Reconstructing Vocational Education and Training for the 21st Century

Mindfulness, Craft, and Values

Terry Hyland


The unfavorable comparisons between English and European vocational education and training (VET) systems made in the Wolf Report—and indeed in many national reviews of VET in Britain since the Royal Commission on Technical Education reported in 1884—point toward the low status of vocational pursuits in the United Kingdom compared with that in Continental Europe and elsewhere. In the light of these cultural differences, it is unlikely that structural, funding, or curriculum reforms alone will succeed in enhancing VET provision without corresponding changes in the value foundation of vocational studies. The reconstruction of VET requires a re-orientation of its foundational values if the reforms proposed by Wolf and others are to have any chance of lasting success. By the same token—although European and other national systems have their own peculiar problems—the global policy agenda concerned only with cognitive outcomes expressed as behaviorist skills and competences is, arguably, unlikely to meet the key challenges. A reconstructed model of VET needs to foreground the values, craft, and aesthetic features of vocationalism if the perennial problems are to be dealt with adequately. A reconstruction plan is suggested below, informed and inspired by the concept of “mindfulness”—non-judgmental, present-moment attention, and awareness—drawn from Buddhist contemplative traditions. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) in areas such as psychology, psychotherapy, medical science, and education have grown exponentially over the last decade or so, and interesting work is now emerging in relation to the value of mindfulness in workplace training.

  • vocational education and training (VET)
  • education theory and practice
  • education
  • social sciences
  • moral/aesthetic education
  • craft skills
  • mindfulness and education

Article Notes

  • Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

  • Funding The author(s) received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article.

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