Understanding Vocational Education in Industrialized Countries

[We’re pleased to welcome Nuria Rodriguez-Planas. Nuria published an article in ILR Review in March  2015, entitled 14138116143_b385d032d2_z“A Road Map to Vocational Education and Training in Industrialized Countries” with co-authors Werner Eichhorst, Ricarda Schmidl and Klaus F. Zimmermann.]

Our contribution to the ILR Review was motivated by a background study of IZA contributing to the Worldbank’s World Development Report on Jobs in 2013. We started from the observation that young people have been among those most affected by the 2008/09 financial crisis and its aftermath in many world regions. While the recession led to steep increases in youth unemployment, policies aimed at stimulating labor demand do not fully tackle the root of the problem. Rather, we also need to understand the institutions governing the transition from school to work. Vocational education and training (VET) is often viewed as the silver bullet for the youth joblessness problem. In ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointthis article, we provide a better understanding of VET in industrialized countries, proposing a typology with three types of vocational systems: 1) vocational and technical schools, 2) formal apprenticeships, and 3) dual apprenticeship systems that combine school training with a firm-based approach. We first describe the strengths and challenges of each system. Then we review the evidence of the effectiveness of VET versus general education and the relative effectiveness of the different VET systems. In our view the results indicate that VET is a valued alternative beyond the core of general education and that the use of apprenticeships combined with institutional learning tends to be more effective than school-based VET. Hence, improving the performance of VET can be one element of a medium-run solution to difficult school-to-work transitions.

The abstract for the paper:

Young people have been among those most affected by the recent financial crisis. Vocational education and training (VET) is often viewed as the silver bullet for the youth joblessness problem. In this article, the authors provide a better understanding of VET in industrialized countries, proposing a typology with three types of vocational systems: 1) vocational and technical schools, 2) formal apprenticeships, and 3) dual apprenticeship systems that combine school training with a firm-based approach. They first describe the strengths and challenges of each system. They subsequently review the evidence of the effectiveness of VET versus general education and the relative effectiveness of the different VET systems. Results indicate that VET is a valued alternative beyond the core of general education and that the use of apprenticeships combined with institutional learning tends to be more effective than school-based VET.

You can read “A Road Map to Vocational Education and Training in Industrialized Countries” from ILR Review free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from ILR ReviewClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Image attributed to UC Davis College of Engineering (CC)

*Werner Eichhorst is affiliated with IZA. Núria Rodríguez-Planas is affiliated with Queens College of CUNY and the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). Ricarda Schmidl is affiliated with the University of Mannheim and IZA. Klaus F. Zimmermann is affiliated with IZA and Bonn University. We thank Costanza Biavaschi, Corrado Giulietti, Michael Kendzia, Alexander Muravyev, Victoria Finn, and Janneke Pieters for their input and support. Inquiries can be directed to nrodriguezplanas@gmail.com or Eichhorst@iza.org.

Book Review: Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs

Pedigree BookLauren A. Rivera : Pedigree: How Elite Students Get Elite Jobs. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015. 375 pp. $35.00, hardcover.

Jennifer Merluzzi recently reviewed this book in Administrative Science QuarterlyFrom the review:

The book is a very detailed read on hiring and elite firms and is thus best suited for individuals interested in these topics, such as scholars studying early professional careers, elite labor markets, inequality, or hiring specifically. With this said, many insights in the book could be beneficial to scholars interested in these topics more broadly. For instance, Rivera makes a strong case for rethinking core assumptions underlying empirical studies by management and sociology scholars, such as the importance of human resources personnel (who are often cordoned into roles providing administrative rather than strategic support that offer little oversight to assure meritocratic hiring) or the importance of résumés or grades in getting hired (because extracurricular activities that can serve as fodder for interview conversation trump any hard data presented on a résumé). So although the book is clearly situated as a study of class and elites, it does have broader insights into hiring that a wider set of scholars could benefit from reading.

The book’s strength is its rich qualitative descriptions of what goes on behind the curtain of hiring within a firm, particularly the ethnographic portions in which Rivera uses her keen skills as an observer to carefully document, often with sharp wit, what is occurring around her. As Rivera contends, this area has been a black box for empirical research in sociology and management, as information is known about the candidate and then ASQ Coverabout the hiring outcome for that candidate, but less is known about what happens in between. The book’s limitation is in offering concrete conclusions around solutions to the problems identified (more on this below). Nonetheless, it is an interesting read, and readers will be impressed with Rivera’s complete immersion in this elite world.

You can read the full review from Administrative Science Quarterly by clicking here. Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts to receive research and reviews like this directly in your inbox!

Staying Lean

The phrase, “Lean In” has been on everyone’s lips since the popular book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg came out. While emphasis is usually placed on the day-to-day grind, how can meaning and not just success be reinserted back into the workplace? Using Jungian and post-Jungian theories, Dr. John M. Dirkx of Michigan State University in this month’s issue of Advances in Developing Human Resources, explores this question and how human resource professionals, teachers, and trainers might be able to better serve their employees in whichever way they lean.

The Abstract from “Leaning in and Leaning Back at the Same Time: Toward a Spirituality of Work-Related Learning”

The Problem. The spirituality of work movement placed emphasis on the importance of meaning and purpose in work and the workplace. However, the spiritual dimensions of workrelated learning remained largely undeveloped. Given recent economic developments that threaten to undo any gains achieved by this movement, it is important that human resource development (HRD) help individuals and organizations learn to engage in the inner learning that creates deep meaning and purpose in our work.

The Solution. This article locates work-related learning within the spirituality of work context. Using Jungian and post-Jungian psychology, the article provides a theoretical perspective for thinking about meaning and purpose in work-related learning and the key features of educational and organizational environments that foster such learning and development.

TheADH cover Stakeholders. The perspective developed in this article will be helpful to teachers, trainers, and HRD practitioners involved in formal work-related learning programs, as well as coaches and developmental managers who seek to foster learning and development among their workers.

Together, Management INK and SAGE Publications have made this article free to our readers for the next month. Don’t forget to sign up for e-alerts to stay up-to-date on the latest research from Advances in Developing Human Resources!