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.
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?
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
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.