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Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union 

Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

Research addresses the need for shared understanding and values to engage with inclusion in practice

Research activities carried out by Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) in GIVE project contribute to the innovation in VET sector for social inclusion of individuals belonging to disadvantage groups. Research supports the Reference Framework for Vocational Excellence through Inclusion established in the project. Study systematically monitors the Finnish VET sector’s (public administration, school administration and teachers of VET, working life, students) influences and inputs into sustainable development of VET, namely into the inclusion of VET.

The purpose of the study was to learn about Finnish VET representatives’ perceptions of inclusion. Discussions and research on inclusion in education have mainly concentrated on the comprehensive school context, although vocational education and training (VET) students may have multiple, intersectional experiences of disadvantage. Project team applied the quintuple helix model for systematically monitoring the Finnish VET sector’s inputs and influences on inclusion. Our data included 53 representatives from five different Finnish VET sectors. Their descriptions of inclusion were investigated through semi-structured interviews. Preliminary findings have indicated that the definition of inclusion is ambiguous. At the administration level, inclusion was related to ideology, whereas teachers spoke about special education practices. Work-life representatives connected inclusion to the principles of communality, and students appreciated this understanding and individual solutions in their studying and workplace learning. The study addresses a need for shared understanding and values to engage with inclusion in practice. The VET sector would benefit from discussions and training in inclusion and inclusive principles, where the study works as an initiator.

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