Author(s):Lorenz Lassnigg, Svein Michelsen (presenting), Christian Helms Jørgensen (presenting), Maarit Virolainen (presenting), Anna Hagen Tønder, Håkon Høst (presenting), Lene Larsen

Conference:ECER 2016, Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers

Network:02. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)


Session Information

02 SES 12 B, Is There Something Like a Nordic Model of VET? Findings from a Comparative Project



Room:Vet-Theatre 115

Chair/Discussant:Christian Helms Jørgensen/ Lorenz Lassnigg


Is There Something Like a Nordic Model of VET? Findings from a Comparative Project 2013-2016

The Nordic countries are often seen as representing a distinct model in different policy areas, in particular those connected to welfare policies, education and labour questions. How does this look when it comes to VET policies and models for vocational education and training? In a Nordic comparative project 2013-2016 ( the origins of the VET systems in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have been traced in order to better understand the character of the national systems of today, under which conditions they have been formed, differences and similarities between them, and how they have influenced each other.  The comparative project both includes a historical part on the development of the national VET-systems, comparisons of todays’ national policies, as well as case studies comparing how similar occupational categories have been formed in the different Nordic countries and how they integrate with the national VET systems. It is the aim of the project to examine how the VET-systems in the Nordic countries’ manage four different challenges: those of social inclusion, high esteem, access to employment and access to higher education. What has been the impact of the strong social democratic influence and the egalitarian policy aims in the forming of the national VET systems, and in what way has it influenced how the different systems deal with the above-mentioned challenges?

A key question is to what extent the findings of the project point towards a specific Nordic model of VET, or specific Nordic features in the different countries’ VET systems. This would be in accordance with approaches that depart from the notion of three different worlds of skill formation; social democratic, liberal and continental paths, drawing on Esping-Andersen’s three worlds of welfare (Esping-Andersen 1985). Or can differences and similarities between the countries’ VET models better be explained by the formation of particular paths during industrialisation and democratisation, in line with Thelen (2004), who claims these policy legacies had strong implications for the further development of VET in the early twentieth century? 

In the symposium, there will be four presentations to illuminate these and other questions from the comparative Nordic research project 


Esping-Andersen, Gösta (1990): Three worlds of welfare capitalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press
Thelen, K. (2004). How Institutions evolve. The Political Economy of Skills in Comparative-Historical Persepctive. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Author Information

Lorenz Lassnigg
Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS)
Svein Michelsen (presenting)
University of Bergen
Christian Helms Jørgensen (presenting)
Roskilde University
Maarit Virolainen (presenting)
University of Jyväskylä
Finnish Institute for Educational Research
University of Jyväskylä
Anna Hagen Tønder
Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research, Norway
Håkon Høst (presenting)
Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education
Lene Larsen
Department of people and technology, Roskilde University