The Vocational Quest: New Directions in Education and Training

By Malcolm Skilbeck; Helen Connell et al. | Go to book overview

1

EMERGENCE OF THE NEW VOCATIONALISM

There are…two things about man’s future of which I think we can be certain. One is that things will not come out all right in the end if we merely sit by and let them happen. The other is that things will most probably turn out well for man if he conscientiously works at the task of making them do so.

(Montagu, 1961, p.27)


INTRODUCTION

In this chapter, we outline the diverse and numerous factors that lie behind the emergence of new—and the reinforcement of some old—forms of vocationalism: what is meant by a vocational orientation in the education of young people, and why it has emerged. We do not, at this stage, differentiate between the settings—school, office, workshop, specialist college or whatever—since these factors are at work in all of them, and there are aspects of the responses which are common to all. Differences of course there are; they are considered in later chapters where a more detailed appraisal is made of the main theme of this chapter.


SETTING THE SCENE

For reasons that are primarily economic, the years since the early 1970s have witnessed a major resurgence of interest in the vocational role of education and training in the personal and social processes of formation which are governed by such purposes as preparation for working life and occupational choice, and the matching of human capabilities to labour market needs and opportunities. This interest is part of the close attention being given to the conditions necessary to sustain growth in the modern economy (Abramovitz, 1988). In the face of massive challenges to reorient and restructure, to achieve greater efficiency, to find new economic

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