Evaluating the Technical Excellence of Global TVET System

Project Type
Qualitative Research, Evaluative, Report

5 months



This project aimed to compare educational strategies among Austria, Brazil, France, Hungary, India, Japan, and South Korea to identify key drivers of successful technical education and its innovation. By conducting literature reviews and in-depth interviews with 56 key stakeholders, I analyzed their educational approaches and identified patterns in their practices.

The findings were used to make recommendations for enhancing the UK’s technical education and training system, WorldSkills’ Excellence program, disseminated through research reports and conference presentations.

Full report: www.worldskillsuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/SKOPE-final.pdf


Project Significance

For WorldSkills UK, it is crucial to review successful strategies from diverse countries as an educational organization collaborating closely with UK policymakers in technical education sector. The result feeds directly into the development of the Center of Excellence Pilot Program.
Key Responsibilities

As one of the researchers, I led the case study for South Korea, one of the seven countries we examined.


Susan James Relly Research Lead
James Robson Director
Andrea Laczik Director of Research
Kat Emms Senior Researcher
Ashmita Randhawa  Researcher
Kuya Aizawa Researcher
Laura Dong  Researcher
Sejin Hwang  Researcher
Vania Pinto  Researcher
Lena Zlock Researcher

Project Background

WorldSkills UK is an educational consultant focusing on technical education in partnership with education, industry, and government of the UK. This project was commissioned as part of the WorldSkills UK’s Centre of Excellence pilot in their second year of partnership with NCFE; a program designed to embed international best practices in teaching, assessment, and learning in technical education right across the UK, with the ambition to improve outcomes for some 40,000 learners over three years.
While running the program for 2 years, WorldSkills UK learned UK government reported that vocation education needs more structural improvement as it plays vital role in national economic growth. To address the structural improvement and innovation within program, WorldSkills UK wanted to explore how other countries manage their successful technical education, policies, and relations, and look into applying it in their Excellence Program.

Kick-Off Meeting

The initial team meeting began with a briefing on client needs and an introduction to technical education and WorldSkills. Our goal was to gain a basic understanding of technical education, WorldSkills, and their current status both in the UK and globally.

I explored four main areas:
  • General overview of the TVET education system
  • Key stakeholders in the TVET system
  • WorldSkills and its global impact
  • Operations of TVET in the UK and its effects on economic growth and social mobility.

*TVET: Technical, Vocational Education and Training
Key Learning

  • Main Stakeholders: Across countries, the primary actors in the technical education sector include WorldSkills, high schools, higher education institutions (HEIs), and employers.

  • Role of WorldSkills Competition: The biennial WorldSkills competition invites students from 88 countries and serves as a pivotal measure of a country’s technical education success. So, it’s crucial to assess not only the competition’s impact but also the role of the WorldSkills organization within each country.

Research Question
How do other countries, with pioneering technical education systems, develop the skills of their technical education workforce to ensure high-quality teaching standards?

Focus 1

Policy and government structure of the TVET system

Focus 2

How does their education and training system help policymakers learn and tailor learning to fit the specific context or environment

Focus 3

Educational strategies regarding cultural and political contexts


1. Analyzing educational strategies from top-performing countries in the WorldSkills Competition will highlight deficiencies and areas for improvement in the UK's current programs.

2. Adapting vocational education strategies to the cultural context of each country can help build a high-quality educational system.

3. Understanding the function of WorldSkills in various countries will significantly influence the development of vocational education in the UK, emphasizing the importance of the relationships between educators, policymakers, and WorldSkills.


Interview Studies

Interview study was selected to directly capture detailed, qualitative insights from individuals deeply involved in the TVET systems of each country.

We wanted to understand various personal experiences in integrating WorldSkills standards into national education systems. These provided nuanced insights into how these standards impact skill development and policy-making at both individual and broader levels.

Snowball Sampling

Snowball sampling helped in identifying and recruiting further participants through the initial subjects' networks.

This allowed us to get insights from various layers within the TVET community, including educators, policymakers, and industry experts across different regions and cultural contexts.

7 Country Cases

Countries were selected based on their performance at WorldSkills competitions over the past 10 years. These countries consistently demonstrated strong performance at the competitions.

The selected countries are Austria, Brazil, France, Hungary, India, Japan, and South Korea.

Project Value

Impact on Education

Experiment with innovative pedagogic approaches and practices and so respond to the latest technologies, industry developments, and emergent skills demands in an agile manner.

Impact on WorldSkills UK

supports the development of international benchmarks, that ensure standards in skills systems are at a world-class level.

Impact on Industry

Set a strong skill force that meets the industry needs

Impact on Government

Offer successful system-level policies to enhance productivity, economic growth, and technological developments. Activate the link between local organizations, training providers, and individual teaching practices.

Data Collection

Data collection was in three different phases:

Phase 1
A desk-based literature review

Phase 2
Semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders

Phase 3
Cross-country analysis

Phase 1: A desk-based literature review 
I was looking at key literature that overviews the system of technical education and its relationship with employers in South Korea. 

8 Key Actors in the System

The current TVET structure of South Korea shows the 8 key actors in technical training of students, allowing a strong bridge between government, education, and employers. This allowed us to sample the intervieww groups for the following interview process

  • Ministry of Education (policy-making)
  • Schools (education)
  • Students & Employees (education)
  • Provincial Office of Education (policy-making)
  • Related Ministries (policy-making)
  • Corporations (employer)
  • On-site (employer)
  • Associations & Related Organizations (employer)

Where Vocational Education Stands within the Korean Educational Structure

In South Korea, technical training begins in high school, where students can choose between two distinct career paths. This highlights the importance of secondary education in enhancing vocational education. Therefore, this emphasized the recruitment of educators from high schools in the interview process. 

Cultural Neglect on Vocational Education

South Korea strongly emphasizes academic education, making collaboration between academic education, training, and policy essential for the TVET system. Currently, the vocational sector is often looked down upon and stigmatized as 3D (Difficult, Dirty, Dangerous).

Phase 2: Semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders

In this project, a total of 56 interviews were conducted. For the Korean case study that I led, I interviewed 3 groups of participants: policymakers/WS delegates, educators, and employers of the Korean TVET ecosystem. 

I designed three different interview question sets specialized for each stakeholder group. The interview was semi-structured, around 45 minutes, and was conducted on MS Teams. After the interview, initial codes were extracted from the qualitative data and later used for thematic analysis.

Phase 3: Cross-country analysis

As a team, we start collecting themes and codes from each country's cases. We break down the complexities in the TVET system among seven countries in three different levels for thematical analysis.

  • The macro level: The policy-related and social structures that shape how the purpose of TVET is conceptualized within policy contexts and by key stakeholders within the education system itself

  • The meso level: Particularly the structural relationships between education providers and employers, and how employers engage in and contribute to TVET

  • The micro level: The ‘art of teaching’ and how TVET teaching professionals navigate complex policy, professional-oriented and social spaces to ensure high-quality teaching and learning sits at the heart of their practice


01: WorldSkills are benchmarking international standards
WorldSkills played a vital role in bringing world-class standards into national skills systems. However, embedding international standards in the national skills system was seen as a key task.

02: WorldSkills are linking organizations

Many of the case study countries, worked closely with different unions, trade organizations and networks of individual employers. This shows that WorldSkills could be seen as ensuring a close and responsive relationship between skills supply and demand, serving a vital function in the skills economy.

03: WorldSkills are supporting innovation

Training for WS Competitions was seen as providing crucial educational space to rethink processes in an environment where it was 'OK to get it wrong'. So that it is important for WS competitions to become a 'third place' where trainees could experiment with skills, processes, and pedagogy, while also providing a bridging mechanism to bring work-based innovations and developments into the training process.

04: Curricular relevance and employer influence on the curriculum

Training qualified professionals according to the requirements of business could be accomplished through a close relationship between education and the job market. Industry and employer involvement and engagement were seen as fundamental in the new reforms in Hungary and India.

05: Managing change

The third space where trainees can freely explore their skills is clearly needed in the current curriculum and employer intervention plays a vital role in developing this concept in all countries including the UK, to enhance and drive technical excellence.

06: Networked skills system

Although each of the seven case countries differed in their approaches, findings highlighted the importance of embedding employers in the skills systems to create a broader global network around the TVET context. In the most successful systems, WorldSkills could be seen as an integral part of this network, bridging organizations, and strengthening network connections.


From the research findings, our team has identified four key opportunity areas that the client can address to enhance the effectiveness of their current TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) strategy.

01: Development of skills economy

Aligning education with employer needs in the UK is vital for economic productivity. WorldSkills UK's Centre of Excellence serves as a model for this, emphasizing the need to build upon its initiatives to improve skill standards.

02: Art of teaching and innovation

Ensure vocational educators have subject expertise and pedagogical qualifications, mandate annual industry CPD hours, and create a 'third space' within WorldSkills UK for experimentation and integrating work-based innovations into training.

03: System alignment and high-quality qualification

Align strategies in tertiary education, leveraging organizations like WorldSkills UK, ensure qualifications meet industry standards, involve employers in curriculum development without burdening them, and adequately fund education and training systems to drive excellence.
04: Technological change

Provide CPD for teachers to adapt to technological changes in industry and ensure ongoing relevance of skills competitions, curriculum, and standards to economic needs.


This research was presented at the WorldSkills Conference 2021, an international gathering of academics and policymakers, to suggest improvements for the skills economy in the UK. 

The results contributed to program innovations at the Center of Excellence in ‘Global Community Networking’ and ‘World-Class Teacher Training.’