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09:30-11:00 Session 14A
Location: Linbury
The Earnings of Canadian Higher Education Graduates: A Tax Data Linkage Approach
SPEAKER: Ross Finnie

ABSTRACT. This paper is rooted in the construction of a new and unique dataset which links administrative data on students at a selection of 12 Canadian colleges (i.e., vocational institutions, including trade schools) and universities with tax record data. This allows me to follow students’ post-schooling earnings on a year-by-year basis for all those who graduated from the mid-1990s through 2012, with all graduates followed through to 2013. I link earnings to area of study, as well as other student characteristics and schooling experiences; follow students for an extended period of time following graduation (over 15 years for the earliest cohorts); and compare outcomes across graduating cohorts. I then push the analysis further by relating earnings to family background, high school grades, and grades while in study. This kind of information is not only useful for understanding HE earnings premia and the returns to HE, but also on a practical level for young people making schooling choices, for individual HE institutions and HE systems making decisions about the programs they offer, and for policy makers concerned with skills and skill shortages, among others.

Examining capital reconversion strategies occurring on the risk management field in the Canadian oil sands mining industry

ABSTRACT. This paper examines a vocational education and training (VET) partnership, involving a corporate-sponsored pre-apprenticeship training program designed to procure aboriginal labour in the Canadian oil sands mining industry. With aboriginal rights constitutionally affirmed and many land claims agreements settled, partnerships involving industry and different levels of both aboriginal and state governments constitute new social relations. Commonly referred to as corporate social responsibility, brokering agreements with local aboriginal groups involves implementing reputational risk management strategies that are designed to maintain a stable and predictable investment climate.

The oil sands mining industry is increasingly significant in driving the Canadian economy, and has also garnered significant media attention over environmental degradation, as well as its adverse social, and health impacts on communities located downstream from its operations. Consequently, as a prime employer, aboriginal groups in the region have a contested and complex relationship with the mining industry. As a case site, the region is also significant as it has well established training-to-employment programs that can be used as a benchmark to gauge changes in how VET partnerships have evolved.

Following Michael Burawoy’s ‘extended case study methodology’, the research is anchored to a learning-to-work transition when program participants were in class (fall 2010) and six months later when the apprenticeship phase of the program had begun at the mine site (spring 2011). Interviews with program stakeholders and program partners (n = 11) occurred throughout the duration of the program. Program partners and stakeholders came from organized labour (4), schools (2), a community college (1), aboriginal organizations (3), and the provincial government (1). Respondents from organized labour included a mine-spokesperson, an apprenticeship mentor, a senior mine manager, and a mining industry consultant. Members of aboriginal organisations interviewed were employed in human resources with their respective First Nation tribal council, band, or Metis local.

Drawing from Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of the social field, capital reconversion strategies of partner groups are examined and critically evaluated in relation to the concept of reputational risk management which I argue constitutes the underlying motive of the mine sponsor to procure racialised labour in order to maintain unfettered exploitation of resources while appeasing aboriginal resentment over land dispossession. Differential asset structures which partners bring to the partnership produce tensions that impact well-being and meaningful participation at the community level in the areas of education, training, and employment.

09:30-11:00 Session 14B
Location: Morley Fletcher
The ‘scope’ as a ‘projective’ object: lessons for Higher Apprenticeships from Consulting Engineering
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. The economic trend of organizing work through the application of the principle of ‘projects’ and the corresponding social trend of people seeking to belong to ‘networks’ has resulted, according to Boltanski and Chiapello in their book The Spirit of New Capitalism (2005), the emergence of the projective city. They coined this phrase to encapsulate their argument that the intertwining of the aforementioned modes of activity supports the economic accumulation and the development of social reputation (individual and collective) in globalized capitalism, occurs in cities. Empirical confirmation of the above trend can be found in Economic Geography. Here researchers have maintained that projects have become the strategy to reorganize work or the criterion to secure and organize work (Grabher, 2002) and networks have become the way in which contracts for work are both secured (Faulconbridge, 2010) and the outcomes of projects disseminated (Grabner, 2002).

Amongst researchers interested in learning, the importance of networks as a site of learning was recognized sometime ago (Tuomi-Gröhn and Engeström, 2003) and the relationship between projects and networks as an extended site of learning has also been explored (Guile, 2011), though the implications of either issue for VET has not been addressed.

The aim of this paper is to do so. Drawing on research currently being undertaken in a global consulting engineering company, that is, a company with many engineering specialisms that works with clients to produce new buildings the paper will firstly, identify the way in which work is organized and how that form of organization influences engineers’ pattern of working and learning. Secondly, use this analysis of that pattern to highlight the implications for the introduction of Higher Level Apprenticeships in consulting engineering.

The paper uses the concept of the ‘scope’, that is, the encapsulation of interprofessional and financial responsibilities in a plan of work, to reveal the way that working and learning are intertwined through the life of a project between clients and consulting engineer. It will then highlight the way in which engineers draw on both firm-established knowledge management systems (i.e. the codification of practical knowledge), and self-generated networks (i.e. emerging practical knowledge) to identify the resources they need to accomplish project goals.

The paper will conclude by: (i) arguing that the relationship between knowledge management systems and self-generated networks is very different from both Lave and Wenger’s distinctions between the ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’ curriculum and Fuller and Unwin’s distinction between ‘expansive’ and ‘restrictive’ environments, which have influenced much thinking in VET on the relationship between the formal and informal aspects of apprenticeship; and (ii) outlining principles to guide the introduction of Higher Level Apprenticeships in consulting engineering companies.

‘Enterprise training providers’ in Australia and England
SPEAKER: Erica Smith

ABSTRACT. This paper reports on data gathered during a national research project funded by an Australian Research Council ‘Linkage’ grant. The project was about Enterprise Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), which are companies that are accredited to deliver qualifications to their own workers (Smith & Smith, 2009). The opportunity to register as a training provider in this way has been available for around twenty years. These 300-odd RTOs are required to meet the same registration and quality standards as institutional training providers.

The project as a whole involved a range of qualitative and quantitative components over a three-year period, 2012-14. The research questions were: * What are the benefits and challenges for companies associated with training through their own Enterprise RTO? * What are the benefits and challenges for workers associated with Enterprise RTOs? * What is the equivalence of workplace-delivered qualifications among companies and with qualifications delivered in educational institutions? * How do Enterprise RTOs help us to understand the extent and nature of an emerging, alternative employer-based Vocational Education and Training (VET) system?

Part of the final stage included a comparison with England. At the time of the project proposal, England had embarked upon a pilot program for employers to become awarding bodies. The pilot program was evaluated, with some potential concerns identified (PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, 2008). The comparison with the English system was designed to validate our findings against another country which had also embarked on this route.

However it was found that the particular experiment in England had not gathered momentum. Only two employers remained as awarding bodies when we began to plan the international comparison phase of the study. But discussions with the then National Apprenticeship Service elicited the fact that many employers were registered as ‘Direct Grant’ employers for apprenticeships, exhibiting some of the same features as Enterprise RTOs. Therefore, interviews were carried out in mid-2014 with three employers (between them covering both types of direct engagement in the delivery of nationally recognised training) and the relevant government agency. This paper uses these interviews, together with project data from three Enterprise RTOs in Australia and relevant Australian agencies, to compare and contrast the countries’ approaches to this concept.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (2008). Evaluation of the employer and provider recognition pilot – executive summary. London: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Smith, E. & Smith, A. (2009). Making training core business: Enterprise Registered Training Organisations in Australia. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 61:3, 287-306.

09:30-11:00 Session 14C
Location: Seminar room A
How local is VET policy? Global governance and VET policy in South Africa
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. As compared to the study of public policy in various disciplines and fields, the study of global governance of education and training is relatively new. In the past, international and comparative studies dominated studies of education that seek to understand the same phenomenon from various countries. Recently, scholars are becoming aware of the effects globalisation can have and the way education is not only conceptualised, but also studied scientifically (Robertson & Dale, 2008). Vocational education in most countries has always been a Cinderella of education with more emphasis paid on primary education and followed by higher education. The little that was there in policy documents of these countries was conceptualised from afar. For example, the World Bank; International Labour Organisation (ILO); OECD and UNESCO have for years dominated the discourse on VET policies. Besides these international agencies that propagated what can be regarded as global views on VET, there are some countries that have dominated in how the world has come to think of VET policies. For example the emergence of dual apprenticeships has a Germanic tradition (Gamble, 2003); the National Qualifications come from particular countries and contexts (Young, 2004; Allais, 2010); formal and informal apprenticeships also are defined from a specific view point (Nubler, I; Hofman C.; & Greiner, C.; 2009) In the case of South African VET policy, this paper will demonstrate how global policies have become localised during the transition of the country from apartheid to democracy. Some work has already been done to demonstrate the international influence on key aspects of the South African skills development policies (Carton & King, 2004). However, because global governance does not mean a unitary or same system, the uniqueness of the South African system, caused by its recent historical past, will also be explored. Finally, this paper attempts to trace the relationship between global and local governance of VET policy development in the South African context. References

Higher education in vocational institutions: creating distinctive and valued routes?
SPEAKER: unknown

ABSTRACT. The growth of vocational institutions (VIs) providing higher education is a major international development in the field of higher education (HE) (Trow 2006). VIs are non-university HE institutions whose primary mission is to provide qualifications connected to vocations (vocational qualifications). As HEIs become increasingly diversified and multifunctional, there is need not just to generate understanding of their institutional particularities but also their effects on hierarchical stratification and social inequality.

This paper explores the current context of the expansion of vocational institutions as non-university providers of undergraduate degrees, and considers the implications for vertical and horizontal differentiation in higher education. The paper examines the growth of these degree offerings on the HE field in Australia and in the UK. Australian and UK HE provide good systems for comparison as they share a long tradition of policy borrowing, particularly with respect to social inclusion policy and practices (Gale 2011).

Social equity is central to this focus (Brennan and Naidoo 2008). Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are identified by economists and policy makers as a key mechanism to increase national productivity and in turn ameliorate societal inequalities by increasing the economic participation of disadvantaged equity groups (Picketty 2014; Commonwealth of Australia 2014). Degree holders from vocational institutions potentially provide nations with a competitive advantage within the general pool of degree holders because of the claimed distinctiveness of their degrees. Understanding that distinctiveness and its impact on the higher education field in Anglophone countries with specific historical institutional divisions between VET and HE is important for advancing these nations’ participation in the global knowledge economy and understanding how disadvantaged equity groups can be socially included in the expansion of higher education.

This paper is informed by literature that suggests status differences in higher VET, both within Anglophone countries and between Anglophone and German speaking countries (e.g. Graf 2013; Kyvik 2004; Norton et al. 2005; Parry et al. 2012; Powell et al. 2012; Wheelahan 2009). These literatures are used to conceptualise initial findings from analysis of secondary data on student participation in undergraduate study in the VIs in Australia and England that point to the recruitment of different types of students in the two countries, lower socio-economic status students in England and higher socio-economic status students in Australia. The paper outlines how these differences between the Anglophone countries can be further researched and understood using Bourdieu’s concept of distinction and Bernstein’s message systems to explore the positioning practices and constructions of VIs and their reception by students and employers in the two countries.

09:30-11:00 Session 14D
Location: Lecture room B
Crossing the knowledge boundary: a study of the academic challenges experienced by the non-graduate trainee teacher in the FE and Skills Sector

ABSTRACT. On starting this course I did anticipate that my lack of having had a university degree background would give me some level of a challenge. However, the level of challenge is huge. Some of the issues that I have had to face are learning new skills on the course, such as referencing and researching, synthesising information....other students do not have this issue, having been to university and already having these skills. (Nancy, Year 1 Cert. Ed. trainee). Previous research into initial teacher training in the Further Education (FE) and Skills Sector has focused on graduate trainee teachers’ developing professionalism and practice (e.g. Bathmaker and Avis, et al, 2002; Avis and Bathmaker, 2009). The complex relationship between the non-graduate trainee teachers’ social and cultural locations and the academic demands of studying in higher education has been under researched. This small-scale research explores the complex relationship between non-graduate trainee teachers’ historical social and cultural locations and the academic demands of studying on initial teacher training courses in the FE and Skills Sector and investigates the ways in which they navigate their way through the challenges of higher education study. Quantitative data will be obtained through interviewing four case studies, nested in one FE College, who are typical non-graduate trainees in this sector. Employing Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and cultural capital, Bernstein’s pedagogic device and Ball’s study of social class, the trainees’ trajectory into higher education and the challenges confronting their journey through academic study are explored. A key aim is to identify factors that have shaped the dispositions, or social space, of each case-study and the tensions between the inter-related fields that affect them. The four research questions are: 1. How has the non-graduate trainee teachers’ life history shaped their experiences of education and their personal academic development? 2. What were the non-graduate trainees’ personal academic challenges in meeting the requirements of their ITT course and how have they been addressed? 3. How far have the academic challenges of the course affected the trainees’ personal development (for example, their attitudes to academic study and ways of working academically?). 4. How can the academic course be developed to meet the needs of the non-graduate trainee teacher? Initial data indicates that trainees’ habitus is diverse impacting on how they appropriate academic space. A resulting impact of the research is the development of strategies supporting future non-graduate trainee teachers to develop agency in crossing the boundary into a new academic habitus.

What is the value of ‘high’ arts within ‘low level’ education? A study of young people undertaking the Gold level Arts Award within a Further Education College.

ABSTRACT. The ‘arts’ have historically been seen as elitist, ‘soft skills’ (Ruiz, 2004) and a luxury only enjoyed by a privileged few. The benefits of arts learning are widely recognised, but the take up is still unequal, resulting in an ‘engagement gap’ (Doeser, 2014). The Arts Award is a hybrid qualification administered by Trinity College London, which is designed to fill this gap, by developing audiences for the arts and routes to employment within the creative industries for young people. However, this award has previously been criticised for its ‘poor fit’ to further education due to its broadness, rather than tightly geared skills for specific roles, which is often found in vocational training (Walton, 2012).

Vocational education and training is often criticised for its focus on ‘skill’ rather than on academic knowledge (Bathmaker, 2013), giving young people access to ‘weak’ forms of knowledge (Wheelahan, 2009) and the equation of low-level vocational courses to low-skilled work and low-waged labour (Avis, 2008). Working with a group of 20 young people, undertaking the Gold level Arts Award over a six month period, this piece of research sought to explore whether this vocationally relevant qualification transcended notions of social and cultural capital, engendered creative ‘transfer’ to work skills and enabled young people from a range of backgrounds to potentially access higher education, as the award carries UCAS points. The methods for this study included participant observation and interviews with a mix of young people from both short-term and long-term arts backgrounds and in-school and out-of-school arts experience.

The findings show that the Arts Award programme contributed towards the young people’s change in attitude towards and conception of the ‘arts’ to encompass everyday practices (De Certeau 1984, Sennett 2008). Participants made reference to both extrinsic (helping to get a career, jobs, money) and intrinsic (‘love’ for the arts, feelings of enjoyment and confidence) benefits of the programme. Research showed that the young people valued the programme for ‘getting a qualification’, which they equated to getting a job, but also for the work experience and arts practice opportunities it offered them. Despite the small steps made for the young people towards work and higher education, this qualification made a large impact in terms of life skills and experiences. The Arts Award programme could therefore be a valuable part of the contemporaneous calls for the re-design (Ainley, 2014), a re-positioning (Unwin, 2007) and a re-imagining of the purpose (Powell, 2015) of vocational education and training.

09:30-11:00 Session 14E
Location: Nash East
11:00-11:15Coffee Break
11:15-12:15 Session 15: PLENARY 3
Location: Linbury
Challenging race, gender and class stratification through VET in practice.

ABSTRACT. While economic globalization and neoliberalism have given rise to an abundance of opportunities for some workers around the world, these trends have also led, in many countries, to a declining middle class and a growing proliferation of precarious jobs particularly in the service economy. Educational practices and discourses, including vocational training and work-related education, contain both promise and peril in this context. Education and training are key sites within and through which social inclusion and exclusion are fostered. There is an emerging consensus that marginalized groups have had limited access to the “VET promise” of social and economic mobility. In many countries, gender and race hierarchies intersect and complicate class positions which accompany specific “pathways” between education and employment. Tracing these complications, I examine the neoliberal discourses of entrepreneurialism which permeate contemporary approaches to vocational education and training. Drawing on feminist theorists writing on labour in global contexts, I explore alternative projects of self-making which potential VET students could be encouraged to engage in to challenge the precarity and exclusion rampant in contemporary labour markets.