Parity of esteem between general and vocational education is a widely discussed topic in those countries which have established a system of vocational education and training (VET) beside the system of general education, leading to numerous qualifications and licenses. This paper aims to address this issue.
An explorative consideration of curricular basic structures of TVET and higher education will reveal the qualitative differences in the different study courses and entailing barriers for permeability between TVET and higher education. A deepening analysis compares the curricular structures and evaluates the differences with the aid of selected criteria.
The article clarifies the hidden obstacles of permeability between vocational and higher education, and points out ways to shape lateral and vertical permeability with a view to career paths to build up human capabilities. However, until now most of these do not entail permeability to learning pathways in higher education. This is especially true when vocational programmes do not prepare for higher education at the same time, i.e. do not include a university entrance qualification. This discussion has gained a new momentum with the adoption of the European Qualifications Framework by the European Parliament and the Council in 2008, motivating member states to reconsider this context. Since then there is an intensive debate about opening universities for learners with vocational qualifications.
Due to the traditionally clear‐cut division between vocational and academic education and a separate dealing with the different concepts, organizations and institutions, a comparative research with methods and instruments has not yet developed. With regard to a comparison of vocational and academic education, research is still at the very beginning. There are currently no confirmed reliable answers to the question how the transitions between vocational and academic education could be shaped in order to ensure their success.
European initiatives and the implementation of instruments such as the Qualifications Framework to support permeability call for ways to offer academic education with degrees to persons with a qualified vocational background. The curricular structures of the universities are currently not geared to these requirements.
The relevant social dimension aims at an equivalence of vocational and academic education that has been discussed in some European countries since the 1960s. Some European initiatives (EQF, ECVET, etc) over recent years have led to the opening of universities for persons with a qualified vocational background. This helps to overcome social barriers.
The value added is a frame for comparison of curricular structures. The findings can then be thoroughly discussed in connection with the European Qualification Framework. In addition the article offers options for overcoming the obstacles for comparative research on vocational and academically qualified persons.
Spöttl, G. (2013), "Permeability between VET and higher education – a way of human resource development", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 37 No. 5, pp. 454-471. https://doi.org/10.1108/03090591311327286Download as .RIS
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