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09:15-10:45 Session 7A
Location: Linbury
Rethinking professional vocational knowledge: How teachers in Further Education in England acquire, mobilise and transport vocational knowledge from occupation to classrooms
SPEAKER: Janet Broad

ABSTRACT. Renewed Government interest in vocational training for young people has reinvigorated interest in ways of providing high quality Vocational Education and Training (VET). Running parallel to this debate has been a renewed focus on Further Education (FE) teachers’ continuing professional development (CPD). An area of study common to both concerns how FE vocational teachers, situated in contexts removed from their original occupation or industry, are able to maintain, refresh and up-date their occupational knowledge and so provide a more effective and relevant learning experience for their students. This paper draws on findings from a study that explored vocational teachers’ experiences and perceptions of CPD. The paper examines ways in which teachers, through their CPD, are able to overcome the problem of acquiring and applying vocational knowledge when situated away from the original occupational context and how they are able to recontextualise new and refreshed vocational knowledge for students. Through this, it sheds light on some of the ways in which teachers link occupational to learning sites and through their CPD activities, transport vocational knowledge from occupation to classroom. The paper argues that to understand the mechanisms used in this process calls for a rethinking of vocational knowledge and professional learning. Researchers in the fields of workplace learning and the sociology of knowledge have used the concept of recontextualisation to explore how vocational and applied knowledge moves between contexts. This body of work also highlights the importance of both context and of making visible non-codified, tacit knowledge. The paper draws on the work of Nespor whose conceptual approach enables vocational knowledge to be viewed not as an individual endeavour but as a distributed network effect. This conceptual tool reveals how teachers represent other spaces and times, or contexts, and make these present in material forms through practices of representation. These material forms and practices are discourses, artefacts and transcription devices. Through this, teachers are able to mobilise physically distant practices found in the real, vocational world, to the simulated world of classrooms.

Dual or contested professionalism? English FE teachers in the age of 'lean'
SPEAKER: Bill Esmond

ABSTRACT. Conflicting notions of teacher professionalism have assumed increasing importance in vocational education policy debates. In England, changes to requirements for initial teacher education in the Further Education and Skills sector have been supported by an increased emphasis on ‘dual professionalism,’ often linked to ‘vocational pedagogies’ yet to be clearly defined in terms of widely-shared practices or on the basis of research (ETF, 2014; Lingfield, 2012). This contrasts sharply with the policy discourse of professionalism during the first decade of this century, when generalised notions of ‘good practice’ were opposed to the transmission of vocational knowledge which many teachers in the sector had seen as the basis of their teaching: such measures as certification and compulsory Institute for Learning (IfL) membership were described as seeking to regulate the performance of FE tutors (Gleeson, Davies & Wheeler, 2005; Lucas & Nasta, 2010). These changes have significance for teacher education programmes, described in the Lingfield interim report as ‘largely generic and theoretical, rather than being related to the professional and occupational expertise of college lecturers’ (Lingfield 2012: 14). This paper draws on an ongoing study of vocational tutors' accounts of practice carried out in areas of vocational education that are arguably closest to industrial practice, the workshops designed to provide practical learning opportunities for students to practise skills to be used in the workplace. These are contexts in which teachers are required to draw directly on practical knowledge of techniques as well as on knowledge and skills more frequently associated with the professionalism of teaching and learning. They are also environments in which tutors may also be supported (or, in some cases, replaced) by staff in other roles, such as technicians and vocational coaches. Whilst these changes are often rationalised in terms of preparing students more effectively for the contemporary workplace, they can be linked to the erosion of vocational education and training’s traditional role of reproducing a skilled working class and to changes in the skills required for employment. Whilst traditional craft skills have been supplemented by a requirement for ‘soft skills’ associated with a growing service sector, demands for ‘higher-level’ skills are often accompanied by reduced opportunities for discretion in the wake of increasing levels of technological control. Alongside these changes, opportunities for employee discretion about the deployment of skills in practice are often reduced by the introduction of standardised processes, accompanied by the need for ‘teamwork’ in ‘lean’ processes or for ‘emotional labour’ in customer-facing environments (Grugulis, 2010; Thomson & Smith, 2010). VET teachers may be seen not only as preparing students for but also as themselves subject to changes in employment associated with intensification of the labour process.

09:15-10:45 Session 7B
Location: Morley Fletcher
A ‘life apprenticeship’? Reclaiming the importance of the social aspect of apprenticeship

ABSTRACT. Renewed political interest in apprenticeships for young people has focussed the spotlight on this form of learning in England. Yet most research conducted into apprenticeships, focuses on either the development of the skills required in the occupational field, or the economic benefits that apprenticeship produces. Such research often neglects apprenticeship’s former social role as an important method of transitioning youth into adulthood. In focussing on the socialisation aspect of the apprenticeship model, this paper seeks to reassert this important function. Using biographical and autobiographical accounts of apprenticeship’s socialisation process, this paper helps to create a clearer understanding of the position that apprenticeships once occupied as a cultural institution in forming the apprentices’ adult identities, to inform future practice.

Governance of apprenticeships in Europe

ABSTRACT. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in apprenticeship based on the ‘dual system of vocational education and training (VET)’ model. They are perceived as an attractive policy option, particularly in the context of the current socio-economic challenges. The European Alliance for Apprenticeship (bringing together EU Member States, social partners, businesses, other relevant actors and the European Commission) intents to improve the quality and supply of apprenticeship by spreading successful apprenticeship schemes across the Member States. However, the successful establishment or expansion of a dual VET system is a challenging task. It requires identifying the necessary governing conditions and principles for well-performing and modern apprenticeship. The research project to be introduced focuses on the development of an instrument for the analysis of governance and financing structures that has been applied in Italy, Spain, Sweden, Latvia and Portugal - in the view of establishing or expanding apprenticeships (VET dual system). In the second phase of the project, which brought social partners and researchers together, visions/scenarios were developed in order to centre the discussions on potential changes within the existing governance structures.

This action research project comprises various methodological steps that will be introduced in the paper.

1.) Development of theoretical framework with analytical dimensions for the analysis of governance structures and financing arrangements in respect to apprenticeship development.

2.) Validation workshop for criteria and indicators of governance and financing structures.

3.) Review of empirical research findings with a view to the mapping of basic trends and driving forces with respect to the development of apprenticeship.

4.) Operationalization of theoretical framework in analytical tool.

5.) Stakeholder workshops in which tool is applied. These include a guided discussion among social partners and researchers. The workshops aim at an interactive evaluation and learning process in which all stakeholder groups contribute to the collection and exchange of information and take part in the formulation of solutions and recommendations.

6.) Conceptual framework and results of stakeholder workshops build the foundation for the development of visions / scenarios.

7.) Stakeholder workshops in which visions / scenarios are discussed in the view of (further) development of apprenticeships. Discussions are transcribed and outcomes are provided to policy makers.

The presentation will specifically focus on the applicability of action research within VET developments and elaborate on action research design as a methodological approach that focuses on the advancement of research while supporting change processes.

09:15-10:45 Session 7C
Location: Seminar room A
Employers' Experience and Understanding of Higher Apprenticeships

ABSTRACT. More employers are now developing higher apprenticeship programmes and one of the first ever surveys of higher apprenticeships in England challenges common assumptions about a ‘skills gap’ and the role of universities in preparation for high level work in productive industries.

The survey, undertaken by the University of Derby in partnership with Pera Training, explored two hundred employers’ experience and understanding of higher apprenticeships. Themes addressed in the survey were perceptions about potential skills gaps in companies; employers perceptions about the challenges in relation to recruitment, retention and progression of apprentices and issues relating to embedding higher apprenticeships in companies. The analysis compared variations in employers’ perceptions according to company size, industrial sectors and geographical location.

Follow–up interviews were then conducted with employers who delivered higher apprenticeships in order to explore in depth the issues raised in the survey findings. The interviews also enabled the collection of case studies of best practice in the integration of higher apprenticeships and their benefits to a company. Finally, higher apprenticeships were evaluated in comparison to other forms of higher skills training programmes.

One important finding, from the large employers’ responses to the survey, indicated that, contrary to the fear that is often expressed by apprenticeship training providers, there is no shortage of qualified young people applying for and starting higher apprenticeships in England. This, and other findings from the survey, could challenge and change the way training providers understand higher apprenticeships and potentially influence the direction of future apprenticeship development and provision.

Delivering Skills Transferability in a Market Driven Training System: does it really work? A study of the Australian Vocational Education and Training System
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. A major concern for many economies around the world, both developed and developing, is how to ensure a sustainable supply of adequate and appropriate skills to industry. In Western economies, particularly at a time of significant economic transformations and industrial restructuring, this concern has increasingly focused on questions of declining traditional economic sectors, which formed the bedrock of employment, consequent job losses and growing unemployment, especially among the youth. One way to mitigate the employment fall-out in such situations it to ensure an effective system for redistributing the available skills to sectors of the economy that are either emerging or experiencing growth. This, however, presupposes embedded capacity to develop skills that are transferable across different occupations and sectors. This paper examines this capacity in the architecture of the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) system. Changes to the system over the past three decades have entrenched a market-driven approach to the provision of vocational training. The traditional, public funded and controlled Tertiary and Further Education (TAFE) system has given way to a new public underwritten but private sector controlled system. In this new system, although the packaging of VET qualifications is prescribed in industry training packages developed through a tripartite process coordinated by designate industry skills councils, with the vision of skills transferability, the underlying neoliberal ‘user-choice’ and ‘user-buys’ principle delegates the power to determine the content and structure of skills produced to employers. The outcome is narrowly defined and employer specific skill sets, which undermine transferability and limit cross occupation employment mobility. Following an extensive qualitative study of the Australian VET system, utilising content analysis of various industry training packages and in-depth interviews with employers, training providers and Job Service Agencies (responsible for assisting employment displaced workers find new jobs), we conclude that, although training packages envisage skills transferability, it is difficult to achieve this goal in an environment where the design and outcomes of a VET system are left to the market to determine.

09:15-10:45 Session 7D
Location: Lecture room B
Vocational education in the post-recession scenario. What is left behind when employability is at the center?
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. The relationship between education and the labour market has been always a turbulent and difficult one. A short historical review of VET puts in evidence that there is a constant tension between the two in which the intrinsic and social goals of education are too often blurred. This paper focuses on the current transformations of VET in Spain as a pertinent case study to remind the value and need for preserving those in times where productivity, employability and market solutions are presented as irrefutable common goals. Spanish political authorities have taken advantage of the momentum created by the hit of the global financial crisis on an already precarious labour market to move forward an agenda of reforms centred in improving the flexibility and the employability of the workforce. In the field of initial VET these reforms have consisted on the introduction of separated tracks in lower secondary education, the reinforcement of instrumental knowledge and skills within the national curriculum and the implementation of a dual system with a greater involvement from firms in the provision of education and training. As this paper argues –in a context with high rates of early school leaving, extreme polarisation of educational credentials, and low investment in innovation and training from the private sector– an educational agenda focused on employability will not be able to address the fundamental problems of educational inequities, low attractiveness of VET and low demand for skills that characterise the political economy of skills formation and utilisation in Spain. The structure of the paper is as follows. The first part critically discusses the concept of employability and some of the theoretical underpinnings of VET policies in Europe and most concretely in Spain. The second part presents the context of VET in Spain and how the new orientations and objectives of the educational reforms are transforming the system in the post-recession scenario. Finally, having set the basis for the study, a third part analyses the reasons for the adoption of the dual system in Spain and the challenges that it is facing in its implementation. From a social justice perspective, this paper concludes that instrumental views on education are commended to be short-term and unilateral, which result insufficient to enhance the opportunities of young people and ensure a durable and decent labour market transitions.

Institutional development of apprenticeship pathways in Lithuania and Estonia: issues for policy learning
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. Apprenticeship training pathway is increasingly considered as effective response to the challenges of structural youth unemployment, skills mismatches and the lack of attractiveness of the initial VET in the countries with school based initial VET systems (ILO, 2012; Euler, 2012; Saniter, Tūtlys, 2012). Institutional development of the VET systems of post-soviet countries is characterised by the specific transitional institutional reforms and socioeconomic transformations, such as changing of the status of initial VET schools, implementation and development of new social partnership patterns and multipartite structures in the governance of VET systems, curriculum reforms. Transition from the supply-led initial VET to demand led vocational education required to look for the new institutional and organisational forms of initial VET provision leading to the different pathways of policy learning and policy borrowing in this field. The goal of this paper is to compare the institutional development pathways of emergence and development of apprenticeship schemes or practices in the initial VET systems of Lithuania and Estonia seeking to identify common trends and specificities of these pathways and to explore the impact of policy learning and policy borrowing. There are analysed and compared legal and institutional preconditions and settings for the emergence of apprenticeship schemes and practices in the period of transitional reforms of the initial VET systems in the last decade of the XXth century and during the reforms of the initial VET enhanced by eurointegration and entering to the EU in 2004. This paper explores how the development of apprenticeship related schemes or practices in Lithuania and Estonia has been influenced by the patterns of social dialogue and roles of employers and trade unions in the initial VET policy making, introduction of competence-based approaches of curriculum design, implementation of the National Qualifications Frameworks. It also explores and explains emergence and evolution of institutional constraints that impede development of apprenticeship pathway in the initial VET systems of Lithuania and Estonia.

09:15-10:45 Session 7E
Location: Memorial Room
“Same Same But Different”? An International Comparative Case Study of the Prescribed and Enacted Curriculum in Pre-vocational Education in Germany, France and Great Britain

ABSTRACT. The case study concentrates on the relationship between the prescribed and enacted curriculum in pre-vocational education in selected parts of Germany, France and Great Britain (here Scotland). Pre-vocational education is understood as comprising all educational measures on ISCED-level 2 contributing to an understanding of the world of work and economics (Berger 2015). The research questions are: What influences the implementation of the “official curriculum” (Posner 2004: 191) on the school/classroom level in lower secondary education in the three countries? What are the peculiarities, similarities, and differences in the structure and contents of pre-vocational education between the countries and how can they be interpreted with respective to the wider social context of each country? The research design of the case study was set up in a multilevel and multi-method design (Bray & Thomas 1995: 475). With a focus on the macro-level, a criteria based content analysis of the “prescribed curriculum” (Bloomer 1997: 135) has identified the thematic focal points within the syllabuses. To explore the “enacted curriculum” (ibid.), qualitative expert interviews with headmasters and teachers were carried out. The findings show, that although there are more differences on the macro-level of the education systems of Germany, France and Scotland, there are more similarities in teaching practice: While there is a relatively narrow canon of compulsory subjects taught in lower secondary school in Germany and France, great school and individual autonomy in choosing the subjects exists in Scotland. This high degree of personal responsibility is also reflected in the liberal economic and social structures in Great Britain (Pring 1995: 171). Further differences exist in the configuration of the curriculum: The curriculum content in pre-vocational education in France and Germany is taught within integrated subject areas, like Civic Education. In Scotland there are separated subjects, like Economics. The findings reveal that the teachers’ pedagogical freedom is influenced by the obligatory nature of each subject and its consideration in the final exams. In all three countries another influencing factor on the enacted curriculum is the teachers’ professional qualification: Former areas of study and non-school related job experiences affect the schools’ personnel planning as well as the teachers’ individual focus. The interviewees in Germany, France and Scotland seek a greater autonomy in teaching: There is a sense of an over-crowded prescribed curriculum, leaving insufficient freedom for a more student-centred learning. Teachers argue the need for strengthening the cooperation with the business environment. French teachers reported that for a long time ‘the economy’ has been seen as a “dirty word” in the French education system. -This system is based on the classical humanist ideal, accompanied by a strict rejection of any form of vocational or work related learning.

Reform in vocational education and training: Adoption of changes in Post-Soviet Estonia
SPEAKER: Meril Ümarik

ABSTRACT. This paper focuses on the process of institutional change on the field of vocational education and training in Post-Soviet Estonia. The central attention is on how the changes introduced as part of the VET reform policies have been made sense of and adopted by different stakeholders on the field. Moreover, whether educational change have involved change in educational ideas, norms and organizational arrangements that constitute vocational education as social institution.

The neo-institutionalism, especially Richard Scott`s model on three pillars of institutional order, serves as a theoretical framework for my analysis. Scott (2008) defines institutions as comprised of regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive elements. Although institutions function to provide stability and order, nevertheless they undergo change, both incremental as revolutionary (Scott, 2008: 48-50). Institutionalization of change on the regulative level lays on introduction of new legal documents and laws, while on the normative level the change in shared norms is needed. Third, the cultural-cognitive elements of institutions: the shared conceptions and frames through which meanings are made (Scott, 2008: 57) is also the element deciding whether the educational changes will have the long-term effect and whether the school culture and real teaching practices will change (Hargreaves, 2005).

The paper is based on meta-analysis of three different studies focusing on implementation of vocational education reform policies in different areas of VET – national curricula, re-organization of the network of vocational schools, practical training provision. In order to understand the implementation of reform policies I tend to focus on perceptions of different stakeholders – teachers, but also school leaders, workplace trainers, students.

In my paper I argue that the changes are visible on the regulatory and in a certain extent on the normative level, but changes in cultural-cognitive level have not taken place. Teachers as well as other actors on the field of VET (e.g. practical training coordinators in companies) perceive changes differently and have adopted changes unevenly. My study indicated that the encouragement of networks and co-operative learning communities and involvement of stakeholders as early as possible in the policy implementation process facilitates sense-making and adoption of changes. Moreover, teachers, schools, employers and other stakeholders have exercised different degree of agency in different schools and vocational fields in shaping the reform policy implementation in VET.

References: Hargreaves, A. (2005). Educational change takes ages: Life, career and generational factors in teachers’ emotional responses to educational change. Teaching and Teacher Education 21 (8): 967–83. Scott, R. (2008). Institutions and Organizations: Ideas and Interests, Third edition, Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore: Sage Publications.

09:15-10:45 Session 7F
Location: Nash West
FE colleges and the logic of incorporation 1993-2015. The failure to develop a coherent VET system and strategic purpose for further education in England.
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. The focus of this paper is an analysis of the incorporation of colleges started in 1993 and its failure to produce a coherent or strategic purpose for further education generally and vocational education and training in particular. Our general analysis of the logic of incorporation is drawn from two the recent publications. ‘The coming of Age of FE ‘ (Hodgson (ed) forthcoming May 2015), in which both authors have made a contribution, and the work of Fligstein and McAdam, ‘A Theory of Fields’ (2012) which we find particularly helpful and insightful when we consider further education, VET and incorporation. Because of limited space we are employing only key terms from their theory of fields.

Fligstein and McAdam propose that there are key elements to understanding the status and direction of a ‘policy field’ or a ‘strategic action field’. What is of interest to us in our analysis of incorporation, is in elaborating upon what the authors' call ‘Strategic action Field’ and 'unorganised social space.' What is not included into the strategic action field remains in unorganized social space. For us the strategic action field is the policy intent of incorporation, which in our view was to create a market or quasi market. The unorganized social space or spaces is where there is no strategic interest sufficiently developed to manifest a shared understanding in areas such as teaching and learning, professionalism, vocational education and training and what should be taught in FE.

We wish to suggest that many of these important questions remain ‘unorganised social spaces’ and as such have not been addressed by the logic of incorporation and furthermore, the very logic of incorporation makes such important questions unsolvable including the strategic place or purpose of further education. We propose that FE has yet to find the stability a ‘strategic action field’ needs to maintain itself. It simply has too many unorganised social spaces for it to be a stable and, it must be said, an effective sector in terms of it strategic place.

Following on from our analysis of incorporation the paper will present a number of scenarios, developing one in particular, which proposed that further education becomes part of some form strategic regional authority and is fundamentally reorganized which will give vocational education and training and further education a stable strategic purpose in England.

Europeanization and Policy Learning in VET: The Estonian Case
SPEAKER: Krista Loogma

ABSTRACT. The aim of the paper is to explain, what is the role of the Europeanization in transformation of the VET system in Estonia. Specifically, I analyse, what European Union VET policies has been introduced, what institutions, actors and learning platforms have been involved. The situation after the collapse of the Soviet VET system in 1990s was extremely complicated as the country lacked expertise and financial resources to build up the new VET system in the circumstances, when all other societal systems were simultaneously rapidly changing. Therefore, learning from other systems has become an important factor and European Union(EU)has become most prominent arena for the VET policy learning. Europeanization in this paper is understood as the process where domestic policy actors utilize objectives and principles adopted at the European level in national policy making. (Toots, forthcoming). However, the domestic policy actors´ can apply different strategies, while adopting EU policies in domestic arena. Distinction can be made between policy transfer and policy learning. The former refer to the simple take-over of the policy and the latter to the process, that is similar to the active learning and consider the domestic needs and historical-cultural and economic context. Yet, the most prominent role of policy learning in transition context is to build up and improve the capacity of own policy actors´ to formulate policy. (Grootings, 2009) Europeanization in Estonian VET has emerged in the form of first foreign aid packages in early 1990s and developed via the Copenhagen process into the governance process, where the EU guidelines, policy instruments and support schemes play a crucial role in the domestic government of VET and the EU and domestic policies have been even more tightly interweaved. Methodologically, the paper is departing from the policy learning approach and looking, how the Lisbon values and goals have been implemented via the Copenhagen process into the Estonian VET policy and what institutions, actors and policy instruments have been involved in the policy process. Empirical evidences are drawn from the policy documents, statistical data and previous research. As a result, the stages and tendencies of institutional development of VET are identified (e.g strengthening of the executive institutions). Secondly, the most influential policy ideas, transferred from the EU VET policy, are highlighted and lastly, it is discussed, whether we can see the features of the policy learning in the Europeanization process.

References Grootings, P. (2009), “Facilitating Policy-Learning: Active Learning and the Reform of Educational Systems in Transition Countries. Introduction”, in Maclean, R. and Wilson, D. (eds.) International Handbook of Education for the Changing World of Work (pp. 499–512). Springer Toots, A. Governing in the shadow of Bologna: Return of the state in higher education quality assurance policy (forthcoming)

09:15-10:45 Session 7G
Location: Nash East
Vocational education’s variable links to vocations
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. Australia’s vocational education is based on narrow job skills: there is no formal role in government policy for vocational education to prepare graduates for further education or even for general employment. Yet only 37% of Australian vocational education graduates are employed in the field for which their qualification ostensibly trains them. This varies markedly by field and level of qualification. For example, 84% of graduates of the certificate III in electrical engineering were employed in that field after graduation, but only 30% of electrical engineering graduates of diplomas and above were employed in the field (Moodie and colleagues 2013: 20).

From early results of our work at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, it seems that Ontario’s vocational education may be similarly loosely associated with employment, and that this also varies markedly by field and level of qualification. Again, this contrasts sharply with the ostensible role of Ontario’s colleges of applied arts and technology, which unlike community colleges in British Columbia, Alberta and many USA states, were not established with a general education or transfer function.

The Australian study also found that educational programs have a limited role in bridging gaps caused by ‘hollowing out’ (Gregory 1993; Cully 2003: 10) the middle of the skills distribution: this requires changes by employers, presumably coordinated by industry bodies or other intermediary organisations.

This raises several issues for vocational education. Tying vocational education narrowly to specific jobs seems inappropriate, at least for most vocational qualifications. Even specifying the same role for all vocational qualifications seems inappropriate in view of their markedly different proportions of graduates who proceed to related employment and to further education. Qualifications’ curriculum and pedagogy should also vary according to the roles they mainly serve.

This paper will present data on vocational education’s variable links with vocations from Australia and early results on vocational education’s links with vocations in Ontario and other Canadian provinces. It will invite participants to contribute results from the jurisdictions they know best, and to consider the implications for vocational education policy, curriculum, pedagogy and links with employment.


Cully, Mark (2003,) Pathways to knowledge work, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide.

Gregory, Robert George (1993) Aspects of Australian and US living standards: the disappointing decades 1970-1990, Economic Record, volume 69, number 1, pages 61-76.

Moodie, Gavin, Fredman, Nick, Bexley, Emmaline and Wheelahan, Leesa (2013) Vocational education's variable links to vocations, National Centre for Vocational Education Research, Adelaide, retrieved 18 December 2013 from http://www.ncver.edu.au/publications/2689.html

Secondary school vocational education in Canada as a solution to job-work mismatch
SPEAKER: Alison Taylor

ABSTRACT. One of the roles of education has historically been to prepare youth for life and work. Therefore, criticisms of education have often involved its failure to meet the needs of employers, in particular, not developing the skills needed in the labour market. However, in recent decades, the discourse has changed. Education is now blamed for perpetuating a mismatch between education and the labour market by failing to provide sufficient career development and labour market information and through its academic programming bias (e.g. Conference Board 2013, OECD 2008). In Canada, programs like high school apprenticeship are seen as a solution to such mismatches.

But are they? This paper challenges the following assumptions that underpin the discourse of vocational education as a solution to mismatch: First, education-jobs mismatch is the fault of the school system; second, secondary school vocational programs can solve the problem of mismatch; and third, secondary schools should focus more on providing students with access to this kind of workplace-based program.

Drawing on my research with colleagues into high school apprenticeship programs in Canada over a twelve-year period, I argue that we need to look beyond schools to find the reasons for mismatch. Reasons include the tendency for employers to inflate qualification requirements, the failure of many Canadian employers to provide training to employees, and their failure to utilize worker skills (Livingstone, 1999). Further, I point to some of the problematic aspects of work-based education programs like apprenticeship as well as acknowledging positive outcomes. Problematic aspects include the lack of integration of workplace learning with school-based learning, and the inconsistent quality of training sites, and thus, work experiences (Taylor, forthcoming). Finally, I address questions around what kind of secondary school education would be beneficial for youth. I argue that this should involve more integrated academic-vocational learning (cf. Young 1998), the opportunity for youth to sample a variety of types of work, and project-based learning in communities.

References Conference Board of Canada. (2013, June). The cost of Ontario’s skills gap. Ottawa: Conference Board. Livingstone, D.W. (1999). The education-jobs gap. Toronto: Garamond. OECD. (2008). Jobs for youth: Canada. Paris: author. Taylor, A. (forthcoming). Secondary schooling and work in Canada. Toronto: Oxford University Press. Young, M. (1998). The curriculum of the future: From the ‘new sociology of education to a critical theory of learning. London: Falmer.

10:45-11:30Coffee Break
11:30-12:30 Session 8: PLENARY 2
Location: Linbury
Work-for-welfare: lessons from the work camps of 1930s Britain
SPEAKER: John Field

ABSTRACT. Welfare-to-work schemes have been a widespread feature of government responses in the current recession. Many of the current interventions have their roots in the active labour market approaches of the 1980s and 1990s, but of course the idea of activation has much older roots. With the current ‘practice turn’ in vocational education research, we are at risk of losing insights from the past. The paper will examine one particular experience of welfare-into-work, and present key conclusions for the present. It draws particularly on the British experiences of work camps for unemployed men in the interview years. The 1929 Labour Government introduced compulsory attendance at the work camps run by the Ministry of Labour, which had previously recruited on a largely voluntary basis. The paper will consider why there was such widespread support in the Labour Party for this policy, and will go on to examine the reasons for the withdrawal of compulsion after Labour lost power, including the consistent refusal of the Ministry of Labour to reintroduce compulsion thereafter, in spite of repeated calls for its reintroduction. On the basis of this analysis, while we can identify significant differences between the two periods it is possible to identify a number of potential pitfalls and challenges that face similar policy interventions in the present. I will conclude with more general reflections on the relatively weak status of historical studies within vocational education research.

12:30-13:45Lunch Break
13:45-15:15 Session 9A: Symposium: Gender and VET - Helen Colley
Location: Linbury
Gender and VET: not just for a special issue!
SPEAKER: Helen Colley

ABSTRACT. In the special issue of JVET that we recently edited, we drew attention to the importance of gender in researching vocational education and training. Gender inequalities have not disappeared over time, but continue to be reproduced and intensified in VET. The articles in the special issue show that gender is expressed in complex and contradictory ways in VET; that the very capacities developed through VET are often deeply gendered; and that there are exciting theoretical tools available for analysing the role of gender in VET. Join us in this informal panel discussion to talk about how our research can integrate such issues, what theoretical and methodological approaches are helpful in addressing gender, and how we can generate a greater number of articles on gender and VET for the journal's regular issues.

Increasing female participation in automotive trades in Australia
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. In their editorial introducing the 2015 JVET special issue on gender and VET, Niemeyer and Colley discuss the persistence of gender inequality as an issue in VET and the continued need to reconsider ideas about inclusion and exclusion in response to changing local and global socio-economic conditions. This provides a timely context for the proposed paper which will report on current research commissioned by Auto Skills Australia to identify how the automotive industry can increase the participation of women in trades roles where they currently represent only 4% of the workforce. Data are being collected through a substantial qualitative investigation of the experiences and perceptions of automotive industry employers, apprentices and tradeswomen as well as secondary students and their teachers. This approach is framed by the understanding that the low participation of women in traditionally male trades is due to a complex interaction of multidimensional personal, family, industry, community and societal circumstances. We are applying a simplified ecological framework developed by WHO to understand the barriers and enablers that influence female participation and to identify strategies to increase their participation. The framework consists of four nested levels of factors that affect women’s occupational choices: Factors particular to each individual such as developmental experiences, physical and intellectual abilities, personal and behavioural factors; Personal relationships representing the influence of the immediate social settings in which the individual develops such as the family, school, the workplace and peer groups, and the characteristics of these settings associated with career choices; Community factors including contexts that influence an individual’s career development but in which the individual does not directly participate. In the case of career development these have been shown to include socioeconomic status, maternal employment, personal-social networks of parents, public policy and the media; Societal factors such as social and cultural norms, beliefs and attitudes. In regards to female work choices, gender and cultural attitudes towards the role of women have a significant impact on young women’s career development. The proposed paper will examine young women’s experiences in and expectations of traditionally male trades in the context of the framework and go on to apply this lens and test the framework with data emerging from the Autoskills project. Cook et al 2005 Multicultural and gender influences in women's career development: an ecological perspective. Journal of Multicultural Counselling and Development 33 Krug, et al 2002 World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva: World Health Organisation Schulenberg et al (1984). The Influence of the Family on Vocational Development. Journal of Marriage and Family 46,1 Young 1983 Career Development of Adolescents: An ecological perspective. Journal of Youth and Adolescence 1,5

13:45-15:15 Session 9B
Location: Morley Fletcher
Modularisation of VET and the dissonance between Rhetoric and Reality: a comparison of Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. The Modularisation of educational programmes in general schools, vocational education and training (VET) and universities has been an important feature of the curriculum in many European countries (Hart et al. 1987). In VET the debate on the pros and cons of modularisation has been particularly polemical. Supporters of modularisation often refer to the potential for flexibility and individualisation, the possibility of recognising prior learning (RPL) and enhancing the learning process (Raffe 1994). However, rather surprisingly there is little published evidence available to support the arguments for modularisation (Ertl 2010). This study helps in part to fill this gap in research evidence. The overall aim of the study was to explore the differences between policy claims on modularisation and what actually happens in practice. We used the theoretical work of Pilz (2002, 2012) who postulates different forms of modularisation. Against this theoretical backdrop we have undertaken in-depth case studies of modular based qualifications in Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland. Six qualification sectors were selected so as to represent a range of crafts, industries and trades. The case studies consisted of an analysis of key literature in the field, data from country experts and interviews with teachers and practitioners. Broader contextual information relevant to the qualifications in the three countries was collected. Also data was analysed on a country and cross-country basis, identifying patterns, similarities and differences between qualifications and programme structures. The findings indicate tensions between the espoused claims for modularisation and the actual practices associated with them. For example mobility and recognition of prior learning are aspects, which stakeholders were aware of, but which play only a limited role in practice. Student choice and individualisation is also a factor in the move to modularisation programmes; but in none of the case studies do students have an entirely free choice of the modules they undertook. We found no ‘partial qualifications’ being used in any of the three countries. A positive feature of modularisation was their responsiveness to employers’ needs. Furthermore few examples of the use of a European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) was evidenced. The main barrier to implementing ECVET was the lack of credit attached to individual modules.

Socio-epistemic analysis of vocational curricula: towards a framework
SPEAKER: Jim Hordern

ABSTRACT. This paper seeks to make progress towards a framework for analysing the vocational curriculum socio-epistemically. At its core such a framework seeks a more acute understanding of how elements of ‘the social’ and ‘the epistemic’ articulate in vocational formation. The approach is both analytical, searching for better description and explanation through fine-grained explorations of vocational curricula, but also in some sense normative and evaluative, in that the realist theoretical foundations that underpin the analysis make substantive claims about the intrinsic value of certain forms of knowledge that therefore should be central to vocational curricula. The foundations for such a framework are drawn from Bernstein and social realist work on the sociology of educational knowledge, from Winch and others on the nature of expertise, and from studies of vocational and workplace learning. It is argued that the advantage of socio-epistemic analysis of the vocational curriculum is the potential for greater scrutiny of the various social relations that shape vocational knowledge, while remaining cognisant of the differentiated structure of that knowledge and its recontextualisation as it is (re)constituted through various processes of curriculum construction.

The ‘social’ elements studied incorporate the interplay between the (often) multi-layered political, institutional and workplace contexts in which curriculum is determined, the socio-history of the occupation, and relations between the occupation and other occupations within or without the sectoral field. A focus on the ‘epistemic’, meanwhile, entails analysis of the ‘verticality’, ‘conceptuality’ and ‘contextuality’ of knowledge structure, and how various forms of ‘know-how’ and ‘acquaintance knowledge’ are combined with ‘know that’ within vocational ‘subjects’, and then brought together with aspects of sectoral, organisational and workplace knowledge in vocational formation. Certain forms of knowledge are, it is argued, both more valuable and more relevant, in that they provide access to ways of thinking and acting that enable practitioners to skilfully manage unforeseen contexts, and to participate more extensively, and intensively, in an occupational community. However, certain forms of sociality must be husbanded for these forms of knowledge and knowing to be realised in curricula, and ultimately in vocational formation. The approach presented aims to facilitate a coherent assessment of both the intrinsic value and the occupational purchase of vocational curricula. The argument is illustrated through profiles of selected higher apprenticeships developed in England between 2012-14 and through scrutiny and re-appraisal of previous studies of vocational curricula.

13:45-15:15 Session 9C
Location: Seminar room A
Participation in further training: the role of the employment status, qualification level and nationality
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. In Germany, participation in further training has increased over the last decade. However, not all groups of employees could benefit from the rising training activities. There are still remarkable differences in participation rates with respect to characteristics like age, gender, nationality, or qualification level.

Our paper takes a closer look at the training participation of atypical employees and asks whether this group of employees has the same training opportunities as standard employees. We also ask for the reasons for potential differences in training participation by paying particular attention to the socio-economic attributes of atypical employees compared to those of standard employees.

By using data from a representative employee survey carried out regularly in Germany, we find that atypical workers participate much less in formal further training (i.e., in courses or seminars) than workers with a standard employment contract. The disadvantage of atypical workers in terms of their training opportunities is influenced by the high proportion of workers with a low level of formal qualification and a high share of foreign workers among this group. But even if such factors are accounted for statistically, the disadvantages remain. We can also show that atypical workers with a low level of qualification as well as atypical workers with a foreign nationality have a double risk of not participating in further training and thus represent risk groups with a particular training disadvantage.

While atypical workers are greatly disadvantaged in regard to participating in formal vocational training, the situation is different when it comes to the participation in informal training. For all types of employment, we find a much higher participation rate in informal further training than in formal further training. Differentiating between regular and atypical employment, there is only a small gap between the rates of participation in informal training of these two groups.

Experimenting with Employer Engagement in Education post 2012-what was learnt from an illuminative case study of the Step Up for Success Programme (SU4S) and how this might be used to inform other learning experiences.
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. This paper is based on the findings from research conducted around a 2011-13 facilitated employer engagement programme developed in response to a multinational firm’s initial interest in NEET prevention. In total it involved 150 secondary school students and 60 staff from 3 of the company offices working on a series of week-long projects. It contributed to the company’s overall outcomes by providing a contribution to CSR, substantive and actionable research and development, and structured staff development. The research itself took place in 2013 following statutory changes introduced by the government in 2012 around work experience for pre 16 students when the researcher was actively interested in finding effective ways to involve employers in education and to support young people’s skills development through experiential situations. The initial focus for the research was on developing a deeper understanding of the impact for the young people of what appeared to have been a positive experience for them of taking part in the programme. The key findings hinge around the achievement of advanced level learning states (Illeris, 2007) for some of those taking part which enabled transference to other situations. This happened through the vehicle of the SU4S programme which, significantly, provided opportunities to work collaboratively (Vygotsky, 1987) and to allow for overcoming barriers to learning by way of working through them (Jarvis, 2006). The paper covers the theoretical underpinning illustrated by case study examples taken from interviews with the young people conducted 3 months after a programme. Do the findings have a wider relevance to the development of skills that are useful for career management generally and particularly for the 21st century? The paper goes on to look at commentaries of the suggested development of the concept of “career” in the 21st century and the skills needed to successfully navigate career patterns that are understood to be more varied and wider ranging than was typically experienced in the 20th century. Finally the paper will look at the pedagogical structure within the SU4S programme that contributed to the outcomes identified and suggest other learning situations which might provide opportunities for further research to continue to deepen understanding of what makes for a successful experiential learning situation.

13:45-15:15 Session 9D
Location: Lecture room B
Transition from two-year to three-year training courses in the dual system – a comparison between Switzerland and Germany

ABSTRACT. Two-year training courses in Germany have a long-standing tradition. The motivation for introducing these apprenticeships mostly is raising training commitment of companies, but also improving the integration of disadvantaged young people into the training system. In 2013, 28 out of some 330 training occupations in the dual system belong to this category, which equals 9 % of new training contracts (Gericke 2014, pp. 130 f.; Gutschow 2014, p. 97).

There is also an European policy background for these shorter training courses as the EU VET strategy focuses on permeability within (and beyond) the VET system, i.e. on progression and mobility in the way young people reach out for and improve their qualifications. Since 1998, in Germany, in order to establish sustainable acceptance of shorter training courses, two-year training occupations are decreed by the government as an accreditation model, which means that apprentices can proceed with a third year directly. 97 % of two-year training contracts include this option. However, this high percentage collides with the fact that only 26 % of apprentices carry on with their training (e.g. from “sales person” to “retail merchant”) even though this quota varies between different occupations (Gericke 2014, p. 131).

The interesting question is whether the situation of shorter training courses is markedly different between the dual systems of Germany and Switzerland. In Switzerland, shorter training courses belong to a specific category of qualifications (Attest), and the number of available occupations is higher than in Germany, having risen quite substantially since the passing of the new Vocational Training Act in 2004.

This paper focuses on the support young people receive when they want to proceed to a three- or even four-year training course after two years of training in the apprenticeship system. There is not much research which would deal with these issues, especially when it comes to identifying the function companies have in this respect. The theoretical background offered comprises both concepts for supporting disadvantaged young people, and research into the quality of VET in general. Besides comparative issues and the theoretical foundations underpinning a research project in this field, the paper will also present some preliminary findings from a pre-study.

Suggested workshops: Comparison / VET Pedagogy / VET Policymaking

An Appraisal of Nigerian Construction Industry Crafts Skills Training Strategies.

ABSTRACT. The construction sector plays a very crucial role in the economic and physical development of any nation, and needs the services of various related and competent crafts-people on a regular basis. Such crafts crew need to be well trained, sufficient in terms of quantity available and highly skilled. The strategies adopted in the training of the needed crafts persons have an overarching implication for meeting the industry's craft skills demand. This paper evaluates the prevalent approaches to the training of crafts workers for the Nigerian construction sector with the view to assessing the effectiveness and prospects of the various methods in producing competent and sufficient number of Trades-people. Quantitative approach using the questionnaire survey techniques was adopted for data collection among 500 randomly selected stakeholders. 282(56%) participated in the survey. Results of the survey revealed that in the past the Vocational and Technical Colleges (VTCs) were most effective avenues for the training of construction related crafts skills [88.0% (39%SA, 49%A; with scores of 4.3233 mean; V=.20)]. For the present era, [86.0% (50%SA, 36%A; mean score=4.3519; V=.20) supported the formal apprenticeship - classroom instruction combined with practical site work (as obtainable in the age old Trade centres and Vocational/Technical colleges) as the most effective route for construction craft skills training. The study concludes that the emphasis of the Science and Technical Colleges (STCs) which has replaced the former Trade Centres or Technical colleges (TCs) has shifted from training crafts skills to preparing trainees for further and higher education (FHE) and recommends that construction crafts skills training centres should be established particularly for the training and development of Artisans for the Nigerian construction sector. Implication for the Nigerian construction sector is that adoption of appropriate craft skills training strategies will ensure availability of locally trained seasoned crafts-people; reduce craft skills shortages and address capital flight problems.

13:45-15:15 Session 9E
Location: Memorial Room
Floristry knowing displayed in funeral design – learning to see with the help of imitation

ABSTRACT. In this paper, the concept of imitation is used as a way to understand how flowers work as mediators of action (e.g. Wertsch, 1989). In floristry teaching, flowers, human actions, and tradition are intertwined as constitutive features that all need to be taken into account when analysing vocational knowing. Floristry vocational teaching frequently follows a pattern where demonstration, by the teacher, precedes imitations by students. The imitation is a complex activity involving embodied structures of human interaction that maintain the quest for a shared seeing. This involves knowing how to choose suitable flowers within a pre-set structure of form. When making, some kinds of imitation require presence – a reflective practice – between seeing a model and acting upon visual representations (e.g.Molander, 2008). The aim of the study is to discuss transaction of specific knowing that reflects cultural values and ideas about hierarchy of material within a certain floristry product; for example tradition expressed in embodied actions in the making of floral design. By focusing on concrete objects in-depth, marginalised knowing within floristry becomes visible which motivates this study. The overall research question that leads the path through the paper is phrased in the following words: What is imitation in action – and how can it be explained that handicraft history includes so many stories about imitation as a way of learning?

Vocational Knowledge
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. Vocational Education and Training (VET) addresses the world of workplace practice, where the collection of explicit knowledge does not in itself assure the development of practical competence and skill. Vocational students need to learn from experience and familiarity. This involves implicit and tacit knowledge. Vocational Teacher Education needs to equip new teachers for these complex challenges. The situation is compounded by rapid globalisation and cross-border working. Amid this complexity, VET often has lower status than academic education, and is poorly understood.

An alternative approach is available, building on the tradition of research in Skill and Technology. This involves an emphasis on Dialogue and Tacit Knowledge (Göranzon et al 2006). Since 1986 there has been work on Dialogue Seminars, and here we present their use in Vocational Teacher Education, opening up new possibilities.

The EU COHAB project brought together five countries bordering the South Baltic Sea. One project strand dealt with Vocational Teacher Education, creating dialogue between young professionals. Through analogical thinking, and shared cultural reference points, the teachers embarked on a common journey. A series of Dialogue Seminars provided opportunities for reflection. The metaphor of the Ugly Duckling aided the appreciation of the importance of VET, despite initial low status. Although the teachers have different mother tongues, they were able to communicate in English, and they recognised that they were members of the same professional culture. They were accustomed to similar language games and professional forms of life. They could appreciate the importance of engagement and participation, providing the basis of Workplace Innovation.

After their journey, our Vocational Teachers can then have a significant impact on Vocational Education. They are able to link theory and practice. Building on foundations in epistemology, they can remodel their approach to education. At the same time, they can establish Vocational Education as central to Social Capital Formation and Regional Development. There are also implications for developments in the more prestigious field of Higher Education, as academic studies are seen in the context of applications in working life. New concerns for sustainability require attention to reflection and dialogue.

Göranzon B., Hammarén M. and Ennals R. (eds.) (2006). Dialogue, Skill and Tacit Knowledge. Chichester, Wiley.

13:45-15:15 Session 9F
Location: Nash West
A conceptual framework for rethinking the links between VET and the labour market
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. This paper presents a conceptual framework for analysing the links between qualifications and the labour market. The conceptual framework was developed through a three-year multi-institution project in Australia funded by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research. The project explored the weak links between post-secondary education and the labour market; most graduates from VET or higher education do not work in jobs associated with their qualification. Education is usually blamed for the weak connections, whereas the project found that it is the labour market that structures educational and occupational pathways, and the demand for qualifications. This provides a new basis for considering the links between qualifications, pathways and the labour market. The conceptual framework has the following components:

i) Qualifications serve three broad purposes (Gallacher, Ingram, & Reeve, 2012): to provide entry to or progression in the labour market; to move to higher level studies within education; and, to contribute to social inclusion and social mobility in society. Qualifications are fundamental for, but not synonymous with, workforce development. The strength of the connection between qualifications and occupations is mediated by the type of ‘transition system’ which mediates links between education and the labour market (Iannelli & Raffe, 2007; Raffe, 2008). The nature of the transition system helps shape relations between the sectors of education and the status of the vocational education and training sector at a national level.

ii) Skills ecosystems: While the dominant national transition system will shape broad outcomes, there will be variations between industries and regions. Skills ecosystems refer to the interdependencies between institutions and enterprises within industries or regions that generate knowledge and skill requirements for work and demand for labour (Buchanan et al., 2001).

iii) The capabilities approach, vocations and vocational streams to prepare individuals for broad rather than narrow fields of practice: The ‘capabilities approach’ (Nussbaum, 2000; Sen, 1993) is used as the curricular basis for qualifications. Vocational streams refer to the structure of occupations and link occupations that share common practices, knowledge, skills and attributes. Vocations encompass the knowledge, skills and attributes individuals are required to use at work. A vocation emerges from fields of practice that share commonalities in knowledge and skills (e.g. the commonalities between aged care and disability care are part of a broader vocation of ‘care work’) (Wheelahan, Moodie, & Buchanan, 2012).

The paper considers the implications arising from the conceptual framework for policy and practice in vocational education and training.

SPEAKER: Paul Lewis

ABSTRACT. This paper reports the results of a study of the ‘over-training’ of apprentices by large manufacturers in the UK. The term ‘over-training’ was traditionally used in the UK to refer to the way in which nationalised industries and other large firms recruited, paid and trained more apprentices than they themselves needed to satisfy their demand for skilled workers, with the ‘surplus’ apprentices being released at the end of their training to go and work for another employer. In contrast, the evidence reported in this paper indicates that over-training now typically involves large employers playing a role in the training of apprentices who from the outset of their training are employed and paid by other firms. The project centred on interviews with 21 employers. Three sets of questions are addressed. The first concerns whether over-training is being carried out today and, if it is, what varieties of over-training are currently in use. Second, why do employers become involved in over-training, either as recipients or in particular – as providers - of such training. Third, what are the policy implications of the analysis? In particular, in a context where only 8% of British employer train apprentices, can over-training help to increase the supply of places on high-quality apprenticeship training programmes, and is there a case for additional government financial support to be given to large firms that over-train? The evidence indicates that over-training can increase the number of apprenticeships in geographical areas where a large manufacturer with a high-quality apprenticeship programme that can carry it out. Large employers need to be made more aware of what over-training involves and of the benefits it can bring. There may also be scope for government to help to develop such organisations, most notably via its ‘Catapult Centres.

13:45-15:15 Session 9G
Location: Nash East
Fear and fortitude: Trainee Teachers and the modern moral high ground.
SPEAKER: Ian Rushton

ABSTRACT. At an average age of 37 years, new entrants to the teaching profession in the English Lifelong Learning Sector (LLS) bring with them a plethora of “goods” and values from diverse lived experiences and histories. Yet, this is a site of uncertainty and tension for many trainee teachers where most are unsure about what can be said, by whom and when in their disparate contexts and organisations, particularly when the twin concepts of ethics and morals bump against the grand narratives of “ethical frameworks” and “modern morality” which pervade the sector. To date, the extent to which trainee teachers work with their value systems as part of their enculturation into the sector plays only a cameo role in current discussions. This paper draws on findings from a longitudinal study of 156 part-time final year trainee teachers attending an LLS teacher education course in the North of England. Drawing on the empirical data, the paper discusses the slipperiness of trainees’ values and “goods” when considered as contingent components of the social and political contexts of their teaching practice.

McMindfulness in the Workplace: Vocational Learning and the Commodification of the Present Moment
SPEAKER: Terry Hyland

ABSTRACT. Originating in Buddhist contemplative traditions, mindfulness theory and practice – which foregrounds present-moment awareness and attention – has extended its modern secular and therapeutic applications into an exponentially expanding range of fields and disciplines including psychology, psychotherapy, mind-body health practices, and education at all levels. Its potential usefulness in general vocational education and training (VET) has been explored by a number of researchers and practitioners, and its application in schools and colleges is receiving increasing attention. As with many popular educational innovations, the original values and ethos of mindfulness strategies have been distorted and subverted in a number of instances in which ‘McMindfulness’ programmes have been implemented with a view to the exclusive pursuit of corporate objectives and commercial profit. Such mutated examples of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are, to some degree, evident in certain spheres of the field of mindfulness and work in which the present-moment attention and stress-reduction aspects of mindfulness strategies are unduly separated from the ethical foundations for the purpose of outcome-based assessments linked to predominantly instrumentalist ends. As a way of guarding against such de-contextualising developments in MBIs, a conception of mindfulness at work is recommended which foregrounds the ethical and affective components of vocationalism and which is informed by work-based and apprenticeship models of learning.

15:15-15:45Coffee Break
15:45-17:15 Session 10A
Location: Linbury
Title of Abstract: Supporting an Ageing Workforce: is apprenticeship appropriate for older workers?
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. In most countries, apprenticeship is conceived as a model of learning for young people in transition from education to work. The UK and Australia are the only countries where government funding is also available to support apprenticeships for adults, including those already in employment, from the age of 25 upwards. Currently, around 45 per cent of apprentices in England are aged 25 or over when they start their training. There is a rapidly growing international body of research on the challenges of an ageing workforce (in the light of longer lifespans, the removal of mandatory retirement ages and fears about pensions). The role of work across the life course is being reconceptualised. At the same time, researchers have also been focusing on apprenticeship as an evolving model of learning (see special issue of JVET in 2011), the new contexts in which it is being applied and the diverse kinds of employees (including graduates) for whom it is relevant (e.g. Fuller and Unwin 2012). Located within these debates, this paper will draw on the first research study to examine the phenomenon of ‘adult apprenticeship’ in England from the perspective of apprentices and their employers. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the study explored the experiences and perceptions of apprentices aged 25 and over working in a range of occupational fields (social care, engineering, health care, customer service, hospitality and business administration). It also examined the reasons why the apprentices’ employers had established apprenticeship programmes and conducted interviews with a range of relevant policy and practice stakeholders. The focus of this paper is on the qualitative data from interviews with 25 apprentices. They were interviewed twice, first through a biographic narrative interview (Roberts 2002), and second, through a follow up semi-structured interview (approx. 3 months later) exploring their experiences and their developing expectations of work, learning and career. The paper will argue that apprenticeship provides an evocative example of the powerful normative dimension to what are understood (in both institutional and popular terms) to be age-appropriate transitions. These are anchored in societal expectations about what is perceived to be ‘the right time’ within the life course for particular groups to take up particular sorts of educational and training opportunities. Our analysis draws on approaches to understanding the life-course (Giele and Elder 1998) and situated theories of learning which conceive learning as a process ‘of becoming’ (Lave and Wenger 1991, Hager and Hodkinson 2009) to explore the relationship between adult apprenticeship, learning and occupational identity (re-)formation.

The development and status of apprenticeship training in Norway
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. The proposed paper addresses the issue of institutional development and change in Norwegian VET, with a particular focus on the status of apprenticeship training from the 1970s until today. In the early 1970s around 2-3000 new apprenticeship contracts were signed every year. At the time, the apprenticeship system was considered by many to be an anachronism and an exploitation of young people as a source of cheap labour. It was widely believed that apprenticeship training was fading. However, in the 1980s apprenticeship training experienced a new revival. In the 1990s the apprenticeship scheme was integrated in the formal education system as part of a reform of upper secondary education. In recent years, 16000-18000 new apprenticeship contracts have been signed every year. This resurgence and strengthening of the apprenticeship scheme is probably quite unique in an international perspective. The main purpose of our paper is to analyse the role of different actors as well as the main mechanisms and processes behind this change. Our theoretical perspective draws on the literature on institutional change and the development of national skill formation systems (Thelen 2004, Mahoney & Thelen 2010, Busemeyer & Trampusch 2012). The current system for vocational education and training in Norway can be characterized as a collectively organized vocational training system. Individual firms, intermediary associations and the state cooperate in the process of skill formation in initial vocational training. Firms are involved in the provision of workplace-based training. Intermediary associations play a role in the administration and reform of the training systems. The training takes place in schools as well as in companies and the system provides certified occupational skills that are portable between firms. Our analysis draws on secondary literature, primary documents and national statistics. We argue that the strengthening of the apprenticeship system in Norway since the 1970s should be explained by a combination of different factors. One important factor was the introduction of the new Law on Vocational Training in 1981 expanding the scope of regulation to new trades and new geographical areas. Another was a stronger state involvement through economic incentives to training companies. A third contributing factor was the inter-firm cooperation through training agencies, reducing the costs and risks of individual training companies.

References: Busemeyer, M. & Trampusch, C. (eds.) (2012). The Political Economy of Collective Mahoney, J. & Thelen, K. (eds.) (2010). Explaining Institutional Change. Ambiguity, Agency and Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Thelen, K. (2004). How Institutions Evolve. The Political Economy of Skillls in Germany, Britain, the United States, and Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

15:45-17:15 Session 10B
Location: Morley Fletcher
European active social policy meets the discipline of the marketplace: the unintended outcomes of ministerial ambition
SPEAKER: Don Zoellner

ABSTRACT. In the pursuit of social justice ideals many advanced market democracies have bundled together a series of public programmes that are represented as active social policy. These sanctify employment as the most appropriate way by which individuals can best fulfil their responsibilities as economic and social citizens. Northern European exemplars of these active labour market policies that emphasised life-long training, flexibility and welfare as a last resort were sanctioned into the Australian training system in 1987 by a federal minister determined to put his stamp on post-school education and training. Following a different path, public support for students moving beyond secondary schooling in the United States primarily relied upon the provision of student loans from the federal government directly, retail banks or private lending companies. These loans could be used to purchase education and training from a large and diverse range of providers. Eventually the logic of the marketplace came to be an uncritically accepted feature of public policy across most of the Australian political spectrum as the methodology to best create an active society. The resulting amalgam of active labour market policy and free market principles was facilitated by the setting of national vocational training specifications. These standards serve as both a key instrument in establishing markets that cater for cross-jurisdictional operations and also as a mechanism used to regulate the training system, particularly when joined with audit and registration processes. The creation of a highly competitive market, but one driven still by public expenditure either in the form of an entitlement to training or a guaranteed student loan, has given rise to a number of large, highly competitive stock exchange-listed companies that are providing training, much of which was previously delivered by government-operated organisations. The fate of one of these companies demonstrates how this hybrid market operates and the ever-present impact of unintended consequences upon ministerial ambitions to improve society. This paper explores the interaction between active social policy and the demands of the market while speaking to wider issues that arise when governments first create and then intervene in markets.

Restructuring the cooperation of learning venues in the dual VET system: Training companies and vocational schools between regulation and competition. Findings of an empirical research study in North Rhine-Westphalia/Germany

ABSTRACT. The cooperation of learning venues in the German dual VET system is regulated by the state and its regional assignment of training companies to part-time vocational schools by way of defining catchment areas (Schulbezirke). In order to improve school quality, this principle of state-run assignment was abolished by law in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) – one of the German states. Today, every training company in NRW may freely choose the school of its preference. The underlying political intention is to trigger school competition by means of choice in order to improve the quality and profile formation of schools. Furthermore, it was expected that free school choice would lead to an increase of the firms’ willingness to train.

The school choice reform and the corresponding liberalisation of the cooperation of learning venues in the NRW dual VET system was criticized by numerous stakeholders in VET. Critics voiced their opposition to the policy change by bringing forward the following arguments (i.a.): 1. Efficient and reliable school development planning (indispensable for investments in vocational schools) would be rendered impossible. 2. School choice means a shift of power towards the training companies: The school-based part of dual VET would be centered on the companies’ needs. In an extreme case, training companies could try to work towards a dumping of teaching time in order to increase the working hours of their apprentices. 3. Because of an increased influx of apprentices to urban schools and the accompanying closure of rural schools, training companies located in rural regions could therefore reduce the number of training places being offered.

Since in NRW, and in Germany as a whole, there is no empirical evidence available yet about the impact and outcomes of school choice in the dual VET system, an empirical research study was conducted in NRW. The aim of the study was to investigate the reaction behaviour of training companies and part-time vocational schools in order to survey the potential chances and risks of the reform empirically.

The contribution gives an insight in the main findings of the study. It is shown how and to what extent training companies and schools have reacted (and what their motives were). Besides, the findings show that the deregulation intentions pursued by the school choice reformers were – through the back door – accompanied by new regulative measures which led to conflicting effects and which in the end are diametrically opposed to the reform target itself.

15:45-17:15 Session 10C
Location: Seminar room A
High-quality engineering apprenticeships- a genuine alternative to higher education?

ABSTRACT. Apprenticeship policy in Britain has long been marked by a curious and unresolved conflict. While successive governments have sought to ‘scoop up’ so-called low achievers so as to address low participation rates, a critical aim has been to produce intermediate skills for the purpose of economic competitiveness. At the same time as pledges have been made to elevate the status of apprenticeships to ‘a genuine alternative to academic study’, the academic-vocational divide has been firmly redrawn, with vocational education conceived as a distinct form of learning based on assumptions of the ‘disaffected learner’.

In recent years, commentators have increasingly challenged the variable quality of apprenticeships and, in particular, the scant attention afforded to theoretical knowledge in much provision. Writers from the social realist tradition have argued that, in the interest of social justice, vocational education should provide both, disciplinary (‘powerful’) knowledge and workplace-specific knowledge and skills.

The paper is based on two ethnographic studies of apprentices in Britain and Germany, the aim of which was to gain an understanding of the construction of learner identities in ‘mainstream’ (motor mechanic) and ‘high-quality’ (engineering) apprenticeships. The paper will look at the British data only. Drawing on Judith Butler’s work on performative identities and on Michael Young’s concept of powerful knowledge, it will challenge common assumptions of apprentices as ‘practical learners’.

The first study (of motor mechanics) found that the young people, while performing the identity of the practical learner as a powerful alternative to academic learning , were far from being ‘naturally’ ‘non-academic’ but had been constituted as such in formal learning environments, notably at school. Crucially, this identity was reinforced in the learning cultures of the college and the workplace, ultimately restricting young people’s life chances and raising questions about social justice.

In the study of engineering apprenticeships, commonly cited as examples of high quality provision, a somewhat ambivalent picture emerged. The apprentices all had successful school careers. Their learner identities sat uneasily with the construction of apprenticeship largely as ‘practical’. For them, their academic ability went hand in hand with an interest in ‘hands-on’ work and a desire to progress. However, the academic-vocational divide and limited opportunity structures that also characterised this apprenticeship made this a challenging endeavour. The paper argues that if apprenticeship is to constitute a genuine alternative to university, the academic-vocational dichotomy needs to be addressed.

Revealing the Educated and Experienced 21st Century Apprentice - “A Comparative Analysis of the Distinct Differences in the Quest to Obtain a Bachelor of Applied Sciences Degree from an American and Swiss Federal Institution”
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. While numbers of apprenticeships are reported to be on the rise in the United States of America (U.S.A.), evidence has presented that they are, although at a high level, on the decline in Switzerland. It is hereby essential that the “21st Century Apprentice” be revealed and received as a global initiative to enable the transferability of academic knowledge and workplace expertise. In light of the vast interest of the U.S.A in the Swiss Apprenticeship Program, this paper delivers a comparative analysis by way of an American Community College and a Swiss Fachhochschule to reveal how each system, within their own entities, fit into the advancement of the current and future apprentices. The traditional apprenticeship system is no longer a sustainable option for today’s young people. The national and global competition of a college-educated and work-experienced apprentice is now the challenge which confronts young decision makers as they embark on which path to take. Commencing with the “Dual Enrollment” approach of American high schools alongside the Swiss “Dual Education” system, the structured paths of a Bachelor of Applied Sciences Degree will be the rewarding factor. This transnational investigation closely paralleled three specific career and degree seeking tracks, respectively Management, Healthcare and Engineering, all of which are offered in both countries at the individual institutions. The results from qualitative interviews and research literature are presented here, with no focus on the policy intentions of each country but rather disclosing how an academic qualification as well as workplace experience are simultaneously attained and the global value that each convey. With this the formal introduction of the “21st Century Apprentice” is delivered.

15:45-17:15 Session 10D
Location: Lecture room B
External assessments in VET
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. Across the globe, education systems in recent years have introduced large-scale external assessment programs as policy instruments (Klinger, DeLuca & Miller 2008). The great majority of these programs are directed at schools, with a focus on literacy and numeracy skills at the primary and early secondary school levels, and subject-based assessment of university-stream subjects at senior secondary levels. The use of large-scale external assessments in vocational education and training has been far less common, particularly within Australia. However, employers and policymakers have increasingly voiced concerns regarding the need to ensure the quality of VET graduates, particularly where the qualification leads to employment that entails potential health risks to the community (such as child care, aged care or disability services). In these cases, introducing external, uniform assessment may help to ensure that the minimum standards have been met before the qualification has been issued. This paper identifies and explores a number of models of external assessment of VET qualifications, outlines strengths and weaknesses, and considers current developments in VET assessment in a number of jurisdictions around the world. Implications for policy, research and practice are discussed.

Linking instructional verbs from assessment criteria to mode of assessment
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. Instructional verbs, such as “design” and “recognise”, are used in different modes of assessment. Universities offer guidance on their use; for example, University College Dublin suggests that “learners designing” may be assessed using a design project whereas “learners recognising” may be assessed using multiple choice tests or essays. There appears to be no similar guidance on current practice for summative assessment in school level vocational qualifications in England. To facilitate the development of such guidance this research matched instructional verbs from assessment criteria to mode(s) of assessment, such as multiple choice tests, computer simulations, internal assessment (set and marked by the learners’ school) and external assessment (set and marked by independent Awarding Organisations).

First, valid and reliable assessments were found in the research literature. For each assessment the instructional verb from every third assessment criterion was sampled from specifications or national occupational standards. When the latter were unavailable the construct was summarised from the literature and the instructional verbs recorded. The mode(s) of assessment associated with each instructional verb and assessment criteria were noted. It should be noted that the data is neither exhaustive nor representative of all occupational sectors. Nevertheless, it generated a range of instructional verbs and corresponding assessment mode(s) from several occupational sectors.

The results show that the external assessments were multiple choice tests, a computer simulation and practical assignment(s). These assessment modes were also used in internal assessments with the exception of multiple choice tests. The remaining modes of assessment occurred only as internal assessments, for example observation of naturally occurring activities. External assessment was not used to assess knowledge and skills on the job.

The majority of instructional verbs corresponded only with internal assessments, for example “fix”. Most of the instructional verbs which matched to external assessment, such as “follow”, also corresponded with internal assessment. The few instructional verbs which corresponded only with external assessment, for example “interpret”, mostly related to a computer simulation designed to assess computer skills plus the product and process of scientific inquiry.

The results enable assessment developers to select an instructional verb, identify corresponding mode(s) of assessment with established validity and reliability, and then use similar pairings of instructional verb and assessment mode(s) in the future, thereby building on good practice. Assessment developers using the findings does not guarantee valid and reliable assessment because there are a number of additional factors such as the assessment criteria, context and manageability which must be incorporated in assessment development.

15:45-17:15 Session 10E
Location: Memorial Room
The value of early vocational exposure and experience within a traditionally doctrinal discipline
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. Flinders Law School’s Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practice [LLBLP] is the only degree in Australia that leads to direct admission as a legal practitioner. This distinctive degree embeds vocational education and training throughout its curriculum, explicitly teaching both specific technical skills and more generic transferable professional skills within a legal context. Skills such as client interviewing, negotiation, and legal drafting are scaffolded from first year, with students subsequently encountering them again in more complex ways in later years. This culminates with final year students being required to meet detailed competency standards for entry level lawyers and to undertake a legal workplace placement (Law Admissions Consultative Committee, 2015).

At Flinders Law School, teaching skills occurs in a variety of ways: in traditional tertiary classrooms and workshops; via experiential learning, including virtual office spaces; and as part of workplace learning including clinical placements which begin in first year with the First Year Clinic Placement program [FYCP]. Linking this series of incremental and interlaced experiential learning opportunities horizontally and vertically across the LLBLP from enrolment onwards provides a transformative experience for students as they are supported to develop a positive identity as a holistic legal professional (Field, Duffy, & Huggins, 2014).

FYCP students gain insight into the practical application of legal concepts, and the skills required by competent legal professionals. By working closely on files with senior interns and supervisory staff, students build professional connections with both more senior students and legal practitioners. As FYCP students observe and participate in relationships and teamwork as part of the clinical environment, they are exposed to ‘the kind of [real life] knowledge that makes explicit what was tacit and generates a richer understanding about practice’ (Dall’Alba & Sandberg, 2010). They experience supervising solicitors and interns engaging in varying approaches to resolving legal problems, giving them the opportunity to ‘cultivate practical wisdom or judgement’ and ‘professional values’ (Stuckey, 2007). They are offered a glimpse of ‘self-understanding’ of what it may mean for them to be a lawyer in this specific professional context– what they learn is ‘intertwined’ with who they are becoming (Dall’Alba & Sandberg, 2010).

This presentation will discuss the innovative FYCP initiative at Flinders Law School and explore the value of early vocational exposure within a traditionally doctrinal discipline.

Improving Teaching and Learning Together: Joint Practice Development in Further , Adult and Vocational Education
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. The further, adult and vocational education (FAVE) sector is diverse and dynamic and presents practitioners across the sector with countless challenges and opportunities. This paper sets out our approach to examining educational practice in FAVE through a collaborative approach to educational improvement known as Joint Practice Development (JPD). Our approach is based upon two major principles. The first concerns the moral purpose of education and our commitment to an educational practice that seeks social justice and personal empowerment for all our students and colleagues. The second is that teaching in FAVE is a professional practice that has an ethos and responsibilities. We argue that it is by critically reflecting on our practice, taking action and testing out our ideas and theories through working with our colleagues and students that we can foster these two principles in practice (Gregson and Hillier, 2015). Models or frameworks aimed at helping us understand our professional practice often become set in stone, yet this knowledge is provisional, the context shifting, changing and subject to many demands from numerous stakeholder groups. For example, we have to comply with a qualification system, professional body requirements, inspection and quality frameworks, as well as meeting the educational needs of our students! Our professional practice must take account of a series of enduring educational issues. These include: our role in working towards society’s educational goals; elements of learning, knowledge, concepts, skills values and attitudes; institutional and community contexts; learners’ social needs; relationships, cultural understandings and learner identities; learners’ affective and cognitive needs: outcomes for continuing improvement and learning (TLRP, 2010:11). All of these issues are subject to further testing and debate. JPD is a practitioner-centred approach to improving teaching, learning and assessment (TLA) which,

underscores the necessity of mutual engagement, which lies at the heart of the complex task of opening up and sharing practices with others Fielding et al (2005:72) JPD balances knowledge gained from educational research with the local knowledge and individual insight of education leaders and teachers working in particular settings. At the heart of the JPD approach is the idea that when teachers, education leaders and organisations, learn from one another as they experiment with putting research findings into practice, new knowledge is generated and real change can happen. To date, over 120 FAVE projects have successfully used JPD to improve teaching and learning. Our paper will critically examine the legacy of this approach.

400 words

15:45-17:15 Session 10F
Location: Nash West
School Partnerships with Business in Australia
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. Creative and innovative partnerships between schools and relevant workplaces have become an important feature of vocational program delivery in Australia and internationally and several studies have shown that high quality partnerships have become indispensable in ensuring effective program delivery, particularly in relation to the provision of the structured workplace learning needed to ensure the development and assessment of competencies associated with the vocational qualifications (NCVER 2011; Polesel et al. 2004; Stokes, Stacey & Lake 2006). This paper analyses data from a recent survey of teachers and school leaders in Australia working in schools involved in the delivery of applied learning and vocational education and training (VET) in partnership with non-school partners including VET providers, businesses and community organisations. It focusses particularly on the school respondents’ perceptions of the nature and quality of the partnerships which schools form with businesses in order to deliver work placements and other forms of workplace learning. The school-level responses reported in this paper suggest that businesses have a crucial role to play within the range of partnerships which schools form with external organisations. They suggest that businesses are among the most important of partners required by schools and that their role in providing access to workplace learning and work placements is central to this partnership. However, it also became evident in the analysis of the verbatim comments posted by survey respondents that the formation and conduct of these partnerships also pose many challenges for the schools. The research suggests that there are challenges in forming and maintaining effective partnerships and that these may vary by school location. These findings are supported by previous research, which presents a mixed picture of the effectiveness of vocational and applied learning and of school partnerships. For example, the literature suggests that the Australian approach to applied and flexible learning is complex and localised by state jurisdictions (Clarke 2013). There are considerable variations in the types of partnerships, the depth of engagement, and the extent to which schools can afford to be active coordinators of such partnerships but these are often characterised by an approach to vocational education and training which tends to be narrow, instrumentalist and task-focused.

The experiences of apprentices and employers with fully on-the-job training
SPEAKER: Barry Wright

ABSTRACT. This paper reports on the data being gathered during a PhD research project examining the training experiences of apprentices and employers who are involved in fully on-the-job training in the building and construction trades (carpentry).

Fully on-the-job training means that all training is being delivered at the workplace rather than in an institution or training centre. Fully on-the-job training refers to structural training arrangements whereby competence is acquired solely through the performance of normal work duties and which the apprentice is given no release from their work duties to participate in either self-managed or facilitated training with support of a teacher or trainer (Schofield, 2000).

In the building and construction trades a carpentry apprentice in Australia must gain skills and knowledge over an extensive range of competencies to achieve their qualification. Traditional construction trade disciplines have become more specialised over the past 20 years which could narrow the learning activities in terms of tasks and knowledge resulting in a restricted range of skills. This project investigates these and other possible challenges of this delivery model.

The qualitative project involves individual apprentice and employer interviews along with key stakeholder focus group sessions. The research question is - What are the experiences of apprentices and employers involved in fully on-the-job training for apprentices in the building and construction trade?

This paper will offer preliminary findings based on some of the initial interviews conducted to date with apprentices and employers. This will include people’s views about the advantages, disadvantages, the learning impacts and outcomes and ways of compensating narrow job roles.

Schofield, K. (2000). Delivering quality: report of the independent review of quality of training in Victoria’s apprenticeship and traineeship system: volume 1. Department of Education, Employment and Training. Melbourne

15:45-17:15 Session 10G
Location: Nash East
Companies’ Practices in Recruitment and Induction of Job entrants for selected Occupations –Results of an international comparative Establishment Survey (INDUCT).
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. Based on the analysis of labour market data (e.g. LFS-data) countries with dual vocational education systems have proven to be particularly successful as regards to smoothening school-to-work-transitions. E.g. they perform much better with regard to youth unemployment figures and qualifications and labour market requirements are in a better match than in countries with more school-based and academic educational systems. The study INDUCT (Patterns of induction, recruitment and training practices in selected European countries) extends this perspective by looking at the recruitment of young labour market entrants and the following steps of in-company induction an training. The study was designed as a cross-national comparative study covering different countries (Germany, Spain, United Kingdom) and conducted in different occupational fields (car service and health care). Potentially the survey instrument could be transferred to different kind of occupations and of vocational education and training settings all over the world. A transfer to Korea was carried out (data is already available) and is underway to Norway. INDUCT focuses on the exploration of the relationship between type of a country‘s VET system and employers’ recruitment and internal training practices. On the basis of a large-scale establishment data-set we can test the general hypothesis that different types of VET systems (school-based, dual-workbased) lead to different forms of company behaviour, not only in terms of recruitment but also in terms of induction, work-based learning and training practices of newly hired employees. First preliminary results of the study already have been presented at the JVET conference in 2013. As the study is coming to an end in 2015, the final results and conclusions of the study can be presented based on a sample of 1000 establishments for each of the occupational profiles looked at. Among others it can be shown that in-company training is an important source for recruitment of new employees. Furthermore the organisation of the IVET system seems to have an impact on the amount and the content of continuous training. Data shows also an interrelation between work organisation and the type of the IVET system.

Explorative comparative analyses from PIAAC about skill formation and education reform

ABSTRACT. The following broad research questions are addressed: - How are structural traits of education systems (differentiation of VET/general education; achievement tracking) related to results to PIAAC competence scores (level and distribution)? - Can we trace signs of past reforms in different countries in the competences of the adult population through age specific patterns of achievement? - How does VET (early VET or late; proportion of VET in initial education) influence the competence level and distribution? The basic idea is that the stock of competences of the adult population was acquired in different time periods of 'education policy time', in which certain changes and reforms have taken place in different countries (the 1950s for the oldest cohorts until the 2000s for the youngest). A strong point of the perspective is that the PIAAC data include the whole of the initial skills formation process, and thus allow for producing results that include general education, vocational education, and tertiary education, which are mostly analysed separately. This perspective allows for comparing effects of vocational education with effects of academic education and tertiarisation. Thus the paper fits well into the topic of systemic comparative analyses of vocational education. Weaknesses are that adult education is not sufficiently included in the PIAAC data, and an overlay of the time specific effects of education with ageing effects; both are tackled a bit. The timeline of education reforms is identified in selected countries, and related to the age specific development of competences. This allows for exploring patterns in the competences, and developing explanations of whether the reforms might have had consequences at the competence levels and distributions. Two waves of reforms are included, (1) the social democratic structural reforms towards comprehensive systems (1960s till 1980s), (2) the neoliberal reforms of the 1980s and later. Countries have been selected according to the 'welfare regimes', which have different reform experiences: Nordic countries have performed the social democratic reforms (DK, FIN; SW); Anglo-Saxon countries have been forerunners of the current neoliberal reforms (CND, UK, US); and continental countries have rather resisted the reform movements and retained traditional differentiated systems (AT, GER, NL). The methodology includes the following steps: (1) relating the age structure of the population to their flow through education; (2) analysis of structural traits concerning the differentiation ('tracking') in selected systems; (3) cross-sectional analysis of structural patterns in relation to observed competences (mean and/or median; 95/5 and 75/25-Percentil-Ratios); (4) analysis of the timeline of reforms; (5) exploring the age specific patterns of competence levels and distributions in relation to reforms. The analyses remain so far mainly at the level of descriptive cross-tabulations or trend-analyses.