02 SES 02 B, Quality of In-Company Training
Dual Vocational Education and Training (VET) or apprenticeship schemes as a promising approach to overcome economic crisis in south Europe and to accelerate economic speed-up of former socialist states in East Europe are since years high on the agenda of European and national policies. Consequently a manifoldness of approaches and projects have been started to support Work-Based Learning (WBL) in all of its forms, for a comprehensive overview see for example WBL-toolkit (2018). But when having a closer look at the forms or measures it has to be stated that many of them are rather far away from “real” apprenticeship schemes; most approaches are internships, learning projects, simulations, etc.. In our current ERASMUS+ project “Integrating Companies in a Sustainable Apprenticeship System” (ICSAS 2017) we are working on the question, whether an approach, being close to apprenticeship scheme in Germany, is of benefit within and for VET-systems of Portugal (PT) and Romania (RO). Our main criteria of being “close” to German (DE) apprenticeship scheme (being aware that there are many other criteria like legal preconditions, workshare between stakeholders, etc. – but those cannot be affected by an ERASMUS+ project) are:
* Length (piloting will be at least 1 year);
* Real work places: Learning will mainly take place in a real working environment, not in special departments like learners’ workshops;
* Daily contact persons of apprentices will be skilled workers; not educationally skilled staff;
* Curriculum-driven: Differing from internships, where often the company decides in which departments placements are offered, spheres of activities (learning objectives of work-processes) chosen for our project will be fully in-line with the VET-curricula of RO respective PT;
* Duality: Learning Outcomes (LO) from WBL, which are often exemplarily, will be complemented by structured lessons in VET-schools respective training centres.
We have undertaken a row of measures and answered some operational questions to assure a smooth piloting: Project focusses on one sector (industrial shoe production) – to increase comparability of findings from the participating countries (Germany, Portugal, Romania, and Spain). The basic operational questions that had to be answered, were:
* What could be learnt in real work-processes?
* What should be learnt in real work-processes?
* How can learning be facilitated by tutors?
We applied rather conventional vocational-education research methods; we performed a row of Learning Station Analyses (LSA, cp. f. e. Saniter et al. 2016) in chosen shoe-producing companies in Germany, Portugal, and Romania, figuring out and describing the work-processes and the experiences with apprentices, learners, and/or new colleagues to answer the question of what could be learnt via WBL and potential supporting factors or barriers. Findings reveal, not very surprisingly, enormous and comparable learning potentials within shoe-producing companies from the three countries. Determining what should be learnt via WBL was based on a comparison of findings from LSA and the respective national curricula in PT, RO, and DE. Again, results for the three countries are not identical, but comparable; most of the content of curricula from school-based VET could be learnt via WBL, also. Main hindering factor are descriptors that determine learning objectives too narrow (e. g. by a number of hours for a certain production method); as daily working tasks in some departments like development or work-preparation is often not predictable. Here the option of complementing LO from WBL via learning in structured learning environments like VET-student workshops facilitates achieving LO in-line with curricula. To help skilled workforce in their role as tutors, we analysed existing approaches of apparent good practice of “train the tutor” manuals and adapted them to the spheres of activity of industrial shoe production to offer sector-specific guidance for tutors for supporting learning of VET-students within work-processes – and to assure quality of WBL-LO.
We found no “objective” or “hard” barriers for developing apprenticeships in countries with traditionally school-based VET; but a row of “subjective” or “weak” factors, like scepticism about quality of LO from WBL, concerns that apprentices are exploited as cheap work-force, uncertainties about roles of involved stakeholders, etc.. Nevertheless, we hope that our piloting, just starting in the days of this years’ ECER conference, can contribute to a lowering of these barriers; that stakeholders from countries with school-based VET become familiar with and learn about apprenticeships. We would focus our presentation on the hindering and supporting factor that we found in the project so far for our piloting; and would be interested in feedback from researchers who work or have worked on similar approaches and would share their experiences with us.
ICSAS (2017): http://icsas-project.eu/ Saniter et al. (2016): Guidelines on how to find, analyse, and use the learning potentials of work places. http://www.dualtrain.eu/assets/O2%20Learning%20Station%20Analysis%20[EN].pdf WBL-toolkit (2018): https://www.wbl-toolkit.eu/site/home checked on the 30.01.2018
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