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wbv   Bundesverband der Lehrerinnen und Lehrer an Wirtschaftsschulen e.V.




Bridging the Gaps between School and Working life? Workplace learning in Higher Vocational Education in Sweden and Finland

Sweden and Finland have a long and close socio-economic relationship. However, their educational systems (especially their systems for providing higher vocational education and training) differ significantly. Since the late 1960s, Sweden has integrated vocational and general education into a structurally uniform national educational system. Finland, however, has emphasised a dual system with two parallel sectors within higher education: Universities and Polytechnics. From this political context, this study considers the recently established higher vocational education reforms with Swedish Advanced Vocational Education (AVE) and Finnish polytechnics in terms of the design of workplace learning, and furthermore, what kind of practical implications these new models of learning at work have resulted in. The results, which are contemplated with other similar international research findings, suggest that despite differences which stem from the nations' political, economical and socio-cultural background, the formal methods engaging educators and representatives of working life are rather similar. However, the general implications are different. While the Swedish AVE has focused more on a primarily demand-led system with de-centralised planning and design of programmes to fit the specific needs of regional labour markets, the Finnish Polytechnics have instead maintained a strong institutional framework, focusing more on research and development issues.