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Shaping the Futures of (Vocational) Education and Work

Commitment of VET and VET Research


Edited By Gabriele Molzberger and Manfred Wahle

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.
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Access, Entry and Researcher-Participant Position: Challenges and Potentials in doing Anthropological Fieldwork in VET


One of the students, Poul, and I are working on similar wooden structures. The teacher explains to us what to do, but Poul still asks me for advice afterwards. It is hard for me not to take control. I explain where I think the cut is to be made, but unfortunately it was wrong, so Poul has to start all over again with his structure. (Fieldnotes, the basic programme of carpentry, 2011)

1.  Introduction

This article reports on methodological experiences obtained in an anthropologically inspired qualitative study among students of carpentry in Denmark. In order to shed light on the current state of the Danish VET system, which is dominated by the high dropout rate, I wanted to take the students’ perspective as the starting-point of my study. Thus I enrolled myself on the basic programme of carpentry and followed the first five weeks of the programme. A similar approach has been used in a few Danish VET studies focusing on dropout (Grønborg 2011; Sørensen 2009) and on the construction of identity and masculinity among VET students (Hansen 2009). However, students’ perspectives are still somewhat neglected in VET research, and my research, unlike that mentioned above, broadly aimed at learning and understanding how students experience their teachers and the culture of the programme, and how the acquisition of a professional identity takes place. I believed knowledge of these issues would offer valuable insight into the functioning of the VET system. While these...

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