Agenda-setting for VET policy in the Western Balkans: employability versus social inclusion

Will Bartlett, Marina Cino Pagliarello
  • European Journal of Education, July 2016, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/ejed.12182

What is it about?

For the last decade, the Western Balkan countries have sought to modernise their vocational education and training (VET) systems, adapting them to the needs of their emerging market economies. Within the framework of the European accession process, the policy agenda for VET policies has been strongly influenced by a range of international and domestic policy entrepreneurs. This complex policy process has given rise to tension between policies that seek to frame the problem as one of employability and skill mismatch on the one hand and those that frame the problem as a challenge of social inclusion on the other. By examining the VET policy process in the Western Balkans, we show that national policies have been more strongly oriented towards the promotion of employability and the adaptation of VET systems to labour market needs, rather than to policies designed to overcome social exclusion and discrimination. Among the factors driving this economistic view of VET, we underscore the roles of various domestic and international policy entrepreneurs, including ministries in charge of education, employment and social policy, social partners, the European Commission, and bilateral and multilateral donors. We conclude that increased cooperation is needed between international and domestic policy entrepreneurs who favour inclusive education systems in order to place social inclusion higher up on the VET policy agenda.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr William John Bartlett