02 SES 12 C, Structures in VET and Governance
As production processes become increasingly complex, Multinational Companies (MNC) in the manufacturing sector are in increasing need of skilled workers at their production sites (Som and Jäger 2012). Especially in emerging economies, German direct investors face challenges in finding appropriately skilled workers at an intermediate skill level. Barring a few research studies like theoretical or pragmatical approaches on the one hand (e.g. Schamp and Stamm 2012; Rauner and Maclean 2008; Euler 2013) and empirical meta-evaluations and small case studies on the other hand (e.g. Gessler 2016; Aring 2014; Pilz/Li 2014; Pilz 2016) there are virtually no empirical findings which relate to the ways in which German MNCs face these challenges. The project “Global Strategies and Local Forms of Vocational Education and Training in German Multinational Companies - a Comparison across Emerging Economies”, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), aims to help to fill this research gap.
By focusing on the vocational education and training behaviours of German global players and “smaller” transnational companies in China, India and Mexico, this study aims to throw light on the transferability of Germany’s dual training system as an enabling mechanism to tackle the shortage of workers in the intermediate skill level in these countries.
The overall aim is to explore how German MNCs arrange Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) at their worldwide subsidiaries, considering the local context. In particular, the study considers the extent to which headquarters implements centralised training strategies and the scope, if any, that exists for the subsidiaries to implement local forms of training activities. The study also explores whether uniform solutions, diverse variants or hybrid solutions can be identified between the different countries in the emerging economy. In addition, the investigations also include how the MNCs develop local arrangements for training activities and whether, and how, they transfer learning arrangements and learning material of the German dual system to their subsidiaries abroad. Thus, the study focuses not only on the institution orientated macro perspective, but also on the organisation and implementation of individual training activities from a micro perspective.
The study relies on qualitative face-to-face interviews with experts in German companies in Mexico, India and China and interviews with local experts in the area of vocational education and training in the three countries. These are supplemented by documented plant tours and detailed literature review. In Mexico 46 subsidiaries and 17 other experts are included, in India 28 subsidiaries and 14 other experts and in China 29 subsidiaries and 12 other experts. Using additional expert interviews in German headquarters and VET institutions (10) the findings gained in the three countries could be reflected from a German perspective. For all interviews a semi-structured theory driven interview guideline was used. The transcripts of the interviews were analysed by qualitative content analysis and summarized into findings. As a strength of this study some companies are included in all three countries and supplemented by an interview in headquarters which enables to directly compare the different influencing factors.
The findings throw light on the internal dynamics of the companies with respect to work organisation and technology in transferring the training activities and practices from one country to another within the same company. In addition, the findings also address the influence of the large external contextual factors such as the national education system or the social setting, in the transfer of in-company training activities across different countries. It is notable that there are complex training structures for production specialists on one hand and onboarding programmes and on-the-job-training for the majority of workers on the other hand. The former contains influence of the German dual model while the ladder is rather orientated towards the local context. This might be explained through the fact that global players often have enough resources to establish their own training centres, but smaller MNCs need to adapt their training activities to the local context. Major challenges are caused by the little appreciation of VET which is found in all the countries. Due to instable labour market structures the danger of poaching hinders their willingness to invest in training. In addition, they often struggle with the low quality of local vocational schools and a lack of experienced and qualified trainers.
Aring, M. (2014): Innovations in quality apprenticeships for high-skilled manufacturing jobs in the United States at BMW, Siemens, Volkswagen. ILO: Geneva Euler, D. (2013): Das duale System in Deutschland ‒ Vorbild für einen Transfer ins Ausland? Eine Studie im Auftrag der Bertelsmann Stiftung. Ed. Bertelsmann Stiftung: Gütersloh Gessler, M. (2017): Educational Transfer as Transformation: A Case Study about the Emergence and Implementation of Dual Apprenticeship Structures in a German Automotive Transplant in the United States. In: Vocations and Learning, 10 (1), 71-99 Pilz, M. (2016), Training patterns of German companies in India, China, Japan and the USA: what really works? International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training, 3 (2), 66-87 Pilz, M.; Li, J. (2014). Tracing Teutonic footprints in VET around the world? The skills development strategies of German companies in the USA, China and India. European Journal of Training and Development, 38 (8), 745–763 Rauner, F.; Maclean, R. (2008): Handbook of Technical and Vocational Education and Training Research. Wiesbaden: VS Verl. für Sozialwissenschaften. Schamp, E.W. und Stamm, A. (2012): New trends in an old sector: Exploring global knowledge and HR management in MNCs and the North–South divide in human capital formation. Innovation and Development 2(2), 285-302 Som, O; Jäger, A. (2012): Qualität auf dem Vormarsch. Aktuelle Trends im Einsatz und in der Nutzung innovativer Organisationskonzepte (Mitteilungen aus der ISI-Erhebung). Karlsruhe: Fraunhofer ISI
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