Professional knowledge in education and practice

Vocational education and training is regularly the subject of debate in education and labour circles. It is also a major concern for education policymakers at both national and regional level. SFUVET has joined as a partner in this research project launched by French research laboratories (Poitiers, Limoges, Bordeaux, Créteil, Paris).

Adobe Stock / Robert Kneschke

Unemployment, particularly among the least-educated young people, is associated with the risk exclusion or alienation (Castel, 1995). At the same time, it creates recruitment challenges for specific economic branches. Critics of the education system in France regularly cite youth unemployment as a major issue, particularly for young people enrolled in upper-secondary level VET. This has led researchers Prof. Dr. Nadia Lamamra, Dr. Barbara Duc and Dr. Lorenzo Bonoli, together with the Université de Poitiers and the Université de Limoges, to take a closer look at issues of vocational knowledge both in training programmes and in various social contexts. The following French upper-secondary level vocational qualifications are at the heart of their research: the certificat d'aptitude professionnelle (CAP), the brevet professionnel (BP), the brevet de maîtrise (BM) and the baccalauréat professionnel (Bac Pro).

Social science research on vocational knowledge is not new. So far, it has taken several forms. Sociologists, for instance, have developed an entire field of enquiry surrounding the notion of 'relationship to knowledge' (Charlot, 1999; Jellab, 2001); sociologists have also explored sectoral approaches to vocational knowledge in specific fields of activity (Denave & Renard, 2015; Divert, 2012; Moreau, 2010), and many of these studies have largely taken into account 'gendered' knowledge (Lamamra, 2016; Depoilly, 2014); in addition, researchers have focused on the role of public policy instruments in shaping development of vocational knowledge (Harlé, 2010; Maillard, 2008). For their part, education science researchers have highlighted the importance of 'syllabuses' (Lebeaume, 1999; Forquin, 2008) and have explored educational interactions (Filliettaz, De Saint-Georges & Duc, 2008; Filliettaz & Schubauer-Léoni, 2008; Veillard, 2017), and even examined vocational didactics (Kunégel, 2011; Pastré, 2011).

Beyond these approaches, the research team involved in the present research project intend to adopt a different focus, namely that of considering the social spaces where vocational knowledge is acquired (in an educational setting) and activated in various social contexts, which the research team refers to as 'territories' (i.e. understood here as socio-demographic areas, living environments and/or employment basins).