02 SES 10 B, Innovative Competences: Apprenticeships, Capabilities And Learning Environments
Parallel Paper Session
The building-up of innovative capabilities at the side of apprentices is discussed from a theoretical and practical perspective. The relationship between innovation processes and the vocational training of apprentices is studied. Different innovation concepts are discussed in relation to the involvement of workers. Which of the innovation concepts foresee the importance of work process knowledge and the experiences of workers?
The notion of innovation as a social process, which includes many different actors, is widely accepted in innovation research (for example, Lundvall 1992; Morgan 1997). In the classical understanding of innovation this is understood as a top down process. This means that companies develop new products or launch new processes in which more or less exclusively engineers or technicians are the key experts for innovation. But in a wider understanding innovation is not only influenced by the engineers but also by the workers. An important step in opening the innovation arena for these actors was setting up the target for design to manufacturability: This means leaving the sequential innovation track towards a more iterative understanding of innovation, in which also the manufacturability of a new product is one of the key problems to be solved.
The economic studies of Hall and Soskice (2001) make clear under which conditions this new character of innovation is needed, when they summarise that ‘incremental innovation at the side of workers is getting increasingly important for the global competiveness of enterprises… for example in such industrial areas were high sophisticated industrial machinery; innovative tools or other process automated production machinery, automated transport systems and high quality engines are produced’.
Based on latest innovation literature I will enrol what this new concept of innovation means. Workers feedback into what is planned by the engineers is considered highly relevant because it entails information about the manufacturability of the concept design and before further design details are undertaken. Therefore it is necessary that workers are able to make incremental improvements to the manufacturing process to achieve the better product quality and make the manufacturing easier and more productive. Workers must be able to confer about the possibilities for improvement. There is a need for communication skills to interact with engineers, in the context of improvements to the manufacturability or the ‘design-to-assembly’ quality of the different products. Therefore it can be said that the worker needs to keep hold of ‘holistic skills’ (Rauner 2007).
The research question in my paper will be: How can we access and identify such good practices in industry and in enterprises? How can we differentiate between good and less good cases? How can we highlight conditions for an innovative learning environment?
By analysing several industrial cases of apprenticeship training taking responsible for the innovative dimension of training I want to formulate some key lessons for such a learning environment which can be also called as innovative. By applying a specific evaluation instrument the quality of the apprenticeship in its relationship between innovativeness and training organisation is studied.
Deitmer, L. (2011) Building up of innovative capabilities of workers. In: Fostering Enterprise: The innovation and Skills Nexus, Research Readings, eds.: Penelope Curtin, NCVER: National Cente of Vocational Education Research, Adelaide, Australia
Deitmer, L & Heinemann, L 2009, ‘Evaluation approaches for workplace learning partnerships in VET: how to investigate the learning dimension?’, in Towards integration of work and learning: strategies for connectivity and transformation, eds.: Marja-Leena Stenström & Päivi Tynjälä, Springer International, Doordrecht.
Heinemann, L & Rauner, F 2009, ‚Qualität und Rentabilität der beruflichen Bildung: Ergebnisse der QEK Studie im Lande Bremen’ [‘Quality and Return of investment of vocational training and education: Results of the QRC Study in the Laender of Bremen’], IBB Forschungsbericht 2009, viewed 6 January 2011,
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