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Evolutionary trajectories of dual systems in Europe: the risk of reproducing inequalities
Sandra D'AGOSTINO, Silvia Vaccaro
The increasing weight of youth unemployment in Europe once again has thrown the spotlight on to apprenticeship as a tool with a relevant educational value which can smooth the school-to-work transition for young people. However, dual systems ability to match labour demand and supply has been severely threatened by global mega-trends, which over the last 50 years have been affecting economies, labour markets and education and training systems as well. European countries have been reacting to these changes by activating policies for strengthening the attractiveness of apprenticeship and the quality of vocational training. In the resultant transformation, dual systems seem to reduce their capacity to promote the social inclusion of disadvantaged young people. The analysis of the evolutionary trajectories of German, Austrian, Swiss and French dual systems can provide some hints for Italy. The national project launched in the last years to build an 'Italian way to the dual system' has been successful only in limited areas and so far seems to reproduce and enlarge the existing territorial inequalities. In a context of increasing youth unemployment due to the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic Covid-19, the expected re-definition of the Italian apprenticeship scheme following the suggestions coming from the European experiences could make it more effective in strengthening young people’s employability and employment.
How does Vocational Education and Training in Norway ensure a sustainable system to meet social inequality among students?
Anna Cecilia RAPP, Eli Smeplass
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
In this paper, we explore how a local, rural Vocational Education and Training system tackles social inequality and the risk of marginalization. More than 50% of the youth in upper-secondary education choose vocational education. However, some of them drop out, and drop-out rates are significantly connected to social backgrounds and parents’ educational levels. Simultaneously, the number of vocationally trained workers in the labor market has decreased. Dropping out from vocational education is not only a problem from a national economic perspective, but it also leads to the risk of marginalization in the labor market and society in general for the individual. The educational system is governed by law to include all students and ensure they receive a good education. However, the VET system is divided into several sub-systems that do not always communicate with each other. Through a case study that includes interviews with important stakeholders in the VET system and a survey directed to students in vocational education in upper-secondary school, we investigated social inequality in the system. The results reveal that different rationalities lead to decoupling and difficulties in constructing an integrated VET system. However, through close collaboration, communication, and a local interdisciplinary training office, different ideas can be translated, and common communication on social inequality can be achieved.
Vocational Training Pathways in Spain: the paradox of catching up dropouts
Universitat Autònoma de Barceona, Spain
For decades, education policy in Spain has aimed to promote vocational training, which is associated with a low status as a second track in relation to the academic track. Despite all efforts, vocational training is still biased in relation to the origin of the students who choose it. Based on census data from the Catalan territory, it is shown that access to vocational training is more common among students with low academic performance and among students who drop out of baccalaureate. Significant differences have also been found within vocational training, with some branches being more attractive than others are for lower-achieving students. This reality has a double reading or paradox from the point of view of educational policy: although vocational training maintains a lower status in relation to the academic track, it is a mechanism for catching up with school dropouts.