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Skill Formation Regimes in South Asia

A Comparative Study on the Path-Dependent Development of Technical and Vocational Education and Training for the Garment Industry

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Markus Maurer

In the face of accelerated economic globalisation, many of the industries in economically less developed countries have become more technology-intensive. Skill formation processes, both inside and outside firms, are therefore changing. This study scrutinises such transformations by comparing – from the perspective of historical institutionalism – the skill formation regimes of the garment industries in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It sheds light on the differences between the trajectories of the in-firm skill formation regimes of the two countries, and reveals the important part that varying paths of educational development in both countries have played in shaping these trajectories. At the same time, the study shows how, in both countries, state-led skill formation regimes have been transformed not only by market forces and the growing importance of corporate business interests, but also by the social demand for educational credentials.

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Foreword XXIII

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FOREWORD Skill formation is a highly relevant aspect of economic development and social welfare, particularly so in developing countries. The growth in the economic literature on this subject illustrates the importance of the top- ic. However, this strand of research is generally weak in explaining the development of particular kinds of skill formation systems in develop- ing countries. It is for this reason that this study carefully looks at the historical trajectory of skill formation. With his doctoral thesis, Markus Maurer fosters a specific perspec- tive, arguing that the path of educational development of any given country has important consequences for the structure of its skill devel- opment system. By looking at the rise and development of the garment industries in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, he demonstrates the strong con- nection between educational systems, skill formation and the different modes of production. Furthermore, Maurer shows how the development of the skill formation systems in the two countries has been interrelated with the changing educational strategies of donor agencies, which have – since the late 1980s – given preferential treatment to general educa- tion. In this context, Maurer’s analysis carefully demonstrates how the governments in the two countries have attached importance to the ex- pansion of vocational education from the mid-1990s onwards, notably in contrast to the advice by the World Bank. The author argues that this development needs to be understood as a result of educational expansion and the growing social demand for educational credentials; thus, the growth of the sector of...

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