Narrow versus broad vocational education: labour market position and curriculum characteristics of specialised versus less specialised vocational education programmes in the Netherlands

J.B. Coenen, J.A.M. Heijke, C.M. Meng

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This paper compares narrow, or specialised, and broad, or less specialised, upper-secondary vocational education (VE) programmes in the Netherlands with respect to their graduates’ position in the labour market and how they assess a number of aspects of the programme they completed. The data used are from three years of the Dutch VE Monitor, a survey of secondary education graduates 18 months after graduation. The Level 4 programmes of the school-based learning route are investigated. To separate narrow from broad programmes, a new criterion is used, based on the idea that the match between education and a job within a narrow programme’s own occupational domain is better than outside that domain and that for a broad programme such a match does not differ significantly between programme’s own domain and outside that domain. The research shows that graduates from narrow, or specialised, education programmes have a less favourable labour market position than graduates from broad, or less specialised, programmes. They are more often forced to resort to jobs outside their programme’s own domain and are less satisfied with their jobs. Further, it has been found that graduates from narrow programmes think that the programme should have concentrated less on subject-specific knowledge and its practical application. They feel a need for competencies that are more generally applicable. They further find that their programme was too easy more often than broadly educated graduates, which could indicate that narrow programmes have room to concentrate more on teaching competencies that would make graduates employable outside the programme’s own domain.
Original languageDutch
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Publication series

SeriesROA Technical Reports

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