Competency and the pedagogy of labour
Like all educational practice, vocational education can be seen as possessing a treble function. Evidently it is an agency of socialization, (re)producing a labour force with appropriate skills, knowledge and attitudes; it is patently also an agency of selection, offering qualifications which distribute the population between different roles. And vocational education shares with the rest of the educational system the function of generating new knowledge and skills, and even new frameworks of meaning, which enable the institutions of human activity to change and survive; in this third sense, it is future-oriented and even emancipatory. What is notable about recent reforms is that many situate work itself - the process of human labour - at the centre of the learning transaction, at a time when work is losing its centrality in the values and aspirations of Western culture.