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Reshaping the role of professional associations and the federal state in Swiss VET: ambiguous reactions to the knowledge economy


Bürgi, Regula; Eigenmann, Philipp; Gonon, Philipp (2022). Reshaping the role of professional associations and the federal state in Swiss VET: ambiguous reactions to the knowledge economy. In: Bonoli, Giuliano; Emmenegger, Patrick. Collective skill formation in the knowledge economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 55-75.

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the changes in the Swiss VET system triggered by the advancing knowledge economy. Skill profiles change rapidly nowadays and there is an ever-increasing demand for upskilling. As a result, reforms have to be initiated in order to ensure the necessary changes in the training system. The chapter focuses on professional associations as pivotal actors in shaping vocational knowledge and skill profiles and argue that the reforms consist of both transformative and self-preserving elements. Hence, the development is ambiguous in character. The results are based on expert interviews and a document analysis of the commissions responsible for training structures and content. It is shown that the transformative parts of the reforms lead to standardization and increase the influence of the state. At the same time, the self-preserving forces favour decentralized—or collective—skill formation, thus empowering professional associations. The latter results in path-dependent and diverse modes of governance. Yet, reactions to the knowledge economy circle around the conflicting poles of persistent diversity and standardization. The standards are set by soft law, i.e. governing tools such as funding schemes, detailed manuals, or monitoring procedures. These instruments express not only standardization but professionalization, which challenges professional associations, in particular small and medium-sized associations and firms that rely on volunteer participation and have no professional structure. However, professional associations remain influential players in Swiss VET, guided by their institutional legacy.

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the changes in the Swiss VET system triggered by the advancing knowledge economy. Skill profiles change rapidly nowadays and there is an ever-increasing demand for upskilling. As a result, reforms have to be initiated in order to ensure the necessary changes in the training system. The chapter focuses on professional associations as pivotal actors in shaping vocational knowledge and skill profiles and argue that the reforms consist of both transformative and self-preserving elements. Hence, the development is ambiguous in character. The results are based on expert interviews and a document analysis of the commissions responsible for training structures and content. It is shown that the transformative parts of the reforms lead to standardization and increase the influence of the state. At the same time, the self-preserving forces favour decentralized—or collective—skill formation, thus empowering professional associations. The latter results in path-dependent and diverse modes of governance. Yet, reactions to the knowledge economy circle around the conflicting poles of persistent diversity and standardization. The standards are set by soft law, i.e. governing tools such as funding schemes, detailed manuals, or monitoring procedures. These instruments express not only standardization but professionalization, which challenges professional associations, in particular small and medium-sized associations and firms that rely on volunteer participation and have no professional structure. However, professional associations remain influential players in Swiss VET, guided by their institutional legacy.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Education
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Uncontrolled Keywords:Collective skill formation, CSF, professional associations, Switzerland, VET reform, path dependency, self-preserving change, transformative change, soft law
Language:English
Date:September 2022
Deposited On:04 Jan 2023 10:27
Last Modified:04 Jan 2023 10:27
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISBN:9780192866257
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780192866257.003.0003