Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teaching and learning in vocational upper secondary education


6.Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education

6.5Teaching and learning in vocational upper secondary education

Last update: 3 January 2024

Curriculum, subjects, number of hours

There are a number of basic subjects in the VET’s basic course and main course. For example Danish, Information Technology and Languages are part of the basic subjects.

The basic subjects must as far as possible be organised in conjunction with both vocational subjects and programme specific subjects. The teaching practice thus reflects a cohesive and interdisciplinary approach.The ministerial order on basic subjects regulates each basic subject. There are also guidelines that contain links to examples of good teaching practices. Schools and teachers can use these guidelines as inspiration for their planning of their teaching.

For more information:

Basic subjects (In Danish): Grundfag og det central udviklede valgfag

Ministerial Order on Basic Subjects (In Danish): Bekendtgørelse om grundfag, erhvervsfag og erhvervsrettet andetsprogsdansk i erhvervsuddannelserne

Eurydice report: Languages in Secondary Education. An Overview of National Tests in Europe 2014/15.

All students must have a certain amount of teacher-supervised lessons no matter where they complete their VET. A minimum number of teacher-supervised lessons amounting to 25 hours per week is introduced with the basic programme starting from August 2015, increasing to 26 hours per week from August 2016.

The composition of a VET

The first part of a VET is a basic course that is completed with an exam. This is followed by the main course that alternates between education at school and practical training. The theoretical part of the programme takes place at a vocational college.

Four vocational main subject areas were established with the 2015 reform, making it easier and more predictable four young people to choose a VET programme.

The four subject areas are:

  • Care, health and pedagogy
  • Office, trade and business service
  • Food, agriculture and experiences
  • Technology, construction and transportation

The basic course

The basic programme consists of two parts, each of which will last for 20 weeks (a semester). The first part must provide general and broad vocational skills and give students more time and a better foundation to decide which specialised education they want to take. The second part of the basic programme is targeted at the main course of a specific VET. As mentioned in section 6.4, young people who start a VET programme more than a year after they have completed Year 9 or 10 can go straight to the second part of the basic course.

This structure, introduced with the 2015 reform, means that students may only start the first part of the basic programme once. Students who have completed the first part of the basic programme, but change their mind with respect to their educational aspirations, can thus go directly to the second part of the basic programme oriented towards their newly chosen VET programme.

The main course

The main course varies in length according to the chosen education and the qualifications the student possesses. A typical main course consists of an alternation between practical training and education at school and finishes with a final test taken in their third and final year.

The practical training periods take place at the business enterprise with which the student has entered a training agreement. If it is not possible to obtain a training agreement with a business, several educational institutions offer school-based practical training to the students. The 2015 reform stresses the importance of continued improvement of efforts to establish internships. The internship initiatives in the reform build on the 12 initiatives for improvement of the internship situation, including the establishment of 50 internship centers all over the country, from the agreement concerning ”Better VETs and a stronger education guarantee” from November 2014.

The vocational colleges’ efforts to establish internships are strengthened by the allocation of more financial funds in order to ensure that students do not remain in school-based practical training longer than necessary.

The 2015 reform strengthens the education guarantee that covers the entire spectrum of educational provision. If students complete the basis programme then they are guaranteed that they can continue and complete their entire education as long as they are qualified and apply for internships. If the students cannot find an internship then they can follow school based practical training. For further information, please see the Ministry of Children and Education's description of the guarantee (in Danish): Skoleoplæring og uddannelsesgaranti

The education plan

All students enrolled in vocational education and training have their own personal education plan. The education plan ensure accordance between the student’s interests and abilities and the studied subjects. The contents of the individual student’s basic course and main course - including the practical training part of the programme - are thus defined in the personal education plan.

The personal education plan is made in cooperation with the student and the school  and, for students who have concluded a training agreement with a business enterprise, also in cooperation with the practical training place. This is to ensure that the student determines their own course of education.

Three tracks within the VET programmes

The above described basic course and main course structure applies to all three tracks within the VET programmes. However, the structure is adjusted to the target groups of the three tracks:

  • Erhvervsuddannelse (EUD) is for young people (people up to the age of 24) who want to start a VET immediately after Year 9 or 10 level. More information on EUD can be found here (in Danish)
  • Erhvervsuddannelser for voksne (EUV) is for adults aged 25 or above. The students have previous, relevant experience. Therefore the EUV will be adjusted to the students’ work experience and preceding education. If, for instance, a student has at least two years of work experience, they will be credited the basic course.  More information on EUV can be found here (in Danish)
  • Erhvervsfaglig studentereksamen (EUX) is for people who wish to combine a vocational education with an upper secondary exam. As a result of the 2015 reform, more young people must be given an opportunity to pass an upper secondary education at the same time as a VET programme. In the future, EUX will therefore be offered in connection with all relevant VET programmes and within all four subject areas. The aim is to strengthen the opportunities for continued education following the VET programme. The students complete the part of the EUX which gives access to higher education as a one-year course and continue with the main course of the programme. For the time being, EUX is only obligatory for Finance education and the Office education. More information on EUX can be found here (in Danish)  

An overview of the reform of the Danish vocational education system can be found here: Improving Vocational Education and Training - overview of the reform of the Danish vocational education system.

The VET Programmes are governed by the provision (In Danish): Bekendtgørelse om erhvervsuddannelser.

Other forms of vocational education and training

Besides the VET programmes, vocational education in Denmark is also offered in the following variants:

  • Basic Educational and Vocational Training (EGU)
  • Production Schools
  • Combined Post-Compulsory Education
  • Specially planned youth education (STU)

Basic vocational education and training (EGU)

The EGU programme called erhvervsgrunduddannelse is an individualised basic vocational education and training programme that is geared towards both employment and continued education.

The target group for the EGU programmes are persons under the age of 30 living in the municipality who are not in education nor in employment, and do not meet the conditions for completing another qualifying youth education. These young people in question tend to have good practical and technical skills but a poor academic record.

EGU is an alternating or sandwich-type training programme where practical training is combined with a subject-relevant school-based part in an overall one and a half to three year programme in which the school-based part lasts between 20 to 40 weeks.

For each student, an EGU-plan is made with the purpose of achieving certain professional competences. The plan describes the practical training and school-based parts for the student included in the programme. Practical training can take place within the whole of the private and public labour market. The EGU plan must ensure that the places offering training are sufficiently qualified to be able to live up to the objective of EGU practical training. Practical training places are very largely made available by enterprises that cannot be approved for Vocational Education and Training (VET).

Each time an EGU plan is signed, a new individual educational programme adapted to the student’s qualifications, wishes and needs is established. The school-based elements are taken from a number of existing education and training programmes including vocational education and training programmes, adult vocational training, social and health care training programmes, production schools etc.

The EGU supervisor must ensure that the required professional competence is achieved. Examinations are held if they are on the programme for the educational elements that make up the pupil’s EGU.

When the EGU has been completed and the students have gained employment and educational competencies as well as graduate rights, they can become members of an unemployment fund.

More information about EGU can be found here.

Production schools

Production schools are schools for young people under the age of 25 who have not completed a youth education programme and who at the time, are not qualified to begin a youth education.

The purposes of the production schools are to enhance students' personal development and to improve their future opportunities in the education system and in the labour market. Production schools are based on practical work in workshops and teaching in general subjects such as mathematics or Danish and practical training.

The length of a stay at a production school is not fixed, but cannot exceed one year. A student is not entitled to admission at a production school as such – the school will make the decision after an interview with the person in question. If the person is admitted, they can start as soon as a place is available.

More information about production schools can be found here.

Combined post-compulsory education

The combined youth education was introduced by the 2015 reform. It is an vocational-oriented, qualifying post-compulsory education for people aged 15-24 who do not possess the necessary vocational, social or personal skills to complete a VET or an upper secondary education. It leads to a title of occupation assistant within a specified job area.

The duration of combined youth education cannot exceed two years, although students will have an opportunity to transfer to another post-compulsory education setting programme if they gain the necessary skills, and they may leave the education for an occupation after one and a half and two years.

It is necessary for students to be referred by the municipality in order to gain admission to this type of provision. A maximum of 2,500 students may be admitted to the combined post-compulsory education sector each year. The final admission to the programme was January 2019.

STU - youth education programme for young people with special needs

Young people with special needs are entitled to a three-year youth education programme.

Targets groups include:

  • Young people with learning disabilities
  • Young people who are severely physically disabled
  • Young people with ADHD
  • Young people with mental health problems
  • Young people with incurred brain damage

The STU is only for young people who are not able to complete any other youth education even with socio-educational support. The aim is for the students to develop personal, social and educational competences so they can live an independent and active adult life.

More information about STU can be found here (in Danish).

The provision governing the STU is the Consolidation Act on education for young people with special needs. For more information (in Danish): Bekendtgørelse af lov om ungdomsuddannelse for unge med særlige behov.

Teaching methods and materials

Teaching methods and materials are selected at institutional level, and teachers are free to choose the teaching material best suited to the students’ particular circumstances. This means that the teaching must take the students differing prerequisites in to account while still ensuring a high professional standard as well as support the coherence between the school and the practical training.

Example of teaching material and learning resources are made available to staff teaching on VET programme by the Ministry of Children and Education ( More information can be found here (in Danish).