The year 2016 has been declared the Swedish Year of vocational education and training (VET). Many activities will highlight vocational education and training, and, for the first time, a major international skills competition, EuroSkills, will be held in Sweden.
Despite the 2011 reform, which aimed to prepare learners better for working life by increasing the scope for vocational courses and the introduction of apprenticeship-based upper secondary vocational education, the share of VET programme students has declined by 10 % in the last decade. Even though the government has taken action to increase the attractiveness of VET, only a third of learners entering a national upper secondary school programme in 2015 choose it.
To improve the attractiveness and quality of VET, and to reflect on modern professions and working life, the government has joined forces with employers and employee organisations in declaring 2016 as the Swedish year of VET. After several years of decline, it is now time to raise interest in a part of the education system that is crucial for Swedish industry and its competitiveness in a global economy.
The government and its partners will finance new actions and activities aimed at young people in lower secondary school, their parents and guidance counsellors. The objectives are increasing the attractiveness and quality of VET by improving relations between school and working life, helping learners to make well-informed career choices, and contributing to national competence provision. The activities will culminate in the Swedish SkillsCompetition in May and EuroSkills in December, two major events that will raise awareness of VET. Schools and the general public are invited not only to visit the competitions, but also to try out different vocational techniques, visit exhibitions, meet the contestants, and see skilled young vocational professionals from all over Europe in action.