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close this bookThe Role of Technical and Vocational Education in the Swedish Education System (UNEVOC, 1997, 32 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSummary
View the document1. Introduction and Brief History of Technical and Vocational Education
View the document2. Present Situation - Period of Transition
View the document3. Future Developments
View the document4. Adult Education
View the document5. Improving Participation of Special Social Groups
View the document6. Financial Resources and Financing
View the document7. Teacher Certification and Supplementary Training
View the document8. Entrepreneurial Orientation and Technical and Vocational Education
View the document9. Cooperation between the Schools and Industry
View the documentReferences
View the documentAppendix I: Fact Sheets on the Sixteen National Programmes
View the documentAppendix II: Vehicle Programme Specification

8. Entrepreneurial Orientation and Technical and Vocational Education

In the past, Sweden has not had a strong tradition of individual enthusiasm or government support for small businesses. Assistance such as tax-breaks, professional advice, financial aid from banks, etc., has not been widely available. Moreover, education, especially technical and vocational education, has not taken advantage of the unique possibilities to enthuse young people with the idea that they could start their own business and to prepare them for the economic and organizational realities of such an investment of time and money. In today’s economic recession it has become an absolute necessity to help persons with viable business ideas to get the education they need to successfully realize these ideas. Sweden has, however, over the recent decades, become aware of the value of small businessmen to the continued existence of a democratic society, which the Reform takes into serious consideration. Thus, the study of basic business economics is now included in fifteen of the sixteen national programmes (the theoretical Science and Technology Programme does not include any study of economics). In addition, further economics education is offered in the course Business Economics for Small Businesses in seven of the vocational programmes (as well as in the Economics branch of the Social Sciences Programme).

Table 2 Economics Courses in the National Programmes


Course Name

Taught in Programme


Basic Business Economics

· 15 programmes
(all programmes except Science and Technology Programme)


Advanced Business Economics

· Business and Administration
· Handicraft
· Natural Resources
· Social Sciences


Business Economics for Small Businesses

· Business and Administration
· Foodstuffs
· Handicraft
· Hotel and Catering
· Industry
· Natural Resources
· Social Sciences
· Vehicle


Organization and Management

· Business and Administration
· Health Care and Nursing
· Social Sciences


Personnel Administration

· Business and Administration
· Social Sciences


Export and Import

· Business and Administration


Financing and Calculation

· Social Sciences


International Economics

· Social Sciences

For those who are 20 years or older, i.e. considered to be adults in the education system, the above courses are offered in the regular upper secondary programmes under the auspices of municipal adult education.

“For those adults who have a business idea, there are special courses called “Starting Your Own Business” which can be combined with a six-month government subsidy for participants who are unemployed. The amount of the subsidy is equivalent to each participant’s usual unemployment benefits and is seen as a “salary”. In order to receive the subsidy, the aspiring businessman/businesswoman must submit his/her business idea to an assessment panel. Other subsidies and favourable loans are available from the government to defray investment costs involved in starting a business. An advantageous loan programme for 50 million SEK was recently made available to women only.

Starting Your Own Business” courses usually cover a total of 2-3 weeks and are not “vocational” in the sense that they provide skills for a specific vocation. However, they provide the skills necessary to running a small business, such as knowledge of relevant laws, patent application, administration, planning and control, management, analysis, basic accounting, marketing, quality, etc. For those with first-class vocational skills this education is the key to realizing a certain way of life. This strategy has encouraged not only men but also women to take a decisive step in the process of opening their own businesses. It has also been invaluable for opening the door to Swedish society for immigrants with skills and business ideas.

As mentioned above, Sweden has not had a tradition of encouraging small businesses and there is a shortage of such businesses in Sweden’s national economic picture. During the past years of recession and privatisation, many observers and analysts have raised their voices in warning of this situation and in encouragement of support for a broader small business sector. This type of “vocational” education in the form of “Starting Your Own Business” courses combined with the raised status of vocational education, as well as the introduction of the courses in basic business economics and business economics for small businesses under the Reform is expected to lead to an increase in the number and status of small businesses in Swedish society.

Table 2 shows how economics is taught in the fifteen programmes.