02 SES 03 B, VET Governance, Institutions and Financing
Due to a large number of youth who didn't find an apprenticeship after compulsory education the federal council of Switzerland started in the middle of the 1990ies an apprenticeship initiative. In this context a new apprenticeship model – so-called training networks – have been launched with the objective of increasing the number of apprenticeship places (Walther & Renold 2005).
Enterprises which are too small or too specialised to offer an apprentice a training-programme on their own form a training network with other enterprises to cover all the elements in the training plan. The responsibility for recruitment of apprentices and formal qualification (contract) lies with a professionalised intermediary agency (lead-agency). During their apprenticeship, the apprentices switch their training company on a (half-)yearly rotational basis.
The federal government supports the establishment of the model down to the present day with some initial funding and information, but the running of the training network has to be self-sustaining. The participating companies have to pay for the services of the lead-agency (recruitment, supervision of apprentices), which constitutes the lead agency’s main source of funding.
As empirical research substantiates the shared training particularly of small and medium-sized companies can not only create additional apprenticeship places but improves also the quality of apprenticeship training by giving apprentices insights in different field of branch activities and by fostering competencies of flexibility and self-responsibility with the apprentices (Leemann et al. 2015). Moreover the model helps integrating socially disadvantaged youth by fair recruitment practices and reduces apprentices' drop-outs (Imdorf & Leemann 2012).
The current international research findings show that comparable models of inter-firm cooperation can be found in other countries. In Norway for example training offices play an essential role in the dual VET-system. Around 80 % of the apprentices have training contracts with a training office (Nore & Lahn 2016). In Switzerland however, despite being a promising form of organising in-company training the number of training networks today is small and has not been growing over the last years. Moreover the model itself has disappeared from the agenda of VET policy – whereas around the years 2000 the model got considerable attention and publicity. This paper aims at understanding why this training model didn't assert itself in Switzerland – in a country with a long tradition of dual VET.
To answer this question we combine new insights from the educational governance perspective (Altrichter 2015) with concepts of the theoretical framework of the sociology of conventions – a pragmatic and transdisciplinary institutional approach (Boltanski & Thévenot 2006; Boltanski & Chiapello 2005; Diaz-Bone 2015). The following premises are relevant: A plurality of individual, collective and corporative actors who take influence on the construction and design of VET have to be taken into account. In situations of coordination, evaluation and justification these actors capably rely on collectively and historically established cultural principles, orders of worth and justification (conventions) (Dodier 2010). Each of these conventions is characterised by its orientation towards a specific common good, i.e. a general quality and logic supposed to being established for the well-being and benefit of the society. The social world comprises a plurality but finite number of conventions, e.g. the conventions of market, domestic and project that are relevant in understanding governance in VET.
Situations are characterised by a plurality of conventions. In order to come to an agreement, a convention can prevail or compromises between different conventions have to be made. By investing in forms (objects, standards, cognitive schemata) conventions enlarge their scope and reach temporal, social and spatial stability and validity and produce capacities and power to communicate and coordinate (Thévenot 1984, 2014).
Altrichter, Herbert. 2015. Theory and Evidence on Governance: Conceptual and Empirical Strategies of Research on Governance in Education. Pp. 25-43 in Governance von Bildung im Wandel. Interdisziplinäre Zugänge, edited by Josef Schrader, Josef Schmid, Karin Amos, and Ansgar Thiel. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Boltanski, Luc & Eve Chiapello. 2005. The New Spirit of Capitalism. International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 18:161–188. Boltanski, Luc & Laurent Thévenot. 2006. On Justification: Economies of Worth. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Diaz-Bone, Rainer. 2015. Die „Économie des conventions”. Grundlagen und Entwicklungen der neuen französischen Wirtschaftssoziologie. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Dodier, Nicolas. 2010. "Konventionen als Stützen der Handlung. Elemente der soziologischen Pragmatik." Trivium 3(5). Imdorf, Christian & Regula Julia Leemann. 2012. New models of apprenticeship and equal employment opportunity. Do training networks enhance fair hiring practices?" Journal of Vocational Education and Training. Journal of Vocational Education & Training, 64(1), S. 57–74. Leemann, Regula Julia, Sandra Da Rin & Christian Imdorf. 2015. Training Networks in VET as Innovative Concepts – Reasons and Boundaries for Training Companies to Participate. Pp. 124-127 in Crossing Boundaries in Vocational Education and Training: Innovative Concepts for the 21st Century. Conference Proceedings, edited by Michael Gessler, and Larissa Freund. Bremen: Institute Technology and Education University of Bremen,. Nore, Hæge & Leif Christian Lahn. 2016. Vocational Competences of Apprentices in New Boundary Institutions. Paper presented at the ECER Concerence in Dublin 2016. Thévenot, Laurent. 1984. Rules and implements: investment in forms. Social Science Information 23(1):1–45. Thévenot, Laurent. 2014. Voicing concern and difference: from public spaces to common-places." European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology 1(1):7–34. Walther, Belinda & Ursula Renold. 2005. Lehrbetriebsverbund – neue Chancen für Klein- und Mittelbetriebe. Die Volkswirtschaft 2005(4):39-42.
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