02 SES 05 B, Competence in VET: Transitions in Perspectives
The paper reports about a set of explorative analyses of the comparative data about literacy and numeracy from PIAAC (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) addressing the following broad research questions:
- How are structural traits of education systems related to their results in terms of the PIAAC competence scores and their distribution among the population?
- Can we trace signs of past reforms in different countries in the measured competences of the adult population along the different age groups?
- How does the position of vocational education in the different education structures influence the competence levels and the distribution (inequality) of competences?
The basic idea is that the stock of competences of the adult population was acquired in different time periods of 'education policy time', in which certain changes and reforms have taken place in different countries. Thus in a first step the age cohorts are related to their time in the education system, which has taken place in the 1950s for the oldest cohorts and ranges until the 2000s for the youngest. The age specific competence levels and distributions are then related to this kind of 'education policy time'.
A specific strength of the perspective taken is that the PIAAC data include the whole of the initial skills formation process, and thus allow to produce results that include general education, vocational education, and tertiary education, which are mostly analysed separately. This perspective allows to compare effects of vocational education with effects of academic education and tertiarisation. Because of this aspect the paper fits well into the VETNET programme.
A weakness so far is that adult education is not sufficiently included in the data, however, supplementary analyses point to rather weak influences, which also reinforce the effects of initial education. To some extent the time specific effects of education might be overlain by ageing effects; for this could not be sufficiently corrected so far, however, the issue is considered based on literature.
Next, the timeline of education reforms is identified in selected countries, and related to the age specific development of competences. This procedure allows to explore patterns in the development of the competence levels and develop explanations of whether the reforms might have had consequences at the competence levels and distributions. The observed population has experienced two waves of reforms, (1) the social democratic structural reforms towards comprehensive systems during the 1960s till 1980s, (2) the neoliberal reforms of the 1980s and later. Consequently countries have been selected according to the 'welfare regimes', which have different reform experiences (Nordic countries that have performed the social democratic reforms; Anglo-Saxon countries that have been forerunners of the current neoliberal reforms; and continental countries that have rather resisted the reform movements. and retained the traditional differentiated systems).
Overall, the analysis points to the fact, that a closer look at the relationship between the stock of competences in the population displays very long-term and deflected results of education policy. Moreover, the patterns of structural differentiation do not provide the expected relationships to the levels and distributions of competences.
To this point the analysis has been carried out at a descriptive level, and is in a need of a deeper corroboration by causal analysis. Thus the results of the current analyses provide a pool of hypotheses for further proofing.
Material in German relating to the project: Lassnigg, Lorenz; Vogtenhuber, Stefan (2014), Das österreichische Modell der Formation von Kompetenzen im Vergleich, in: Statistik Austria (Hrsg.), Schlüsselkompetenzen von Erwachsenen – Vertiefende Analysen der PIAAC-Erhebung 2011/12, Statistik Austria, Wien, S. 49-79. Chapter: http://www.equi.at/dateien/lassnigg-vogtenhuber_2014_ko.pdf Presentation: http://www.equi.at/dateien/lassnigg-piaac-wien-pres.pdf Extensive background report: Lassnigg, Lorenz; Vogtenhuber, Stefan (2014), Das österreichische Modell der Formation von Kompetenzen im Vergleich. Auswertungen für den PIAAC-ExpertInnen-Bericht. IHS-research report. http://www.equi.at/dateien/IHS-PIAAC.pdf Some further reading: Aho, E., Pitkänen, K. & Sahlberg, P. (2006). Policy development and reform principles of basic and secondary education in Finland since 1986. Washington D.C.: World Bank. Brown Center Report on American Education (Serie seit 2000). Internet: http://www.brookings.edu/about/centers/brown/brown-center-reports Desjardins, R. & Warnke, A. (2012). Ageing and Skills: A Review and Analysis of Skill Gain and Skill Loss Over the Lifespan and Over Time. OECD Education Working Papers, No. 72, OECD Publishing. Internet: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5k9csvw87ckh-en Graf, Lukas ; Lassnigg, Lorenz ; Powell, Justin J.W (2011), Austrian Corporatism and Institutional Change in the Relationship between Apprenticeship Training and School-based VET, in: Busemeyer, Marius R.; Trampusch, Christine (eds.), The Political Economy of Collective Skill Formation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 150-178. Hallinan, M. T. (2004). The Detracking Movement. Education Next (Fall), 73-76. Internet: www.educationnext.org Lucas, S. R. (2001). Effectively Maintained Inequality: Education Transitions, Track Mobility, and Social Background Effects. American Journal of Sociology 106(6) (May), 1642-1690. OECD (2013a). The Survey of Adult Skills: Reader’s Companion. Paris: OECD Publishing. Internet: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264204027-en OECD (2013b). OECD Skills Outlook 2013. First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills. Paris: OECD Publishing.
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