The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education (MYH) is in charge of the HVE-flex project, which consists of the following two main parts:
- exploring and developing models for validating and recognising non-formal and informal learning;
- delivering faster and more flexible training pathways for completion of HVE programmes and obtaining an HVE qualification.
Provision of labour market relevant training
The HVE-flex pilot funds additional study places in an established HVE programme and sets up training pathways to gain the learning outcomes needed for full qualification. Training programmes in higher vocational education must be aligned to labour market needs. MYH approves and funds programmes based on analyses of these needs as well as quality criteria, such as skills in demand by employers and industries, and the distribution of study places to meet demand. External stakeholders, including employers and sector organisations, as well as central and regional authorities, also play important roles in informing the assessment and decision-making processes.
In June 2020, the Swedish government decided to allocate SEK 29 million (about EUR 2.85 million) per year for 2020, 2021 and 2022 to be channelled to education providers through MYH. This funding covers both validation and individual complementary training in the HVE-flex model for approximately 500 individuals per year. One of the main aims of the HVE-flex pilot is to implement permanently such a flexible pathway in HVE.
Early signs of success
HVE-flex shows early signs of success. On average, participating learners were exempted from 60% of HVE programme learning outcomes through validation; 8 out of 10 will obtain the HVE qualification on an accelerated schedule. Preliminary observation of the first group of HVE-flex students shows that the ‘cost’ of education is halved.
Many workers in the health and social care sector are more skilled than has been formally documented. This makes recognition of prior learning and validation important, as also shown by the following example:
Katja Perälä, 47, from Eskilstuna, has been employed for many years caring for the elderly. Now, she’s enrolled in an HVE-flex programme to become an assistant speciality nurse in geriatrics. Given her work experience and prior knowledge, the 2-year programme has been shortened to six months of part-time studies. A new, better-paid job awaits her after completion, which she sees as a positive outcome for her with potential for others:
‘I recommend HVE-flex to all of my fellow workers. Many of us see the difficulty in upskilling our qualifications, but we tend to underestimate the skills we have developed in our professional lives’.
More on HVE in Sweden