02 SES 03 B, Transitions: VET Skills and Competencies
This study investigates school-to-work transition and development of work career of past WSC gold, silver or bronze medal winners. It also examines how they see the transferability of skills and competences from VET and WSC into working life.
European Commission has stated in the 2011-2020 Vocational Education and Training (VET) development plan that right skills are needed as labor market requirements are changing rapidly (EC, 2010). Decreased attractiveness of VET when compared to other educational pathways may lead to lack of skilled labor force not only in Europe, but also in other parts of the world (Cedefop, 2014). According to EC, one viable strategy is to “organize activities aimed at promoting VET attractiveness and excellence, which may include campaigns and skills competitions” (EC, 2010, p.9).
In the biennial international WorldSkills Competitions (WSC) vocational upper secondary education students from over 60 countries show their vocational competence in more than 40 skills areas (incl. health care, hair dressing, and robotics). The competition lasts for four days, and each competitor receives a score (from 0 to 600 poins) from an international expert panel, based on his/her performance during the four-day competition.
In this study, we investigate school-to-work transition and development of work career of past WSC gold, silver or bronze medal winners. We also examine how they see the transferability of skills and competences from VET and WSC into working life. The study continues the earlier research of modeling of vocational excellence (e.g., Nokelainen, 2014; Nokelainen, Stasz, & James, 2013; Pylväs, Nokelainen, & Roisko, in press) that has focused on analysing the characteristics and developmental pathways of employees representing vocational expertise and vocational excellence. This study extends the existing research by investigating the impact of vocational skills competition experience to young adults’ career development.
As seen in Figure 1, the characteristics of vocational talent development include natural abilities (based on MI theory, e.g., Gardner, 1983), intrinsic characteristics (based on socio-constructivist approach to self-regulation, e.g., Zimmermann, 2000), and extrinsic conditions (based on domain and non-domain related factors to talent development, e.g., Greenspan, Solomon, & Gardner, 2004). Developmental pathways start from an initial interest towards profession and continue to upper secondary vocational education and working life (related to the development of expertise, see Ericsson, 2006).
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Figure 1. Developmental Model of Vocational and Professional Excellence (Nokelainen, 2014)
Based on these theoretical aspects, the following research questions were formulated:
1) Which intrinsic characteristics specify WSC medalists in working life?
2) What kind of impact both VET and vocational skills competition experiences have on WSC medalists’ career development?
EC. (2010). The Bruges Communiqué on enhanced European Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training for the period 2011-2020. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learning-policy/doc/vocational/bruges_en.pdf. Ericsson, K. A. (2006). The Influence of Experience and Deliberate Practice on the Development of Superior Expert Performance. In K. A. Ericsson, N. Charness, P. J. Feltovich, & R. R. Hoffman (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (pp. 683-703). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cedefop. (2014). Attractiveness of initial vocational education and training: identifying what matters. Research Paper No 39. Luxembourg: Publication Office of the European Union. Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind. New York, NY: Basic Books. Greenspan, D. A., Solomon, B., & Gardner, H. (2004). The development of talent in different domains. In L. V. Shavinina & M. Ferrari (Eds.), Beyond knowledge (pp. 119-135). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Myllymäki, P., Silander, T., Tirri, H., & Uronen, P. (2002). B-Course: A Web-Based Tool for Bayesian and Causal Data Analysis. International Journal on Artificial Intelligence Tools, 11(3), 369-387. Nokelainen, P. (2014). Modeling the Characteristics of Vocational Excellence: A Case Study with Finnish WorldSkills Competitors. Submitted for publication. Nokelainen, P., Stasz, C., & James, S. (2013). What contributes to vocational excellence? A pilot study of the individual characteristics of the WorldSkills UK 2011 squad. SKOPE Research Paper No. 118. Oxford: SKOPE Publications, University of Oxford. Pylväs, L., Nokelainen, P., & Roisko, H. (in press). Investigation of the Role of Natural Abilities, Self-regulative Abilities and Environmental Conditions to Finnish Air Traffic Controllers’ Vocational Development. Accepted for publication in the Journal of Workplace Learning. Schreier, M. (2014). Qualititative content analyses. In U. Flick (Ed.), The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis (pp. 170-183). London: Sage. Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Attaining self-regulation. A social cognitive perspective. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 13-39). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
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