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wbv   Bundesverband der Lehrerinnen und Lehrer an Wirtschaftsschulen e.V.




Geoff Hayward (SKOPE, University of Oxford)

Vocationalism and the decline of vocational learning in England

This paper will argue that whilst the expansion of the 14-19 education and training system in England has been primarily driven by a form of instrumental Vocationalism the outcome has been a decline in the quantity and quality of vocational learning on offer to young people. Following a brief outline of the qualification and institutional frameworks for vocational education and training (VET) the ultimate and proximate goals of education and training policy are described. Data is then presented which indicate that whilst a key policy target is to increase the supply of intermediate vocational and technical skills, especially to meet skills shortages in traditional manufacturing and construction sectors, participation in vocational learning has actually declined over the last twenty years. Furthermore, where there has been some growth in vocational learning this has occurred within the schools system as a result of expansion of learners taking weakly vocational programmes. Either such programmes, and the qualifications obtained as a result of participating in them, have limited value in the labour market (as judged by rates of return analyses) or young people are participating in them for the purposes of progressing to Higher Education. The long term result is likely to be a hollowing out of the skills profile, with graduates having to fill the intermediate and technical vocational skills gap, rather than, say, learners graduating from rigorous apprenticeship programmes.