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09:15-10:45 Session 6A: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 1
Praxis and phronesis in further education; uncovering the scholarship of further education lecturers.

ABSTRACT. This session focuses on the phronesis of further education lecturers. Presenting initial findings from an ongoing project, the session will explore the ways in which vocational further education (FE) lecturers use vocational knowledge in their teaching pedagogically and to enrich the curriculum. Eight lesson observations of vocational FE lecturers, teaching learners at levels one to three were conducted over an 18-month period. The observations focused on the vocational knowledge and pedagogies enacted in classrooms. These observations were followed up by an in-depth qualitative interview which aimed to understand the practice observed from the lecturers’ perspective, allowing us to begin to access lecturers planning decisions and philosophy of practice. In the session we overlay Boyer’s (1990) model of scholarship onto vocational practice observed. We develop an argument that, although done unconsciously and for reasons related to the utility of knowledge and its enactment in the workplace or preparation of learners to enter this space, vocational lecturers’ practice is more ‘scholarly’ than is often appreciated. The use of Boyer’s model as analysis tool is not an attempt to conflate higher and vocational education. It was chosen as we felt that the model, used by the Association of College’s scholarship project which was running at the time of this project’s inception, was equally relevant to further education. Most notably the phronesis used to align theory and practice and preparation for the workplace. As vocational lecturers engaged in academic work, we felt we were well placed up undertake this ‘bi-cultural’ work (Eraut, 2004: 205); to offer a reflexive perspective of our colleagues’ phronesis. Using Paulo Freire’s definition of praxis "reflection and action directed at the structures to be transformed" (Freire, 1970:126), this study aims to contribute to the knowledge base of teaching practices in further education from the perspective of those who teach within the sector. As an ongoing project, we aim to use the session as an opportunity to present our ideas and develop them through dialogue. We argue that praxis from within the sector itself, may be a valuable tool to transform it. As such this project aims to influence policy and practice in our own institution, and, through dissemination of ideas through grassroots research sharing mechanisms, to begin this process in other institutions and with other FE professionals.

Conditions for Instructor Professional Learning in Vocational and Professional Education in Western Canada

ABSTRACT. For vocational and professional education (VPE) to remain relevant, instructors need to keep developing themselves and their practices. In Canada, VPE is provided by post-secondary institutions, including colleges, polytechnics, and teaching universities. Those who teach in these institutions are traditionally called instructors. Instructors are hired for their extensive experience as a tradesperson or industry professional (nurse, accountant). They typically have not participated in a teacher preparation program prior to getting hired as an instructor. Thus, not only do instructors need to learn how to teach on-the-job, they also need to keep current with developments in their trade or profession (Andersson & Köpsén, 2017). Supports for instructor learning have traditionally included formal training and conferences. However, as much instructor learning happens on-the-job, it is worthwhile to explore how workplace practices hinder or support instructor learning. While much is known about conditions for teacher workplace learning (Kyndt et al. 2016) and for professionals in general (e.g. Fullan and Unwin), few studies have focused on professional learning of instructors in VPE. The present study situates instructor learning in the context of departmental practices, focusing on structural, cultural, and leadership conditions for learning. Professional learning is defined as engaging in activities that lead to improved professional behavior or the capacity to behave in improved ways (Opfer & Pedder, 2011). A multiple case mixed-method approach was used, collecting data from five departments across three institutes for VPE in western Canada. Data include 27 instructor interviews, 7 interviews with department chairs and associate chairs, and survey results from 86 instructors. Meeting observations, documents and website were used to contextualize the data. Findings show that instructor collaboration, sharing materials, mutual reflection, and leadership actions contribute to instructor learning. Structural conditions supporting instructor learning at work include: 1) student feedback; 2) course rotation; 3) regular connections with industry; and 4) PD requirements for licensing purposes. Structural conditions impeding instructor learning include: 5) high workload; and 6) teaching schedule. Quantitative data show a correlation between instructor beliefs about “learning how to teach” (Thadani et al. 2015) with organizational culture scales teamwork & conflict, climate & morale, involvement, supervision and the social learning potential of the workplace. The case studies illustrate that beliefs and practices prevalent in instructors’ original trade/profession influence instructor learning. Insights will help practitioners in VPE transform practices in support of instructor learning.

Is the whole more than the sum of its parts? Interrogating the reductionist approach to find new ways of conceptualising ‘good’ VET teaching.

ABSTRACT. The paper reports on a qualitative research project to argue that while contemporary conceptualisations of teaching in Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector aim to describe reproducible, essential skills, knowledge and behaviours for VET teachers, they may overlook the importance of the individual teacher’s personal, ethical and moral character in good teaching practice.   The project employed a multiple case study methodology to understand VET teachers’ and managers’ views on advanced skills for VET teachers and how they are developed. Three case studies were developed, each case representing a large VET provider in Queensland, Australia. 

The findings are important, considering contemporary discourse on Australian VET quality (Braithwaite, 2018; Griffin, 2017; Harris, 2015; Smith & Yasukawa, 2017) and the questionable sufficiency of the Certificate IV Training and Assessment, the minimum educational qualification required by Australian VET teachers (Billett, Choy, & Smith, 2013; Smith & Grace, 2011). While not new, the discussion has now reached ‘fever pitch’ (Griffin, 2017, p.7), and turned towards the quality of teachers and teaching. 

There is a large body of work on quality teaching.  It is difficult however, to find agreement on the skills, knowledge, behaviours and characteristics of expert teachers and further analysis reveals two distinctly different deductive approaches to conceptualising teaching.  On the one hand, there are the conceptualisations arrived at through a ‘reductionist’ approach, which seeks to reduce or atomise teaching to arrive at a requisite list of skills, knowledge and attributes and behaviours, methods or practices teachers must implement to teach well.  On the other hand, there exists a more ‘holistic’ approach which seeks to understand teaching by focussing on the personal - an essential, yet somewhat intangible and often individualist quality a teacher may bring to his/her work. 

The paper will present empirical data to argue that while reductionist approaches may help to identify some of the skills relevant to VET teaching, they largely overlook the importance of the individual teacher’s personal, ethical and moral character and the features that stem from this.  It will call on the sector to interrogate assumptions that generate ever more lists, proposing that development of the language to conceptualise and describe a more ‘holistic’ view of VET teaching may complement existing frameworks to provide an even more insightful and comprehensive understanding of ‘good’ VET teaching.  This may in turn help to inform strategies for the education and development of VET teachers in the future.

09:15-10:45 Session 6B: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 2
Inclusion in Germany’s dual system of VET

ABSTRACT. Literatures… ‘tend to stress VET‘s dual role as a means of inclusion, e.g. into the labour market, and as a form of exclusion, providing a lower-status ‘diversion‘ from more favoured pathways‘ (Raffe, 2013). For Germany’s dual system of VET, however, the ‘lower status’ aspect of VET must be doubted. About half of every age cohort enter this system, and a quarter of these are young people with a university entrance certificate (BIBB Datenreport 2018, p. 131). Wheelahan (2010, 2015) identifies a reason for the dual system’s high status in the theoretical knowledge transmitted in the obligatory VET school. Yet the VET school is only the second site of transmission in the dual system (the first is the training company). Moreover, the VET school knowledge cannot explain why people with a university entrance certificate prefer an apprenticeship training to entering university. This presentation looks for reasons for the dual system’s high esteem not in the knowledge, but in the social structuring of the transmission in the dual system’s company part. To describe the social structuring of transmission in schools and companies, different research traditions use the same analytical categories. Besides curriculum and evaluation, these are: transmitters, acquirers and their relation, as well as the external relations of the transmission (cf. Becker, 1972; Moore, 1984, drawing on Bernstein, 1977, 1981). This presentation follows Bernstein and Moore. Moore’s (1984) Bernsteinian code analysis permitted him, beyond empirical descriptions of different school pedagogies, to conceptualise theoretically an inclusive modality of transmission, where transmitters are members from a community external to the school, who organise the transmission according to their own relevances, and where acquirers are led into the community. After explaining Moore’s work, the presentation reports, with a focus on the transmitter-acquirer-relationship, findings from a Bernsteinian analysis of 30 problem-centered interviews with dual system graduates about their training experiences (cf. Höhns, 2017). The presentation highlights unexpected narrations about flattening hierarchies, and then draws a relation to the dual system’s macro-social provisions (cf. Höhns, 2016), which allow to see transmitters (company trainers) and creators of the framework curriculum (social partners) as members from a community (of experts in the vocation). From here, the puzzling narrations are plausible: the hierarchy in the transmitter-acquirer-relation dissolves, as acquirers are led into this community. The presentation, thus, traces the dual system’s high esteem back to its inclusive social structuring. It invites to think about what learners should be included into.

Increasing female participation in IT Apprenticeships in Ireland

ABSTRACT. Despite being enshrined in the Treaty of Rome’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, equality between men and women continues to elude us, particularly in terms of labour market opportunities. This research stems from a Eurofound report (2018) highlighting gender imbalance as a key weakness in the Irish apprenticeship system. The report highlights very low female participation rates here; in Ireland, less than 1% of apprentices are women, compared with 34% in France, 39% in Germany, 40% in Italy, and just under 50% in Denmark.

This paper discusses the design and provision of targeted gender-diverse ICT apprenticeship programmes in Ireland and reflects on policy and practice internationally. The paper highlights gender stereotypes that currently pose a barrier for females when opting for apprenticeships as an entry route for careers in the IT industry. The paper poses possible frameworks for the provision of gender-inclusive vocational training that can be adapted to the Irish context.

In Ireland, a review of apprenticeship provision, published in 2014 by the Department of Education and Skills , identifies youth unemployment as a key societal challenge and suggests the apprenticeship model as a training model favoured by employers, because VET providers, by maintaining close ties to industry, are seen to react quickly to skills shortages reported by industry. The review has led to the development and introduction in Ireland of two new ICT-related apprenticeship programmes.

Moreover, Cedefop’s recent Skills Forecasts 2018, highlights an ever-increasing demand for ICT skills and indicate that those who complete VET programmes in STEM areas will have a competitive advantage in the labour market. A recent article, in Cedefop’s magazine for promoting learning for the labour market, Skillset and Match (2017), again emphasises the importance of apprenticeships to facilitate access to the European labour market. Importantly, Cedefop claim that VET programmes constitute“an optimal vehicle for supporting female economic empowerment”, being both an entry point for tertiary education and for direct entry to the skilled work-force.

According to the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s (ICTU) submission to the Department of Justice & Equality on the issue of the gender pay gap, “women in Ireland are working in a system designed by one gender for one gender”. The ICTU acknowledges the Irish Government’s intention, outlined in the National Strategy for Women and Girls , for breaking down barriers to female participation in apprenticeships, particularly highlighting new opportunities to do this with the expansion of the apprenticeship model into new areas, such as IT.

Apprentice to Artisan: Trials and tribulations of apprentices in a dual system apprenticeship programme in South Africa

ABSTRACT. Worldwide, various governments have taken significant measures to promote vocational education in an attempt to position it as an equal alternative to academic education. The problem, however, is that in many countries neither young people nor their parents perceive vocational education as having the same value as academic education (Allais, Marock, & Molebatsi, 2014). This is in contrast to Continental European countries, such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland where approximately two thirds of youth completing general schooling each year select vocational education over university education. South Africa a country in which vocational education is extremely stigmatized, is reforming its apprenticeship system and has set itself a target of qualifying 24 000 new artisans by 2020 (DHET 2015). Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges are viewed as key vehicles through which large numbers of artisans can be trained. However, employers do not have trust in the quality and capacity of public TVET colleges and have taken responsibility for training artisans through their own in-house training facilities and private training providers (National Treasury n.d.). The result is that TVET colleges have been side-lined in the supply chain for artisan development. It is against this background that the South African government is piloting a dual system apprenticeship project, which aims to: a) improve the quality of artisan training at public TVET colleges; b) build employer trust in the quality of the public artisan training system; and c) position TVET education as an attractive option for young people. This research is focused on apprentices training to become electricians through a dual apprenticeship model. The dual system integrates classroom theory with on-the-job instruction thus ensuring that learning is integrated and regularly reinforced. Through semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire, this study brings the voices of 95 electrical apprentices to bear in order to develop a much deeper, richer and nuanced understanding of how apprentices experience the artisan development system. It seeks to understand what motivates young people to enrol at a TVET college, and what apprentices’ experiences, perceptions and expectations are of dual system apprenticeships. The study provides insights into the merits and challenges of dual system apprenticeships within the South African context.

09:15-10:45 Session 6C: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 3
Exploring internal assessment in national technical and vocational qualifications

ABSTRACT. The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and has recently undertaken a qualitative study exploring the various ways in which internal assessments for Vocational and Technical Qualifications (VTQs) are set, prepared for, undertaken and graded. Six qualifications were sampled for the study, 2 from each of 3 sector subject areas (Construction, Hair & Beauty and IT). The aim of the study was to better understand differing practices around internal assessment in a range of contexts and to identify whether there are systemic vulnerabilities which might threaten the validity or reliability of assessment in VTQs.

Interviews were conducted with teachers and internal quality assurers (IQAs) in 19 education centres, covering a variety of providers and geographical regions. Among the themes to emerge from the wide ranging and illuminating discussions were:

The vocational qualification landscape is complex and highly changeable.

The qualifications sampled in each sector have different assessment requirements, in part to cater for the specific needs of the sector.

In general, the sampled qualifications are highly valued by teachers, who believe them to be engaging, reflective of real world practice and good preparation for work.

In terms of the IQA, the line between what is mandated and what is ‘good practice’ is sometimes unclear. For example, some centres participate in a ‘community of practice’ while others operate in isolation.

Though assessment criteria are often tightly prescribed, the way in which learners must meet them is not. The flexibility this affords teachers and learners may have advantages for validity but disadvantages for consistency.

The personal relationship between a centre and its External Quality Assurer (EQA) can be of great significance. As well delivering moderation/verification, some EQAs also provide an important support role. Notably, the EQA process rarely seems to overturn assessment judgements.

Interviewees generally felt confident about applying the assessment criteria, but occasionally identified areas of ambiguity. In such cases, centres based their understanding of the assessment standard on their experience of working in industry or of delivering similar qualifications in the past.

Interviewees were largely unconcerned about any potential for assessment standards to differ across centres. They considered it more important to maintain their reputation with local employers by upholding a high standard in their own centre.

This presentation will discuss these themes in more detail, reflecting on what they may mean for both Ofqual’s approach to regulation and for future research.

Empirical comparability study of paper and computer vocational examinations

ABSTRACT. Despite growth in the use of computers to deliver examinations, there are still training and assessment organisations that are not fully equipped to assess all their learners using computers. This means that a paper version of an exam sometimes needs to be offered alongside the computer version to fill this gap. This poses challenges for test developers in creating exams that are comparable on both modes of assessment. Aspects such as computer experience, testing conditions, test questions and attitudes to computers can compromise the comparability and validity of assessments as well as the overall outcome for learners. It is therefore important for assessment organisations to evaluate and minimise the impact of mode effects in the design and delivery of their exams. City & Guilds, a vocational awarding organisation, has a number of assessments that are offered both on computer and on paper but understands the importance of comparability for assessments to be valid and fair.

Hence, a research study was initiated to evaluate the comparability of computer and paper-based maths and English functional skills exams to build on previous research and on existing practice within the organisation that aims to minimise mode differences. The study involved a quantitative comparison as well as a review of almost 200 questions across several functional skills examinations. This included a comparison of pass rates, average scores, standard deviations, score distributions, reliability, standard error of measurement, and question facility values. The analysis found much similarities between the computer and paper exams but did reveal some factors that could be contributing to differences between modes. For example, items requiring the creation of graphs or charts and/or to navigate between documents or screens for information to answer questions appeared to be slightly more difficult on computer than paper. The overall findings, conclusions and recommendations were based on an evaluation of patterns in statistics across multiple exams, versions, questions and learner cohorts together with a review of question types, features, layout, format as well as feedback from assessment development experts. This paper aims to provide an overview of the findings, conclusions, recommendations and constraints from this study.

Work-based Assessment for Catalysing Continuous Professional Learning of Aspiring Freelance Adult Educators

ABSTRACT. On the premise that work-based assessment (WBA), entailing assessment of habitual work practices (Kogan & Holmboe, 2013), has rich potential for promoting an “understanding of, and in, professional practice” and “professional ways-of-being” (Dall’Alba & Sandberg, 2006, p.390), this paper discusses findings from a qualitative study designed to uncover considerations of introducing WBA to enhance learning and credentialing of mandatory Adult Educator (AE) qualifications. Notwithstanding the state's investment in credentialing of AEs, or individuals who undertake curriculum development, facilitation and/or conduct assessment for adult learners, learning and assessment in the mandatory Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment (ACTA) and Diploma in Adult and Continuing Education (DACE) qualifications are primarily conducted via classroom learning, with contestable efficacy in delivering learning outcomes and developing the creative potential of each worker (Wilmott & Karmel, 2011). The findings add to extensive literature on WBA implementation, albeit mostly in clinical education and higher education, and highlights critical considerations for implementation that is defensible and accounts for context-dependent outcomes (Yorke & Vidovich, 2014).

This paper first discusses professional learning needs of freelance AEs in light of occupational affordances. Next, it foregrounds the theoretical underpinnings of WBA, analysing its strengths and implementation challenges. Additionally, critical success factors such as how individual epistemological beliefs of learners, assessors and employers mediate the efficacy of WBA, and its potential implications for developing AEs’ learning capacities and vocational identities are also examined to form the backdrop for the design and conduct of a qualitative study. Data collection was done via focus group (FG) discussion with experienced assessors; ii) learners; and iii) management representatives from training providers, followed by semi-structured interviews conducted either with selected FG participants or other participants to facilitate more in-depth investigation of FG data points.

On the whole, participants recognised the potential of WBA for addressing assessment deficiencies in current DACE and ACTA and developing integrated performance-oriented capabilities. However, both assessors and aspiring AEs (defined in this study as recent ACTA and DACE graduate participants) concurred on the likelihood of an entrenched criteria compliance paradigm (Torrance, 2012) potentially eclipsing meaningful assessment of generic skills or “achievements that cannot be neatly pre-specified, take time to develop and resist measurement-based approaches to assessment” (Knight & Page, 2007, p.2). Potential barriers to ACTA and DACE learners accessing supportive workplaces and authentic work were surfaced, with concerns over an unequal playing field for freelancers being underscored. Finally, as assessors’ readiness to support WBA is predicated on personal epistemologies and possession of specific competencies, and diverse learners’ profile and motivations problematise the standardised implementation of WBA, preliminary findings indicate the need for scaffolding a “custom built” (Bray et al., 2003, p. 486) curriculum around individual learning through work and at work and focusing on learning “for and from professional practice” (Nixon & Murr, 2006, p. 800).

Overall, the findings imply that effective introduction of WBA in AE credentialing have multi-faceted considerations which defy easy solutions as different stakeholders have overlapping but also contending expectations and motivations shaped by entrenched regulatory and quality assurance considerations.

09:15-10:45 Session 6D: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 4
Policy waves in mathematics for vocational education and training

ABSTRACT. The Further Education sector in England has been subject to a torrent of policy changes in recent decades. In this environment of policy churn and sector instability, mathematics education policies have often reflected short-term thinking and have been enacted with strong policy levers such as funding and accountability measures. A succession of mathematics qualifications for vocational students has been introduced and developed but none has achieved long-term sustainability. The tensions resulting from mathematics being taught as an academic subject with vocational education remains, despite attempts to reconceptualise mathematics for vocational purposes and reconcile the views of different stakeholders.

In the Mathematics in Further Education Colleges (MiFEC) project, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, mathematics policies and curricula from the last 30 years have been analysed to track the shifting conceptualisations of mathematics for vocational purposes and the linked development of associated qualifications. Using a theory of change and logic model this study traces the policy trajectories of these qualifications under the influence of key reports from government, employers and other stakeholders. In this model we focus on 1) the development of the concept, 2) evidence of need for improved skills in mathematics, 3) opportunities for synergy with wider curriculum development and 4) the dominant cultural conditions. The analysis shows how successive attempts to develop suitable curricula have typically lasted around 10-15 years and different mathematics qualifications (e.g. core skills, Key Skills, functional skills) have followed similar trajectories with four identifiable phases: conception, inception, implementation and decline.

The analysis shows how successive attempts to develop suitable curricula have typically lasted around 10-15 years, with different mathematics qualifications (e.g. core skills, Key Skills, functional skills) following similar trajectories involving four identifiable phases: conception, inception, implementation and decline. Critical points are also highlighted, where a qualification has either thrived or suffered damage under the influence of key reports, which may have coincided with favourable political cultures or wider curriculum reforms. This analysis reveals a level of predictability concerning policy trajectories that warrants closer attention by policy makers to avoid repeating previous patterns of policy failure. With functional skills in decline and alternative mathematics qualifications for vocational education prominent in policy discourse, this paper sets out a means of creating and managing a sustainable trajectory for any future alternative mathematics curriculum in FE.

Educating for dynamic vocations: designing responsive VET

ABSTRACT. A major challenge for contemporary VET is to enhance its responsiveness. Changing technology and societal demands will not only change the content of work but also employment practices. Responsiveness can be defined as the ability of (teams of) educational professionals to interpret socio-economic and technological developments for curriculum development in terms of content and pedagogical approach. In the Netherlands VET-qualifications are developed on national level by tripartite stakeholders (employers, union representatives and education). Based on these national qualifications, teacher teams in the VET-colleges have to develop curricula. Research in Dutch VET shows that the development of VET-curricula is often a school-internal process with the focus on planning in terms of time and sequence. Co-makership with business partners is still a rare phenomenon. Also the time lag between qualification development and graduation of students is a problem: VET-students are trained for the labour market of tomorrow, based on knowledge from yesterday. In 2017 a consortium of six VET-colleges and three research institutes started an interactive research project. 10 teacher teams participate in an iPLG (interorganisational professional learning community). In the iPLG practioners and researchers work together on the design of a responsive protocol for curriculum development. The aim of this project is to develop an interactive approach in which school and enterprise are both actively involved in curriculum development. This requires a responsive protocol, for the dialogue between school and work to make up an occupational profile. This occupational profile will be used to develop the curriculum. The “Kompetenz Werkst@tt” will be used as a source of inspiration for the development of a protocol tailored to Dutch VET. The research part is set up as a design study in which protocols for curriculum development are develoed and tested. As a start the current method for curriculum development in the teams will be described. Three stakeholder groups (students, teachers and employers) are invited to evaluate the protocol-in-use. Teachers are asked to evaluate the feasibility, employers are asked to evaluate the link to professional practice, and students on the perceived attractiveness of resulting educational processes. These measurements will be repeated after the design period.

The research project started autumn 2017. In the paper the results of this first data collection will be presented: stakeholder views and an overview of design considerations in the. Final results of the project are expected in 2020.

Identifying the vocational curriculum via knowledgeable practice

ABSTRACT. This paper starts by discussing the argument that vocational curricula are shaped by the relation between the logics of education and work, arguing that this leads to specific understandings of theory and practice in VET. The socio-historical constitution of the education-work relation, which is often specific to national context, has led in recent history in many countries either to (i) education becoming increasingly influenced by Taylorist logics via the advance of (behaviourist) competence frameworks; or (ii) education and work becoming increasingly distinct from each other, leading to concerns around the relevance of programmes for occupational preparation. However, such developments do not in themselves negate the possibility for (iii) a more coherent and responsive relation between education and work, leading to more meaningful curricula and providing the basis for deeper occupational or worker identity. The problematic relation between education and work suggests that more consideration should be given to traditions of thought that can provide a bridging conceptual framework for examining both vocational curricula and the institutional structure of VET, while illuminating and challenging aspects of the organisation of work. An ideal type can be constructed against which specific curriculum and institutional arrangements within and across the domains of education and work can be evaluated. It seems useful to examine normative traditions of theorising practice, as these offer the opportunity to consider how both educational and workplace elements contribute to the ‘internal’ and ‘external’ goods of an overarching vocational practice. The normative practice idiom also foregrounds issues of societal purpose, mutual accountability, the criteria by which excellent performance can be judged, and provides a means of examining how systematic and non-systematic forms of knowledge can be sustained in the service of the practice. This could lead to notions of expertise that can better transcend boundaries between education and work, and provide further insight into the conditions that support curriculum coherence across various occupations or areas of work. A conception of knowledgeable practice (as distinct from ideas of competence, performance or process) is thus discussed here as a basis for the VET curriculum and for VET organisation.

09:15-10:45 Session 6E: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 5
Bridge for those who were left behind: success and limitations of a Hungarian VET program

ABSTRACT. Fighting the drop-out of VET students is an important goal of the Hungarian Government, in accordance with the EU 2020 objectives. The vocational Bridge program - launched in the actual form in September 2016 - supports the reintegration of young adult learners in the vocational education system. The aim of this empirical study is to analyse the realization of the vocational Bridge program in Hungary, in a complex manner, triangulating the results of a quantitative and a qualitative data gatherings (Cohen, 2007). The research was carried out following the general principles of the complexity theory (Mason, 2008. Doll, 2012.), and provide a nexus between macro- and micro research in exploring the actual educational practice, and promoting change. The quantitative data collection was realized during March 2017, with a survey of a national-wide statistical data gathering. The original target of the quantitative research panel was to reach all Hungarian Vocational Training Centers, the final sample covers 93 % of the secondary vocational education system. The qualitative semi-structured interviews (n=18) were taken during May and June 2017 in five different regional training centers, with the main different stakeholders of the bridge program (students, teachers and educational leaders). Each group of interviewees received the same questions, covering the main topics of the research: the phenomenon of the dropping out, the reintegration, the student’s profiles, skills and difficulties, their motivation, the pedagogical team’s educational methodology and cooperation, and suggestions for further development. The choice of participant institutions was built on the quantitative panel’s results: The sample included schools with greater participation in the program, as well as schools where the participation in the program was still limited. The results were analysed with Atlas.ti software. The results allows to build at institutional level a typology with two major categories: the case of the integrative schools which are participating with success in the program, and are approaching the students with more empathy, and the case of those institutions, which education is more discipline-based, and struggles more to reintegrate efficiently the dropped-out students. Their different characteristics will be presented in detail. The complex point of view and the results of the investigation allows to formulate propositions on the general methodological improvement of the Bridge program.

Networks and support in low-threshold Swiss VET programs’ premature interruptions

ABSTRACT. This contribution presents selected qualitative results from an ongoing, mixed methods, longitudinal research project on low-threshold Swiss VET programs (Federal VET Certificate and Practical Training). The qualitative part of this project, based on semi-directive interviews, focuses on premature interruptions of training (PIT), its process, reasons and implications. While the interruption rates are similar in the two-year VET programs for the Federal VET Certificate and in the more demanding three of four-year VET programs for the Federal VET Diploma, the rate of re-entry into training is lower for the former (OFS, 2017). Thus, it acutely poses the question of networks and support. For the purpose of this contribution, our research questions are as follows: 1. What are the kinds of networks that these youths have at their disposal? 2. What are the forms of support offered by these networks? 3. How do these youths consider these networks and the support with regards to their expectations / needs? On a theoretical level, we consider PIT as a critical life event (Schmid, 2010). Networks and support, or “social support”, play a key role in coping with PIT and-/-or easing their implications. Firstly, we base ourselves on the analyses of Lamamra, Jordan and Duc (2013) to identify the kinds of networks available to youths (family, institutional and occupational) and on those of Granovetter (1983) to discuss these networks in terms of strong and weak ties. Secondly, we will focus on the functions (emotional, instrumental, informational and appraisal) of support (House, 1983, cited by Schmid, 2010). Finally, in an inductive approach, we will gather the expectations and needs regarding support that emerge from the youths’ appraisal of the received support. Our results underline the centrality of family as the most used network. This points out two elements: the weakness of strong ties and the limits of support, when the family network is inefficient. Considering types of support, previous analyses (Lamamra, Jordan & Duc, 2013) have highlighted the variety of support in each of the three networks identified. For example, institutional devices can offer emotional support. Finally, we found that youths differ in terms of expectations and evaluation of support depending on the strength of their family ties, which in turn influences their agentivity. Our analyses should allow for a better understanding of the context in which PIT occurs, its different meanings and impacts.

Responsibility, Initiative and Trust – VET in the Swiss telecommunication industry

ABSTRACT. The telecommunications industry needs to adjust fast to technological developments and embrace them in their products and services, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, 5G and cross-industry alliances, being some of the key drivers. Workplaces are changing fast, which requires a new agility of its workforce. Such work practices have implications on the learning cultures of enterprises and for the ways in which apprentices are socialized and educated at the workplace. Employees need to develop the competence to adjust to future workplace demands and transfer their skills and competences to new tasks and domains. It can be observed, that self-directed performance is expected and hierarchical superiors directing workers are in decline. Employees, especially in the financial, media and ICT sectors are required to think, plan and act like entrepreneurs. Ownership and development of personal potential are the buzzwords of our time. For VET this means that the problem-orientation in instruction needs to be more strongly emphasized and autonomy in work tasks needs to be supported. Along with these demands comes the realization that subject specific knowledge loses value while multi-skilled generalists are in demand. Learning at the workplace within the apprenticeship is best nurtured, if the different work situations allow for mistakes and support learning. In addition communication competence and creative thinking ability increase in value. All of these can be best developed, if apprentices grow up in a culture of trust. The case study within a large Swiss telecommunication enterprise to be introduced has been conducted since early 2018. It focuses on how apprentices in initial vocational education are socialized within a new learning culture and how they acquire the competencies relevant for their working careers as well as for a specific occupation. A key issue in the study is how learning processes are managed by the apprentices, their coaches, supervisors and VET managers, which has been inquired throughout about 30 interviews with representatives of these groups. The qualitative analysis was than by identifying emerging themes and subthemes on the level of ‘immanent sense making’, remaining in the analysis on the relevance system of an individual as well as the group. The aim of the presentation will be to introduce a number of meassure implemented by the enterprise to support the development of trust and based on that of initiative taking and responsible action among apprentices and draw conclusion for the innovative design of apprenticeships.

09:15-10:45 Session 6F: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 6
Vocational Education and Training: Diversion or Safety Net? A Comparative Study of Four Vocational Education Systems in Central Europe

ABSTRACT. The authors compare four vocational education and training (VET) systems – Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland – with regard to their actual effects on both graduates’ labour market transition and success, and life and work skills. Selected features concerning the education policy context and labour market, the vocational education system (organisation and content) as well as educational and economic outcomes of the upper-secondary VET systems are analysed and compared. More specifically, the paper compares similarities and differences of (a) each country’s education policy context and labour market (e.g. general versus vocational education, import/export focus, unemployment rates), (b) the main features of the upper-secondary VET system (e.g. education system design, stratification, permeability), and (c) the economic and educational effects (e.g. transition to labour market, knowledge and skills) produced by each upper-secondary VET system. The study is based on secondary analysis of data published by international bodies such as Eurostat, Eurydice, World Bank, OECD as well as on national statistics (e.g. Federal Statistical Office). To analyze the skills of graduates, we will exploit the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) 2013 data (available for Czech Republic, Austria and Germany). Besides we will draw on existing indicators for educational systems developed by Bol and Van de Werfhorst (2013) and others. This in-depth comparative study of four selected countries will help to clarify what kinds of VET system arrangements (e.g., the dual system vs. school vocational preparation) seem to produce better medium- and long-term effects when it comes to their graduates’ labour market transition success, and life and work skills, including how at first glance “similar” arrangements and their effects might differ. The study analyses whether the selected VET systems serve rather as a diversion or a safety net in the selected countries and will shed light on the eventual differentials among the countries to draw some implications for research and practice.

Reference Bol, T., & Van de Werfhorst, H. G. (2013). Educational systems and the trade-off between la-bor market allocation and equality of educational opportunity. Comparative Education Review, 57(2), 285-308.

Great expectations - The effect of future returns and opportunity costs on separations in dual VET in Germany

ABSTRACT. Currently one in four apprenticeship contracts in dual VET in Germany end before successful program completion. Being the largest provider of vocational education in Germany, such high turnover in the dual system significantly impairs the supply of skilled labour. Furthermore, separations in dual VET present a loss of investment to the training firm. The apprentice, in turn, faces an increased risk of dropping out of the education system, which is associated with lower pay and career chances in the continuing labour biography. Therefore, the number of early contract terminations has become a key indicator for the efficiency of the dual VET system and its containment a political target. Partially, however, separations in apprenticeships are an important act of efficient rematching of firms and apprentices. Exploiting the job matching literature, I discuss how separations are the result of uncertainty about job suitability and changing working conditions in the labour market. Unable to a priori assess the profitability of an apprenticeship against its outside options, apprentices may separate during the course of the program in the chance of moving on to a more a profitable education. Targeting earnings, career chances, and working conditions for skilled workers, therefore, should effectively lower separations in the respective training occupations. In the paper, I investigate to what extent future earnings and opportunity costs can explain separation behaviour during the apprenticeship. For this, I use the SIAB database, which is a 2%-sample of all employees who are subject to social security contributions, marginally employed or social benefit recipients. It enables me to observe spell data of more than 94,000 apprenticeships between the years 2000 and 2013. Using this rich data set, I estimate a Cox proportional hazard model with shared frailties by occupations. In doing so, I can analyse the relationship between separations and future returns and opportunity costs, while controlling for correlating mechanisms of selection into training occupations. I find robust and significant effects of skilled workers wages, apprenticeship wages in relation to low skilled workers wages, the extent of marginal employment, and relative unemployment risk with a dual VET certificate. Notably, I find that on average an increase of daily skilled worker wages in the occupation by about 3.48 Euros lowers the relative separation hazard by 1%. This strategy, therefore, could be relatively cost-intensive.

Is there a need for a ‘third route’ in post-16 education in England?

ABSTRACT. Current education policy in England is moving closer to nailing its colours to the mast for having two routes through the 16-19 education phase; T Levels for those with a clear line of sight to an occupation and A Levels for those who plan to go to university. Whilst not identical, this approach echoes similar models in countries such as Germany, where the delineation of two routes from age 16, or younger, and described as a dual system, is often held as an example of a robust TVET model. Missing from analyses of these dual systems is the reality that for many young people a third route which combines elements taken from both the TVET track and general school-based education is an effective alternative. This paper summarises research which considers the future for a third or ‘applied general’ route in England, enabling young people to defer or finalise career or progression decisions later than age 16. As a category of qualifications, Applied Generals are relatively new. Existing formally since 2014, as part of the Government’s response to a 2011 consultation on vocational qualifications (Wolf, 2011). Part of a wider TVET England reform, they were designed to be rigorous advanced qualifications that allow 16 to 19 year-old students to develop transferable knowledge and skills (DfE, 2015) and sitting alongside the more work-focused Tech Levels. With tech levels set to be phased out as the new T Levels are introduced from 2020, the future for applied general qualifications is cast into uncertainty. In 2019 it is anticipated a consultation in England will consider the future of the applied general qualifications, if they have a place alongside A Levels and T Levels and if so, what form the qualifications should take. This paper summarises recent analysis of the third route in dual system approaches to TVET, and uses sector case studies to map the ways in which young people interact and make career decisions. These case studies will help to explore whether there is a case for retaining applied general qualifications (or another third route) to support the assimilation of young people at age 18, into work or into labour market via a higher education route.

DfE (2015) Vocational qualifications for 16 to 19 year olds 2017 and 2018 performance tables: technical guidance for awarding organisations. Wolf, A. (2011) Review of Vocational Education (The Wolf Report).

09:15-10:45 Session 6G: Paper Session
Location: Pusey Room
Neo-Corporatism in a Voluntaristic System: Vocational Education and Training and the Swiss Organisations of the World of Work

ABSTRACT. Vocational education and training (VET) in collective skill formation systems relies on employers’ contribution to the collective good of transferable skills. If employer cooperation breaks down, the apprenticeship system can no longer be upheld. Neo-corporatist institutions play a key role in undergirding firms’ training provision. Most notably, employer associations are of crucial importance in these systems. They define training contents in line with their members’ skill needs, represent their members’ interests and promote information exchange. However, in parallel with the crisis of neo-corporatism, the share of youth in dual VET has been declining in recent decades in most collective skill formation systems. In contrast, Switzerland maintained a share of almost 60 percent of youth in dual VET. Yet, Switzerland has always been a disputed case in the neo-corporatist literature because its unions are weak and wage coordination is rather decentralised. This article inquires whether Switzerland’s liberal type of neo-corporatism contributed to its ability to maintain a high share of youth in dual VET. While Swiss employer associations continue to be highly involved in VET governance, a major VET reform in 2002 has strongly re-shaped the associational system. Most importantly, this reform integrated all economic sectors in the training regime. Today, a large share of apprenticeship positions is offered in new occupations. In these occupations, VET is not governed by traditional neo-corporatist associations but by new types of interest associations. All these interest associations involved in VET governance, old and new, are subsumed under the term organisations of the world of work (OdA). This contribution depicts the current state of the associational system in the Swiss collective skill formation system. To do so, we have compiled a new comprehensive database on the 146 OdA that currently take over public policy functions in initial VET in Switzerland. We analyse these OdA through the theoretical lens of neo-corporatist theory. First, we use the concept of generalisability to distinguish OdA types. Then, we explore if and how the new organisations differ from the traditional associations. Second, we show that the different OdA types vary in terms of governability. OdA types develop different strategies to gain autonomy from members and represent interests in the VET policy area. Overall, our analysis suggests that Switzerland’s voluntaristic approach to interest intermediation contributed to the Swiss systems’ ability to include new sectors in its collective skill formation system and thus maintain a high share of youth in dual VET.

The expansion of apprenticeship systems in the G20 countries: What is happening and will it be successful?

ABSTRACT. This paper describes and analyses the actions currently being taken by the G20 countries to expand their apprenticeship systems, using selected data from a 2017 survey of the social partners in the G20 countries (Smith, Tuck and Chatani, 2018). The authors were responsible for the analysis of the survey data. The study was funded by the Geneva office of the International Labour Organization (ILO). The response rate across all respondent groups was 70%. Apprenticeships are expected to fulfil multiple functions, and systems have evolved depending on national priorities and concerns at different times. The stakeholders at system level are usually regarded as the tripartite ‘social partners’: government, trade unions and employers. Several potential issues are associated with rapid expansion of an apprenticeship system (e.g. Smith & Brennan Kemmis, 2013). These include: quality problems; employers participating without being fully aware of their responsibilities; and low completion rates. These problems can be ameliorated by extensive stakeholder involvement (Smith & Brennan Kemmis, 2013). In the paper the actions reported by the partners are analysed thematically and using stakeholder theory (Deissinger & Gonon, 2015; Buchholz & Rosenthal 2004); and are examined for the risks that may be associated with the expansion reported. The research found that governments’ activity in expanding apprenticeships tended to be focused on numerical targets and general awareness-raising, for instance by setting up structures, advisory groups and web pages; while trade union and employer groups were more likely to report practical and on-the-ground activity with relation to apprenticeship expansion, and also to report potential problems associated with expansion. The focus on targets without proper monitoring systems could be seen as a major risk. Thus there were areas of tension among the stakeholder groups, but such tension should be regarded as productive, as quality was thus more likely to be maintained. The study is an important addition to the body of knowledge in this area, providing insight into systems for expanding apprenticeships and showing how the different stakeholder groups work both together and separately to contribute to expansion strategies. Other international comparisons of apprenticeships have been carried out in recent times (in fact, six major studies in the past six years) but this study is arguably the most systematic and involves the most purposeful selection of countries. Also, as the G20 includes less-developed as well as well-developed countries, activities have potential applicability in varied contexts.

Bringing the apprentice voice into debates on policy and practice: A recent doctoral research project using qualitative methods

ABSTRACT. The apprenticeship programme in England is a well-established strand of the government’s education and skills policy. Apprenticeships, it is suggested, have the potential to bring about social and economic change by providing access to career paths, and the opportunity to transform the lives of young and old alike (Halfon, 2017). It is surprising, therefore, that we know so little about what it is like to do an apprenticeship, or to be an apprentice, and that to date the measures of apprenticeship success have focused on very narrow, employer-centred metrics, such as economic returns and staff retention. A recent doctoral research project took an innovative approach to the issue, focusing on quality from the perspective of apprentices. The thesis provides evidence about the variable quality of the apprenticeship experience, and concludes with a challenge to those who create apprenticeship policy, manage apprentices and deliver training, to develop new quality measures that include the apprentice voice.

There is clear evidence of efforts to capture the views of learners in both further and higher education (Crowley, 2012). A review of relevant literature on apprenticeships, however uncovered a surprising absence of apprentice voice in debates about policy and delivery. The thesis set out to explore the reasons why the views of apprentices are largely ignored, and to discover what apprentices have to say when asked. The thesis also includes a number of suggestions for future research, for example comparing the experience of degree apprentices, who take their degree as part of an apprenticeship programme, with that of other undergraduate and postgraduate students, to determine where each route adds value for the learner.

09:15-10:45 Session 6H: Paper Session
The Contribution of Vocational Skills Development to inclusive Industrial growth and Transformation: An analysis of the South African Clothing, Textile Footwear and Leather Industry

ABSTRACT. This paper presents initial findings from a doctoral study investigating the contribution (or lack thereof) of vocational skills development to inclusive industrial growth and transformation in the South African clothing, textile, footwear and leather industry.

South Africa has made industrial growth one of its objectives and committed to support six manufacturing industries, including the clothing and textile industry. Part of this is vocational education programmes in the sector. However, there is limited insight into whether investment in vocational education is paying off by contributing to inclusive industrial growth and transformation in the sector and about the relationship between vocational education and inclusive industrial growth and transformation if there is any. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that the limited number of evaluations on the impact of vocational skills development and training programmes tend to have a narrow focus on two variables: access to employment and individual returns.

Using a mixed-method research evaluation design my research project evaluates the linkages between vocational programmes and inclusive company growth and transformation in the clothing and textile sector in South Africa, as part of a broader project, which aims to explore the role of vocational programmes in industrial growth and development in six countries. The research also aims to make a methodological contribution to evaluating vocational education in developing countries. My study asks the question: What are the linkages between VSD programmes and inclusive company growth and transformation in the clothing and textile sector in South Africa?

I am currently administering an electronic questionnaire in less than 50 manufacturing companies in the Clothing and Textile industry in the following provinces: Gauteng, Western Cape and Kwazulu Natal. The purpose is to gather initial data on inclusive company growth and transformation from which the impact assessment will be made, as well as to understand which vocational education programs companies value the most.

Findings from the preliminary data analysis suggests that a limited number of general workers, operators and managers hold any formal pre-employment qualifications and companies do not value or require formal vocational qualifications when they recruit employees. Firms in the sector prefer experience and in-house training to pre-employment formal vocational training. This makes for an interesting discussion about the role of vocational skills training vs work-based training and experience in relation inclusive company growth and transformation. The paper will present the complete analysis of the survey, which will be complete by 25th February.

Examining the contribution of vocational programmes to inclusive industrial growth and transformation - a case study of automotive sector in South Africa

ABSTRACT. The paper presents preliminary findings from a study investigating the contribution of vocational programmes to inclusive industrial growth and transformation in the automotive manufacturing sector in South Africa. The sector is an important one in South Africa, contributing around 7.5% to GDP, and has been the focus of considerable industrial policy and targeted government interventions. Given the essential role of industrialisation in economic development, the contribution of vocational programmes to company level development is seen as important by policy makers—but there is little evidence that demonstrates how vocational programmes contribute to industrial growth and transformation. Many evaluations focus mostly on how education and skills benefit individuals. Furthermore, there is lack of information on potential factors that contribute vocational education supporting economic growth and development. My research is part of a bigger project being conducted in six developing countries, namely, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Laos, Vietnam and South Africa, which aims to investigate this contribution. The overall aim of the research is to explore the causal link between vocational programmes and industrial growth and transformation. The focus is on formal vocational programmes. The main research question is: • Which vocational programmes that have a potential to contribute the most to inclusive company growth and transformation? Lastly, over the last ten years (2007-2017) how has skills acquisition influenced to inclusive company growth and transformation in SA? The paper reports on the first stage of the mixed methods data collection, which is a web-survey (online questionnaire) that has been administered to 56 companies in the automotive sector. This was from a sample population of 100 firms. The aim of this phase was to determine the programmes that are most relevant and significant for automotive firms, as well as to determine the growth and transformation profile of companies. The paper will present the initial data analysis as well as the proposed methodology for in-depth interviews that will be conducted in a smaller number of companies, focusing on four vocational programmes.

Vocational Education and Training and African Development: Towards VET Africa 4.0

ABSTRACT. African VET policy and practice have gone through three main post-independence phases, reflecting wider developmental orthodoxies. A new theory of skills for development is needed for the SDG era that can realign VET’s focus towards inclusion and sustainability. This paper considers possible directions for such a theory.

The first half will review well-established traditions present in the VET Africa literature.

1. practitioner research- largely consisting of atheoretical, small scale studies of pedagogy, leadership, etc. Whilst there is a need to build practitioner work, this literature currently is of very academic limited value.

2. economics of training literature - largely about evaluation of specific interventions, but with some attempts at systematic reviews, and some historical rates of return analyses.

3. political economy of skills research - highlighting the roles played by a range of actors and the importance of national skills regimes that evolve historically out of stakeholder negotiations, situated within wider national and international political economies.

The focus of the second half of the paper will be on emergent alternative accounts.

First, an account of skills and economic development, drawing on institutional economics. It focuses on how firms individually, sectorally and economy-wide develop capabilities to succeed within wider innovation systems. It understands success as being emergent, responsive and purposive rather than centrally planned or left to the vagaries of the market. This builds on account 2 above.

Second, a human development and capabilities account. Applied to the VET context, this has a strong focus both on the need to give considerable attention to young people’s voices in articulating their aspirations for meaningful work and lives, and on their intersectional experience of marginalisation and disempowerment. Meanwhile, many African colleagues continue to draw on similar themes from the Freirean tradition.

Third, a skills and sustainability account. This critiques VET’s reduction of everything to the economic, arguing instead for an approach to skills that promotes sustainable production and consumption so as to meet the needs of the poor without exceeding our planetary boundaries.

The conclusions will offer a summary of the state of the debate, some key absences (e.g., gender, rurality, disability) and some suggestions of possible future directions.

11:15-12:30 Session 7: Plenary

Alison Wolf: VET in an age of mass higher education

VET in an age of mass higher education

ABSTRACT. The rise in university enrolments seems remorseless, worldwide. Specialised higher vocational institutions feel under huge pressure to lobby for 'full university status'; while the size and expense of university sectors, and the electoral salience of primary and secondary school budgets, put funding for vocational education under constant strain. And yet many vocational courses provide skills which are well remunerated in the labour market. In spite of the 'hourglass' metaphor applied to the modern economy, there remains strong demand for technical and intermediate skills, and there is little reason to suppose that AI will destroy this. Can anything be done to bring our education and training systems back into equilibrium? Or must things get really bad before they get better?

13:45-15:15 Session 8A: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 1
Learning to mediate: the role of the employer in shaping the development of recently qualified in-service teachers in English VET

ABSTRACT. Within a diverse and fragmented VET sector, the employer plays a significant part in shaping teachers’ dispositions and practices. This extends to the development of trainee VET teachers, whether on placement (pre-service) or employed in the workplace while qualifying (in-service). Despite the absence of formal structures to sustain this activity in the VET sector, all providers of initial teacher education in England are required to monitor and support the development of former trainees after qualification (Ofsted, 2018). The role of the employer in enabling or constraining this development is not recognised within the regulatory process.

This paper reports findings from a case study investigating the workplace learning of recently qualified in-service teachers accredited by one university in the North of England. Utilising a ‘social practice’ approach, whereby learning is conceptualised as the negotiation of meaning necessitated by participation in practice, the study explores the ways in which the institutional context shapes the learning of former trainees. Particular attention is paid to the reified forms in which participation may appear: the texts and physical artefacts with which participants interact or which they produce. Data from semi-structured and visual elicitation interviews with six former in-service trainees across four institutions informs the analysis. This data is supplemented by interviews with VET managers and documents collected from the case study sites. Textual artefacts are scrutinised for the insights they offer into the ‘ruling relations’ (Smith, 2005) operational in this context.

Cross-case analysis reveals significant similarities in the practices in which the former trainees engage. Beyond the teaching responsibilities reified in their timetables, they are occupied with the monitoring and reporting practices demanded by their institution, and the everyday challenges of responding to their students’ needs. While detailed in-case analysis suggests a complex web of factors shaping individual responses to this environment, a unifying theme to emerge is that of the former trainee as a mediator between the ‘top-down’ pressures of the institution and the ‘bottom-up’ needs and expectations of students. Building on their initial teacher education, former trainees negotiate a path between compliance and autonomous decision-making. The paper concludes that the act of navigating this path forms a significant dimension of the learning of recently qualified VET teachers in the institutional context. It argues that this process contributes to ensuring that student and institutional needs are met, but allows little space for the pedagogic development of recently qualified teachers.

The Second Apprenticeship: Learning and Identity in the Transition from Tradesperson to Teacher

ABSTRACT. This paper explores the career transition of tradespeople who, having completed a traditional apprenticeship, then undertake a second apprenticeship to become trades teachers. Motivation for career change, methods used to learn to teach, and negotiation of a new vocational identity are considered. Trades education is little studied (Barabasch & Watt-Malcolm, 2013; Karmel, 2010; Palmieri, 2004) yet requires expertise in teaching a diverse group of students (Grubb, 1999; Vorhaus, 2010). Teachers are recruited from industry, typically without previous formal pedagogical training, and face an abrupt shift in duties and identity (Chappell & Johnston, 2003; Haycock & Kelly, 2009). Drawing on the vocational identity theories of Simpson (1967), Graves (1989), and Korthagen (2004), the path of learning and identity formation in the two apprenticeships is compared. Using a constructivist paradigm, this qualitative-dominant crossover sequential mixed methods study (Frels & Onwuegbuzie, 2013) surveyed trades teachers (N = 165) via a newly created instrument, distributed electronically to three Canadian institutions. A subset of survey respondents (n = 12) participated in interpretation panels (Noonan, 2002). These discussions were analyzed for themes and compared to the qualitative results for triangulation and additional understanding. The research showed participants were motivated to change careers primarily by a sense of continuity: to carry on their trade by helping new practitioners learn and through practicing the trade in a new way. They expressed a strong pre-existing identity of being a teacher, as a journeyperson who mentored apprentices. With this motivation set and prior identification, they reported viewing the change to teaching as a second phase of a continuing and evolving career. Moving into this new role, participants expressed frustration when their previous skills and knowledge, and identification with teaching practice, were not considered relevant in the credential-conscious college setting. In learning to teach, their preferred methods mirroring the practices of the traditional apprenticeship, including mentoring, discussions, and self-study. The paper provides recommendations for colleges in recruitment and training for new trades teachers. Acknowledging prior learning, as well as considering the embedded identity of teacher within trades practice, could help attract and retain teachers in this high-demand field.

13:45-15:15 Session 8B: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 2
A role for colleges in higher level vocational? The impact of different policy contexts in England & Scotland

ABSTRACT. This paper examines the role of colleges as providers of higher level vocational education in England and Scotland. It locates their evolving roles within the diverging policy contexts of two nations, where the increasingly centrally managed Scottish college system contrasts with the more market driven approach in England (Keep 2018; Gallacher and Reeve forthcoming). Within both nations we observe tensions between the key functions of colleges, as: providers of distinctly vocational educational and training; institutions which promote social inclusion, and linked to this, as providers of accessible higher education. We explore how they attempt to resolve tensions between these functions within the contrasting systems. Such attempts are hampered by funding levels which fall below those of both schools and higher education, in both nations. The extent to which colleges are able to meet the needs of regional or local employers and learners, as they exhorted to do, is discussed. The home-international comparison is through a focus on two developments in higher level vocational education. Firstly we examine how higher level apprenticeships, including Degree apprenticeship in England and Graduate Apprenticeships in Scotland are being established and the extent they provide opportunities for colleges, within their contrasting national contexts. The notion that offering apprenticeships might defuse the tension between the skills and social inclusion roles of colleges is critically examined. Here we draw on initial experience from the sector, acknowledging this development is still at an early stage, particularly in Scotland where the implementation has been at a slower pace. We draw on a second example of higher vocational qualifications, the introduction of the Foundation Degree in England and the modernisation of Higher Nationals in Scotland (Gallacher et al 2009). Experience of these earlier programmes suggest that colleges may encounter challenges in finding a role within the apprenticeship programme at the highest levels. These include the uncertain demand from local employers, and the lure of the degree, which despite the vocational expertise of colleges indicates a more significant role for universities (Reeve and Gallacher, 2019). Nevertheless, the changing policy context may create new opportunities for colleges to make a significant contribution to higher vocational education at a local level, where there are existing relationships with employers, where communities are distant from universities, or where opportunities for partnerships with universities emerge (UUK 2018). This paper will consider critically the opportunities which are emerging in the context of a changing skills agenda.

Using the capabilities approach to think about public vocational education institutions

ABSTRACT. This paper uses the capabilities approach to theorise the role of public vocational education institutions. The capabilities approach is becoming widespread in higher education and in technical and vocational education to think about the purposes of education and the nature of curriculum (McGrath & Powell, 2016; Walker & Unterhalter, 2007). The focus is on the person and on ensuring they have access to education that allows them to choose how they will live (capabilities), and to be able to live lives they have reason to value (functionings) (Nussbaum, 2000; Sen, 1999). It also focusses on ‘conversion factors’ which are the broad social, economic and cultural conditions required to realise capabilities (Bryson, 2015). The capabilities approach has less often been used to think about system design and funding in vocational education (Bonvin & Farvaque, 2006; Tikly, 2013).

However, there has been little that examines how the capabilities approach can be used to theorise the role of public vocational education institutions. This paper draws on three research projects that explores the role of vocational education in supporting social justice. Two of these projects were funded by Education International which is the international federation of teacher education unions (see Wheelahan & Moodie, 2016 for the first project, and goo.gl/1oyhq5 for the second), and the third was funded by the John Cain Foundation in Victoria, Australia. The first two projects include case studies in Australia, Cote D’Ivoire, England, and Taiwan, while the third focuses on Australia.

All projects used the capabilities approach to theorise the role of colleges in the second, vocational sector of tertiary education as ‘anchor institutions’ of the vocational education system in their countries and of their local communities, industries and regions. This theorising is needed for two reasons. First, vocational education colleges have been defined residually in many countries, as doing what schools and universities don’t do, rather than having a positive role which is distinctive to colleges. This is related to the second reason; in highly marketised vocational education systems, public colleges are defined as ‘providers’ interchangeable with for-profit providers. Competition is seen to be a self-evident good, with governments only needing to invest in markets and not institutions. This has led to disinvestment in public colleges and increasing subsidies to private providers. In contrast, we use the capabilities approach to theorise a positive role for colleges. We argue that public colleges are institutions and not providers.

A role for colleges in restructuring occupational knowledge

ABSTRACT. Vocational education includes disciplinary knowledge which is recontextualised as applied knowledge, which in turn is recontextualised as pedagogic applied knowledge (Young, 2006a: 55). This type of vocational knowledge originates with researchers (Young, 2006b: 109). Vocational education also includes systematic procedural knowledge which is derived from the established rules and practices for organising work (Young, 2006a: 62).

This paper examines how the established rules and practices for organising work become systematic procedural knowledge by reanalysing Valleriani (2017) and colleagues’ accounts of the restructuring of artillery, ale-brewing and mining knowledge in the early modern period. This is a fruitful source for observing the development of vocational knowledge because during the early modern period these knowledge-intensive activities were increasingly codified outside universities and without modern structures of qualifications, state regulation, and quality assurance.

The paper finds that practical knowledge is structured by the organisation of work. Some codifications of practical knowledge incorporated theoretical knowledge. For example, the trajectory of cannon balls could not be drawn from observation, but was derived from first principles, in this case Aristotelian dynamics. Some codifications were by learned artisans, that is, by experts in practical knowledge which was expressed in the vernacular who also knew scholarly knowledge expressed in Latin. Thus, Prussian mining was codified by the ‘technical-scientific expert’ who unified scientific knowledge with knowledge directly acquired in the field.

As the social structure of knowledge embodied in work practices was codified and transmitted it was abstracted and restructured as conceptual knowledge. This is because the means for codification such as drawing the layout of a brewhouse or writing the recipe for smelting ore required a skill of drawing or writing not required for the production of ale or metal. And when artisans explain to apprentices when to add hot water to malt, for example, they are not brewing ale; they are explaining how to brew ale: an artisan’s instructions to an apprentice is not know-how, but knowledge about know-how.

The codification of practical knowledge was rarely an individual activity, but was part of a social milieu, which was often related to or done for institutions such as schools, workshops, academies, guilds, courtly centres, ruling bodies of big production centres, or state bodies.

The paper argues that in the absence of professions and other social structures which restructure the knowledge of high status occupations, vocational colleges have a role in restructuring occupational knowledge.

13:45-15:15 Session 8C: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 3
An innovative approach in higher education: Preparation for employment at the National Software Academy, Wales

ABSTRACT. Introduction

In 2015 Cardiff University founded the National Software Academy (NSA) to respond to the national shortage of skilled software engineers in Wales, as many employers were dissatisfied with the pool of graduates in this field.

Universities are in a strong position to help address current skills shortages (CEdEFOP, 2018) by training students with the appropriate skills to be productive members of the workforce. In the 21st Century, universities should be taking a greater role in ensuring their students develop employability skills (Prokou, 2008, Watts, 2006), hence employability is increasingly becoming a tool by which universities are being measured (Boden & Nedeva, 2010).

IFF (2017) found that 65% of employers claim relevant work experience to be critical/highly significant when recruiting compared with just 46% rating the same for academic qualifications. They also found increasing employer dissatisfaction with the skill level of graduates reaching 15% in 2016. McKenzie Global Institute (2018) suggest that transferable skills will support graduates to ‘futureproof’ themselves from the risk of job automation in the fourth industrial revolution.

The current research aims to understand how NSA develops employable graduates and hence responds to employers’ demands and local skills shortages. More specifically the research aims to answer the following research question: In what way (if) does the NSA offer an innovative model of HE in order to develop employable students?


A case study approach was taken to explore the NSA model. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with stakeholders (students, lecturers, senior leadership, employers, Welsh Government representatives and graduates), observation of student presentations and document analysis. While analysing data is an on-going process, data will be systematically analysed using content analysis once fieldwork is completed in March 2019.

Interim findings

Preliminary results suggest that NSA is an innovative HE delivery model which focuses from the outset to develop students’ employability and hence may ease their transition to employment. The NSA works closely with local industry and the wider south Wales economy. It uses a range of industry-engagement activities, such as client-developed projects and student placements with industrial partners in order to develop the skills, knowledge and hands-on experience required for students to be employable. The Academy aims to replicate a work environment and a considerable amount of the students’ learning is done through project-based learning. This, they claim, allows students to be immediately effective as commercial software engineers, as well as develop transferable skills for other jobs.

The Value of Sub-bachelor Degree Qualifications in Vocational Institutions in the UK and Australia

ABSTRACT. This paper considers the perceived value of sub-bachelor degree qualifications by those undertaking such qualifications in the UK and Australia. Sub-bachelor degree qualifications are not a new feature of the higher education landscape in either Australia or the UK. Often referred to as ‘short-cycle’ higher education (Moodie, 2003), they take less time to complete and are at lower levels than traditional bachelors degrees. In Australia, they mainly take the form of Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas in the vocational education settings and Diplomas of Higher Education and Associate Degrees, and in the UK, Higher National Certificates (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) and more recently, Foundation Degrees. The value of higher education in both of these contexts has largely been seen as threefold; benefits to individuals, benefits to the labour market and the economy, and benefits to society. Dominant views held about the benefits to individuals are returns of earnings, employment opportunities and lifetime benefits (Conlon & Patrignani, 2011). However, these narrow measures only tell part of the story of the value of participation in these forms of qualifications for individuals. To provide further understandings about student experiences, outcomes and motivations to study an assembling of data was untaken; piecing together publicly available information from diverse sources which is necessary in provision of this type (Parry 2012). Existing publicly available datasets where sub-bachelor graduates were represented in the survey population, were analysed in both countries (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education and National Student Survey in the UK and Graduate Outcomes Survey and Student Outcomes Survey in Australia). This paper’s findings suggest the bifurcation of sub degree level into vocational and higher education in both country contexts alters the understanding of the value of higher education for some cohorts of student. Drawing on Archer (2003) it suggests a bachelors degree is constructed as having a different value to the sub-bachelors qualifications and additionally, sub-bachelors qualifications of the same level are regarded differently depending on whether they have a vocational (e.g. HND or Advanced Diploma) or higher education (Foundation Degree or Associate Degree) basis. The paper concludes by identifying the need for more specific qualitative research in this area due to limitations of the publicly available datasets and their participant inclusion rules.

Higher vocational education – what does it mean for vocational education?

ABSTRACT. Increasing the supply of highly educated people is a widely recognised global challenge (OECD 2015). In Australia, the biggest employment growth is in jobs that require high-level qualifications (DJSB 2017). Yet the much expanded university system has left many young people experiencing uncertain graduate futures (Woodman and Wyn 2015). By turning our focus to the growth of publicly funded non-university higher education, this presentation explores the impact of Bachelor degree offerings by Technical And Further Education [TAFE] providers.

Australian tertiary education is changing with the entry of new providers to higher education. Are these providers offering similar qualifications to universities or do they bring something new and distinctive? To answer these questions, an overview of developments in higher vocational education in Australia will be presented in contrast to or college-based higher education in countries such as the UK.

The presentation will draw on new insights from an Australian government funded project on higher vocational qualifications and their outcomes. The study takes national data on Bachelors courses delivered in TAFEs directly accredited by the Australian higher education quality standards organisation (TEQSA).

The analysis draws on the work of Elias and Purcell (2004), which recognised that graduate jobs are changing and led to a new graduate occupational classification to understand changes in supply and demand, SOC(HE, adopted by the UK Government and UK careers advisory services. Focusing on the expansion of degrees in TAFEs, the presentation analyses the stated graduate outcomes of these higher education courses and maps them to the national taxonomies of occupational skill levels to establish whether these offerings meet the needs of new graduate occupations.

Interrogating the TAFE degrees using Australian Bureau of Statistics taxonomies of occupations and occupational skill level reveals whether or not new degrees are providing routes to occupations that previously had not required high-level qualifications. The findings are discussed in relation to credentialism (Brown & Bills 2011) and theorising of vocational education (Wheelahan 2005). The presentation contributes to discussion about the future of work and provides a deeper understanding of the relationship between tertiary education and labour market outcomes.

13:45-15:15 Session 8D: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 4
Investigating Goals, Achievements, Resources, and Challenges of TVET in Australia, England, and Taiwan: A Quantitative Analysis

ABSTRACT. Recent research on technical and vocational education and training (TVET) argues that vocational education contributes to local social, economic, and cultural development by cultivating sustainable capabilities and promoting social justice in educational access (Wheelahan & Moodie, 2016). The paper examines the TVET systems and current situation in Australia, England, and Taiwan. The quantitative study investigates respondents’ views on the relationship between goals, achievements, resources, and challenges, and how these relationships vary within and between the three jurisdictions. Theoretical framework The paper adopts the capabilities approach (Sen, 1999; Nussbaum 2000) to examine all three TVET systems. In contrast to a human capital approach which is limited to a focus on an individual’s skills, the capabilities approach seeks to frame the necessary individual and societal resources to ensure human flourishing. We use the capabilities approach to examine the systemic strengths and weaknesses of vocational education and survey participants’ perceptions about how this affects students’ educational achievement and attainment. Research questions What is the relationship between participants’ perceptions and TVET goals, success, challenges, and resources? Are demographic variables related to participants’ perceptions? What are the differences between Australia, England, and Taiwan? Research design For each case study, data was collected from an online survey. The survey participants include TVET teachers, managers, education support personnel, students. Quantitative data analysis consisted sequentially of factor analysis, correlation, and linear regression. Key findings Factor analysis was first conducted on survey items for Australia. This produced two variables for goals (human capital and social justice), two variables for success (job demands and support for professional development) and three variables for resources (inclusive partners, equity, and sustainable growth). Regression models explained associations between variables. There were interesting differences between countries which will be elaborated in the paper. Based on the Australia findings, we expect to find similar trends in England and Taiwan. Moreover, our next steps include further analysis using dummy demographic variables. Conclusions Overall, from the factor analysis, we found that the resources factors were the strongest predictors of the success ones. Specifically, an increased agreement in the importance of resources led to an increased perception on the success of the TVET system. That is, participants’ increased agreement in the availability and accessibility of resources led to an increased perception on TVET’s success.

Ten years of training markets in Australia: What has been the impact on young peoples’ opportunities?

ABSTRACT. Since the early 1990s, state governments in Australia have actively pursued a policy agenda to make their vocational education and training (VET) systems more effective, efficient and accountable for public funds. Since 2009, governments have been progressively introducing market-based policy settings underpinned by measures to increase: (1) ‘competition’ among VET providers, both public and private; and (2) ‘choice’ among users (students and employers) of government-funded training (Council of Australian Governments, 2012; Victorian Government, 2008).

The application of a market-based design has been heavily criticised, particularly for its simplistic application of rational choice theory, lack of regulatory oversight, paucity of consumer information and their encouragement of unscrupulous marketing and recruitment practices among providers, including practices affecting some of the most vulnerable groups in Australian society (Mackenzie & Coulson, 2015; Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, 2015).

While many of the specific elements of the original market design model have needed to be either reversed, strengthened and or in some way adjusted, the fundamental principles of ‘competition’ and ‘choice’ remain largely unchanged, albeit with more stringent regulatory oversight and contracting requirements in place to improve the overall quality of training opportunities available.

For all of the research and commentary that has occurred at a system level, very little research has documented the impact of these reforms on the training opportunities available to young people. To address this gap, and identify lessons for broader application, this paper compares the intended purposes of training markets in Australia over the past decade with their impact on: (1) rates of participation among young people; and (2) patterns and trends in the types of training opportunities and choices available to young people.

This paper draws on the capabilities approach developmental framework to identify the extent of alignment between available opportunities (as espoused in policy) and accessible opportunities (as stated by young people). Pioneered by economist Amartya Sen (1980) and extended by philosopher Martha Nussbaum (2011), the capabilities approach is structured around three core concepts: capabilities (what people are able to be or to do); functionings (what people, having capabilities, are doing); and agency (the ability to choose the functionings).

By critiquing these policy reforms through this lens, the paper suggests that while they may have, in the short-term, led to statistical increases in participation (functionings), these reforms have done little to improve young peoples’ participation in VET nor the quality of choices available to them in the longer term (capabilities and agency). In reality, in a number of instances, the reforms appear to have contributed to a decline in both.

Aligning Vocational Curriculum with Current Industry Practices: How this differs for Regulated, Accredited and Unregulated Programs in Ontario, Canada

ABSTRACT. The Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAATs) in Ontario, Canada provide vocational education for Regulated, Accredited and Unregulated occupations. As industry practices change to incorporate new technologies and processes, the academic program curricula must be updated regularly to align with current and near-future industry practices. How does a CAAT identify changes in current industry practices?

In Ontario, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities provides the CAATs with a Program Standard that defines the Vocational Learning Outcomes for approved Diploma programs. The VLOs are generalized and must be interpreted and curricularized by the CAATs to address their local labour markets. CAATs must determine the best practices in industry in their local labour markets and incorporate these into the curriculum to equip students with current and near-future job skills. For Regulated and Accredited occupations, the CAAT diploma program must also include the skills defined by the corresponding skills competencies standards that are developed by the accrediting body. For Unregulated programs, and for Accredited programs where the Accreditation criteria is more generalized, the CAAT is left to its own devices to determine current industry best practices.

This presentation describes a qualitative study of four two-year diploma programs at one College of Applied Arts and Technology (CAAT) in Ontario, Canada, representing the breadth of spectrum from Regulated, narrowly focused occupational sectors to Unregulated broad-based occupational sectors. Interviews were conducted with participants from the Ministry, Accreditors and CAAT to examine how each of these organizations identify current industry practices.

Activity Theory provides a system model framework that is used to examine the college program curriculum, and the external standards including the Ministry Program Standards and Accreditor competencies for practice. Findings include an examination of the relationship between each CAAT program and its labour market. In particular, Activity Theory is used to provide insight into the relationships between each type of program and its community of practice, that helps to mediate the relationship between the CAAT program and the labour market. Transition systems literature was also used to provide context. This study proposes a framework for understanding the relationship between vocational education curriculum and the labour market.

13:45-15:15 Session 8E: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 5
Should the Market Coordinate the Supply and Demand of Skills? A Realist Evaluation of the Market Model of Skill Formation in Chile

ABSTRACT. Neoliberal development orthodoxy has profusely defended the superiority of market mechanisms over state intervention in different social domains, including education and the world of work. This powerful policy idea is based on a set of assumptions about how individual and collective actors (e.g. schools, firms) make decisions in relation to key resources in these social domains. In the case of the supply and demand of skills, the two main social domains to consider are education and the labour market. In the education domain, students are expected to pursue an educational trajectory and specialization that maximises their employment opportunities throughout the productive life. Likewise, training providers, in order to attract more students, they are expected to align their offer of training to the skill requirements of the available jobs in the economy. In the labour market domain, workers will pursue jobs in occupations where they have specialised and where they have a competitive advantage over other candidates. Likewise, employers will recruit those candidates with the most adequate set of skills for the requirements of the job in order to maximize the profit they will extract from the salary they will pay.

Chile is a particularly relevant case for testing these assumption because it represents the most extreme international version of the market model of skill formation. The paper analyses governance arrangements and logics of action of the educational and labour market actors involved in the demand and supply of skills in the port industry of Valparaiso and the mining sector of Antofagasta. The fieldwork consisted in 32 semi-structured interviews with key actors (e.g. secondary vocational schools, tertiary education institutions, independent training providers, local authorities, chambers of commerce, employers’ associations, and other intermediaries) in the two local skill ecosystems. The analysis showed the limitations of market coordination mechanisms both in education and the labour market. The educational options available to students following vocational routes are largely limited by their socioeconomic background and the stratification of the tertiary education offer. Also, vocational education providers show very unequal capacity to keep track of the skill requirements in the local companies and their training offer tend to focus on the least costly vocational programmes (e.g. administration). In the labour market, the low-skill profile of jobs and the wide availability of highly-educated young people facilitate that companies recruit overqualified workers, resulting in a crowding out effect and poor labour market prospects of secondary vocational education graduates.

'El baile de los que sobran': Chilean vocational education and the reproduction of neoliberal identities

ABSTRACT. This work analyzes the reproduction of dominant neoliberal discourses about workers and their positionalities in vocational education in Chile, and its effects on identity building of students in vocational programs. This is addressed through discourse analysis of the national curriculum for secondary vocational education in Chile (Educación Media Técnico-Profesional, EMTP). Chile is a country characterized by Schneider (2009) as an example of a hierarchical market economy that represents a variety of capitalism with pervasive but weak state intervention, atomistic employee and labor relations and a high proportion of jobs that require low-level skills, among other characteristics. As one of the formal paths of compulsory education in upper-secondary education, EMTP is an important site for meaning making and identity building for Chilean teenagers. The curriculum for EMTP is centrally defined by the Ministry of Education and considers 35 occupations (especialidades), seven of which with specialized paths (menciones). The programs for each occupation are composed by a common general branch (formación general), also shared with the academic path (Educación Media Humanista-Científica, EMHC), and a differentiated branch (formación diferenciada), specific for each occupation (and specialized paths), based on a competence-based-training approach (Ministerio de Educación de Chile, 2013). The presence of neoliberal discourses in the national curriculum for EMTP is problematized through discourse analysis of the curriculum, looking for what Kincheloe (1999) calls ‘pedagogy of work’, i.e. “the knowledge and values that are produced and transmitted in both schools and the society at large about work” (p.4). Building on the framework for situated identities of Murrell (2007), it is argued that vocational students are (re)positioned as human resources and non-academic subjects, limiting their possibilities to exercise agency as critical consciousness through the reproduction of managerial perceptions about work and workers and well-established knowledge hierarchies within a highly segregated educational system. The work of Davies (2010) on agency from a poststructuralist approach is used as a complement to situated identity, in order to explore possibilities for students to position themselves as critical subjects not only within current discourses but also between them, in the space of the ‘not-yet-known’. For this to happen it is argued that there is a necessity for an understanding of vocational education that focuses on a broader notion of work and its social role and enables students to participate in professional discussions within their fields of expertise and in social discussions through active citizenship.

Critical Analysis of Vocational Education Policy in Israel

ABSTRACT. After a complete disregard of educational policy in vocational schools in Israel spanning several decades, governmental and public interest in these schools commenced (mainly because of the active support of the current Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, who has been in office since 2015). This interest is reflected in the decision of the Ministry of Education to increase the number of students in vocational schools by producing advertisements on radio and television encouraging students to study in these schools; the relatively large number of government committees dealing with the subject; and sending delegations to Germany for the cultural import of the "German model" for the implementation of vocational education in Israel.

This article deals with the cultural and political conditions that encourage the Ministry of Education in Israel to massively support vocational education and specific practices to achieve this goal. In order to achieve the research objectives, a critical discursive analysis of written and photographed materials (protocols of government committees, reports of the Ministry of Education, advertisements and newspaper articles) was conducted. This analysis reveals a number of key findings: the strategic decision to discard the term "vocational education" in favor of "technological education"; a stubborn refusal to provide statistics on the ethnic composition of students in vocational schools; presentation of data on the increase in the number of students studying in prestigious tracks (such as computer science, cyber, bio-technology) as evidence to the "choices" of students in vocational education; and encouraging an apprehensive attitude toward higher education (or "universities don’t have to be the only aspiration" and "mechanics and metalworkers earn more than those with a bachelor's degree"). This policy is completely different from the policy of "raising aspirations" and encouraging low-income youth to study in universities to reduce inequality, as is common elsewhere in the world.

The discussion section describes the implications of this policy (in terms of symbolic violence towards subaltern groups) and the gap between it and empirical findings about vocational schools (also referred to as "last stop," "second class," or "residual schools" for students who have dropped out of every other educational framework, and which are still populated by members of stigmatized groups in Israel in terms of class and ethnicity). Moreover, the discussion section suggests that without explicit engagement in the connection between vocational schools, class, it will be difficult for policymakers to create the social change they desire.

13:45-15:15 Session 8F: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 6
VET, Expertise and Work: from a retrospective to prospective perspective

ABSTRACT. This presentation will examine the impact of new technologies and the increasing economic importance of ‘intangible assets’ on the nature of work processes and conceptions of expertise to argue for a new conceptualisation of the relationship between work, expertise and vocational education and training (VET). This new prospective approach is in contrast to the existing skill-based restrospective approach, which has come to dominate VET research and policymaking. In a nutshell, our argument is that VET has paid a price for becoming overly institutionalized within national education and training systems and, as a consequence, initial preparation of young people for the labour market. We argue that a close relationship to future work practice is vital to ensure VET can sustain its important role in the development of expertise.

The presentation will make this case in the following way. It will start by arguing that over the last fifty years VET has become internationally synonymous with the initial formation of intermediate level skills aligned to national economic priorities. Paradoxically, this has disconnected VET from its central role in the development of expertise in terms of people’s lives, workplace activity and society more generally. The presentation will acknowledge that while there have been innumerable benefits from the introduction of national systems of education, VET has paid a price for becoming overly institutionalized within national education and training systems. This is partly because the human capital consensus, shared by policymakers across the world since the 1960s, has emphasised that qualifications (whether academic or vocational) are proxy measures for the expertise (expressed as ‘skills’) employers are looking for when they recruit new workers. One consequence is that the curriculum of VET programmes has come to be expressed in the language of measureable skills and competences designed to lead to standardized accreditation, leading researchers and policymakers to focus much of their attention on topics such as: the comparative study of national ‘stocks’ of skills; participation and achievement rates in VET programmes; the alignment of qualification frameworks. Secondly, the presentation will argue that VET has become primarily conceptualized, studied and evaluated through an educational lens. (Remains of abstract attached)

‘Signs of the times – Reviewing a decade of postgraduate TVET research in South Africa’

ABSTRACT. TVET is generally held to be ‘under-researched’ in South Africa, and indeed across the African continent relative to school-based and university-based research, which the number of academic journals for research publications in the latter domains alone would attest to. However, with unprecedented policy emphasis on TVET in South African government policies, and increased funding to TVET, there has been an uptick in the numbers of masters and doctoral studies undertaken in universities, albeit confined to a few institutions where there are faculty who have a research interest in TVET. Researchers in the field are slowly building a community and an identity, but where does the knowledge generated in their studies find purchase, and who, or what does it inform - if the trajectory for empirical research is that it should inform both policy and practice at macro or micro level? In this article the author undertakes a critical review of a decade (2008-2018) of postgraduate research outputs in TVET emanating from South African universities during a period of ‘policy churn’ in which there has been wide-ranging and systematic reforms introduced in public TVET colleges. The review investigates what research has been conducted, the theoretical and conceptual orientations thereof, its methodologies, and the learnings that have been gleaned from evidence in the field. In addition, the intended target audience and beneficiaries of the research are examined with a view to ascertaining if there has been any transfer or take-up of the findings. In a system struggling to make TVET more relevant and attractive as a viable training pathway, and with limited contextualised best practice to rely on, should robust academic research not be better harnessed to increase its potential to inform TVET policy and practice, and furthermore, how could this be done and by whom? The article concludes that while TVET may be under-researched there is most certainly research being done, and that the wider academic research community should be involved in turning what might simply remain ‘signs of the times’ buried in the unpublished annals of university libraries, into more functional contributions to knowledge.

Reimagining the institutionalization of technical and vocational education in Australia

ABSTRACT. The principal government owned institutions for the provision of technical and vocational education in Australia are known as Technical and Further Education (TAFE) organisations. By drawing upon neo-institutional theory this paper will examine the changing fortunes of technical and vocational education provision in Australia to highlight its enduring presence and continuing importance. Specifically, this paper will explore the challenges that currently beset TAFE, in the context of ac hanging tertiary landscape.

Technical and vocation education has been a key feature of Australian tertiary education since the nineteenth century. Throughout that time, it has been offered and made available through a variety of organisational forms and institutional arrangements. Today, the provision of technical and vocational education operates in the shadows of the institutional dominance of the university. TAFE organisations and universities represent the two main tiers that institutionally constitute Australian tertiary education. Universities are engaged in higher education, whilst TAFE organisations offer l education for the purposes of meeting the needs of industry and developing labour market capabilities, along with supporting communities to deal with social and economic change. Changes to the patterns of tertiary education provision since the middle of the twentieth century have evolved to accommodate changing social expectations and have resulted in the reshaping of the institutional basis of Australian tertiary education.

The role of TAFE faces pressures as a result of some of these changes. As the key tertiary education institutions, universities, and TAFE organisations continue to play important roles in influencing the conscious experience of societies and cultures. The creation and production of knowledge is a defining characteristic of Australian universities and is manifested through their research mission. The formation of skills and capabilities for social participation are central to the provision of technical and vocational education by TAFE organisations. New public management approaches to the governance of tertiary education together with intense market reforms have emphasised competition and reoriented Australian tertiary education. The consequences of these changes the mission and remit and of TAFE organisations have been weakened. By historicising the policy and institutional changes in Australian tertiary education the paper highlights the distinctive missions and characteristic of technical and vocational education and its institutionalisation. This is pursued with a view to reimagining how technical and vocational provision and TAFE organisations will need to adapt to continue to play an important role in the future of Australian education.

13:45-15:15 Session 8G: Paper Session
Location: Pusey Room
Missing the Target? Predicting NEET status and the risks of early intervention for vulnerable young people

ABSTRACT. This paper critically analyses attempts to identify young people at increased risk of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) and associated discourses of early intervention aimed at re-engagement or NEET prevention. Based on a review of the international literature on NEET young people, it focuses specifically on evidence concerning three areas: the structure of the NEET ‘population’ in different national contexts and at different stages of the economic cycle; the factors leading to an increased risk of becoming NEET for individual young people; and the effectiveness of interventions aimed at NEET prevention and/or re-engagement. The paper argues that there is a severely limited research base for the design of interventions. Much of the evaluation evidence relies on data from short-term outcomes and qualitative data on the perceptions of practitioners and young people, rather than on more detailed ethnographic research or quantitative analysis of long-term outcomes. Where robust data is available, the effect of interventions is often slight, and may indicate a negative impact for some participants. In some cases, interventions are poorly matched to the actual structure of the NEET population at a given time and fail to recognise the diversity of NEET young people. Moreover, where statistical procedures are used to identify potential participants in interventions, substantial ‘dead weight’ costs may be incurred, both in financial terms and in the diversion of young people into inequitable curriculum provision. Drawing on national longitudinal data sets such as the Youth Cohort Study of England and Wales, the Scottish School Leavers Survey, and the Longitudinal Survey of Young People in England, the paper uses statistical modelling to illustrate the dynamical balance between robust identification, scale of provision and potential impact. It concludes that great caution is needed in the application of NEET prediction tools which may be costly, entail little benefit for young people, and in some cases may even be counterproductive.

Digital technology and the development of professional identity by VET teachers in training

ABSTRACT. A doctoral study into the use of digital tools by trainee and recently qualified teachers in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector is providing insights into trainees’ understanding of digital pedagogies and their evolving IT practice in the training and working environment.

The professional views and pedagogical perspectives of trainee teachers are shaped by their previous experiences and by the materials, viewpoints and exposure that they receive from teacher educators, colleagues, peers and the wider industry. The same is true when it comes to their use of digital tools and pedagogy.

The digital experience of trainees on entry to Initial Teacher Education (ITE) courses is extremely varied. The diverse training and subsequent working landscapes experienced by trainee and newly qualified teachers serves to increase this disparity, with the result that individuals may commence their teaching careers with a hugely diverse range of ideas and practices.

Key findings at this interim stage are that:

Viewpoints on the use of technology within pedagogy tend towards the restrictive/reductive. This restrictive environment is enabled by a number of factors, including an overall lack of confidence in using digital tools; inadequate understanding of and inability to articulate digital pedagogy; a lack of reliable digital infrastructure within the training and working environment; and a lack of professional development and positive role modelling of digital pedagogy.

Trainees are often self-taught with respect to digital tools, and rely on peers and the occasional professional development session to gain new insights. The placement environment and ITE courses often add little to trainees’ understanding of the digital environment or their deployment of technology in teaching, learning and assessment situations.

Advanced tools such as virtual or augmented reality are not even on the radar of most teachers in VET settings. Calls from industry and government to use these and other new technologies in the classroom are misplaced to the point of being insulting to the professionalism of teachers.

Meanwhile, the evidence suggests technology is being used positively in the back-office functions of educational (VET) organisations. The key difference between pedagogy and back-office environments seems to be the extent to which technology is seen as mission critical. Institutions would not dream of running administrative functions without digital services, but educational technology is not seen as fundamental to teaching in the same way and continues to be misunderstood, misrepresented or missing from the thinking of many senior leaders.

15:45-17:15 Session 9A: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 1
How to professionalize teachers and trainers in the context of " Vocational Education and Training for Sustainable Development (VET-ESD)"?

ABSTRACT. Various political announcements and scientific publications refer to the need to qualify training professionals in the context of VET-ESD. Teachers and trainers have a key function when it comes to the implementation of sustainability in society (e.g. Mohorič 2014; Reichwein 2015; Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission e.V. 2014). However, until now, neither VET practice nor VET research has established any substantial ideas on how to professionalize teachers and trainers. This paper accepts this challenge by dealing with the professionalization of vocational school teachers for the implementation of VET-ESD. The contribution tries to give answers of the following questions: 1. Which competences do vocational teachers and trainers generally need because of VET-ESD? 2. What competencies do they already have? How can these competencies be taken into account? 3. How should in-service teachers be professionalized?

This forthcoming presentation focuses primarily on basic methodological assumptions based on the design-based research approach. The aim of the research project are "medium-range innovations" which are developed and tested in selected social fields of vocational training practice within the framework of "science-practice communication" and which can be transferred to comparable fields (Diettrich 2012, p.89). In order to achieve this goal, the present research has combined more than two methods. In line with this design, a quantitative approach was initially conducted as a survey study, which was supplemented by a qualitative evaluation study.

As a result, this contribution presents a theoretical and practical output. The theoretical output consists of clarifying findings on the development of professional sustainability-oriented competence among vocational teachers and trainers as well as design principles for the implementation of VET-EAD in further education. The practical output consists of a scientifically based concept that enables vocational school teachers and trainers to implement VET-ESD in their own teaching.

DEUTSCHE UNESCO-KOMMISSION E.V. (2014): UNESCO-Roadmap zur Umsetzung des Weltaktionsprogramms "Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung". Bonn.

DIETTRICH, A. (2012): Die Transferdiskussion in der Modellversuchsforschung im Spannungsfeld pluraler Interessen und Qualitätserwartungen. In: SEVERING, E./WEIß, R. (Hrsg.): Qualitätsentwicklung in der Berufsbildungsforschung. 1. Aufl. Bielefeld, S. 89–104.

MOHORIČ, A. (2014): Berufsbildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung - Das Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung als Akteur und Moderator bei der Gestaltung des Transfers der Modellversuchsergebnisse. In: KUHLMEIER, W./MOHORIČ, A./VOLLMER, T. (Hrsg.): Berufsbildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung. Modellversuche 2010 - 2013: Erkenntnisse, Schlussfolgerungen und Ausblicke. Bielefeld, S. 183–196.

REICHWEIN, W. (2015): Berufsbildung für eine nachhaltige Entwicklung in Unternehmen. Eine explorative Studie am Beispiel der industriellen Elektroberufe. Berlin

Subject-specialist pedagogy and the failure of policy in English Further Education

ABSTRACT. This paper reports on a three-year project that examined subject-specialist pedagogy in vocational science, engineering and technology (SET) in the English Further Education (FE) sector, focusing on the initial teacher education (ITE) of SET teachers. We defined pedagogy as how teachers explain the decisions they make in relation to particular knowledge (in this case occupational) and in relation to particular students (in this case on vocational SET courses). Based on an extensive literature review, related interventions for trainee teachers and teacher educators were designed and implemented with the aim of better informing teachers’ pedagogical decisions. We adapted and applied Pedagogical Content Knowledge, recontextualisation and concepts associated with occupational identity to develop the interventions, which comprised full-day face-to-face sessions as well as access to on-line resources. The interventions reached around thirty participants in each category, trainee and educator. Our evaluation of the impact of the interventions and of subject specialist pedagogy has been based on questionnaires as well as interviews with participants well after the interventions.

Our study exposed the difficulty in implementing any pedagogical intervention given how pressed FE teachers are and the difficulty in then evaluating it given the many factors involved in successful teaching. Our study also exposed the persistent mundane barriers to developing practice in FE. Nevertheless, the focus on subject specialism enabled an engagement with pedagogy among trainee teachers despite some prior indifference or antipathy. Our project has also informed curriculum development among some providers of ITE.

Separate findings have been more revealing of how the FE sector functions; firstly around the inadequacy of the subject-specialist element in ITE despite it being promoted or required for over a decade. More significantly, the UK government launched its Post-16 Skills Plan in 2016 expressing determination “to see through the continued delivery of lasting change in the skills system”. Despite the sweeping reforms envisioned in this plan, there is little mention of the staff to implement it and we found an existing chronic problem with recruiting SET teachers. This combination of grand statement of intent with neglect of circumstances that we found for ITE is typical for FE and partly explains the sector’s constant churn of policy, with 28 major pieces of legislation since the early 1980s.

The role of ‘tacit pedagogy’ in practice-based learning and innovation in one FE college workplace: the importance of informal interactions within and beyond specialist teaching teams.

ABSTRACT. The links between organisational change and practitioner learning are of critical importance in times of unparalleled technological, social and economic change, and these links are one of the major areas of concern of the literatures on workplace learning, organisational development, and education and training policy. However, much of this work has tended in the past to focus on formal and/or easily-measurable aspects of work, underplaying the role of workplace cultures and norms, and of informal interactions between practitioners (Jensen et al 2007). One of the problems of these studies is that they do not provide a convincing account of change and innovation, and that they offer few practical ideas to organisations aiming to support innovation, or to support their practitioners to be innovative. This paper will present findings from one of the two workplace contexts researched in a doctoral study of practice-based learning and innovation: a Further Education College rated as ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED. Qualitative data was collected from practitioners (n=9) through interviews and focus groups (n=13), focussing particularly on the role of informal interactions within and beyond teams of specialist teachers, on the constraints and supports experienced by these teams in using informal modes of work to achieve institutional and personal objectives, and on the nature of team-working practice in this context. The paper will introduce the concept of ‘tacit pedagogy’ to illuminate the study’s findings. The paper will use Beckett and Hager’s (2002) identification of ‘standard’ and emerging’ paradigms of learning, the ‘Productive Systems’ framework of Felstead et al (2009), and David Guile’s concept of ‘Recontextualisation’ to argue that practitioners use informal interactions as an essential element of achieving personal as well as institutional and team goals. Furthermore, this finding shows how the day to day practice of further education teachers has the potential for both professional learning and innovation, and also how this potential may be inhibited or supported by the ‘productive system’ within which the college operates.

15:45-17:15 Session 9B: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 2
The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area's Integrated Development of Vocational Education:Challenges and Opportunities

ABSTRACT. China intends to build the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area into one of the four bay areas, comparable to those of New York, San Francisco and Tokyo, as one of its national strategies (Xinhua, 2017). And to promote integrated development of education, particularly vocational education, is one of the core driving forces of the strategy.

A key challenge for China's future is to link the development and growth of its vocational education system to its economic and social development. The gross enrolment ratio in tertiary education in China in 2008 was almost 21%, but it was 51% by 2017 (http://uis.unesco.org/country/CN). Higher vocational education is taught in post-secondary vocational colleges and in universities of applied sciences, and in 2015 the percentage of students in tertiary education who were enrolled in vocational education was 42.6%, and of these 51% were female (UNEVOC, 2018: 3).

This astonishing growth in vocational education has resulted in the establishment of many vocational education institutions, but a big challenge is to build connections with the labour market (UNEVOC, 2018). Normally it takes decades to build these connections, and the paper uses Ianelli and Raffe’s (2007) concept of transition systems to understand these connections and to problematise the challenges confronting vocational education. Transition systems is one way of understanding the links between education and the labour market in different types of economies (Wheelahan & Moodie, 2017). In liberal market economies, the links between vocational education and the labour market are quite weak, and vocational education is often a lower status option (Bosch & Charest, 2008; Raffe, 2008; UNEVOC, 2018).

This paper considers the core values of the integrated development of vocational education and economic and social development in the Bay Area, that is, complementary advantages of the three industrial structures, innovative development and coordinated growth of the Bay Area’s economy and society, and integration of all members in society. It considers the development of vocational education in the three places from the aspects of origins of students and employment market, support of local industries, degree of international academic reputation, and so on. And then, we discuss the challenges and historical opportunities of the integrated development of vocational education in the three places. Reflecting on the logic of national conditions in China, this paper explores the potential local action mechanism of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao in the process of promoting the integration of vocational education.

The Brazilian Federal VET network: building the first steps towards internationalization

ABSTRACT. The Brazilian Federal Network of Vocational Education Institutes was created in 2008. The new federal institutes were tasked with offering free education for regions that didn’t have any kind of access for both higher and technical education. Since then 500 new campuses were created and they have enrolled thousands of young people and adults.

In 2011, a new Ministry of Education policy directive on internationalization in Higher Education, the Science Without Borders Program, posed new challenges for these institutes. As a result, the Federal Institutes were forced to develop strategies that may seem at first sight mutually exclusive: to grow in and out of the country.

The international context both in developed and developing countries has been marked in recent decades by the rapid growth of Higher Education (High Participation Systems), perceived by the middle class as a good that can deliver social mobility (Marginson, 2016). In addition, the need for transition to a mass educational system that may broaden the inclusion of youth and adults is also a trend in Latin America (Didriksson, 2008), where new post-secondary educational institutions were created to achieve this growing demand. So, into this new world context, the Federal Institutes in Brazil were designed to be polytechnics linked to a highly interconnected, interdependent and apparently almost hegemonic planet in its educational policies and their financing (Dale, 2000).

This study will report on research on the internationalization process in Brazilian VET Federal Institutes aiming to situate them in the context in which they were created and how they are responding to the challenges of globalization and internationalization of education (Altbach & Knight, 2007). Consideration is given to their unique characteristics in offering of High School/Technical Programs and Higher Education and in undertaking research.

This report used Situational Analysis as an analytical tool and it was based on reviewing documentary sources and on semi-structured interviews of actual and former rectors and international assistants. Emerging findings of this review suggest that the first international experiences may have triggered new strategies for future Federal Institutes partnerships that include: respecting institutional diversity; social technology transfer and innovation; and, building long-term relationships that go beyond the traditional and hierarchical north-south international cooperation.

15:45-17:15 Session 9C: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 3

ABSTRACT. Technological advances reduce the lifespan of specific skills and knowledge and it is necessary for workers to continuously learn and re-learn new skills to keep up with these developments. Like their colleagues in industry, VET teachers need to ensure that they maintain up to date industry specific skills and knowledge (Clayton et al., 2013) in addition to having the appropriate pedagogical skills and knowledge to support the effective learning of their students. In the context of Vietnam, there are no systems or policies in place to ensure the quality of teaching and learning in VET sector nor is there any national professional standards for teaching within VET workforce. This study will: 1. explore quality related issues of VET teaching and learning in Vietnam; 2. identify strategies to improve the quality of VET teaching and learning in Vietnam 3. develop and validate a set of competency standards to assess and monitor the competencies of the VET teaching workforce at various career stages in the Vietnamese VET sector. This study focuses on exploring the key research question “What do Vietnam’s VET teachers need to know and be able to do in order to deliver quality VET teaching?” Research methodology: The study applied a qualitative case study with DACUM workshops, interviews and observations, and finally a Delphi method to validate the data collected. Initial findings: VET teachers develop their competencies through time and experience. Their competencies intersect along their career stages. There is a big difference between novice and expert VET teachers in the way they perform their teaching job. The competencies found in the first workshops with subject matter experts reveal that personal attributes play an important par among all the competencies required of VET teachers in Vietnam. Also, industry currency has been nearly ignored as VET teachers are overloaded with teaching work so they hardly have time to keep their industry expertise updated. Potential significance: Knowing about what VET teachers need to know and be able to do can help VET teachers themselves to self-improve and help VET institution managers, VET policy makers make more practical policies to help improve VET quality teaching throughout the country. Reference: Clayton, B., Jonas, P., Harding, R., Harris, M., & Toze, M. (2013). Industry currency and professional obsolescence: what can industry tell us?. Retrieved from http://vuir.vu.edu.au/22388/6/industry-currency-and-professional-obsolescence-2622.pdf Wheelahan, L., & Moodie, G. (2011). The quality of teaching in VET: final report and recommendations: Australian College of Educators. Vietnamese Prime Minister, V. (2012). Decision No 630-QD-TTg: Approving the Strategy of developing Vocational Education and Training in the period of 2011 – 2020. Hanoi, Vietnam: Vietnamese governement Office. Gillis, S. A. (2003). Domains of VET assessment decision-making. (PhD), The University of Melbourne, Melbourne. Griffin, Nguyen, T. K. C., Gillis, S., & Mai, T. T. (2006). An Empirical Analysis of Primary Teacher Standards in Vietnam. Planning and Changing, 37, 71-92

A political economy of TVET professionalisation: A case study of chefs at a Canadian polytechnic

ABSTRACT. Perceptions continually shift with respect to the status, purpose, and function of technical and vocational education and training (TVET). From an emphasis on potential skills shortages to the establishment of national vocational qualification frameworks, these shifts range from the subtle to the seismic. One significant shift in perception regarding TVET’s purpose and role concerns a seemingly global emphasis on the economic aims of TVET (Winch 2002; Hyland 2007; Anderson 2008; Nilsson 2010; Casey 2012). National policy, public discourse, and the TVET sector are aligning to an underlying assumption that TVET, as skills development, serves to fulfill the need for economic prosperity and productivity (Ashton 1999; Brown 1999; Lloyd and Payne 2002; Lloyd and Payne 2003; Marope, Chakroun and Holmes 2015). This assumption further asserts that TVET enhances national labour market competitiveness in a global economy. Anderson (2008) succinctly captures this dominant position toward the purpose and role of TVET when he states that TVET policy and practice is based on two axiomatic assumptions (p. 118): “[To] promote economic growth by developing the human resources required by industry to increase productivity and profit (training-for-growth); and produce graduates with skills and competencies for work in order to increase their economic output and employability (skills-for-work).”

If the intended outcomes of TVET are training-for-growth and skills-for-work, then the stewards of these outcomes are those who teach in the TVET sector. To that end, do these stewards share a burden of responsibility for economic productivity? Are they even aware of this burden and/or have they been adequately prepared for such a responsibility? In light of these assumptions regarding the status, purpose, and function of TVET, the preparation and continuing development of TVET teachers and trainers merited further study and analysis. Moreover, as preparation and development are often intertwined with professional identity (Robson 1998; Hargreaves 2000; Beijaard, Meijer and Verloop 2004; Beauchamp and Thomas 2009; Mackay 2017), a suitable case for research emerged, linking these elements together. Specifically, my postgraduate research explored how the dominant discourse concerning the status, purpose and function of TVET affected both the professional identity and professional development of TVET instructors.

Using cultural-historical activity theory to study the professionalisation of policing. Towards a framework for professional practice.

ABSTRACT. This paper uses cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) as the theoretical framework to study the professionalisation of policing. The topic of professionalising policing in Canada is an ongoing topic of discourse that is driven by the need to address the complexities of existing and emerging public safety issues. The current structure of police organisations needs to adapt to both internal and external challenges by equipping officers with a rapidly evolving knowledge base that aligns with their unique and specialised powers (Council of Canadian Academies, 2014). Given the context of Canadian policing models, the underlying issue of how to train and accredit police specialists remains largely unexamined.

The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework that maps the elements of CHAT so that it can be used in a substantive analysis of the professionalisation of policing. It uses CHAT tools of subject, object, tools, rules, community and division of labour, within the context of policing. The paper focuses on the intersection of two activity systems familiar in Canadian police models: a) community of practice; and b) the bureaucratic structure of a police organisation. CHAT offers a broad approach to the study of complex systems (Engestrom, 1987, 1999) and is an intriguing theoretical application to the domain of public administration (i.e. policing and military) because it involves an analysis of the systems of learning that take place between professional knowledge and the bureaucracy of a government organisation. The focus of this paper is to develop a research framework that considers the tensions and contradictions that exist within and across various activity systems in policing. The identification of contradictions and how these concepts drive the learning, change, and development in each activity system (Lee & Roth, 2008) are the research data that will be used for the future design of a curriculum for police specialists. Building on the results of this study, the framework will be tested using a case study to critically assess how the application of CHAT facilitates the professionalisation of police.

The legitimacy of policing as a profession rests in developing a better understanding of how to link knowledge and practice. However, because the nature of contemporary policing is predominately viewed as an organisation-based profession where expertise is not formalised independent of the state, advancing the nature of police as a profession has been slow, difficult and complex (Abbott, 1988; Fyfe, 2013; Evetts, 2014).

15:45-17:15 Session 9D: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 4
How can VET close the gender gap and address other inequalities?

ABSTRACT. Gender Gap in VET is apparent as a global challenge in many countries and regions, it indicates a barrier for girls and women integration in Vocational Education and Training (VET) and work, other inequalities are also apparent in education and work. The current paper will discuss from different cases presented within the case of Palestine how can we close the gender gap in VET and Work and address other inequalities. The paper will support the growing account of VET contribution to human development, it will further highlight the link I introduced of VET within Gender and Development (GAD), intersectionality and political economy. The paper draws from cases, qualitative and quantitative data presented in my PhD thesis “The Value of VET in advancing human development and reducing inequality: The case of Palestine”, during my work at University of Nottingham, where over 1,240 people from VET and the labour market participated from 33 VET institutes in Palestine. For the current paper, other representatives from the women organisations in Palestine will be further consulted. I will represent the different inequalities present in Palestine and define them, indicate the effect of VET on different categories desegregated by gender and the marginalised groups, analysing the enabling factors and the structural challenges and barriers. I will present the analysis of the institutional and the policy related measures that addresses gender gap and inequalities and will present accountability measures, learning from the case of Palestine. Hence my paper will contribute to the two themes of Inclusion and Exclusion in VET and policy making in VET, at the 13th JVET Conference.

Indigenous Education and Reconciliation in Canada

ABSTRACT. From 1620 to 1996, Canadian residential schools were a cause for violence, assimilation and the erasure of Indigenous people and culture (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2015b). Despite the role the residential schools have played in Canada’s history, the 2015 report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada highlighted the significance of education in the reconciliation process (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2015a). Among the gaps identified for improvement, access and funding were noted as key areas for improvement (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2015a). Indigenous people remain significantly underrepresented in Canadian higher education where 39% have completed some form of postsecondary education compared to the overall 54% of Canadian postsecondary attainment levels (Restoule, et al., 2013). The research paper examines the response of the Canadian community college sector to the TRCC’s Calls to Action including policy and programming aimed at improving the state of Indigenous inclusion and successful transitioning into higher education.

Theoretical framework

Postcolonial theory provides a framework for understanding colonial legacies and the resulting impacts on settler colonies such as Canada (Kumar, 2009). Postcolonial theory is grounded in social justice pedagogy and as such seeks an equity perspective aimed at understating the realities Indigenous people face on their colonized lands (Kumar, 2009). As such, the theory will provide a lens through which to evaluate the status of higher education in supporting the transition of Indigenous students to community colleges. Further, postcolonial theory will be used to unpack the reasons that underpin the continued exclusion and marginalization of Indigenous students from the community college system.

Research questions

To better understand the issue of access for Indigenous people to community colleges in Canada, this paper explores the impact of the TRCC’s recommendations on the community college sectors in Canada. Further it explores program and policy initiatives that have been implemented, following the TRCC report, to support access and transitioning of Indigenous students into community colleges. Lastly, it examines whether or not these programs and/or policies have produced meaningful inclusion of Indigenous students.

This paper argues that, despite the efforts of the TRCC, the community college sector has struggled to provide adequate support services and transitioning programs for Indigenous students, resulting in the continued exclusion and marginalization of this vulnerable group.

Inclusive vocational education and situation definition

ABSTRACT. Since the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came into force in Germany in 2009, inclusion has also in vocational education and training become increasingly relevant. What is missing so far is a foundation of inclusive VET, namely concerning the micro level of the teaching-learning situations in classrooms. Such shared learning processes represent social action situations. They depend on having a comparable understanding of the underlying situation, i.e. having comparable situation definitions on the basis of the participant’s lifeworld (Lebenswelt) (cf. Habermas 1987). While it is still relatively easy in homogeneous groups to understand and often accept another one’s lifeworld, this process becomes more difficult with the increase of the distance of one’s lifeworld from others. Therefore, one important question that needs to be explored in order to foster inclusive teaching and learning is how teachers (and pupils) can gain access to the understanding (in the sense of comprehension) of disparate lifeworlds. This is the landmark theme of our research. Teachers usually attempt to classify their pupils on the basis of reports, diagnostic instruments etc., which is necessarily subjective. Often this leads to labelling and stigmatization, which impedes the process of inclusion. Another way that could facilitate the pedagogue’s access to the process of understanding are critical situations in the sense of situations in which teachers and learners perceive a lack of comprehension towards others and their intention. In these moments, consciously or unconsciously - according to the assumption - a process of reflection on each other's access to the world begins. The to be presented research tries to investigate these reflection processes to develop a theory of (inclusive learning) situations, explain how to understand other’s lifeworlds and indicates how to teach pupils (and teachers) for such understanding processes, to increase the possibility of common situation definitions and thus inclusive learning processes. By now the first survey phase according to a Grounded Theory oriented approach was completed. In the currently ongoing process of evaluation, first codes were generated. Based on these codes several categories could be worked out and assigned which include i.a. on the one hand basics of recognizing and interpreting other lifeworlds, the externalization of one's own lifeworld and the perception of its limitations as well as recognizing and creating common situation definitions. The presentation will show first aspects of how teacher and pupil understand and externalise their lifeworlds to support inclusive teaching and learning.

15:45-17:15 Session 9E: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 5
Spatial stories of im/possibility: Undergraduate experiences of college-based Higher Education

ABSTRACT. This paper tells the spatial story of ‘local’ Higher Education provision for ‘local’ students, using college-based Higher Education (CBHE) in post-industrial areas of England as an instance of the spatially unequal distribution of Higher Education provision locally, nationally and internationally. The paper situates the experiences of these students within discourses of the ‘local’ or ‘commuter’ student, and the local, rather than global, dual-sector Higher Education (HE) institution. The study that forms the basis of this paper followed a multiple case study design, with two case study institutions. Both institutions were large CBHE providers, each in a post-industrial English town without university provision, and in ‘cold spot’ areas of the country. The findings presented in this paper are based on data from semi-structured static and mobile interviews with students in each case institution, and on ethnographic observations of the institutions’ HE sites. This data has been analysed using a narrative approach informed by de Certeau’s concept of the ‘spatial story’ (1984).

Arguing that narratives of place, space and mobilities intertwine to make particular futures seem possible or unimaginable, the paper focuses in detail on four specific student narratives. In moving between the nuances of the individual narratives and the broader structures that shape them, the analysis offers an insight into the ways that the spatial story can be used as a conceptual tool in the analysis of systemic inequality in vocational HE. In particular, the paper uses this theoretical framing to highlight how CBHE as an instance of dual-sector HE provision occupies a complex position in student experiences. At times it can be seen to offer a chance to maintain an investment in local capital and realise an undergraduate imagined future, where this would not be possible without the provision. At other times, the dominance of traditional university-based HE in societal narratives and in the stratified HE system means that CBHE is experienced as a form of exclusion from university-based HE. The spatial and temporal foci of the study allow a discussion of how inequalities of, for example, social class and race, are mediated through the specificities of the local in each place (Cahill, 2007; Pahl, 2008), and how these combined factors work to delimit and enable particular educational futures.

Female Participation in Vocational and Higher Education Programs for Software Engineering: Much Room for Improvement

ABSTRACT. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields in many countries continue to experience difficulties attracting and retaining women. In the Canadian context only 19% of female STEM graduates work in a STEM intensive field and less than 30% of the Canadians who hold post-secondary STEM credentials are women (Council of Canadian Academies, 2015). The software engineering sector in particular suffers from gender imbalance, which contributes to such issues as design flaws caused by male-dominated teams (Pacelli, 1999; Buolamwini and Timnit, 2018), and persistent discrimination against women within the sector. Enrolment rates within post-secondary institutions reflect the field’s gender imbalance with only 13% of software engineering students being women compared to over 48% in biosystems engineering (Engineers Canada, 2016). This research explores what factors could contribute to these two disparate female participation rates, especially given the persistent high demand for software engineers (Council of Canadian Academies, 2015) and the strong evidence that diverse teams create better software (Sandberg and Scovell, 2013).

This paper examines how dominant norms in engineering education are maintained or challenged by using a Bourdieusian conceptual framework in dialogue with contemporary scholars. Their research which addresses altruism within professional identities (Godwin, Potvin, Hazari & Lock, 2016), the impact of brogramming on software engineering (Ensmenger, 2015), and the ideology of depoliticization (Cech & Sherick, 2015), is examined using Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, field, and capital (Bourdieu, 1996). The paper will shed light on how social change and replication occurs within vocational and higher education engineering programs, and what factors influence the inclusion or exclusion of women in software engineering.

This mixed methods research uses a quantitative analysis of Canadian engineering program enrolment trends 2012 through 2017, combined with qualitative insights gained from interviews with female students in colleges and universities, to provide a comprehensive examination of the factors influencing female participation in software engineering. Preliminary quantitative analysis indicates that the female participation rate in biosystems engineering continues to significantly exceed software engineering’s rate, despite strong enrolment growth in both areas.

The research could help policymakers in vocational and higher education craft policy that attracts women to software engineering and other STEM occupations, and facilitate women’s success in the field. This research will deepen knowledge of the relevant issues and theorise how engineering speciality choices impact female participation.

Insights, risks and limitations: using an ideographic data collection technique to understand non-normative, vocational career routes in education.

ABSTRACT. This study traces the educational life histories of nine female teaching assistants, who entered higher education (HE) as mature students, with an aim to become qualified teachers. Their atypical ‘trajectories’ brought them to HE between 2006 to 2010, where it took between six and nine years to complete their part-time studies. Through the lens of Careership theory (Hodkinson, 2008) and applying a mapping technique to parallel the participants’ school and post-school experiences against educational policy landscape, it is possible to notice how political intervention and change effected the progression of these students. However, it was with the use of a low-directed mapping method of representation (Riuz-Primo et al, 2001), to capture individual perceptions of life satisfaction, that deeper insights occurred. In this case, a self-drawn line across their own educational timeline showed arcs of high satisfaction at the top of the page, with low satisfaction in the lower half of the diagram, forming an ideographic representation. The narratives, told by the participants, as their life satisfaction lines were drawn, raised themes of the importance of ‘being valued’ in educational contexts, with each participant identifying their High School years as problematic, ‘hitting a ceiling’ in their first careers, and significant support from someone who recognised their potential. The timing of experiences and events in their lives were non-linear, family-led and complex, different to what Hughes (in Colley, 2007, p.434) calls the ‘male characteristics of time’ with predicable, linear, career trajectories, on which policy is erroneously based (Hodkinson, 2008). This presentation gives illustrations of how the use and analysis of individual and collective low-directed mapping ideograms enabled these participants to show evidence of ‘endurance and negotiation within their everyday gendered regimes’ (Lee, 2018, p.13) in education and the workplace. Whilst they recognised why many others were not able to make it through the danger, sacrifice and the significant time taken to establish their career routes, they speak wholeheartedly about where they are now, even when that is not in the school classroom.

Colley, H. (2007). Understanding time in learning transitions through the lifecourse. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 17(4),pp.427-443.

Hodkinson, P. (2008). Understanding career decision-making and progression: Careership revisited. John Killeen Memorial Lecture, Retrieved from http://www.crac.org.uk/CMS/files/upload/fifth_johnkilleenlecturenotes.pdf

Riuz-Primo, M. A., Shavelson, R. J., Li, M., & Schultz, S. E. (2001). On the validity of cognitive interpretations of sc. Educational Assessment, 7(2), 99-141.

15:45-17:15 Session 9F: Paper Session
Location: Seminar Room 6
Occupational qualifications for trades in South Africa: the elusive quest to connect education and work

ABSTRACT. Recent policy reforms in South Africa have attempted to address the quality of vocational education through the development of occupational qualifications. Policy makers and documents articulate that the low quality of vocational programmes was strongly related to a weak relationship between qualifications and the world of work. The paper presents some of the preliminary findings of a PhD research project investigating the development of occupational qualifications and their associated curriculum framework for trades in South Africa.

The development of an occupational qualifications and associated curriculum framework occurs through workshops with stakeholders from work and education. An essential part of the process was the development of an occupational profile, the profile was developed through the use of an occupational definition and input from stakeholders regarding the practice of the occupation. Policy documents indicated that the use of an occupational definition from a South African occupational classification system called the Organising Framework of Occupations was an essential part of the process in providing a common language for stakeholders to discuss training requirements. Preliminary findings indicated that the use of the occupational definition in the process was minimal and that the occupational profile had a larger role in the process.

Preliminary findings did reveal that a common understanding (notion) of requirements to practice in an occupation was developed throughout the process of creating the occupational qualification and curriculum framework. This notion of an occupation relies heavily on jobs and tasks that a student must be able to perform to practice in an occupation. The notion of occupation found in this process raises questions regarding the representation of the world of work for the purposes of developing programmes for training. In light of these questions, this paper will show that there are some inherent problems with a notion of occupation limited to the required tasks and jobs to practice. This paper will more specifically argue that the notion of occupation based on jobs and tasks is potentially reductive for both domains of education and work in the context of developing training programmes. This paper will draw on distinctions made by Clarke, L., Winch, C., & Brockmann, M. (2013) between developing occupational capacity and trade skills to analyse the preliminary findings of this PhD research project.

Clarke, L., Winch, C., & Brockmann, M. (2013). Trade -based skills versus occupational capacity: the example of bricklaying in Europe. Work, Employment and Society, 27(6), 932–951.

Recontextualizing Fields in Vocational and Professional Education

ABSTRACT. Access to knowledge is central to education, but how are decisions made about what types of knowledge are foregrounded? This paper investigates the social processes and structures by which knowledge is recontextualized in professional and vocational fields. Drawing on Bernstein’s (2000) pedagogic device, I theorize the nature of the recontextualizing field for engineering higher education (Hordern, 2014). Engineering has a stable knowledge base (Muller, 2009), and yet it has also embraced outcomes-based education at a global scale through the Washington Accord, an international mobility agreement that has coupled the educational systems of more than 20 countries (Hanrahan, 2008).

This paper argues that professional bodies in engineering legitimize ‘official’ knowledge by articulating competencies and learning outcomes that must be taught and assessed. These outcomes are audited through accreditation, where agents of the official recontextualizing field seek to control the process of (double) recontextualization (Shay, 2013). I draw on interviews with more than 20 engineering academics and professional body leaders in Singapore and the UK, and show how individual engineering academics occupy key positions in both pedagogic and official recontextualizing fields.

Engineering academics use their influence in key committees to mitigate attempts to erode the disciplinary knowledge base of engineering in favour of generic competencies demanded by employers (Case, 2014). Preliminary analysis of the impacts of the Washington Accord suggest a global pedagogic device shaping the principles of recontextualization in numerous countries, extending from professional engineers to engineering technicians and technologists through the sibling agreements (Sydney and Dublin Accords).


Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control, and identity: Theory, research, critique. Rowman & Littlefield.

Case, J. M. (2014). Problematizing curriculum: Contemporary debates on engineering education. In J. Muller & M. F. Young (Eds.), Knowledge, Expertise and the Professions (pp. 143–156).

Hanrahan, H. (2008). The Washington Accord: History, development, status and trajectory. In 7th ASEE global colloquium on engineering education (pp. 19–23).

Hordern, J. (2014). How is vocational knowledge recontextualised? Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 66(1), 22–38. https://doi.org/10.1080/13636820.2013.867524

Muller, J. (2009). Forms of knowledge and curriculum coherence. Journal of Education and Work, 22(3), 205–226.

Shay, S. (2013). Conceptualizing curriculum differentiation in higher education: A sociology of knowledge point of view. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 34(4), 563–582.

Exploring the complexities of workplace knowledge: the case of RPL (APEL)

ABSTRACT. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in the South African context differs from its application in the global context. Historically, RPL globally ‘was proposed as an assessment-led practice for establishing the validity of equivalence claims without risking the integrity of academic standards or the public confidence in the institutions offering such qualifications’ (Cooper & Ralphs, 2016, p. 2). RPL, or Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) in the USA and Assessment of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) in the UK, elicits various connotations depending on the country and ideological focus. Internationally, RPL fits within the context of both the discourse of lifelong learning and the provision of labour market opportunities (Ralphs, 2016). In South Africa, the aim of RPL is not merely to promote labour mobility or lifelong learning, but in addition is seen as a tool for transformation and redress (DHET, 2013). This paper is based on the author’s PhD research, which focused on answering the research question ‘[t]o what extent can the RPL process capture the complexity of occupational knowledge?’ Cameron (2014), in her analysis of the relationship between RPL and workforce development, points to the lack of research into the relationship between the RPL and the workplace. The process of researching the practical application of RPL within the workplace, as in the case of this research, provides the opportunity to increase the understanding of the relationship between RPL and the workplace, particularly in terms of the knowledge required. Knowledge, however, is not always easy to define and, within the technically oriented workplace, it is difficult to identify what underpinning knowledge the candidate is required to demonstrate for competence in their occupation.

15:45-17:15 Session 9G: Paper Session
Location: Pusey Room
The Effects of Praise for Intelligence on Students at Risk in Vocational Education

ABSTRACT. Mindset interventions have shown to be effective, not only to improve students’ motivation, but also to improve their level of achievement. Mindset interventions are especially effective for students in difficult situations, for students at risk, and for underperforming students. They also seem to be very efficient for teachers to use, they are rather cheap, are delivered directly to students, and do not hardly change anything about the teacher, classroom or school. So, mindset interventions could be an effective instrument for teachers in VET to improve students’ motivation and achievement. However, recent studies did not succeed in finding a relation between mindset and academic achievement, nor an effect of mindset interventions. In the present study we went therefore back to the original mindset studies and investigated the effect of different kinds of praise on students at risk in VET. First, we measured students’ Mindset and socioeconomic status. Next, we used a similar design as the original mindset studies by Dweck and colleagues. Students first worked on a set of Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM) of moderate difficulty and either received praise for effort, praise for intelligence, or were in the control group. Next, students worked on a very difficult set of Raven’s SPM to provoke a failure experience and we asked them about their failure attributions and task experiences. The last set was of the same difficulty as the first, to measure students’ post failure performance. Based on previous research, we expected to find an effect of the different kinds of praise on students at risk in vocational education. Mainly we expected to find a strong relation between praise on effort and a mastery oriented response for vocational students at risk. This hypothesis was rejected by our results and therefore not in line with Mindset theory. Nor did we find a relation between mindset and performance on the Raven’s SPM. We found that one of the basic assumptions of mindset theory (different kinds of praise leads to different performances) does not apply to all VET students. Possible explanations for our findings will be discussed. So, although mindset interventions are cheap and easy to implement, this study shows that it is necessary to consider whether mindset interventions are effective before teachers and students start working with them. The method we have used can be an instrument to test the efficacy of mindset.

Understanding the Experience of International Community-College Graduates Seeking Employment and Residency in Canada: A Bourdieusian Approach

ABSTRACT. Governments in the developed countries are striving to attract more international students in the hope that many of them will stay on after graduation as skilled immigrants. Ontario colleges of applied arts and technology (CAATs), which are the analogue of further education colleges in the United Kingdom and technical and further education (TAFE) institutes in Australia, offer a wide range of vocational certificate, diploma, and applied-degree programs that can provide international students with an expeditious way to immigrate. Small wonder that the number of international students at CAATs is growing rapidly. In the past 10 years, the percentage of such students increased by more than 400%, as domestic student enrolment declined by about 15%. For most international graduates, the path to residency, and eventually citizenship, in the host country first involves securing employment. The literature tells us that skilled immigrant workers face many systemic barriers that prevent them from using their foreign credentials (Aydermir & Skuterad, 2005; Fong and Cao, 2009; Oreopoulos, 2011; Thomson & Jones, 2016). And even though research on the labour-market outcomes of international graduates is advancing (Bepple, 2014; Chira, 2013; Morris-Lange & Brands, 2015; Nunes & Arthur, 2013), it tends to emphasize university graduates. As a result, the barriers faced by international VET graduates who seek jobs on their host country’s labour market are still not well understood. The purpose of this study is to address this knowledge gap by focusing on international students who graduate from CAATs and then enter the labour market and make a new life in Canada.

‘Achieving Skills’? Discourses of employability and exclusion on an employability programme for pre-vocational learners

ABSTRACT. This paper draws on two years of qualitative research on ‘Achieving Skills’, a pre-vocational ‘employability’ programme for young people designated as NEET (not in education, employment or training), delivered at The Site, a large college of further education in the south of England. It critically examines tutors’ professional practice and the discourses of care and compassion which characterised pedagogy on the programme. Whilst the data suggests that tutors were, at least ostensibly, well-meaning and committed to the welfare of young people on the programme, it also shows they, in the main, accepted dominant discourses of employability and stereotypical assumptions about the academic and personal deficits of NEET young people. Such practices and beliefs manifested themselves in a disproportionate focus on Functional Skills and certain forms of social regulation coupled with a pedagogy focused largely on keeping students ‘busy’ at the expense of more traditional forms of learning, and the acquisition of coherent vocational skill and knowledge. This, it is argued, failed to provide learners with access to their desired progression routes, which consisted largely of ‘mainstream’ academic and vocational programmes, apprenticeships and other forms of established work-related learning. This over-emphasis on student welfare and low-level generic learning, it is argued, only helped reinforce the marginalisation and exclusion of young people on Achieving Skills, a programme intended – at least officially - to equip them with the skills, knowledge, attitudes and dispositions required to succeed in education and employment.

15:45-17:15 Session 9H: Paper Session
The role of education and training in the development of technical elites

ABSTRACT. Education and training systems internationally have sought over an extensive period to provide qualifications to develop highly-skilled industrial workers capable of exercising advanced technical, supervisory and developmental responsibilities. Earlier qualifications research in Europe indicated that firms preferred to promote staff internally, with access to valued occupations determined by internal labour markets rather than formal certification (Mickler 2008; Drexel 1997; Kern and Schuman 1984). More recently, qualifications have increasingly come to emphasise workplace experiences: these may provide greater returns than generic curricula that prepare young people mainly for routine employment roles (Wheelahan and Moodie 2018). This paper reports on a study investigating the way contributions made by qualifications and by informal processes have shifted following changes to the economy and to labour markets, and how this affects transitions into secure and rewarding occupations: • What is the role of education and training in the development of technical elites? • How has this changed over time? • Who is excluded from or disadvantaged by these processes? • What roles for professional educators are valid in these changing processes? Methodologically, it adopts a multiple case-study design (Yin 2003), exploring four diverse occupational areas (including established industries with recognised vocational provision and newer fields of employment in which qualifications are relatively new developments) enabling comparisons between, and commonalities amongst, the individual cases. Data were collected both in employment and educational settings, and included interviews, observations, a survey and documentary evidence such as company policies and documentation. Ethical approval was granted by, the University of Derby, and the conduct of the project was consistent with the BERA ethical guidelines (2018). Emerging data analysis provided evidence of shifts in the methods used to select workers for responsible roles. Qualifications appear to exercise a certain role in the formation of technical elites although this appears to vary across firms and in particular across industries. For example, in established professional environments, such as health, qualifications remain an essential license providing access to fully-credentialed professional roles. In digital industries, educational qualifications can be eclipsed by professional credentials. Whilst both of these areas indicate roles for vocational qualifications unacknowledged in earlier research, we note that many vocational qualifications still prepare young people mainly for low-level roles in the workforce and do not indicate the levels of generalised knowledge that are often required for progression. Apparently serendipitous transitions into work may disguise the operation of powerful factors for social selection.

“You just do what you want to do”: Archives of experience and selecting higher vocational education in Australia

ABSTRACT. This paper examines the take up of Bachelor degree offerings from government-owned vocational institutions in Australia within a heavily marketised, high-participation context and how this compares with the UK context. In contrast to established, often well-regarded higher vocational education settings in many parts of Europe (Graf 2013), Australian vocational education has a historically lower status than higher education. Given its small but increasingly important part of the sector, and given the intersection of VET and HE, very little is known about who takes up these new degree offerings, and the aspirations and archives of experience (Appadurai 2004) that lead them to do so. This is in contrast to the large body of research on HE and career aspirations in Australia, the UK and other European nations (e.g. Gale & Parker 2015; Spohrer, 2016; Baillergeau & Duyvendak 2017). The broader, Australian government funded project on which this work is based intended to discover how these degree offerings are being presented through institutional practices and how they are being received and responded to by prospective and current students, employers, other tertiary institutions and feeder schools.

Using the theoretical contributions of Appadurai (2004) and building on existing work in the field (Henderson 2018; Bathmaker 2016), in this paper we identify a new emerging group in relation to aspirations for higher education (HE). Traditionally, the literature tends to consider two aspirational groups: those with ‘high’ aspirations for HE who seek out high status institutions and courses, contrasted with those from disadvantaged backgrounds often positioned as having no aspirations for HE (e.g. Archer, Hollingworth & Halsall 2007). We identify a third group that draws on a different ‘archive of experience’ and aspirational capacities (Appadurai 2004), privileging subject content over positionality in pursuing HE and the careers that flow.

We argue that the association between HIVE participation and familial traditions of higher education for people studying higher vocational degrees is less clear than it is for traditional university participation in Australia and different to patterns of participation in the UK and European contexts. Specifically, we identify previous experience with post-secondary education and particularly an expressed interested in the subject matter drawing on conceptions of occupational outcomes as particular characteristics of their archives of experience. We conclude that students in the research are ‘cartographers’ in that they are not following an established map but working out their own routes to known destinations.