Vocational Education and Training Beyond Human Capital: A Capability Approach

  • Jean-Michel BonvinEmail author
Reference work entry


The chapter shows how a capability approach to vocational education and training (VET) marks a clear departure from human capital theories. After a brief presentation of the capability approach (CA), it analyzes in greater detail the two notions of “capability for education” and “capability for voice” and what they entail for VET. Specific emphasis is placed on the issues of timing (giving enough time to learn) and voice (taking account of the trainees’ aspirations and viewpoints) and on the necessity to consider VET as having both adaptive and transformative objectives (creating not only efficient workers and rational consumers but also active citizens able to form their own aspirations and to push them within public debates), as well as intrinsic and instrumental value. This also requires going beyond the all too frequent focus on the supply side of VET (equipping trainees for the market) and integrating also the demand side (equipping the market for trainees, i.e., asking firms and employers to take due account of the trainees’ needs and aspirations). The chapter is based on the findings of four successive EU projects: CAPRIGHT (2007–2010), WorkAble (2009–2012), SocIEtY (2013–2015), and the ongoing Re-InVEST (2015–2019).


Capabilities Human capital Capability for education Capability for voice Capacity to aspire Educational justice Access to education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Demography and SocioeconomicsUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

Section editors and affiliations

  • Lesley Powell
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationNelson Mandela Metropolitan UniversityPort ElizabethSouth Africa

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