02 SES 03 A, Apprenticeship in Finland, France Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the UK
Vocational education and training (VET) is crucial for the future social and economic stability and competitiveness of Europe. In Switzerland, VET is very integrative on the one hand: two thirds of all school leavers pursue a vocational training. On the other hand the number of drop-outs in traditional single training companies is considerable i.a. due to poor school performance, wrong occupational choice or problems between apprentices and companies (cf. Schmid & Stalder, 2012; Lamamra & Masdonati, 2009). Faced with lower rates of school leavers due to demographic change, but also with risks concerning the integration of young people into VET and the labour market, VET is challenged to develop new organisational forms to guarantee successful apprenticeships. Training networks (TNs) are such a new, innovative form of vocational training. In the past decade, TNs have become increasingly widespread in Switzerland, as well as in Germany and Austria. The proposed paper presents on-going research on the benefits and challenges of training networks.
Since the late 1990s, the Swiss vocational education policy has boosted the establishment of TNs in order to increase the number of apprenticeship positions, to improve the quality of professional education and to further the integration of adolescents into the labour market (cf. BBT, 2008). A training network is a coalition of several companies that train apprentices together. The apprentices rotate from one training company (TC) to another, usually on a yearly basis. The responsibility for recruitment, selection, employment, and formal qualification lies with a professionalised lead organization (LO). Like traditional single training companies, TNs are also confronted with problematic situations concerning apprentices who are at risk for becoming drop-outs. The paper analyses the TN-specific possibilities to prevent and handle such situations on the basis of a comparison of two commercial TNs in Switzerland. As both TNs are market-driven their primary focus lies on creating a professional workforce for a specific line, but they differ with respect to their size. The two TNs will be compared along the following question:
Which structures and offers of TNs enable apprentices to successfully manage and accomplish their apprenticeship and prevent drop-outs?
The theoretical framework for this comparison is the Capability Approach (Nussbaum & Sen, 1993) and the French sociology of convention (Boltanski & Thévenot, 1999, 2007). The Capability Approach allows to understand the kind of possibilities (conversion factors) TNs offer to enable apprentices to convert their individual potential into training success. Examples of such conversion factors are individual coachings offered by the LO, shared mentoring of the apprentices by LO and TC, and the possibility to relocate the apprentices in another TC if problems occur.
The sociology of convention proposes different (market, civic, industrial, reputation-driven etc.) principles of labour market coordination and social cohesion, and enables to theorise complex educational organisations such as TNs (cf. Imdorf & Leemann, 2011). The paper focuses on the conventions that underlie conversion factors and promote the capabilities of the apprentices.
BBT (Bundesamt für Berufsbildung und Technologie) (2008). Resultate Evaluation Lehrbetriebsverbünde. Bern. Boltanski, Luc & Thévenot, Laurent (1999). The Sociology of Critical Capacity. European Journal of Social Theory, 2(3), 359–377. Boltanski, Luc & Thévenot, Laurent (2006). On Justification: Economies of Worth. Princeton (N.J.): Princeton University Press. Imdorf, Christian & Leemann, Regula J. (2011). New models of apprenticeship and equal employment opportunity. Do training networks enhance fair hiring practices? Journal of Vocational Education and Training. OnlineFirst, published on November 25, 2011 as doi: 10.1080/13636820.2011.622445. Lamamra, Nadia & Masdonati, Jonas (2009). Arrêter une formation professionnelle: mots et maux d’apprenties. Lausanne: Éditions Antipodes. Nussbaum, Martha & Sen, Amartya (1993). The Quality of Life. A study prepared for the World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) of the United Nations University. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Schmid, Evi & Stalder, Barbara E. (2012). Dropping out from apprenticeship training as an opportunity for change. In P. Tynjälä, M.-L. Stenström, & M. Saarnivaara (Hrsg.), Transitions and transformations in learning and education (S. 117–130). Dordrecht: Springer. Yin, Robert K. (2009). Case Study Research. Design and Mehods. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
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