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Vocational education of “blue collars” in St Petersburg

Priority areas of development: sociology
2014
Head: Shpakovskaya, Larisa Leonidovna
Department: Research Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science

The research object in the study is the system of secondary vocational education in Saint-Petersburg. The goal of the study is to analyze the structure of the “educational field” of secondary vocational education and “educational milieus”, to explore the strategies of educational institutions, to determine the relation between positions of educational institutions, social and gender composition of the students, students' professional plans and motivations. The relationships between the organization of the “field” and “milieus” in the educational space of Saint-Petersburg are also analyzed.

The research uses mixed methods strategy which implies of applying quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis.

The empirical base of the study consists of the following:

  • Statistical data on all educational institutions of secondary vocational education in Saint-Petersburg
  • Formalized interviews with the administration of industrial educational institutions of secondary vocational education (N=38).
  • The results of survey among the first and graduating year students on the basis of a representative sample from 30 industrial secondary vocational educational institutions of all specializations admitting students after on the 9 years of a general secondary school (N = 3083)
  • Interviews with students of the first and graduating years of industrial secondary vocational education institutions in Saint-Petersburg (N = 40). 

Results:

  • Statistical data from all educational institutions of secondary vocational education of Saint-Petersburg were collected.
  • The field of secondary vocational education was sociologically described in terms of quantity and structure of specializations, the type of ownership and administrative subordination, the number of students. The segments of the field of secondary vocational education were identified: industrial and the non-industrial one.
  • The structure of the industrial segment of the field of secondary vocational education was analyzed. The criteria of educational institution success applicable to secondary vocational training (on the basis of evaluation of education quality, volume of resources and way of adaptation to the labor market) were elaborated. Three types of educational institutions were identified: the highly successful institutions, those of average success, and institutions of low success.
  • Method of the quality assessment of educational institutions of secondary vocational training on the basis of evaluation of the students’ professional orientations and plans.
  • Social milieus of the field of secondary vocational education were identified and described. The following milieus were found: 1) Pragmatics from lower middle class with competences and skills of active acting; 2) Romantics from working class families waiting for the chance.
  • The work on mapping the field of secondary vocational education started. The map of the educational field would allow to compare the data on the structure of the field of secondary vocational education of the industrial segment and social milieus of the students.
  • The data on specificity of gender segregation, as well as social and economic stratification of the field of secondary vocational education were collected.
  • The data on gender specificities of professional plans and educational choices of the students and their attitudes towards studying were received.

As outcome of the study all the educational institutions that participated in the research received individual reports on academic motivation and professional plans of their students. The several policy papers on the condition of the system of secondary vocational education in Saint-Petersburg were drafted and sent to the Education Committee and the Science and Higher Education Committee at the Government of Saint-Petersburg. The report was also prepared and presented for the Saint-Petersburg Council of Manufacturers and Entrepreneurs.

The data obtained as a result of the study will be used the following ways:

  • In order to perform an independent education quality assessment and to improve the quality of education by the institutions of secondary vocational training in Saint-Petersburg.
  • In planning of policies, reforms and volumes of financing by relevant government agencies and departments of the Education Committee and the Science and Higher Education Committee at the Government of Saint-Petersburg.
  • In developing cooperation policies between industrial enterprises of Saint-Petersburg and educational institutions of the system of secondary vocational education in order to improve the quality of training of professional cadres and to increase compliance of the acquired competences and the demands of the enterprises, as well as in order to boost motivation among the students.