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2015 - 59th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society Words: 725 words || 
1. Austin, Jacqueline. "Bridging the academic-vocational divide. Can vocational education and training deliver the skills for the 21st century Caribbean labour market?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 59th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington D.C., Mar 08, 2015 <Not Available>. 2019-09-23 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: For decades economists have been grappling with the fact, that human knowledge, skills and capabilities are important components of production. According to the tenets of human capital theory, education can allegedly serve to address diverse social, political and economic challenges (Winch, 2012). Skills are therefore assumed to be the answer to youth unemployment, income inequalities, failure to engender innovation and creativity, low technological use and weak entrepreneurial activity. Despite these lofty claims made for education by human capital theorists, it is evident that skills do perform an important function within any society and economy. Skills allow persons to become engaged in production reducing the risk of unemployment and disengagement from the labour market (Descy et al, 2013). There is growing evidence of a skills mismatch in various countries and across sectors (Green & Mcintosh 2007;Brown; Lauder and Ashton, 2011). Skills shortages not only affect individuals but also have a negative impact on firms which may have to adopt technologies in an effort to address skills shortages.
The state in developed and developing countries has conducted ongoing experiments with various policy instruments such as competency based standards, modularized curricula, quality assurance standards, levies, skills councils, apprenticeships, transfer of credits and industry participation in VET to address the challenges of VET coordination (Chappell 2003). Technical vocational education and training (TVET) has therefore been a favoured policy instrument for social, political and economic engineering by policymakers internationally. This paper therefore explores three questions. First, how has the state in various countries sought to address the challenges of VET coordination? Second, in seeking solutions, which instruments used by the state appear more or less effective? Third, how is VET coordinated within the context of small-island developing states paying attention to what challenges are presented and the responses used.
Bosch and Charest (2008) argue that the understanding of VET systems rests in the examination of labour markets, industrial relations systems and national economic production. Drawing from the varieties of capitalism discourse, Busemeyer and Trampusch (2012) make a seminal contribution of a four type typology to explain the variety of skill formation systems. Ideal types of liberal market, segmentalist, statist and collectivist are employed by the authors to specifically analyze collectivist skills regimes in German and other Nordic countries. This framework presents four crucial questions in order to determine who controls, provides and pays for VET. These authors also underscore examination of the relationship of general education to VET. However, these questions are insufficient to fully address the complexities of VET in developing states. Developing states are by no means diminutive versions of larger states and therefore this framework is extended to examine VET in the Caribbean context. Moreover, Thelen (2004), criticizes the superficial perspective of examining skill formation institutions based on their current function and their use by powerful actors. She contends that institutions have their genesis deeply embedded in historical circumstances. Therefore, following Thelen (2004), this paper also takes into consideration, some critical junctures in Caribbean VET institutions which contribute to the trajectory from institutional creation to institutional evolution.
This research project drew data from a series of 75 semi-structured expert interviews with key stakeholders in government, the private sector, trade unions and education and training in the two Caribbean countries of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. The data were analyzed thematically and the results show that the state in the two Caribbean countries, are also grappling with the implementation of various VET policy instruments. Taking into account the similarities and differences of older VET models, some innovations and successes were noted in the coordinating agencies, levy system, national qualification frameworks and competency based education. However, the low status of VET in the Caribbean is compounded by the prevailing post-colonial residue and other challenges include, weak links to the labour market and inadequate resources. Weak coordination between the state, employers and unions also inhibit effective implementation of VET strategies.
This paper adds to the discourse of non-European models of VET and the innovations and challenges presented within developing countries. The study also has a pragmatic dimension in its contribution to policy making. It is envisioned that it will shed light on the offerings of VET, the currency of qualifications in the labour market and the reforms that should be implemented after careful consideration of comparative strengths and weaknesses of VET policy from other parts of the world.

2014 - Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference Words: 497 words || 
2. Wedekind, Volker. "Curriculum responsiveness and employability in vocational education: Policy and practice in South Africa's vocational system" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mar 10, 2014 <Not Available>. 2019-09-23 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: In the context of a growing global problem of youth unemployment and critiques of the dominant focus on basic literacy and numeracy within the Education for All approaches to education, the emerging post-2015 development agenda is seeing a re-emergence of vocational education as a key part of a quality education system. Human capital theory continues to loom large. However, the systems of vocational education in many countries are perceived to be in crisis, often being viewed as unable to respond to the needs of employers and thus not ensuring the employability of the graduates. This paper explores the discourses of ‘responsiveness’ and ‘employability’ through an analysis of the case of South Africa post 1994. The purpose of the paper is to raise some concerns about this emerging focus on vocational education for the debates around the post-2015 agenda.

In the 20 years since the first democratic elections, South African education policy has emphasised the development of a vocational system that is responsive to employers. While there has been extensive research on the schooling system (and its failures), there has been very little attention given to the vocational system. The paper firstly analyses the policy documents and processes that have shaped the vocational education system by exploring the ‘modes of justification’ used in those policies. ‘Modes of justification’ refers to a theoretical framework developed by Luc Boltanski and colleagues for understanding the internal logics of particular polities/cities. This is used as a basis for comparison with countries with different vocational education systems such as Germany, Anglophone countries, and Brazil. The impact of the policies on the field are then tracked across the 20 years and periodised. In particular, the experiences of the teachers in the system are documented, based on interviews conducted in a series of linked research projects. A secondary focus on curriculum reforms and what informed these highlights the problematic consequences of placing too much emphasis on the notion of being responsive primarily to employer needs. This relates to the debates about the skills (both hard and soft) or capabilities required by learners, as well as the external factors (in the labour market and economy more generally) that enable or constrain employability. In a context like South Africa many of the processes linked to employment are not directly educational, and yet education is viewed as both the problem and the solution to the unemployment puzzle. By viewing vocational education in this way the policy makers have subjected vocational education institutions to ongoing reform that has not yielded results and has placed unrealistic expectations on teachers in the system.
The paper concludes by examining what alternative notions of responsiveness entail that take greater account of the complex nature of employability.

The paper provides a basis for further comparative work and speaks to the debates about the focus of future global education initiatives. A case is made for retaining a strong educational orientation to vocational education in order for it not to become narrowly instrumental in the post-2015 discussions.

2015 - 59th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society Words: 675 words || 
3. Xiong, Jie. "Vocationalism and Mass Higher Education: A Study of Students in Higher Vocational Education in China" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 59th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington D.C., Mar 08, 2015 <Not Available>. 2019-09-23 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: 1. Objectives or purposes of the paper: The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of vocationalism on Chinese society by examining its impact on students at vocational and technical colleges in China. It is hoped that findings of the proposed research will help people understand how globalization has influenced Chinese higher education and society. It may also help policymakers in China identify areas that need adjustment in higher vocational education to benefit students and institutions.
2. Main Perspective or theoretical/conceptual framework utilized: The core belief of vocationalism is that formal schooling should prepare the workforce for national and global economies (Grubb, 2006; Grubb & Lazerson, 2004, 2005; Hayward, 2004). As a neoliberal ideology, vocationalism has an impact on how higher education develops in the era of globalization. First, vocationalism has driven higher education towards a focus on workforce preparation (Currie, 2004; Wagner, 2004). Furthermore, vocationalism has resulted in higher education expansion, with non-university diversified higher education institutions developing rapidly (Grubb, 2006). Moreover, vocationalism has been accompanied by growing inequity in higher education in terms of high tuition and less upward mobility (Currie, 2004; Grubb & Lazerson, 2005;Wagner, 2004). Additionally, vocationalism has been critiqued for its narrow curricular focusing on occupational skill learning and neglect of the humanities and critical thinking ability (Grubb & Lazerson, 2004, 2005; Ryan, 2003).
3. Analytical methods, research design, or modes of inquiry: The proposed research is an empirical study on impacts of vocationalism on students at vocational and technical colleges in China. Research questions are: Who are those students studying at vocational and technical colleges? Why do they choose these colleges? How do they get admission to vocational and technical colleges? Do they have chance to move up to undergraduate study? What do they learn at vocational and technical colleges? And are they satisfied with what they learn?
4. Data sources or evidence: In order to find answers, I conducted questionnaire surveys and student interviews at a vocational and technical college in Mainland China in late 2010 and early 2011. The field research was approved by the University Research Ethics Board and funded by China Institute at the University of Alberta. Data for the proposed research mainly include interview texts and completed questionnaires.
5. Results and/or conclusions: Vocationalism has exerted profound influences on students at vocational and technical colleges in China. First, students studying at vocational and technical colleges are mainly prepared for work. Second, students studying at vocational and technical colleges are facing the issue of inequality in terms of high tuition and less upward mobility. Third, students at vocational and technical colleges are focusing on occupational skill learning, in which moral values and critical thinking ability are neglected.
6. Significance of the study to the field of comparative or international education: Higher vocational education in China is a rarely addressed topic in literature of educational research published in English. Unquestionably, my proposed research will contribute to comparative education by bridging such a gap. Moreover, the proposed research will enrich knowledge of higher education in the world within the context of globalization.
Currie, J. (2004). The neo-liberal paradigm and higher education: A critique. In J. K. Odin & P. T. Manicas (Eds.), Globalization and higher education (pp. 42–62). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i Press.
Grubb, W. N. (2006). Vocationalism and the differentiation of tertiary education: Lessons from US community colleges. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 30(1), 27–42. doi:10.1080/03098770500431973
Grubb, W. N., & Lazerson, M. (2004). The education gospel: The economic power of schooling. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Grubb, W. N., & Lazerson, M. (2005). The education gospel and the role of vocationalism in American education. American Journal of Education, 111(3), 297–319. doi:10.1086/429112
Hayward, G. (2004). Foreword: A century of vocationalism. Oxford Review of Education, 30(1), 3–12. doi:10.1080/0305498042000190032
Rust, V. D. (2003). Editorial: Method and Methodology in Comparative Education. Comparative Education Review, 47(2), iii-vii.
Ryan, P. (2003). Evaluating vocationalism. European Journal of Education, 38(2), 147–162. doi:10.1111/1467-3435.00135
Wagner, P. (2004). Higher education in an era of globalization: What is at stake? In J. K. Odin & P. T. Manicas (Eds.), Globalization and higher education (pp. 7–23). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i Press.

2010 - NCA 96th Annual Convention Pages: unavailable || Words: 13301 words || 
4. Gabor, Elena. "Music is Important, but Don’t Go into Music: Paradoxes in Vocational Socialization Messages of Classical Musicians" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the NCA 96th Annual Convention, Hilton San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, Nov 13, 2010 Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2019-09-23 <>
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This study focused on vocational socialization experiences of teenage classical musicians who have a parent working as a classical musician and earning at least half of their income from classical music. By applying theoretical concepts such as memorable messages, this study examined how musicians in Generation Y made sense of socialization messages from parents regarding the meaning of work and careers in music and what they learned about the business aspects of a musical career.

2009 - 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions Words: 330 words || 
5. Blondin, Magnus. "From Risk Management to Risk Consciousness: Vocational Training of Future Fire Fighters in Sweden – A Profession in Transition" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 4S Annual Meeting - Abstract and Session Submissions, Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Crystal City, VA, <Not Available>. 2019-09-23 <>
Publication Type: Abstract
Abstract: The fire fighter occupation is traditionally associated with masculinity and risk, which in turn have constituted fire fighters’ professional identity. Most people still associate fire fighters with screaming sirens, fire engines at high speed and brave fire fighters who defy hazards in the course of rescuing others. However, it can be questioned whether fire fighting really is fire fighters’ predominant undertaking.

The paper investigates the vocational training of fire fighters from an interactive perspective. The prospective fire fighters meet different impressions of fire fighter practices, prior, during and after they have completed their training. The paper addresses how new fire fighters form and maintain their professional identity and develop a professional competence in an era of occupational transition towards what can become a new working role.

Recognizing that humans, material goods and the environment all suffer in the course of seemingly unnecessary accidents, the Swedish parliament legislated in 2003 the law for protection from accidents (Lagen om skydd mot olyckor 2003:778). The law stipulates a municipal action plan guiding how the fire fighting departments should carry out extensive preventive work in order to achieve safer municipalities. The law also stipulates that the fire fighting departments should learn from accidents, contributing to a continuous learning process in order to increase societal safety.

In 2003, the Swedish Rescue Services Agencies started a new vocational training program (Skydd mot olyckor, SMO), providing a major vehicle for changing fire fighting practices in line with the new legislation. The new two-year program is called protection from accidents. The program has substantial theoretical and practical risk components, preventive strategies in addition to a more craft oriented training of skills for rescue work. One effect of this new vocational training is that there is a way of talking and regarding fire fighters as “old fire fighters” or new “SMO-fire fighters”. However, in practice it is still the individual municipal fire fighting departments, which determines the desired competence of new fire fighters they hire through on-site training and secondary socialization.

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