VET and HRD research in European countries > Overview

Sweden  [1]  Context of national VET/HRD policies

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There are a series of significant reforms being introduced to upper secondary education, including the introduction of apprenticeship training, in Sweden starting in the autumn of 2007 ( However, this major reform, and other reforms in recent decades, was mainly driven by political initiative rather than as a response to national research on VET.

A bill presented to the Swedish Riksdag (parliament) in April 2004 provides the background for the upcoming reforms to upper secondary education in Sweden. The starting point for “Knowledge and quality - eleven steps for improving upper secondary education” ( is that the Swedish upper secondary school system must maintain high standards, give pupils substantial freedom of choice and offer a broad selection of programmes and modules. Unlike many other countries, Swedish upper secondary school unites programmes in preparation for higher studies and vocationally oriented programmes. That said, there is a belief that upper secondary vocationally oriented training needs to improve so that more students acquire the knowledge they need both for the labour market and in their life in general. 

At the core of the new reforms, the Government wants to ensure that more people complete upper secondary education. The goal is to enhance quality, particularly in vocational programmes. In this regard, many of the new measures in upper secondary school focus on vocational education and training. One of the most interesting aspects is the introduction of upper secondary apprenticeship training, which will more than double the amount of work-based training in eligible vocationally-oriented programmes. This will also have the effect of improving the relationship between industry skill needs and education and training outputs because of the requirement to create an apprenticeship council including representatives from business and labour for each upper apprenticeship programme. 

In summary, although recent VET research has not had a direct impact on VET policy in Sweden, the country does have a strong tradition of evaluating government policy. These evaluations are often commissioned by Government and ultimately impact policy development. Key agencies funding and conducting research include the Swedish council for working life and social research ( and the Institute for labour market policy evaluation (, respectively. There is also research into VET conducted at pedagogical, and related, departments at Swedish higher education institutions.

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Source: Cedefop - National Research Report Sweden (details see Bibliography)
Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO