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13 February 2020

New issue of Transfer on vocational education

The financial crisis has left Europe with severe labour market mismatches which in some countries lead to high unemployment, especially among young people without higher education degrees. Although there seems to be a widely accepted consensus that skills needs are changing, there is no agreement on how the education systems should respond. A solution that has proved its effectiveness in the past is dual vocational education and training (dual VET) – a form of education in which students combine school with in-company training and this way acquire skills relevant to the labour market they will be joining.

Countries with dual training have lower rates of youth unemployment.  Given the fact that this system requires high levels of coordination between the public and private sector, within the private sector and between employer and employee representatives, it has been a feature of only a few European economies with well-established corporatist institutions such as Germany.

This edition of Transfer looks at the issue of dual VET from different angles. The introductory article by Vera Šćepanović and Antonio Martín Artiles gives an overview of the ways in which different European countries have adapted their systems of vocational training in response to the more or less direct impact of Europeanisation.

Simone Haasler indicates, in her article, that in Germany – the country with the most famous model of dual training in the EU, the tension between different social functions of dual VET is at the heart of debates on how to reform the system. She points out that access to dual VET training is not only uneven on gender grounds – it is more common in male dominated sectors - but it is also based, and increasingly so, on high levels of achievement and thus exclude students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Both articles can be downloaded free of charge from the SAGE website.  Temporarily, another interesting article will be made available for free download until 13 March. The article, written by Patrick Emmenegger and Lina Seitzl, gives an insight into the organisation of systemic governance of dual vocational training in Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. There is an important variation between the countries reflected above all in the degree of inclusion of social partners, especially trade unions, at various levels of governance.

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