02 SES 04 B, Labour Market and Skills
Over the last two decades, the body of research on governance in education has grown rapidly. While there have been efforts to systematise this research in general education (e.g. Altrichter & Maag Merki, 2010) and higher education (e.g. Amaral, Jones, & Karseth, 2013), research on governance in vocational education and training (VET) remains scattered due to various reasons. On the one hand ‘governance’ has become a buzzword frequently cited disconnected from actual governance issues while at the same time relevant contributions – consciously or unconsciously –avoided the term ‘governance’. On the other hand, contributions to research on governance of VET stem from different disciplines and research communities (e.g. political science, sociology, economics, educational theory) which have not yet resulted in a joined interdisciplinary research field and attempts to systematise the research are rare (an early exception provides Barabasch, 2010).
The paper aims at reviewing and structuring a particular section of this growing research field, i.e. empirical methods, tools and approaches which have been developed or can be used to analyse national governance of VET in a comparative way. Thus, the main part of the paper will be devoted to the analysis of methodological approaches of major comparative studies on governance on VET. These studies not only come from different disciplinary backgrounds but have also coined different key concepts in the field such as ‘plural governance’ (Rauner & Wittig, 2013; Rauner, Wittig, Barabasch, & Deitmer, 2008), ‘(good) multilevel governance’, ‘education-employment linkage’ (Rageth, 2018; Rageth & Renold, 2017), ‘collective skills regime’ (Busemeyer & Trampusch, 2012) or ‘feedback mechanism’ (Cedefop, 2013; Markowitsch & Hefler, 2018). Questions which we addressed are: How do these studies define governance? How is governance operationalised and codified? What are the values underpinning the assessment of governance? Which methodological challenges and research gaps remain?
Despite their differences, common to all the studies analysed is their attempt to assess the performance of national VET systems taking into account their linkage to employment systems and hence the responsiveness of VET. The analysis shows that the values underpinning VET governance are more or less identical with global values of good public governance. Furthermore, it becomes obvious that there is a great need to improve both the theoretical models and the methodological approaches to study responsiveness of VET in a comparative perspective.
The studies which were selected for the analysis comply to the following criteria: (1.) They are exploring the quality of national VET systems or large parts of VET systems (e.g. sub-systems). (2). They are comparative, include at least three countries and address these countries at equal terms, i.e. the same criteria are applied to all countries. (3.) They are empirical in the sense that they build on observations (surveys or the analysis of primary sources). These can by quantitatively, qualitatively or mixed. (4) They were conducted in the last 15 years. To analyse the values underpinning the assessment of governance in the different studies the following procedure was followed. Each quality criterion used in the studies was split into a reference level (the object in question) and the value level (the assessment). To determine the reference level, we developed a list of descriptors in a bottom up process by identifying the objects in every single criterion used. In a further step we aggregated the items and arrived at a final list of 10 dimensions for the reference level. These are: 1. Legal Framework; 2. Qualification & Curriculum; 3. Teachers & Trainers; 4. Learning Venues (issues of workplace learning and duality); 5. Working Conditions; 6. Financial issues; 7. Access & Assessment; 8. Role & Cooperation of Actors; 9. Guidance & Counselling; 10. Monitoring, Quality Assurance & System Development. To determine the value level, we have decided to use the inventory of public value concepts developed by Jørgensen and Bozeman (2007) which is based on an extensive literature and comprises 20 value concepts and the European Commission’s values of good governance comprising 15 value concepts (European Commission, 2017). While all 35 concepts were initially used for the coding, we finally merged these two lists to 24 value concepts. By applying the list of reference level and the value level, two researchers coded every singly criterion of the studies accordingly and independently of each other.
Despite their differences, a common aspect of all these studies is the attempt to assess the performance of national VET systems taking into account their linkage to employment systems. In the policy discourse the term ‘responsiveness of VET’ has become generally accepted to describe this particular aspect of VET systems. However, as the analysis shows ‘responsiveness’ only comes as one aspect among others and not as the most popular one. The values repeatedly referred to and so to say core values of international governance of VET were: legality, transparency, inclusiveness, effectiveness, public interest, impartiality and responsiveness. This is interesting in so far as six of these seven values also form part of the seven global values of good governance as identified by Jørgensen and Sørensen (2012, p. 22), even though they used a pretty different set of documents. The only exception is ‘political loyalty’ which is not part of this list. Instead, ‘responsiveness’ comes in which we would have expected to play a much more important role. Even more interesting is that the studies themselves neither reflect explicitly about the values they base their assessment on, nor do they define the scope in relation to other studies. By our bottom-up approach we identified ten areas which in future studies could eventually be used as a common reference to describe the scope. Likewise, the list of core values can be used as a sort of minimum requirement for future empirical governance studies. In general, our analysis suggests that more care should be taken to discuss the values and principles on which VET governance assessment frameworks are based. In our view this also means to bring together the different research groups and to join efforts in developing better theoretical models to approach governance in VET.
Altrichter, H., & Maag Merki, K. (Eds.). (2010). Handbuch. Neue Steuerung im Schulsystem (1. Aufl. ed.). Wiesbaden: VS Verl. für Sozialwissenschaften. Amaral, A., Jones, G., & Karseth, B. (2013). Governing higher education: National perspectives on institutional governance (Vol. 2): Springer Science & Business Media. Barabasch, A. (2010). Methodological and Theoretical Approaches to the Study of Governance and Policy Transfer in Vocational Education and Training. Research in Comparative and International Education, 5, 224-236. doi:10.2304/rcie.2010.5.3.224 Busemeyer, M. R., & Trampusch, C. (Eds.). (2012). The political economy of collective skill formation. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. Cedefop. (2013). Renewing VET provision - Understanding feedback mechanisms between initial VET and the labour market. Retrieved from Luxembourg: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/EN/Files/5537_en.pdf. Emmenegger, P., Graf, L., & Trampusch, C. (2019). The governance of decentralised cooperation in collective training systems: a review and conceptualisation. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 71, 45. doi:10.1080/13636820.2018.1498906 European Commission. (2017). Quality of Public Administration - A Toolbox for Practitioners. Principles and values of good governance. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Jørgensen, T. B., & Bozeman, B. (2007). Public values: An inventory. Administration & society, 39(3), 354-381. Jørgensen, T. B., & Sørensen, D.-L. (2012). Codes of good governance: National or global public values? Public Integrity, 15(1), 71-96. Markowitsch, J., & Hefler, G. (2018). Staying in the loop: formal feedback mechanisms connecting vocational training to the world of work in Europe. International journal for research in vocational education and training, 5(4), 285-306. Rageth, L. (2018). A Configurational Analysis of Vocational Education and Training Programmes: Types of Education-Employment Linkage and their Explanatory Power. KOF Working Papers, No. 442. Zürich: ETH Zürich. Rageth, L., & Renold, U. (2017). The linkage between the education and employment systems: Ideal types of vocational education and training programs. KOF Working Papers 432. Zurich: ETH Zurich, KOF Swiss Economic Institute. Rauner, F., & Wittig, W. (2013). Differences in the Organisation of Apprenticeship in Europe: findings of a Comparative Evaluation Study. In L. Deitmer, U. Hauschildt, & H. Zelloth (Eds.), The architecture of innovative apprenticeship (pp. 243-256). Dordrecht: Springer. Rauner, F., Wittig, W., Barabasch, A., & Deitmer, L. (2008). Steuerung der beruflichen Bildung im internationalen Vergleich. Gütersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung
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