Tag: vocational education

Hedda podcast: Party politics and political economy of the welfare states


Professor M. Busemeyer (University of Konstanz)

Episode 47 of our podcast series features Prof. Marius Busemeyer (University of Konstanz).

In the podcast, he discusses some of the key findings from his recent book “Skills and Inequality. Partisan Politics and the Political Economy of Education Reforms in Western Welfare States”. Summarising key aspects of how skill regimes have developed in europe, he further reflects on what he as a researcher found as the most interesting finding and shares his thoughts on the practical implications of his research.

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Prof. Marius Busemeyer is Professor of Political Science at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz. He received his PhD in political science from University of Heidelberg in 2006. Between 2006 and 2010 he worked at Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany. He further received his Habilitation in Political science at University of Cologne in 2010. From 2011 he has worked as a professor at University of Konstanz where he is a head of department in Politics and Public administration since 2014. In 2010, he received a grant from German National Science Foundation (DFG) (Emmy-Noether Program) for his work on “The Politics of Education and Training Reform in Western Welfare States”, and in 2012 he received the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. His main research interests are in the area of comparative political economy, welfare states, public spending, social democratic parties and theories of institutional change.


Guest blogger: The hybridization of vocational training and higher education in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland

Dr. Lukas Graf  (Universoty of Luxembourg)

Dr. Lukas Graf
(University of Luxembourg)

This guest entry is written by Dr. Lukas Graf who works at the Institute of Education and Society (University of Luxembourg). Previously Lukas was a research fellow at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center where he studied the changing relationship between vocational training and higher education in international comparison.

The post draws on a recent book: Graf, L. (2013) The Hybridization of Vocational Training and Higher Education in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Opladen/Berlin/Toronto, Budrich UniPress. Click here to download the book for free

This guest entry looks at institutional changes in the relationship between vocational education and training (VET) and higher education (HE) in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. It is quite common for foreign observers to praise these three countries for the quality of their VET systems. All three countries are part of the “collective skill system cluster” (Busemeyer and Trampusch 2012) and are renowned for their extensive dual apprenticeship training systems at upper-secondary level.

Dual apprenticeship training distinguishes itself from vocational training in most other European countries as it integrates training in schools and companies on the basis of extensive mediation and coordination between the state, employers, and labor representatives. In this “dual corporatist” model, practical vocational training plays a more dominant role than academic, general education – at least when compared to the two other “classic” training models, the “liberal market economy” model (e.g., in the United Kingdom) and the “state-regulated bureaucratic” model (e.g., in France) (Greinert 2005).

However, in recent years Austria, Germany, and Switzerland have also faced increasing criticism regarding the lack of permeability they provide between VET and HE. That is, as well as having an extensive system of dual apprenticeship training, there is also a historically evolved strong institutional divide between the fields of VET and HE in all three countries. In analyzing the case of Germany, Baethge (2006) has referred to this institutional divide as an “educational schism.” In fact, it can be argued that the education systems of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland are made up of two separate organizational fields, one for VET and one for HE. Over the past decades this institutional divide has been increasingly called into question. For example, the demand for skills in the workplace has changed towards more general analytical skills and away from narrowly defined job-specific skills, which challenges the main emphasis of vocational education and training practices. Furthermore, the rise in the level of average skill requirements in the service economy and knowledge society, as well as the rise in young peoples’ educational aspirations, call for greater permeability between the fields of VET and HE.

EU focus on youth unemployment – can vocational education save Southern Europe?

EUThe current economic crisis has had wide spread effects and one can frequently hear talk about the lost generations of youth who were hit particularly hard. Recent CEDEFOP skills forecasts indicate a rather slow growth, even when following the more optimistic scenarios. According to the baseline scenario, the EU27 countries can expect to return to pre-crisis levels between 2017 and 2018, according to the pessimistic scenario they would still be below crisis levels in 2025.

Furthermore, the predictions also include a gradual but constant increase of people working in high skilled sectors, and even low-skilled sectors are expected to increase in complexity. But also these predictions refer to the issues with youth unemployment, indicating the urgency of the issue.

In July 2013, the European Alliance for Apprenticeships was launched, marking the EUs increased interest in combating youth unemployment. Apprenticeships are seen as a key aspect of promoting new arenas for learning and facilitating employability.

At a CEDEFOP conference earlier this summer, the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Androulla Vassiliou explained some of the rationales, highlighting strong EU involvement in the area