Returns on vocational education over the life cycle: Between immediate labour market preparation and lifelong employability
An important issue in the design of secondary-level education is the balance between conveying general and occupation-specific (vocational) skills. On the one hand, vocationally oriented programmes, providing occupation-specific skills with immediate labour market relevance, have repeatedly been shown to secure safe pathways into employment. On the other hand, these programmes tend to put less emphasis on developing general knowledge, skills and competencies, including numeracy and literacy, which are foundational to lifelong learning. Hence, when the needs of the labour market change, employees who opted for a vocational track when they were at secondary school risk being less flexible in adapting to such changes later in their career.