Conference Agenda

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PRELIMINARY Session Overview
Symposium 2: Policy transfer II
Wednesday, 02/Feb/2022:
3:30pm - 5:00pm

Session Chair: Antje BARABASCH, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET
Session Chair: Sandra BOHLINGER, Technische Universität Dresden
Location: Room 3

Discussant: Stefan WOLF, Technische Universität Dresden

Session Abstract

This symposium addresses international policy transfer which is a key theme in international and comparative education. Policy transfer in VET mainly stems from the attractiveness of particular governance models and practices in teaching and learning in VET. An example are Public-Private-Partnership models in VET such as the ‘dual’ apprenticeship scheme in German-speaking countries or outcomes-based education derived from Anglophone countries and both models are seen as ideal ways to integrate (young) people into the labour market. Advocates of the dual apprenticeship scheme emphasize the low youth unemployment rates in those countries that have an apprenticeship scheme while those in favour of the learning outcomes orientation emphasize its transferability to all educational fields and to different target groups and contexts (such as VET or HE).

Against this background, this symposium will be concerned with debates and theoretical perspectives on the issue of international policy transfer in VET and therewith related issues such as a comparison of policy transfer in VET versus HE or policy transfer in VET in relation to continuing and adult education. It specifically addresses processes of policy transfer between donor and receiving countries and regions, changing roles in terms of borrowing or lending policies and the role of (international) actors in policy transfer. Theoretical and empirical perspectives on describing and analysing the policy cycle of the transfer initiatives will be presented, identifying the epistemological positions and methodological approaches to selected initiatives with respect to educational policies, but also labour market or HR policies. Authors will critically review the importance of developing ownership and the risk of failure of policy transfer activities globally.

Contributions address policy transfer coming from or within typical VET countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, but also the Francophone area and international perspectives including China and Vietnam.

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Governance for international cooperation in vocational education in the francophone microcosm


Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Germany

International cooperation is high on the agenda of policy makers in times of globalisation and shared challenges such as climate change, poverty, equity or digitalisation. France is no exception in that regard. This paper investigates strategies and actors involved in international cooperation policy in the field of vocational education and training within the francophone area. I take the stance that transfer depends much upon the organisations and institutions in place in the countries, their objectives and constraints and that this question is scarcely analysed in articles dealing with transfer. This contribution uses the discursive institutionalism approach as an analysis frame to trace and identify the development of ideas and discourses as well as the changes in the French public institutional set-up in that specific policy field. The analysis builds on analysis of policy documents, mission statements of actors involved (ministries, public and private actors, non-for-profit organisations, international and European actors).

The diffusion of ‘recognition of prior learning’ (RPL) instruments through development cooperation


PHZH, Switzerland

‘Recognition of prior learning’ (RPL) has developed to be an important instrument to support the permeability of education and training systems – so much so that it can be considered to be an integral part of the global VET policy toolkit (McGrath, 2012, p. 625), and has experi-enced a high degree of policy transfer. Based on an extensive review of documents, this article analyses the global diffusion of RPL, with a specific focus on its diffusion through development cooperation between multi- and bilateral donors and lower and middle income countries (LMIC). This article argues that RPL became a core component of development cooperation when VET came to be seen, around the mid-2000s, as an important direct means to foster equitable access to employment and income for the poorest (King & Palmer, 2007), and thus was made a priority aid theme by the European Union and a key approach promoted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). At the same time, it shows that the model of RPL transferred to LMICs is derived from the specific relations between labour markets and educa-tion and training systems in the donor countries, where VET qualifications are critical to ac-cessing positions in the labour market, which is often not the case in LMICs.

The Continuity and Transfer of Vocational Education and Training Policy in China

Wolfgang MEYER1, Shan ZHU2

1Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany; 2Tongji University, Shanghai,China

Since 1978, China’s vocational education and training (VET) gradually received the attention from central government, and it is developing rapidly. Without a doubt, the impressive rise from a less-developed to the world-leading export economy has a strong impact on the demand for VET in China. Correspondingly, the related VET policy is not isolated, it is served and restricted by other policies and strongly connected to social-economic development.

Generally, the evolution of China’s VET policy has gone through three stages: structure adjustment, diversification exploration and modernization construction. However, the implementation of the central government policy varies in different regions, caused by the difference in local VET development. That is, the eastern coastal cities launched more integrated vocational education policies, while the western regions are relatively backward. There are also attempts to use VET as a driver for regional development and to close the gap between east and west.

Although most of the VET policies in China aim to reduce the youth unemployment rate and promote social harmony, it lacks in the logic of VET itself. Partly policies are still restricted to general education (non-vocational education). To overcome existing deficits, the Chinese government increased international cooperation especially with Germany and tried to integrate elements of the successful German dual VET system. With regards to this, China’s VET policy transfer is manifested in the diversification of VET participants, the standardization of qualification certification, and the legalization of the VET related regulations.

This paper will present a stocktaking on China’s VET policy and Sino-German VET cooperation as provided by official planning documents and most recent political decisions. Hence, the continuity and transfer of China’s VET policies will be discussed, and its future trends will be predicted.

Strategic Partnerships in International Business Models of German VET providers

Gunnar KAßBERG

Universität Leipzig, Germany

Vocational education and training stands out as a field with many links to competitiveness, reducing social disadvantage, addressing the skills shortage, and developing international relations. Internationalization is crucial for the development of skills, knowledge and attributes to be able to operate in a globalized and intercultural world of work. This seems all the more relevant with the growing number of international companies and the increasing mobility of the workforce between economies. However, the commercial view of international VET cooperation as a service export has only been discussed to a very limited extent (Gessler et al., 2018; Strehle, 2019). Current findings focus on case studies of active exporters investigating drivers and challenges of foreign engagement (Fraunhofer MOEZ, 2012) or the identification of business model typologies (Hilbig, 2019; Posselt et al., 2019; Abdelkafi & Salameh, 2014).

In this context of commercially oriented internationalization of VET providers, the accuracy of an educational offer in the target market is to be designed, but also to secure a long-term cooperation. This can be achieved, especially in the context of private-sector educational projects, through a well-developed business model, since both the provider, the customer and the intermediary can be involved according to their motivation. Nevertheless, it seems problematic for actors in VET to design, develop and implement precisely these well-functioning business models.

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