In this project, we are conducting a three country pilot case study in Canada, Sweden, and Germany with the goal of addressing the following questions: (1) what are the key assumptions and beliefs about education, skills, and the labour market within each given country; (2) what structures and processes shape the transition from lower level schooling to higher levels of education; (3) how has the structure of the education and training system and its relation to the labour market changed over the last 10-15 years; and (4) what are the key opportunities and challenges facing each country in terms of education and skill acquisition with the goal of increasing productivity and innovation while reducing inequality? Two theoretical perspectives inform this study: a welfare regime and a production regime approach. While the welfare regime literature illuminates why some regimes are conducive to human capital production and are able to create more equitable educational and eventual labour market opportunities, the production regime literature focuses on the ways that actors such as government, educational institutions, and unions optimize skill formation.
By employing an in depth and multifaceted similar/dissimilar case study approach, we are in the process of carrying out (1) detailed document analyses, (2) feasibility analyses of existing country level longitudinal data sets to determine how to maximize comparability, and (3) interviews with key stakeholders including officials in government, key industry stakeholders, administrators at formal educational and training institutions, and union leaders. Each country chosen for analysis represents unique characteristics of welfare and production regimes (Canada – liberal welfare regime, liberal market economy; Sweden – social democratic welfare regime, “flexicurity” coordinated market economy; Germany – conservative welfare regime, “Eurosclerosis” coordinated market economy).
This pilot project is a first step toward the development of a comprehensive large-scale project of education and training practices and needs in relation to employment in 15-20 countries.