VET and the Nordic dream of combining social equality and social inclusion
The most distinctive feature associated with the Nordic model of education is the strong priority given to social and gender equality and social inclusion. However, the Nordic systems of upper secondary education have differed significantly - and they still do. Sweden and Finland have established non-selective systems of comprehensive education at upper secondary level, and in their school-based systems of VET all students are offered eligibility for higher education. Denmark and Norway have retained separate apprenticeship system that offer smooth access to employment for non-academic youth. This paper examines this divergence in the Nordic VET-systems as different ways of pursuing the two goals of social equality and social inclusion. Since the 1970es, policies for social equality have emphasised reducing inequalities in the recruitment to the higher levels education by widening the access to higher education. During the last decades, policies for social inclusion have emphasised the value of work-based VET by expanding or reinventing modern forms of apprenticeship in all four Nordic Countries. The two classic Nordic policy goals thus seem to be conflicting to some degree, as seen for example with the Swedish Gy11 reform in 2011 that reintroduced apprenticeship, but did not offer eligibility for higher education. Keywords: social inclusion, equality, VET
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