2021 Crossing Boundaries Muttenz/Basel and Bern

The Proceedings can be found here.

Call for PapersConference TopicsKeynote SpeakersSubmitting your ProposalDeadlinesPrinciples of the Crossing Boundaries ConferencesConference VenueProceedings

Call for Papers

4th International VET Conference Crossing Boundaries
8 to 9 April 2021, online, Muttenz and Bern, Switzerland

We invite researchers from the field of vocational education and training and lifelong learning and adjacent disciplines to participate and contribute with a presentation and a paper to the conference.

The Conference Crossing Boundaries in Vocational Education and Training is an expert meeting organised around the topics of socio-culturally different systems, institutions and agency, practice and actors in VET and LLL. It is a conference of the European Research Network in VET (VETNET).

The conference 2021 is jointly organised by the Bern University of Teacher Education and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, School of Education.

Organising commitee

Dr Christof Nägele, Prof. Dr Albert Düggeli
University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, School of Education

Prof. Dr Barbara E. Stalder, Dr Miriam Weich
Bern University of Teacher Education

Direct any questions to crossing.boundaries@vetnetsite.org.


Apprenticeship training as a big chance to develop a flexible workforce with an agile mindset, future-oriented critical skills and a natural understanding for re-skilling and lifelong learning

Serge Corpataux
Head Talent Attraction, Apprenticeship Training Roche Basel/Kaiseraugst, Switzerland

Personal curriculum: worklife learning pathways and VET

Prof. Dr Stephen Billett
Professor of Adult and Vocational Education, Griffith University, Australia


  • Submission of abstracts: 15 December 2020
  • Notification of acceptance: January 2021
  • Submission of full papers: 12 March 2021
  • The conference proceedings will be available shortly before the conference.

Conference Topics

The special focus of the conference 2021 is on Pathways in Vocational Education and Training and Lifelong Learning.

Reference Level 1 – Systems: Socio-culturally different VET systems have evolved along often nationally imposed conceptual lines. The comparison of different VET and LLL systems and their governance are of theoretical and practical importance in the context of economic development and international co-operation. Cross-national comparisons allow identifying strengths and needs of improvement and the recognition of gaps. In comparing the current state and the necessary, respectively possible developments, questions arise, on how VET systems control and regulate access to initial and higher vocational education and lifelong learning, how they contribute to sustainable and meaningful work careers, or how they foster social inclusion.

Reference Level 2 – Institution and Agency: The different VET systems are defined by the interactions of the involved institutions, stakeholders and participating individuals. These are not only an expression of professionalisation; they also indicate the systems’ boundaries and interfaces. These inter-institutional spaces of open or closed discourses depend on the regional and national culture and the political mission statements of the collaborating partners. Questions linked to institutions and agency refer to institutional rules that have been established, patterns of interaction and co-operation between educational and labour institutions, and measures that are needed to increase participation in VET, VET pathways, and lifelong learning.

Reference Level 3 – Practice and Actors: In the institutions or systems of rules, practices have been established to cope with the central questions of teaching, training, learning, and competence development. Practices can help tackle boundaries of qualification, learning pathways, and work careers. Questions arising are for example on how to improve teacher training and students` learning and collaboration; to ensure the aim of ‘Bildung’ in VET didactics and the culture of interaction; to interrelate different formal and informal practices; and to empower the learner, teacher or trainer to cross institutional boundaries and actively shape her or his career.

The three levels are interlinked and influenced by conceptual ideas, terms, and constructs. How are these concepts and theories shaped, what are their boundaries, in which context are they valid, what are the underlying assumptions, what developments are evident, and how do they reflect the requirements of the present time? Both formal and informal learning occurs at the level of skills formation systems, for example, the concept of ‘collective and school-based VET systems’, at the level of the institutions, for example, the concepts ‘competence-based education’ and ‘school-to-work transition’, and on the level of practices, for example, ‘problem-based learning’ and ‘technology-enhanced learning’.

Submitting your Proposal

The only format is a paper presentation. Presentation time is max. 20 minutes plus an additional 10 minutes for discussion, all together max. 30 minutes. All sessions are chaired.

Papers will be selected for presentation based on a double-blind peer-review process. Criteria for selection are conceptual and theoretical framework; clarity of the research question explored; methods and empirical foundation; originality and new insight. If your proposal was accepted for the ECER 2020, we would consider it for presentation at the CB.

The submission needs to include two separate files to ensure the integrity of the double-blind review:  

  1. Abstract, 500-1’000 words: Use the template here. Please delete the name(s) of the author(s) in the abstract, use author and year instead.
  2. Contacts details: Use the template here.

Send your abstract and contact details (two documents) to crossing.boundaries@vetnetsite.org

If your abstract is accepted: The submission of a full paper is a pre-condition to attend the conference. The paper is max. 2’000 words, plus title, biographical notes, tables and figures and reference list. Papers will be published as online-open access conference proceedings and as print-on-demand book on amazon.com.

Principles of the Crossing Boundaries Conferences

The following principles guide the Conference Crossing Boundaries in Vocational Education and Training:

  • be active – all participants are presenters; you cannot participate without preparing and presenting a full paper;
  • interdisciplinarity – contributions with different theoretical and methodological backgrounds are welcome;
  • small size – the number of participants is limited to approx. 60;
  • familiarity – Thursday evening is reserved for catching up with old friends and meet new ones in a relaxed atmosphere;
  • keynote speakers – keynote speakers will be invited to the focus topic;
  • open and free – no conference fee is charged;
  • special issue IJRVET – some participants will be invited to submit an extended research paper (up to 5’000 words) to a special edition which will be published in IJRVET International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training.

Conference Venue

Online from Muttenz and Bern.

Proceedings Crossing Boundaries

  • 2019 Valencia Pedagogical concerns and market demands in VET. Proceedings of the 3rd Crossing Boundaries in VET conference, Vocational Education and Training Network (VETNET), https://zenodo.org/record/2644069
  • 2017 Rostock Social Dimensions and Participation in Vocational Education. Proceedings of the 2nd Crossing boundaries in VET Conference, available here.
  • 2015 Bremen Crossing Boundaries in Vocational Education and Training: Innovative Concepts for the 21st Century, available here.