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.