VET and HRD research in European countries > Overview

United Kingdom  [1]  Context of national VET/HRD policies

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In the UK, there is a noticeable increase in research activity, which reflects the continuing priority attached to skills issues by government. Traditional concerns about skills as a driver of economic prosperity and competitiveness have continued, but under the Labour government these have been augmented by a growing emphasis on education and training as a means of ensuring social inclusion, combating poverty and increasing social mobility. Research also reflects the high level of ‘policy churn’ and institutional instability within the VET system in the UK, where major institutional changes and new programmes, initiatives and qualifications structures and reforms continue to be announced at a pace unknown anywhere in Europe. The ‘permanent revolution’ of the last twenty years in the UK VET continues unabated. 

Another point is that the devolution of government within the UK now means that there are four national vocational education and training systems and structures (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), each with its own programmes and research agendas. In addition, a growing emphasis upon regional governments within England has meant a considerable increase in skills research at regional levels. What follows concentrates on developments in England, though the general thrust of the evolution of VET research across the whole UK has tended to follow common broad trends and issues. England has a vast bulk of researchers, particularly in the area of training, based in HE, government institutions and private sector organisations.

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Source: Cedefop - National Research Report United Kingdom (details see Bibliography)
Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO