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9. österreichische Berufsbildungsforschungskonferenz am 3.-5.07.2024 in Innsbruck

Abstracts 2012

pdfBook of Abstracts 2012


Forum 3.1

Great expectations? – Comparing young people’s educational choice in VET and the ‘management of ambition’ in Austria, Germany and Slovenia

Hefler, Günter; 3s research laboratory, Österreich
Dahmen, Caroline; Technische Universität Darmstadt
Pavlin, Samo; University of Ljubljana

Session: 3
Zeit: Freitag, 06.7.2012, 09:00 - 11:00
Ort: MAW - Großer Saal
Typ: Forum
Downloads: Präsentation als PDF (1), Präsentation als PDF (2)

While there is a well established tradition of classifying national initial vocational education and training systems, cross-country comparative research struggles with the variation present within national systems (Tessaring, 1999; Saar and Ure, forthcoming). In each country, a multitude of occupational fields with their VET programmes co-exists, while programmes differ widely in popularity, prestige, learning opportunities, further educational choice and career prospects. It is the composition out of attractive and less attractive VET opportunities defining a country’s VET system overall standing and prestige.

For national VET policy, having a clear vision of its strong and its weak programmes is crucial. Institutional and structural change is constantly challenging even the traditionally most successful VET programmes (Hillmert, 2008). Only by expanding attractive programmes and reforming less attractive ones, VET policies could make progress. Consequently, comparative research on VET systems become most fruitful when it allows for a detailed understanding how programmes’ relative strength compared to available alternatives is actually achieved and maintained within changing educational and economic environments.

For improving cross-country comparative analysis, the 7EU-VET project ( has implemented a large scale survey among 18 year old VET students in seven countries (Austria, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and United Kingdom), achieving in the average approx. 2000 respondents for a representative selection of fields in VET, their programmes and educational providers per country. Based on this cross-sectional survey, differentiated profiles of countries’ VET systems, as reflected in the perceptions of its adolescent students, are developed. The forum presents cross-country comparisons for three countries on three selected topics, demonstrating the analytical power of the data basis, which will be made available by the end of the project life time to the research community for further exploration.

The Forum is structured in three presentations and a reply by Austrian experts, representing Austrian VET policy. In their introductory parts, the three presentations introduce into the conceptual, methodological and theoretical frameworks of the 7EU-VET project. Presentations take one country as a starting point and discuss results to the backdrop of detailed results of two other countries. Moreover, an outlook on results for the remaining VET-systems studied by 7EU-VET is given. Policy considerations are drawn at the end of each presentation.

Research questions addressed by the three presentations include

(1) How are students diverted to, selected for and expelled from particular tracks of the VET systems? How do attractive tracks of the VET system differ from less attractive tracks, which are potentially forming a last retreat for young people excluded from more prestigious tracks in VET, in general education or from gainful work?

(2) How do students’ assessment of their current VET programme relate to their provided reasons for choosing a programme in the first place. Would they opt for the programme again? How do current programmes fulfil their expectations? How do they relate themselves to programmes they have or have not actively searched for? How do they perceive their future educational and occupational career opportunities?

(3) How well do programmes prepare students for further steps in their educational or occupational career? How do programmes shape attitudes towards learning? How do programmes as perceived by the students allow for ‘learning to learn’? What do we learn from students’ perceptions about programmes’ capacity to shape a motivational basis for lifelong learning?

As an introduction to the overall discussion, representatives of the Austrian VET policy are invited to respond to recommendations (made available to them prior to the workshop) developed by the 7EU-VET partnership for improving and/or preserving the attractiveness of VET.

The symposium is addressed to researchers interested in cross-country comparative VET system research and life course research on early transitions within the education system. Moreover, policy makers in VET and Lifelong Learning are explicitly addressed.

[A] Doors, open and closed: Comparing consequences of diversion, entrance-selection and failure in VET in Austria, Slovenia and Germany

Günter Hefler (3s research laboratory)

Cross-country differences in the attractiveness in VET are typically explained to the backdrop of different types of countries’ VET systems. In the introduction, it is demonstrated how the 7EU-VET project attempts to overcome existing typologies’ shortcomings by modelling differences in accessibility and prestige for VET programmes within single VET systems. The concept of ‘qualification span’ – introduced by seminal contribution to comparative research on skill formation systems (Maurice et al., 1986, Koike and Inoki, 1990) – is proposed as a tool for exploring differences within and between countries’ VET systems.

Taking Austrian Dual Apprenticeship system as a starting point, it is demonstrated how sharply various fields of VET and VET programmes differ from each other with regard to accessibility, prestige and student populations. Employers, but also accessibility of school based higher secondary education, play thereby a key role. While some programmes are still perceived as viable entrance points to successful occupational careers, others are seen as the petty evil compared to other solutions available. Differences among perceptions of Austrian Dual apprenticeship participants for selected fields are compared to perceptions of their German and Slovenian counter parts.

[B] Choice, than and now; Comparing young participants’ assessment of their way into and their plans after their present VET programmes in Germany, Austria and Slovenia

Caroline Dahmen & Marek Fuchs (TU Darmstadt)

In the introduction, the methodology applied and the data collection achieved will be described by the responsible partner, giving an overview on the analytical power of the data set for exploring differences between types of VET programmes within a single country and for cross-country comparative research.

Taking the German case as a starting point, VET participants’ expectations for their future educational and occupational career are explored. Far from being monolithic, it is demonstrated, that expectations clearly differ with different fields of VET (e.g. between health care, mechatronics and banking), anticipating career opportunities available or non-available in occupational worlds, the VET education provides access to. Cross-country differences in observed patterns of field-specific expectation profiles are compared and explored for their social and institutional backgrounds.

[C] Comparing VET Students Engagement in Learning Activities – An Empirical Findings from 7 EU countries

Samo Pavlin (University of Ljubljana)

This section explores how four main components, namely a) socio-biographic characteristics, b) learning modes including work experience, c) experiences with teaching , and d) career preferences impact school success, acquired competencies and satisfaction. In particular, the model seeks varieties and complementarities between subsystem levels and on a cross-national basis. Analysis are done comparatively for Slovenia, Austria and Germany, yet, also for the remaining 4 countries participating in the 7EU-VET project. Results are placed in the context of te social mobility triangle discussions, the so-called Origin, Education and Destination (OED). The model basically questions the relative impact of education in comparison to family background and other factors, issues widely addressed by several projects and communities and answers much education really matters.

[D] Discussant: Comments of Austrian policy makers

To be announced later

Open discussion

For information on the 7EUVET Project:


Hillmert, Steffen (2008) When traditions change and virtues becomes obstacles - Skill formation in Britain and Germany IN Mayer, Karl Ulrich & Solga, Heike (Eds.) Skill Formation - Interdisciplinary and cross-national perspectives. Cambridge, 50-81

Koike, Kazuo & Inoki, Takenori (Eds.) (1990) Skill formation in Japan and Southeast Asia, Tokyo.

Maurice, Marc, Sellier, Francois & Silvestre, Jean-Jacques (1986) The Social Foundations of Industrial Power - A comparison of France and Germany, Cambridge, Mass.

Saar, Ellu & Ure, Odd Bjorn (forthcoming) Lifelong learning systems: overview and extension of different typologies. Book on cross-country comparison within the LLL2010 project framework.

Tessaring, Manfred (Ed.) (1999) Training for a changing society : a report on current vocational education and training research in Europe, Luxembourg.

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