02 SES 14 C, Enhancing the Standing of Vocational Education and the Occupations It Serves
In Norway, Vocational education and training (VET) at upper secondary school level is organized in a two plus two – model with two years at school followed by two years of apprenticeship. Even if about fifty percent of a youth cohort choose vocational education, low standing is a problem. Almost half of the students drop out or choose a transfer to academic studies. In this symposium I will present some research concerning the standing and quality of Norwegian VET (Hiim 2013, 2017, Nyen & Tønder 2012, Olsen & Reegård 2013). First, there is a need to strengthen the knowledge about vocational education among teachers and guidance counselors at lower secondary level. Vocational teachers’ opportunities to teach at this level should be increased along with an increase of practical subjects. Second, closer cooperation between school and work life throughout all four years of VET is essential to enhance both quality and standing. It can contribute to a more vocationally relevant, meaningful education from the start, and the students will be better prepared for and more easily get an apprenticeship. More flexible systems for reciprocal transfer between vocational and academic programs, and access to higher education from vocational programs, are important. There are political discussions about establishing further education at university level for skilled workers. In Norway, there has been vocational teacher education at bachelor level for skilled workers since 2003, and opportunities to take a master’s degree in vocational pedagogy and eventually a PhD. This is important to strengthen the role of vocational professionals in the educational system and to develop relevant research. The most important measure to enhance standing and quality in Norwegian VET seems to be an intimate contact between work life and school from secondary school all the way to university level, related to ideas of integrating vocational practice and theory, and lifelong learning.
Hiim, H. 2013. Praksisbasert yrkesutdanning. Hvordan utvikle relevant yrkesutdanning for elever og arbeidsliv. (Practice based vocational education). Oslo: Gyldendal academic press . Hiim, H. 2017. Ensuring Curriculum Relevance in Vocational Education and Training: Epistemological Perspectives in a Curriculum Research Project aimed at Improving the Relevance of the Norwegian VET. International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training (IJRVET).Vol. 4 no.1 Pp. 1-19. Nyen, T. & Tønder, A.H. (2012). Fleksibilitet eller faglighet? En studie av innføringen av faget Prosjekt til fordypning i Kunnskapsløftet. (Flexibility or vocational focus? A study of the new subject «vocational choice» in the Knowledge Promotion Reform). Fafo-report 2012:47. Vibe, N. Frøseth, M. W. Hovdehaugen, E. & Markussen, E. (2012). Strukturer og konjunkturer. Evaluering av Kunnskapsløftet. Sluttrapport fra prosjektet ”Tilbudsstruktur, gjennomføring og kompetanseoppnåelse i videregående opplæring”. (Structures and economic conditions. Evaluation of the Knowledge Promotion Reform). Report 26/2012. NIFU.
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