02 SES 16 C, Skills Formation
Projects comparing education systems across all European countries for a longer period of time are rare due to the huge effort it takes. Instead, comparative European studies on education either focus on specific topics and short periods of time (compare for instance the policy monitoring activities of Cedefop, Cedefop 2015), or focus on a small sample of countries. Consequently, it is difficult to get the ‘big picture’, and even very simple questions such as “Has enrolment in vocational education and training VET) in Europe over the last decades increased or decreased?” cannot be easily answered. An early study trying to understand the big picture in education in Europe ‘confirms the major impact of global forces, shared demographic trends, and common objectives. However, it also confirms that there remain substantial differences in the structure and practices of different states. Parallel trajectories do not lead to convergence […]’ (Green et al. 1999, p. 44). This statement was made based on the analysis of 15 Member states soon after the EU enlargement of 1995. Five years after, a new attempt concluded that ‘the recent history of EU enlargement and the diversity of the EU25 suggest that a single-track development towards achieving the objectives for VET is unlikely to be a plausible outcome until considerably later than 2010’ (Leney et al. 2004, p. 32). The increasingly networked community of VET researchers, new methodological approaches (in particularly from the political economy) and improved European statistics in that area (e.g. CVTS, AES) should allow to better understand the big picture. But the contrary seems to be the case and no further studies taking a bird’s eye perspective on VET in Europe have been conducted until recently (compare Cedefop’s ongoing project ‘The Changing Role and Nature of VET’). By drawing on conceptual work about vocational education (e.g. Billet 2011, Moodie 2008, Rojewski 2009) the paper suggests a new approach to grasp the big picture by combing an epistemological/ pedagogical perspective with an institutional and socioeconomic perspective. Based on expert surveys, case studies and the analysis of European statistics it looks at ‘national conceptions’ of vocational education and developments in the last two decades comparing selected older with newer Member States. Setting aside common trends such as technological change, globalisation or Europeanisation, the paper’s point of departure is the key difference between east and west: shrinking populations and emigration.
Billett, S. (2011). Vocational education: purposes, traditions and prospects. Dordrecht: Springer. Cedefop (2015). Stronger VET for better lives. Cedefop’s monitoring report on vocational education and training policies 2010-14. Luxembourg: Publications Office. Cedefop (2017) Conceptions of vocational education and training: an analytical framework. Luxembourg: Publications Office. Green, A., Leney, T., & Wolf, A. (1999). Convergence and divergence in European education and training systems. London: University of London, Institute of Education. Leney, T., et al. (2004). Achieving the Lisbon goal: The contribution of VET. Final Report to the European Commission. Moodie, G. (2008). From vocational to higher education: an international perspective. Berkshire: Open University Press. Rojewski, J. W. (2009). A conceptual framework for technical and vocational education and training. In: Maclean, R.; Wilson, D. (eds). International handbook of education for the changing world of work. Dordrecht: Springer, Vol. 1, pp. 19-39.
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