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History of Vocational Education and Training in Europe

Cases, Concepts and Challenges


Edited By Esther Berner and Philipp Gonon

Understanding today’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems requires a comprehension of the rise and development, i.e. of the foundations of topical VET. This book provides a comparative view of its development in Europe. The contributions of renowned authors give insight into conceptual questions, cases and challenges in this field.

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Explaining Diverging VET Systems and Approaches in the Post-War Construction Sector: The Examples of Britain and the Federal Republic of Germany


Abstract: Through the example of the construction sector, the paper seeks to explain the sharp divergence in the two systems of vocational education and training (VET) in Britain and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) through the social relations and wage systems on which each was constructed, denoting the very different nature of wage relations. In the British case, in the post-war years construction labour was increasingly regarded as a commodity, a form of property, or what Biernacki (1995) termed “embodied labour”, paid according to its output, whose reproduction was not regarded either by the employers or the state as their own responsibility, despite the 1964 Industrial Training Act. In contrast in the FRG, labour was employed as “labour power”, for its capacity rather than its output, whose development was inevitably a shared responsibility of the state and the social partners, as embodied in the 1969 regulations. For the VET systems this meant that in the FRG different qualification levels, each associated with a particular quality of VET, were recognised through wage, whilst in Britain the increasingly unregulated wage was indifferent to skills and qualification and hence divorced from VET. The nature of VET essentially rests on the wage relations in place.

1.  Introduction

After the Second World War, the British Government sent a delegation of the Trades Union Congress to Germany in order to advise German colleagues concerning the industrial relations system to be established in the western zones of occupation. The British...

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