Latest research into links between education and work

22 Feb 2013

As part of a consortium with the University of Melbourne, the WRC is undertaking research into the links between and within education and work. The three year project, commissioned by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) explores a modern notion of vocation, or a set of occupations linked by common knowledge, skills and capabilities within a broad field of practice. The research asks how a model of vocation does and could evolve, and our approach involves a comparison of case studies across the four sectors of healthcare and community services, engineering, financial services and agriculture.

In the project's first year (2011), extensive analysis of the HILDA longitudinal survey dataset found strong evidence of occupational segmentation, raising questions of the mobility and destinations of a range of individuals with different educational and training backgrounds. Interviews with individual employees in the four sectors  found that the settings of labour demand, including forms of employment, job structures and the competitive nature of the sector itself, created highly differentiated structures for skill formation and use.

In 2012, the research moved on to in-depth qualitative interviews with stakeholders. The research found that a vocation can be characterised by the level to which commonalities in knowledge and skill can be identified between occupations, and by the level of commitment and trust between employee, industry, educational, government and community groups. Each sector varied along these dimensions, with high levels of contestation in healthcare, compared to greater levels of collaboration in agriculture, for example.

The project concludes in 2013, and seeks to report on how these four sectors might evolve. The focus will be on how occupational linkages might be improved or hindered, and the role of the social partners in this process.