Adult student motives for accessing the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme

Egan, Laurenz Anthony Joseph (2010). Adult student motives for accessing the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme. EdD thesis The Open University.



The overall aim of this thesis is to uncover adult student motives for returning to a full-time formal adult education programme called the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) and to better understand the obstacles encountered by such adults.

This thesis profiles VTOS students during the 2007 - 2008 academic year and their views are illuminated by research conducted with VTOS coordinators during a three-year period from 2006 to 2008 inclusive. Applying a pragmatic philosophical underpinning or conceptual framework to a mixed methods sequential explanatory strategy, enabled this researcher to address this thesis in a triangulated manner.

This thesis evidences the idiosyncratic nature of adult students and uncovers a multitude of motivating factors which influence the decisions of adult learners
to participate in VTOS.

A key finding of this research is that VTOS students are motivated both by the prospect of employment and by the prospect of further studies leading to
employment. Obstacles to accessing VTOS are explored and the restrictive capacity of VTOS emerged as one of the greatest national obstacles. Many other obstacles emerged from within the student, the greatest of which was a lack of self-belief.

A series of conclusions and recommendations are presented, including; an increase in the capacity of VTOS to meet current demands, a review of financial incentives for grant assisted adult students, the establishment of Local Adult Learning Boards and the promotion of an ambassador students programme to further encourage word of mouth and reduce the obstacles of fear and self-doubt amongst potential students.

It is hoped that the findings of this research will further the discussion of interested parties on the following aspects of VTOS; widening participation, recruitment, admissions, retention, achievement and programme content.

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