Students' Learning and Career Choices in the Vocational Course of a General High School in Japan

Friday, July 18, 2014: 6:15 PM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Megumi OGURO , Department of Education, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
The aim of this study is to consider the new concept of vocational education in secondary education in connection with the labor market in Japan, by focusing on the vocational course of a general high school.

 Previously, the importance of academic education was emphasized in Japan, and the significance of vocational education was downplayed in comparison with other countries. However, in recent years, a growing body of empirical research has positively reappraised vocational education, and the idea of retrieving the vocational significance of secondary education has gained ground.

 There is still a serious problem that must be addressed, however. This is the dichotomy between academic education and vocational education. In Japan, academic education in general high schools has been viewed as education for entering college, while vocational education in vocational high schools has been regarded as education to prepare students for the labor market. Recently, an increasing number of students in vocational high schools aspire to enter college, but their academic performance is not sufficient to do so, due to focusing on the acquisition of specialist skills.

 In this situation, it is necessary to consider the unification of academic and vocational education, but previous studies have lacked this perspective. This study attempts to fill this gap by focusing on the vocational course of a general high school.

 In the vocational course of a general high school, it is difficult for students to acquire sufficient specialist skills, but because they can take more academic classes compared to students in a vocational high school, more of them are able to enter college or vocational technical schools. By revealing how the actual practice in this kind of school affects students’ learning and career choices, this study aims to consider a new concept of vocational education that bridges the dichotomy described above.