ERG SES E 04 WS, Unifying the Worlds of Work and Education - Reflecting Complex Theoretical and Methodological Practices - or, on how to do research in in Vocational Education and Training (VET)
Vocational Education and Training (VET) is about unifying the world of work, education and training. On the one hand, VET ascertains that the economy gets the workforce they need, now and in the future. On the other hand, VET ascertains that individuals acquire the practical and theoretical knowledge, skills and abilities to design their own career. VET is a multifaceted and multidisciplinary area, addressing societal, political, economic, educational, sociological or psychological questions, just to name a few disciplinary points of reference. On a system-level there might be questions on how to design and finance a VET-system. There are questions on the cooperation of key-actors in VET, as e.g., the training companies, trade-unions, or the government. On a meso-level there are question on the attractiveness of VET and how VET can help to attain goals. In some countries, VET has a long-standing tradition and high reputation and is also a primary choice for talented and intelligent adolescents. In other countries, VET is seen as a way to help less talented and left-behind youth to gain access to the labour market. VET is also about educating and training VET teachers and trainers. On a micro-level we will have questions on how to design workplace learning; on how to motivate students’ engagement in their vocational career; on social processes which lay a ground for learning and development in VET; or on how working and learning can happen at the same time. Additional questions may be added. This list serves to illustrate the complex theoretical and methodological practices needed to do research in VET. Often, researchers, practitioners and students are confronted with a multitude of demands; sometimes even conflicting interests, theories and methodologies. Nevertheless, it is important to do research in VET. But, what is the best way to do research in VET? What theories can help to advance VET-research and VET-practice? And most importantly: How can a researcher survive in this multifaceted and multidisciplinary complex area? The workshop will focus on individual strategies in developing a coherent own research profile, whilst working together with colleagues from other disciplines. The key question is about how to maintain a sound balance between one’s own, most likely more disciplinary focus, and the complex nature of doing research in VET.
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