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'Front-loaded' vocational education versus lifelong learning: a critique of current UK government policy

By Christopher Winch and Linda Clarke

Abstract

It seems negative and churlish to complain about the use of a phrase like 'lifelong\ud learning', since the attractions of lifelong ignorance are difficult to describe. However, this\ud alluring phrase repays closer scrutiny. It is our contention that its undiscriminating use,\ud particularly when applied to vocational education, carries significant dangers. To be\ud specific, we contend that while vocational expertise continues to grow over a working\ud lifetime, the initial period of vocational education is vital to success in those occupations\ud that require skill, knowledge and judgement. In economic terms, failure to attend to the\ud initial period of vocational education compromises attempts to run the economy as a highskill\ud equilibrium that uses skilled labour to satisfy a demand for high-quality goods and\ud services (Finegold 1991; Crouch 1999; Culpepper 1999; Brown 2001). In personal terms,\ud young people's ability to develop their lives in their working environment is seriously\ud compromised. This, in turn, compromises one of the aims of their education, to choose a\ud satisfying and worthwhile life.\u

Topics: UOW11
OAI identifier: oai:westminsterresearch.wmin.ac.uk:643
Provided by: WestminsterResearch

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