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Education policy: Mapping the landscape and scope

Edited By Sandra Bohlinger, Thi Kim Anh Dang and Malgorzata Klatt

This book maps recent developments in the landscape of education policy in higher and vocational education, the returns of education, curriculum design and education reforms, driven by social, economic, political and cultural factors. Contributed by over twenty authors from five continents, this collection provides diverse, innovative and useful perspectives on the ways education policy is researched, implemented and enacted. It helps researchers, policy makers, students and practitioners to better understand processes of policy making, its theory, practice and outcomes. Despite national differences, many shared features and challenges emerge from this book as education systems face the common need to reinvent their existing systems and processes.

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The roles and purposes of qualifications, their relationship to the labour market and how this helps to shape educational pathways

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This chapter explores the interaction between postsecondary education qualifications, educational pathways and labour markets. It argues that there is pressure to define qualifications too narrowly in the hope that this will help solve the ‘skills problem’. However, far from solving the skills problem, narrow definitions of the role and purpose of qualifications will instead exacerbate the disconnection between qualifications and the labour market. The chapter outlines three core purposes of qualifications: to enter or upgrade in the labour market; to support access to higher level studies; and to support social inclusion and social mobility by widening participation by students from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, the way that qualifications can serve these three purposes will differ depending on whether qualifications support occupations in occupational, internal or external labour markets. Regulated and unregulated occupations have different relationships to qualifications, and this combined with the extent to which labour market segmentation exists between occupations that are trained by vocational education or higher education, will have an impact on educational pathways. The chapter identifies four types of educational pathways: by whether they have strong or weak links between qualifications within fields of education; by whether qualifications have tight or weak links to occupations; and by whether there are strong or weak occupational pathways within the occupation. It uses the concept of transition systems (Raffe 2008) to explore the links between education and the labour market and how these reflect interrelationships and interdependencies between social and political institutions, the economy and labour market in...

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