A political economy of TVET professionalisation: a case study of chefs at a Canadian polytechnic

Loblaw, Timothy J. (2018) A political economy of TVET professionalisation: a case study of chefs at a Canadian polytechnic. EdD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on a political economy analysis of the relationship between the professional identity and professional development practices of instructors in the postsecondary educational sector of technical and vocational education and training (TVET). My study brings together the concept of the dual-professional identity of postsecondary TVET instructors, the practice of professional development in TVET, and a political economy approach. The research methods adapted for this postgraduate research study were from a qualitative perspective using a case study approach. The case study involved eight culinary instructors, the supervisor of the professional cooking programme, and the director of the hospitality and culinary careers school at a postsecondary polytechnic in Canada, selected using a non-probability sampling technique. My research explored what a political economy analysis would reveal about the relationship between the professional identity and the professional development practices of the culinary instructors/chefs. Throughout this thesis, I use the term, TVET professionalisation, to denote this relationship

This case study contributes to knowledge and the TVET community in three intersecting ways. Its first contribution is in context – the research took place in the Canadian postsecondary TVET sector, for purposes of analysing the professional identity/professional development relationship in consideration of the historical, structural, and socio-cultural contexts of the institution.

The case study’s second contribution is in extending the literature of the political economy of skills. The findings demonstrate that analysing the professionalisation of the TVET culinary instructors, in consideration of the inter-relationship among the cultural, economic, political, and social contexts of the TVET system, is a suitable extension of the literature on the political economy of skills. From another perspective, the study also adds to the literature on the professionalisation of TVET instructors by considering professionalisation as an extension of the TVET workforce development imperative, which I note in this study as the discourse promoting employability and the axiomatic assumptions of TVET as 'training-for-growth' and 'skills-for work' (Anderson 2008). Thus, the study contributes to wider debates about the applicability of a political economy analysis beyond skill formation systems.

Lastly, the case study contributes a conceptual framework for TVET professionalisation by interpreting the relationship between TVET professional identity and professional development through a political economy lens. The findings demonstrate that both the professional identity and the professional development practices of the culinary instructors in the case study were shaped by various contextual factors within the field of practice: namely, the instructor's personal history and sense of agency, the socio-cultural conventions of the culinary trade under investigation, the social and structural setting of the postsecondary TVET institution, and the workforce development imperative of TVET.

The conceptual framework for TVET professionalisation also contributes another perspective toward the dual-professional identity of TVET instructors. Dual-professional identity formation within this study, and drawing upon the language of the research participants, refers to the process where the 'recipe' for the chefs' base identity was written in the professional trade of culinary arts. Once they joined the polytechnic, though, the chefs used the institution as 'stage' to 'go beyond the recipe' and elevate their identities by adding the ingredient of 'becoming an educator'. Based on an interpretation of the case study’s findings, through a political economy lens of analysis, I suggest that the 'skilled-educator' identity of the culinary instructors is bound by the structural and socio-economic contexts of the postsecondary polytechnic, whereas the 'skilled-tradesperson' identity of the culinary instructors reflects the historical and socio-cultural contexts of the instructors' lived experience as chefs. Further, I posit that each instructor's perception of meaningful professional development reflects the individual's personal sense of agency; what constitutes both a personal and shared sense of legitimacy concerning the value of professional development; and, an allegiance to one of the dual-professional identities over the other.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (EdD)
Supervisors: McGrath, Simon
Morgan, W. John
Keywords: Political economy of skills; technical and vocational education and training; TVET; professionalisation; professional identity; professional development; case study; postgraduate research; qualitative research; postsecondary education; polytechnic
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC1001 Types of education, including humanistic, vocational, professional
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 55341
Depositing User: Loblaw, Timothy
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2019 14:54
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 18:31
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/55341

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