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Vocational Education and Training – Three types of governance models

In vocational education and training three ideal types of regulation and governance are usually distinguished on the dominant either from the state, the market or professional groups initiatives. The prevalent typology in policy research distinguishes three models of governance, which can be termed market-driven, state-controlled and occupation-driven or corporatist VET governance ). In the following the three models are explained in terms of their regulative momentum and their rational of agency.

The market-driven model of VET governance is characterised by the immediate control of vocational qualification by the employment system and the demand on the labour market. Vocational qualification is oriented towards the requirements of employers and takes place on the job and in a private sector of training providers offering job-related learning modules. The responsibility for the training process rests with the learners, who are expected to acquire the qualifications required by employers on their own. Typical examples of this model are the United States and Japan, where the relative absence of a regulated VET system is associated with a large number of students attending upper secondary schools and higher education. In this system the access to VET is controlled by employers as “customers”, whose needs and demands determine the contents of training so that the transfer of qualifications from one company to another is difficult. On the one hand this system is regarded as quite flexible and adapted to the needs of the employment system, on the other hand the dependence on the private supply of training opportunities and the risk of underinvestment in vocational education are seen as serious flaws of this model.

The state-controlled model of VET is characterised by a dominance of school-based vocational education, which is subject to a relatively tight regulation by state authorities. In this model, which is prevalent, for instance, in France or China, the regulation is based on the school’s logic of action and includes a focus on civic education. Enterprises do not have an institutionalised role in this system, but serve as suppliers of internships while all regulatory functions – planning, management and control – are concentrated in the public sector. The contents of vocational education are typically based on theoretical and academic types of education . Due to the integration into the state-controlled education system there is a relatively close connection to general education. Moreover, the supply of training opportunities is independent of the provision of training places by private companies. The major difficulty of this system is the weak linkage to the labour market.


Type of VET system Rationale of agency
Market driven Employers as customers; individual training company needs determine VE curriculum & company training, transfer of skills to other companies rather difficult because many different certificates; VET example countries : UK, US, Ireland and Japan
State driven Merely school based, schools logic of action, more theory driven, less work process driven; little real work orders, rather costly model while training labs need constant modernisation; more simulated instead of real work task completion, example VET countries: France, China, Spain, Portugal, Poland
Occupation driven and / or cooperatist VET governance Mixed system regulation; employers associations great influence, in some countries also the unions, based collective bargening for defining occupations and their constant modernisation; Variations of systems in countries like Germany, Austria, Danmark, Netherlands, Norway, Northern regions of Italy and Switzerland


Diagramme 1.: Three main VET systems and their rationality

The third model is referred to as occupation-based or corporatist regulation. This model is derived from the apprenticeship tradition in the craft trades. It is characterised by a strong influence of the training companies and the chambers and or professional associations, the corporate bodies that represent the business and trade community. This concerns the entry conditions to training as well as the definition of training contents and the ways the training and teaching processes are examined. Today occupation-based regulation is part of “mixed” systems of cooperative governance in which the regulation of vocational education takes place in a plural network of state bodies, enterprises or employers’ associations as well as trade unions or professional associations. Variations of these mixed models of regulations can be found in systems of cooperative (dual or alternating) VET as they exist in Austria, Denmark, Germany Norway and Switzerland.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Governance of VET systems in international context: models, concepts and evaluation tool and implementation examples


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