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Complete PDF-version of the publication - Undervisningsministeriet

The Danish VocationalEducation and TrainingSystemNational Education AuthorityDanish Ministry of EducationSeptember 2005

PrefaceIn Denmark, there is great political attention on vocationaleducation and training (VET) as a key to achieving majorpolitical goals. Like in the rest of the EU, VET plays a key rolein implementing the strategy for lifelong learning, and is anintegral part of promoting the achievement of the Lisbon andBarcelona goals. The Copenhagen process 1 provided an overallframework for European VET development, and contributedsignificantly to raising awareness of the importance of VET inensuring the EU a competitive advantage compared to theeconomies of the US and Asia, by bridging economicdevelopment and social cohesion.The challenges of globalisation are major drivers behindthe political concerns on VET. Economic globalisation andtechnological development increase competition amongnations, but also lead to new forms of global specialisation andcollaboration. Today, production is split into chain processes.Innovation and design may take place in the Headquartersin Copenhagen, production in China, IT support anddevelopment in India, and services in Ireland. In this respect,globalisation may lead to a polarisation of society: many of theunskilled and low-skilled jobs are moving from the West to theEast and the developing countries. The number of unskilledjobs in the private sector in Denmark has dropped by 15%since 1980. However, approximately 750,000 people have noskills beyond basic schooling. This poses a major challengewhich requires an all-inclusive VET system that is able toensure an adequate level of education in Denmark, andprevent social exclusion in the longer term.Compared to other parts of the education system, VET is1) The Copenhagen Declaration was adopted by 31 European Ministers of Educationunder the Danish EU Presidency in 2002. The aim was to strengthen Europeancooperation in the field of VET.3

Prefacea grey zone. It is both public and private (2/3 of a VETprogramme takes place in an enterprise). This means that thereare a large number of stakeholders: politicians, publicmanagers, the social partners, enterprises, vocational colleges,teachers’ unions and so on, who share responsibility fordeveloping the system. It is a diverse and complex area whichis embedded in different policy areas: the economy,employment, education, social integration and businessdevelopment, so the VET system must meet a number ofdifferent objectives:• it has to be an effective system ensuring the employabilityof young people, and easing their transition from training tothe labour market. They are to have immediately useful andrelevant skills when entering the labour market.Involving the social partners and other relevant stakeholdersis a key to ensuring the adaptability of the VET programmesvis-à-vis the needs of the labour market. In this respect, VETis an important element in employment policies;• it has to be an attractive and flexible system on a level withthe more academically-oriented programmes at uppersecondary level. The VET programmes play a vital role inthe economy, and it is important that young people do notdisregard VET as an attractive possibility. In this respect,VET is an important element of educational and economicpolicies;• it has to be an inclusive system, ensuring the integrationof immigrants and weak learners, and hereby contributingto social cohesion and coherence. In this respect, VETconstitutes an important element in integration and socialpolicies;• it has to be an adaptable and developing system that meetsthe challenges of a globalising world. The VET system has toreflect the general societal changes from an industrial societyto a knowledge society, and be able to meet the skills needsof a changing labour market. New occupations are arisingwithin sectors such as IT, the services and the entertainmentand leisure industry, and these have to be integrated as newtraining provisions within the VET system.4

PrefaceThe aim of this publication is to describe the VET system 2 inDenmark, and also to offer an insight into how the system isgeared to meet the continuous challenges of a globalisingworld.Roland Svarrer ØsterlundDirector of EducationAugust 20052) The primary focus is on the erhvervsuddannelser (EUD), which are regulated by theAct on Vocational Education and Training. The description does not include theagricultural training programmes, social and health care training, or maritime trainingprogrammes.5

Table of Contents3 Preface8 Facts about Denmark9 1. The Danish VET system12 1.1 – an involving system13 1.1.1 The Ministry of Education14 1.1.2 The social partners16 1.1.3 Providers18 1.1.4 Trainees19 1.2 – a flexible system19 1.2.1 Flexible framework22 1.2.2 Flexible structures28 1.2.3 Flexible in time and content30 1.3 – an inclusive system30 1.3.1 Practically-oriented young people31 1.3.2 Short VET programmes32 1.3.3 Partial qualifications33 1.3.4 EUD+33 1.3.5 Additional qualifications34 1.4 – a developing system35 1.4.1 Reform 198936 1.4.2 Reform 1996 – commercial training36 1.4.3 Reform 200037 1.4.4 Act no. 44838 1.4.5 Act no. 122838 1.4.6 The next steps42 2. Acronyms43 3. Bibliography45 4. Relevant institutions and organisations47 Appendix: The Danish Educational System7

Facts about DenmarkDenmark is a small country with a surface area of43,000 square kilometres (excluding Greenland and theFaroe Islands). With a total population of 5.4 millioninhabitants, the country is densely populated. Themajority of the population lives in towns or cities, withonly 15% living in rural areas. In contrast to manyother countries, Denmark’s population is relativelyhomogeneous; only 9% have a foreign background.Denmark is a constitutional monarchy with arepresentative democracy. The Danish Constitution(Grundlov) was adopted in 1849, and was last amendedin 1953. The Danish Parliament has only one chamber,the Folketing, which has 179 members, including twoelected from the Faroe Islands and two from Greenland.Elections are held using the proportional representationsystem, and the government is formed from theFolketing, which is elected for a four-year term.However, the government can dissolve the assembly atany time and announce new elections.Denmark has three levels of government. The centraladministration, based in Copenhagen, consists of thevarious ministries, which may have one or moredepartments and comprise a number of institutions.The country is divided into 14 counties (amtskommuner)and 275 municipalities (primærkommuner).This system is currently being reformed, so that by2007, the counties will be replaced by 5 regions, andthe number of municipalities will be drastically reduced.8

1The Danish VET systemThe Danish VET system is part of the overall youth educationsystem, and aims at developing both the general, personal andvocational skills of young people. The overall objectives ofVET are laid down in the Act on Vocational Education andTraining 3 . According to these, the aim of the programmes isnot only to provide the trainees with vocational qualifications,which are formally recognised and in demand by the labourmarket, but also to provide them with general and personalqualifications that open up the trainees’ possibilities forlifelong learning and for active citizenship.The system is based on three main principles:1) the dual training principle, i.e. periods in school alternatingwith periods of training in an enterprise. This principleensures that the trainees acquire theoretical, practical,general and personal skills which are in demand by thelabour market;2) the principle of social partner involvement, wherebythe social partners take part directly in the overalldecision-making and daily running of the VET system;3) the principle of lifelong learning, i.e. the system isextremely flexible, and offers learners the possibility oftaking part of a qualification now, and later returning to theVET system and adding to their VET qualifications inorder to access further and higher education. Furthermore,VET and continuing VET (CVET) are integrated, in orderto ensure coherence between different qualifications andcompetence levels.3) Consolidation Act no. 183 of 22/03/2004.9

The Danish VET systemA definition:The terms VET, initial VET (IVET), and continuingVET (CVET) are often used in different ways indifferent EU Member States. In this publication,the term VET is used about the system and theprogrammes providing recognised vocationalqualifications for practice within a certain trade orprofession. The system is part of the Danish youtheducation system, and as such, is primarily targeted atyoung people (16+). However, the average age oftrainees in VET is 22, and the VET system also offersa wide range of possibilities for adults (25+).Furthermore, the trend is towards an integration ofIVET and CVET in one system, in order to make theprovision of VET transparent, flexible and attractive.Facts and figures about VET in Denmark:Approximately 30% of a youth cohort start a VETprogramme after basic schooling (2002). Of these,27.1% complete a VET programme, with 9.2%completing a commercial training programme, 18.4%a technical training programme and 5% a social andhealth care training programme. Compared to thegeneral upper secondary education programmes and thevocationally oriented upper secondary programmes, thenumber of young people entering a VET programmehas dropped since 2000 – by 15% within the maincourses of the commercial training programmes.The trend is currently for young people to opt for themore academically-oriented upper secondary educationprogrammes.The number of male trainees in VET is, on average,marginally higher than the number of females trainees:with 55.6% male trainees on the basic courses and54.7% male trainees on the main courses. However, thegender distribution between the various programmes isuneven. In social and health care subjects, the femaletrainees constitute 92.3%, whilst within traditionally10

The Danish VET systemFigure 1Flows in the Danish Education Systemfrom Basic Schooling to Youth EducationNon-qualifyingcoursesGeneral upper Vocationallyoriented12 . Tlf. upper 57 61 01 08 . CVR-nr. 28611668VETVETsecondary Sct. Hansgadeeducation secondary basic courses main courses(gymnasium) educationFutrher andhighereducation4.5% 38.3 %16%30%2.5%0.4%Basic schooling100%3.5%ExitEducationsystemSource: Uddannelse på kryds og tværs, The Danish Ministry of Education, 2004.male sectors such as mechanical engineering, transportand logistics they only constitute 4.3%.The average age of trainees on the basic courses was 20in 2002. For the main courses, the average age was 25.In 2002, approximately 92% of all trainees were ofDanish origin, and 8% were immigrants or from ethnicminorities.The completion rates vary from commercial to technicaltraining programmes. In 2002, 79.1% completed thebasic course within commercial training, whereas only55.9% completed the basic course in technical training.In general, drop-out is a major problem in the DanishVET programmes, and reducing the number ofdrop-outs, especially in technical training, is animportant political priority (please see 2.3.1, Practicallyorientedyoung people).Approximately 80% of those completing a VETprogramme enter the labour market and are employedin a company one year after completion.Source: Uddannelse på kryds og tværs,The Danish Ministry of Education, 2004.11

The Danish VET system1.1. – an involving systemThe Danish VET system is characterised by a high degree ofstakeholder involvement. Not only the social partners, butalso colleges, enterprises, teachers and trainees are involvedin a continuous dialogue about, and development of, theDanish VET system. The cooperation between the Ministryof Education and the social partners is very well developed,and the vocational colleges and the enterprises also shareresponsibility for the training of each individual trainee –all of which ensures that the qualifications obtained arewell-known, and generally recognised in the labour market.The involvement of stakeholders creates a system which isbased on consensus, and in which responsibilities are sharedwithin clearly defined boundaries.12

The Danish VET system1.1.1. The Ministry of EducationThe Minister of Education is responsible for the generaleducation policies, and for ensuring that the VET programmesare consistent with these policies. In regard to VET, theMinistry lays down the overall objectives for the VETprogrammes, and provides the framework within which thestakeholders, i.e. the social partners, the vocational collegesand the enterprises, are able to adapt the curricula andmethodologies to the needs of the labour market and of thetrainees. The Ministry is responsible for ensuring that theVET programmes have the breadth required for a youtheducation programme, and for the allocation of resources.The Ministry is furthermore responsible for approving newVET qualifications on the basis of recommendations fromthe Advisory Council for Initial Vocational Education andTraining (Rådet for de grundlæggende erhvervsrettede uddannelser– REU), and for approving the colleges that are to provide thebasic and main courses in VET. It is also the Ministry whichlays down the overall rules for VET – in cooperation with theREU, and draws up the regulations on the individual VETprogrammes – in cooperation with the trade committees(please see 1.1.2 The social partners). The regulations aresupplemented with guidelines drawn up by the tradecommittees and issued by the Ministry (please see Facts aboutlegislative framework, p. 22).Finally, the Ministry is responsible for inspection and qualityassurance; issues which are gaining in importance. Theintroduction of new steering principles such as frameworkgovernance and decentralisation in 1991 (please see 1.4.1Reform 1989), which granted providers greater autonomywith regards to adapting VET provision to local needsand demands, accentuated the need to implement nationalquality approaches which, on the one hand, supporteddecentralisation, and on the other hand, ensured centralcontrol with the quality of VET provision.13

The Danish VET systemOne of the main objectives of involving the social partners isto ensure the relevance and quality of VET programmes inrelation to the labour market. The trade committees areresponsible for the continuous adaptation and development ofthe VET programmes. The committees monitor the skillsdevelopment in the labour market, and recommend changesto existing programmes on the basis thereof. They may alsorecommend the establishment of new VET programmes, orthe discontinuation of out-dated VET programmes. The roleof the social partners is to ensure that VET matches the needsand demands of the enterprises and the labour market at bothnational and local levels.Another important aspect of the trade committees’ scope ofwork is the approval of training places. The trade committeesare responsible for approving and inspecting enterprises thatwant to take on trainees, on the basis of defined criteria. Inorder to be approved, an enterprise must have a certain levelof technology, and a variety of tasks to be performed thatwill ensure the trainee a full range of activities and taskscorresponding to the qualification requirements of a skilledworker. Finally, the trade committees are responsible for thejourneyman’s test, and for issuing certificates to the trainees(technical training).15

The Danish VET systemteaching. The local education plan also has to includedescriptions of teacher qualifications, technical equipment,cooperation between the college, the trainees and theenterprises, the personal education plan and logbook, etc.EnterprisesThe practical training takes part in an enterprise which hasbeen approved by the relevant trade committee. In order to beapproved, an enterprise must have a certain level of technology,and must be able to offer the trainee a variety of tasks, whichensures him/her qualifications corresponding to those of askilled worker in the chosen occupation. The companies arerepresented at national level, via their employers’ organisations,at local level in the local training committees, and in theboards of directors of the local vocational colleges. In bothVET and CVET, the enterprises are able to “colour” the localeducation plans/CVET courses so that they meet the specificneeds and demands of the local or regional labour market.1.1.4 TraineesThe trainees also play an institutionalised role in the DanishVET system. Pursuant to the Act on Vocational Education andTraining 4 , the trainees are able to influence both their owntraining and the general school environment. This is done,partly by involving the trainees in the planning of the teachingand training, and partly via student councils. In the day-to-daytraining activities, the teachers may involve trainees in layingdown overall themes for a specific subject, or by letting themchoose between different assignments (this is also part of theoverall differentiation of teaching). The student council isanother means of influence, giving a trainee representative aseat in the board of directors, whereby the trainees have thepossibility of voicing their opinion.The trainee has a decisive influence, not only on his/her owntraining, but also on the colleges’ provision of education and4) Consolidation Act no. 183 of 22/03/2004, §28 and §40, subsection 4.18

The Danish VET systemtraining, by means of his/her educational choices and thedescription of his/her learning pathway in the personaleducation plan.Furthermore, the Ministry of Education initiates surveysamong the trainees, for example in connection with majorreforms, whereby the trainees are able to provide feedback tonational VET policies.1.2 – a flexible systemThe Danish VET system is a highly flexible system offeringa wide range of individualised possibilities for the trainees –both in terms of time, and in terms of contents. It is asystem in which the needs and demands of both trainees andenterprises should be fulfilled. The flexibility concerns theframework, the structures and the contents of VET. Adding tothe flexibility of the system is the introduction of assessmentsof prior learning (APL 5 ) (In Danish: realkompetencevurdering).All trainees have their prior learning assessed, before a personaleducation plan is drawn up. So the VET programmes are nolonger restricted to the learning contexts of the school and theenterprise, competences acquired elsewhere are also includedin the programmes. The Danish system has taken flexibility toa far-reaching form, where individualised learning pathwaysare drawn up by the trainees, who themselves shape the paceand the content of their own training; a highly modularisedVET system.1.2.1 Flexible frameworkThe legislative framework for the Danish VET programmes ishighly flexible. It is a decentralised system with an overallmanagement principle of “management-by-objectives.” Theoverall objectives and framework for VET are drawn up atnational level, and the colleges, the enterprises and the traineesare relatively autonomous within this framework.5) Here used as an equivalent to the EU terms of identification, recognition andvalidation of formal, non-formal and informal learning.19

The Danish VET systemFigure 2Danish model of Stakeholder InvolvementLawParliamentNational levelMinistry ofEducationTradeCommitteesGeneral Orderof VETRegulationsEducationalguidelines(bindingAdvisoryCouncil forIVET- School teachers- Teacher Unions- Leader Unions- Social partners- etc.National CurriculumSchool levelSchool boardandmanagementTeachersTraineesEducationalplanTeachingplans- Local authorities- Social partners- Enterprises- etc.School curriculumDecisionmakers Products Advisors

The Danish VET systemThe framework is flexible in regard to the funding andallocation of resources: the colleges receive taximeter grantsper trainee, leaving them with the responsibility for detailedmanagement, budgeting and daily operation; and herebypromoting a more demand-led VET system in which thecolleges compete on provision and quality.The national curriculum is a framework curriculum givingvocational colleges, enterprises and trainees the possibility ofadapting VET to local and individual needs and demands.The primary objectives and the framework rules must be met,but the specific content of the training may vary from collegeto college, and from trainee to trainee. However, althoughthe framework is flexible, the outcome is fixed: nationallyrecognised qualifications.The system of management-by-objectives can be dividedinto four levels, each with its own rules, procedures andinstruments for managing-by-objectives: the political level,which has the overall responsibility for drawing up theframework and ensuring the necessary resources, the socialpartners, which are responsible for developing the VET systemand the individual VET programmes, the providers, which areresponsible for planning and providing the VET, and thetrainee, who is responsible for his/her own training pathway.21

The Danish VET systemFacts about the national legislative frameworkThe VET system is regulated by means of a numberof acts, regulations and guidelines. The main acts andregulations are:• The Act on Vocational Education and Training(LBK no. 183 of 22/03/2004);• The Regulation on Vocational Education andTraining (Main regulation no. 184 of 22/03/2004);• The Regulation on the Basic Course in VocationalEducation and Training (Regulation no. 689 of28/06/2004)• The Act on Institutions Providing VocationalEducation and Training (Act no. 954 of 28/11/2003)• The Act on Transparency and Openness (Act no. 414of 06/06/2002)In addition to these main acts, all VET programmesare regulated by a specific regulation on the VETprogramme stipulating the duration, contents, subject,competence levels, etc., and by a set of guidelines whichgo into detail concerning the objectives, duration,structure, subjects, competences, examinationrequirements, credit transfer, quality assurance, etc.The guidelines were introduced in 2001, in orderto simplify the system, and to ease the changes inindividual VET programmes. Today, the programmescan be continuously adjusted as long as they adhere tothe guidelines. This is done on an annual basis, incooperation between the Ministry of Education and thetrade committees.1.2.2 Flexible structuresThe main principle in the Danish VET system is that of dualtraining, whereby training alternates between education andtraining in a vocational college, and in-company training. Thisdual training principle is both a pedagogical principle and anorganisational-institutional principle, which makes demands ofboth the pedagogical planning of the programmes, and of the22

The Danish VET systemVET programmes have a duration of four years, but thesystem encompasses programmes of durations from 18 monthsto 5 1 ⁄2 years.Figure 3Structure of the Technical Training ProgrammesBasic courseMain course(VET specialisation)Journeyman's testWeeksSchool-based trainingPractical training10 20 40 60Flexible duration,typically 20 weeksFlexible duration,typically 3 - 3 1/2 yearsSource: “New Structure of the Danish Vocational Education and Training System”. The Danish Ministry of Education, 1999

The Danish VET systemFigure 4Structure of the Commercial Training ProgrammesBasiccourseMain course(VET specialisation)Final vocational testWeeksSchool-based trainingPractical training38 76 (116*)Flexible duration,typically 76 weeksDurationtypically 4 years* The basic course may be prolonged by up to 40 weeks of optional training Source: New Structure of the Danish VET system, The Danish Ministry of Education, 1999Source: “New Structure of the Danish Vocational Education and Training System”. The Danish Ministry of Education, 1999 basic courseThe basic course, particularly for the technical trainingprogrammes, is highly flexible in terms of both time andcontents. The basic course consists of both compulsoryand optional subjects. The optional subjects provide theindividual trainee with the possibility of acquiring additionalqualifications in regard to either the main course, or to accessto further or higher education. The length of the basic coursein the technical training programmes may vary fromprogramme to programme, and from one trainee to the next,depending on their qualifications, desires and needs. Thebasic courses typically last 20 weeks.25

The Danish VET systemThe basic course for the commercial training programmesis not yet as flexible as that for the technical trainingprogrammes. The trainees normally enter via the schoolpathway and take a basic course lasting 76 weeks. However,the intention is for the basic course to become more flexible:the introduction of APL, the “toning” of basic subjects (pleasesee Flexible Curriculum) and the introduction of specialsubjects earlier in the basic course (please see 1.4.4. Act no.448) have opened up for increased flexibility, which willconstitute a major challenge to the commercial colleges inthe coming years.Most trainees enter VET via the basic course, and thenapply for an apprenticeship once they have completed thecourse. Everybody who has completed basic schooling can beadmitted to the basic course; but a contract with an enterpriseis required in order to continue on the main course. Theselection of trainees for an apprenticeship is carried out onmarket terms, i.e. the trainee writes an application and goesto a job interview in competition with other trainees.The trainee and the enterprise then enter a binding contract(with a 3-month trial period) and the trainee receives wagesaccording to the collective agreement within the sector.During school periods, the enterprise receives compensationfrom the Employers’ Reimbursement Scheme (ArbejdsgivernesElevrefusion – AER). This scheme was set up by law in 1977,and is financed by contributions from all employers.The lack of apprenticeships has continued to be a problemin the Danish VET system – even in periods of economicprosperity. Many enterprises no longer employ trainees, dueto highly specialised production processes, or the fact thattrainees are considered to be liabilities. Trainees who do nothave a training place have the opportunity of continuingtraining within the compensatory practical training scheme(skolepraktik). However, as of January 2005, the numberof trainees admitted to this scheme was reduced withinprogrammes where the chances of subsequent employmentwere limited, and in very popular programmes.26

The Danish VET systemThe Ministry of Education may limit access to the maincourse for all trainees who are not able to enter a trainingcontract with an enterprise on the basis of the overallemployment situation within the different sectors. In 2005,there is limited access to ten VET programmes.The main courseThe main course (technical training) normally lasts between 3and 3 1 ⁄2 years, of which the school-based part constitutesapproximately 40 weeks. Most main courses are divided intofixed periods of school-based and work-based training. Theaim is to ensure progression in the programmes, and coherencebetween the learning taking place in school and the learningtaking place in the enterprise. During the school periods, thetrainees meet with other trainees at the same competence level,and take part in learning activities at a vocational college.Normally, the periods in school last from one to five weeks.The programme is concluded with either a journeyman’s test(technical training) or a final project-based examination(commercial training) in which the trainee shows that he27

The Danish VET systemor she has acquired the skills necessary to work as a skilledworker within his/her trade.1.2.3 Flexible in time and contentWhen a trainee enters a VET programme, he or she has tohave a personal education plan drawn up. In the educationplan, the trainee has to describe his/her pathway fromunskilled to skilled worker: the objectives, how to achieve theobjectives, learning activities, etc. The education plan is drawnup together with a teacher from a vocational college, and theteacher is also responsible for assessing the trainee’s priorlearning and taking the trainee’s “real” qualifications intoconsideration. An individual learning pathway is thus drawnup for all the trainees in a VET programme. The trainee isactively involved in drawing up the personal education plan,and is expected to take responsibility for his/her own learning.The assessment of the trainee’s prior learning contributesto the principle of lifelong learning, which has been anall-encompassing priority in the Danish education system. Theassessment is also a way of ensuring coherence between theVET system and the continuing and further education andtraining system. The VET programmes also aim to provide thetrainees with learning skills, and a basis for continuous andfurther education and training.Flexible curriculumA VET programme consists of four types of subjects: Basic,area, special and optional subjects, which are selected and puttogether by the trade committee.Basic subjects consist of theoretical and practical teachingaimed at providing the trainees with broad vocationalknowledge and skills, whilst at the same time contributingto the personal development of the trainees, or theircomprehension of different societal trends. There are 26different basic subjects which are provided at different levels(F –> A). Area subjects are subjects which are common to oneor more VET programmes, while special subjects are specific to28

The Danish VET systema single VET qualification. Special subjects are subjects at thehighest level of a VET programme, and aim to provide thetrainee with specific vocational competency. Finally, there areoptional subjects, which are aimed at meeting the interests ofthe trainees. Up until 2003, the national regulations stipulatedthat there had to be a specific distribution among the subjects,but now there is more flexibility - not only within and acrossVET programmes, but also from trainee to trainee, dependingon the goals which have been laid down in their personaleducation plan.The personal education planIn order to manage the highly individualised VETprogrammes, all trainees have to have a personal educationplan drawn up. Together with a contact teacher (tutor), thetrainees draw up a personal education plan describing all theobjectives, and how to attain them. The personal educationplan is based on an assessment of the trainee’s competences,and outlines an individual pathway through the VET system.When the trainee starts practical training in an enterprise, thelatter is also involved in defining overall objectives for thetraining, in cooperation with the trainee.The personal education plan is entered into the national webtool called “Elevplan 6 ” (Trainee Plan). Elevplan contains all thetrainees’ personal education plans, and electronic logbookswith various papers and notes from the college, etc. A“score-card” is drawn up on the basis of the personal educationplan, showing the trainee his/her progress towards reaching theoverall objectives for the training. The system shows traineesthe various learning activities offered by the colleges, andallows them to enrol online. The trainee can also see his/hertimetable and absenteeism rate. When the trainee startstraining in an enterprise, the enterprise has access to all therelevant parts of the trainee’s personal education plan, and isable to see when the trainee is going back to school, etc.6) http://www.elevplan.dk29

The Danish VET systemMoreover, the enterprises are able to enter into a dialoguewith the vocational college and the trainee. The aim is for allenterprises to describe the practical training and its objectivesin the same way, thus considerably improving the possibilitiesfor coordination between enterprise/college, and for ensuringprogression in the training.1.3 – an inclusive systemOne of the main policy concerns has been to reduce thedrop-out rate from the VET programmes, and to make VETa very inclusive system, attracting both “strong” and “weak”learners. As in many other countries, there has been a generaltrend for more young people to go to general upper secondaryeducation programmes. For this reason, efforts are being madeto improve the image of the VET system so that it is not onlyan attractive choice for “weak” learners.Attempts have been made to solve this problem by creating ahighly individualised system where the trainees havewide-ranging possibilities for drawing up their own educationplan, laying down their own objectives and having their priorlearning recognised. In order to make the system evenmore inclusive, a number of alternative routes to partialqualifications, or more practically-oriented qualifications,have been drawn up. Finally, policy initiatives have focusedon vocational proficiency levels and standards. Some VETprogrammes, e.g. those in commercial training, have beenmeet with sectoral demands for higher vocational proficiencylevels, in order to ensure progression in the programmes(from the basic to the main course), and hereby improvingthe overall level of competency.1.3.1 Practically-oriented young peopleThe report from the inter-ministerial working groupconcerning more practical access routes to VET 7 introduced7) Rapport fra den tværministerielle arbejdsgruppe vedrørende praktiske indgange i flereuddannelser, the Danish Ministries of Finance, Education, Employment, andRefugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs, 2005.30

The Danish VET systema new typology of young people: the practically-orientedyoung people. This group was defined on the basis of thePISA surveys and results showing that a considerable group ofyoung people had very poor basic skills in literacy, numeracy,and writing. As a consequence, this group has problemscompleting a youth education programme. The survey showedthat it was especially children of immigrants and refugees whohad poor basic skills. Approximately 60% of all young peoplefrom ethnic minorities drop out of a VET programme due toproficiency problems.The “practically-oriented young people” can be defined bythree characteristics: they have learning disabilities, socialproblems and cultural problems. Furthermore, they make veryhigh demands on education, and have unrealistic expectationsas to what and how fast they can learn. Very often, their basicschooling has been a bad experience, so it is difficult for themto complete a VET programme.For this reason, a number of initiatives were launched toprovide this very diverse target group with suitable, morepractical alternatives in VET. These include a project thattests the framework for the flexible VET programmes, betterpossibilities for disseminating the training places that areavailable among trainees searching for one(, establishing Danish as anoptional second native language subject at the colleges,establishing mentorships for ethnic minorities, andestablishing practical access routes into VET, e.g. shortVET programmes, partial qualifications and a practicalpathway into VET.1.3.2 Short VET programmesThe short VET programmes came into being in 2005. Theaim of the programmes was to offer an alternative to thepractically-oriented young people, and to ensure theiremployment after completion of a programme. The 23new programmes are therefore targeted at sectors where the31

The Danish VET systempossibilities of employment are good, and where there is aneed for both short, specialised qualifications and “ordinary”qualifications. The demand for skilled workers with a short,specialised qualification is increasing in certain industrialsectors, such as the retail and butchering trades.1.3.3 Partial qualificationsFor trainees who may not have the skills or the patience toobtain a full vocational qualification, a number of partialqualifications have been drawn up by the trade committees.These partial qualifications give trainees the possibility ofacquiring part of a qualification, and thus also the possibilityof completing the qualification later. The partial qualificationis completed with a test and a certified partial qualification. In2005, there were approximately 50 partial qualifications onoffer.32

The Danish VET system1.3.4 EUD+In 2005, it became possible for trainees under the age of 25 tocomplete a VET programme as part of the EUD+ scheme.This possibility means that the trainee has to complete a basiccourse and the first part of a main course, either in a company,or in the compensatory practical training scheme. The traineethen has to be employed in a company, and have at least sixmonths of ordinary employment, in order to obtain relevantqualifications. If the trainee then wants to continue on thenext part of the VET programme, he or she has to havehis/her qualifications assessed at a vocational college, and apersonal education plan drawn up, describing the learningactivities, employment and/or practical training he/she has hadat school or in the company. The EUD+ scheme is completedwithout any educational contract, and is provided by thosecolleges that are approved to provide the main courses.The EUD+ scheme is targeted at the practically-orientedyoung people, and provides them with the possibility ofacquiring a full qualification at a later stage.1.3.5 Additional qualificationsThe Danish VET system seeks to provide direct access to thelabour market, and also to offer trainees access to further andhigher education. This enables trainees to add academicqualifications to their vocational qualifications.Trainees wanting to follow courses at a higher level, e.g.,within the vocationally-oriented upper secondary educationprogrammes (hhx/htx – higher commercial and technicalexamination), can do so either by prolonging their basiccourse, or by being exempted from other subjects (in case ofAPL), or by taking extra courses during the main course. Theaim of taking an additional qualification is to ensure access tofurther and higher education. Some VET programmes mayserve as an entry into specific education programmes attertiary level (e.g. architect, or designer).33

The Danish VET systemFigure 5Overview of VET programmes on offer in the Danish systemNumber of programmes Duration Examples of qualifications23 short programmes 1 1 ⁄2 - 2 years Web integrator (1 y 9 mths)Construction technician (1 1 ⁄2 y)Wind turbine technician (2 y)Greenkeeper assistant (1 1 ⁄2 y)Social and health secretary (1 y 7 mths)50 partial qualifications 1 1 ⁄2 - 3 years IT supporter (2 1 ⁄2 y)Media graphic designer assistant (3 y)Wood operator (Cabinetmaker) (2 y)CNC technician assistant (1 1 ⁄2 y)Bake-off assistant (Baker) (2 y)Bicycle mechanic assistant (1 1 ⁄2 y)Shoemaker assistant (3 y)Shop assistant (2 y)200 8 ordinary VET programmes 1 1 ⁄2 - 5 1 ⁄2 years Data technician (5 y)Media graphic designer (4 y)Cabinetmaker (3 3 ⁄4 y)CNC technician (2 1 ⁄2 y)Baker (3 y 7 mths)Bicycle mechanic (3 1 ⁄4 y)Shoemaker (4 y)Sales assistant (4 y)1.4 – a developing systemThe Danish VET system is undergoing continuous changedue to the pressures of globalisation, including the enhancedcooperation and compatibility of VET policies in Europe.Over the past 15 years, the pace of reform has intensified. Theoverall aims of these reforms have been• to improve the system’s responsiveness to changes in thelabour market and in the production system;• to increase the attractiveness of VET programmes vis-à-visthe general upper secondary education programmes(gymnasiet);8) Approximately.34

The Danish VET system• to make the system more flexible, in order to meet the needsof the trainees and the enterprises;• to make the system more inclusive by introducing partialqualifications and shorter VET programmes aimed at weaklearners, and introducing additional qualifications for stronglearners;• to improve the interaction between the two learning contextsin VET (the school and the enterprise);• to renew the pedagogical methods applied in VET, withmore focus on the individual trainee and his/her capabilitiesand desires.A brief outline of the major reforms, and the elements thereof,from the late 1980s to present time is given below:1.4.1 Reform 1989In 1989, a major reform of the VET system was adopted inthe Danish Parliament. The reform introduced new overallsteering mechanisms in the VET system. Instead of fixednational rules and curricula, the colleges were to operatewithin a system of management-by-objectives. The newregulations and guidelines on VET became frameworkregulations, and the colleges now had to draw up localeducation plans and adapt them to the needs of localindustry and the local labour market. The overall aim was tomake the VET system more responsive to changes intechnology, production and the way work was organised.The new system changed the status of the vocational colleges.They became independent public organisations, and insteadof a fixed budget, their finances were now based on acombination of fixed grants and taximeter rates based ontrainee intake and completion rates. The intention was tomake the colleges more market-oriented, more competitiveand more professional in their overall management.Granting the providers greater budgetary control and a greater35

The Danish VET systemautonomy in regards to adapting VET provision to local needsand demands accentuated the need to implement nationalquality approaches in order to ensure the homogeneity ofnational provision, and maintenance of national standards.The reform in 1991 changed the entire institutional andadministrative set-up of the VET programmes.1.4.2 Reform 1996 – commercial trainingIn 1996, the objectives, framework and content of thecommercial training programmes were reformed. The mainaim of the reform was to make the programmes more flexibleand more competence-based. Six areas of commercialcompetency were defined: personal; economic; communicativeand technological; commercial and service; international andcultural; and societal competencies. It was new, and difficult,for the commercial colleges to plan competence-based trainingactivities. The reform was the first step towards the reform ofthe technical training programmes which were implemented in2000: more flexible access routes were introduced (please see1.4.3, Reform 2000), and the focus was on interdisciplinaryand holistic teaching, including new elements such as SIMUenterprises, and on the individual trainee and his or herlearning processes.1.4.3 Reform 2000In 2000, a major reform of primarily the technical trainingprogrammes was implemented. The background for thereform was the fact that technical training did not attractenough trainees, and that a considerable number of traineesdropped out during the training. In order to make theprogrammes more transparent, more flexible, and moreattractive, the structures were changed. Instead of choosingamong 83 different VET qualifications from the start of theirtraining, the trainees could now choose between 7 differentbroad basic courses which are extremely flexible andindividualised, both in terms of time and content (pleasesee 1.2.3, Flexible in time and content). The reform impliedmajor pedagogical changes, putting the vocational teachers to36

The Danish VET systemthe test in regard to interdisciplinary teaching, team-working,differentiation and coaching. The reform marked theparadigmatic shift from teaching to learning, and from focuson the class to focus on the individual trainee. It introduced anumber of new elements: the contact teacher, the educationplan, the log-book, the possibilities for partial and additionalqualifications, etc. (please see 1.3.3 and 1.3.5). Although thereform was implemented in 2000, it is still an on-goingprocess, and it has required quite a cultural change at thecolleges to handle the new, flexible VET programmes.1.4.4 Act no. 448In August 2003, the VET programmes were adjusted in regardto vocational proficiency and flexibility. The aim of theamendment was primarily to renew the commercial trainingprogrammes, and to create a common legislation for bothcommercial and technical training. The commercial trainingprogrammes have been criticised for being too theoreticaland school-based, so one of the aims was to introduce thevocational specialisation earlier in the programmes. In order toachieve this goal, the rules concerning the basic, area, specialand optional subjects were changed (please see Flexiblecurriculum). The programmes still had to include generaleducational aspects, but the vocational aspects of theprogrammes were to be strengthened. This included avocational “toning” of the basic subjects.Act no. 448 also emphasised the issue of creating a moreinclusive system. The programmes were to be flexible enoughto be able to include both the trainees who want additionalqualifications, by ensuring access to further and highereducation, and the trainees who want a partial vocationalqualification. The amendment therefore specified that thepersonal education plan should be based on an APL. Adults inVET had been able to do this via the individual competenceassessment (Grunduddannelse for voksne – GVU), but inprinciple, all the trainees in VET should now be assessedindividually, and have their formal, non-formal and informal37

The Danish VET systemqualifications recognised and taken into consideration whendrawing up their personal education plan.1.4.5 Act no. 1228In December 2003, another amendment to the Act onVocational Education and Training was adopted. The aim wasto renew the dual training principle, and offer especially weaklearners the possibility of shorter, more practically-orientedtraining programmes and established partial qualifications inan existing VET programme. Act no. 1228 also directed focuson increasing the number of training places available, andlimiting access to the compensatory practical training schemeat the vocational colleges.1.4.6 The next stepsThe Danish VET system has undergone tremendous changesover the past 15 years. Some of the colleges and their teachersoccasionally voice the need for a “reform break,” in order toallow the political intentions and daily reality to meet.However, there are no signs that the pace of reform is slowingdown, rather the opposite. There is currently a great deal offocus on VET as a major factor in integration policies, and asa means of achieving the political goal of making 95% of ayouth cohort complete a youth education programme (by2015). One of the elements which have been proposed, andwhich is most likely to be adopted, is the introduction of athird access route: the practical pathway.According to a recent report 9 from the Committee onApprenticeships, the VET system is to be made even moreflexible by introducing two extra elements in the programmes.Pre-trainingYoung people are to be able to start in pre-training in anenterprise, in order for both young persons and enterprises tosize each other up. Today, the contract entered into by the9) Mesterlære. Rapport fra Udvalget om mesterlære, The Ministry of Education, 2005.

The Danish VET systementerprise and the trainee is binding after a three-month trialperiod. If any of the parties want to terminate the contractafter the trial period, it has to go through legal negotiations inthe trade committee. The pre-training model aims to providean option with less commitment for both enterprises andyoung people.Practical pathwayIn addition to the two access routes currently available (theschool and company pathways), the trainees in VET shouldalso have the possibility of choosing a practical pathway(mesterlære), where the entire basic course is acquired by meansof in-company training. The trainees will be able to acquiresufficient competences to start on the main course after havingcompleted the first year of their apprenticeship. The elementsof in-company training, and the objectives to be attained, willbe described in the personal education plan for the individualtrainee. The education plan will constitute an important,binding element for all stakeholders (the college, theenterprise and the trainee). The college will be responsible forguiding and counselling the trainee, and for evaluating thecompetences acquired by the trainee during the in-companytraining – in order for the trainee to access the main course.The trainees will be able to take the basic subjects requiredboth during the apprenticeship (at the enterprise or at acollege) and during the main course.The practical pathway will be concluded with exactly the sameexaminations and tests as trainees who have taken the schoolor company pathway, thus ensuring that the competencesmastered at the end are the same for all trainees, regardless ofhow they have been attained. In this regard, the apprenticeshipmodel is one step closer to an entirely competence-basedsystem, where it is less important how and where thecompetences have been acquired.39

The Danish VET systemFigure 6New Practical Pathway into VETAdmission requirements:Practical bridge building, pre-training, young-in-work, basic schoolingSchool pathwayBasic course(typically 20 weeks)Company pathwayIn-companytraining(3 to 6 months)Practical pathwayPractical incompanytraining(1 year)Main course(school-based and work-based training)Basic course (typically20 weeks)Main course(school-based and work-based training)Main course(school-based and work-based training, incl. anyelements missing from basic course)The practical pathway should, in principle, be possible for allVET programmes, however, VET programmes which are notsuitable for primarily practical training in a company will beexempted. The trade committees will be responsible fordeciding which programmes are to be exempted. Thepractical pathway will constitute an alternative, especially forpractically-oriented trainees who are tired of school.These new elements are expected to be introduced by 2006,and are primarily targeted at practically-oriented trainees.This target group remains a high political priority, insofaras the training of this target group is a key to achieving40

The Danish VET systemimportant political goals and ensuring a less polarised society,where the divide between those who have an education andthose who do not is relatively small.For this reason, the next steps will focus even more on creatingand realising the inclusive and flexible VET system whichoffers individualised training pathways to all kinds of trainees.One of the next issues on the political VET agenda is whetheror not to introduce the “ultra-dual training principle,” wherethe trainees alternate between school-based and work-basedtraining on a regular weekly basis. The introduction of fixedweekdays at school would solve the problem encountered bysome enterprises, where it is difficult to have a trainee absentfor several consecutive weeks.The numerous reforms have taken quite a toll on the VETsystem, but now the political intentions and the daily realityof the colleges seem to be converging. However, the recentreforms, and managing the diversity and flexibility of the“new” VET system, have posed quite a challenge to thecolleges. Some colleges have come a long way in the process;whilst others still have a lot to learn. One thing is certain,though, the system will continue to be adapted and changedin order to meet the challenges of a globalising world.41

2AcronymsAPLCVETIVETREUVETAssessment of Prior LearningContinuing Vocational Education and TrainingInitial Vocational Education and TrainingThe Advisory Council for Initial VocationalEducation and Training (Rådet for degrundlæggende erhvervsrettede uddannelser – REU)Vocational Education and Training42

3BibliographyAchieving the Lisbon goal: The contribution of VET, executivesummary, The Lisbon-to-Copenhagen-to-MaastrichtConsortium Partners, November 2004.http://www.trainingvillage.grBekendtgørelse om grundforløb i erhvervsuddannelserne,Ministerial order no. 341 of 10/05/2005.Cort, Pia: The Danish Approach to Quality in VET, the DanishMinistry of Education, 2005., Pia: Vocational Education and Training in Denmark,Cedefop, 2002.http://www.trainingvillage.grCort, Pia and Anne-Grethe Madsen: Portrait of the DanishVET system – an inside perspective, DEL, 2003. i praksis – erfaringer og perspektiver, The NationalEducation Authority’s theme brochure no. 4, 2004., Uddannelse, March 2005.Facing the Challenge – The Lisbon strategy for growth andemployment, Report from the High Level Group chaired byWim Kok, November 2004. på erhvervsuddannelsernes hovedforløb, AER, 2004. og kvalitetsudvikling af erhvervsuddannelserne,The Danish Evaluation Institute, 2004.

BibliographyMålstyring i erhvervsuddannelserne, the Council for the BasicVocationally-oriented Training Programmes, 2004. Structure of the Danish Vocational Education and TrainingSystem, National Education Authority, the Danish Ministry ofEducation, 1999. fra den tværministerielle arbejdsgruppe vedrørendepraktiske indgange i flere uddannelser, the Danish Ministries ofFinance, Education, Employment, and Refugee, Immigrationand Integration Affairs, 2005.ære. Rapport fra Udvalget om mesterlære, the DanishMinistry of Education, 2005. – Medarbejder: Debat om de erhvervsrelateredeuddannelser, Erhvervsskolernes Forlag, 2004.Statistik om erhvervsfaglige uddannelser, the Danish Ministry ofEducation, 2004. på kryds og tværs, the Danish Ministry ofEducation, 2004. Education and Training, Fact Sheet, the DanishMinistry of Education, 2000. education and training – key to the future, Cedefopsynthesis of the Maastricht Study, 2004.

4 Relevant institutions andorganisationsGovernment AgenciesUndervisningsministerietThe Danish Ministry of EducationFrederiksholms Kanal 21DK-1220 Copenhagen KTel. +45 33 92 50 00Fax +45 33 92 55 47Website: http://www.uvm.dkE-mail: uvm@uvm.dkSocial PartnersDansk Arbejdsgiverforening (DA)The Confederation of Danish EmployersVester Voldgade 113DK-1552 Copenhagen VTel. +45 33 93 40 00Fax +45 33 12 29 76Website: http://www.da.dkE-mail: da@da.dkLandsorganisationen i Danmark (LO)The Danish Confederation of Trade UnionsIslands Brygge 32DDK-2300 Copenhagen STel. +45 35 24 60 00Fax +45 35 24 63 00Website: http://www.lo.dkE-mail: lo@lo.dk45

Relevant institutions and organisationsOthersCenter for Information og Rådgivning om InternationaleUddannelses- og Samarbejdsaktiviteter (CIRIUS)Centre for International Cooperation and Mobility inEducation and TrainingFiolstræde 44DK-1171 Copenhagen KTel. +45 33 95 70 00Fax +45 33 95 70 01Website: http://www.ciriusonline.dkE-mail: cirius@ciriusmail.dkDanmarks Erhvervspædagogiske LæreruddannelseThe Danish Institute for Educational Training of VocationalTeachersRosenørns Alle 31DK-1970 Frederiksberg CTel. +45 35 24 79 00Fax +45 35 24 79 10Website: http://www.delud.dkE-mail: DEL-ADM@delud.dk46


In Denmark, there is great political focus on VET as akey to achieving major political goals. Like in the rest ofthe EU, VET plays a central role in implementing thestrategy for lifelong learning, and is an integral means ofpromoting the achievement of the Lisbon and Barcelonagoals. As economic globalisation and technological developmentincrease the competition among nations,VET has come to play an increasingly important politicalrole in ensuring Denmark a competitive advantagecompared to other nations. This publication describesthe Danish VET system, and how it is geared to meetthe continuous challenges of a globalising world:– as an involving system which involves relevant stakeholdersin a continuous dialogue on its developmentand adequacy to meet the new skills needs of a changinglabour market;– as a flexible system which takes its point of departurein the individual learner, and which is able to adapt tothe needs of its users: learners at all stages of their lives,and enterprises;– as an inclusive system which aims to ensure the integrationof immigrants and weak learners, hereby contributingto the overall social cohesion and coherence inthe Danish society;– as a developing system which continues to meet thechallenges of a globalising world, and to adapt to thegeneral societal changes from an industrial society to aknowledge society.

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