, the tools and supporting workshops continue to be available.

In England, RARPA (Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement in non-accredited learning) was furthermore devised by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (now: the Learning and Work Institute) and the former Learning and Skills Development Agency to aid recognition and validation of learning that does not lead to a formal award. RARPA includes a staged process in assessing individual learners’ achievement by taking into consideration their starting point, identification of learning objectives, recording of progress and end of programme assessment.

Lifelong Learning mechanisms have been developed to allow non-formal education and training, such as community learning, in-company training and continuing professional development, to be recognised in accordance with the high level principles of the Credit and Qualifications Framework of Wales ([114]CQFW (2015). Quality assured lifelong learning (QALL) - Formal and non-formal learning. Department for Education and Skills, Welsh Government.
https://gweddill.gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/151013-qall-e-brochure-en.pdf
).

The Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland aims to encourage more people, who may have less in the way of formal qualifications, to consider applying for places in higher education on the basis of accredited prior experiential learning (APEL). The Northern Ireland University and College Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) Guidelines ([115]Belfast Metropolitan College [s.d].
Higher education accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) process [accessed 15.11.2018].
) were developed to facilitate entry to higher education – particularly Foundation degrees – for those who lack the required formal academic qualifications for higher education entry by accepting vocational qualifications and experiential learning partly or in full. The guidelines were endorsed by the universities and college sector and draw upon good practice within the sector and across the UK.

For more information about arrangements for the validation of non-formal and informal learning please visit Cedefop’s European database ([116]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/european-database-on-validation-of-non-formal-and-informal-learning).

Across the UK, austerity measures have seen many cuts in state funding in recent years. Whilst the pre-16 schools budget has remained largely protected, reductions have occurred in the 16 to 19 and 19+ further education and skills budgets. However, various initiatives to raise numbers and the status of VET are in place in the UK ([117]The UK Government and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set individual budgets regarding education and skills funding.).

Training leave (England)

The Right to Request Time to Train initiative is a legal right in England to allow workers in businesses with more than 250 employees to request time to take up work-related training that will benefit the business. Training can be both formal and non-formal and take place in-house, at an external training organisation or be delivered through e-learning. Whether the business will pay for the training or pay the employee’s salary during the training is left up to the discretion of the employer.

Trade Union Learning Funds (all four countries)

The Trade Union Learning Fund in England is administered by Unionlearn and provides funding to develop the capacity of trade unions and Union Learning Representatives to work with employees, employers and learning providers, to encourage workplace learning. The Scottish Union Learning Fund, the Wales Union Learning Fund and the Union Learning Fund for Northern Ireland fulfil similar roles.

The Youth Engagement and Employment Action Plan (Wales)

The action plan goal is to help young people move back into education, training and employment. Measures taken to achieve this include the Jobs Growth Wales initiative that supports training and work experience. An evaluation of the action plan based on 2015 data found indications of a reduction in the rates of young people who are NEET, but that it was too early to determine the overall success of the plan ([118]Welsh Government (2016b).
Youth engagement and progression framework: formative evaluation follow-up study [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Financial support measures for specific target groups

Individual Learning Accounts (ILA) were replaced with Individual Training Accounts (ITA) ([119]https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/what-we-do/employability-skills/sds-individual-training-accounts/) in October 2017. ITAs are payments for the unemployed and not currently in education or those in low paid work in Scotland who wish to learn a new skill or develop their skills further within recognised training programmes. ITAs focus on vocational courses and qualifications in a curriculum area aligned with the Scottish Government’s Labour Market Strategy.

An Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is available to Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish students between the ages of 16 and 18 depending on the students’ and their families’ financial situation. Bursary Funds are available via schools and colleges for 16-18 year olds who struggle to afford the cost of participating in their studies in England. Bursary Funds are specifically targeted towards vulnerable young people, such as those in care, on income support or those with disabilities, but also to other students struggling to afford transport, food or equipment costs. FE providers also receive learner support funding to support eligible adult learners with a specific financial hardship which is preventing them from taking part and/or continuing in learning.

Free lunches for disadvantaged students were extended to 16-18 year old learners at further education colleges (that offer predominantly vocational courses) in England from the autumn of 2014. These free meals were previously only available for disadvantaged students in secondary schools with sixth form provision.

The Entitlement Framework (Northern Ireland)

The Entitlement Framework (EF) came into force in Northern Ireland in 2015, building on the Vocational Enhancement Programme which encouraged collaboration between post-14 school provision and vocational FE college provision. The EF guarantees in law that all learners in Northern Ireland have access to a broad and balanced curriculum with a minimum of 21 courses at lower and upper secondary level, a third of which must be applied and a third, general. Qualifications under the EF contain a range of courses that can be individually tailored to enhance students’ employment chances and meet Government priority skills areas. Post-primary schools work together in local Area Learning Communities alongside further education colleges to plan and provide the full range of general and applied course choices for the young people in an area.

Use of EU tools to support mobility actions

The UK has the main building blocks in place to support the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET). ECVET aims to give people greater control over their individual learning experiences and promote mobility between different countries and different learning environments. ECVET activities are included in the UK Erasmus+ National Agency (the British Council and Ecorys (UK)) yearly work programme. UK ECVET Experts, appointed by Ecorys UK, raise awareness of ECVET to key stakeholders and promote and encourage organisations involved in mobility to use ECVET in geographical mobility linking ECVET to Erasmus+.

The Apprenticeship Delivery Board (England)

The board consists of representatives from Barclays Banks, Fujitsu UK, the TV company Channel 4 and the City of London amongst others, that will meet and advise the government on how best to expand apprenticeships ([120]UK Government (2018).
Apprenticeship delivery board [accessed 15.10.2018].
). The board furthermore works with the National Apprenticeship Service and the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network ([121]Department for Education [s.d.].
Apprenticeship Ambassador Network [accessed 15.11.2018].
) to stimulate interest in and take up of apprenticeships in England.

The Flexible Workforce Development Fund (Scotland)

The fund is delivered by the Scottish Funding Council and is available to Scottish businesses that contributed towards the UK Government’s apprenticeship levy. Funding can support up-skilling and re-training of individual employees in partnership with Scottish colleges. Employers in Scotland are eligible for a payment of up to £4 000 when employing an unemployed young person as an apprentice through Scotland’s Employer Recruitment Incentive. This initiative is targeting young people facing barriers to employment, such as care leavers, carers, ex-offenders and disabled people.

Financial support for apprenticeships

Access is a Welsh Government programme that provides financial support of up to £3 000 to employers to take on unemployed adults (age 18+) as apprentices. The financial support may be used as a contribution towards wages and up to £1 000 in addition may be used for job-related skills training.

An Employer Incentive Payment of between £250 and £1 500 is available to employers whose apprentices successfully completes a full apprenticeship framework in Northern Ireland.

Careers advisors

Careers advice is offered by a range of professionals, including teachers and careers advisers employed in the education, social work and youth work sectors as well as job centre personnel. Their training varies from in-service training to formal and professional careers guidance qualifications. The Careers Profession Task Force’s report Towards a strong careers profession ([122]Careers Profession Task Force (2012).
Towards a strong careers profession [accessed 15.11.2018].
) made detailed recommendations on raising the professional nature of the workforce. One area of concern identified was that careers advisers were too often under-qualified. Following on from this, the Institute of Employability Professionals has introduced qualifications in employability services along with Education Development International. A unified professional body for the careers profession, the Careers Development Institute, maintains a register of Career Development Professionals and a framework for professional development of careers advisors in the UK.

Qualifications in Career Development, such as those developed by the former sector skills council Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK), are available at RQF levels 4, 5 and 6, but the Careers Profession Alliance’s current voluntary registration requires a level 6 qualification for full registration. Qualifications at postgraduate level are also being developed.

Scottish Careers Advisors are required to hold a postgraduate qualification in career guidance and development in addition to an SDS training plan. Advisers in the Northern Ireland Careers Service similarly should possess a relevant postgraduate level qualification as well as a work-based qualification.

Careers advice services

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) provides a Careers Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) service across Scotland. SDS works in partnership with education providers and job centres. Targets specified in the More Choices, More Chances strategy include young people at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment and Training). SDS has also set up the My World of Work website containing CIAG resources. The Commission on Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce recommends incorporating careers advice before subject specialisation in secondary schools, to involve employers more closely with schools, educate teachers to provide comprehensive advice, and include career management skills in the curriculum.

In December 2017 the Careers Strategy for England was published. It sets out a long term plan to build a world class careers system that will help young people and adults choose the career that’s right for them. The strategy has been developed in partnership with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation which has developed a set of benchmarks, based on rigorous national and international research, which define excellence in careers guidance ([123]Gatsby Charitable Foundation (2013).
Good career guidance [accessed 15.11.2018].
). The strategy is co-ordinated through an expanded role for the Careers & Enterprise Company, working across all the Gatsby Benchmarks to help schools and colleges deliver the ambitions in the strategy.

The National Careers Service (NCS) provides advice on learning, training and employment for young people and adults in England. The service is delivered by local area based contractors who provide access to face-to-face and telephone advice to adults 19 years (or 18 if unemployed or in custody) and over. The NCS also comprise the National Careers Service Helpline (NCH), which offers web chat, text and telephone support to adults and young people, and National Careers Service website gives customers access to information and advice. The National Apprenticeship Service in England runs an Apprenticeship and a Traineeship Vacancy Service, which includes an online search function and mobile app.

Careers Wales offers an all age careers guidance service. The Welsh strategy for further development of careers services is outlined in Future ambitions: Developing careers services in Wales ([124]Welsh Government (2010).
Future ambitions: developing careers services in Wales [accessed 15.11.2018].
). Careers Wales also maintains an Apprenticeship Matching Service available for employers and individual applicants.

The Northern Ireland Careers Service provides an all age, impartial careers education and guidance service to promote employment, education and training opportunities. Careers advisers operate throughout Northern Ireland from Job Centres, Jobs and Benefits Offices and stand-alone careers offices. The Careers Service also offers careers guidance via other channels such as telephone, email and webchat. Careers advisers use evidence outlined in the Department for the Economy’s Skills Barometer to highlight the skills and qualifications most valued by employers and the sectors expected to experience employment growth, thus helping to balance skills supply and demand. Advisers also work with careers teachers in schools and further education colleges to provide impartial advice and guidance to pupils from 14-19. In Northern Ireland, careers education is a statutory area of learning in the common curriculum for all grant-aided post-primary schools. In addition, further education colleges and higher education institutions offer careers guidance to their students. The strategy for careers education and guidance in Northern Ireland, Preparing for Success 2015-2020 which was published in March 2016 sets out a coherent and forward thinking strategic vision for the careers system in Northern Ireland ([125]DfE (2018)
Preparing for success 2015-20 [accessed 15.11.2018].
).

Careers Information, Advice and Guidance (CIAG) is also offered in schools, colleges, higher education institutions and third sector bodies across the UK. Careers advice is available from trade unions as well and Unionlearn has developed their Strategy for Supporting Learners through their Union Learning Representatives, specifically targeting those who are disadvantaged in the workplace. Schools and colleges in England have a duty to provide access to independent careers guidance for pupils in school years 8 to 13 (ages 12-18) and for 19 to 25 year-olds with an Education, Health and Care Plan. Government funding for careers provision forms part of overall school and college budgets and it is left up to the discretion of the education provider how much is spent. Local authorities no longer have an obligation to provide careers guidance, but still have a duty to encourage, enable and assist young people to take part in education and training. Careers education and guidance is also provided by schools and colleges in Wales for students aged 14-19. The Careers and the World of Work Framework also forms part of the curriculum for 11-16 year-olds in maintained schools in Wales.

Jobcentre+ advisers work within schools in England to deliver impartial career advice intended to support schools in engaging young people (aged 12 to 18) identified as being at risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) or who face potential disadvantage in the labour market. The initiative, known as the Pathfinder programme, will provide students with information on traineeships and apprenticeships, accessing work experience, the local labour market and soft skills that employers expect.

Ofsted’s Learner View website allows FE college students in England to rate their college. The results are available for users to search and view to gather an indication of the performance of a college.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has added information about vocational courses and general careers advice to their website under the name UCAS Progress.

Please see also:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5, 6

Higher apprenticeships

ISCED 551, 554, 665

Higher apprenticeships leading to EQF level 5 and 6, ISCED 551, 554, 665
EQF level
5, 6
ISCED-P 2011 level

551, 554, 665

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

18 (16 in Scotland)

Usual entry age

18

Usual completion age

24 (22 in Scotland)

Length of a programme (years)

1 – 6 (1-4 in Scotland) ([186]Apprenticeships at this level usually last one to six years (one to four years in Scotland), with the duration varying depending on the programme, employment contract and the needs of the apprentice. In Northern Ireland, Higher level apprenticeships must be a minimum of two years duration.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

Programmes are accessible to learners over 18.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Apprenticeship programmes in the UK require apprentices to be trained both:

  • on-the-job; and
  • off-the-job.

Off-the-job learning may be organised:

  • as one or two days per week at an education and training provider; or
  • through longer, less frequent blocks of learning;
  • evening classes are also offered.

Learning options

Higher Apprenticeships in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks ([188]Which include a work contract, a technical/occupational qualification within the RQF/CQFW and other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.).

In England, new apprenticeship standards developed by groups of employers from 2017/18 are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations.

Scottish Modern apprenticeships include:

  • a work contract;
  • SVQs (as mandatory components) or alternative competence based qualifications; and
  • Work Place Core Skills that comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others;
  • Sectors may decide to include other qualifications, such as HNCs/HNDs or other vocational qualifications either as a mandatory or optional enhancement.

Scottish Technical and Professional apprenticeships do not include Work Place Core Skills; rather they include a range of SVQ units designated as career skills. Technical and Professional apprenticeships may include work-based qualifications other than SVQs (or alternative competence based qualifications) such as SQA HNDs or professional qualifications as the mandatory qualification.

Main providers

Colleges, independent training providers, universities

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<=80%

The programme is delivered as apprenticeship (minimum 20% - one day a week for a full-time apprentice- is ‘off the job’ training).

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training;
Main target groups

Higher apprenticeships are for adult (18+) learners, many of whom may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Entry to these non-degree higher education qualifications are usually based on possession of an EQF level 4 qualification from school or college in either vocational or academic subject areas. Entry is allowed at the discretion of the college guided by the awarding body.

Specific entrance requirements to apprenticeships vary depending on the occupational area and the level of the apprenticeship framework/standard.

Degree apprenticeships (in Scotland: Higher and Graduate apprenticeships) create a different pathway to obtaining university degrees. Whilst academic ability, including grades and numerical and reasoning skills are considered by the university or college, candidates are also interviewed for a job with a company (unless they are already employed with the company). Both employers and universities must be satisfied the applicant meets their respective requirements. There may therefore be a joint recruitment process.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment of framework Higher apprenticeships (see Section 18. LEARNING FORM): In England, new apprenticeship standards currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning and are linked to specific occupations. Apprentices are continually assessed by an independent assessor from industry or a separate training provider to the one the student attended at the end of the training. Apprentices also undergo end-point assessment via a government-approved end point assessment organisation.

Assessment of Scottish Modern apprenticeships (see Section 18. LEARNING FORM): In Scotland, end-point assessment is not mandatory for Scottish Modern Apprenticeships. As Scottish Modern Apprenticeships are offered across a broad range of sectors, the format of the training and assessment varies considerably across the apprenticeships available.

Assessment of Technical and Professional apprenticeships (see Section 18. LEARNING FORM): As with the Scottish Modern Apprenticeships, for the Technical and Professional apprenticeships end-point assessment is not mandatory for Scottish Modern Apprenticeships. The format of the training and assessment varies considerably across the apprenticeships available.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Apprenticeships at this level are called:

  • higher apprenticeships,
  • higher level apprenticeships,
  • degree apprenticeships,
  • graduate apprenticeships,
  • professional apprenticeship,
  • technical apprenticeships and modern apprenticeships.

A certificate may be awarded along with a vocational qualification, such as:

  • Foundation degree;
  • BTEC Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, along with NVQs and SVQs.

Degree and professional apprenticeships result in the award of a Bachelor degree (EQF 6).

Examples of qualifications

Economist, project manager, quantity surveyor ([189]UCAS: Find a Job (Apprenticeships: Degree/Higher):
https://careerfinder.ucas.com/jobs/degree/#browsing [accessed 11.6.19].
).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

There are good articulation options for progression from higher VET programmes at RQF levels 4 and 5/SCQF levels 7 and 8 (EQF level 5), such as HNC and HNDs, to the second or third year of a Bachelor degree in a related field in the UK.

However, admission and transfer arrangements are made at the discretion of the admitting institution. See VET programme box ‘College-based higher VET for information about progression opportunities in Scotland.

In Northern Ireland all Higher level apprenticeship opportunities must offer a linear progression pathway from EQF Level 4 to 5 to 6 to 7, either to further vocational learning, or to part-time provision.

Possession of a Bachelor degree allows entry to postgraduate programmes at universities and other qualifications at EQF level 7.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

information not available

General education subjects

Y

Apprenticeships in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks ([190]A work contract, a formal technical/occupational qualification.) and include

  • general subjects relevant to the occupational profile
Key competences

Scottish Modern apprenticeship include (see also learning options in section 18)

  • Work Place Core Skills comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others.
Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 5

College-based

higher VET

ISCED 551, 554

College-based higher VET leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 551, 554
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

551, 554

Usual entry grade

13

Usual completion grade

15

Usual entry age

18

Usual completion age

20

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to) ([191]Although short courses and individual units of study can be completed, most full-time VET programmes at this level take between one and two years to complete. BTEC/SQA higher national programmes are vocational short-cycle higher education programmes under the framework for qualifications in the European higher education area (FQ-EHEA) and are either certificates (approximately one year) or diplomas (two years). Programmes can take longer when studied part-time.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

The programme is also available in adult education/continuing training.

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

Learners entering these programmes are over 18.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

VET learning options include:

  • full-time school-based learning;
  • part-time in adult/continuing education;
  • classroom-based programme in conjunction with an apprenticeship.

VET learning options per qualification type:

  • BTEC/SQA ([193]Scottish Qualifications Authority.) Higher Nationals are often studied part-time;
  • SVQs/NVQs are often taken by employed people or in conjunction with an apprenticeship, but are also available in college settings.
Main providers

Colleges

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • workshops;
  • in-company training;
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training ([194]All the options listed may all be included in programmes of this type, but the inclusion and amount depends on the programme.).
Main target groups

Vocational study at this level encompasses stand-alone qualifications for applicants aged 18+.

These study programmes may also be completed by employees looking for career progression.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Entry to these non-degree higher education qualifications are usually based on possession of an EQF level 4 qualification from school or college in either vocational or academic subject areas.

Entry is allowed at the discretion of the college guided by the awarding body.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Information not available

Diplomas/certificates provided

A wide variety of qualifications exist at this level ([195]See also Main vocational qualifications offered in the UK under Section 6. VET within education and training system)

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales:

  • BTEC Higher Certificates and Diplomas;
  • NVQs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In Scotland:

  • National Progression Awards;
  • National Certificates;
  • Professional Development Awards;
  • SVQs in Scotland.
Examples of qualifications

Quantity surveyor, education administrator, paramedic.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

There are good articulation options for progression from higher VET programmes at RQF levels 4 and 5/SCQF levels 7 and 8 (EQF level 5), such as Higher National Certificates (HNC) and Higher National Diplomas (HND), to the second or third year of a Bachelor degree in a related field in the UK.

However, admission and transfer arrangements are made at the discretion of the admitting institution, though in Scotland the Government and Scottish Funding Council (SFC) have provided strategic funding to help build more substantive and sustained articulation arrangements through the use of regional ‘articulation hubs’. This funding and the hubs are no longer in place, but universities and tertiary colleges have built into their Outcome Agreements with the SFC ([196]http://www.sfc.ac.uk/funding/outcome-agreements/outcome-agreements.aspx) the requirement to sustain and ideally increase such articulation activity. This is also supported by recommendations from the Commission on Widening Access set up by the Scottish Government, with a Commissioner on Fair Access in place to help drive such activity.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Qualifications frameworks in England and the devolved administrations ([197]Credit and qualifications framework in Wales (CQFW), Scottish credit and qualifications framework (SCQF) and the previous qualifications and credit framework in Northern Ireland (QCF).) describe levels, qualifications and units in terms of learning outcomes as well as credits and notional learning hours.

Qualifications included in the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland in place since 2015) have, from 31 December 2017, been described in terms of total qualification time ([198]Ofqual (2015).
Total qualification time criteria [accessed 22.2.2017].
) as credit allocation to units and qualifications is not compulsory within the RQF.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. While NVQs sit within the RQF and CQFW, SVQs sit within the SCQF.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 7

Higher apprenticeships

ISCED 767

Higher apprenticeships leading to EQF level 7, ISCED 767. Higher apprenticeships at Doctoral level have not yet been developed.
EQF level
7
ISCED-P 2011 level

767

Usual entry grade

Information not available

Usual completion grade

Information not available

Usual entry age

Information not available

Usual completion age

Information not available

Length of a programme (years)

1 (up to) ([199]Programmes at this level usually take between six months to a year to complete.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Information not available

Is it available for adults?

Y

Learners in these programmes are over 18.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Apprenticeship programmes in the UK require apprentices to be trained both

  • on-the-job; and
  • off-the-job.

Off-the-job learning may be organised

  • as one or two days per week at an education and training provider; or
  • through longer, less frequent blocks of learning;
  • evening classes are also offered.

Learning options

Higher Apprenticeships in England, and Wales are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks ([201]Which include a work contract, a technical/occupational qualification within the RQF/CQFW and other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.).

Higher level apprenticeships frameworks in Northern Ireland consist of an academic element, which contains a strong work-based element, combined with on-the-job training, and may include technical work-based qualifications as appropriate.

In England, new apprenticeship standards developed by groups of employers from 2017/18 are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations.

Scottish apprenticeships include a work contract. Technical and Professional apprenticeships include career skills and may include work-based or alternative competence based qualifications or professional qualifications as the mandatory qualification.

Main providers

Colleges and higher education institutions

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Work-based learning and in-company training are included in programmes of this type, but the amount depends on the programme.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training;
Main target groups

Higher apprenticeships are for adult learners, who may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Degree apprenticeships were introduced to create a different pathway to obtaining university degrees. Whilst academic ability, including grades and numerical and reasoning skills are considered by the university or college, candidates are also interviewed for a job with a company (unless they are already employed with the company). Both employers and universities must be satisfied the applicant meets their respective requirements. There may therefore be a joint recruitment process.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Assessment of Higher apprenticeships (see Section 18. LEARNING FORM): Higher Apprenticeships have end-point assessment, where apprenticeships are assessment on both their academic learning and occupational competences.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Apprenticeships at this level are called:

  • higher apprenticeships;
  • higher level apprenticeships;
  • graduate apprenticeships;
  • degree apprenticeships; and
  • professional apprenticeships.

An apprenticeship certificate may be awarded along with a Master’s degree.

Examples of qualifications

Information not available

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Higher apprenticeships at Doctoral level have not yet been developed.

Possession of a Master’s degree awarded from a university with degree awarding powers in the UK allows progression to Doctoral study in the UK at institutional discretion.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Information not available

Key competences

Y

Technical and professional apprenticeships include career skills.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 7

Higher VET

ISCED 767

Higher VET leading to EQF 7, ISCED 767
EQF level
7
ISCED-P 2011 level

767

Usual entry grade

Information not available

Usual completion grade

Information not available

Usual entry age

Information not available

Usual completion age

Information not available

Length of a programme (years)

1 (up to) ([202]Programmes at this level usually take between six months to a year to complete.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

The programme is also available in adult education/continuing training.

Is it available for adults?

Y

Learners in these programmes are over 18.

  
ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • Programmes are often studied part-time by employed people, but are also available in college settings that include work experience.
  • Courses are often also offered through distance learning.
Main providers

Colleges and higher education institutions

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Work-based learning and in-company training are included in programmes of this type, but the amount depends on the programme.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • workshops;
  • in-company training.

Many students will be in employment whilst studying.

Main target groups

These study programmes are, in the main, completed by employees looking for career progression and to improve professional practice.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Entry to these non-degree higher education qualifications are usually based on possession of a university degree or other non-degree higher qualifications. Work experience in a related subject is often also taken into consideration.

Entry is allowed at the discretion of the college guided by the awarding body.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Information not available

Diplomas/certificates provided

A wide variety of qualifications exist at this level, including BTEC Professional qualifications, such as Extended Level 7 Diplomas along with NVQs (National vocational qualifications) and SVQs (Scottish vocational qualifications).

Examples of qualifications

Information not available

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

These study programmes are, in the main, completed by employees looking for career progression and to improve professional practice.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

General education subjects

General subjects are not usually included as the programmes are narrowly specialised to meet the skills demands of a specific profession.

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Qualifications frameworks in England and the devolved administrations ([204]Credit and qualifications framework in Wales (CQFW), Scottish credit and qualifications framework (SCQF) and the previous qualifications and credit framework in Northern Ireland (QCF).) describe levels, qualifications and units in terms of learning outcomes as well as credits and notional learning hours.

Qualifications included in the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland in place since 2015) have, from 31 December 2017, been described in terms of total qualification time ([205]Ofqual (2015).
Total qualification time criteria [accessed 22.2.2017].
) as credit allocation to units and qualifications is not compulsory within the RQF.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. While NVQs sit within the RQF and CQFW, SVQs sit within the SCQF.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

1 605 000 students in England in the 16-18 age group participated in education and training at various levels in 2017, which accounts for 86% of all young people in this age group.

 

Participation of 16-18 year olds in education and training in England in 2017 (%)

Source: Department for Education (2018). Participation in education, training and employment: 2017 [accessed 15.11.2018].

50 500 students in Scotland in the 16-19 age group participated in education at various levels in 2018, which accounts for 71% of all young people in this age group. Apprenticeship and non-formal and informal training are not included in this number.

Participation of 16-19 year olds in education and training in Scotland in 2018 (%)

Source: Skills Development Scotland (2018). Annual Participation Measure for 16 – 19 year olds in Scotland 2018 [accessed 15.11.2018].

 

Post-secondary

Programme Types
Not available

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 2/3

Apprenticeship,

ISCED 351,352

Apprenticeship programmes leading to EQF level 2 and 3, ISCED 351/352
EQF level
2/3
ISCED-P 2011 level

351, 352

Usual entry grade

10 (also available to adults)

Usual completion grade

11

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

16

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to) ([128]Apprenticeships at this level usually last one year, but the duration can be longer depending on the programme, employment contract and the needs of the apprentice. There is a requirement for apprenticeships to last at least 12 months in England.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

([130]Also available in adult education/continuing training.)

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

([131]Apprentices are employees. For learners up to 18, the programme is 100% government funded. From age 19, 50% is funded, but the remainder is paid by the company, therefore it is free of charge to the learner/apprentice.)

Is it available for adults?

Y

Apprentices may complete this type of study at age 16, but many apprentices are adult learners who may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Apprenticeship programmes in the UK require apprentices to be trained both

  • on-the-job; and
  • off-the-job.

Off-the-job learning may be organised

  • as one or two days per week at an education and training provider; or
  • through longer, less frequent blocks of learning;
  • evening classes are also offered.

Learning options

Apprenticeships at this level in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks ([132]Which include a work contract, a formal technical/occupational qualification and Functional Skills/Essential Skills/Key Skills/GCSEs in English, mathematics and other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.).

In England ([133]New apprenticeship standards are being developed by employer-led consortia (Trailblazer groups); see Section: VET governance/apprenticeships in England.), new apprenticeship standards are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations, and apprentices are assessed by an independent assessor from industry or a separate training provider to the one the student attended at the end of the training.

Scottish Modern apprenticeships include a work contract and are required to include as mandatory components SVQs ([134]Scottish vocational qualification.) or alternative competence based qualifications and Work Place Core Skills that comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others.

Main providers

Colleges, independent training providers.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<=80%

The programme is delivered as apprenticeship (minimum 20% - one day a week for a full time apprentice- is ‘off the job’ training)

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults. Apprenticeship programmes at this level have different target groups depending on the programme:

Traineeships in England are designed to provide young, unemployed people who possess little work experience and low qualifications with skills and work experience in preparation for apprenticeships and employment. The core content comprises literacy and numeracy, work preparation training and a work placement. This programme is tailored to individual candidates’ needs and should be completed in less than six months.

Traineeships are being introduced in Northern Ireland at EQF level 3 and will allow progression to RQF level 3 (EQF 4) apprenticeships. A baccalaureate-style curriculum is being created, which will include work-based learning and allow students to continue into an apprenticeship or further education or be skilled enough to find sustained employment.

Scottish learning providers offer additional skills and employability training opportunities, through the Employability Fund that prepare young people for Modern Apprenticeships or employment. Training is targeted towards seven key sectors and programmes include employability skills, basic occupational skills, employer experience and lead to a recognised vocational qualification or certification ([135]Qualifications vary depending on the needs of the person and the local area, more information at:
https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/what-we-do/employability-skills/employability-fund/
).

Traineeships are available for 16-18 year olds in Wales and provide needs-based training to help learners progress to further learning, apprenticeships and employment through provision at three levels.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Apprentices may complete this type of study at age 16, but many apprentices are adult learners who may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

Entrance requirements to apprenticeships vary depending on the occupational area and the level of the apprenticeship framework/standard. Competition for some apprenticeship places is fierce and good secondary qualifications at EQF level 3 in English and mathematics are sometimes necessary.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Qualifications offered within Scottish and Welsh apprenticeship frameworks and in the apprenticeship frameworks that include QCF qualifications in England and Northern Ireland ([136]Level descriptors have been revised, but the same eight framework levels remain from the previous qualifications and credit framework (QCF), and the existing qualifications continue to be offered until they are withdrawn by the awarding organisation.), are unit-based which enables credit transfer.

The new apprenticeship standards in England are; however, not unit-based and are assessed through a final examination, which makes the process of credit transfer more dependent on the discretion of the learning provider.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Apprenticeships at this level are called:

  • intermediate apprenticeships (RQF);
  • foundation apprenticeships (CQFW); and
  • modern apprenticeships (SCQF).

An apprenticeship certificate ([137]Attesting that the qualification was delivered as part of an apprenticeship programme) is awarded along with a vocational qualification, such as BTEC First Awards, Certificates and Diplomas, NVQs and SVQs ([138]National vocational qualifications and Scottish vocational qualifications.).

Examples of qualifications

Bricklayer, motor vehicle technician and legal secretary

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Apprenticeship programmes and VET qualifications at this level usually provide entry to the labour market and whilst apprenticeships are linked to a profession ([139]Such as bricklayer, motor vehicle technician and legal secretary.), not all qualifications are linked to an occupational standard.

Some apprenticeships at this level provide the first step towards a more narrowly defined apprenticeship or training programme at a more advanced level.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

Apprenticeships in England ([140]New apprenticeship standards are being developed by employer-led consortia (Trailblazer groups); see Section: VET governance/apprenticeships in England.), Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks which include a work contract, a formal technical/occupational qualification and

  • Functional Skills/Essential Skills/Key Skills/GCSEs in English, mathematics; and
  • other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.

Traineeships in England:

  • the core content comprises literacy and numeracy ([141]The programme is tailored to individual candidates’ needs and should be completed in less than six months.).
Key competences

Scottish learning providers offer additional skills and employability training opportunities, through the Employability Fund that prepare young people for Modern Apprenticeships or employment. Training is targeted towards seven key sectors ([142]Programmes lead to a recognised vocational qualification or certification. Qualifications vary depending on the needs of the person and the local area, more information at:
https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/what-we-do/employability-skills/employability-fund/
) and programmes include

  • employability skills ([143]As well as basic occupational skills, and employer experience.).

Scottish Modern apprenticeships include ([144]In addition to a work contract and SVQs Scottish vocational qualifications as mandatory components, or alternative competence based qualifications and employability skills.):

  • work place core skills that comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others.
Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 3

School-based VET,

ISCED 351, 352

School-based VET programmes leading to EQF level 3, ISCED 351, 352
EQF level
3
ISCED-P 2011 level

351, 352

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

16

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to) ([145]Although short courses and individual units of study can be completed, most full-time VET programmes at this level take between one and two years to complete. In Scotland National Certificates and National Progression Awards are National Qualifications Group Awards in which students accumulate credits towards distinctive group awards. Programmes can take longer when studied part-time.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

([147]Also available in adult education/continuing training.)

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For learners up to 18, VET is funded by government agencies.

Is it available for adults?

Y

The programme is also available in adult education/continuing training.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

VET learning options include:

  • full-time school-based learning;
  • part-time in adult/continuing education;
  • school-based programme in conjunction with an apprenticeship.

VET learning options per qualification type:

  • BTEC Firsts (RQF level 2 qualifications) ([148]BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) qualifications are offered in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. For a detailed description of the BTEC Firsts, see: Pearson.
    About BTEC Firsts [accessed 15.2.2018].
    ) are often studied part-time and in conjunction with other qualifications;
  • National vocational qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish vocational qualifications (SVQs) are often taken by employed people or in conjunction with an apprenticeships; also available in college settings;

GCSEs ([149]General certificate of secondary education.) in vocational subjects can normally be studied alongside general academic subjects.

Main providers

Colleges, secondary schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • school workshops;
  • in-company training;
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training ([150]All the options listed may all be included in programmes of this type, but the inclusion and amount depends on the programme.).
Main target groups

VET programmes may be taken as:

  • alternatives to compulsory general academic study at secondary schools; or
  • as stand-alone qualifications completed after moving sideways from secondary school to starting VET at a college;
  • adults may also start VET at this level.

In Scotland:

  • National Certificates are primarily aimed at people in full-time education and National Progression Awards are usually shorter, more flexible programmes for employees or people returning to work, though are also taken as part of a wider curriculum of qualifications within the school or college setting.
Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

No specific entry requirements apply.

Students may complete this type of VET at age 15/16. Age 16 marks the end of the compulsory schooling age, although the age to which individuals are required to take part in education or training, either part-time or full-time, was raised in England to 18 in 2015 in a bid to improve the skill levels of the work force.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Information not available

Diplomas/certificates provided

A wide variety of qualifications exist at this level (see also Section VET governance):

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales:

  • BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) Awards, Certificates and Diplomas ([151]See also Pearson:
    What is a BTEC? [accessed 15.2.2019].
    );
  • the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in vocational subjects.

In Scotland:

  • NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) ([152]National qualifications are offered in both vocational and academic subjects.);
  • SVQs (Scottish Vocational Qualifications);
  • National Certificates (vocational qualifications);
  • NPAs (National Progression Awards) (vocational qualifications).
Examples of qualifications

Heating and ventilation engineer, motor vehicle technician, care worker ([153]Qualifications not all linked to an occupational standard.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Qualifications at this level may provide entry to the labour market in professions such as heating and ventilation engineer, motor vehicle technician or care worker, but are not all linked to an occupational standard and are mostly intended to prepare students for further vocational specialisation at a higher level.

In Scotland, National Progression Awards are National Qualifications Group Awards that allow entry to more advanced study and employment.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

GCSEs in vocational subjects can normally be studied alongside general academic subjects.

Key competences

Information not available

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Qualifications frameworks in England and the devolved administrations ([154]Credit and qualifications framework in Wales (CQFW), Scottish credit and qualifications framework (SCQF) and the previous qualifications and credit framework in Northern Ireland (QCF).) describe levels, qualifications and units in terms of learning outcomes as well as credits and notional learning hours.

Qualifications included in the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland in place since 2015) have, from 31 December 2017, been described in terms of total qualification time ([155]Ofqual (2015).
Total qualification time criteria [accessed 22.2.2017].
) as credit allocation to units and qualifications is not compulsory within the RQF.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. While NVQs sit within the RQF and CQFW, SVQs sit within the SCQF.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 4

Apprenticeship

ISCED 354

Apprenticeship programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354.
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

12 (also available to adults)

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to) ([156]Apprenticeships at this level usually last one year, but the duration can be longer depending on the programme, employment contract and the needs of the apprentice. There is a requirement for apprenticeships to last at least 12 months in England.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

(in England)

N

(in N. Ireland, Wales and Scotland)

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England)

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

([158]Apprentices are employees. For learners up to 18, the programme is 100% government funded. From age 19, 50% is funded, but the remainder is paid by the company, therefore it is free of charge to the learner/apprentice.)

Is it available for adults?

Y

Apprentices may complete this type of study at age 18, but many apprentices are adult learners who may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Apprenticeship programmes in the UK require apprentices to be trained both

  • on-the-job; and
  • off-the-job.

Off-the-job learning may be organised:

  • as one or two days per week at an education and training provider; or
  • through longer, less frequent blocks of learning;
  • evening classes are also offered.

Learning options

Apprenticeships in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks ([159]Which include a work contract, a formal technical/occupational qualification and Functional Skills/Essential Skills/Key Skills/GCSEs in English, mathematics and other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.)

In England ([160]New apprenticeship standards are being developed by employer-led consortia (Trailblazer groups); see Section: VET governance/apprenticeships in England.), new apprenticeship standards are currently run in parallel with the frameworks and comprise on-the-job and off-the-job training and learning, linked to specific occupations, and apprentices are assessed by an independent assessor from industry or a separate training provider to the one the student attended at the end of the training.

Scottish Modern apprenticeships include a work contract and are required to include as mandatory components SVQs- Scottish Vocational Qualification or alternative competence based qualifications and Work Place Core Skills that comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others.

Scottish young people on Foundation apprenticeships

  • are not employed;
  • spend time in school and on work placements (approximately one day per week);
  • Successful students may transfer to a modern apprenticeship on completion.
Main providers

Colleges, independent training providers

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

<=80%

The programme is delivered as apprenticeship (minimum 20% - one day a week for a full time apprentice- is ‘off the job’ training) Information not available.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training
Main target groups

Programmes are available for young people and also for adults.

Apprentices may complete this type of study at age 18, but many apprentices are adult learners who may already be employed prior to starting the apprenticeship programme.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Most pupils take examinations for the GCSE ([161]General certificate of secondary education.) at age 15/16 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The grades achieved here play an important role in determining the future study opportunities within VET.

In Scotland, National 4 and 5 qualifications (EQF 2/3), normally also taken at age 15/16, are the most common entrance qualifications to VET.

Entrance requirements to apprenticeships vary depending on the occupational area and the level of the apprenticeship framework/standard. Competition for some apprenticeship places is fierce and good secondary qualifications at EQF level 3 in English and mathematics are sometimes necessary.

Aligned with the Scottish Government’s policy agenda of Developing the Young Workforce, Foundation apprenticeships have been created to offer school pupils (at EQF level 4) the chance to undertake some components of a Modern apprenticeship in Scotland whilst still in school studying other subjects like National 5s and Highers. These apprenticeships are linked to key sectors of the Scottish economy, so young people are getting industry experience which will help them kick-start a successful career in their chosen field.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Qualifications offered within Scottish and Welsh apprenticeship frameworks and in the apprenticeship frameworks that include QCF qualifications in England and Northern Ireland ([162]Level descriptors have been revised, but the same eight framework levels remain from the previous qualifications and credit framework (QCF), and the existing qualifications continue to be offered until they are withdrawn by the awarding organisation.), are unit-based which enables credit transfer.

The new apprenticeship standards in England are; however, not unit-based and are assessed through a final examination, which makes the process of credit transfer more dependent on the discretion of the learning provider.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Apprenticeships at this level are called:

  • Level 3 apprenticeships;
  • advanced apprenticeships; and
  • in Scotland: foundation apprenticeships and modern apprenticeships.

An apprenticeship certificate ([163]Attesting that the qualification was delivered as part of an apprenticeship programme.) is awarded along with a vocational qualification, such as BTEC National Awards, Certificates and Diplomas along with NVQs and SVQs ([164]National vocational qualifications and Scottish vocational qualifications.).

Examples of qualifications

Electrician, veterinary nurse and dental technician.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Apprenticeship programmes and VET qualifications at this level are designed to provide entry to the labour market and are linked to a profession.

Progression opportunities to higher apprenticeship or training programmes at a more advanced level also exist.

Entry to first level university degree study is also possible depending on the qualifications achieved.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

Apprenticeships in England ([165]New apprenticeship standards are being developed by employer-led consortia (Trailblazer groups); see Section: VET governance/apprenticeships in England), Wales and Northern Ireland are offered in the shape of apprenticeship frameworks which include a work contract, a formal technical/occupational qualification and

  • Functional Skills/Essential Skills/Key Skills/GCSEs in English, mathematics; and
  • other general subjects relevant to the occupational profile.
Key competences

Scottish learning providers offer additional skills and employability training opportunities, through the Employability Fund that prepare young people for Modern Apprenticeships or employment. Training is targeted towards seven key sectors ([166]Programmes lead to a recognised vocational qualification or certification. Qualifications vary depending on the needs of the person and the local area, more information at:
https://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/what-we-do/employability-skills/employability-fund/
) and programmes include

  • employability skills ([167]As well as basic occupational skills, and employer experience.).

Scottish Modern apprenticeships include ([168]In addition to a work contract and SVQs Scottish vocational qualifications as mandatory components, or alternative competence based qualifications and employability skills.)

  • work place core skills that comprise ICT, problem solving, numeracy, communication and working with others.
Application of learning outcomes approach

Information not available

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

EQF 4

College-based VET

ISCED 351, 354

College-based VET programmes leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 351, 354
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

351, 354

Usual entry grade

12

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

18

Length of a programme (years)

2 (up to) ([169]Although short courses and individual units of study can be completed, most full-time VET programmes at this level take between one and two years to complete. Programmes can take longer when studied part-time.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

(in England)

N

(in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland)

Education is compulsory up to 16 (18 in England).

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

For learners up to 18, VET is funded by government

agencies.

Is it available for adults?

Y

The programme is also available in adult education/continuing training.

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

VET learning options include:

  • full-time school-based learning;
  • part-time in adult/continuing education;
  • school-based programme in conjunction with an apprenticeship.

VET learning options per qualification type:

  • BTEC Nationals are often studied part-time and in conjunction with other qualifications;
  • SVQs/NVQs ([171]Scottish vocational qualifications / national vocational qualifications.) are often taken by employed people or in conjunction with an apprenticeship, but are also available in college settings.

VET learning options

In England, 16-19 year olds are expected to follow a 16-19 study programme consisting of a main vocational qualification (or general academic qualification) and including work-related learning as well as English and mathematics, unless the required level has already been achieved in these two subjects.

Qualifications taught in England at RQF level 3 may be categorised as either technical or applied general qualifications. Qualifications receiving sufficient endorsements from employers and trade and professional associations are categorised as Tech levels (Technical level qualifications as a mark of quality and relevance to the labour market. Applied general qualifications provide a broader study of a vocational area, and need the public backing of three universities to achieve the quality mark. Students completing a study programme started in 2014 or later that includes one of the Tech levels, a level 3 core mathematics qualification and an extended project will achieve the Technical Baccalaureate ([172]See also Department for Education (2014).
The Technical Baccalaureate Performance Table Measure
).

The Welsh Baccalaureate contains academic and vocational qualifications alongside a wider programme of learning that includes an individual project and three challenges that enable young people to develop critical skills including problem solving and creativity. This programme comprises literacy, numeracy, digital literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving, planning and organisation, creativity and innovation and personal effectiveness, as well as general academic and/or vocational qualifications in addition to the skills challenges that require learners to demonstrate research skills, entrepreneurship and participate in community activities.

Main providers

Colleges, secondary schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

Information not available

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • school workshops;
  • in-company training;
  • on-the-job apprenticeship training ([173]All the options listed may all be included in programmes of this type, but the inclusion and amount depends on the programme. BTEC and NVQ/SVQ programmes combine theoretical and practical vocational education and can form part of an apprenticeship programme.).
Main target groups

VET programmes may be taken as:

  • alternatives to compulsory general academic study at secondary schools; or
  • as stand-alone qualifications completed after moving sideways from secondary school to starting VET at a college;
  • adults may also start VET at this level.

Target groups and education strategies in place:

The ‘Opportunities for All’ pledge offers a guaranteed place in education or training for 16-19 year olds in Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, a guarantee of training towards level 1-3 qualifications (EQF levels 2-4) is offered through the Training for Success programme for all unemployed 16-17 year old school leavers with extended eligibility for those with a disability and from an in-care background.

The Northern Ireland Strategy for Youth Training includes a policy commitment for the future system that all 16–24 year olds who require training at level 2 (EQF 3) will have the opportunity to participate.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Most pupils take examinations for the GCSE ([174]General certificate of secondary education.) at age 15/16 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The grades achieved here play an important role in determining the future study opportunities within VET.

In Scotland, National 4 and 5 qualifications (EQF levels 2/3), normally also taken at age 15/16, are the most common entrance qualifications to VET.

Students may complete this type of VET at age 18/19. Age 16 marks the end of the compulsory schooling age, although the age to which individuals are required to take part in education or training, either part-time or full-time, was raised in England to 18 in 2015.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Information not available

Diplomas/certificates provided

A wide variety of qualifications exist at this level (see also section VET governance):

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales:

  • BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) National Awards, Certificates and Diplomas;
  • NVQs (National vocational qualifications);
  • applied subjects at upper secondary level are also available in the General Certificate of Education Advanced level (GCE A level) and Advanced Subsidiary programmes and the Welsh Baccalaureate.

In Scotland:

  • National Progression Awards;
  • National Certificates;
  • Professional Development Awards;
  • SVQs (Scottish vocational qualifications);
  • National Qualifications, such as Higher and Advanced Higher are offered primarily in academic, but also some vocational subjects.
Examples of qualifications

Electrician, veterinary nurse, dental technician.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Candidates holding RQF level 3 ([175]RQF levels are still to be referenced to EQF levels.
- ‘An update on developments in England and Northern Ireland was presented in the EQF advisory group in February 2019, and an updated referencing report to reference the RQF and FHEQ to the EQF is planned to be presented in June 2019’. Source: Cedefop (2019). European inventory on NQF (2018) UK- England and N. Ireland, p.16.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf
- ‘An updated referencing report has been prepared by the SCQF Partnership and presented to the EQF advisory group in December 2018.’ Source:
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_scotland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf p. 14.
- ‘Wales is currently in the process of updating the referencing report due to the changes in the level descriptors, the creation of Qualification Wales and the changes to quality assurance in higher education. This report will be presented to the EQF advisory group in June 2019.’ Source:
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_wales_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf p. 15.
) or SCQF level 6 vocational qualifications (EQF level 4) may be allowed access to selected first cycle university programmes at institutional discretion.

The Curriculum for Excellence ([176]See also:
https://www.gov.scot/policies/schools/school-curriculum/
) in Scotland creates opportunities for students to combine a wider range of qualification types, which means that a larger variety of secondary qualifications are used to apply for tertiary education.

Vocational RQF qualifications at level 3 that are classified as Applied General qualifications are designed to provide a clear route from vocational education to higher education in England.

The majority of young university entrants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland hold general academic A level (RQF/CQFW level 3) ([177]CQFW level 3 are referenced to EQF level 4, RQF levels are still to be referenced to EQF levels.) qualifications ([178]RQF levels are still to be referenced to EQF levels.
- ‘An update on developments in England and Northern Ireland was presented in the EQF advisory group in February 2019, and an updated referencing report to reference the RQF and FHEQ to the EQF is planned to be presented in June 2019’. Source: Cedefop (2019). European inventory on NQF (2018) UK- England and N. Ireland, p.16.
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_england_and_northern_ireland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf
- ‘An updated referencing report has been prepared by the SCQF Partnership and presented to the EQF advisory group in December 2018.’ Source:
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_scotland_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf p. 14.
- ‘Wales is currently in the process of updating the referencing report due to the changes in the level descriptors, the creation of Qualification Wales and the changes to quality assurance in higher education. This report will be presented to the EQF advisory group in June 2019.’ Source:
https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/united_kingdom_wales_-_european_inventory_on_nqf_2018.pdf p. 15.
), but recent years have seen a steady rise in applicants being accepted with only vocational qualifications and a mixture of academic and vocational qualifications ([179]UCAS (2015).
End of cycle report 2015 [accessed 10.1.2019].
).

In Scotland, the majority of young university entrants will hold Scottish Higher qualifications (SCQF level 6 / EQF level 4). However, the final report of the Commission on Widening Access in 2016 recommended that the admissions processes of post-16 institutions recognise alternative pathways to higher education and do not unnecessarily disadvantage those who choose them, and that by 2018 a Framework for Fair Access should be published ([180]Scottish Government (2016b).
The final report of the Commission on Widening Access [accessed 15.11.2018].
). This was published in May 2019 ([181]Scottish Government (2019).
Fair access framework. [accessed 4.6.2019].
).

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Information not available

General education subjects

Y

([182]BTEC and NVQs do not include general subjects.) ([183]See more on the study programmes curriculum under Section: Assessment of learning outcomes, above.)

In England, 16-19 study programmes include English and mathematics, unless the required level has already been achieved in these two subjects.

In England, RQF level 3 Tech level (quality mark) qualifications include level 3 core mathematics.

The Welsh Baccalaureate includes general academic qualifications.

Key competences

The Welsh Baccalaureate comprises:

  • literacy,
  • numeracy,
  • digital literacy,
  • critical thinking and problem-solving,
  • planning and organisation,
  • creativity and innovation,
  • personal effectiveness, and
  • entrepreneurship.
Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Qualifications frameworks in England and the devolved administrations ([184]Credit and qualifications framework in Wales (CQFW), Scottish credit and qualifications framework (SCQF) and the previous qualifications and credit framework in Northern Ireland (QCF).) describe levels, qualifications and units in terms of learning outcomes as well as credits and notional learning hours.

Qualifications included in the RQF (Regulated qualifications framework in England and N. Ireland in place since 2015) have, from 31 December 2017, been described in terms of total qualification time ([185]Ofqual (2015).
Total qualification time criteria [accessed 22.2.2017].
) as credit allocation to units and qualifications is not compulsory within the RQF.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are competence-based, practically oriented qualifications that are based on National Occupational Standards and often assessed in the work place. While NVQs sit within the RQF and CQFW, SVQs sit within the SCQF.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available