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Spontaneous Disorder? A Very Short History of British Vocational Education and Training, 1563-1973

Foreman-Peck, James S. ORCID: 2004. Spontaneous Disorder? A Very Short History of British Vocational Education and Training, 1563-1973. Policy Futures in Education 2 (1) , pp. 72-101.

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A distinctive feature of the British approach until the 1960s was that vocational education and training (VET) should be provided by employers. This is conventionally contrasted with the much more formal state coordinated approach of Germany. The question posed is whether the British style was the ‘spontaneous order’ that results because markets use information efficiently about the supply of and demand for skills. Alternatively, was it ‘spontaneous disorder’ in which the absence of standards and coordination led to underinvestment in VET and economic decline relative to those countries with strong leadership in education and training? There is considerable evidence in the twentieth century that Britain suffered from shortcomings in the availability of highly trained labour. The most credible explanation is the organisation and operation of the VET system; the perceived self-interests of undereducated employers and restrictive unions during booms and slumps provided inadequate conditions for efficient employer-led education and training.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
L Education > LA History of education
Uncontrolled Keywords: vocational education and training; under-investment; employers
Publisher: Symposium Journals
ISSN: 1478-2103
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 May 2023 11:13

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