Researching vocational education and training: An international perspective

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Martin Mulder


This article investigates a German initiative to fund a research programme on international
development cooperation in vocational education and training (VET). It briefly describes the strands
of the programme and critically reflects on them. It is considered important that this programme be
initiated to stimulate research on international VET development cooperation because, while there
are institutes for and programmes on VET research, research on VET is modest in volume compared
with that of educational research on elementary or secondary education. The article also considers
priority areas for VET research that are part of the programme and expands on these, using a number
of VET research themes and topics. An important conclusion is that in research on international VET
development cooperation it is important to pursue a balanced approach by taking the practical,
political, administrative and scientific factors into account. These factors all play a role at the national,
regional and local levels. Too much pragmatism or too isolated a scientific specialisation should be
avoided. Respectful cooperation between all the stakeholders is imperative, and is especially
important in projects that combine researchers with a predominantly long-term perspective and
teachers and managers with a mainly short-term outlook. Finally, I express the hope that more
national governments would follow the example of Germany. Their doing so would definitely raise
the profile of international VET research, which is absolutely needed.

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