Upskilling was the most frequently cited megatrend observed during the 2018 and 2019 monitoring periods (see chart above). Comparison of both years shows that the identified megatrends have remained relatively stable.
First of all there are the pedagogical aspects of upskilling (2019: mentioned in 25% of the sources; 2018: 22%), e.g. lifelong and self-directed learning. Secondly, there are the structural aspects of upskilling and their impact on the education system and the labour market (2019: 12%; 2018: 17%), e.g. employment prospects or access to subsequent levels of education and training. The third and fourth most prominent megatrends were digitalisation (2019: 17%; 2018: 15%) and developments on the labour market and the market for skilled labour (2019 and 2018: 15%), e.g. employment trends. The fifth and the sixth megatrend relate to education policy, i.e. improving the importance of VET (2019: 11%; 2018: 13%) and integrating migrants (2019: 6%; 2018: 8%). Various currently less prominent trends cover a broad range of change-related topics, e.g. in the areas of health and social affairs, the environment, urbanisation or internationalisation. More information about specific megatrends can be found in the subsequent individual chapters.
Megatrends and challenges affecting VET
In order to identify correlations between megatrends and challenges affecting VET, monitoring sources are analysed for the purpose of coding and subsequent quantitative and qualitative assessment (see monitoring process and general approach). The chart presents these combined qualitative-quantitative assessments of publication coverage of specific megatrends, how often they are covered, correlations between specific megatrends and how they relate to key aspects of the VET system (referred to as ‘VET outcomes’). These results enable conclusions to be drawn as to where the challenges facing VET are likely to be most pressing.
‘VET outcomes’ are short- to medium-term objectives to be achieved by system stakeholders. The most discussed VET outcome in trend monitoring is 'employability' of vocational qualification holders. It is the top topic in connection with all megatrends (see chart). Coverage of other key VET outcomes varies depending on the megatrend, which means that the challenges affecting VET are also likely to be different depending on the megatrend. The chart shows the following correlations:
- Megatrend Upskilling (structural aspects): employability of vocational qualification holders (26%), occupational mobility (23%)
- Megatrend Upskilling (pedagogical aspects): employability of vocational qualification holders (28%), successful completion of VET (17%)
- Megatrend Digitalisation: employability of vocational qualification holders (28%), f (13%)
- Megatrend Migration: employability of vocational qualification holders (35%),
- Megatrend Importance of VET: f (20%), employability of vocational qualification holders (16%)
Trends influencing the market for unskilled to highly skilled workers, e.g. economic cycles, are less clearly related to VET outcomes (see chart, grey bar sections). This may be explained by the fact that cyclical fluctuations, for instance, have more of an indirect impact on VET due to changes in the demand for vocational qualifications or company willingness to provide apprenticeship training.
The following chapters present the results of the monitoring process. They provide an overview of the most commonly observed megatrends affecting VET.
Upskilling (i.e. the search for more advanced training) is the most common VET megatrend observed. this megatrend was discussed in our sources both from a structural standpoint (e.g. labour market opportunities or access to subsequent levels of education and training) and from a pedagogical one (e.g. continuous learning or the skills needed for lifelong learning).
- The employment prospects of vocational qualification holders compared with those of higher education qualification holders.
- The appeal and importance of the Swiss professional education sector.
- The vocational baccalaureate as a pathway to more advanced education and training.
- The use of flexible support and training options to improve the employment and training prospects of low-skilled workers.
- Specific to Germany: dual/triple-track VET programmes; drop-outs as a target group for VET; more advanced training.
- Imparting of skills for lifelong, self-directed learning.
- Imparting of transversal skills enabling professionals to apply their competences in changing situations.
- Feasability to impart transversal skills.
- The role of companies in skills development.
- Increasing heterogeneity in language, culture, educational background and performance levels as a challenge for integration in learning settings.
- Validation of formal and informal competences, in both national and international contexts.
In the past, Switzerland’s VET system has been successfully adapted and modernised on numerous occasions in response to social and economic changes, e.g. the introduction of universities of applied sciences or the reform of the Swiss professional education sector. Digitalisation poses a further challenge and raises the question of how digital transformation trends can be put to use within the system and what adaptation is needed. Trend monitoring revealed four broad areas of challenges:
- Rapid changes and shifts in activities between and within occupations, which require flexible training plans.
- Technological change leads to a need for specialised competences on the part of teachers and trainers at all learning locations.
- The technological lead of learners requires new pedagogical methods at all learning locations.
- The need for lifelong learning requires corresponding education and training concepts.
Swiss VET programmes are closely correlated with the needs of the labour market, which is why changes in the market of skilled labour always require adjustments to training plans in VET programmes. Trend monitoring in 2018 revealed the following main topics:
- Increasing participatory forms of organisation for holders of vocational qualifications.
- Increasing flexibility in forms of work and conditions of employment.
- The question of polarisation of job offers and a decline in the medium qualification sector.
The social, national and international appreciation (the 'image') of VET greatly enhances the appeal of vocational pathways. Trend monitoring revealed the following challenges:
- International interest in VET as a means of achieving labour market integration of young people with learning difficulties or from disadvantaged backgrounds. This raises questions regarding the transferability of the Swiss VET system to other countries.
- Ensuring the quality of the VET system as a decisive factor for the reputation and recognition of VET in society.
- Preserving and strengthening the existing advantages of dual-track VET, e.g. close correlation with the needs of the labour market and rapid adaptability to changing skills requirements.
The national and international social debate has shifted away from the challenges posed by a large influx of newly arriving refugees towards finding ways to achieve their medium- and long-term integration. For the megatrend Migration, trend monitoring activities revealed the following topics and challenges for VET:
- Recognition of foreign qualifications.
- Multilingualism as a resource for integration.
- Promoting resilience among immigrant youth.
- Unequal opportunities for children from countries outside the EU.
- Equal opportunities for female migrants on the labour market.
- Need for regional support structures.
- Linguistic, cultural and psychosocial competences of those who teach and train migrants.
- Vocational guidance and integration of young asylum seekers.