A recurring theme in this dissertation is that VET occupies an increasingly central place in social and economic policy world-wide. It matters to individuals, employers and governments of every political persuasion, in societies both rich and poor. This is not surprising. Education per se is widely seen as a necessary precondition for economic growth within the knowledge-driven economies of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Although Wolf has recently questioned the link between it and economic growth (Wolf 2002:24), there is a clear connection between education and private benefit as measured by the rate of return. As she concludes, for individuals '“Get educated, get richer” seems like sound advice' (Wolf 2002:21). Moreover, in some countries (notably the United States and the United Kingdom), wage differentials between the educated and the undereducated are widening. Rational teenagers and their parents know that without a qualification, an individual is increasingly unlikely to be considered for a job, whatever the qualifications actually (as opposed to formally) required to do it (Wolf 2002:177).
Our first conclusion, then, is that education matters to individuals. As long as individuals (and their parents) understand that educational qualifications matter when it comes to securing any, let alone well-paid, employment, there will be a continuing demand for education. It is not, therefore, surprising that public rhetoric also stresses the value of education to individuals and society. ...Show more