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Great Expectations: VET’s Meaning for Dutch Local Industry

Part of the Professional and Practice-based Learning book series (PPBL,volume 18)

Abstract

After a long period of discussions and mergers, the 1996 Adult and Vocational Education Act introduced a new school type in Dutch secondary vocational education and training (VET): a regional, multi-sector, multi-level and multi-track institution. The name, Regional Education Centre (in Dutch: Regionaal Opleidingen Centrum; ROC), stands for an ambition—that ROCs should respond to a variety of needs of local industries. It was assumed that, in return, industry would commit itself to supporting local ROCs in both its public (training new generations of skilled workers) and private (purchasing post-initial training programmes) capacities.

This chapter disentangles the interactions between ‘region building’ by the ROCs and the national government’s responses to the way this process was heading, fuelled by the discrepancies between actual outcomes and the outcomes perceived by the government. We argue that since 1996 a variety of strategies and concepts have been promoted aiming to shape school-industry relations. Within these contextual dynamics, ROCs basically stand for a vehicle for qualifying young people from various backgrounds. Although suggested in the market metaphor as a leading principle in this process, it proved an illusion for ROCs to be capable of delivering tailor-made services to both industry and young and adult students at the same time, performed in the same way and with the same tools.

Keywords

  • Lifelong Learning
  • School Type
  • Employment Agency
  • Merging Process
  • Public Employment Service

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Apart from ROCs, VET is organised in Agricultural Education Centres and specialist Trade Colleges. As almost 90% of VET students populate courses provided by ROCs, this chapter concentrates on school-industry relations from the ROC-perspective.

  2. 2.

    During the 1990s, many public services came under pressure to become more efficient and effective, so as to reduce their demands on public money, while maintaining the volume and quality of services supplied to the public. To achieve this, they were subjected to the introduction of various ‘private sector’ management techniques, known under the collective term of New Public Management (cf. Brignall & Modell, 2000; Noordegraaf, 2004; for a critique of market-failures: Wolfson, 2005).

  3. 3.

    This was not in the least inspired by advice from two industry-led committees stressing the point that VET should be instrumental to the country’s industrial revival agenda: the Wagner Committee (1983) and the Rauwenhoff Committee (1990).

  4. 4.

    Some ROCs could not resist defining growth in numbers of students as an end in itself. Accidents were inevitable and some became victims of mismanagement with excessive debt, having chosen a risky strategy either by engaging in take-overs with competing schools or by huge investments in new and prestigious buildings.

  5. 5.

    While the ROC merging operation coincided with higher enrolments in Dutch VET, rising from 450,000 in 1995 to over 500,000 in 2014, despite contrary demographic trends, the ROCs have only a modest 8% share of the private market of tailor-made courses (Buisman & van Wijk, 2011). ROCs are more effective in opening publicly financed VET courses to adults, as the number of adult learners (older than 27) has risen from 50,000 in 2005/2006 to almost 70,000 in 2011/2012 (Fleur & van der Meer, 2012). However, because of the economic crisis, the number of adult students has dropped by no less than 50% in 2014/2015.

  6. 6.

    The Lisbon Strategy is the name of a plan launched by the European Union for the period between 2000 and 2010. Its aim was to make the EU the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.

  7. 7.

    See also Chap. 3 by Marc van der Meer,Jan Peter van den Toren and Tammy Lie in this book.

  8. 8.

    There is a number of booklets and folders published to underscore the ambitions of this agenda. Up-to-date information can be found on the FME website, where Ineke Dementjé (chairperson) and professor Willem Vermeend have collected field lab results and progress reports of this initiative, aiming to integrate learning and technological innovation: www.smartindustry.info. Accessed 29 November 2015.

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Westerhuis, A., van der Meer, M. (2017). Great Expectations: VET’s Meaning for Dutch Local Industry. In: de Bruijn, E., Billett, S., Onstenk, J. (eds) Enhancing Teaching and Learning in the Dutch Vocational Education System. Professional and Practice-based Learning, vol 18. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-50734-7_4

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