Labor market training offers vocational or jobrelated education for the unemployed. The state apportions grant moneys to the National Labor Market Board. That board disperses the funds to various municipal labor boards or employment offices. Such training is usually formal and serves the needs of unemployed workers and the business community.
Training is also available for workers who are trying to enhance their value in the workplace or who find their skills and knowledge in areas such as technology not equal to the demands of the workplace. To meet company needs, many businesses offer training to their employees on-site or at various vocational and higher education sites. In addition, some private enterprise companies offer training packages to business, and some consultants offer their services to train employees on site.
Adult Education: Adult education in Sweden is a sophisticated educational enterprise run by the state. It is intended to provide greater competence in the workplace, greater cultural and academic preparation, and life satisfaction. It includes education for the ordinary adult population, as well as for immigrants and adults with mental handicaps.
Reforms in municipal adult education allowed adults without degrees to pursue basic and/or upper secondary adult education. Founded in 1968, the program was expanded in 1994. The basic adult education provides equivalency to the nine-year compulsory basic school and can be used by the student to go on to further study. Adult basic education allows students to proceed at their own pace, taking into consideration that students may have learning disabilities or commitments to job and/or family. Successful graduates are entitled to a diploma or "leaving certificate" that attests to proficiency having been obtained in the core curriculum of Swedish (or Swedish as a Second Language), English, mathematics and civics. Additional core subjects in which proficiency was achieved through successful completion of course-work also will be printed on the leaving certificate.
As of July 1994, adults who wish to pursue a leaving certificate in upper secondary schooling must pursue the same curriculum and syllabi offered to students in the ordinary, teen and young adult upper secondary schooling program. There are some differences in the two programs, however, with regard to the material studied and stressed, depending on the municipality where upper secondary schooling is pursued, according to state regulations. The adult program requires 1,420 upper secondary schoolpoints for a leaving certificate.
Some adult education classes provide no diploma, offering instead supplementary training for a new work position such as computer or technical training. These programs typically are offered for one year or less and can make a worker more skilled or eligible for a work promotion. For example, folk high schools and adult education associations offer learning and cultural or recreational opportunities in an educational setting. The Council for Popular Adult Education administers state grants and evaluates such programs.
Adult Education for the Mentally Disabled: Offering educational opportunities for adults with mental disabilities, this educational program offers a curriculum identical to regular adult upper secondary education, but its syllabi are geared to the capabilities of mentally disabled adults. Students may thus get a compulsory school equivalency certificate or gain vocational training, as the need may be.
Distance Learning: Distance learning, previously delivered in the form of correspondence courses or courses offered via television, has taken a new turn, particularly in Sweden's far-flung rural sections, with computerbased coursework. Many state and a few private institutions of higher education offer courses that can be taken by adults regardless of where they reside or whether or not they have family and work obligations. In addition to home computers and their electronic mail systems, materials for courses and course assignments are transmitted with the aid of fax machine and interactive video. The Swedish government has put considerable resources into the development of distance learning course options for the future.
Two National Schools for Adults, one in Norrkööping and one in Härnosand, have made particular strides in making distance education a reality for numerous adults in Sweden. The schools are particularly valuable in that they offer adult education to persons who live too far from a municipality to take adult education courses in residence. The latter programs may require part of a term to be spent in residence, although the primary learning is done at home.
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