Shaping the Futures of (Vocational) Education and Work

Commitment of VET and VET Research

by Gabriele Molzberger (Volume editor) Manfred Wahle (Volume editor)
©2015 Edited Collection 260 Pages


Education and work are moving towards an open, but uncertain future. Research on vocational and continuing education constantly needs to reassure the conditions of educational systems, current concepts of VET and work, educational policies, and its own assumptions in ascertaining theory of VET. In this context, modernisation is a significant paradigm. It refers to new ideological, socio-economic, structural and institutional qualities.
This volume analyses interdependencies and complexities of research, politics and practice of vocational, further and continuing education. With contributions from European VET researchers it assembles critical reflective, empirical, cross-cultural and historical perspectives. The volume discusses the dynamic changes of work and education both in regional and global labour markets. Central issues are transformations of vocational education and work, the impacts of gender, ethnicity, culture and globalization as well as the anticipation of possible futures of vocational education and work.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Shaping the Futures of VET: Introduction
  • Learning from History: Changes of (Vocational) Education and Work
  • Vocational Schooling in Elberfeld and Barmen: 1880–1912. Historical and Local Perspectives on Vocational Education and Training
  • Vocational Education and Training in the Early 20th Century
  • Practice and Policies of VET
  • Culture, Cultural Differences and Cultural Education – Analysing Learning and Educational Processes of German-Speaking Expatriates in Transnational Enterprises in China
  • The Notion of ‘Benefits’ in Continuing Vocational Education (CVET) – Towards a Theoretical Pedagogical Understanding and a Heuristic Model for Research
  • Mentoring Vocational Self-Reliance: Lessons from Uganda
  • The Difficulty of Becoming a Successful Learner
  • Methodological Reflections
  • Beyond Comparison: A Global Ethnography of Educational Boundary Work
  • Access, Entry and Researcher-Participant Position: Challenges and Potentials in doing Anthropological Fieldwork in VET
  • Quality Improvement and Transparency in Vocational Education and Training in the Context of Evaluation – A Comparison between Germany and England
  • Futures of VET
  • ‘Austria 2050’ – Approaches towards Anticipation of Future Education
  • Cross-Cultural Perspective in Shaping the Future of Vocational Education
  • Notes on Contributors


Shaping the Futures of VET: Introduction

“Shaping the futures of vocational education and training (VET)” points to complex interrelations of research and practice in the field of work and education. While the self-understanding of VET both as a discipline and as pedagogical knowledge involves questions of upgrading professional knowledge, improving training and learning and democratising the educational system in the vocational sector, the futures of VET are open. Evidently, VET is directly related to work, working life, its culture and ideologies in different historical, national, socio-political, institutional and organisational contexts.

These complexities and the relations between working societies and dynamic changes of work and education both in regional and global labour markets are crucial in discussing possible futures of VET. Therefore the following three topics are embedded in this publication:

  • Learning from history, changes of (vocational) education and work
  • Practice and policies of VET, including the dynamics of gender, ethnicity, culture and globalisation
  • Anticipation of future education, both in the perspective of policy making and in a cross-cultural perspective.

These issues are closely connected to programmatic respectively ideological, structural, organisational and political demands on improving VET which are to be thought of as occurring along a continuum of time. These subjects were also discussed during an international workshop on the futures of (vocational) education and work that took place at the University of Wuppertal in 2012. The workshop was embedded in the tradition of transnational conferences and workshops that have been conducted by the VET & Culture – Research Network since 1993.

Some of the papers presented at the workshop have not been included in this volume, others were taken in additionally. The task of ← 7 | 8 → grouping the contributions has been truly stimulating. The chapters are grouped into three general categories that are identical to the topics mentioned above.

Thus, the first chapter focuses on changes of VET and work in a historical perspective. Looking back to specific historical aspects of VET and work in the context of this volume is based on the following premise: At all times social, economic, political and cultural as well as vocational training phenomena have also been historical phenomena. Today’s society, its composition, its structures and institutions, its potentials and opportunities, as well as its problems and challenges are being handed down by history. Social structures both in present times and in future certainly do not originate from themselves. They are and will surely be influenced by specific historical interests of particular economic groups within the changing terms of contemporary history. They can also be altered by and through these same interests. Just as other tasks of society, VET is affected by history. Its function and its current condition as well as its prospects depend on the one hand on social-economic conditions, and on the other hand on configurations concerning economics, certain interests of different stakeholders, power and training policy, which have been developed through the historical process of constant changes.

In Germany for example, VET has attracted attention at the latest since the beginning of the 19th century. The social, economic and cultural climate of the 19th century enforced new concepts of VET, relatively to progressing industrialisation, the growth of the working class and of social mobility, and evidently according to national-idealistic tradition. In this context special attention was given to the interconnection of VET, demands from the labour-market sectors, models of state and citizenship. Finally, the dual structure of the vocational system has been consolidated since the latter 19th century. Till today, this structure is manifested as the combination of on-the-job-training in a company or at workplaces with theoretical vocational education in a part-time vocational school.

Against this background MANFRED WAHLE looks into local areas of vocational schooling from the 1880s to 1912. The example of developing and institutionalising vocational schooling in the German ← 8 | 9 → neighbouring towns of Barmen and Elberfeld is used as a piece of evidence. While the question of VET in the dynamic process of industrialisation became increasingly important, it also pointed to contemporary normative demands both on social interaction and occupational skills. WAHLE points out that the role and function of the part-time vocational school was linked with socio-political and pedagogical responses on profound social changes in Germany during the period from the latter 19th century to the first decade of the 20th century. As a proof he reconstructs a local picture of vocational schooling. The contribution focuses on vocational schooling in local commercial and trade sectors, the contrast between private and governmental perspectives on the part-time vocational school, the matter of facultative and obligatory part-time vocational school, attendance at school, and social control of the working class-youth in Barmen and Elberfeld respectively in Wuppertal which was one of the biggest industrial regions of Continental Europe in the 18th and 19th century as well as one of the most advanced industrial regions in Germany in the 19th century.

The new model of plant-based VET that is the focus of ESTHER BERNER’s contribution emerged at the turn to the 20th century, hence in the aftermath of growing industrialisation. The modernisation of production processes implicated a new model of the relationship between master and apprentice, employer and employee, and required a new principle of bringing human’s individual aptitudes in accordance with the demands of labour as a challenging issue. In this respect, psycho-technical research and practice were promoted. BERNER tracks the programmes and activities of the Zurich Psycho-technical Institute and the Institute of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Geneva that was the second centre of psycho-technical research in Switzerland at that time. Despite the fact that these institutes were rivals, they offered aptitude tests for private and public schools as well as for companies, job analysis and career guidance. Based on the principles of rationality and efficiency, these activities were linked with the developing of the typical model of industrial VET. While job division was still increasing, systematisation and rationalisation of VET was shifting more and more into the centre of attention. In regard to this fact, BERNER points out the discrepancy between a training concept that suits skill needs of a company and the ← 9 | 10 → lacking reference to the concept of democracy in the discourse on VET and work that was high lightened in psycho-technical perspectives during the 1920s.

Taking into account that analyses of historical incidents promote a better understanding and interpretation of current and future problems, the following chapter could make a compelling case for this thesis. Thus, the second chapter focuses on contemporary practice and policies of VET. In this context STEFFI ROBAK analyses learning and educational processes of German-speaking expatriates in transnational enterprises in China. She points out that no adequately developed concepts for an integrated learning culture framework exist for transnational businesses. Following, theoretic premises for accessing knowledge, culture and cultural differences are developed. As far as these premises form the input for an empirical analysis model, afterwards ROBAK tracks examples of empirical results based on the type of the classical expatriate. These examples are used to substantiate cultural hybrid forming processes that influence working and learning processes and require support by transnational learning cultures. This not at least is a task of further education. Although this kind of further education in German globally operating enterprises in the People’s Republic of China is underdeveloped, the paper states that cultural education and learning are to be seen as part of the learning culture in a broader sense, and they cannot be reduced to the level of cultural differences.

MARION FLEIGE discusses another aspect of adult learning. She addresses the notion of benefits in adult and continuing vocational education (CVET) from a pedagogical perspective. The central argument is that this perspective requires a theoretical, heuristic definition of the term benefits which interrelates benefits, learning outcomes, learning interests, programme planning and the design of learning arrangements. Compatible with this requirement, the paper sustains and differentiates theoretical reflections by exemplary empirical insights into expected and actual benefits of long-term courses expressed by the participants. On this basis, FLEIGE provides a preliminary heuristic definition of the term ‘benefits’ from a pedagogical, adult educational point of view. According to her explorative empirical insights into benefits of a long-term course at the German Chamber of Handicrafts, she argues that the ← 10 | 11 → benefits of continuing vocational education are complex and diverse. Furthermore, FLEIGE calls for cross-country comparative research helping to foster the understanding both of continuing vocational educational processes and needs behind them. As a result of research like this, CVET may be seen as a gateway to an educated person being able to find expedient ways through the present jungles of benefit-regimes and assumptions build around work, labour markets and sustainable life styles.

LIV MJELDE discusses the lessons learned from developing a Masters programme in vocational pedagogy in cooperation with colleagues and students from Uganda and Southern Sudan. This is in context with the Norwegian Masters programme (NOMA-SIU) that was financed by Norwegian development aid. The programme started in 2007 and was finished in December 2013. Concerning the development of this programme at Kyambogo University in Kampala, Uganda, MJELDE was the project leader from 2007 till 2011. She looks into the question of the complexity of VET in Europe, and relates it to the situation in Africa. Her central conclusion in this respect is that there are similarities between vocational traditions in Europe and indigenous knowledge traditions in Africa. On the basis of what is considered to be important and unimportant concerning vocational education and with it apprenticeship learning in Europe and Africa, MJELDE calls for more attention to be paid to the contradictions in educational science in Uganda as they are in Europe, Latin America and Asia. She calls for more reflection of European researchers and programme developers on handling the problem of mentoring vocational self-reliance in the South respectively in Africa, and in this respect she asks, if decolonising the mind was a useful concept for developing critical analytical minds in both North and South. Against this background the contribution looks into developing a Masters programme in vocational pedagogy at Kyambogo University, Uganda, the inherent contradictions of this project and the everyday life of the programme that started in February 2009 with 14 students from Uganda and 7 students from South Sudan.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2015 (April)
Elberfeld Barmen Austria 2050 Educational policies Vocational education
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 260 pp., 15 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Gabriele Molzberger (Volume editor) Manfred Wahle (Volume editor)

Gabriele Molzberger is a professor for vocational and continuing education and academic director of the Centre for Continuing Studies at Bergische University of Wuppertal. Her fields of research comprise: concepts of vocational education and informal learning; europeanisation of educational policies and continuing higher education. Manfred Wahle is a professor for vocational pedagogy at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. His research interests include: the history of vocational education; theories and concepts of work, social change and its impact on vocational education; didactics of vocational education; professional competence of VET teachers; and evaluation of transnational projects in the field of vocational education and practice.


Title: Shaping the Futures of (Vocational) Education and Work
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
book preview page numper 39
book preview page numper 40
257 pages