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Areas of European research in VET and HRD

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The following map attempts to capture the major areas of European research and practice associated with vocational education and training (VET) and/or human resource development (HRD). Relations between these areas and their position within the broader context of education are indicated by connective lines. The abbreviations used in the figure are explained in the attached legend.

This map is aimed at describing the broad field of VET and HRD in terms of its constituting parts (areas) rather than trying to provide an overall definition. The main features of this field may be summed up as follows:

  • VET and HRD are an integral part of the broader educational and socio-economic environment. In this context they share various areas of research and practice between themselves. 
  • HRD may be related to organisations (corporate level) and/or the labour market (economic level). At organisational (corporate) level, HRD is mainly concerned with personnel development, in the context of human resource management. At labour market (economic) level, HRD is associated with the development of the work force as a whole, including educational attainment, skill needs and qualification levels. 
  • The distinction between VET and HRD depends on the conceptual approach and framework applied rather than on the particular area considered, e.g. issues of continuing vocational education and training (CVET) may be studied in terms of educational concepts (VET) or business/ management models (HRD-O) or social capital theory (HRD-LM). 
The areas of VET and HRD included in this map have been identified by analysing themes of both papers presented at European conferences and projects carried out by European partnerships. They are therefore characterised by European (rather than national) research, being typically communicated in English. The limits of this approach are obvious, in view of the great variety of research cultures and languages in the European region. Nevertheless, this initial map of VET and HRD related research may serve as a practical device (under continuous revision) for describing the contents of research activities and resources across Europe. 

Further work will be needed to trace the meaning and available definitions of the underlying concepts (VET and HRD) and to analyse their relationship by taking the constituting research areas into account. Initial references are provided below.

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Adult education
Continuing vocational education and training
General education
Higher education
Human resource development
Initial vocational education and training
Human resource management
Labour market
Vocational education and training
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A discussion of the concept of European HRD, especially in the context of organisations, can be found in the proceedings of the HRD Conference at Edinburgh 2003: 

Alternative approaches to mapping the field of VET and HRD:

Editor: Sabine Manning
Set up: 30/06/2005
  Update: 30/12/2005
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