ERG SES C 04, Poster Session
In Switzerland, vocational education and training is the pathway most followed by young people after compulsory education (SEFRI, 2013). The majority engages in the dual VET system, in which companies play a central role. Indeed, the dual system combines periods of learning and work in school and work settings in companies. A consequence of the system is the strong tie relying the VET system and the labour market (Hanhart, 2006). This tie takes several forms: a practice-oriented VET system (Hoeckel, Field, & Grubb, 2009); a central position of the companies within the system (SEFRI, 2013); a close confrontation of the apprentices to the production needs and an education oriented to towards immediate “employability” (Masdonati, Lamamra, Gay-des-Combes, & De Puy, 2007). Although host companies play a decisive role in dual-track VET programmes at upper-secondary level, not much research has been done on them and in particular little is known about those who play a key role in the learning process: on-the-job trainers (Mulder, 2013; Baumeler, Lamamra & Schweri, 2014).
This contribution based on a PhD thesis project has the purpose to fill this lack of information on these VET trainers in the research field. Indeed, this function is unknown, whether it be in Switzerland or in other western countries, knowing an important VET system. (Mulder, 2013).
With a perspective in sociology of work, this contribution will focus on the professional and social pathways of on-the-job trainers in western Switzerland. The objective is to better understand who these persons are, why they engaged in this function and which pathways they followed. Even if the main focus in this contribution is on the on-the-job trainers pathways, the general frame is their role in the professional socialization of learners and through that their influence on the transition process.
On the theoretical level, it must be underlined that very few studies have been interested in on-the-job trainers pathways. Some french and german studies have identified some explanatory factors, but such data do not exist for the moment in Switzerland.
In Germany, the BIBB conducted research on on-the-job trainers situation since around thirty years. It allowed to understand their relation to this function, often taken in an informal way and after a more or less explicit request of the firm (Bahl, 2012). To understand the French situation, the recent study of Capdevielle (2013) allows to better surround who these persons are and which their pathway is. These studies bring out that this “career choice” often shows logics of social reproduction (former apprentices, former VET graduates, persons whose families are implicated in VET, etc.) (Bahl, 2008; Capdevielle-Mougnibas et al., 2013). Other studies focus on the motivation to train, which can be a reason to choose this function.
This contribution is based on current studies on transition that point out the lengthening and complexification of the transition process (Bergman et al., 2011; Häfeli & Schellenberg, 2009; Masdonati, Lamamra, & Jordan, 2010). Based on this literature, it adopts two different definitions of transition. On the one hand, transition is considered as a process, which begins at the end of compulsory school and comes to an end when entering the labor market. On the other hand, it is considered as specific moments, traditionally seen as two thresholds: Transition 1, located between the end of compulsory school and vocational or general upper secondary education; Transition 2, between the end of upper secondary education and employment. For this contribution, we’ll be focused on the first definition. Indeed, we’re interested in on-the-job trainers experience of his or her own transition process and its impact on his or her choice of becoming a trainer.
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