Higher level vocational skills – part 1: contexts and issues arising from higher level vocational skills offered by colleges
Higher education is changing around the world. Changing demographics, technologies, competitive global markets and the pursuit of sustained employability in difficult economic times all generate an interest from employers and employees alike in maintaining high levels of technical skills. This demand for higher level skills to equip employers and employees for success in a global modern economy is stimulating fundamental reviews of the purpose of higher education and its role in providing highly skilled individuals. Identifying those skills and placing them alongside traditional and accepted forms of higher education is challenging existing providers. It is also encouraging new entrants to higher education – both of providers and students of learning. These new requirements are challenging traditional divisions between colleges that traditionally offer vocational education and universities that offer higher education. Many colleges that previously focused on vocational education now find that they are increasingly required to offer higher education to meet the rising knowledge and skill requirements of students, industry and the community. It is clear that colleges are required to offer higher level programs to meet these needs, as the knowledge and skill demands of jobs change. However, there is debate over how to characterise this provision. Is it higher vocational education, vocational higher education, applied higher education, or just higher education? Does this provision differ from that offered in universities and should it differ? Colleges have offered higher education for many decades, concentrating on practice based higher education which has a close relation with local employers and occupational bodies designing and delivering higher level vocational skills. The aim of this eBook is to identify the benefits of such provision, illuminate good practice and share problems and potential solutions internationally. The eBook explores the contexts and issues arising from higher level vocational skills offered by colleges.
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