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Higher vocational education and training for adults in Sweden: Policy and Curricula
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Adult Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3150-4853
2019 (English)In: ESREA 9th Triennial European Research Conference: Adult education research and practice: between the welfare state and neoliberalism / [ed] Prof. Aleksandra Pejatović, Ph.D. Assistant Nikola Koruga, MA., Belgrade: Institute for Pedagogy and Andragogy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade & European Society for Research on the Education of Adults , 2019, p. 84-85Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Framing the theme for the ESREA 9th Triennial European Research Conference, the changes in the past two decades to the landscape in which European adult education is set, is presented as fundamental. During these two decades, the policy on, and provision of, Swedish post-secondary vocational education and training (VET) has evolved. New forms of continuing VET are emerging in countries all across the world, and diversity in the formation and provision in institutional contexts is growing, as issues of access to – and widening participation in – higher education and questions of lifelong learning and social mobility are globally prominent themes in policy (Boeren and James 2017; Bathmaker 2017). In Sweden, this type of continuing education is since 2009 organised in what is called Higher Vocational Education (HVE). This is a national example of a system where employers have great influence, that is separate from academic and professional higher education and where provision is organised as a market. Alongside state funded initiatives concerning initial VET in municipal adult education the establishment of the HVE system have been implied to reflect the liberal conservative government’s ‘work strategy’, a principle making employment the one crucial bearer of social inclusion (Andersson & Wärvik, 2012). 

In HVE there is no national curricula, representatives of employers and the education providers are to convene directly with one another to select what skills and competences the HVE programmes should involve to meet the needs of the employers. But what knowledge form curricula and course syllabi in HVE? The aim of this paper is to explore how policy define this knowledge and how this can be understood in relation to questions of lifelong learning and social mobility. Fourteen Swedish policy documents, published between 2006 and 2017, relating to post-secondary VET and the establishment of HVE have been analysed in a theoretical thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). To interpret the knowledge defined and to consider its implications the conceptualisation of knowledge as either horizontal or vertical discourse is used (Bernstein, 2000). This theoretical framework is used as it enables insights into how the structuring of knowledge in VET is a relay for power and how social power relations are mediated and reproduced through curricula, as shown in previous studies of VET curricula (e.g., Bathmaker 2013; Nylund, Rosvall, and Ledman 2017; Nylund and Rosvall 2016; Gamble 2014; Wheelahan 2007).

Findings reveal two inconsistent definitions of what knowledge should form HVE curricula. Originally, knowledge for HVE curricula was defined as knowledge generated in the production of goods and services and selected by employers. This is segmented, context specific and procedural knowledge realised as horizontal discourse. However, in 2016 this definition was coupled with another definition based on the Swedish adaptation of the European Qualification Framework. This definition mainly entails disciplinary knowledge realised in vertical discourse unbound by context. The discussion of this paper relates to previous research on curricula in VET (Gamble, 2016; Wheelahan, 2015) and the research questions guiding the analysis are focused on selection, organisation and valuation of knowledge in curricula (Bernstein, 2000; Wheelahan, 2015; Young, 2006).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Belgrade: Institute for Pedagogy and Andragogy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade & European Society for Research on the Education of Adults , 2019. p. 84-85
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-160564ISBN: 978-86-80712-28-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-160564DiVA, id: diva2:1355454
Conference
ESREA 9th Triennial European Research Conference
Available from: 2019-09-28 Created: 2019-09-28 Last updated: 2019-09-28

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Köpsén, Johanna

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