Linking Vocational Education to the World of Employment: the Case of Business English in Greece

Batsila, Marianthi (2017). Linking Vocational Education to the World of Employment: the Case of Business English in Greece. EdD thesis The Open University.



The focus of this research is Vocational Education (VE) of secondary level and English for Specific Purposes (ESP). Research shows that despite the significance placed on VE (UNESCO 2012), a number of discrepancies are found regarding its link with the employment market worldwide, mainly attributed to the appropriateness of the material. Against this background, this study investigated the link between the English language needs of businesses in Greece and the English language skills VE schools offer at present.

The study employed a mixed methods research methodology. It consisted of business English language needs questionnaires with businesses (N=136), interviews with teachers (N=10), and a focus group discussion with learners (N=8) as data collection tools. Additionally, an evaluation of the “English for Economics and Administration” VE textbook was conducted and the impact of newly designed ESP material on learners was examined through pre-post-tests.

The findings of the businesses survey revealed the need for more emphasis on speaking and listening skills than writing or reading. The evaluation of the target textbook suggested a lack of these skills and lack of authenticity, interactivity, motivation, contemporary content and communicative tasks required by the workplace. To address this gap some new ESP materials were designed to supplement part of the target textbook. The findings show that both learners and teachers found these materials communicative, contemporary, authentic and relevant to learners’ future working needs.

In the Greek context this research is unique in that it investigates the link between VE of secondary level and workplace, which has not been addressed in the Greek literature so far. The research has implications for practitioners who could participate in materials design, and for policy makers who should base ESP materials design on learners’, and workplace needs analysis.

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