Perspectives and Debates on Vocational Education and Training, Skills and the Prospects for Innovation

Phillip Toner, Richard Woolley
Revista Española de Sociología
This paper provides an overview of the theoretical
perspectives and key debates regarding the role and
contribution of the vocational education and training
system (VET) and vocationally-trained workforce in
technical innovation. It considers contributions to
these debates from innovation studies, varieties of capitalism
research, neoclassical human capital theory
and the work organization discipline. Historically, the
primary role assigned to the VET system in innovation
has been in relation to technology diffusion, particularly
the generation, adaptation and diffusion of
technical and organizational change and incremental
innovation. Differences between national VET systems
have been linked to large disparities in the level of
skills qualifications, which is in turn a major factor in
determining differences in patterns of innovation and
key aspects of economic performance between advanced
economies. The article finished by considering barriers
to maximizing the contribution of VET to innovation
linked to future social and economic challenges.
Keywords: vocational education and training system,
skills, innovation, technical workforce.