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Vocational Education: An International Perspective

Vocational education is formal education about work, and vocational programs of study typically target a narrow subset of middle-income occupations. In this chapter, we trace vocational education from competing 20th century education philosophies to its varied structures throughout the 21st century world. We then review the body of economic research on labor market returns to vocational education. Three themes from this rapidly expanding literature are that (1) workers with a vocational education tend to have a flatter age-employment profile than workers with an academic education, (2) individuals who seek and gain access to more secondary vocational education tend to have better attainment and early-career outcomes, whereas the effects of large-scale changes to tracking in secondary grades are more ambiguous; and (3) vocational postsecondary education is associated with improved labor market outcomes relative to no or incomplete postsecondary education, particularly for multi-year programs. We close by highlighting areas where more empirical research is needed, which include a deeper understanding of the long-term and inter-generational effects of vocational education on stability and growth in earnings, and the effects of vocational education in the developing world.

Keywords
Vocational Education, Career and Technical Education, Literature Review
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/5sr9-kd78

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Carruthers, Celeste K., and Christopher Jepsen. (). Vocational Education: An International Perspective. (EdWorkingPaper: -327). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/5sr9-kd78

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