02 SES 08 A, Inclusion and Exclusion
In Switzerland, 2/3 of the young people are engaged in a professional education after school, and in particular in dual VET, which alternates between periods of learning in vocational schools and periods of training at the workplace (SERI, 2017). In addition to this high rate of participation, the system is backed by recognition at national and international level (OECD, 2009). It is also viewed positively when considering how it supports smooth transitions from school to work (Cohen-Scali, 2000) and represents a particular instance of occupational socialization (Dubar, 1996).
Dual VET is known for its tight relationship with the labor market (Hanhart, 2006), visible at several levels: a practice-oriented training (Hoeckel, Field & Grubb, 2009); the central position of the companies (SERI, 2016); a direct confrontation of the apprentices to the production needs; a training logic oriented toward immediate “employability” after graduation (Masdonati, Lamamra, Gay-des-Combes & De Puy, 2007). That means a pregnancy of certain labor market’s logics as productivity and efficiency, but also a risk of increasing certain other logics as selection, discrimination and exclusion.
Although host companies play a decisive role in dual-track VET programmes at upper-secondary level, not much research has taken them as objects of study. Moreover little is known about those who play a key role in the learning process: on-the-job trainers (Mulder, 2013; Baumeler, Lamamra, & Schweri, 2014). The research this contribution is based on (FNS 100017_153323), aims at focusing on these “forgotten actors” of the dual VET, who occupy a pivotal position as workers and trainers. Therefore their objective is not only to train, but also to socialize the apprentices in order to bring them to professional integration.
In the current contribution, our research questions are following: first, how on-the-job-trainers’ participation to the recruitement process facilitates the first transition thresehold or makes it difficult? Second, as primary agents of occupational socialization, how do they prepare young people to enter the labor market (second transition threshold)? Third, by contributing to the transition process, how do they play a key-role in the inclusion and exclusion processes attached to it (Bergman et al., 2011).
On the theoretical level, this contribution refers to the sociology of socialization (Darmon, 2016; Lahire, 2013). It puts the emphasis on the occupational socialization, that integrates different aspects: first, socialization to an occupation (transmission and integration of knowledge, know-how, soft skills specific to an occupation, but also confrontation to norms, values, rules and codes within a professional field) (Dubar, 1996); second, socialization to work (learning of constraints, appropriation of the codes and logics of the professional sphere, such as hierarchy, work organization and division) (Moreau, 2003); and third, organizational socialization (getting familiar with the values and the culture of the company) (Kramer, 2010).
This contribution also refers to the literature on transition that points out the lengthening and complexification of this process (Bergman et al., 2011; Häfeli & Schellenberg, 2009; Masdonati, Lamamra, & Jordan, 2010). Based on this literature, two different definitions of transition are adopted. 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 refers to 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. Both definitions will be useful in the current contribution.
The research this contribution is part of is based on qualitative methods and data. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 80 trainers working in companies of different sizes and belonging to various sectors of activity in the French-speaking part of Switzerland: This population represents the diversity of the economic activity in the six cantons taken into account. It includes a wide range of trainers’ profiles according to their practice, years of experience and status within the company (daily trainer, training manager). Thirty-five observations in situ (N=35) were also carried out at their workplace. In addition, statistical data, legislative documents and companies’ rules and regulations were collected in order to set out the institutional and organizational framework in which this population is practicing. This contribution mainly relies on the thematic content analysis of the semi-structured interviews (Bardin, 1986) which provides information about the different types of skills emphasized by on-the-job trainers when training apprentices. This analysis was conducted with the help of the qualitative data analysis software NVivo. It gives information on on-the-job trainers’ trajectories, daily work situation, work conditions and constraints, socialization practices, recruitment processes, identity issues. For the purpose of this contribution, we will focus on the data from the interviews, in particular on what concerns recruitment (criteria, requirements, elements of trainer’s motivation to hire apprentices) and socialization (in particular socialization’s contents).
The main results of the project point out the role of on-the-job trainers in the transition process and therefore their participation to inclusion or exclusion processes. Two specific moments are examined: the recruitment and the socialization processes. Different motivations underly the hiring of an apprentice. Some on-the-job trainers consider the social duty they have to fulfill. Thus, they hire young people with difficulties or non-traditional pathways. Doing so, they play an active role in inclusion. Other, on the contrary, are quite selective, expecting good school results and soft skills, as motivation, good appearance, etc. This may exclude certain categories of young people (with a modest origin, a migrant background, etc.) In addition to that, a gap can sometimes be noted between certain discourses (equality policy) and the practices in the selection process. This gap also contributes to the exclusion of certain categories of young people. Analyzing the socialization process allows to highlight the socialization’s contents on-the-job trainers insist on. They can be organized into two categories: those aiming at productivity (rhythm, pressure, stress) and those aiming at employability (autonomy, working in a group, respecting the hierarchy, relation with customers). Soft skills appear in both categories. All these socialization contents prepare the future integration in the labor market (T2). In conclusion, these results emphasize the crucial role of on-the-job trainers in inclusion or exclusion processes of dual VET. They are central in training apprentices, transmitting them knowledge and tricks, helping them to develop skills and become professionals, able to enter the labor market. They also take an active part in the socialization process, helping the apprentices to acquire the norms, values or language of their future occupation. By selecting, training and socializing apprentices, they play a decisive role in the transition process.
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