Vocational packages were introduced in 2018 to help young people find their way from education and out into the labour market. A recent survey conducted by the National Agency for Education has shown that, two years later, these packages are well integrated and both in demand among students and widely offered in schools across Sweden.
What are vocational packages?
Learners can choose to follow vocational packages as part of their vocational introduction programme. These bridging programmes target young people who are not eligible to enter an upper secondary VET programme directly. A vocational package is a recommended cluster of courses focusing on a certain area of work or profession, and they are for voluntary use in schools. The content of each package is recommended by the National Agency for Education in consultation with various industry representatives of the national programme councils. The packages are intended to train the student for a job without providing a complete upper secondary degree/qualification. There are both national vocational packages and local vocational packages available; the latter derive from national packages but are tailored to suit local labour market needs and/or the school running the programme.
Survey on the use of vocational packages
The National Agency for Education has, during the autumn of 2020, carried out a survey designed to give more information about how widespread the use of these vocational packages is in schools and how the running of them is organised. The study was based on a questionnaire sent out to all 476 schools who run the vocational introduction programme. A further 13 interviews were also conducted with school staff, mostly head teachers, from a selection of schools who had reported via the questionnaire that their school was running vocational packages. It was the first survey of its kind, giving a more systematic insight into an area that was previously relatively unknown.
The results of the survey were published beginning of 2021 and showed that national vocational packages were offered at 36 percent of all the schools running the vocational introduction programme. The total percentage of schools offering either national or local packages in some form was 59 percent. The most common national package was in the health and social care area, and the most common local package was in the vehicle and transport area. An important finding was that these vocational packages legitimised and gave structure to the teaching given in the vocational introduction programme, which otherwise is not based on a specific given structure. Vocational packages are also popular and highly regarded among the students, who tended to succeed in these courses.
Skolverket, ReferNet Sweden. (2019). Vocational education and training in Europe - Sweden.
Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports 2018.