DQ Base

  Dual Qualifications
Sabine Manning


The results of the project INTEQUAL are presented in the INTEQUAL REPORT I and II. They reveal the major features and functioning of qualifications with a dual orientation towards employment and higher education (dual qualifications). 
    According to this criterion three groups of schemes have been distinguished: 
  1. Schemes which extend over an integral part of the whole educational sector such as the vocational programmes or streams within the comprehensive school systems of Norway and Sweden
  2. Schemes which refer to individual courses or qualifications, e.g. the Vocational Baccalauréat (Bac Pro) in France, the General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ) in England, the long courses of senior secondary vocational education (MBO) in the Netherlands and the WIFI Academy courses in Austria
  3. Schemes representing pilot projects within the established systems of vocational education and training (Germany: Bavaria and Brandenburg). 
    Several aspects of the structure, contents and didactics are relevant for the dual qualification schemes: flexibility in curriculum design; emphasis on developing personal competence; collaborative work of teachers, and cooperation between schools and enterprises. 
    A key question which has run through this investigation is the extent to which vocational and general education are or can be integrated. The curricula of the schemes provide for a variety of combinations involving vocational and general education, ranging from the additive to the integrative type of approach: (A) separate general/theoretical subjects, (B) vocational application of general/theoretical subjects, (C) education and training related to transferable skills and (D) action-orientated education and training (projects). The evidence suggests that several ways of combining general and vocational education (A to D) are fairly independent of or easily adaptable to different categories of courses. 
    A more detailed examination of dual qualifications has focused on the following issues: 
  • integrative learning processes (Germany / Brandenburg, Norway, Sweden) 

  • One important learning approach expected to generate integrated competencies centres on task-, problem- and project-based methods. More autonomy and responsibility to teachers and students for shaping the learning processes and their outcome, would bring the educational world (schools) closer to social life and the world of work. 
  • synoptic assessment (England) 

  • Synoptic assessment is devoted to testing candidates' accumulated understanding of a subject (the vocational area) as a whole. Synoptic assessment could play a role in helping address a number of current assessment concerns. Assignments, tests and the portfolio could all have synoptic dimensions and encourage achievement of higher order skills. 
  • skills for higher education (England, the Netherlands)

  • The concern is how to increase prospects of progression to higher education while also maintaining an orientation towards the labour market as a fundamental aspect of a qualification with a dual orientation. The concluding comparison results in challenges for the schemes in both countries. 
  • tracing career developments (Austria, France, German / Bavaria) 

  • This investigation intends to determine to what extent dual qualifications influence the ultimate vocational career paths taken by graduates. The results of the comparative study reveal the potential of dual qualifications for enhancing the participants' educational and professional mobility. 
    All partners involved in the project have set out conclusions relevant for their specific national context. The majority of lessons drawn on the curriculum, the learning process and structure of courses could be characteristic of any high standard education, in particular vocational education. Typical examples of these lessons are the acquisition of key qualifications, the provision of core subjects and the development of independent learning skills. This result shows the relevance of basic qualities of learning for the success of dual qualifications. At the same time, it suggests that schemes of dual qualification are able to have a broader significance for the transfer of good practice within vocational and general education. 
    It may be concluded that there is considerable opportunity for the exchange and transfer of experience across schemes and national systems. It is also evident that the schemes of dual qualification apply to and indeed create both innovative course structures or curricula and varying didactic approaches. 
    The results of this collaborative comparison are of significance for the qualitative advance of vocational education and training. They provide a stimulus for further discussion with specific target groups (policy makers, researchers and practitioners) and for carrying out pilot projects between partner countries.


The multiplier-effect project DUOQUAL is based on the LEONARDO Surveys and Analyses  project INTEQUAL, which investigated innovative schemes of qualifications at upper secondary level with a dual orientation towards employment and higher education (dual qualifications). In aiming at a significant multiplier effect in DUOQUAL, the comparative analysis, so far representing seven schemes in Northern and Western Europe, has been applied to a new (i.e. additional) group of six countries, with a focus on partners from Central and Southern Europe. The new national case studies analyse schemes of dual qualification in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy and Portugal. They follow the pattern of the previous project, concentrating on five major points:
  1.  the national framework of economic, social and educational change; 
  2.  the major features of the schemes in the context of the national systems of education; 
  3.  the educational concepts underlying the schemes; 
  4. the organisational implications of integrating general and vocational education; 
  5. the evidence of success of the schemes. 
The comparison of evidence on dual qualifications across old and new countries has been presented in the comparative survey. This comparative study highlights the significant impact of dual qualifications:
  • There is a predominant upward trend of enrolment in dual qualifications; this correlates, in seven schemes, with significant proportions of the age group involved. This can be interpreted as an indication of both the attractiveness and the relevance of dual qualifications in the majority of the countries concerned. 
  • While all schemes allow for a dual orientation, they differ in the relative weight attributed to either employment or higher education. Several of them put the emphasis on employment as the prior aim and also function like this in practice. Altogether, dual qualifications provide good chances for their graduates compared to other job seekers on the labour market.
  • The occupations related to dual qualifications include a category of special significance: so-called "highly skilled work" which is situated between ordinary skill level and technician level. The schemes forming this group have two features in common: they have a clearly defined occupational profile and they address high achievers among the trainees. 
Two major patterns of dual progression to employment and higher education  emerge:
  1. Most of the schemes offer a choice between access to studies in the technical sector or entry into highly skilled employment/ middle-level management;
  2. A smaller group of schemes provide opportunities of either progression to studies in related subjects (with no established technical sector available) or unspecified employment. 
These patterns suggest that there is a significant relationship between the two options of progression. By preparing both for (highly) skilled work and work-related studies, dual qualifications provide a basis for professional careers in a lifelong learning process. 

Parallel to this comparative investigation, the pattern of team work on selected topics applied in the project INTEQUAL has been extended to the new countries. The new topics are the following:

  • Conceptional ideas of national schemes with a dual orientation (Czech Republic, Finland);
  • Developments in the concept of generic skills (Denmark, Italy);
  • New job skills as a means to facilitate youth placement in the labour market (Greece, Portugal).
At the same time, work on the old topics has been carried further by updating and including evidence from the new countries. These topics relate to integrated learning processes, synoptic assessment, progression to higher education and tracing careers. Collaborative work on the topic studies has provides a major basis of mutual learning within the partnership and of disseminating results to other researchers, policy makers and practitioners. 

In a final roundtable discussion, the partners assess their schemes of dual qualification according to three criteria which are relevant for the quality of vocational education and its standing vis-à-vis general education: providing personal competence and facilitating mobility both in the education system and the labour market. In the national conclusions and the  lessons of mutual learning the partnership arrives at an altogether positive assessment, from national perspective, of the quality and standing of dual qualifications. This assessment largely corresponds to the outcome of the comparative analysis in the DUOQUAL Survey. The results from the roundtable discussion also confirm the conclusion drawn in the INTEQUAL project that there is considerable opportunity for the exchange and transfer of experience across schemes and national systems.

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  First set up 23/08/1998
Latest update: 29/07/2000
 Contact: Sabine Manning