Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance

SKOPE Employers’ Forum

The attractiveness of vocational education and training (VET) is generally linked to its quality, relevance, educational and occupational mobility as well as effectiveness of communicating these to the wider society. Also, a variety of subjective and structural factors may be influencing the image of VET in different contexts. Over 70% of UK respondents on Eurobarometer believed VET has a positive image in this country. While this figure is encouraging, higher education (HE) is still considered the preferred option by many young people (and their parents). Recently raising the attractiveness of VET has appeared on the policy agenda, spurred on in no small part by rising youth unemployment figures. Raising the attractiveness of VET is seen as a key lever in helping to combat these figures.

However, short of media hype on how the applications for Rolls Royce and BT apprenticeships outnumber Oxbridge applications, the strategy for enhancing VET to not only young people but also to employers, is not clear. Using the data collected from 110 interviews with WorldSkills competitors, their employers, FE college tutors, family and friends, we argue that skills competitions offer the potential for raising the attractiveness of VET.

WorldSkills Competitions are recognised by many as the pinnacle of excellence in VET. These competitions provide both a benchmark for high-performance and an objective way to assess vocational excellence. They also provide an opportunity to better understand the factors that contribute to the development of vocational skills to a high standard and the benefits of this vocational excellence development. In this presentation we focus particularly on the young person and employers to show how such competitions establish positive societal images of young people who choose vocational careers, create better awareness of various professions, and provide inspiring examples of excellence and success in VET.

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