Many students do not benefit from mainstream education and are forced to leave it. Governments and non‐government organisations concerned with the social injustice and problems that such rejection could cause offer these students second‐chance education programmes. This paper aims to examine the effectiveness of such opportunities, using as a case‐study the Vocational Training Council (VTC) of Hong Kong, which offers programmes in vocational education and training (VET) but draws lessons for the offer of such programmes elsewhere.
The study uses a case‐study approach but sets it within the general literature on, and discussion of, second‐chance education. It concentrates on programmes that prepare students for the younger end of the labour market.
The VTC is effective because its programmes are easily accessible and have excellent student progression rates. Its graduates from lower‐level progammes perform as well as those with better academic backgrounds from other institutions in the VTC's higher‐level programmes, and also as well in the labour market. Reasons for this success include course design and implementation that avoid much of what put the young off mainstream education, the provision of a caring environment, the removal of the stigma attached to second‐chance education and VET, and the provision of a through‐train education system.
In assessing the effectiveness of the VTC, most attention is placed on the criteria where reliable data are available. This means that less evidence is presented on employment performance, a gap that will be filled by future research.
The findings enable policy makers in Hong Kong and elsewhere to improve the effectiveness of their second‐chance education.
The paper examines an unexplored area of education in Hong Kong, using a methodology that is applicable for similar studies elsewhere.
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