What can be learned from the Nordic VET-systems?

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


The Nordic countries are seen as representing a common model of education related to the universal welfare state. The core of this Nordic model of education is the comprehensive, free and unified public school system. While this egalitarian model has been realised for the nine-year compulsory school, no common model of upper secondary vocational education (VET) exist. Though these countries share the ideals of social inclusion and equal educational opportunities for all, they include two opposite models of VET. Sweden has realised the unified Gymnasium for all, comprising academic and vocational programmes that offer all students eligibility for higher education. Denmark has maintained a selective upper secondary school education and a VET-system based on the apprenticeship model. Finland and Norway represent mixed systems that combine elements from these system.
By comparing VET-systems in the Nordic countries, we have found that they represent different solutions to common basic trade-offs for VET. The unified Swedish system has given priority to secure equal access for all young people to higher education, but it has weak connections to the labour market. It is not very inclusive for young people opting for the labour market, and it does not offer direct access to employment. The Danish apprenticeship system provides effective transitions to the labour market, but does not offer general eligibility for higher education. This can be seen as a trade-off for VET between social equality in education and social inclusion in education. Both aims are part of the ideal of the Nordic model, but are difficult to realise at the same time. It is hard to promote social integration and inclusion of weak learners in VET and, at the same time, to increase the esteem of VET for ambitious youths and for the training companies. However, the Nordic VET-systems offer examples of reforms and innovations that try to overcome these trade-offs.
One type of reforms include initiatives to improve the linkages from VET to the labour market. Of special interest are the new intermediary institutions between education and work, and new types of partnerships between vocational schools and training companies. This includes the Norwegian training offices, the Finnish skills demonstrations, the Swedish Health and Technical Colleges, and the Danish Training Centres. Another type of reforms include initiatives to improve the linkages be-tween VET and higher education, especially the introduction of new hybrid programmes that com-bine work-based training placement with eligibility for higher education. This includes the YSK (TAF) programmes in Norway and the EUX programmes in Denmark. The presentation discusses the institutional embeddedness of these initiatives and the opportunities for policy learning across different VET-systems. The presentation draws on four case-based, empirical studies of the evolu-tion of four Nordic VET-systems resulting in 12 research reports http://nord-vet.dk/.
Publikationsdato23 aug. 2017
Antal sider1
StatusUdgivet - 23 aug. 2017
BegivenhedECER 2017: Reforming Education and the Imperative of Constant Change : Ambivalent roles of policy and educational research - UCC, Campus Carlsberg, Copenhagen, Danmark
Varighed: 22 aug. 201725 aug. 2017


KonferenceECER 2017
LokationUCC, Campus Carlsberg
AndetSince the 1990s, European national education systems have been undergoing extensive reforms that strive for constant change and improvement, yet, in some cases, lead to a decline in the quality of education. Among other things, these system reforms result from an interaction between the national and transnational policy levels. <br/>Supranational agents such as the OECD and the EU – and, in higher education, the Bologna Process – influence national policies through standard-setting comparisons of national performance data and policy advice. As such, the scope and formats within which national policies can be conducted have changed radically, and this has transformed the daily practices of teachers, researchers, students and pupils and their parents. This development, which is proceeding at a tremendously fast rate, encompasses higher education, teacher education, vocational training as well as kindergartens, elementary schools and high schools. <br/><br/>Such transnational reform pressure leaves educational researchers and affiliated associations and organizations with numerous challenges, potentials, dilemmas and choices. <br/><br/>The European Conference on Educational Research (ECER) in Copenhagen 2017 invites scholars to reflect on the role of educational research in reforming education and the imperative of constant change. The prevalence of the Knowledge Economy discourse has pushed education higher up the government agenda, and, consequently, this policy area has become increasingly important to govern. But do current attempts to standardise education systems, programmes and curricula actually contribute uniformity? Or do national and local translations of the new education standards disrupt attempts to standardise? ECER 2017 addresses the impact of this transnational reform pressure by focusing on the ways in which reforms are affected by the roads they travel when they move across borders throughout Europe and beyond.<br/>

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