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PRELIMINARY Session Overview
Paper Session 4B: Organization and development of VET
Thursday, 03/Feb/2022:
1:00pm - 2:30pm

Location: Room 2

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Can Narratives Explain Divergences in VET Policy? Evidence from Parliamentary Debates on Apprenticeships in Germany and England 1870-2019

Isabelle HUNING

University of York, United Kingdom

My research explores historical explanations for differences in participation rates and citizen support of VET systems in England and Germany. It contributes to the understanding of institutions within country specific structures of the education system and labour market. It focuses on the historical manifestation of attitudes towards and narratives around VET within such structures. While previous research provides important insights into institutional development, path dependencies, and differences of VET systems, the relationship between facts and narrative is not fully understood. This paper shifts the focus from the development of institutions to the development of image and narrative surrounding these institutions. It explores the long-run development of both countries' VET systems, which are closely linked to attitudes towards apprenticeships, and is particularly interested in how driving policies were discussed and advertised. I compiled a data set of all German and UK parliamentary debates between 1870 and 2019, party manifestos, and a selection of parliamentary documents and press releases. I explore the when and how apprenticeships and VET were discussed within the 130-year time frame. I present preliminary results of a quantitative and qualitative text analysis, highlight the frequency of words associated with the debate, and analyse word slant and sentiment. Further, I present attitudinal themes and respective shifts and consistencies to trace back the institutionalisation of historical narratives that influenced respective policies and educational decisions to this day. Findings support the notion that parliamentary debates reflect social development. I quantify how both countries significantly differ in timing, quantity, sentiment, and associated terms.

Educational Expansion as Expansion of Vocational Education and Training

Stefan KESSLER1, Thomas RUOSS2

1University of Zurich, Switzerland; 2SFUVET, Switzerland

In order to predict the demand for skilled workers on the labour market and as a “monitoring” of the apprenticeship market “avant la lettre”, the (former) Federal Office for Industry, Trade and Labour (BIGA) has been systematically producing statistics on apprenticeship contracts since the 1930s. Drawing on an inventory of these long-term data series, this paper focuses on the role of the expansion of dual vocational education and training (VET) since the 1930s as a phenomenon in the development of VET in Switzerland that has hardly been taken into account so far. The data allow a description of the growth of VET in a differentiated manner, especially in terms of cantonal, sectoral and gender-specific variations. By doing so, the conditions of origin and use of these data are also looked at.

As a result, we can show that the VET system in Switzerland has developed both as a reaction to social, economic or technical challenges. Within the framework of this development, not only the foundations for the establishment of a strong VET system in Switzerland are reflected in this historical case study, but also the adaptability and changeability of VET in a context of a shortage of skilled workers between discursive fears and economic realities.

An analysis of the 2018 U.S. federal legislation on career and technical education and its impacts on policy and practice in vocational education and training in the United States

Christopher John ZIRKLE

The Ohio State University, United States of America

In the largely decentralized education system in the United States, each of the 50 states is responsible for the education of its students. Each state develops its own policies regarding the education of its citizens. This is true of the system of career and technical education, where each state receives federal government funding and then contributes some level of state funding to provide financial resources, then each state develops their own policies on a broad range of policy and practice activities. In July 2018, the most recent version of federal legislation was signed, to provide policy and practice direction for the states. Recent analysis of the effects of the legislation shows a focus on funding of career and technical education funding, an emphasis on work-based learning and increased attention to providing access to disadvantaged students, special needs learners and younger students. While many policy actions have been determined, additional information is needed on the effects on practice in schools, classrooms, and laboratories.

Organizational Hindrances for Vocational Education and Training Research in Norwegian Higher Education

Eli Smeplass, Anna Cecilia Rapp

Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Norwegian research environments specializing in vocational education and training (VET) are few and small, despite more than 50% of all Norwegian youth having applied for VET education after secondary school in 2021. As a nation driven by the ideals of becoming a knowledge-based society, Norway has become stronger in many educational aspects, including a vast expansion of higher education and research in general. This article discusses how structural and organizational factors within academia favor research fields with more established recruitment channels than for researchers specializing in VET. Departing from a neo-institutional perspective, we investigate recruitment and research finance systems in order to identify organizational hindrances for VET research. We find that VET research is inhibited by increasing competition within higher education, as well as by a lack of political commitment to VET research more specifically. In the discussion, we criticize how individualization and fragmentation in Norwegian higher education organizations impede the development of a VET research community.

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