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 collective cooperation endeavours. 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 to 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 at length in several specific subprojects. The first theme, ‘cooperation and conflict in skill formation’ is addressed in three subprojects. The first two subprojects (1.1 and 1.2) analyse decentralised cooperation in various economic sectors in Switzerland with a special focus on the role of professional organisations. The activities carried out in these two subprojects will include the creation of a database of all organisations of the world of work (Organisationen der Arbeitswelt) responsible for VET programmes in Switzerland. The third subproject (1.3) analyses decentralised cooperation in various Swiss regions, with particular emphasis on the role of state and collective institutions in border zones.

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 used as a case study. This theme is addressed in four subprojects. The first subproject (2.1) analyses existing tools to promote an inclusive VPET system in Switzerland and other countries that have a collectively organised skill formation system. The second subproject (2.2) examines employers’ recruiting practices and attitudes towards accessibility of the VPET system. The third subproject (2.3) explores targeted programmes (‘second chance’ training programmes) intended to provide vocational education and training to young people who have not managed to obtain a qualification through formal education and training pathways. The fourth subproject (2.4) focuses on the governance of two-year VET programmes in Demark, Germany and Switzerland.

The third research theme, ‘adaptability of dual-track VET systems’ is also broken down into three subprojects, which explore 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. Each of these three subprojects (3.1, 3.2 and 3.3) focuses on different stakeholders and aspects of the skill formation system. These subprojects examine 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 promises to broaden and deepen our understanding of the strengths, weaknesses and conditions for successful decentralised cooperation. It will also analyse how the overarching objective of social inclusion is considered in the governance of collectively organised VPET systems.