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Vocational Education beyond Skill Formation

VET between Civic, Industrial and Market Tensions


Edited By Fernando Marhuenda-Fluixá

Vocational education and training has played an important role in the struggles between Work and Capital along history and today; there are examples of such tensions worldwide. The first section of this book provides illustrations of different countries from the 18th to the early 20th century. The authors explain and exemplify the education of the workforce and its political engagement, contributing to the formation of the working class. The chapters provide relevant approaches to how young apprentices and adult workers developed a class consciousness through vocational education. The second section illustrates practices of resistance and transformation within policies and practices of vocational education nowadays in Central and Southern Europe and South America, addressing the needs of people with disabilities and dispossessed populations. The final section analyses how theories and policies intertwine resulting in the idiosyncrasy of vocational education practices across the world, through tensions between logics and institutional actors. The book addresses the political dimensions of Vocational Education and problematizes its mere consideration as an instrumental tool in skill formation.

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An Ambiguous Identity: The Figure of the Apprentice from the XIX Century up to Today in Switzerland (Lorenzo Bonoli)


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An Ambiguous Identity: The Figure of the Apprentice from the XIX Century up to Today in Switzerland

1.  Introduction

One of the main features of the Swiss Vocational Education and Training (VET) system is the high rate of young people choosing after obligatory schooling a dual-track apprenticeship, organized partly in a training company and partly in a vocational school. The percentage of young people choosing this kind of education is 61%, as against a European average of 14% (OECD 2012). This type of vocational education is well established in Switzerland, with a long history, good employment opportunities and social recognition.

In Switzerland, as in other European countries, the current model of dual-track apprenticeship comes directly from the traditional apprenticeship that developed in the context of the medieval guilds. After the abolition of the guilds and the development of industrialization, this model of on-the-job training evolves during the last decade of the XIX century and the first decades of the XX century into the modern dual-track model that combines, under state control, on-the-job training in the company (3–4 days per week) with school classes at school (1–2 days per week).

Even though this model of VET seems to be successful in Switzerland and has such a long tradition, it is surprising to observe that the figure of the apprentice remains highly ambiguous.

What is an apprentice? A learner, a worker or...

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