Af Ida Juul og Vibe Aarkrog, DEL, oversat af
Lisbeth Østergaard, Teknologisk Institut
The Danish system of vocational education and training (VET) has been
reformed at regular intervals with a view to adapting it to the ever
changing demands made on young people by the labour market and society
in general. Reforms are initiated when the gap between the original
intentions of the education programme and real life becomes too wide.
In this way, reforms may be seen as a way of solving a number of problems
related to educational policy. The many reforms, and not least how often
they are initiated, also reflect the increasing importance of education
in our society.
The latest VET reform is no exception. The reform was initiated in
recognition of the need for adaptation of, in particular, the structure
of the VET system to enable the system to live up to the objectives
of the government for general and vocational upper secondary education.
The criticism of the VET system has mainly been centred round the following
- The percentage of students passing exams is too low
- Not enough students complete courses during the official duration
of the study programme
- Not enough students choose to commence further education after
having completed vocational education and training
Students are forced to choose a trade or craft at the time they start
in the education programme
Seen in this light, it is no wonder that the reform work has emphasised
making the period of study more effective and making vocational training
and education more attractive to young people. The education authorities
want to attract academically minded students as well as practically
oriented students. The VET system must help to bring down the number
of young people who do not receive a qualifying education, and thus
help to promote the Danish Ministry of Education’s aim that 95% of a
youth cohort must complete a qualifying education. At the same time,
the VET system must be made attractive to academically minded students
by strengthening the academically qualifying elements of the education.
In other words, the VET system must become more open.
Clearly, the high degree of flexibility and the opportunities for the
individual being able to plan his or her own education and training
will lead to a radical clash with earlier times’ curriculum planning
and didactics. It is also clear that this is a matter of visions that
will take both time as well as unsuccessful attempts, before the final
structure can be established.
The new VET system represents a challenge to traditional thinking at
One of the most important challenges appears to be the coincident intentions
of meeting the wishes and expectations that students have to learning
a specific craft and making the education broad enough to introduce
students to the total occupational area and giving them the opportunity
to re-evaluate their educational choices.
Through the selected articles, the purpose of this anthology is to
put into perspective and discuss particular problems that have arisen
out of the new VET system. In the article “Eleverne skal i fokus
– tanker bag en reform” (“Students in focus – thoughts behind a reform”)
by Ida Juul, Chief Inspector of Schools Roland Østerlund and Special
Consultant John T. Larsen are interviewed about the thoughts that the
Danish Ministry of Education had about the reform. The interview underlines
that the reform, among other things, must be seen in connection with
the government’s efforts to fulfil the intentions of “Education for
All”. The reform should also be seen as an attempt to break down the
barriers between academic and practical qualifications and thus to counteract
earlier times’ “labelling” of students by, for instance, strengthening
the qualifying modules of the education, and by giving the students
the opportunity to re-evaluate their educational choices. Furthermore,
it is emphasised that the reform’s desire to strengthen the students’
influence on their own learning and the composition of the specific
elements of the education and training does not equal individualisation
of learning. It expresses a desire to enhance the students’ independence,
motivation, and sense of responsibility. Qualifications that are sorely
needed in the labour market.
The next article “Kontinuitet og brud i erhvervsuddannelsernes udvikling”
(“Continuity and breaks in the development of vocational education and
training”) by Ida Juul discusses the reform in a historical perspective.
The article shows how vocational education and training has developed
from being mainly practically oriented to becoming increasingly school-based,
and the consequences this has had for the relationship between school/
company and between general educational subjects/specialist subjects.
At the same time, the article illustrates how the VET system reflects
changes in context of the society and educational policy objectives.
The purpose is to illustrate the educational policy dilemmas that have
characterised the different reforms in the area of vocational education
The teachers unquestionably play a central role in the success of
the reform. In the article “Reformen og lærerne” (“The reform and
the teachers”) by Vibe Aarkrog, two teachers give their opinion
about the broad education, opportunities for re-evaluating choices,
the contact teacher arrangement, etc. The article points to the prospect
of students being able to familiarise themselves with subjects that
are not part of the concrete education and training which the students
have either chosen or will choose. The teachers, however, also point
to a number of barriers that make it difficult to realise the intentions
of the reform. One of the barriers is the students’ (and educational
counsellors’) inherent tendency to think in terms of crafts instead
of job functions. Another difficulty is, on the one hand, wanting to
meet the need for flexibility and making new choices; and, on the other
hand, making sure that the students have both the theoretical as well
as professional background for completing individual learning modules.
The teachers also point to project-organised workshop-based learning
and an educational practice emphasising the students’ responsibility
for their “own learning” as possible ways of realising the many intentions
of the reform. Finally, the article also discusses the many and new
demands that are placed on the teacher, seen, for instance, in the light
of the contact teacher role. As mentioned above, the educational portfolio
(or logbook) and the contact teacher arrangement are two important innovations
in the VET system. In the article “Nye veje i erhvervsuddannelserne”
(“New roads in vocational education and training”) the authors Brian
Kjær Andreasen and Lone Krog argument that the educational portfolio,
among other things, will come to play a central role in the students’
ability to reflect. This is not least important because the ability
to reflect has importance for the students being able to exploit the
options built into the new VET system. The authors also emphasise that
the ability to reflect is not only of relevance for the individual student’s
ability to compose his or her own education. It is also a relevant qualification
in relation to subsequent choice of profession and/or further education.
Furthermore, it is pointed out that as part of the vocational education
and training reform, the educational portfolio has a public as well
as a private sphere. Thus, it is meant as a space for reflection but
also a tool for educational planning.
This gives rise to a number of dilemmas that the contact teacher should
be aware of.
The concept “flexibility” plays a central role in the new VET system.
The fact that the concept plays such a central role is because the reform’s
intention is not just to make efficient existing education and training
by reducing the dropout rate and new choices that do not give credits.
The vocational education and training reform must also, as emphasised
in the article “Valgkompetence” (“Competence to make choices”) by Lene
Larsen, be seen as part of the realisation of the government’s objective
“Education for All”. In this connection the concept flexibility refers
to the fact that instead of a strategy building on the creation of special
education offers directed at students with special learning difficulties,
authorities instead want to make allowances for the differences within
the existing VET system. The individual student must therefore be given
the opportunity to choose an education option that matches his or hers
qualifications and needs. Competence to make choices is therefore an
important competence when the individual student chooses his or her
own educational course of action and in relation to the many choices
the individual faces in modern society. Starting with a specific case,
the article illustrates that for some students it can be difficult to
choose an education, and how a student’s life story may influence the
specific choice situation.
Denne side indgår
i publikationen "Tanker om eud-reformen" som indhold som kapitel 7 af
© Undervisningsministeriet 2001