An Empirical Case of Education Policy Implementation in Serbian VET
Keywords:Education and Training Reform, Law, Change Management, Policy Formation, Case Study, VET, Vocational Education and Training
Purpose: Education policy implementation is as important as policy design. This study applies a literature-based, multi-dimensional framework for success factors and barriers to vocational education and training (VET) reform implementation in the case of a new dual VET law in Serbia. We use the framework to assess factors related to implementation, then relate these factors to actual implementation progress to determine how factors relate to progress. In this application of the framework, we examine whether implementation success requires high scores in every dimension.
Methods: This is a mixed methods study. We conduct document analysis of key resources related to the structure and intention of the reform. We also statistically analyze a dataset of two rounds of interviews conducted during the pre- and early-implementation phases. These interviews include key stakeholders from the public and private sectors, and from national, regional, and local-level actors. We examine how the framework's dimensions and determinants relate to implementation progress.
Results: The implementation of the law is moving forward in Serbia, making this a successful case of progress in policy implementation. Despite this progress, the factors for implementation are not all strong. We find that the content dimension of the framework is a barrier, capacity is unclear, and context, commitment, and clients—actors' engagement— drive implementation progress. Thus, although the implementation process is imperfect in its determinants, it is successfully progressing and already forming the new system.
Conclusions: Based on our results we argue that—even if the framework describes factors that affect VET reform implementation—not all elements are necessary for VET reform implementation to progress. Policymakers can start without perfect implementation conditions and may benefit from striving for "good enough" across dimensions rather than perfect in any one dimension. We discuss potential mechanisms and identify pathways for future research, including moving in the direction of causal research.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Katherine Marie Caves, Maria Esther Oswald-Egg
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