02 SES 02 B, Quality of In-Company Training
The objective is to provide a comparison and an analysis of two issues in the different Swedish and the Austrian VET contexts: (1) the current debate of quality and quality improvement, and (2) the VET teacher training system and the training of trainers. We can contribute to a better understanding of some common discourses in the different structures – unified vs. differentiated – in Sweden and Austria, and how these different structures are related to the development of VET learning and VET pedagogical practices in the two countries.
Initially, the interest for such a comparison grew in the mind of the Swedish researcher (Henning Loeb) during 2008-2011, when recurrently hearing a political dichotomy-driven rhetoric about the failures of the upper secondary school and specifically the Swedish VET system. During this period, the liberal-conservative government in office introduced and carried out a restructure of the upper-secondary school, aiming for and creating stronger differentiation (cf Lundahl et al 2010) and clearer vocational tracking. Inspired by countries like Austria. Germany and Switzerland, an apprenticeship track was introduced as an alternative within upper secondary VET. Politicians in office and policy actors were recurrently referring to the Austrian VET system “as an attractive education” … with “high quality training”... and “matching the demands of the job-market”, so question of a deeper understanding of policy transfer arise.
VET systems in Sweden and Austria differ in institutional structures and historical development. So questions of transferability arise at several levels. First, structural incompatibilities might preclude transfer (e.g. the interaction between lowe and upper secondary education), second transfer must not only rest on ideas about the positive traits of the ‘other’ structure, but also has to take into account its problems. In Sweden, VET has been integrated in upper secondary school since the 1970s. The Austrian system, on the other hand, provides a strong upper secondary VET school sector, and has retained in parallel a strong separate apprenticeship sector also, that works as a collective skills system (Busemeyer, Trampusch 2011), with a completely separate governance structure from the state-led school sector.
A main characteristic of the ‘dualistic’ Austrian VET structure is the complexity of its heavily tracked and hierarchical structure that interacts with the tracked lower secondary school (Lassnigg 2011). Austrian apprenticeship differs strongly from the German and Swiss structure because of its complementarity to the upper level full-time VET colleges, which do not exist in the former countries. Overall this structure has incrementally evolved and is difficult to govern, in particular strengthening of apprenticeship arose as a remarkable policy challenge (Lassnigg 2016).
The differences between the education structures might impede transferability. In particular the complexity of the Austrian structure might be an ingredient of its functioning, but at the same time reduce transferability. It comprises a sector of full-time VET schools at two different levels (medium schools, and upper colleges), and a separate sector of apprenticeship situated at the lowest level of VET (Graf, Lassnigg, Powell 2011). The expanding upper level VET colleges provide access to higher education through their final ‘matura’-examination grossly equivalent to the academic schools ‘matura’ examination. Despite their occupational qualification, the majority of graduates of VET colleges transfer to higher education afterwards. Apprenticeship sector is stagnating in size, and provides occupational credentials and opportunities for upgrading to the
‘Meister’-qualifications, however, does not provide credentials for further educational careers. Bridging institutions for permeability from medium level VET schools and from apprenticeship to further educational careers in higher education have been established, and are flourishing to some degree (Lassnigg
The investigation consists of reading and interpreting policy documents and policy studies from both countries (which are written in two different languages, with the analysis carried out in English), on quality and quality improvement in the VET sector, and about teacher education, trying to identify the differences in basic structures and the main problems identified in the policy discourses. Further, the investigation is carried out as a one-week interactive workshop in Vienna during April 2018, interviewing each other about the VET teacher education organization and the status of the VET teacher profession. An intermediate step is to analyze the overall shape of the international quality and teacher professionalization discourses, to find a background frame of the potential homogenizing forces and of the ‘systems of reason’ at work. The topics of investigation that will be in focus, are formulated in the following set of questions • What are the main themes in the quality debate of VET in the two countries? What can be identified as the main problems behind the rhetoric? • What are the similarities and differences in the respective country, regarding the quality debate of VET and the quality debate of general (academic) education preparing for higher education access? • What are the formal requirements for teaching in VET? • How is the VET teacher education organized? • What are the formal requirements and education/training arragements for supervisors or trainers at workplaces? • How are the two topics of quality debates and teacher education interrelated?
We expect to better understand the quality and teacher professionalization discourses by comparing them in two countries with very different backgrounds and educational structures. Can we identify the common homogenizing and reasoning forces in the two countries? Which problems can we identify behind the specific discourses? Are they similar or different in the two countries? Can traits of the Austrian structure be expected to resolve problems in Sweden, if we take into account the identification of problems in Austria? Which problems might arise from the transfer in Sweden? We see this investigation as a contribution to the understanding of the potentials for policy transfer and policy learning at a basic conceptual level between countries with different structures. An aspect which might also be illuminated is the attempt of marketing and branding a certain structure for policy transfer, if the ‘native’ background discourses and problem identifications are taken into account (Heikkinen, Lassnigg 2015) We also see it as a try of cooperative research that transforms bodies of knowledge in different languages into the English lingua franca.
Busemeyer, M.R.; Trampusch, C. (eds.) (2011), The Political Economy of Collective Skill Formation, Oxford University Press, Oxford. Graf, L.; Lassnigg, L.; Powell, J.J.W (2011), Austrian Corporatism and Institutional Change in the Relationship between Apprenticeship Training and School-based VET, in: Busemeyer, Marius R.; Trampusch, Christine (eds.), The Political Economy of Collective Skill Formation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 150-178. Grek, S., Lawn, M., Lingard, B. & Varjo, J. (2009). North by northwest: quality assurance and evaluation processes in European education, Journal of Education Policy, 24(2), 121-133. Heikkinen, A., Lassnigg, L. (eds.) (2015), Myths and Brands in Vocational Education , Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne. Lassnigg, L. (2011), The `duality´ of VET in Austria: institutional competition between school and apprenticeship, in: Special issue of Journal of Vocational Education and Training, Volume 63, Issue 3, S. 417-438. Lassnigg, L. (2015), Words, numbers, charts, etc. Some quantitative-qualitative comparisons between Switzerland and Austria, in: Kraus, Katrin; Weil, Markus (eds.), Berufliche Bildung. Historisch-aktuell-international, Festschrift Philipp Gonon, Eusl, Detmold, pp. 243-249. Lassnigg, L. (2016), "Muddling Through" Once Again - The Long Term Development of the Dualistic Austrian VET System, in: Berner, Esther and Gonon, Philipp (ed.), History of Vocational Education and Training in Europe. Cases, Concepts and Challenges, Studies in vocational and continuing education (14), Peter Lang, Bern, pp. 125-145. Lundahl, L.; Erixon Arreman, I.; Lundström, U. & Rönnberg, L. (2010). Setting things right? Swedish upper secondary school reform in a 40-year perspective, European Journal of Education, 45 (1), 46-59. Ozga, J., & Jones, R. (2006). Travelling and embedded policy: The case of knowledge transfer. Journal of Education Policy, 21(1), 1–17. Popkewitz, T. (2009). Curriculum study, curriculum history, and curriculum theory: the reason of reason. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 41(3), 301-319.
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