Call for Papers

4th International VET Conference Crossing Boundaries

8 to 9 April 2021, Muttenz/Basel and Bern, Switzerland
Online Conference

Special focus: Vocational Education and Training Pathways and Lifelong Learning

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 in 2021 is jointly organised by the Bern University of Teacher Education and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, School of Education. The conference will be online via Zoom

The call for papers is open until 15 November 2020.

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. If you like to move your proposal to the Crossing Boundaries Conference, signal your interest until 18 May 2020 here

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

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


  • Submission of abstracts: 15 November 2020
  • Notification of acceptance: December 2020
  • Submission of full papers: 31 January 2021
  • The conference proceedings will be available shortly before the conference.

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

The City of Muttenz is a small town directly adjacent to Basel. Bern is the capital of Switzerland.

We are looking forward to receiving your abstract.

If you have any questions, send an email to

Dr Christof Nägele, Muttenz/Basel & Prof Dr Barbara E. Stalder, Bern

Proceedings Crossing Boundaries 

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