Governance in Vocational and Professional Education and Training (GOVPET)

Led by Professor Patrick Emmenegger (University of St. Gallen) and in cooperation with the University of Lausanne, SFIVET Zollikofen and the University of Cologne, the Leading House GOVPET began its activities in July 2015. The GOVPET Leading House mainly focuses on comparative analyses of governance mechanisms in skill formation systems.

The research programme of the GOVPET Leading House addresses specific forms of governance in skill formation systems found in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland. The Leading House examines three main research questions: First, it seeks to understand how decentralised cooperation in skill formation works and can be stable despite the constant risk of cooperation breakdown. Second, GOVPET explores ways in which private sector stakeholders can be encouraged to make a long-term commitment to cooperate. Here, the aim is to determine to what extent state policies can be used to encourage private sector stakeholders to willingly align themselves with societal objectives (e.g. the integration of disadvantaged persons in VET programmes), even when this seems to run counter their own short-term interests. Third, GOVPET examines how a dual-track system of vocational education and training can be adapted in response to new challenges and how interests of different actor groups can be furthered through VET system reform.

These three research themes are examined in depth and approached in different studies. The first theme, ‘cooperation and conflict in skill formation’ analyses decentralised cooperation in various economic sectors in Switzerland with a special focus on the role of professional organisations. Within the framework of this first research focus, GOVPET created a database of all organisations of the world of work (Organisationen der Arbeitswelt) responsible for VET programmes in Switzerland.

With the second research theme, ‘private sector commitment’, the Leading House GOVPET examines how governments can get private sector stakeholders to consider societal objectives in decentralised cooperation. Here, the inclusion of disadvantaged labour market participants in the system of skill formation is in the center of interest. GOVPET examines employers’ recruiting practices and attitudes towards accessibility of the VPET system. A further study compares the governance of two-year VET programmes in Demark, Germany and Switzerland and how the goal of inclusion is balanced against cooperation of employers. Moreover, GOVPET analyses the inclusion of refugees through a specific VET program in Switzerland.

The third research theme, ‘adaptability of dual-track VET systems’ explores mechanisms used to adapt dual-track VET programmes to new challenges in international comparison. These challenges include fundamental socio-economic processes such as demographic change, digitalisation and globalisation. GOVPET research examines the interests of different stakeholders and aspects of the skill formation system. One study analyses under what conditions multinationals train, comparing different cantons within Switzerland as well as contrasting Switzerland with Austria and Germany. GOVPET furthermore examines reform processes within Switzerland’s upper-secondary level VET sector – comprised of three and four-year VET programmes and shorter two-year VET programmes – as well as within its tertiary-level professional education sector.

Overall, the Leading House broadens and deepens our understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and conditions for successful decentralised cooperation. It also analyses how the overarching objective of social inclusion is considered in the governance of collectively organised VPET systems.