Over recent years, Sweden has committed itself to an ambitious reform programme to enhance involvement of social partners in vocational education and training (VET), to increase provision of work-based learning within VET programmes and to promote apprenticeship. The Swedish VET system has many strengths. Sweden has a strong evaluation culture ensuring that policy is based on solid evidence; upper-secondary VET is provided in a flexible way, allowing individuals to build on their previous experience and knowledge, and Higher Vocational Education and Training launched in 2002 has filled a gap in the market for professional post-secondary qualifications and has been expanding. But many challenges remain. Numerous sectors are grappling with labour shortages increasing pressure on VET to better match provision to the changing demand for skills. The Swedish VET system also needs to respond to an increasingly diverse cohort of learners following a recent arrival of humanitarian migrants.

This OECD report, Vocational Education and Training in Sweden, compares VET policy in Sweden with practice in other relevant countries, and on this basis draws policy conclusions. Among others, the report argues for a stronger collaboration across schools and for concentrating VET provision in fewer institutions. It also argues that social partners should be vested with more responsibility over VET; that stronger progression pathways from upper-secondary VET to post-secondary level should be developed; and that challenges of an increasingly diverse cohort of learners should be more deeply addressed, in particular to better integrate migrants into VET. Sweden has been carrying out national investigations on a number of issues addressed in this report. This report aims to complement this work by drawing on international evidence.

This report was drafted by Małgorzata Kuczera and Shinyoung Jeon. Elisa Larrakoetxea and Jennifer Cannon provided valuable administrative support. The OECD is very grateful to colleagues in Sweden, in the Ministry of Education and many other people we met during our visits for their constructive contributions to the review, in particular Jacob Johansson, Fritjof Karlsson, Carina Lindén, Malin Mendes and Cristina Pontis.

Within the OECD, Anthony Mann supported the preparation of this report as head of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Adult Learning team within the OECD Centre for Skills, overseeing the final draft. The report benefited from many helpful comments and advice from Benedicte Bergseng and Pauline Musset within the VET and Adult Learning team. Support throughout the exercise was received from Montserrat Gomendio as head of the Centre for Skills, Dirk van Damme as head of the Skills beyond School Division, Andreas Schleicher, Director of the Directorate for Education and Skills and Stefano Scarpetta, Director of the Directorate for Employment. Labour and Social Affairs.

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