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Vocational training with integrated language training for immigrants – a faster path to a job

The project YFI


YFI is a collaborative project among adult education schools, SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) and several vocational secondary schools in Stockholm. The project aims to develop integrated language and vocational training targeted to adults who are foreign born. Within the framework of the project, an interlinked educational chain has been created that integrates language training and vocational training end to end, from the beginner level through to the final goal: a vocational secondary education and a job. The project’s approach can halve the time it takes to progress from SFI to sustainable employment. 


The background of the project is that it takes too long for adult students without professional training to enter the workforce. First they need to complete all the SFI courses, and then take Swedish as a second language and adult education classes before becoming eligible for vocational courses. This process usually takes 5‑7 years.

Targeted SFI

By integrating language and vocational courses in a cohesive training programme, YFI intends to streamline and shorten the process.


“Targeting the SFI experience to better capture a student’s future employment goals early on creates the conditions for more effective study programmes. Studying Swedish as early as possible, combined with training or other activities that are relevant for an individual’s future job, increases students’ motivation to learn and the likelihood that they will complete their studies,” says Björn Hjukström, deputy project manager and strategic developer in the project.

New arrivals, immigrants and the long-term unemployed

The target group for the project is students on study path 2 at SFI who need vocational training to more quickly obtain employment and become self-supporting. The students have some form of educational background, usually elementary school, but some have a few years of secondary school as well. Many lack the professional skills currently in demand on the Swedish labour market. This group is heterogeneous and consists mainly of new arrivals, immigrants and long-term unemployed individuals aged 20‑50.

Close cooperation between language teachers and vocational secondary school teachers

Within YFI, students can choose vocational training in three areas: kitchen and restaurant, construction and nurse assistant training. The goal is for students who have already completed basic SFI to develop their language skills while taking vocational courses. An important part of the project is getting the different categories of teachers to develop a close cooperation. This furthers the project’s goals of providing truly integrated courses and not merely parallel courses.


“We’ve got to get away from the territorial thinking that can prevail among language teachers and vocational secondary school teachers. We are trying to find a zone where teachers can welcome each other in their different professional fields and break down the territorial boundaries to jointly take responsibility for students’ development,” says Hjukström.

Education in context, with clear targets

Participants first undergo introductory training for 5-6 months, studying SFI Swedish and vocational Swedish, together with other students who want to work in the same profession. The participant then gets to try taking vocational classes in secondary school and doing brief internships. This provides a clear vision of their future work that increases motivation in their language studies.


Next, the participant studies toward a certificate in their chosen profession at a vocational secondary school for up to 18 months. The SFI teacher goes to the vocational school and works alongside the vocational teacher so that the participant can learn even more Swedish while studying for his or her profession. This stage of the study programme consists of much on-the-job training. The participant can take SFI tests during both the induction training and the vocational training. When the entire programme is completed, participants receive a secondary school certificate.

Few drop-outs and high attendance

YFI has been up and running for slightly over six months, and the first students have just transitioned out of the induction training.


“We can already see that this training model results in fewer drop-outs, and we have higher attendance among students than SFI courses alone usually have. When our first flock of students continued on from SFI to vocational secondary education within the kitchen and restaurant programme, the cooking instructors said that the students were better prepared than ever before,” says training manager Anne-Charlotte Lindhult.


“We’re an educational development project, so the methodology is to a certain extent developed over the course of the project. We have several ideas we’d like to test out in the project, and by the end of the project we hope to be able to present a model that works,” she continues.


Bild i högerkolumnActivity in the project.


2.1  Improve transition to labour market


Stockholms City