Applying discourse analysis to Australian national VET policy: More than one, less than many

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VET researchers and policy-makers have historically displayed a keen interest in the future. Two assumptions link VET to the future. The first is that there is a singular object called VET and, secondly, that it can influence a forthcoming state of reality. This relationship is investigated through a rarely utilised post-structuralist discourse analysis of Australia’s development of national vocational education and training policies. The performative language of policy-makers treats VET as a singular object and portrays the future as rational and predictable. By demonstrating that VET and potential realities exist in multiple forms, it might be possible to better utilise VET’s capacities to produce more desirable national futures. The findings suggest that despite continual reform of the sector, just three strategic positions and their supportive discourses have guided federated policy making. The first generally neglected technical and adult education, followed by the creation of a federally funded novel type of educational institution which eventually led to the establishment of VET quasi-markets. Each underpinning discourse exploited the productive power of language to give effect to governments’ desire to improve manifold futures by deploying alternative versions of VET.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Vocational Education and Training
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022


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