Vocational secondary education in Denmark

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Vocational secondary education in Denmark (Danish: erhvervsuddannelse) takes place at special state-funded vocational schools (erhvervsskoler), most of which are either technical schools (tekniske skoler) or business colleges (handelsskoler). Through a combination of teaching in vocational schools and apprenticeship, mostly in private companies, students are trained for work as tradesmen, clerks, farmers etc.

Vocational education takes 2-5 years and can be commenced after the completion of the compulsory primary folkeskole ('public school'), i.e. at age 15-16.

Contrary to academically oriented types of secondary education such as the Gymnasium, vocational secondary education aims directly at jobs rather than higher education, although it is possible, with certain requirements, to enter a university to study for instance engineering upon completing vocational education.

Students train for work in a specific profession (e.g. as an electrician or a chef), but the different education programmes are organized in eight main groups that share certain subjects:

  • Building
  • Crafts and technique
  • From earth to table (hotel, cooking, foods, agriculture)
  • Mechanics, transport and logistics
  • Commercial area (trade, office, finance)
  • Service
  • Technology and communication
  • Vocational elementary course

In addition, it is also possible to pursue vocational secondary education aimed at work in social and health institutions such as nursing homes: Basic Social and Health Education (Social- og Sundhedsuddannelse or SoSu).

Furthermore, there are programmes combining vocational elements with more adacemically oriented elements: Higher Technical Examination Programme (HTX) and Higher Commercial Examination Programme. These aim at higher education and are comparable to the more general and theoretical Gymnasium and Higher Preparatory Examination (HF).