The Danish apprenticeship system and the Nordic model of education

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


The paper examines the development of initial vocational education and training (VET) in Denmark in relation to the Nordic model of education. The egalitarian ideal of this model is to provide equal opportunities for education for all at all levels. This ideal has been pursued by policies in all the Nordic countries to establish public, free and comprehensive schooling. Key principles are the equal access for all regardless of social background and gender, and full permeability from the lowest to the highest levels with no dead ends in the education system (Blossing et al., 2014). This implies the erasure of differences in the worth and esteem of vocational and general education. This ideal is associated with the universal type of welfare state and governments led by Social Democratic Par-ties (Esping-Andersen, 1990). In accordance with this ideal, a non-selective and comprehensive ed-ucation system was established for the nine year compulsory schooling in the post-war decades in all the Nordic countries (Wiborg, 2009). Since the 1970s, reforms have sought to extend the compre-hensive school to the upper secondary level with Sweden as the most successful example. All young people leaving compulsory school in Sweden start in the unified Gymnasium comprising academic and vocational programmes. The students in all programmes are offered eligibility for higher education. The Nordic model of education, as it is realised in Sweden, is governed by the state and has weak involvement of the labour market organisations.
In contrast to this, upper secondary education in Denmark has maintained a strong form of tracking between general and vocational programmes. The Danish IVET-system is based on the apprentice-ship model, and it is organised separately from general education (the Gymnasiums). Unlike the other Nordic countries, Denmark has no unified legal framework for upper secondary education. The two tracks have different historical roots, recruit from different social strata, and have maintained different forms of governance, traditions and learning cultures. The VET system has close links to the employment system, but weak links to general and higher education (Jørgensen, 2013). The question examined in this paper is if the dual Danish VET-system is approaching the Nordic model of education. This question is relevant, because the state in Denmark has taken on a stronger role in the regulation of VET during the latest decades. This is seen especially in three areas: VET as an instrument for social inclusion of disadvantaged youth, the state initiative to establish school-based training (training centres) and an initiative for unification of vocational and general education (the eux programme)
Publikationsdato12 maj 2017
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 12 maj 2017
Begivenhed6th ITEPE Workshop „Segmentalism” re-visited : Transformation of the qualifications – work-regime nexus in European Economies and its implications for education and skills - Copenhagen Business School. Management, Politics and Philosophy , Copenhagen, Danmark
Varighed: 12 maj 201713 maj 2017
Konferencens nummer: 6


Workshop6th ITEPE Workshop „Segmentalism” re-visited
LokationCopenhagen Business School. Management, Politics and Philosophy
AndetThe workshop intends to take stock of the most recent developments of initial and continuing vocational education and training. It will explore the changes in terms of the nexus between qualifications and the production/work regime, as it will pay attention to the struggles over the ownership of expertise that is relevant to the economy. It seeks to identify communalities and differences between countries with a view to better understanding the enabling conditions and the implications for these struggles.

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