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By John Stevenson

A scientific, research-based starting place textual content for vocational schooling and coaching.

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This move is one aimed at securing ‘transfer’ of knowledge in changing circumstances—that is, adaptability—despite the substantial body of literature that sees the idea of such transfer as misplaced (see, for example, the special edition of Review of Research in Education (Iran-Nejad & Pearson 1999) and the special edition of the International Journal of Education Research, 1999, vol. 31). These ‘generic’ codes are labels for capacities that the advocates believe are common to many different kinds of work, and even apply across work and other life pursuits.

Competency-based training represents a technicist approach to instruction, with confidence that workplace capacities can be specified in advance, to be acquired by learners through instruction. Different competency-based approaches to pre-specifying capacities as competence differ in terms of the extent to which the target capacities are specific or general, disaggregated or holistic, behavioural or cognitive. However, in all cases they exert control through the codification of meaning. Other important assumptions are about the essentialist nature of vocational knowledge, and the movement’s reading of economically relevant capacities.

We also have labels such as intellective and connective skills, mobile knowledge workers and symbolic analysts (Harvey 1989; Young 1993). While these kinds of labels can be seen to point to capacities, which can be abstracted from analyses of various kinds of work, it is a mistake to believe that they can be learned as such. Rather, as outlined in Chapter 1, learning consists of constructing meaning on direct experience, where such activity is situated. That is, it is a mistake to think that being able to communicate adequately in one situation for one set of purposes will apply to another situation and purpose; or that to be able to engage in an activity which achieves solution of one kind of problem connotes the capacity to solve all kinds of workplace 35 DEVELOPING VOCATIONAL EXPERTISE problems.

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