Development of Expertise in Vocational Education and Training

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Event start time

Linna building, Väinö Linna auditorium, address: Kalevantie 5.

Laura Pylväs

Doctoral defence of M.A. (Educ.) Laura Pylväs

Development of Vocational Expertise and Excellence in Formal and Informal Learning Environments

The field of science of the dissertation is Education.

The opponent is professor Päivi Tynjälä (University of Jyväskylä). Associate professor Hanna Toiviainen acts as the custos.

The language of the dissertation defence is Finnish.

Development of Expertise in Vocational Education and Training

The vocational education and training (VET) reform, entered into force on 1 January 2018, is the most extensive reform in Finnish education legislation in the past decades and one of the key projects of the Finnish Government. The reform aims to strengthen vocational competence, promote students’ access to employment and support their transition to further studies, and to prevent school dropouts and social exclusions. The new VET assigns great importance to work-based learning and workplace learning.

This research examined the development of expertise in the context of Finnish VET. The interview data (n=119) was based on vocational students’ and their working life stakeholders’ interviews from a variety of vocational fields. When measured against expectations of working life, the Finnish VET was considered to provide the basic vocational skills for students. However, the findings implied that vocational institutions have good future potential to reinforce students’ comprehensive development of vocational expertise and school-to-work transition by developing learning conditions based on more active networking with working life stakeholders within multiple organisations. Apprenticeship training, instead, was considered to provide fruitful learning possibilities for those apprentices with strong self-regulatory skills and who are capable of engaging in self-directed learning. The lack of time, resources, and pedagogical approaches were found to challenge workplace learning by hindering individual guidance and reciprocal workplace learning. In the future, apprenticeship training should pay more attention both on pedagogical development of workplace learning as well as strengthening apprentices’ self-regulatory skills, along with their vocation-specific expertise.

The findings indicated that vocational expertise is strongly based on generic working life skills, which support one’s performance in any field of vocation. Individuals with fluent cognitive skills combined to advanced social skills and self-awareness are perceived as vocational experts in modern working life. Furthermore, self-regulative skills can be placed at the core of vocational expertise. Educational research on self-regulation refers to the factors related to individual regulation of learning, such as motivation, learning strategies, time and resource management and self-reflection. The findings indicated that self-regulative skills positively influence the development of vocational excellence. In turn, the factors hindering the development expertise, for example school dropouts, referred to a lack of self-regulation.


The dissertation is published in the publication series of Acta Universitatis Tamperensis; 2353, Tampere University Press, Tampere 2018. The dissertation is also published in the e-series Acta Electronica Universitatis Tamperensis; 1859, Tampere University Press 2018.

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