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Sweden: Reforms to improve status of vocational education and training

This year the Swedish government introduced a series of major reforms to increase the quality and labour market relevance of vocational education and training (VET) and attract more learners. 
The system which in 2011 will replace todays integrated upper secondary education will have three broad orientations: (a) general education, mainly for those intending to pursue higher education; (b) school-based vocational programmes; and (c) work-based apprenticeship.

The new upper secondary system will ensure that VET students acquire more vocationally specific knowledge and skills while retaining the option to take the theoretical courses required for higher education. The purpose is to increase upper secondary completion rates by capturing the interest of those VET learners discouraged by the heavy load of theoretical subjects under the current integrated system.

Another major reform is the creation of the new Agency for Higher Vocational Education (Yrkeshgskolan) on 1 July, 2009. The new agency brings together all post-secondary VET types under one administrative structure, applies robust quality assurance procedures and ensures a closer match between VET and current and future labour market skill needs.

The economic crisis which hit Europe in 2008 lends urgency to the need for VET to respond to the immediate needs of learners and the labour market. But the crisis also presents Sweden with an opportunity to improve and increase skills, both to improve competitiveness and to prepare for the skills shortages that are expected as a result of demographic change. 

One of the major crisis initiatives is the EUR 240 million adult VET initiative (Yrkesvux), which funds the creation of 30 000 additional vocationally-oriented municipal adult education training spaces between 2009 and 2011. Those who participate in the adult VET initiative may go directly to employment, higher vocational education or to higher education and will help ensure that Sweden has the skills it needs to meet the challenges of the future.

Source: ReferNet  -Skolverket / Swedish National Agency for Education

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ReferNet Sweden