02 SES 02 A, Reflections on VET: Looking to the Future
This paper discusses what can be learnt from a recent pilot project with alternatives to apprenticeship training offered to a group of Norwegian students in 2013/2014. We discuss the consequences on students learning motivation and learning outcomes, as well as the dilemmas of reducing drop-out rates, preserving learning quality and protecting the apprentice based VET system at the same time.
Apprenticeship based systems of VET, like in Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Norway (see e.g. Sclicht-Schmälzle & Busemeyer 2014), depend on a balance between supply and demand for apprenticeship. However, many countries face a shortage of apprenticeships. In Germany, the number of new apprenticeships has fallen since the millennium. There are no alternative school based routes to these vocational qualifications, and the result has been that students have had to wait before completing upper secondary school (Walden & Troltsch 2011:305-306).In other countries, however, there have been attempts to address supply-demand mismatch by introducing alternative school based routes to vocational qualifications for those unable to obtain apprenticeships. Denmark and Norway differ from Germany in that the countries offer such alternatives. In Denmark, a school based alternative has been offered to students who lack apprenticeship. Commencing as a temporary measure, it quickly became a permanent alternative (Juul & Jørgensen 2011). The solution has its benefits: there is more room for reflection and mistakes, and the training can be planned from the individual’s learning needs (Juul & Jørgensen 2011: 296). The school-based alternative education is, however, not without challenges. Students do not develop the same social skills and work discipline as they would in a work environment, and they are not participating in a work community (Juul & Jørgensen 2011:296). Thus, they miss out on the benefits of workplace learning (see e.g. Illeris 2011). If the alternative becomes attractive, there is also a risk that it will compete with training placements in the dual system (Juul & Jørgensen 2011:297).
We discuss the consequences of current measures to improve the school based alternative to apprenticeship training in Norway. With the reform of vocational education in 1994, the current 2+2 model was introduced, where students spend two years at school followed by two years apprenticeship training employed in companies. Students facing the third year of vocational school without an apprenticeship are entitled to an alternative, school based training year provided by the school owners. This school based alternative has generally been of poor quality, and seen by employers as well as students, teachers and school authorities as much inferior to apprenticeship (Aspøy & Nyen 2015). From the autumn 2013, five Norwegian counties have received a government grant for experimenting with improved alternative training for students lacking apprenticeships. An important distinction between the Norwegian pilot project and the Danish model is that instead of primarily relying on training at school, Norway has attempted to make the school based alternative as similar to apprenticeship based learning as possible. Duration should be at least 18 months, and a substantial amount of the training should take place in the work environment of a company. The goal was to improve learning quality, lower drop-out, and improve employer’s acknowledgment of the alternative route. The distinction between school based training in this project and apprentice based training became blurred: students were to a large extent functioning as apprentices in a company, but without pay, and formally enrolled in a school and under the supervision of teachers. The aim of this paper is to explore the student’ motivation and learning outcomes, but also challenges faced by different stakeholders, when participating in this hybrid between school–based and apprenticeship based training.
Aspøy, T. & Nyen, T. (2015). Godt, men ikke for godt. Evaluering av forsterket alternativ Vg3 for elever som ikke får læreplass. Sluttrapport. Fafo-rapport 2015-46 Busemeyer, M. & Sclicht-Schmälzle, R. (2014). Partisan power, economic coordination and variations in vocational training systems in Europe. European Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 20:1, 55-71 Illeris, Knud (2011). Workplaces and Learning. In Malloch, M., Cairns, L., Evans, K. & O'Connor, B. (Eds.). The SAGE Handbook of Workplace Learning (pp.32-45). London: Sage Publications Ltd. Juul, J. & Jørgensen, C.H. (2011). Challenges for the dual system and occupational self-governance in Denmark. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 63:3, 289-303 Walden, Q. & Troltsch, K. (2011). Apprenticeship training in Germany – still a future-oriented model for recruiting skilled workers? Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 63:3, 305-322
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