Redrawing the international skills map

1 March 2018

Policies for post-16 education in England are increasingly justified with reference to skills development in other European states. Both policymakers and researchers look to systems that emphasise workplace training and apprenticeships. Current reforms propose a redrawing of the skills map of Europe. But how transferable are these systems across national boundaries?

These issues were the subject for discussion at a University of Derby seminar on Thursday 1 March. Professor Matthias Pilz of the University of Cologne talked about his research into the application of the European dual training system in the international operations of German multi-national business.

As well as academic staff and students, the session was open to visitors from the skills sector for this important debate. The seminar was chaired by Graham Schuhmacher, Vice Chair of the highly influential Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning.

This session opened a seminar series at the University of Derby: International perspectives on education, skills and employment.

UK government policies aim to enhance industrial competitiveness by improving transitions to work by re-locating preparation for employment in the workplace. Recent UK policy on apprenticeships and plans for ‘technical education’ in England are symptomatic of increased expectations that the workplace has a significant role in facilitating transitions into work.

Both apprenticeship standards and the technical education emerging from the Sainsbury Review draw on the experience of European systems: in the midst of Brexit, UK policymakers are in hot pursuit of continental models.

These challenges extend to higher levels of study, where policymakers are seeking to create new higher-level study routes outside the university. Higher education in England has previously sought to develop alternative institutions on the lines of some international comparators. Yet these have yet to prove sustainable.

This series brings to bear on this debate the experience of international scholars engaged in research studies that throw important light on these areas. How do international education systems facilitate transitions to work and higher levels of skill? How did they come about and where are they going? Each seminar will be led by the contribution of an international expert with an important contribution and will be open to all education and industry professionals with an interest in this field.