Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
Date: Friday, 04/Feb/2022
8:45am - 9:00amOpening of the Help Desk
Location: Help Desk Room

If you have a question, please click on Breakout room in the Zoom menu at the bottom of the screen and choose "Help Desk Room."

9:00am - 10:00amKeynote 4: Prof Dr Lukas Graf
Location: Plenary Hall
Session Chair: Peter SCHLÖGL

Vocational Education and Training in the Knowledge Economy: Comparing Pathways of Change in Switzerland and Germany

Vocational education and training (VET) systems are challenged by the rise of the knowledge and service economy, related changes in production models and workplaces, and, more generally, the growing popularity of academic forms of education. Moreover, European educational policies call for a greater permeability between VET and higher education. This is especially challenging for countries in which VET and higher education traditionally display a relatively strong institutional separation. However, achieving structural reforms in VET systems is demanding. This applies in particular to collectively governed dual-apprenticeship training that has its base in the industrial and crafts sectors of the economy and builds on a long-standing tradition of decentralised cooperation of multiple public and private stakeholders. As a result, it tends to be path-dependent, which favours gradual over radical forms of change. In view of the rise of the knowledge and service economy and the growing popularity of academic forms of education, this keynote analyses policy responses in Switzerland and Germany. How do these systems react to the challenges related to the rise of the knowledge and service economy? The historical institutionalist analysis finds that in adjusting collective skill formation to the knowledge economy, distinct pathways of gradual change are evolving in otherwise relatively similar systems. The dominant pattern of change tends to be the reinterpretation of institutions (conversion) in Switzerland but the addition of new institutions on top of old ones (layering) in Germany, with different implications for the future viability of collective skill formation. The comparison also shows that Switzerland features a more consensual approach to reform. The analysis indicates that country size – both in terms of geography and population – is a key factor underlying the type of change observed, contributing to the discussion of general scope conditions for educational policy reform. The presentation concludes with a reflection on the broader relevance and practical implications of these findings.

10:00am - 10:30amCoffee-Break
10:30am - 12:00pmPaper Session 6A: Mobility and school-to-work transitions
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Daniela ROHRBACH-SCHMIDT

Changes in the Returns to Education at Entry into the Labour Market in West Germany


1University of Bern, Switzerland; 2University of Bamberg, Germany

It is investigated to what extent societal processes such as educational expansion, economic modernization and business cycles have affected the returns to educational certificates of women and men entering the labour market in West Germany. Using longitudinal data, long-term changes in cohort- and period-specific effects on socio-economic status attainment at entry into the labour market are investigated between 1945 and 2008. Analyses demonstrate that the entrants’ average socioeconomic prestige scores have clearly risen in the process of modernization. Despite educational expansion, increasing skill demands for highly qualified graduates resulted in rising rates of returns for the most highly educated entrants across birth cohorts. While educational expansion and economic modernization have boosted socioeconomic returns at entry into the labour market for women from all educational levels, it has not been the case for men with the lowest levels of education. Both, educational expansion and rising skill requirements of occupations led to an increasing polarization of inequality between tertiary educated labour market entrants and less qualified school leavers. Educational expansion in West Germany has therefore never exceeded the occupational skill demands at entry into the labour market.

Improved Prospects for a Smooth School-to-Work Transition? Transition Patterns and Turbulence of Disadvantaged School Leavers in Germany in Times of Increasing Demand for Trainees

Brigitte SCHELS, Juliane ACHATZ

Institute for Employment Research

This study examines the school-to-work transition (STWT) patterns of German school leavers from lower and intermediate secondary schools in the years 2008 - 2013. In these years, huge changes in the German vocational training market have led to an increased demand for trainees. How are the trends reflected in the STWT? Have the chances of a smooth transition improved in general and for disadvantaged young people in particular? We use administrative data from the German Federal Employment Agency to identify STWT patterns and turbulence measures by sequence analysis. We use both patterns and measures as dependent variables in multivariate regression models. First results show that the chances for a smooth STWT have increased over time. Neither low-skilled young people nor school leavers from families on welfare were able to catch up to their better-off peers. Still, the STWTs have become less turbulent overall, but especially for young people with low school-leaving qualifications.

The effect of training firm conditions on educational success

Pontus af Burén, Jürg Schweri

Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training, Switzerland

This paper evaluates the effect of different training firm conditions on their apprentices’ educational success, namely on premature contract termination and on exam success or failure. There is a large literature estimating the effect of school inputs on student outputs, whereas the literature on the relationship between firm training inputs and apprentices’ outcomes is sparse. This paper will address this gap in the literature, using a large employer-employee matched data set of 10,800 apprentices in 4,700 training firms in Switzerland. Preliminary multivariate results confirm the expected relationship between firms’ training cost, training organization and strategy on the one hand, and apprentices’ educational success on the other.

Educational homogamy as a socio-institutional influencing factor of VET in the pandemic and post-pandemic time (based on results of international comparative analysis)


Atonomous Non-profit Organization "Dialog-Regions", Russian Federation

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the usual course of social life, affected all social processes (for example, limited the possibilities for social mobility) and affected the sphere of education. However VET is analyzed traditionally with the focus on economic factors, but the prospects for VET in the context of educational mobility, as well as the problem of socio-institutional influencing factors of VET in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, was not widely discussed.

The object of the research is intergenerational educational homogeneity as a socio-institutional influencing factor of VET. Intergenerational educational homogeneity is a social-institutional phenomenon, which means that within one family the generation of “children” has the same level of education as the generation of “parents”. The goal of the research: to analyze the prospects for the development of VET under the influence of educational homogeneity in a pandemic and post-pandemic time.

The empirical basis of the study was an international comparative analysis of educational homogeneity in VET in Austria and Russia. At the first stage, a secondary analysis of quantitative data was carried out, at the second stage - 15 expert interviews (7 in Austria and 8 in Russia).

The following results were obtained:

VET in both Austria and Russia is the sphere with the highest level of intergenerational educational homogeneity (in comparison with the areas of higher and completed school education);

Educational homogeneity plays an important role in preserving and fixing the social structure, reducing the opportunities for social (as well educational) mobility in both countries;

In the conditions of COVID-19, there is a reduction in the most important channels of social growth (including educational mobility), which in the future may lead to an increase of the level of educational homogeneity and an increase in social distance between social groups with different levels of education in both countries.

10:30am - 12:00pmPaper Session 6B: Workplace learning
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Marina FIORI

A multinational study on training approaches and digital technologies adopted by the companies in disruptive changes

Francesca Amenduni1, Alberto Cattaneo1, Essi Ryymin2, Heta Rintala2, Katja Maetoloa2, Paolo Nardi3, Elena Soldini3, Peter Gruenheid4

1SFIVET, Switzerland; 2Häme University of Applied Sciences, Finland; 3Cometa, Italy; 4BNW, Germany

This study investigates how companies and company members approach learning, training and digital technologies in various disruptive sectors. A total of 63 participants were interviewed from Tourism (Italy and Switzerland), Textile (Italy and Switzerland), Automotive (Germany), Building (Switzerland) and Bioeconomy (Finland) sectors. Learning activities and digital technologies adopted by companies were analyzed and interpreted using qualitative content analysis. A coding scheme based on previous research (e.g. ICAP framework and reflective practice) was iteratively developed throughout the analysis. The percentage frequency of occurrence of the codes’ categories was calculated. The results suggested that training approaches were often ‘traditional’ or transmissive, reflection on practice and training approaches linked to collaborative constructivism. Concerning digital technologies adopted at the workplace, the most mentioned tools were for communication, followed by productivity and video tools, whereas learning content management systems and innovative applications were less recognised.

Knowing, acting, developing: curricular orientations and competence concepts along the curricula revisions of Switzerland’s commercial VET

Nicole Ackermann

Pädagogische Hochschule Zürich, Switzerland

Switzerland’s commercial VET underwent comprehensive curriculum revisions in the last decades. This article examines curricular orientations and competence concepts in the commercial curricula. For this purpose, the commercial curricula of 2003, 2012 and 2022 are qualitatively analysed. The principle of discipline has a long tradition, characterized by general education subjects. With the new revision, there is a shift towards the principles of situations and personality, introduced by vocational action fields. The 2003 revision introduced "competences" for the first time and the 2012 revision introduced "action competences"; however, these (action) competences are formulated specifically for each learning location and learning area. With the planned revision 2022 ("Kaufleute 2022"), "professional action competences" will be integrated across learning locations. In the older curricula, there is a discipline-specific competence concept, whereas in the new curriculum a vocation-specific. The upcoming 2022 curriculum revision represents a paradigm shift for basic commercial education in Switzerland and challenges commercial vocational schools in particular. This challenge also represents a desideratum for didactic research and practice. In the future, subject-related didactics (e.g. didactics of economics, civics and law) will only be useful to a limited extent. Therefore, vocational didactics is needed for commercial vocational schools. Existing didactic concepts from German-speaking countries, such as the learning field approach or the occupational field approach, may be fruitfully used in this context.

Bricklaying and automation technology apprentices in Switzerland: restrictive and expansive participation in companies and vocational identity

Alexandra FELDER, Kerstin Duemmler, Isabelle Caprani

SFUVET, Switzerland

In this presentation, we want to understand the importance of participation within workplaces for apprentices’ training experience and the development of their occupational identity. Participation in vocational activity and training can be organised in various ways in different training companies. Fuller/Unwin’s expansive–restrictive participation model (2003) will help us to analyze training experiences that have been in focus of a qualitative research with bricklaying and automation technology apprentices in Switzerland. Not only the tasks that apprentices fulfill in the company, also the relationships in the work team are essential determinants for the development of occupational identity (Cohen-Scali 2003). The results show that the learning contexts in companies have a strong impact on apprentices’ capacity to develop a vocational identity, through the capacity to develop agentic action during their apprenticeship and foster professional self-confidence.

10:30am - 12:00pmPaper Session 6C: Future skills and competences
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Antje BARABASCH

Is the dual vet System on the scrap heap?


bbw University of Aplied Sciences, Germany

1. Current situation

The world of work is changing as a result of ongoing digitization. The COVID-19 pandemic could further accelerate the process of automation as industrial companies shift production back to avoid reliance on global supply chains, investing more in robots (Marin 2021). Meanwhile, the discussion about the consequences of the industrial automation and the development of the artificial intelligence (AI) questions the vocational training system altogether (Bosch 2016).

According to a study by Frey and Osborne (2017), about 47% of the tasks or activities could already be automated today. In Germany, according to Dengler and Matthes (2015), the substitution potential is much higher at 74 to 82%. This is particularly the case in industrial metal and electrical occupations. It is reasonable to assume that jobs with frequently repetitive or highly structured work in a predictable environment are expected to be fully automated. This raises the question of whether we are qualifying for professions that are disappearing.

In many countries, the dual system of vocational education and training is considered a role model and essential for German economic success (Juskalian 2018). Increasingly, however, doubts are being raised as to whether the model can keep pace with the technological changes. For example, Hanushek et al. (2017) doubt that skilled workers are well prepared by the German vocational training system for the changes in the economy resulting from robotics, AI, and automation, as they cannot build on the very job-specific skills from their training for the rest of their working lives.

2. Questions

Which skills are expected of employees in the future? How could the vocational training in metalworking and electrical engineering be designed sustainably? What opportunities does the German system of vocational education and training, for example, offer in this regard?

Reframing VET by strengthening competence for diversity. Findings from a comparative analysis Germany and Switzerland

Silvia POOL MAAG1, Susanne MIESERA2

1Zurich University of Teacher Education, Switzerland; 2Munich TUM School of Education

Future vocational education and training considers the qualification of individuals with a variety of diversity characteristics. This understanding of diversity does not focus on individual dimensions of diversity, but on the intersection of different diversity factors that learners may have in common or in which they may differ. Countries with strong dual education systems need to address the challenges of diversity if they are to continue to train students successfully. What strengths and weaknesses do Germany and Switzerland contribute to a forward-looking vocational education system? This study focuses on the macro, meso and micro levels of these countries. Both countries have used different strategies and policy to reform education systems, with a particular focus on learners with disabilities and disadvantages. At the same time, it is evident that there are too few efforts at the implementation level of teacher education and diversity-sensitive classroom design. Based on the analyses and the country comparison, requirements for the VET-culture, for the system, the structure of the educational programs and professionalization of the educational staff in the VET are mentioned.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving in Computing and Hospitality – Findings from an Explorative Access.


1University of Zurich, Switzerland; 2University of Zurich, Switzerland

Critical thinking and problem solving are among the competencies of the 21st century. These are crucial competencies that are seen as prerequisites for unrestricted and successful employment in a constantly changing world of work and that enable people to deal with increasingly complex work processes or changes in professions and pursue a meaningful and satisfying vocational biography.

Critical thinking and problem solving involve on the one hand the ability of viewing and analyzing complex issues from different perspectives, and on the other hand, goal-oriented action in situations characterized by uncertainty and non-transparent, networked structures. Both competences have already found their way into recent (vocational) education policy discussions, for example, in the creation of guiding principles for the further development of vocational education and training in Switzerland.

With a view to two basic vocational training programs - "Hotel Management Assistant EFZ" and "Computer Scientist EFZ" - the contribution provides preliminary insights on the extent to which the required competencies of critical thinking and problem solving have already found their way into curricula and company training practice.

Conceptualizations of Creativity in VET

Silke Fischer1, Antje Barabasch2

1EHB, Switzerland; 2EHB, Switzerland

The development of transversal competences, such as creativity, is increasingly addressed in the policy world as being essential to prepare young people adequately for the labour market (European Commission, 2020). Therefore, the question is how this can become a central aspect in VET teacher education in order to prepare teachers to address creativity in their instruction. This is a central aspect in the work of one member of the Leadinghouse für Berufsfelddidaktik, which focuses in the following years on the development of transversal competences in VET. We do not know yet, how VET teachers as much as lecturers at universities conceptualize creativity, and therefore, conducted an empirical study in which we interviewed 20 lectures at five universities in Switzerland. Questions were concerned with their individual perceptions of creativity, approaches to teaching, their leadership style, how important they consider creativity in higher education and barriers that they view in promoting creativity. Interviews are currently transcribed and analyzed. First results show that creativity-promoting teaching/learning scenarios are following criteria as openness of tasks, self-reflection, product orientation and the inclusion of multi-perspectivity. Additionally, the findings indicate that although creativity is perceived as very important by the lecturers, it is not explicitly promoted in vocational teacher education. This is particularly evident in the fact that no binding learning objectives for promoting creativity are pursued in the individual modules. Furthermore, creativity techniques, such as brainstorming, are applied but not consciously used to develop creativity in the long term.

10:30am - 12:00pmPaper Session 6D: International VET systems
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Lorenzo BONOLI

Evolutionary trajectories of dual systems in Europe: the risk of reproducing inequalities

Sandra D'AGOSTINO, Silvia Vaccaro

INAPP, Italy

The increasing weight of youth unemployment in Europe once again has thrown the spotlight on to apprenticeship as a tool with a relevant educational value which can smooth the school-to-work transition for young people. However, dual systems’ ability to match labour demand and supply has been severely threatened by global mega-trends, which over the last 50 years have been affecting economies, labour markets and education and training systems as well. European countries have been reacting to these changes by activating policies for strengthening the attractiveness of apprenticeship and the quality of vocational training. In the resultant transformation, dual systems seem to reduce their capacity to promote the social inclusion of disadvantaged young people. The analysis of the evolutionary trajectories of German, Austrian, Swiss and French dual systems can provide some hints for Italy. The national project launched in the last years to build an 'Italian way to the dual system' has been successful only in limited areas and so far seems to reproduce and enlarge the existing territorial inequalities. In a context of increasing youth unemployment due to the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic Covid-19, the expected re-definition of the Italian apprenticeship scheme following the suggestions coming from the European experiences could make it more effective in strengthening young people’s employability and employment.

How does Vocational Education and Training in Norway ensure a sustainable system to meet social inequality among students?

Anna Cecilia RAPP, Eli Smeplass

Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

In this paper, we explore how a local, rural Vocational Education and Training system tackles social inequality and the risk of marginalization. More than 50% of the youth in upper-secondary education choose vocational education. However, some of them drop out, and drop-out rates are significantly connected to social backgrounds and parents’ educational levels. Simultaneously, the number of vocationally trained workers in the labor market has decreased. Dropping out from vocational education is not only a problem from a national economic perspective, but it also leads to the risk of marginalization in the labor market and society in general for the individual. The educational system is governed by law to include all students and ensure they receive a good education. However, the VET system is divided into several sub-systems that do not always communicate with each other. Through a case study that includes interviews with important stakeholders in the VET system and a survey directed to students in vocational education in upper-secondary school, we investigated social inequality in the system. The results reveal that different rationalities lead to decoupling and difficulties in constructing an integrated VET system. However, through close collaboration, communication, and a local interdisciplinary training office, different ideas can be translated, and common communication on social inequality can be achieved.

Vocational Training Pathways in Spain: the paradox of catching up dropouts


Universitat Autònoma de Barceona, Spain

For decades, education policy in Spain has aimed to promote vocational training, which is associated with a low status as a second track in relation to the academic track. Despite all efforts, vocational training is still biased in relation to the origin of the students who choose it. Based on census data from the Catalan territory, it is shown that access to vocational training is more common among students with low academic performance and among students who drop out of baccalaureate. Significant differences have also been found within vocational training, with some branches being more attractive than others are for lower-achieving students. This reality has a double reading or paradox from the point of view of educational policy: although vocational training maintains a lower status in relation to the academic track, it is a mechanism for catching up with school dropouts.

12:00pm - 1:00pmLunch

                                                                    At 12:30pm in Hyhyve:

                                                                    - Meet researchers on digital learning in room 2 at the smoothy bar
                                                                    - Meet SFUVET’s international affairs unit at the lake

                                                                    Hyhyve VET Congress olatform

                                                                    For more information on Hyhyve, please visit the VET Congress website.

1:00pm - 1:40pmBest Paper Award
Location: Plenary Hall
1:45pm - 3:15pmPaper Session 7A: Returns to education
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Filippo PUSTERLA

IT Skills, Occupation Specificity and Job Separations

Christian EGGENBERGER, Uschi Backes-Gellner

University of Zurich, Switzerland

This paper examines how workers’ earnings change after involuntary job separations depending on the workers’ acquired IT skills and the specificity of their occupational training. We categorize workers’ occupational skill bundles along two independent dimensions. First, we distinguish between skill bundles that are more specific or less specific compared to the skill bundles needed in the overall labor market. Second, as digitalization becomes ever more important, we distinguish between skill bundles that contain two different types of IT skills, generic- or expert ones. We expect that after involuntary separations, these IT skills can have opposing effects, either reducing or amplifying earnings losses of workers with specific skill bundles. We find clearly opposing results for these two types of IT skills for workers in specific—but not in general—occupations: Having more generic IT skills is positively correlated with earnings after involuntary separations, whereas more expert IT skills are negatively correlated.

Do wage scarring effects depend on the type of workers’ skills?

Miriam Grønning1, Irene Kriesi1, Stefan Sacchi2

1Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET, Switzerland; 2University of Bern

Unemployment episodes and economic recession can have detrimental effects on individuals’ wages after reemployment. Previous research has shown that these negative effects are especially severe for blue collar workers and workers with a low education level. A possible explanation is that highly educated workers and those in white collar occupations have more general skills, which are highly transferable, while less educated workers or workers in blue collar occupations have more specific skills, which are less transferable between jobs and occupations. However, existing studies do not consider the heterogeneity of skill acquisition within education levels. Education programmes differ greatly regarding the amount of general and specific skills they impart. Using upper secondary vocational education and training (VET) programmes as an example, we therefore investigate whether different types of general and specific skills imparted during training moderate the effect of unemployment and low labour demand on income. We apply an institutional approach, assuming that differences between training occupations influence diploma holders’ human capital development. Furthermore, we draw upon human capital theory, which argues that general skills are more transferable and depreciate more slowly than specific skills. Diploma holders with general skills can retain a high productivity level even if they enter a job in a different occupational field, which is more likely to occur after unemployment episodes or when jobs in their field are scarce. Therefore, they are likely to have less severe earnings losses than individuals with more specific skills. Our analysis is based on a sample of Swiss employees with upper secondary VET, combined with skill measures derived from occupation-specific training curricula. We address causality issues, including potential selection and endogeneity problems, by applying an endogenous treatment effects model. The results show that general education and training attenuate the negative effect of low occupation-specific labour demand on wages.

How IT progress affects specialization and social skills in the labor market

Fabienne KIENER, Christian Eggenberger, Uschi Backes-Gellner

University of Zurich, Switzerland

We study how information technology (IT) progress affects specialization and social skills by developing a theoretical model and empirically analyzing its implications. Our model shows how IT progress can, but does not have to, lead to increasing returns to specialization and social skills. Using rich skill data from Swiss occupational training curricula, we empirically investigate the wage returns to specialization and social skills depending on IT progress. Our individual fixed-effects analyses show that IT progress leads to increasing wage returns for specialized workers. Furthermore, our results suggest that workers with high social skills benefit from IT progress only if they are also specialized.

The impact of a missing school graduation cohort on hiring trainees and training wages

Matthias Dorner, Katja GÖRLITZ

Hochschule der Bundesagentur für Arbeit, Germany

This study analyzes the effects of a missing high school graduation cohort on the number of trainees that are hired by firms and on the wages of trainees. The canonical labor market model predicts that such a decrease in the supply of trainees should have an effect on hiring and wages. The missing cohort was caused by an exogenous school reform varying at the state and year level. Using administrative social security data on all trainees and training firms in Germany, we show that firms provide less training by reducing their overall number of hired apprentices. We also show that the pool of firms that offer training in the year of the missing cohort shifts towards a higher share of low wage firms. After keeping firm characteristics constant, the findings indicate that the missing cohort increases training wages measured at the start of training. Further analyses shed light on the opposite case of a dual cohort, which we find to increase training provision and to decrease training wages. The evidence also suggests that high and low wage firms differ in how they adjust training provision in response to a dual cohort.

1:45pm - 3:15pmPaper Session 7B: Digitalisation and School
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Alberto A. CATTANEO

Digitized Organizational Development at Vocational Schools - Strengthening for the Future in Interaction between Multidimensional Actors


Institute for Work, Skills and Training of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

In the planned presentation, results of the project "Participation in the digitalized world of work - potentials of the vocational college for vocational qualification 4.0" will be presented, which show the importance of school leaders and teachers as multi-dimensional actors for the design of digitization processes in the context of organizational development at vocational schools. For the case-comparative analysis of qualitative expert interviews (n=31, with 48 interviewees) with school leaders and teachers from various disciplines and with different tasks and functions in eight vocational schools using content analysis according to Mayring (2015). Approaches of educational governance in combination with the "promoter model" originated from business administration constitute the theoretical framework. The results provides first findings about the design of digitization processes at vocational schools, under consideration of changed contextual conditions on macro, meso and micro level of the vocational education and training system due to the Corona pandemic. In order to manage the special challenges arising as a result of digitization, the individual vocational schools are systematizing the distribution of tasks and establishing team-based working groups, thus institutionalizing the self-direction of individual elements of vocational schools. It will be shown that teachers and school leaders, as multidimensional actors with different functions and areas of responsibility, are essentially responsible for shaping digitization processes at vocational schools and contribute to the success of digitized organizational development in the context of vocational (further) qualification. On the basis of the results, strategies for shaping digitization processes at eight analyzed vocational schools in the Ruhr region – under consideration of changing systemic, regional and economic contextual conditions - will be identified and opened for discussion regarding the further development of future-oriented vocational education and training.

Same, but different? Perspectives of School Management and Teachers on Digital Transformation in Vocational Schools in Switzerland

Andreas HARDER2, Martina RAUSEO1, Deborah GLASSEY-PREVIDOLI3, Alberto CATTANEO1, Stephan SCHUMANN2, Serge IMBODEN3, Chiara ANTONIETTI1, Francesca AMENDUNI1

1Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training, Switzerland; 2University of Konstanz, Germany; 3HES-SO Valais-Wallis, Switzerland

The ongoing Corona crisis has highlighted the importance of digitalization in educational organizations. The effects of this transformation process are not limited to the classroom level but extend into various areas of the school, e.g., equipment and technology, strategy and leadership, organization, employees, and culture. Against this background, we have investigated the status quo of the digital transformation in Swiss vocational schools from the perspective of both, school management members and teachers. For this endeavor, two surveys were conducted in the period from November 2019 to September 2020. In total, n = 202 school management members and n = 1'739 teachers from n = 62 common schools participated in the study. Although the main focus of the two surveys differed, a battery of identical items was used in both questionnaires in order to compare the results between both groups. Analyses indicate that certain dimensions are perceived differently by school management members and teachers. Furthermore, linear regression models show that different dimensions seem to be important assessing the status quo of digital transformation depending on the occupational status. The results emphasize the importance of communication between and inclusion of all school stakeholders regarding the digital transformation process.

Fostering vocational action competences through digital scenario-based learning environments: an exploratory study with pharmacy assistant apprentices

Christian GIANG1,2, Charles David SASPORTES1, Peter BÜHLMANN1, Hareem RAZA1, Lucas RAMIREZ1, Mirko MARRAS3, Tanja KÄSER1

1EPFL, Switzerland; 2SUPSI-DFA, Switzerland; 3University of Cagliari, Italy

Today’s highly technologized and ever-changing world of work, needs a workforce that is capable of dealing with new and sometimes unpredictable workplace situations. To better prepare apprentices in becoming self-determined workers, many vocational education and training (VET) systems have shifted their focus from merely teaching specialized subject content to imparting vocational action competences (berufliche Handlungskompetenzen in German). However, aligning the training at schools and workplaces still represents one of the main challenges for dual VET systems. Scenario-based learning (SBL) has been considered an effective approach to help learners contextualize their learning through realistic storylines and therefore represents a possibility to bring realistic workplace scenarios to the classroom. Especially in combination with the latest technological advances, SBL holds the potential to provide authentic opportunities to train vocational action competences. To assess this potential, this work presents the development and evaluation of a digital SBL environment allowing pharmacy assistant apprentices to train their action competences, with a particular emphasis on customer service. In classroom studies with 128 apprentices we analyzed the apprentices’ perceptions of the environment as well as the quality and level of depth of their suggested solutions. Our findings illustrate that the digital SBL was very much appreciated by the apprentices and most of them were able to identify the correct cause for the customer’s problem through the environment. However, only few were actually able to fully leverage the resources in the environment and provide a satisfactory consultation to the virtual customer. Consequently, future endeavors should consider how digital SBL environments need to be designed to also support apprentices in deeper levels of learning. This is crucial in order for such environments to add real pedagogical value to the development of vocational action competences.

Social Media in Vocational Education and Training Research – Insights from a Media Ethnography

Laura Getz, Hubert Ertl

Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Germany

Researchers increasingly use social media platforms such as Twitter or ResearchGate to exchange research ideas, collect data or disseminate their research. Given the increasing use of social media in academia and its potential to reach wider academic communities, policy-makers and audiences, it is crucial to explore how vocational education and training (VET) researchers use social media and why they do so. Through ethnographic field research, using group discussions, participant observation and interviews, this research project explores how VET researchers use social media and how social media shape perceptions and practices of research communication. VET research is characterised by an increasing complexity and international connectedness and partly driven by the availability of digital research tools and accessibility of big data sets. The presentation will highlight first results from the ethnographic field research and conclude with a discussion of the potential implications of the preliminary findings of the study for VET research.

1:45pm - 3:15pmSymposium 5: New Learning Cultures
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Antje BARABASCH

Discussant: Patric RAEMY

Learning cultures are industry and even enterprise specific and can therefore also be viewed as ecosystems. In a learning ecosystem there is a dynamic interaction between the individual actors (apprentices, teachers, mentors, managers) and the various environments in which learning takes place (vocational school, inter-company courses, workplace, community-based and informal learning settings, virtual spaces) as well as the culture in which they are embedded (business-, school-, digital-, society culture etc.). Since economic changes and in particular digitalization in all researched industries have a major impact on the ways in which learning is conducted and competences are acquired, enterprises have the need to understand how they can facilitate apprenticeships within their premises.

The symposium comprises three presentations based on case studies in Swiss enterprises concerned with new learning cultures in apprenticeship training and a collaborating group in Germany, concerned with success factors for apprenticeships. The case studies focus on different aspects of innovative learning cultures: 1) role understanding and coping strategies of workplace trainers in the retail industry, 2) digital transformation within different learning ecosystems, 3) coaching as an approach to support learners in their competence development, and 4) the effect of self-assessment of transferable competences on subjective apprenticeship success. While the first three studies are based on semi-structured interviews, focus groups and observations and their qualitative analysis, the last presentation is based on a survey, linear regression and a stepwise model construction to show differences between the effects of the assessment of social and methodological competences. What all four studies and the researchers have in common is the role of competence development within apprenticeship training, the interest in the role of culture within all of that and a focus on workplace training.


Negotiating New Professional Roles in Retail’s Workplace Training. Applying the Negotiative Theory of Roles to a VET Context.

Patric RAEMY, Antje Barabasch

Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training (SFUVET), Switzerland

In the last decades, digitalization as well as social and economic changes in different industries (e.g. Schwab, 2016) led to new expectations and behaviors among retailers and their customers. According to the Swiss organization of the working world in retail (BDS FCS), VET in the retail sector needs to adapt to this more complex situation and more demanding work by fostering apprentices’ emancipation and development of transversal competencies (such as creativity, flexibility, and responsibility). This is a challenge for workplace trainers who - although without pedagogical educational background – need to adapt their training towards new pedagogical didactics and methods with emphasis on transversal competences. These new expectations for workplace training lead to new professional roles and role expectations for workplace trainers, who are challenged to adapt, negotiate, accept, internalize, and enact these roles in work practice. Hence, although much is known about how the retail industry has been changed in the last decades, little is known about how workplace trainers in retail cope with these new expectations. Our case study with one of the largest Swiss retail stores thus explores how different actors involved in workplace training across different hierarchical levels perceive new expectations, how they interpret workplace trainers’ roles and how they negotiate and perform these expectations and roles in work practice. The study is based on narratives from qualitative in-depth interviews with 45 actors involved in workplace training, who were asked to interpret their motivations, roles, values, norms, attitudes, and competencies as actors involved in workplace training. The results revealed several role-related themes in research about teaching and learning in VET. The study applies the process of role negotiation (Author, YYYY) to a VET context by focusing attention on various aspects that emerged from the narratives as well as from theories of different academic fields.

How does digitalization influence the learning ecosystems within two pharmaceutical training providers?

Gaby Walker, Antje Barabasch

EHB, Switzerland

Digitalization and its transformation are omnipresent in the pharmaceutical industry. Drivers are new technologies, Big Data and the pressure to remain productive on the market. This also leads to a digital transformation of vocational education training (VET) in the industry and has a major impact on teaching and learning. To identify and develop new learning landscapes, the concept of "learning ecosystem", analogous to the ecosystem in nature, will be applied (Falk, 2018). In a learning ecosystem there is a dynamic interaction between the individual actors (apprentices, teachers, mentors, managers) and the various environments in which learning takes place (vocational school, inter-company courses, workplace, community-based and informal learning settings, virtual spaces) as well as the culture in which they are embedded (business-, school-, digital-, society culture etc.). Ecosystems function best in an equilibrium where all parts are equal contributors. As in a natural ecosystem, there are imbalances and disturbances in learning ecosystems such as heterogeneity in learners' prior knowledge, etc. In this view, digitalization and its digital tools are seen as analogous to abiotic factors like water or sunlight in the natural ecosystem.

In our study the two pharmaceutical providers represent different learning ecosystems with individual types of learning site cooperation.The aim of our study is to characterize these two different learning ecosystems and explain how they rebalance under the influence of digital change. The paper focuses on innovative approaches to learning in VET and implications for further training.

Falk, J. H., & Dierking, L. D. (2018). Viewing science learning through an ecosystem lens. In D. Corrigan, C. Buntting, A. Jones, & J. Loughran (Eds.), Navigating the changing landscape of formal and informal science learning opportunities (pp. 9–29), NY: Springer.

Coaching in vocational education and training: Results of a case study and their implications


Eidgenössisches Hochschulinstitut für Berufsbildung, Switzerland

In vocational education and training coaching can be used to support apprentices’ ability to manage their own (further) competence development ‘on the job’. This is largely requested among employees at workplaces in internationally competitive sectors of the economy which require of their workforce a great deal of flexibility and learning ability. Coaching can be found as an approach in workplace training in enterprises operating in such dynamic sectors of the economy. So far, little is known about coaching practices in vocational education and training. The aim of this paper is to explore how coaching is used in the framework of vocational training in a large enterprise of the communication- and IT- services sector. The for this purpose analyzed case study data comprises 30 interviews with apprentices, workplace trainers, coaches, and members of VET management of the enterprise, protocols of site visits and an analysis of VET related documents. The case study data allow to take a close look at coaching practices as well as the workplace characteristics and training structures that coaching is part of. Three main perspectives of successful coaching are elaborated, showing the relevance of a specific coaching attitude, the relevance of thoughtful handling of apprentices’ mistakes and interlinked with that the support of reflection, as well as the importance of establishing a trusting coaching relationship. As also VET schools must train learners for the contemporary world of work and must foster their ability to increasingly manage their own (further) competence development, coaching could be an interesting approach to be used in VET schools. This is critically discussed in the second part of the paper, respecting the different conditions that apply for learning at the workplace- and learning in the VET school context.

Transferable Competences as a Success Factor in Apprenticeship

Silke SEYFFER, Melanie HOCHMUTH, Alina GESSLER, Angela Ulrich

University of Applied Labour Studies: Hochschule der Bundesagentur fur Arbeit, Germany

Transferable competences in vocational education and training are becoming increasingly important due to the highly dynamic labor market and the resulting changes in the demands that companies require of their employees. Competences have been shown to contribute to the ability to act in variable situations and enable apprentices to adapt quickly to new requirements. While previous studies have taken a deficit approach and examined reasons for dropouts, this study focuses on determinants of successful completion of apprenticeship. Using a German sample of 16,839 apprentices (8,960 women and 7,879 men) in three-year vocational training programs, this study examines the effect of self-assessment of transferable competences on subjective apprenticeship success. The survey was conducted from 2011 to 2018, and the analysis is based on linear regression and a stepwise model construction to show differences between the effects of the assessment of social and methodological competences. Besides he assessment of social competences, methodological competences also prove to be a relevant determinant for a successful apprenticeship. Gender differences can be observed in this context. Recommendations for supporting transferable competences during vocational training are concluded from the results. Distinctly, innovative learning cultures in companies for the adaptation of training to the changed demands on the competences of apprentices will be addressed.

3:20pm - 3:30pmFarewell
Location: Plenary Hall

Contact and Legal Notice · Contact Address:
Privacy Statement · Conference: VET Congress 2022
Conference Software - ConfTool Pro 2.6.143
© 2001–2022 by Dr. H. Weinreich, Hamburg, Germany