02 SES 04 B, Perspectives on Learning at the Workplace - Employers, Training Providers, Apprentices
This paper first presents how apprentices and students evaluate their workplace, respectively their school as learning venue. Do they have think that they can acquire knowledge and skills and that they can develop professional attitudes? The main focus of the paper is then to name all the antecedents of a positive evaluation of the workplace as learning place by the apprentices.
The majority of adolescents in Switzerland attends an apprenticeship on the upper secondary level and only one fifth goes trough an general academic education (Bundesamt für Berufsbildung und Technologie, 2011). Whereas apprentices are educated and trained at three distinct learning venues (company, inter-company courses, vocational school), students are educated and trained at their school or gymnasium. Results show that apprentices and students evaluate their school as learning venue very much in the same way. However, apprentices tell us that their workplace is a much better place to learn than their vocational school.
This is a positive result for the companies, as learning at the workplace is a crucial and central element in the education and training of adolescents at the upper secondary level (Stalder & Nägele, 2011).
Workplace training relies on authentic work. The apprentices learn by doing real work in a real context. It is a big challenge for every company not only to keep the apprentices busy, but also to teach and educate them and to help them to become expert workers.
Individual, social, organizational and structural factors will be discussed that help to explain the overall very positive evaluation of the workplace as a learning venue. Basically, the learning opportunities depend on the concrete job activities, the instruction an apprentice receives, how the trainer and experienced co-workers interact with the apprentice and how they coach him. Other important factors are also the location of learning, the extent of planning that has been invested in delivering the training and the role of the trainer and others during the learning process (Jacobs & Park, 2009), or the work task and working conditions, especially the amount of cognitive regulation that is needed to do the task (Hacker, 2005). Optimal workplace learning is embedded in a situation where there is support from the supervisor, an adequate workload, and the opportunity to use the new competences (Russ-Eft, 2002).
As predictors of the learning opportunities the paper will discuss the effects of the following factors: The social environment (e.g., the interest of significant others), the Characteristics of the apprentice (e.g., a positive self-esteem and self-efficacy), the learning style of the apprentice, the pedagogical and didactical skills of the workplace trainer as well as the skills of the teachers, the job design at the workplace and at school (e.g, scope of action) and is able to regulate his work in a stress-free manner and finally the transfer of knowledge and skills between the vocational school and the workplace.
Bundesamt für Berufsbildung und Technologie. (2011). Berufsbildung in der Schweiz. Fakten und Zahlen [Facts and figures. Vocational and professional education and training in Switzerland]. Bern, CH: Bundesamt für Berufsbildung und Technologie BBT. Hacker, W. (2005). Allgemeine Arbeitspsychologie: Psychische Regulation von Wissens-, Denk- und körperlicher Arbeit. Bern, CH: Verlag Hans Huber. Jacobs, R. L., & Park, Y. (2009). A proposed conceptual framework of workplace learning: Implications for theory development and research in human resource development. Human Resource Development Review, 8(2), 133. doi:10.1177/1534484309334269 Russ-Eft, D. (2002). A typology of training design and work environment factors affecting workplace learning and transfer. Human Resource Development Review, 1(1), 45-65. doi:10.1177/1534484302011003 Stalder, B. E., & Nägele, C. (2011). Vocational education and training in Switzerland: Organisation, development and challenges for the future. In M. M. Bergman, S. Hupka-Brunner, A. Keller, T. Meyer, & B. E. Stalder (Eds.), Youth transitions in Switzerland: Results from the TREE panel study. (pp. 18-39). Zürich, CH: Seismo Verlag
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