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Research on VET and HRD in Europe
Mapping HRD and VET research across Europe
Thematic patterns derived from a project analysis
Sabine Manning - April 2007

[Start> Introduction] [Section 1] [Section 2] [Section 3] [Main outcomes] [Abbreviations] [Descriptors] [Research areas

Main outcomes

The following thematic patterns can be derived from the analysis of ENRR projects, carried out in comparison to previous studies of EU projects and ECER papers:

Range of research topics
ENRR projects from both the old and the new EU countries put great emphasis on the topic 'economy' (incl. business/ labour market/ social partners/ human capital), much more so than the EU projects do. This difference may be explained by considering the specific influence that national policy objectives have on ENRR projects. 
The topics 'competences' and 'learning' are more favoured by the old than the new EU countries within ENRR projects, but most highly represented among EU projects. It may be assumed that the old countries promoted these themes in the EU projects.
The specific focus of the new countries on 'continuing vocational education', which is hardly reflected in EU projects, may result from their special needs of economic and societal reconstruction.

Thematic aspects of research
The 'process' aspect (which includes the topics 'competences' and 'learning') is most important among ENRR projects, notably in the old EU countries, but even more so among the EU projects and the ECER papers. However, ENRR projects place greater emphasis on the 'framework' aspect (which includes the topic 'economy') than both the EU projects and the ECER papers do. 
These differences seem to be mainly connected with the specific impact of the national context determining ENRR projects, as against factors of the European context influencing EU projects and ECER papers. Furthermore, the academic context particularly with regard to ECER papers may play a part.

Structure of the research field
The analysis of ENRR projects, carried out in comparison with ENRR institutions, offers the first empirically based presentation of how the HRD/VET research field is structured according to major research areas. 
There is a large degree of correspondence between projects and institutions with regard to the distribution of research areas. In the order of frequency, VET is in the lead, followed by HRD-LM (HRD related to the labour market) and HRD-O (HRD related to the organisation). In the overall balance, VET is matched by the combined HRD area (HRD-LM and HRD-O) in nearly equal proportions.
Another important research area is education, including higher education and lifelong learning, each involving vocational components. 
This general pattern in the distribution of research areas is largely shared by the old and the new EU countries within ENRR projects.

Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO