VET Reform implies reviewing and changing existing Policy. How can the VET Policy be improved?


copyright-symbols-and-rules-you-need-to-know-04 2015

Intellectual Property of Dr. Bruce D. Watson, DEd Melbourne and attributed authors as noted.

For Private individual use. All rights reserved.


In very general terms, policy making in developing countries tends to be more executive-focused, more insulated from public debate, and more centralized than similar activities in institutionalized Western democracies. (29) Despite increased democratization and efforts to decentralize political power in recent years, decision making in many countries remains more top down than distributed among agencies, levels of government, and varieties of interests.

A comprehensive longer term view for Vocational Education and Training (VET) requires an understanding of social and economic policy development and implementation, rather than flitting aimlessly from fragments of ideas in no particular context. As demonstated in previous Posts, there is ample material available to develop a meaningful framework for VET Policy Review. At present, we have a legacy of a very broad agenda of “things that need to be done”, along with important unanswered questions about how to integrate social and economic development.

The VET Policy development community needs to get better at matching ideas to realities, and at generating contextually grounded processes for taking the next step.

Social policy is a term which is applied to various areas of policy, usually within a governmental or political setting. It can refer to guidelines, principles, legislation and activities that affect the living conditions conducive to human welfare.

Social Policy “…is both multi- and inter-disciplinary. It is not, however, a subject for those who who flit aimlessly from idea to idea but for those who purposefully, but imaginatively, pick what they need from across the social sciences in a way that is both pragmatic and creative.”

“Social Policy entails the study of the social relations necessary for human wellbeing and the systems by which wellbeing may be promoted. It’s about the many and various things that affect the kinds of life that you and I and everyone can live. It is concerned, in part, with the social policies that governments have in relation to such things as social security, health, education, housing and the personal social services. In the developed countries of the world, the scale of spending on social policies is absolutely massive and generally accounts for a major slice of national income.”

• It is both multi- and inter-disciplinary. It is not, however, a subject for those
who flit aimlessly from idea to idea but for those who purposefully, but imaginatively, pick what they need from across the social sciences in a way that is both pragmatic and creative.
• It focuses on the nature of human interdependency; on the way in which people care for and about each other; on the part the ‘welfare state’ plays in shaping the nature of caring – and, for example, the gender implications; on ethical questions about principles of care and
• Its goal is to maximize people’s chances of a good life. Its substance, therefore, lies in the theoretical debate and practical definition of what constitutes the good life and the fundamental nature of human need.” More:

It seems obvious to state that to ensure development of effective VET (social and economic) Policy requires input from all the beneficiary/stakeholders without skewing the outcomes unfairly towards a particular beneficiary or stakeholder. VET stakeholders/beneficiaries include: trainees/learners, trainers/educationists, employers, “industry/business”, peak bodies, unions, governments.

As Grindle (2010) observed, “social and economic development were integrated goals of early thinking about how countries could become wealthier. As experience and ideas changed, however, they tended to become separate foci and research and practice encouraged specialization and compartmentalization of thinking and practice. Currently, some are questioning this separation. The challenges to a more holistic view of development are great: academic and applied specializations
have grown up to support and increase specialization of focus; the macroeconomics of how countries fare in development are very difficult to integrate with the micro-focus of current research and practice in social policy and poverty alleviation; discussions of growth imperatives are difficult to combine with assertions about human rights; and the acknowledgement of complexity sits uneasily with grander integrating themes.

In addition, the difficulty of reconceptualizing the integration of social and economic development is evident in the cases of a number of countries that have distinct experiences and whose development trajectories do not lead to easy compartmentalization as successes or failures. It is a challenge to draw clear lessons from their different trajectories.”


First, achieving an integration of VET social and economic policy requires a clearstatement of how social and economic policy advances the development of VET not based on platitudes. Such a statement is currently lacking. Experiences on the ground are diverse enough to make such a statement difficult to agree upon.

Second, a renewed consensus on the roles of VET beneficiaries/stakeholders in social and economic policy must to be tempered by increased awareness that beneficiaries/stakeholders differ in terms of their ability— and willingness—to take on tasks of development.

Third, and related, because VET now takes center stage in concerns about social and economic policy, the trap of an ever increasing agenda is a real one that must be addressed.

One important way to keep agendas within reason is to focus more on beneficiaries/stakeholders specific strategies and a clear sense of priorities.


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