Vocational Excellence

The research group investigates the characteristics and future working life expectations of young individuals who participate in international skills competitions (e.g., plumbing, hair dressing, welding). More specifically, the aim is to understand the role of natural abilities, intrinsic characteristics (self-regulation) and extrinsic conditions to the development of exceptional vocational talent. European Union has listed vocational skills competitions as one of the future key areas to improve attractiveness of manual work areas. Firstly, the goal is to critically examine and understand why and how the skills competition system works (students, training providers, governments, business sector). Secondly, the longitudinal design allows a long term investigation of the effects of vocational skills competitions to career development. The recognition of hindering factors to talent development in the early stages of formal education will help the future workforce to fulfill its development potential.

MoVE (Modelling vocational excellence) International is an international pilot study, based on national level research initiated in 2007 by Professor Petri Nokelainen at the Research Centre on Vocational Education at the University of Tampere Finland, with the support of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (2007-2008). The research team is a partnership between: University of Tampere, Finland; University of Oxford, UK; and RMIT University, Australia, with support from Deakin University, Australia. MoVE International is the inaugural research project for the WorldSkills Foundation and is also supported by Skills Finland, WorldSkills UK, WorldSkills Australia and the Dusseldorp Skills Forum. The Finnish MoVE project was the first research project to address the individual attributes which characterise vocational expertise and support the pursuit of excellence. By focusing on quality vocational practice in skill competitions, MoVE departed from the mainstream of vocational research which has followed a deficit pathway, primarily concentrating on structural, economic and policy barriers to vocational participation and completion.

Actualizing Vocational Excellence (AVE, 2009-2011) and Pathways to Vocational Excellence (PaVE, 2012-2014) are continuations of MoVE project and funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. Data from the Finnish MoVE, AVE ad PaVE research have provided education authorities with strategies to improve vocational performance in skill competitions. They also point to ways in which the quality and relevance of vocational outcomes can be enhanced by offering young people opportunities to develop the attributes and characteristics associated with excellence. Findings from the research have been reported in Finland and internationally.

Recent publications:

  • Pylväs, L. & Nokelainen, P. (2017). WorldSkills achievers’ and their co-workers’ and employers’ perceptions of vocational expertise and school-to-work pathways – case Finland. The International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training (IJRVET). In press.
  • Nokelainen, P., Stasz, C., & James, S. (2013). What contributes to vocational excellence? A pilot study of the individual characteristics of the WorldSkills UK 2011 squad. SKOPE Research Paper No. 118. Oxford: SKOPE Publications, University of Oxford.