the reform of the Swedish upper secondary school system in 1991, the concept
“preparatory vocational education” has been used instead of vocational
education. Vocational education is therefore an integrated part of the
upper secondary school with a goal to provide both vocational competencies
as well as prepare students for a changing working life. Given the integration
of VET into upper secondary education, there are also goals to engender
general knowledge and prepare students for entry to higher education. The
current system of VET training at the upper secondary level better reflects
socio-political values than specific, national VET research initiatives.
is important for observers outside Sweden to note that the majority of
Swedish vocational education and training occurs at the upper secondary
school level where students are typically between the age of 16 and 19.
However, there are also VET pathways at the post-secondary level the largest
of which is advanced vocational education (www.ky.se), a new form of VET
designed to fund training to meet labour market demand for specialist know-how
in several sectors. Other forms of post-secondary vocational education
can include supplementary education programmes, sector-based training,
continuing education and other forms such as through folk high schools.
present, there is limited research into VET in Sweden and, therefore, the
research has a minimal impact on vocational education and training in the
country. Instead, most education research is directed towards the compulsory
education system. There is research exploring the match between training
outputs and labour market needs but this is mainly driven by the Ministry
of Industry, Employment and Communications (www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/2067)
and by the National Labour Market Board (AMS – www.ams.se). Clearly there
is a need for more VET-related research and this is articulated in section
human resource development (HRD) environment in Sweden is focused at the
firm level and, consequently, most HRD research in the country has been
concerned with skills needs and knowledge management at the firm level.
To date, there has been little linkage between HRD and VET themes though
there is increasing interest in ensuring a better relationship between
education and training outputs and labour market skills needs. This supports
enhancement of VET programmes to meet skills shortages (e.g. carpenter,
electrician, plumber) in industry in Sweden. To date these skills gaps
have been partly bridged by temporary skilled vocational labour from neighbouring
countries (e.g. from the Baltic states and Poland).
mentioned in section 6, Skolverket plans to initiate a research consortium
in the field of VET in the near future and will report on these efforts
in the next ERO report.
is a need for Swedish research and development in the field of vocational
education and training to address issues such as work-based training and
apprenticeship and their role in VET, especially at the upper secondary
level. This will be even more relevant with the launch of a new upper secondary
apprenticeship system from the autumn of 2007.
is also a need to better investigate the linkage between education outputs
and labour market needs, particularly in the light of significant demographic
change that will result in a massive wave of retirements from many traditional
trades. This, of course, speaks to the need to increase the status of vocational
education and training to increase the number of young people entering
the trades facing a large outflow of older skilled workers. Another theme
in this regard is the need for research addressing the barriers, real and
perceived, to non-traditional groups entering VET (e.g. the extremely low
proportion of women entering VET in the contraction and vehicle trades).
there is a need in Sweden, as in many countries, to investigate how to
improve access to VET for people currently outside the education system.
A critical issue here is improving the access of adults to post-secondary
vocational education and training – an issue that may become increasingly
urgent as many industries (e.g. construction and resource extraction) face
shortages of skilled trades people.