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'Bridging' the gap between VET and higher education: permeability or perpetuation?Demands for admission to higher education from vocational routes are widespread across Eu-rope but take different forms, depending on the recognition of tertiary VET or whether sharp-er distinctions between VET and higher education exist. In England, alongside policies pro-moting more employer-responsive tertiary provision, opportunities for ‘bridging’ from voca-tional routes to general university education, and vice versa, have been discussed. The study reported here examined four cases of existing provision supporting transitions into higher edu-cation, potential sites of practices supporting bridging across pathways. Each case provided valued support for progression to higher levels of study; yet these practices focused on exist-ing routes rather than transitions between more academic or vocationally-oriented sites. It is suggested, therefore, that the explicit denotation of separate tertiary provision may be more likely to constrain ‘bridging’ provision than for the latter to help students move beyond their existing route into substantially different forms of higher education.
The role of education and training in the development of technical elites: work experience and vulnerabilityWhilst education and training systems in Europe have provided qualifications preparing candidates for highly skilled, responsible occupational roles, early research indicated that firms preferred to promote to such positions internally. Following changes to labour markets, several countries now place greater emphasis on early workplace learning, in the hope that transitions to work will be eased by experience of workplace environments. The outcomes of these shifts were explored through case studies in England of provision where work-based learning provides a high level of course content. Whilst students and educators ascribed value to these early experiences, evidence emerged of a narrowing of skills taught in work settings and em-phasis on behaviours and attributes. This emphasis is reflected among disadvantaged groups such as young women preparing for service roles: this paper argues for attention to the vulnerabilities of these groups, whose exclusion contributes to the reproduction of ‘elite’ occupations.