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VET and HRD research in European countries > Overview

United Kingdom  [7]  Review of VET/HRD research

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Current VET/HRD research

The UK government recognises the importance of evidence-based research, which adds value to education and training through the transfer of innovation, experience and best practice. It also examines the efficiency and value-added of current VET/HRD activities in the UK. The research underpins the support to meet the Lisbon goals, including the contribution of lifelong learning to social cohesion through encouraging participation of all citizens in Europe, irrespective of any kind of differences between them. It refers to the need to provide those who have left education without basic qualifications with a second chance to access education and training, suited to their needs to promote creativity, competitiveness, employability and social cohesion.

The UK government promotes greater decentralisation to better support national priorities and proposes measures to simplify and reduce bureaucracy and the requirements for regular monitoring and evaluation. The government attaches great importance to vocational education and training in the overall context of lifelong learning, employability and the Lisbon goals. Through an open platform for basic (discipline-based) research that deals with some aspects of VET as well as for more specialised (interdisciplinary) research approaches that are more closely involved in the development of VET systems, it seeks to ensure that there is sufficient emphasis on vocational education and training and improving employability because of their links to human capital and flexible labour markets which contribute directly to improving competitiveness and meeting Lisbon targets. The research programmes are aimed to enhance access to education for disadvantaged groups to help improve social cohesion and to help tackle particular identified weaknesses in adult skills in the UK.

The government’s policy for research aims to maintain a strong research base in the UK so as to remain competitive with other nations.

Future VET/HRD research

The near future, the next two to three years, is liable to see the trend continue for increased volumes of research in the areas outlined above. Problems of integrating research from different disciplinary perspectives remain, but have lessened over the past five years. A major challenge will be for VET researchers to forge closer links with:

  • regional economies and others with interests in industrial clusters and cluster theory
  • economists and others trying to single out the components of the relationships between the wide range of factors that appear to underlie greater productivity (R&D, innovation, product market strategy, investment in human and physical capital, etc)
  • industrial relations, personnel management, human resources management specialists and psychologists with an interest in high performance work organisation and issues to do with work organisation and job design more generally.
There is still much work to be done to model the inter-relations that exist between the different phases of and routes through the VET system.
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Source: Cedefop - National Research Report United Kingdom (details see Bibliography)
Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO