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Shaping the Futures of (Vocational) Education and Work

Commitment of VET and VET Research


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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‘Austria 2050’ – Approaches towards Anticipation of Future Education


This chapter is based on a set of activities in Austria that tried to make sense of how VET policy making could and should take into account challenges from ‘the future’. First, some conceptual considerations are presented based on discourses from literature which contrast different approaches of dealing with future challenges and secondly, some experience from discursive attempts in the policy making sphere is presented and discussed. The main message is that despite the big rhetoric about ‘future challenges’ and the conceptual difficulties of dealing with future the available possibilities are utilised to a much lesser degree than possible.

1.  Conceptual Considerations about Anticipation

Education has its purpose mainly in the future, as it tries to influence cognitive, emotional and behavioural traits of people (young, and with lifelong learning increasingly also adult) that turn out not only in the present, but will evolve also somehow into the future (‘non scholae but vitae discimus’). When education was conceptualised, however, during past centuries, the environment was considered rather stable. Education was a humanity based on philosophy and history, and focused on the development of the individual. Then increasingly, nature as a historical asset came into consideration, and the instruments of influencing nature (science and technology) became a contested part of education. Finally, in the 20th century the idea of change in society and economy was increasingly integrated into the thinking about education. One big paradigm for this change was the concept of ‘modernisation’ that emerged as...

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