New European study gives vocational education and training some credit
Posted on June 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Some interesting European research came out last week about the benefits of vocational education and training.
The economic return on investment in education is the case continually put forward by different sections within education - whether it is the link between third level education and economic competitiveness, or the long term savings to public services such as health and social welfare. The American academic James Heckman has argued that investment in early childhood education reaps huge economic rewards based on his studies in the States.
There has been little research to date on the outcomes of different forms of adult education. In February this year AONTAS published the first ever study on the outcomes of community education. This research found that community education funded by the Department of Education and Skills resulted in substantial social and monetary outcomes - for example, learners who start to volunteer as a result of community education provide a high return of 28.8 million to the State and a low return of 9.1 million per annum. The research really challenges what we measure, or what we constitute as outcomes.
The latest research from CEDEFOP, published in a series of studies, points out interesting gains to be made from investment in vocational education and training (in Ireland this may include FÁS courses, apprenticeships, on the job training or courses delivered by VECs.) For example, the study finds a direct link between training, employee satisfaction and increased productivity. Furthermore, vocational education and training is crucial to providing people with a low skills base the opportunity to gain a qualification in a practical, real life setting.
The study concludes that ironically while vocational education and training is a key instrument of social inclusion; it can sometimes suffer from the perception that is somewhat inferior to academic education. Stereotypical images of programmes and training are visible in Ireland - yet vocational training and education is often the route through which individuals enter and progress through the education system, change careers or gain promotion through the workplace. This latest research shows that vocational education and training is undervalued, despite its contribution to individuals, enterprises and wider society.
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A link to the CEDEFOP research is available here.