This thesis deals with the complexities of planning and implementation of a reform in Swedish continuing vocational training. By complexities it is suggested that vocational education and training (VET) constitutes a contested arena for multiple stakeholders in society. Hence representatives of working life, the State, educationalists and individuals make demands and requirements that VET as an institution should comply with. As this thesis proposes, the complexity has increased further in recent years partly due to the rapid developments in working life and labour markets, and partly due to the on-going deregulation and de-centralisation of the educational system. In general, as this thesis argues, these developments have together created conflicting demands among the stakeholders about how VET should be organised, the mode of delivery and relations towards the labour market. At the same time, the importance of VET is increasingly anticipated due to its potential to support economic growth, and social and cultural integration. The study object of this doctoral thesis is the Swedish reform with Advanced Vocational Education (AVE) which was introduced in 1996 as a pilot project and became a permanent part of the system of continuing vocational training in 2002. Designing the research procedure comprising both the central level educational policymaking activities and the subsequent actions of implementation, the three main questions addressed are: what are the main driving forces behind the formulation of AVE; how is AVE implemented into the system of continuing vocational training; what are the main results and experiences achieved of the reform. Considering the reform of AVE within a theoretical perspective, this doctoral thesis uses the analytical model of educational reform development by Lindensjö and Lundgren. In this acknowledged model, reforms are perceived to taking place at two different contexts in society: the context of formulation and the context of realisation where the former considers the political activities and the latter considering the institutional actions. From a methodological point, this doctoral thesis is designed as a multiple case study with six appended papers, exploring different issues in the reform of AVE. These issues comprise Organisation and Structure, Quality Improvement, Workplace learning and Transition from AVE into working life. Achieving the demands for validity and trustworthiness, this study uses, among other strategies, multiple sources of data gathering, applying data- triangulation. The findings of this doctoral thesis suggest that with AVE a number of educational innovative features were introduced which generally had a positive impact. From the analytical context of formulation, findings suggest that consensus among the central level stakeholders for how AVE should be designed was reached through the joint work of organising programmes during the three-year Pilot project, in combination with the concurrently restructuring of working life. From the context of realisation both educationalists and employers perceived the possibility of designing AVE programmes in co-operation based on local level requirements as positive. Conclusively, most students appreciated AVE as it opened up an opportunity for combining theoretical studies with working at a potential employer thus enhancing their practical skills.
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2004. , 101 p.