Research type: Report, Qualitative Research
Method: Systematic Literature Review, In-depth Interview
Duration: 5 months
Role: Research assistant (interview, data analysis, translation, report writing)

“How do other countries, with interesting or pioneering technical education systems, develop the skills of their technical education workforce to ensure high quality teaching standards?”

This report draws on distinctive insights into global skills systems. Innovations and developments in other countries have long held fascination for policymakers and educators in the UK. Indeed, an entire field of international and comparative education exists. While taking regard of the cultural and political contexts, looking to other countries to understand better their education and training system brings many advantages for policy learning and contextualised learning. This research endeavours to show how other countries enable technical and vocational education and training to be at the forefront of curriculum and workforce development.’

The study, therefore, explicitly highlights how a successful skills system comprises a range of close relationships and dynamics between system-level policies, productivity and economic growth, industry needs, employer perspectives, technological developments, local organisations and training providers, and individual teaching practice, with WorldSkills acting as a bridging mechanism across different levels of the system and across different spaces. This illustrates the ways in which the most successful skills systems combine multilevel and multi-spatial dynamics with policy and practice cutting across local, national and international dimensions and multiple organisations.

Source: WorldSkills UK

Research Design and Methodology

This report is the culmination of a five-month research project led by SKOPE and The Edge Foundation in partnership with WorldSkills UK and funded by WorldSkills UK’s Centre of Excellence, in partnership with NCFE. The findings are intended to feed directly into the development of the Centre of Excellence pilot programme.

The study focussed on the policy and governance structure of TVET systems in seven countries: Austria; Brazil; France; Hungary; India; Japan; and South Korea, to gain an understanding of the drivers used to develop and deliver technical excellence. It consisted of three phases:
Overview of Research Phases

Phase 1: a desk-based literature review of policy, academic, and grey literature

Phase 2: semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders

Phase 3: cross-country analysis.

A snowball methodology was adopted for the interviews. WorldSkills UK introduced the research team to key WS members in each of the countries. In turn, these WS members introduced us to key stakeholders within the wider TVET sector, who subsequently introduced other participants.

In total, we collected data from 56 semi-structured online interviews with WS delegates, teachers, policy-makers, students, training supervisors in companies, TVET experts, CPD managers, and representatives from Chambers of Commerce. The interviews were conducted between January 2021 and April 2021. The interviews consisted of a series of questions about the purpose of TVET, curriculum development activities, teacher/tutor/lecturer recruitment and selection, CPD, assessment frameworks and assessment journeys, students’ pathways and experiences, the challenges the sector faces, positive policy developments, trajectories of change, and the role of WorldSkills in the countries’ systems. Each interview was audio-recorded and transcribed, and lasted between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours. To ensure anonymity, each participant has been provided with a pseudonym in the form of a letter and number. For example, a teacher will be T1 or T2; policymaker will be P1 or P2 etc. 

Source: WorldSkills UK

Summary of Key Findings

Finding 1. World-class standards are key to a skills economy • world-class skills systems are underpinned by internationally benchmarked standards

• world-class skills standards underpin productivity and economic growth at local and national levels

• WorldSkills plays a critical role in establishing global standards: few national skills systems have mechanisms to benchmark standards in a way that takes into account other skills systems around the world. WorldSkills competitions provide a critical mechanism for raising standards by establishing international benchmarks in a way that is often more agile and tailored to employer needs and technological changes than can be achieved through updates to national policy.

Finding 2. Teaching excellence is innovative and responsive to emerging needs

• teaching excellence is underpinned by agile pedagogic adaptations that take into account employer needs, technological changes and shifts in industry practice

• access to and investment in high quality CPD is critical to teaching excellence ensuring trainers incorporate changes in skills, technology, and industry practice into their teaching and pedagogic approaches and work to the latest standards

• WorldSkills provides a ‘third space’ that enables trainers to experiment with pedagogy and technology in a way that drives innovation.

Finding 3. Skills economies are rooted in networked skills systems

• the most successful skills systems comprise networks of macro, meso, and micro level actors and organisations across local, national, and international contexts

• skills systems can respond most efficiently to shifting economic needs, technological change, and industry developments when employers and training providers are structurally linked

• WorldSkills can provide a key mechanism for connecting employers and training providers, and responding to economic, technological, practice related change. It can act as a bridging organisation, supporting training providers in innovative practice and embedding training in workplaces, while helping key actors in skills systems to work across local, national and international contexts.