This discussion paper introduces the overarching concepts for the three-year research program, 'Vocations: the link between post compulsory education and the labour market'. The paper also outlines the key findings from the initial investigations of each of the related research strands in the program. Overall, initial research has found that, due to the fragmentation of pathways within education and within the labour market, the relationship of pathways between education and the labour market are also fragmented. In order to understand this more clearly, the authors explore the concepts of transition systems, skill ecosystems and capabilities. A number of dilemmas for further research are also put forward.
A recording of the webinar Revitalising the ‘vocational’ in flows of learning and labour held on 23 May 2013 is available for viewing from our Webinar series page.
About the research
This discussion paper introduces a three-year research program, 'Vocations: the link between post-compulsory education and the labour market', which is investigating both the educational and occupational paths that people take and how their study relates to their work. The program also explores the notion that a new conceptualisation of 'vocation' would be useful in improving the way the links between education and the labour market operate. The researchers hope that the research program will produce an operational definition of 'vocation' and 'vocational stream'. They have in mind an amalgam of the alternative dictionary definitions of vocation as: a mission to engage in a line of work; and a synonym for an occupation. Thus a vocational stream in, say, health would encompass occupations from aged care, to nursing, to medical specialities.
The research program comprises three different strands: entry to the labour market from school; pathways within tertiary education and within the labour force; and the nature of vocations in the labour market.
This paper outlines the key findings from the initial investigations of each of the research strands covering:
- Transition systems and deepening capability: the impact of the economy and social institutions on education; skills ecosystems; transition systems with an employment or educational logic; capability; and rethinking overseas vocational qualifications.
- Dilemmas: Year 12 is no longer enough; rethinking VET in Schools; is any job better than none?; the loose fit between work and qualifications; intermediate skills; pathways within tertiary education; and how vocational pathways can be constructed within vocational streams.
The paper ends with a number of issues to be investigated in the subsequent stages of the project:
- strengthening VET in Schools
- strengthening the development of intermediate skills in order to meet the requirements for higher-skilled workers
- developing the notion of capability to link education and general personal development with employment and broader social participation
- examining the structures and processes that build trust between educational institutions and sectors, between employers and labour sectors, and between education and work.
Managing Director, NCVER
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