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Reference Vocational programmes in Sweden
What works well in this scheme? The objectives of the Swedish upper secondary school are to give the students compentences as to participate in a democratic society, to have a progressive working life and to be entitled to higher education.
    A large part (98%)  of the yearly cohorts had access to upper secondary education, the majority was accepted on their first choice. Of the students entering upper  secondary education 1993, the students at the national vocational programmes amounted to 55,8%, of which 82,7% achieved their school-leaving certificate within four years (1997). 
    Within the vocational programmes the students are entitled to at least 15 weeks of work place training and the majority were pleased with the guidence they received as well as the work tasks and the opportunities to use equipment, material and work methods. There is a positive correlation between work-place training and gaining an employment within  one year after leaving school. Most students found employment in line with their choice of vocational programme. 
    Employers have expressed satisfaction with the students ability to read and write and their knowledge of mathematics and to perform public speeches, but they are stressing the importance of personal qualities. 
What are the problems with this scheme? The increased volume of general subjects in the vocational programmes and the mere fact that 98% of graduates from compulsory school enter upper secondary education put demands on teachers. There is an implicit demand for co-operation between general subject and vocational teachers in that there is an emphasis on understanding and relating subjects from a holistic view. However, it is not always possible to bring this into effect. A common situation is that most schools have separate facilities for general subjects and vocational subjects, e.g. workshops are usually located in the periphery due to environmental reasons. A few schools have been succesful in this respect due to consensus among the professionals how to proceed.
    Work-place training has been previously mentioned as an important factor to get employment. Only 63% (1997) of the students are involved in work-place training. The most common explanation is that there is no financial compensation to the companies; demands varie with the branch and the size of a company. 
What can be learned from other schemes? Since about 17% of the student have not completed their studies within four years there have been suggestions to market the apprenticeship as a possible path towards a school-leaving certificate. Germany´s experiance from that concept would no doubt give valuable inputs to design a Swedish model.
Further reading > Analysis of scheme > topic study  > National conclusions
Author Göran Årman (February 2000)

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