02 SES 03 B, Skill Competition and Vocational Excellence
Since 70’s, vocational career path has been ‘the second choice’ for the most Finnish young people. Traditional vocations, such as cook or plumber, were not holding a high status when compared to academic professions. Also the quality of vocational education and training (VET) was deemed to be low. Also European Comission has stated in several occasions, most lately in the 2011-2020 VET development plan that right skills are needed as labour market requirements are changing rapidly (EC, 2010). According to the document (p.9), one viable strategy is to "organise activities aimed at promoting VET attractiveness and excellence, which may include campaigns and skills competitions."
EC supported the first European Skills Competition (EuroSkills) in vocational education and training in the Netherlands in 2008. Over 400 competitors from 29 countries and nearly 27000 visitors participated in the event. The second EuroSkills in Lisbon in 2010 was also supported by EC, attracting now over 60000 visitors. Also WorldSkills competitions are gaining increasing interest around the world. When United Kingdom hosted the last WorldSkills Competition in London in 2011, more than 220 000 visitors watched 950 international competitors from 52 countries working for four days on 46 skill categories.
In this paper, we investigate the role of natural abilities (MI theory), intrinsic characteristics (self-regulation), and extrinsic conditions (domain and non-domain related factors) to the talent development of young Finnish individuals who participate in international skills competitions. Further, we investigate whether these characteristics of the most and least successful competitors differ.
To address these goals, we formulated the following research questions:
(1) What characteristics are specific to WSC competitors?
(2) How do the characteristics of WSC competitors differ during the training period, competitions, and working life?
(3) What characteristics are specific to WSC competitors' initial interest in the field, perseverance in acquiring a vocational skill, and mastery of that skill?
(4) What are WSC competitors’ most essential natural abilities?
(5) What are WSC competitors’ most essential self-regulatory abilities?
(6) What is the influence of domain-specific and non-domain-specific factors on the talent development of WSC competitors?
Theoretical framework is adapted from Gagné's (2010) Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT). Because the DMGT emphasizes the role of natural abilities in the development of talent, we applied one of the most well-know categorizations for individual giftedness: Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory (1983).
To measure intrinsic characteristics, we applied Zimmerman’s (2000) model of self-regulation. The motivational expectancy model (Pintrich, 1994) offers one way to categorize and integrate the central elements of self-regulation. This model includes different beliefs or expectancies, such as perceived competence, test anxiety, perceptions of task difficulty, the learner’s belief in his or her efficacy, and expectancy of success. The model also includes concepts relating to volition, namely metacognitive strategies related to persistence (concentration, determination), and time and resource management strategies (methodicalness).
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