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).

PRELIMINARY Session Overview
Date: Wednesday, 02/Feb/2022
10:30am - 11:00amVirtual Welcome and Help Desk
Location: Plenary Hall
Plenary Hall 
11:00am - 11:15amWelcome & Opening
Location: Plenary Hall

Opening by the director of SFUVET and congress organizers

Plenary Hall 
11:15am - 12:15pmKeynote 1: Prof Dr Stefan C. Wolter
Location: Plenary Hall

Tradition alone will probably not get us further

Looking back at two decades of research on the economics of VET/PET, we have gained some insights into the functioning of the VET market, the behavior of firms, learners, and the state. Some of these insights will also help us to ensure the functioning of the VET/PET system in the coming years, when technical and economic structural change (keyword digitalization) and socio-political changes will continue to challenge the system. However, the keynote talk will not only take stock of these findings but will also take the opportunity to address those questions to which we have either not yet found a satisfactory answer or those that will only arise in the future, and we are not sure whether the "old" instruments will also help us to solve new problems. These include, for example, the questions of how to reduce cultural resistance to vocational education and training, why certain systems are extremely susceptible to economic cycles and shocks and others are not, how to maintain the willingness of companies to train when real activities shift to the areas of competence of tertiary education, or how the interaction of general education and vocational education and training is to be designed so that the latter does not run the risk of falling into a negative spiral. One thing is certain: relying on the fact that the Swiss system has always mastered previous crises because it is built on a long tradition will not provide sufficient guarantee that it will also master all future crises. However, this opens up new perspectives for a forward-looking research agenda, which dynamic VET research would have to tackle already today.

Plenary Hall 
12:15pm - 1:30pmLunch
1:30pm - 3:00pmPaper Session 1A: Educational and occupational choice
Location: Room 1
Room 1 

Student engagement in relation to educational choice at upper secondary school: Longitudinal approach


University of Iceland, Iceland

Getting more young people to choose vocational education and training (VET) when entering upper secondary education is a priority in educational policy, both across Europe as well as in Iceland where the enrolment rate in VET has been one of the lowest. VET pathways generally have lower status in comparison to general academic education and in Iceland there is a strong societal emphasis on academic education. Prior research has revealed that many youngsters choose academic pathways despite being more interested in VET and tend to be more uncertain about their choice. The aim of this study is to explore the relationship between students’ engagement in relation to their educational choice at upper secondary school using a longitudinal approach. Engagement was measured with a questionnaire at age 15 at the end of compulsory education (participants were 81% of 10th grade public-school population in the Reykjavík’s area) and again at age 18 when enrolled in upper secondary school.

The results show that students who went on to choose VET in upper secondary school had generally lower engagement in 10th grade compared to those who chose academic programs. The opposite was found to be the case after entering upper secondary school; at 18 VET students generally showed more engagement compared to academic students, with the exception of social engagement with school. The findings suggest that in Iceland, compulsory education does not hold as much appeal for adolescents who chose VET compared to those who chose academic programs. In addition, the findings indicate that that those who eventually choose VET do so more deliberately than many choosing academic programs. At the same time, the decreasing engagement of those choosing academic pathways suggests that these students are making a non-intuitive educational choice.

Too young to choose -- does pupils' age shape their track choice after compulsory schooling?

Manuel AEPLI1, Jürg Schweri2

1SFIVET, Switzerland; 2SFIVET, Switzerland

In this paper we investigate the effect of age on pupils' track decision at the end of compulsory schooling in Switzerland. This decision includes both choosing between general and vocational education and -- if starting an apprenticeship -- choosing between roughly 240 training occupations. We apply an instrumental variable design and exploit different cantonal school entrance cutoff dates to instrument pupils' actual school leaving age with their expected school leaving age based on cantonal laws. We show that older pupils are more likely to enter the general track and less likely to start an apprenticeship. If they do start an apprenticeship, they opt more often for a socially demanding training occupation.

Does School Ethnic Diversity affect Occupational Choices?


1University of Zurich, Switzerland; 2University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

This paper analyzes how the ethnic diversity of school peers affects occupational choice. We differentiate between two dimensions of ethnic diversity shown to shape intergroup relationships: ethnic fractionalization and ethnic polarization. Using longitudinal data on the universe of students in compulsory schooling in Switzerland and exploiting variation in ethnic diversity across cohorts within schools, we find evidence for two opposing effects of ethnic diversity. Ethnic fractionalization increases the likelihood of students sorting into social- and healthcare-oriented occupations at the cost of reduced enrollment in business-related occupations. However, the presence of high ethnic polarization nullifies the effect of ethnic fractionalization, thereby reducing the likelihood of students choosing care-oriented occupations. We discuss potential mechanisms behind these effects.

New information, new interests? The effect of an occupation finder for dual vocational education and training on students' occupational choice

Maria Esther OSWALD-EGG

ETH Zürich, Switzerland

When making career-defining decisions such as choosing an occupation, individuals should be well-informed. This study analyses the effect of a low-cost, personalised online information intervention on the number of occupations in which students considering dual vocational education and training (VET) apply for work shadowing. Using data from Yousty AG, one of the largest online platforms in Switzerland for dual VET positions, I exploit their introduction of an occupation finder -- a tool for suggesting occupations matching student's stated preferences -- with a regression discontinuity design. My findings show that the introduction of the occupation finder broadens the set of occupations for which students apply by roughly 0.3, and using the occupation finder results in students applying to six additional occupations. Subgroup analysis shows that the introduction of the occupation finder especially affects students living in urban areas. Thus, it is possible to provide low-cost tailored information to students to broaden their occupational interests in a VET system where dual VET positions are allocated via an apprenticeship market.

1:30pm - 3:00pmPaper Session 1B: Teaching and learning
Location: Room 2
Room 2 

What obstacles can be identified when programming a programmable logic controller?

Nico Link1, Hannes Helmut Nepper2, Bernd Geißel3

1TU Dresden, Germany; 2PH Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany; 3PH Ludwigsburg, Germany

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) have become an indispensable part of automated production in professional practice. Approaches to programming, for example in computer science didactics, are often based on the theory of problem-solving (Adelson, 1981; Dörner, 1976). Our main research aim is to examine in detail, what concrete obstacles occur for trainees when programming a PLC. The study is based on a qualitative content-analytical evaluation (Gläser & Laudel, 2009; Mayring, 2019). The sample size is n = 150 electronic technicians for automation technology and mechatronic technicians in Germany at the end of their vocational training. Our analyses show that it is possible to identify and characterize concrete obstacles in PLC programming in the problem areas reversing contactors and quantity control.

Analyzing guided inquiry with interactive simulations in VET: a study across school years with chemistry laboratory technician apprentices

Christian GIANG1,2, Jade COCK1, David RESIN1, Carmen POPA1, Peter BÜHLMANN1, Mirko MARRAS3, Tanja KÄSER1

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

Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is a pedagogical approach that allows students to perform their own investigative activity based on scientific methods. In the context of vocational education and training (VET), it has been considered a promising approach to foster essential competencies of the future workforce, such as digital and soft skills. However, for IBL to be effective and pedagogically meaningful, it is crucial that such activities are adequately designed and implemented. A particularly important choice to be made is how much information and guidance should be provided to the learner in such activities. However, in the context of VET, this aspect still appears to be under explored. To address this gap, we present the results of a study performed with 309 chemistry laboratory technician apprentices from first, second and third school years. Specifically, the apprentices were asked to solve a guided inquiry task using an interactive simulation. The results showed that no differences were found between genders and apprentices from higher school years generally displayed higher levels of inquiry skills. However, we also observed that some younger apprentices succeeded to solve the task showing high levels of inquiry skills, while on the other hand, there were also third year students who struggled with the task. Our findings suggest that guided inquiry in VET can be most efficient for senior apprentices who have at least acquired some prior knowledge with respect to the subject covered by the task. Nevertheless, the efficacy of IBL could potentially be enhanced by providing (especially less experienced) apprentices with more personalized guidance that is adapted to their individual needs.

Integration of General Subjects into VET Teaching in Germany

Andreas SANITER, Irina Pavlovic, Nils Weinowski

Universität Bremen, Germany

In a narrow perspective, Vocational Education and Training (VET) pursuits two aims: Enabling apprentices to work and to impart a deeper knowledge about the scientific (science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM)) and cultural (ethics, languages) backgrounds of the working processes of the respective vocation (cf. Pukas, (2012)). In our current research and development project “SteBs”, we research into the challenges met by German VET teachers when trying to reach both aims.

Methodologically, we rely on semi-standardized interview questionnaires (both for VET teachers and VET teacher educators) and participant observation of teaching VET in technical vocations.

Findings reveal that content that goes beyond work-process knowledge, skills and competences (KSC) is almost always neglected. Moreover, teachers lack pedagogical concepts on how to impart STEM or English into their lessons. Therefore, young skilled workers are able to perform work tasks, but often not to answer questions about the reasons why they chose a certain procedure or how they would act in a similar, but slightly different, situation.

Our main idea to work on this desideratum is to develop exemplary “learning and working situations”, where scientific backgrounds or English are taught integrated into work-process oriented teaching, and this scientific background and the language skills, respectively, would be useful not only to perform, but also to understand and shape the work-process. We are developing and videotaping short (approx. ten minutes) sequences that integrate pedagogical teaching of STEM and English, respectively, into work-process oriented learning and are interested to receive feedback by an international audience during the conference on this approach.

PUKAS, D. (2012): Gestaltung des Verhältnisses von beruflicher und allgemeiner Bildung als Zugang zur Hochschulbildung. In: bwp@ Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik – online, Ausgabe 23, 1-23. Online: (12-12-2012).

From Practice to Theory and Back Again: Experiences of VET Students in the Tension Between Vocational and Scientific Learning Processes


University College of Teacher Education Tyrol, Austria

The paper discusses the tension between vocational and scientific knowledge, which often presents itself as a question of theory-practice transfer. The context of the study are VET programs in the initial teacher training in Tyrol, Austria. One dimension of the research question focuses on the students’ perspective: How do they perceive and evaluate the different forms of knowledge? A second dimension concerns the integration of learning experiences into the process of professionalization.

Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, the paper analyses material from different sources (questionnaires, focus groups transcripts, observation protocols), in which a total of 21-29 students from three VET programs were consulted over a period of four years.

The findings display the students’ expectations as well as their assessment of the relevance of theory. While the evaluation of scientific knowledge depends on the students (professional) background, the importance of reflection is being emphasized for the development of teacher professionalization. The connection to prior professional experience is expressed less through vocational knowledge or skills, but rather through social competencies.

While the integration of learning experiences into the process of professionalization can be explained through reflective competence, the tension between vocational and scientific knowledge remains ambiguous at several levels of the VET programs. The results provide insights into the potentials that can be activated by the VET programs for creating transitions to past or future learning pathways. While many in-service students already are part of a "community of practice" in their professional field, they now become immersed into a new one without completely uncoupling from the old.

1:30pm - 3:00pmSymposium 1: Policy transfer I
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Antje BARABASCH, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET
Session Chair: Sandra BOHLINGER, Technische Universität Dresden

Discussant: Stefan WOLF, Technische Universität Dresden

This symposium addresses international policy transfer which is a key theme in international and comparative education. Policy transfer in VET mainly stems from the attractiveness of particular governance models and practices in teaching and learning in VET. An example are Public-Private-Partnership models in VET such as the ‘dual’ apprenticeship scheme in German-speaking countries or outcomes-based education derived from Anglophone countries and both models are seen as ideal ways to integrate (young) people into the labour market. Advocates of the dual apprenticeship scheme emphasize the low youth unemployment rates in those countries that have an apprenticeship scheme while those in favour of the learning outcomes orientation emphasize its transferability to all educational fields and to different target groups and contexts (such as VET or HE).

Against this background, this symposium will be concerned with debates and theoretical perspectives on the issue of international policy transfer in VET and therewith related issues such as a comparison of policy transfer in VET versus HE or policy transfer in VET in relation to continuing and adult education. It specifically addresses processes of policy transfer between donor and receiving countries and regions, changing roles in terms of borrowing or lending policies and the role of (international) actors in policy transfer. Theoretical and empirical perspectives on describing and analysing the policy cycle of the transfer initiatives will be presented, identifying the epistemological positions and methodological approaches to selected initiatives with respect to educational policies, but also labour market or HR policies. Authors will critically review the importance of developing ownership and the risk of failure of policy transfer activities globally.

Contributions address policy transfer coming from or within typical VET countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, but also the Francophone area and international perspectives including China and Vietnam.

Room 3 

SY Reconstructing policy transfer in adult and vocational education and training

Antje BARABASCH1, Sandra Bohlinger2, Stefan Wolf3

1EHB, Switzerland; 2Universität Dresden; 3TU Berlin

The paper contributes to the understanding of educational policy transfer with a particular focus on VET and labour-market related training. Starting with a description of travelling VET reforms in adult and vocational education and training around the globe, the article excurses to the historical foundation of VET policy transfer with an emphasis on lending and borrowing from the global North to the global South. Further, contemporary forces that influence global policy transfer are described, leading to the development of a framework for policy cycles, that depicts the influence of different dynamics on decision for policy transfer in VET. Policy transfer today is not necessarily based on the attractiveness of a particular educational system or approach, but can have various other reasons, such as global industry demands for workforce development or the influence of big data and social media. We conclude that policy cycles are nowadays shaped by dynamics that tended to be neglected in the policy transfer discourse and finally provide an outlook for future research.

Conditions for Cross-border Policy Transfer and Cooperation: Analysing Differences between Vocational Training and Higher Education

Lukas GRAF, Anna Prisca LOHSE

Hertie School - The University of Governance in Berlin, Germany

Against the backdrop of an increasingly interconnected world as well as the growing role of inter- and supranational organizations, policy transfer has become a widespread phenomenon, not least in the realm of education. While policy transfer research has focused predominantly on isolated education sectors, less is known about the overall institutional conditions that favour or inhibit policy movement in different education sectors. We argue that the conditions for cross-border policy synthesis, as a central form of policy transfer, differ systematically between the two main education sectors preparing for labour market entry, namely vocational education and training (VET) and higher education (HE). Taking the case of the cross-border region of France, Germany, and Switzerland as an example, the institutional analysis shows that demand-side, programmatic, contextual, and application conditions are more favourable towards cross-border policy synthesis in HE than VET.

Enhancing social and economic inclusion of young adults through VET and work-related learning: facilitating integration through policy learning

Natasha KERSH1, Andrea Laczik2

1UCL Institute of Education, University College London, United Kingdom; 2Edge Foundation, United Kingdom

This paper will consider the role of vocational education and training (VET) and work-related learning in contributing to strategies to enhance social and economic inclusion of young adults, particular those at risk of exclusion. Recent changes in economic and social development and global trends, such as migration, economic crisis and more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic have affected the global and national contexts. In response to these trends, many educational programmes and policy initiatives in Europe have aimed at strengthening VET in order to integrate young people more swiftly into the labour market and society, thus facilitating their social and economic inclusion. The paper will endeavour to consider some implications for VET practices, particularly, discussing the ways in which vocational programmes adapt to the new trends and challenges in response to policy changes, global challenges and the needs and expectations of young adults and employers. The paper will employ the notion of policy learning to consider how the interplay between country-specific priorities, global discourses and the European agenda on active citizenship contribute to and shape specific practices for social inclusion through VET. The particular focus will be on young adults at risk of social and economic exclusion. (e.g. migrants, early school leavers, NEETs). The central question we are posing in the paper is – what is the potential of different forms of VET programmes to facilitate young adults’ social and economic inclusion, and which factors (including relevant policies and practices) may strengthen or undermine these developments? We will draw on both theoretical perspectives in relation to policy developments in adult education and the empirical findings from the Horizon 2020 project ‘Adult Education as a Means to Active Participatory Citizenship’ (EduMAP). Selected cases will demonstrate the ways the policy agenda on inclusion through VET translates into specific programmes for vulnerable young adults.

The role of the vocational schools in the transfer of dual apprenticeship: the hidden driving forces

Junmin LI

University of Cologne, Germany

It is well known that a one-to-one transfer of the dual apprenticeship is not possible and not realistic, therefore, the transfer of the dual apprenticeship is no longer discussed dogmatically. Successful examples of the transfer of the dual apprenticeship model show different forms in the recipient countries. Dual apprenticeship is characterised by cooperation between companies and vocational schools. The educational responsibilities are clearly divided between the two learning venues. Studies on the transfer of the dual VET system often focus on the company side. The reason is that an obstacle to the successful transfer of the dual training model lies in the lack of the willingness of the companies. However, the vocational schools’ role in the transfer of dual apprenticeship is often taken for granted and hardly investigated. Yet most success stories of the transfer are only possible with the high commitment of the vocational schools involved. Against this background, this paper investigates the role of the vocational schools in the transfer of dual apprenticeship. Specifically, it will study what tasks are assumed by the vocational schools in the transfer and to what extent it is the driving force behind the successful transfer of the dual apprenticeship. To answer the research question, interview data from an explorative study conducted in 2011 and 2016 in China on the transfer of the German dual system is re-analysed with regard to the role of vocational schools. The role of the school in the transfer of dual apprenticeships is examined against the background of the construct of promoters of innovation according to Gemünden, Hölzle and Lettl (2006). Implications for enhancing the school's promoter roles are derived based on the 6 P concepts of sustainable transfer according to Pilz (2017).

3:00pm - 3:30pmCoffee-Break
3:30pm - 5:00pmPaper Session 2A: Higher vocational education
Location: Room 1
Room 1 

Higher Vocational Education in Germany and Canada – a comparison of Hybrid Qualifications


University of Konstanz, Germany

Shortages of skilled workers as well as overqualification are currently shaping the Canadian labor market since higher education is perceived as the “king’s way” into employment and vocational education and training (VET) remains marginal. These meritocratic patterns promote the persistent negative stigma of low value and status of VET in Canada’s society and economy. In consequence, practice-oriented VET programs have been established over recent years in the postsecondary education sector. A similar shift towards university studies can also be observed in Germany, even though this country has traditionally been categorized as the “model apprenticeship country”. The underlying didactic principle of these concepts, called "hybridity", combines vocational and academic learning. Based on literature research and a preliminary typology this presentation uses a comparative approach to provide a framework for classifying hybrid qualifications in order to determine aspects that enable the successful implementation of hybrid qualifications.

The findings might indicate that in the case of Baden-Württemberg the dual universities have copied the structure of dual apprenticeships by creating an “academic dual system”. Therefore, they represent a kind of “premium apprenticeship” and receive a similarly high perception as apprenticeships within the dual system. In Canada, the concept of “Cooperative Education” was established in post-secondary education in order to promote its visibility and status within the overall education system. Therefore a practice-orientated curriculum was integrated into college-based as well as university education. The analysis shows similarities but also differences regarding the motives and realisation patterns due to cultural differences in both countries, which may originate in the general structure and esteem of VET, the relationship between vocational and academic pathways or the role of the economy. The presentation tries to identify the respective main motivation of educational policy underlying these (new) approaches to make higher education more "vocational".

Colleges of Higher Education in Transition. Perceptions of and Reactions to Changes in the Swiss Education System and the Trends towards Tertiarisation, Internationalisation and Academisation

Caroline Madeleine SUTER

Universität Zürich, Switzerland

Since the entry into force of the Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act in 2004, colleges of higher education (CHE) have been part of the professional education sector (tertiary level) (PET). The positioning of CHE in the Swiss education system has changed over the last 30 years due to developments inherent in the system, which in turn have been driven by the trends of tertiarisation, internationalisation and academisation. The reforms triggered by these developments led to consequential problems for the CHE, which have been exacerbated by their shift from the continuing education system to the formal education system: The CHE began to reposition themselves in the education system and distinguish themselves from other educational offers. Initial findings from the research project show that the professional organisations and social partners, which develop and support the framework curricula of the courses offered at the CHE, perceive different challenges depending on the sector. Accordingly, they react differently to changes in the education system and the trends mentioned. Most notably, they align the programmes they are responsible for with the sector-specific functions for the sector-specific education pathways.

This paper focuses on the development of PET from the perspective of professional organisations, using the example of changes in CHE programmes. The sectors of business, health and tourism serve as case studies. The data comes from the research project “Höhere Fachschulen: Zwischen Higher Education und Berufsbildung – Entwicklungsdynamik, Zustandsanalyse und Perspektiven”, funded by the SERI, which has been ongoing since 2018 at the Chair of Historical Research in Education and Governance of the Education System at the University of Zurich. It involves source analyses of the publication organs of as well as expert interviews with the relevant professional organisations. The evaluation is carried out using document analysis and political discourse analysis.

Motives for or against the implementation of the recognition of prior learning from a professional education institution’s perspective

Patrizia Salzmann, Christine Hämmerli, Carmen Baumeler, Sonja Engelage, Amélie Deschenaux

Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET

In view of rapid technological and economic changes, lifelong learning has gained sig-nificant importance. The orientation of vocational and professional education and train-ing towards lifelong learning and the development of models for the recognition of prior learning (RPL) are important education policy goals of the Confederation and the can-tons. RPL facilitates social and economic integration and opens opportunities for further educational careers and mobility. Simultaneously, RPL should make better use of the existing potential in the education system to alleviate skilled worker shortages. Nonethe-less, it appears that not all professional education institutions (PEIs) implement RPL equally. This study aims to determine the differences in institutional practices concern-ing RPL.

In this contribution, we will present results from a national study on the RPL at PEIs. In the Swiss education system, PEIs offer study programs at the tertiary level. Considering the theory of educational governance, we investigate the following research question: What are the motives for or against RPL implementation from an organizational perspec-tive?

To answer our research question, we performed document analyses of the national regu-lations and conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with school principals and study program leaders at selected PEIs, using a maximum variation sampling strategy. To analyze the interviews, we performed a qualitative content analysis.

Four main motives for or against RPL implementation were identified: legal require-ments, the wish to contribute to society in subject areas with workforce shortages, de-velopments in the education system, and benefits from RPL implementation for the PEIs themselves. The results showed that RPL implementation depends on factors relat-ed to the PEIs environment, factors at the institutional level, and factors at the individu-al study program level. Therefore, different institutional logics must be considered when promoting RPL.

3:30pm - 5:00pmPaper Session 2B: Training conditions and success
Location: Room 2
Room 2 

When do compromises in occupational choice threaten the stability of vocational education and training? The interplay of occupational interests with gender type and prestige

Corinna KLEINERT1, Lea AHRENS1, Melanie FISCHER2, Brigitte SCHELS2

1Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe; 2University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

This study examines whether premature termination of vocational training is more likely when trainees had to make compromises between their realistic occupational aspiration and their occupation trained for in terms of gender type, prestige and occupational interests. It further investigates the interplay of social aspects of compromises on the one hand, and compromises in occupational interests on the other hand. The study is based on a sample of trainees from a cohort of 9th graders in 2010 in the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS-SC4). Results from event history models indicate that compromises in interests in first occupational choice threaten the stability of vocational training. Compromises in interests are particularly influential when realistic occupational aspirations are met with regard to the social aspects of occupational choice, but also when trainees have entered less gender-typical occupations or more prestigious occupations.

The task structure of adolescents’ occupational aspirations


Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB), Germany

Adolescents’ occupational aspirations have been explained by both sociological theories (which emphasize the relevance of social background or gender) and psychological theories (which stress the role of how personality traits match with the work content of particular occupations). We argue that an explicit measure of the respective job tasks of the aspired occupation enriches both sociological theories’ demand to unveil specific dimensions of social stratification in the structure of occupational aspirations, and psychological theories’ demand for a satisfactory explanation of the match between adolescents’ personality and future work content. While the job task approach has been used to predict labor-market income or on-the-job search, its relation to individuals’ occupational preferences is less clear. We first use the German Work Employment Survey 2011/12 to estimate the distribution of job tasks on the level of occupations. We then merge these estimates to adolescents’ idealistic and realistic occupational aspirations as measured in the Starting Cohort 4 of the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS-SC4). Using the latter data for predictive modeling, we observe positive female gender effects on the non-routine task components, and negative ones on the routine task components of occupational aspirations. Also, adolescents’ openness is positively associated with both the analytic and non-routine task component of occupational aspirations. Yet, additional analyses reveal that effects may be heterogeneous depending on the typical educational track (academic vs. vocational) of the aspired occupation.

The cognitive requirement level of training occupations in Germany

Anett FRIEDRICH1,2, Daniela Rohrbach-Schmidt1, Nicolas Sander2

1Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Germany; 2Bundesagentur für Arbeit, Nuremberg, Germany

Training occupations are not homogenous; they differ in various aspects e.g. their training duration, their specificity and their standardisation. A further important distinction are the requirements with regards to skill and ability of apprentices. So far, in Germany, the cognitive requirement level of a training occupation is usually approximated by the level of previous schooling of the trainees. However, such an operationalisation is rather problematic, because the distribution of school-leaving certificates within a training occupation not only depends on the requirements of the training but also on the supply and demand for training positions. In our research project, we operationalise the cognitive requirement level of training occupations based on information provided by the Vocational Psychology Service of the Federal Employment Agency. To give career guidance to young apprenticeship seekers, the Vocational Psychology Service measures the general intellectual capacity of a training occupation. We validate the suitability of this measure for social research. Further, we classify three categories of the cognitive requirement level (i.e. low, medium, high) and characterise them based on (among others) the number of new training contacts, contract dissolution and the relationship of unfilled training places and VET applicants.

3:30pm - 5:00pmSymposium 2: Policy transfer II
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Antje BARABASCH, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET
Session Chair: Sandra BOHLINGER, Technische Universität Dresden

Discussant: Stefan WOLF, Technische Universität Dresden

This symposium addresses international policy transfer which is a key theme in international and comparative education. Policy transfer in VET mainly stems from the attractiveness of particular governance models and practices in teaching and learning in VET. An example are Public-Private-Partnership models in VET such as the ‘dual’ apprenticeship scheme in German-speaking countries or outcomes-based education derived from Anglophone countries and both models are seen as ideal ways to integrate (young) people into the labour market. Advocates of the dual apprenticeship scheme emphasize the low youth unemployment rates in those countries that have an apprenticeship scheme while those in favour of the learning outcomes orientation emphasize its transferability to all educational fields and to different target groups and contexts (such as VET or HE).

Against this background, this symposium will be concerned with debates and theoretical perspectives on the issue of international policy transfer in VET and therewith related issues such as a comparison of policy transfer in VET versus HE or policy transfer in VET in relation to continuing and adult education. It specifically addresses processes of policy transfer between donor and receiving countries and regions, changing roles in terms of borrowing or lending policies and the role of (international) actors in policy transfer. Theoretical and empirical perspectives on describing and analysing the policy cycle of the transfer initiatives will be presented, identifying the epistemological positions and methodological approaches to selected initiatives with respect to educational policies, but also labour market or HR policies. Authors will critically review the importance of developing ownership and the risk of failure of policy transfer activities globally.

Contributions address policy transfer coming from or within typical VET countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, but also the Francophone area and international perspectives including China and Vietnam.

Room 3 

Governance for international cooperation in vocational education in the francophone microcosm


Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Germany

International cooperation is high on the agenda of policy makers in times of globalisation and shared challenges such as climate change, poverty, equity or digitalisation. France is no exception in that regard. This paper investigates strategies and actors involved in international cooperation policy in the field of vocational education and training within the francophone area. I take the stance that transfer depends much upon the organisations and institutions in place in the countries, their objectives and constraints and that this question is scarcely analysed in articles dealing with transfer. This contribution uses the discursive institutionalism approach as an analysis frame to trace and identify the development of ideas and discourses as well as the changes in the French public institutional set-up in that specific policy field. The analysis builds on analysis of policy documents, mission statements of actors involved (ministries, public and private actors, non-for-profit organisations, international and European actors).

The diffusion of ‘recognition of prior learning’ (RPL) instruments through development cooperation


PHZH, Switzerland

‘Recognition of prior learning’ (RPL) has developed to be an important instrument to support the permeability of education and training systems – so much so that it can be considered to be an integral part of the global VET policy toolkit (McGrath, 2012, p. 625), and has experi-enced a high degree of policy transfer. Based on an extensive review of documents, this article analyses the global diffusion of RPL, with a specific focus on its diffusion through development cooperation between multi- and bilateral donors and lower and middle income countries (LMIC). This article argues that RPL became a core component of development cooperation when VET came to be seen, around the mid-2000s, as an important direct means to foster equitable access to employment and income for the poorest (King & Palmer, 2007), and thus was made a priority aid theme by the European Union and a key approach promoted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). At the same time, it shows that the model of RPL transferred to LMICs is derived from the specific relations between labour markets and educa-tion and training systems in the donor countries, where VET qualifications are critical to ac-cessing positions in the labour market, which is often not the case in LMICs.

The Continuity and Transfer of Vocational Education and Training Policy in China

Wolfgang MEYER1, Shan ZHU2

1Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany; 2Tongji University, Shanghai,China

Since 1978, China’s vocational education and training (VET) gradually received the attention from central government, and it is developing rapidly. Without a doubt, the impressive rise from a less-developed to the world-leading export economy has a strong impact on the demand for VET in China. Correspondingly, the related VET policy is not isolated, it is served and restricted by other policies and strongly connected to social-economic development.

Generally, the evolution of China’s VET policy has gone through three stages: structure adjustment, diversification exploration and modernization construction. However, the implementation of the central government policy varies in different regions, caused by the difference in local VET development. That is, the eastern coastal cities launched more integrated vocational education policies, while the western regions are relatively backward. There are also attempts to use VET as a driver for regional development and to close the gap between east and west.

Although most of the VET policies in China aim to reduce the youth unemployment rate and promote social harmony, it lacks in the logic of VET itself. Partly policies are still restricted to general education (non-vocational education). To overcome existing deficits, the Chinese government increased international cooperation especially with Germany and tried to integrate elements of the successful German dual VET system. With regards to this, China’s VET policy transfer is manifested in the diversification of VET participants, the standardization of qualification certification, and the legalization of the VET related regulations.

This paper will present a stocktaking on China’s VET policy and Sino-German VET cooperation as provided by official planning documents and most recent political decisions. Hence, the continuity and transfer of China’s VET policies will be discussed, and its future trends will be predicted.

Strategic Partnerships in International Business Models of German VET providers

Gunnar KAßBERG

Universität Leipzig, Germany

Vocational education and training stands out as a field with many links to competitiveness, reducing social disadvantage, addressing the skills shortage, and developing international relations. Internationalization is crucial for the development of skills, knowledge and attributes to be able to operate in a globalized and intercultural world of work. This seems all the more relevant with the growing number of international companies and the increasing mobility of the workforce between economies. However, the commercial view of international VET cooperation as a service export has only been discussed to a very limited extent (Gessler et al., 2018; Strehle, 2019). Current findings focus on case studies of active exporters investigating drivers and challenges of foreign engagement (Fraunhofer MOEZ, 2012) or the identification of business model typologies (Hilbig, 2019; Posselt et al., 2019; Abdelkafi & Salameh, 2014).

In this context of commercially oriented internationalization of VET providers, the accuracy of an educational offer in the target market is to be designed, but also to secure a long-term cooperation. This can be achieved, especially in the context of private-sector educational projects, through a well-developed business model, since both the provider, the customer and the intermediary can be involved according to their motivation. Nevertheless, it seems problematic for actors in VET to design, develop and implement precisely these well-functioning business models.

Date: Thursday, 03/Feb/2022
8:45am - 9:00amVirtual Welcome and Help Desk
Location: Plenary Hall
Plenary Hall 
9:00am - 10:00amKeynote 2: Prof Dr Lorna Unwin
Location: Plenary Hall

Re(valuing) VET as a route to expertise in disruptive times

In today’s highly varied world of work, where ‘intangible assets’ (ideas, brands, marketing, networks) and the use of digital technologies play an increasingly central and disruptive role, traditional boundaries between occupational fields and hierarchies are being breached. At the same time, faced with the pressures of daily life, many individuals are finding comfort and satisfaction in (re)learning and practising a craft as well as in buying handmade goods (for which, of course, there is a growing market). As such, VET navigates the shifting sands of change and continuity, of heritage and innovation, and of quality and the marketplace.

Yet, the bounded classifications that still determine to some extent the structure of VET systems, programmes and even pedagogies are rooted in a previous era when occupational categories were presumed to accurately describe the work people do, that young people were novices with nothing to teach their older colleagues, and that expertise was sliced up into clearly demarcated levels beyond which lay the rarified land of the ‘professions’. In this presentation, I will draw on ideas from Communication Studies and Cultural Sociology as well as from social theories of learning to explore how VET might grapple with a more fluid concept of expertise, one that acknowledges the different dynamic ways in which conceptions of its value are formulated beyond the confines of VET systems. I will argue that this could help VET address some of the challenges it faces through expanding the range of capabilities of its students and trainees and, as a result, addressing the demands from employers and politicians.

Plenary Hall 
10:00am - 10:30amCoffee-Break
10:30am - 12:00pmPaper Session 3A: Training conditions and learning processes
Location: Room 1
Room 1 

A Latent Transition Analysis Investigating the Stability, Predictors, and Outcomes of Resource Profiles during Apprenticeships

Fabienne LÜTHI1, Barbara E. STALDER2

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

Resources are important factors of the situation and the self, that are functional in the context of apprenticeships to reach (learning) goals, to stimulate learning ( Powers & Watt, 2021), and to fare better in the career (Stalder & Lüthi, 2020). The study jointly analyses situational and personal resources in initial VET in a person-centered, longitudinal perspective. Grounded on conservation of resources theory, this approach makes it possible to identify a core set of the most common situational profiles conducive for learning in the workplace and at school during the apprenticeship and, to evaluate their stability over time. Additionally, the role of core self-evaluations (CSE) regarding stability or change of profile membership was integrated into the model. Finally, implications of the resource profiles in relation to apprenticeship satisfaction and occupational commitment were investigated.

Our data came from the Swiss longitudinal study (TREE). The sample consisted of 991 apprentices enrolled in the second and third year of apprenticeship. We applied latent profile (LPA) and latent transition analyses (LTA).

LPA revealed four distinctive, homogenous profiles that differed in the overall level of resources in the workplace and at school and variations of resources in either the workplace or school. LTA indicated that profiles remained generally identical and stable over the one-year course of the study. CSE predicted stability or change of situational resource profiles’ membership across time, meaning that individuals with high CSE were more likely to remain in favourable resource profiles or to improve their situation changing into even better situations, compared to apprentices with lower levels of CSE.

Identifying apprentices with different resource profiles and the nature of transitions between these profiles across time have implications for educational stakeholders and employers to implement tailored interventions and educational practices which aim to provide learners with resources conducive to learning.

How does COVID-19 affects learning of apprentices in the workplace training and classroom education?

Thomas Bolli, Katherine Caves, Filippo Pusterla, Ladina Rageth, Ursula Renold, Aranya Sritharan, Morlet Guillaume Maxence Augusti

ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Since April 2020, the ApprenticeshipPulse project surveys Swiss companies every month regarding the current situation of dual vocational education and training (VET) students and their training companies. The report uses this data to analyse how strongly COVID-19 has affected competences of dual VET students and how important different channels are for this effect. The analysis shows that COVID-19 affects competences acquired in workplace training, inter-industry courses and classroom education through several channels. These channels affect competence acquisition and prevent dual VET students from catching up on lost content. The activity of dual VET students represents the main channel. Particularly receiving homework, being in home-office or receiving no workplace training hamper competence acquisition compared to workplace training with hygiene conditions. However, quarantine and the intensity of necessary hygiene conditions also decrease competence acquisition.

Current working and production conditions in the Swiss bricklaying trade and their influence on in-company training conditions from the perspective of apprentices

Kerstin DUEMMLER, Alexandra Felder, Isabelle Caprani

SFUVET, Switzerland

The possibility for vocational learning at the workplace depends among other on the learning opportunities that work contexts provide. Learning environments are more expansive rather than restrictive if learners can fully participate in the activities of a work community and if learners and trainers are recognized in their roles allowing them to engage in a learning (and not only a working) process. However, the learning environment that firms can provide also depends on the wider context like sectoral and industry-specific developments. Using the example of the Swiss bricklaying apprenticeship, the presentation explores how current structural production and working conditions within the Swiss construction industry have a negative influence on apprentices training conditions. Based on qualitative interviews with apprentices, the influence of current industry-typical developments on training conditions in medium-sized and large construction companies are examined: Increasing stress and profitability pressure on construction sites limit the access to challenging activities for apprentices, the possibility for guidance from colleagues or supervisors and hinder the establishment of an error culture. Moreover, the dominance of modern construction methods on large construction sites and a trend towards piecework reduce learning opportunities for certain traditional construction techniques. The results nuance previous findings on the influence of company size on training quality, according to which it is easier for larger companies, due to their organizational structure, to keep apprentices to some extent out of the production process in favor of their training. The results presented for the Swiss bricklaying occupation point to conditions specific to the construction industry.

Innovation in the School System

Christian SCHRACK

Senior PhD Student at the Sigmund Freud University Vienna, Austria

In contrast to the market economy, in which companies are required to constantly develop - innovations in the education system do not seem to be systemically anchored at first glance. The social innovations take place - less perceived by the public – at all levels of the education system: on the initiative of the school administration, in the organizational environment of the school as well as in the teaching of teachers. This paper focuses on the emergence and diffusion of innovations that spring directly from the daily work of schools. Current school innovation research focuses on issues of governance, the top-down renewals of the school system. Less attention has been paid to initiatives that originated directly in schools from the bottom up and subsequently spread throughout the educational system. In addition, the preconditions for innovative developments often remain in the dark, even for those who are responsible. The initiation, process and diffusion of these bottom-up innovations with an impact on the school system are the focus of this paper, which draws on current research on social innovations in society. To this end, typical school-based innovation projects (innovation cases) are selected and contrasted in a comparative case study on the basis of possible characteristics that have an impact on success. In this context, semi-structured interviews with experts and innovators will be conducted and qualitatively evaluated, con- ditions of emergence will be ascertained and dissemination paths will be systematically traced. The qualitative results will be triangulated with a final quantitative survey of teachers and learners from the relevant school areas. The aim of the work is to systematise the precon- ditions for successful innovation projects that have started at VET-schools and have gained significance in the Austrian vocational education system.

10:30am - 12:00pmPaper Session 3B: Educational structures, transitions to higher education and into the labour market
Location: Room 2
Room 2 

Opening the Black Box of Vocationally Oriented Schools in Germany: How do Organizational Structures and Pedagogical Practices Support Access to Higher Education?

Nadine Dörffer1, Nadine Bernhard2, Christian Imdorf1

1Leibniz University Hannover, Germany; 2Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany

While vocationally oriented schools are often reduced in public and partly in academic discourses to schools that simply complement company-based training in the dual VET system, the German education system also includes a variety of different full-time vocationally oriented school-types, which offer different sorts of higher education entrance qualifications (HEEQ). These alternative routes to gain a HEEQ via vocationally oriented schools offering the opportunity to study at higher education (HE) institutions are especially important for students from families without an academic background. However, the actual redemption of a HEEQ proves to be particularly susceptible to the reproduction of social educational inequalities since these students without an academic background are more likely to forego their study options. Based on the concept of institutional permeability, we assume that formally enabling HE access by granting a HEEQ is necessary but insufficient to ensure educational and social mobility, and that further institutional support structures and practices are needed. The aim of this paper is to get a first insight into how students’ transitions to HE are supported and to what extent organizational structures and pedagogical practices in supporting them to access HE differ between individual vocationally oriented schools, considering their school type. Based on semi-structured qualitative interviews, this qualitative reconstructive study shows and compares the range of support structures and practices reported by pedagogical staff at selected schools of different vocationally oriented school types in Lower Saxony. The study also gives insights in the school’s adaptations of the support for high school students caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Better entry conditions. The effect of occupation-specific experience on transitions from higher vocational education and training to the labour market


Eidgenössische Hochschule für Berufsbildung, Switzerland

Previous research indicates that occupation-specific skills and knowledge provided during VET are associated with higher salaries or lower risks of unemployment at labour market entry (Grønning et al., 2020). It remains unclear, however, if occupation-specific work experience also affects the subjective evaluation of the work situation at labour market entry. This topic is especially relevant if we consider the transition from higher vocational education to the labour market because some of these graduates have prior work experience as an apprentice while others enter their studies directly after a general baccalaureate.

For the empirical analysis we focus on the Swiss healthcare sector. Almost 50% of the graduates in nursing studies have previously acquired a Diploma as a healthcare assistant, a VET occupation on the upper secondary level (Bundesamt für Statistik (BFS), 2021). The remaining students enter nursing studies directly with a baccalaureate or another VET diploma (Schaffert et al., 2015). Registered nurses who initially obtained a VET-diploma as a healthcare assistant possess specific work experience which may facilitate their labour market entry. They may have already acquired strategies for stress management during their initial vocational training (Humpel & Caputi, 2001) and have a better understanding of the role and work of registered nurses due to their professional experiences. We postulate that this pre-existing work experience as a healthcare assistant increases work satisfaction and occupational commitment by reducing stress and increasing role clarity at labour market entry.

Preliminary results based on structural equation modelling indicate that registered nurses with a VET Diploma as healthcare assistant exhibit lower levels of stress and higher levels of occupational role clarity than their colleagues without specific work experience from the healthcare sector. The beneficial effect of initial work experience in turn increases their occupational commitment and job satisfaction.

Horizontal mobility of healthcare assistants and registered nurses in the Swiss healthcare system

Miriam Grønning, Miriam Hänni, Ines Trede

Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET

Previous research has identified a trade-off between educating skilled workers ready for the labour market and securing these workers’ flexibility when labour market demands change. Considering the high skill shortage in the healthcare sector, the healthcare education reform in Switzerland at the beginning of the 2000s explicitly addressed this trade-off. In addition to the popular tertiary level registered nurse education, a new upper secondary apprenticeship qualification “healthcare assistant” was established. Both qualifications have curricula designed with a general orientation, aimed at facilitating individual mobility between segments and securing flexibility within the healthcare system when staffing needs change. Nevertheless, little is known about healthcare assistants’ and registered nurses’ horizontal mobility patterns after they finished their education and training. We therefore examine how often and in which direction mobility occurs during healthcare assistants’ and registered nurses’ early career. We draw upon segmentation theory, assuming that allocation to labour market segments influences individuals’ opportunity structures and thereby also their career decisions. Previous research has shown that initial segment allocation impacts individuals vertical mobility chances, by shaping individuals’ perceptions of their career possibilities. It remains unclear if segment allocation influences horizontal mobility within the healthcare system as well. We find that almost half of the healthcare staff transitions into another segment than their initial segment during the first five years of their career. Those who start their career in segments with extensive opportunities, i.e. acute care in hospitals, less often experience horizontal mobility than those who start in a segment with less opportunities, e.g. long term care in nursing homes. Change from long term care and rehabilitation to the more attractive acute segment is the most common type of mobility. Thus, a general orientation of the training programme alone does not seem to counteract staff shortages in segments with less opportunities.

10:30am - 12:00pmPaper Session 3C: International VET cooperation
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Lorenzo BONOLI, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET
Room 3 

Commercialization in international VET - products, pitfalls and potentials

Fabienne-Agnes BAUMANN

Universität Osnabrück, Germany

In the context of international activities in the area of vocational education and training, a commercialization can be detected as providers of vocational training services establish their products in overseas markets. In cases such as Germany, providers are also attributed more weight in state-driven international VET cooperation.

It is argued here that in commercialized international VET at the micro level, at which clients and providers engage, providers act as knowledge or innovation brokers rather than policy entrepreneurs. Therefore, the analytical lens of policy transfer that is frequently employed to make sense of international VET is discarded in this paper.

On the basis of comparative case study research on German VET providers operating in Mexico and Serbia, the present study explores micro level international VET. Of particular interest is the question with which kind of innovative knowledge and practices German ‘brokers’ enter the targeted markets, to whom they cater and which demands they satisfy. As Mexico and Serbia seek to make their VET provision future-proof, interlinkages and tensions between foreign VET services and local VET reform initiatives are explored, too. On the basis of specifically developed indicators, answers are also sought regarding the potential for diffusion of innovative knowledge or practices introduced by foreign VET providers from the client i.e. firm level to other levels of the economy and VET system. The contribution also reflects critically on whether commercialized international VET contributes to privatization and individualization of VET and, thus, possibly limiting access to education and training.

Transfer in International VET Cooperation: Perspectives of German VET Providers

Lisa MEYNE, Susanne PETERS

University of Bremen, Germany

In the context of international comparative VET research, drivers and barriers to policy implementation are discussed as well as factors that significantly influence transfer processes at the level of political decision making. The existing academic work on the topic of VET transfer has so far been largely located at the macro level, although it should also be noted that there is a greater amount of theoretical-conceptual work than empirically validated results in this field. Information on individual projects of transfer is considered of little value in terms of scientific generalizability. Still, in order to develop a better understanding of transfer, it is useful to include individual projects in the analysis. That is because we assume that a project perspective provides insights into how actors in VET transfer understand the latter, with their understanding in turn shaping the entire sector as well as the entire transfer work. Our research question is: What understanding of transfer do vocational training service providers develop in their internationalization projects? Can different types and phases of transfer be identified? We seek to answer these questions by drawing on case studies that involve German VET providers, sampled from a German funding line. Based on qualitative and quantitative data, process documents, and previous research the perspectives regarding and approaches to transfer are being collected in in-depth interviews with project actors. Among other theoretical approaches, Dolowitz and Marsh's policy continuum forms our theoretical framework.

Enhanced impact through skills development - Opportunities for private sector investments in Africa

Ramon LEYENDECKER1, Linda Helgesson Sekei2

1NIRAS - International Consulting, Germany; 2NIRAS - International Consulting, Denmark

The paper is a secondary analysis of a study commissioned by the Danish ‘Investment Fund for Developing Countries’ (IFU), focusing on the role of the private sector in skills development. The paper draws on two sets of data: (i) synthesis of international grey literature related to skills development; and (ii) eight case studies of IFU investees in four sectors: tourism and hospitality, renewable energy, health, and finance; and five African countries. A focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance dimensions and contributing to the SDGs is a prerequisite for IFU to investment. The paper synthesises the generalized findings about private sector involvement in Africa and the specific case studies. The findings and recommendations deepen the understanding about opportunities and obstacles of private sector involvement, for companies as well as international organisations supporting skills development in Africa. The research framework and analysis invite further research in other sectors or African countries or geographic regions.

12:00pm - 1:00pmLunch
1:00pm - 2:30pmPaper Session 4A: Demand for education and skills
Location: Room 1
Room 1 

VET makes the difference: job polarization in the US and Germany


Dresden University of Technology, Germany

Job polarization is a phenomenon observed in the US since the beginning of the 1980s.

Contrasting, Germany's labor market does not prove to be comparably polarized. This thesis aims to analyze why the US is more affected by the polarization of employment than Germany.

Based on an examination of both country's science and technology regimes as a requirement

for the occurrence of the substitution of middle-skilled occupations, there is evidence for intense similarity of either system. Yet, the US is focused on cutting-edge technology, while Germany concentrates on high-value manufacturing.

Rather, the reason for less job polarization in Germany is founded on the shape of its educational system. In particular, the dual apprenticeship system allows for an attainment of high-quality skills that are relevant for a variety of jobs. The US fails to train workers in abilities that are hardly to be substituted by automation.

Does ICT Affect the Demand for Vocationally Educated Workers?


ETH Zurich, Switzerland

This paper examines the effect of information and communication technologies (ICT) on the demand for workers in Switzerland. We compare the hypotheses that an increase in ICT leads to either upskilling or job polarization, and investigate their implications for countries with a diffuse vocational education and training (VET) system. Using data from a large employer-employee survey, we create a novel measure of ICT based on the percentage of ICT workers within firms. This measure allows us to assess the impact of ICT on the educational composition of the workforce by exploiting variation over time. We find that ICT has an upskilling effect from 1996 to 2018: ICT decreases the demand for low-skilled workers while increasing the demand for high-skilled workers, especially those with a tertiary vocational education. These results strongly suggest that VET is a valid alternative to a strictly academic education, because workers with a tertiary VET degree are as good at adjusting to technological change—and sometimes even superior to—workers with a tertiary academic education.

Updated education curricula and accelerated technology diffusion in the workplace: Micro-evidence on the race between education and technology

Tobias SCHULTHEISS, Uschi Backes-Gellner

Universität Zürich, Switzerland

In the race between education and technology, one important question is whether the updating of education curricula with technologies from the research frontier is able to bring these technologies faster into firms’ workplaces—and, if so, how much faster. To provide micro-evidence on the technology diffusion effect of curriculum updates, we use two types of text as data: vocational education curricula and firms’ job advertisements. To control for the natural spread of new technologies, we draw on long-term patent and publication data. In particular, we study technologies from an early wave of digitalization (i.e., computer-numerically controlled machinery, computer-aided design, and desktop publishing software) and examine whether adding them to vocational education curricula led to an accelerated diffusion of these technologies into firms’ workplaces, as measured by the mention of these technologies in job advertisements. Exploiting the staggered introduction of these three new technologies across various occupations as an instrument, our results show that curriculum updates substantially shorten the time until new technologies arrive in firms’ workplaces, especially for smaller firms that are far from the research frontier.

On the extent of applicant discouragement after apprenticeship contract cancellations during the Covid-19 pandemic


Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB), Germany

In 2020, apprenticeship demand declined beyond expectations from demographic and structural developments. This raises the question whether school leavers have been discouraged from entering apprenticeships by the pandemic. This paper investigates to what extent registered apprenticeship applicants show a decreased interest in apprenticeships after having had an apprenticeship contract or a verbal agreement about an apprenticeship contract revoked by their training firm.

The analysis uses data from the BA/BIBB survey of apprenticeship applicants by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) and the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB). It is a representative survey on successful entry into an apprenticeship, the degree of occupational orientation and the resources and means to search for an apprenticeship for officially registered apprenticeship applicants. In fall of 2020, a special period of the survey was conducted to gain insight into the application phase during the Covid-19 pandemic of more than 6,000 registered applicants.

I estimate logit models of the association of a contract cancellation for pandemic-related reasons as compared to cancellations for other reasons with a decline in interest for apprenticeships. Concerning the interest in apprenticeships, I look at actual participation in apprenticeship, indicated interest of unsuccessful applicants and an assessment of respondents of the extent to which the pandemic has changed their interest in apprenticeships but also school-based VET and university programs. I am able to control for a large number of individual characteristics, which correlate with the individual market position, as well as regional characteristics of the local apprenticeship and labor market structure.

Preliminary results indicate that only applicants who had their contracts cancelled due to firm closure or firm withdrawal from training significantly more often stated to have a decreased interest in apprenticeships and at the same time an increased interest in alternative education opportunities.

1:00pm - 2:30pmPaper Session 4B: Organization and development of VET
Location: Room 2
Room 2 

Can Narratives Explain Divergences in VET Policy? Evidence from Parliamentary Debates on Apprenticeships in Germany and England 1870-2019

Isabelle HUNING

University of York, United Kingdom

My research explores historical explanations for differences in participation rates and citizen support of VET systems in England and Germany. It contributes to the understanding of institutions within country specific structures of the education system and labour market. It focuses on the historical manifestation of attitudes towards and narratives around VET within such structures. While previous research provides important insights into institutional development, path dependencies, and differences of VET systems, the relationship between facts and narrative is not fully understood. This paper shifts the focus from the development of institutions to the development of image and narrative surrounding these institutions. It explores the long-run development of both countries' VET systems, which are closely linked to attitudes towards apprenticeships, and is particularly interested in how driving policies were discussed and advertised. I compiled a data set of all German and UK parliamentary debates between 1870 and 2019, party manifestos, and a selection of parliamentary documents and press releases. I explore the when and how apprenticeships and VET were discussed within the 130-year time frame. I present preliminary results of a quantitative and qualitative text analysis, highlight the frequency of words associated with the debate, and analyse word slant and sentiment. Further, I present attitudinal themes and respective shifts and consistencies to trace back the institutionalisation of historical narratives that influenced respective policies and educational decisions to this day. Findings support the notion that parliamentary debates reflect social development. I quantify how both countries significantly differ in timing, quantity, sentiment, and associated terms.

Educational Expansion as Expansion of Vocational Education and Training

Stefan KESSLER1, Thomas RUOSS2

1University of Zurich, Switzerland; 2SFUVET, Switzerland

In order to predict the demand for skilled workers on the labour market and as a “monitoring” of the apprenticeship market “avant la lettre”, the (former) Federal Office for Industry, Trade and Labour (BIGA) has been systematically producing statistics on apprenticeship contracts since the 1930s. Drawing on an inventory of these long-term data series, this paper focuses on the role of the expansion of dual vocational education and training (VET) since the 1930s as a phenomenon in the development of VET in Switzerland that has hardly been taken into account so far. The data allow a description of the growth of VET in a differentiated manner, especially in terms of cantonal, sectoral and gender-specific variations. By doing so, the conditions of origin and use of these data are also looked at.

As a result, we can show that the VET system in Switzerland has developed both as a reaction to social, economic or technical challenges. Within the framework of this development, not only the foundations for the establishment of a strong VET system in Switzerland are reflected in this historical case study, but also the adaptability and changeability of VET in a context of a shortage of skilled workers between discursive fears and economic realities.

An analysis of the 2018 U.S. federal legislation on career and technical education and its impacts on policy and practice in vocational education and training in the United States

Christopher John ZIRKLE

The Ohio State University, United States of America

In the largely decentralized education system in the United States, each of the 50 states is responsible for the education of its students. Each state develops its own policies regarding the education of its citizens. This is true of the system of career and technical education, where each state receives federal government funding and then contributes some level of state funding to provide financial resources, then each state develops their own policies on a broad range of policy and practice activities. In July 2018, the most recent version of federal legislation was signed, to provide policy and practice direction for the states. Recent analysis of the effects of the legislation shows a focus on funding of career and technical education funding, an emphasis on work-based learning and increased attention to providing access to disadvantaged students, special needs learners and younger students. While many policy actions have been determined, additional information is needed on the effects on practice in schools, classrooms, and laboratories.

Organizational Hindrances for Vocational Education and Training Research in Norwegian Higher Education

Eli Smeplass, Anna Cecilia Rapp

Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Norwegian research environments specializing in vocational education and training (VET) are few and small, despite more than 50% of all Norwegian youth having applied for VET education after secondary school in 2021. As a nation driven by the ideals of becoming a knowledge-based society, Norway has become stronger in many educational aspects, including a vast expansion of higher education and research in general. This article discusses how structural and organizational factors within academia favor research fields with more established recruitment channels than for researchers specializing in VET. Departing from a neo-institutional perspective, we investigate recruitment and research finance systems in order to identify organizational hindrances for VET research. We find that VET research is inhibited by increasing competition within higher education, as well as by a lack of political commitment to VET research more specifically. In the discussion, we criticize how individualization and fragmentation in Norwegian higher education organizations impede the development of a VET research community.

1:00pm - 2:30pmPaper Session 4C: Digital Learning
Location: Room 3
Room 3 

Augmented reality and hypervideo perceived affordances in vocational education: A preliminary interview study


SFUVET, Switzerland

Augmented reality (AR) is an emerging technology that allow users to see the real world with digital information superimposed. Although its use increased since 2013 and nowadays it has an established place in education, it surely needs further investigation in VET context. Hypervideo (HV) is a non-linear video presenting (1) complex functions to control the navigation of the video stream and (2) hyperlinks giving access to additional materials through specific markers or hotspots. AR and HV can offer a connection between work and theory and their efficacy is widely demonstrated in education. The present study represents the first stage of a four-year research project. The goal of the project is to identify pedagogical design criteria to make VET apprentices benefit most by a combined use of AR and HV. The goal of this study is to identify the main perceived affordances of AR and HV. A semi-structured interview protocol has been proposed to teachers, intercompany trainers and in-company trainers in nine professions (at least two per category). The interview is organized in three steps: need analysis, advantages and disadvantages of AR and HV and a brief scale measuring attitude toward technology. Content analysis will be applied to the interview transcriptions. According to the preliminary analysis carried out installers and logistic specialist seems to be able to benefit from AR. On the HV front a substantial agreement was found between the different professions in identifying it as an excellent tool for teaching. A more detailed discussion will be provided in the end of the data collection and analysis. Complete results will be available for the VET congress.

Evolutionary Clustering of Apprentices' Behavior in Online Learning Journals for Vocational Education

Paola MEJIA1, Christian GIANG1,2, Mirko MARRAS4, Alberto CATTANEO3, Tanja KÄSER1

1École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne; 2University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland; 3Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training; 4University of Cagliari, Italy

Learning journals are increasingly used in Vocational Education to foster self-regulation and reflective learning practices. However, reflecting on one’s job experiences is a difficult task for many apprentices. Providing scaffolds and guidance is therefore essential in supporting their learning processes. The more recent uses of digital learning journals provide the opportunity to apply data-driven approaches to study apprentices' learning behavior and hence to offer personalized and targeted support. In this work, we aim at profiling apprentices' evolving learning behavior in an online learning journal over the course of their apprenticeship. We propose a novel hierarchical clustering framework integrating different aspects of self-regulated learning strategies into a combined profile and capturing changes in learning patterns over time. Specifically, the profiles are described in terms of help-seeking, consistency, regularity, effort, and quality of the activities performed in the learning journal. Our results emerge from data concerning chef apprentices who interacted with an online learning journal. They suggest that the proposed framework yields interpretable profiles that can be related to academic performance. Consequently, the obtained profiles could be used as a basis for generating personalized feedback for apprentices and supervisors, ultimately improving the apprentices’ learning experience.

“Where Should I look at?”: Improving Visual Expertise in VET

Alessia Eletta COPPI1, Alberto CATTANEO1, Jean-Luc GURTNER2

1SFUVET, Italy; 2University of Fribourg

Visual expertise is essential for many professions such as beauticians who must know how to visually discriminate skin anomalies to provide their customers with the correct treatment. However, apprentices receive limited training compared to professionals like dermatologists. This difference in training can be a problem since professionals could incur into skin damage due to performing procedures on damaged skin. Therefore, this study draws from existing trainings developed for dermatologists and literature on signalling to foster apprentices’ observation of images concerning skin anomalies.

The sample, composed by a class of 9 apprentices in their 2nd year, was exposed to a pre-test about the observation and description of images about skin anomalies; then the class attended a series of training sessions on skin anomalies for the rest of the second semester (performed in the learning platform Realto). Finally, it was exposed to a post-test, a questionnaire and a focus-group. A second class of the 3rd year was also used as a baseline group.

Results show that the experimental group wrote almost double the amount of details written by the baseline, which suggests that the training surpasses the results of a traditional course on skin anomalies. Also, results from the questionnaire and the focus group indicate that apprentices perceived annotations and descriptions as useful tools to help them observe images professionally, and they confirmed their interest in continuing using the learning platform in their course.

1:00pm - 2:30pmPoster Session 4D
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Sonja ENGELAGE, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET
Room 4 

The impact of technologization in the region on gendered occupational aspirations and career choices for STEM and health professions

Jonas Detemple1, Katarina Weßling1,2, Corinna Kleinert3

1Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB), Germany; 2Research Center for Education and the Labour Market (ROA), Netherlands; 3Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi), Germany

Occupational gender segregation shows to be particularly persistent within vocational education and training (VET) occupations. In our study we focus on occupational aspirations and career choices of young men and women by contrasting two highly segregated fields of work: STEM professions (predominantly male), and health professions (predominantly female).

Research on gender-specific occupational aspirations focused either on individual context, such as preferences or gender role attitudes (e.g., Chesters, 2021; Ochsenfeld, 2016), or on overall conditions in the region, such as employment or training prospects (e.g., Glauser & Becker, 2016; Malin & Jacob, 2019). However, the role of technology in a region as a crucial driver of labor market changes has so far received little attention. Within the VET system an increasing use of technology through computerization and digitization offers new opportunities, but also challenges e.g., by substituting and complementing tasks (e.g., Autor et al., 2003).

Our research question reads: Does the regional level of technologization differentially impact occupational aspirations and career choices for men and women comparing STEM and health professions? Thus, we aim to investigate if regional technology intensity and innovation potential (e.g., measured as regional share of STEM employees (male/female), patent registrations, or technology applications in the region) influence occupational aspirations, e.g., by increasing/decreasing the attractiveness of STEM professions for women. We further seek to analyze how regional impacts on gendered occupational aspirations are transferred into gendered career choices.

By using data from Starting Cohort 3 and 4 of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), we can track young adults over nine years from 2010/11 through 2018/19. We are adding regional data from various administrative sources on regional technologization to the NEPS. First results suggest that women in regions with a low degree of technology have relatively higher aspirations for STEM occupations, supporting our central assumption about gender-differential impacts.

Unintended Consequences: A Game-Theoretic Analysis of Companies’ Provision of Training

Maria Esther OSWALD-EGG, Katie CAVES

ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Markets are very efficient in matching workers to firms. This mechanism is also used to match dual VET students with their training firms in most countries. One exception is Serbia, because they put more value in having equity among the student-firm matches.

This study analyses whether distributing dual VET students according to students’ firm preferences is indeed more beneficial for students. The crux is that firms’ decision to train might be influenced by the distribution mechanism in place. There are two potential effects which we elaborate in a theoretical framework based on game theoretical principals. On the one side firms might be reluctant to train when they experience to get weak students because they cannot benefit very much from them. Thus, the firms provide less training positions than they would otherwise, decreasing the number of training positions for students. On the other firms might increase their number of dual VET positions in order to get matched with at least one good student, which they will try to retain after the training. Thus, firms provide more training positions than they would otherwise, increasing the number of trained students.

Our dataset consist of Serbian survey data on roughly 130 firms in the years 2018-2021. The dataset includes information on the satisfaction of firms with their students, the number of VET positions the firms offer, some firm characteristics, the productivity of students and their time to reach the productivity of a skilled worker.

Our preliminary results show that the quality of students indeed influences the firms’ provision of training.

We contribute to the literature by using a game theoretical approach on the training provision of firms. This is important because different policies might be more or less successful in engaging employers to provide training positions, which in the end affects students.

Vocational education vs the general education: For the same job "customer advisors in French and Mexican banks".


Université de Bourgogne, France

The training-employment relationship is part of long-term dynamics, that explain, among other things, recruitment on the job market or the evolution of a training programs offer.

Based on a theoretical typology of training regimes from the literature, the thesis seeks to understand how the different actors in training and employment construct mechanisms of collaboration between the education and production systems.

The purpose of this thesis is to understand how training and employment are regulated in Mexico and France for the same sector and the same profession (bank client advisers).

Two methods of analysis, quantitative and qualitative, were used to answer the research questions. The quantitative section provides a general framework of the profiles and skills required by bank employers for a "customer advisor" position in both countries. We use the webscraping technique to create the database from the job advertisement website

The qualitative analysis, based on interviews with training managers, allows for an understanding of the student selection process, the construction of the study program, the intensity of the relationship between the bank and the university, as well as the diversity of opinions regarding the different practices and skills that facilitate the insertion of graduates in the labor market. Our results show that the training-employment relationship is stronger in France. However, the profile of the graduates recruited is mostly at the bachelor's level and the interest in soft skills is similar in both countries, while the economies, the characteristics of the banking sector and even the training offer, are differ widely.

Identification of Relevant Indicators for Adaptive and Personalized Workplace Learning Environments

Yvonne Michelle HEMMLER1, Dirk IFENTHALER1,2

1University of Mannheim, Germany; 2Curtin University, Australia

Advances in educational technology and artificial intelligence offer benefits for implementing adaptive and personalized workplace learning environments (APWLE). Vast amounts of educational data can provide useful insights into learning behavior and can be leveraged to adapt the learning environment to individual needs and constantly changing work requirements. Yet, the identification of reliable indicators for supporting learning processes and implementing trusted APWLE remains a major challenge. Findings from previous research show that learning processes and outcomes are affected by the learning context (i.e., an individual’s internal and external learning resources and conditions). However, it remains unclear which specific indicators of the learning context (e.g., goal orientation, learning strategies, daytime) are most relevant when implementing APWLE. Thus, the aim of this research was to compare the effect sizes of different indicators of the learning context and to identify indicators that are strongly associated with learning processes and outcomes. Following an expert validation and prioritization from a list of 332 indicators, we focused on the following seven indicators of the learning context: age, goal orientation, learning strategies, course length, daytime, receiving feedback, and feedback type. We deployed a secondary analysis of a previously conducted systematic review and compared the results of 74 studies. All seven indicators considered in our analyses have been associated with learning processes and outcomes in the included studies. The strongest evidence could be detected for goal orientation (|r| ≤ .63, k = 24 studies) and feedback type (|r| ≤ .56, k = 6 studies). We conclude that indicators of the learning context––especially goal orientation and feedback type—can provide benefits when implementing APWLE. Future research should investigate how these indicators can be implemented in digital workplace learning settings as well as design and evaluate specific learning interventions based on these indicators.

Identification of new qualifications and competences (NQCs) through systematic monitoring of VET-relevant indicators

Inga SCHAD-DANKWART, Thomas Felkl, Hannelore Mottweiler, Uwe Neugebauer, Gunther Spillner, Miriam von Kiedrowski

Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Germany

The requirements for skilled workers are constantly changing – especially in terms of current technological, ecological and societal transformations. In order to strengthen VET for the next generation, it is important to identify the need for NQCs at a very early stage so that these requirements can be implemented in existing training regulations or new future-oriented occupations.

Accordingly, this research project aims to identify relevant indicators for a systematic monitoring of training and further education occupations which allows an early adaptation of skill requirements at the occupational level.

In a multi-layered methodological procedure, indicators are to be determined both exploratively and inductively, which, in the sense of Ansoff's theory (1975) of weak signals, allow changes to be recognized at an early stage. This includes a qualitative and quantitative analysis of training directives as well as a retrospective examination of selected cases to identify and validate relevant indicators. The research furthermore draws on existing analytical instruments for early detection in VET as well as already proven indicator sets – selectively completed by further surveys – and seeks to integrate them in an overall framework. This process will be completed by expert discussions with specialists from science and practice. Finally, the identified set of indicators will be examined in a pilot phase monitoring special occupations to evaluate both relevance and usability for a systematic monitoring.

Initial analysis underline the effect of a declining participation in certain VET and higher VET occupations as trigger for adjustments in VET training regulations. Further analyses aim to identify interactions with various factors to rule out erroneous conclusions as well as to identify further triggers for NQCs at an early stage.

2:30pm - 3:00pmCoffee-Break
3:00pm - 4:00pmKeynote 3: Prof Dr Raija Hämäläinen
Location: Plenary Hall

Digitalisation in a Rapidly Changing World: Multidisciplinary Methods and Technologies for Strengthening VET

The driving force for research in technology-enhanced learning is a rapidly changing world in which structural change is influencing the entire society and reshaping learning and professional development. The twenty-first century calls for novel, flexible skills and abilities in shared learning and working practices. Therefore, education and lifelong learning must aim not only to nurture the development of specific knowledge and professional competencies but also to support and teach productive learning processes. The preconditions for designing future VET efforts are the analysis and understanding of learning and interaction processes and their contextual adaptations. Specifically, in addition to understanding the effects of technology on learning and professional development, we need to understand how learning and interaction processes occur and unfold over time. Furthermore, the crucial question is how to operationalise our research-based knowledge to provide support for VET and professional development. In this talk, I will discuss the relationship between adults’ skills and their educational needs in these realms, based on large-scale assessment studies. From this perspective, and with empirical examples, I will further elaborate our research progress in learning and professional development, with examples from intervention studies aiming to target technology-enhanced learning as multilayered and situated phenomena and to provide tools for both researching and supporting learning and professional development. For example, I will consider how research can capture interaction processes (with novel methods; eye-tracking, heartrate variability and prosodic analysis of voice) and take the time variable into account to provide valuable insights into how to design, test and refine technologies and approaches for designing and supporting learning and professional development. Finally, the presentation will conclude with the theoretical and practical implications of methods and technologies for enhancing future VET.

Plenary Hall 
4:05pm - 5:35pmPaper Session 5A: The role of different types of skills in the recruitment process
Location: Room 1
Room 1 

Do Recruiters Select Workers with Different Personality Traits for Different Tasks? A Discrete Choice Experiment

Caroline WEHNER, Andries de Grip, Harald Pfeifer

Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Germany

This paper explores whether firms recruit workers with different personality traits for different tasks. We conduct a discrete choice experiment among recruiters of 634 firms in Germany, asking recruiters to choose between job applicants who differed according to seven characteristics: professional competence, the “Big Five” personality traits, and the prospective wage level. We find that all personality traits affect the hiring probability of the job applicant, with conscientiousness and agreeableness having the strongest effects. However, for analytical tasks, recruiters prefer more open and conscientious applicants, while favoring more open, extraverted, and agreeable workers for interactive tasks.

How Do Employers Value Non-Formal University Credentials in Recruitment Processes?

Aranya SRITHARAN, Ladina Rageth, Ursula Renold

ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Universities in Switzerland offer more and more non-formal education. While targeted at a specific group of adults, the distinction between the non-formal programmes and formal programmes at Swiss universities is not always clear. Additionally, unlike the formal education programmes, non-formal education at universities is also open to adults with a vocational and professional education and training (VPET) background, provided they have a sufficient number of work experience. For the study at hand, we analyse the following: 1) Do employers taking hiring decisions distinguish between formal and non-formal university education? 2) Do employers reward applicants with a VPET background that acquired non-formal credentials at a university? and 3) Do employers exhibit preferences when comparing applicants with mixed educational paths to those with a purely academic education? Using data from more than 2000 employers participating in a quasi-experimental survey, we answer these questions by looking at employer’s ratings of applicant profiles and salary offers. Our results show that employers do not distinguish between formal and non-formal credentials for applicants with a Bachelor’s degree as a basis, but do reward non-formal education at universities for applicants with a VPET background. Generally, employers seem to prefer mixed education paths (i.e. VPET and academic) to purely academic pathways.

Education Preferences in Recruitment: What Affects Employers’ Preferences for Vocational versus General Education?


ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Albeit vocational and professional education and training (VPET) being very popular in Switzerland, general education is more and more in demand. The question arises whether vocational and general education compete over the same positions on the labour market. Based on a case study in Switzerland, this paper analyses the effect of employers and firm characteristics on employers’ education preferences in the hiring process. We hypothesize that due to their high signalling of employability, employers prefer applicants with a VPET degree and that this preference is even stronger for employers who have a high familiarity with the VPET system. Based on a factorial survey experiment among employers in Switzerland, we investigate their preferences for two kinds of positions. For entry-level positions, we investigate whether applicants with a vocational education and training (VET) have a higher probability to be invited to a job interview than those with a general upper-secondary education. For high-level positions, we analyse whether applicants with a professional education and training (PET) at the tertiary level have a higher probability than those with a university degree. Our preliminary findings show that employers generally prefer applicants with a VET or PET degree to those with a general or university degree – except for the position as IT manager. Moreover, employers who are more familiar with the Swiss VPET system show a stronger preference for applicants with such degrees, which is in line with signalling, screening and social identity theories.

Income risks of vocational and academic tertiary education - More money, higher risks?


University of Wuerzburg, Germany

This paper investigates labour market outcomes of vocational vs. academic education. More specifically, lifetime earnings and earnings risks of employees with apprenticeship education plus either academic education (“academics”) or a vocational tertiary education (“foremen”) are compared. We contribute to the academic and political discussion on the relative attractiveness of vocational vs. academic education.

First, we investigate earnings differences of foremen and academics. Administrative data on employees in Germany between 1975 and 2017 allow us to calculate factual earnings paths for employees up to 30 years after completing their apprenticeship. Second, we calculate income risks for both employee groups: the variation in earnings and differences in higher order moments, i. e. the skewness and kurtosis of wage shocks. Finally, we condition on a successful apprenticeship and use entropy balancing to reduce a potential selection bias when comparing earnings of tertiary vocational and academic education.

Overall, our results show that foremen have an advantage in terms of earnings and income risks at the beginning of their career. In the long-term, however, academics enjoy higher earnings and relatively low earnings risks compared to foremen.

4:05pm - 5:35pmPaper Session 5B: Teacher skills
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Marina FIORI, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET
Room 2 

From a craftsman to a teacher: important competence for vocational teachers


Stockholm University, Sweden

The high demand for vocational teachers in the Swedish VET has led to their recruitment in the early stages of vocational teacher studies or sometimes even before that. Entering this new community of practice, vocational teachers bring in their previous experience from the occupational practice and other prior learning. While teachers crossing boundaries between their previous occupation and their teaching job, they constantly transfer competence from one context to another. In this context, this study aims to explore vocational teachers’ competence through their own perceptions, addressing important competence areas and how they are acquired by teachers, as well as how is competence understood and defined by them. The research design is qualitative, collecting data through semi-structured interviews. Drawing on the perspective of 12 vocational teachers, the study adopts an inductive approach, generating themes from a thematic data analysis. Preliminary findings indicate that competence in vocational teaching, competence in supporting the social aspect of learning, competence relating to the student work placement and the attitude for lifelong learning are crucial in the work of vocational teachers. Competence in these areas is developed through informal continuous professional development (e.g. reading), but also by the connection to the world outside of the school. More specifically, the communication with students´ workplaces and past colleagues have been sources of updating vocational and teaching competence. Regarding professional competence definition, teachers understand competence as an applied form of knowledge, which in their case is the transfer of their prior occupational experience to their students. In other words, competence is action and thus performance seen and evaluated by others, bonding competence to the context is it performed. The study contributes in defining the regime of competence of the vocational teaching profession, supporting teachers´ future development whether it is to be performed in a formal or informal way.

Digital transformation in vocational education: What technology vocational teachers use and what digital competence they need?

Chiara Antonietti, Francesca Amenduni, Alberto Cattaneo

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

Vocational learners are expected to develop digital skills to cope with digital transformation and the spread of technologies in different professions. Since regular use of digital tools can positively affect the development of students' digital competence, vocational teachers need to address an effective integration of technology into teaching-and-learning practices. Despite several research contributions emphasize the effectiveness of student-centered pedagogies – supporting an active use of technology by students for interactive and collaborative learning activities –, teachers still seem to use technology mainly in a teacher-centered approach (e.g. personal administrative tasks, preparing lessons, presenting instructional materials). This may be due to the lack of teachers’ digital competence in using interactive and collaborative software in education and in designing learning activities that require students to use these technologies. However, the specific competencies needed to enact a student-centered digital pedagogy remains to be clarified.

The aim of the present study is twofold: 1) to assess the frequency of utility technologies use (e.g., word-processor software, presentation software, e-mail) versus collaborative-interactive technologies use (e.g., collaborative software, interactive digital learning software) for teaching and learning; 2) to evaluate the relationship between teachers’ digital competence and different types of technology use. Results coming from a sample of 2261 vocational teachers show that teachers use collaborative-interactive technologies significantly less frequently than utility ones. Regression analysis further reveals that teachers’ digital competence explains the variance of the technology used by teachers well. More in detail, the Teaching and Learning and Facilitating Learners’ Digital Competence are the two areas of digital competence that mainly predict the use of collaborative-interactive technologies. These two areas are also among the three lowest developed areas in our vocational teachers’ sample. Thus, basic and continuing training should pay stronger attention to stimulating the development of these digital skills among Swiss vocational teachers.

Computer or teacher; who predicts dropout best?

Irene Eegdeman, Chris van Klaveren, Martijn Meeter

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands, The

Most vocational teachers have their practical theory about signaling at-risk students. They can generate a long list of clues which they use to identify these early dropouts and combine those signals with everyday practice. Nowadays, instead of using a rather standard set of predictors (e.g. preceding GPA, grades, attendance, achievement, ability and personality), more and more studies use machine learning techniques to increase predictive performance.

To predict at-risk students as soon as possible it is necessary to find out if the combination of unobserved factors and practical theories of the teachers can be used to predict dropout. In addition, the predictions of teachers may also be of value to enhance the machine learning algorithms. This study puts the teachers to the test: Are teachers capable of making better predictions than new developed machine learning algorithms?

At the start of the program, after the first 10 weeks and after 20 weeks teachers were asked to estimate the probability that a student will drop out or be successful. In this study we compare the ‘student at-risk’ estimations of teachers with the estimations of two machine learning algorithms (Support Vector Machine and LASSO regression).

As prediction accuracy measure, we calculated the nonparametric Kendall’s τ coefficient between predictions and outcome. We also calculated precision (relevant proportion of the selected dropouts) and sensitivity (correctly identified dropouts) by comparing the estimations of the teachers (or the algorithms) with the actual dropout.

We can conclude that teachers (as a group) are indeed capable of making a better assessment of the at-risk students than the machine learning algorithms at the start of the program which indicates that the input of teachers can be useful to increase the performance of the machine learning algorithms.

Socio-emotional competences in vocational education and training: state of the art and guidelines for interventions

Matilde WENGER, Florinda SAULI, Marina FIORI

Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training, Switzerland

Interventions and scientific contributions on social and emotional competences are flourishing in the educational contest. In contrast, we observe few programs in Europe and a dearth of scientific contributions regarding socio-emotional interventions in the vocational education and training (VET) literature. Our purpose with this paper is twofold: a) we provide the state of the art on existing scientific publications about socio-emotional training interventions in VET and a summary of existing programs at the European level; b) by relying on the analysis of relevant cases in the educational literature, we provide guidelines about how scientifically-based interventions on socio-emotional competences in VET could be developed. Ultimately our goal is to open a discussion around how socio-emotional training may be regarded as a novel domain of research for VET scholars and practitioners.

4:05pm - 5:35pmSymposium 3: Current transformation of the health care sector and related training needs
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Patrizia SALZMANN, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET

Discussant: Miriam PETERS, Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training BIBB

The need for highly and specifically qualified personnel is a key concern in healthcare world-wide. Healthcare professionals are continuously confronted with changing competence re-quirements due to the increasing complexity of the tasks required, as well as the trends linked to organizational transformations and increasing digitalization of the world of work. Vocational and professional education and training (VPET) need to respond to these challenges to meet the demand for qualified staff. This symposium examines potential ways to enrich and adapt VPET in healthcare from various perspectives. The first contribution takes an articulation of an ethnographic work-analytic approach and uses analysis of neonatal nurses’ activity to identify competence requirements in neonatal care in France and derives possible improvements for training from the key concerns that structure the nurses’ activity. The second contribution also adopts an ethnographic approach to explore the impact of digital technology on nursing activities in Swiss hospitals, particularly on the transmission of patient care information; from this research, video-based learning situations will be created to train nursing staff. The third contribution analyzes the requirements for and needs of nurses in long-term care in the Swiss canton of Ticino, with the aim of developing a continuing education program that strengthens the resilience of active nurses and reintegrates nurses who have left the healthcare sector but wish to return under sustainable conditions. The fourth contribution examines the factors that contribute to companies training more tertiary-qualified nurses and supporting graduates of vocational education as healthcare assistants to pursue tertiary-level training in nursing; recommendations for subsequent action are made.

Room 3 

Nursing care for a very premature newborn: an embodied experience


Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire de recherche en didactique education et formation (Lirdef, Montpellier, France); Institut de Formation aux Métiers de la Santé du CHU de Nimes

The aim of our research was to produce knowledge on the real, individual-social activity of neonatal nurses interacting with a very premature newborn and to open up perspectives for improving training. This activity takes place in a context where the increase number of preterm births is a global public health problem (WHO, 2012). The environment and nursing care of these neonates hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit are considered as a significant source of stress (Griffiths et al., 2021), and have a critical issue for their neurosensory development (Millette & al., 2019). The individual-social activity of neonatal nurses is studied within the framework of the Course of Action Research Program (PRCA), being part of an epistemology of action and for which human activity is studied in natural practice situations (Theureau, 2006). The methodological device articulates data concerning activity constraints in the bodies, situations and cultures constructed according to the usual methods of ethnography, psycho-phenomenological data constructed during self-confrontation interviews and proxemic data. It has been enriched by arrangements that favour the consideration of the corporeal and spatial dimension of this activity. Three main concerns structure this activity: 1) Maintain a continuity of presence with the newborn by a communication through the body which aims to (re)build a physical proximity with the child and to inscribe him in a continuity of existence within its family. 2) Exercise vigilance associating an activity of prevention, monitoring and investigation. 3) Maintain comfort by supporting the newborn in managing stress. The notion of 'contact' with the neonate is crucial. The neonatal nurse relies on incorporated sensory and sensorimotor dimensions to coordinate herself in action with the newborn. These results lead us to consider ways of enriching training.

Observed situations involving transmission of patient care information: A basis for promoting learning and development among nursing staff

Deli Salini1, Patrizia Salzmann1, Kezia Löffel1, Stehpy-Mathew Moozhiyil1, Sandro Perrini1, Andrea Carla Volpe1, Ines Trede1, Thomas Bürkle2, Lea Meier2, François von Känel2, Christopher Lueg2, Jürgen Holm2

1Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET; 2Bern University of Applied Sciences BFH

The timeliness and completeness of patient care information (PCI) are essential to ensuring the continuity and quality of care. The digital transformation is leading to new competence require-ments for nurses and healthcare teams regarding PCI transmission—a key activity of both par-ties—involving digital devices. This project examines how clinical information systems and other digital devices affect PCI transmission. The literature provides comprehensive evidence of the implications of technologies for PCI transmission. However, research is limited on the shared collaborative processes that base educational and technical innovation on the lived experience of qualified workers.

This study employs a course-of-action approach to work analysis, combining empirical re-search and technological research for training purposes. It emphasizes nurses’ experience in real work situations, as well as implicit aspects of their professional activity that are significant to them, and uses the collected evidence to adapt training tools to the real work observed in the field.

In this contribution, we present results from the ethnographic part of the study. The objective of this part was to identify and characterize situations involving PCI transmission with digital de-vices that the participants perceived as significant. It included job shadowing and self-confrontation interviews with nurses working in six hospital wards in Switzerland. At the VET Congress, we will present and characterize the observed situations involving PCI transmission with digital devices. We will also discuss the initial results of our semiological analyses intend-ed to identify what participants perceive as significant in the observed activities/episodes re-garding PCI transmission.

The scientific evidence collected through real work analysis will feed into the development of training material for nurses and healthcare teams and enable the linking of digital competences and nursing competence profiles. It will also be used to adapt the design of information and communications technology (ICT)/digital devices to workplace practices and requirements.

Re Care: an action research to promote the resilience and work reintegration of nursing staff in long-term healthcare facilities

Deli Salini1, Delia Cattani1, Furio Bednarz2, Paolo Barro3, Siegfried Alberton1

1Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET, Switzerland; 2Indipendent Researcher; 3Scuola Specializzata Superiore in Cure infermieristiche Ticino

The health sector, particularly nursing, is increasingly affected by problems of staff shortages at the international, national and regional levels. The Re Care project, which is being promoted in Canton Ticino on the basis of Swiss Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) grants, aims at dealing with this phenomenon by activating a multidimensional strategy to cope with organisational criticalities and occupational turnover.

Through measures aimed at identifying and simultaneously promoting good practices in the sector, this project has two main objectives: strengthening the resilience of nursing staff and fostering the reintegration of qualified workers who leave the sector by activating appropriate measures, especially in the long-term care sector. Both strategies are indispensable to preventing early exits.

The actions envisaged are based on two main axes that influence each other: (a) a series of inquiries aimed at obtaining a clear vision of what produces and accelerates turnover in the sector, identifying the best practices to avoid this phenomenon and documenting the development of training courses aimed at active nursing staff, executives in the sector and those who wish to re-enter it; and (b) the proposal of an innovative training pathway (Future Ateliers) based on concepts and methods developed in the field of futures studies to promote proactivity and resilience among the target population.

In this paper, we will present (a) the main results of the surveys carried out, with a focus on a selection of best practices in the field, and (b) the characteristics of the training path followed by 17 nurse facilitators to prepare and animate the Future Ateliers training process. The latter will be activated in the school year 2021–2022 in six long-term care facilities based in Canton Ticino.

The Role of Organizational Training Strategies in Addressing the Shortage of Tertiary Healthcare Workers

Ines Trede, Belinda Aeschlimann

Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training, Switzerland

In Switzerland, enrolment in tertiary-level nursing education is too low to satisfy the increasing demand for qualified staff which has resulted from various demographic changes. In particular, graduates of firm-based upper-secondary vocational education and training as Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) who are an important recruitment group for tertiary nursing education, too rarely choose this career trajectory as compared to the increasing demand. At the same time, the healthcare labor market is segmented; tertiary-qualified personnel tend to work in acute care, and this is also reflected in the correspondingly higher transition rate of HCAs who work in these settings into tertiary education. In contrast, changing demographics such as a generally aging society mean that the long-term care sector is experiencing a particularly high demand for staff with advanced nursing qualifications. Increasing the rates of transition to tertiary nursing education and of subsequent staff retention is therefore important, especially in long-term care.

Existing research indicates that institutional training strategies may help to address changes in the supply and demand of qualified staff. Against this background, this paper explores the training strategies that different healthcare organizations use to increase transitions among their HCAs and, ultimately, develop sufficient tertiary personnel. The study uses a mixed-methods approach to analyze records, surveys, and qualitative interviews of and with healthcare organizations in the Swiss canton of Berne.

Preliminary results indicate that the chosen strategy is linked to, among other things, the organizational need for tertiary-trained employees. For example, institutions that are unable to recruit skilled workers externally have to develop their own staff and therefore invest more in training, mentoring, and promoting apprentices for transition into higher education.

4:05pm - 5:35pmSymposium 4: The future of vocational training in the 1950s and 1970s
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Lorenzo BONOLI, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET

Chair: Philipp GONON

Discussant: Philipp GONON

In the years after the Second World War, several European countries reformed their vocational training systems by adopting measures and making choices that have marked the field to this day. Our symposium raises the question of the "future of vocational training" in this period in three European countries. In other words, what were the representations of the future of society and VET in the years 1950-1970 in Switzerland, Germany and France and to what extent did these representations shape the development of VET in the three countries considered here?

The 1950s and 1970s were years marked by an economic boom, a significant development of automation, a gradual expansion of the service sector, an acceleration in the pace of technical innovation, and major changes in social relations both in schools, with the democratisation of education, and in society, with the ‘68 . These events will have a profound influence on the future of society in general and vocational training in particular, which will be called upon to improve its quality, to review the content of its teaching, to integrate a greater number of young people and to ensure better conditions of equal opportunities.

Our symposium will allow us to examine how these events have influenced the debate in France, Germany and Switzerland and what concrete traces they have left to this day.


Room 4 

Is the future in the past our present? The future of Swiss VET in the 1950s-1970s. The foundations of the current situation.

Lorenzo BONOLI1, Philipp Gonon2, Jackie Vorpe1, Lena Freidorfer2

1HEFP. Lausanne; 2Uni Zürich

In the period 1950-1970, Switzerland underwent major economic and social changes. The Swiss education system was under great pressure to adapt to these new conditions. The economic boom after the Second World War brought with it a series of new expectations and demands on the education system in general and on VET in particular. The reforms adopted at that time were inspired by a certain representation of what the 'future' might become. This representation of the future was strongly marked by the following factors: the economic boom and the gradual improvement in the living conditions of Swiss citizens; an acceleration in the pace of technological innovation and an increasing demand for qualified and highly qualified labour; a wide-spread demand for more comprehensive and general education, in order to train workers capable of 'controlling the machines' and to educate good citizens; and finally a more egalitarian organisation of the education system, reducing geographical and financial inequalities, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, ensuring quality training paths for all motivated and capable young people and support structures for the weakest profiles.

All this is reflected in concrete measures in the Swiss education system and in VET in particular, ranging from reforms of lower secondary education to the development of the grants system or to the expansion of the teaching of theoretical and general contents. However, even if we can identify a general movement throughout Switzerland, the cantons will react in different ways to the challenges raised by this future. An in-depth analysis of three cantons, Zürich, Geneva and Ticino, will allow us to see in concrete terms how this future was translated into measures at the level of cantonal VET policy, measures which are still central to the current situation of the Swiss VET system.

Planning for the future of VET: the French way (1945-1975)

Antoine VERNET

Laboratoire Triangle, Université de Lyon, France

From 1945 to 1975, the French VET system was the subject of numerous reform projects, some of them successful, and of a few singular initiatives. These were carried out as much by educational and scientific institutions and actors, as by politicians, firms, interest groups and trade-unions. Those attempts sought to democratize, massify, extend and diversify the vocational training of French workers, responding to both social and economic demand.

Implemented in a context of economic planning, but within a state-framed market economy, these projects and achievements enabled the conception of a desirable model for the evolution of the production system. Those quantitative forecasts fuelled the restructuring of qualifications and skills. They specifically led to the enhancement of scientific and technical knowledge in the industrial world, and to the development of management. These changes were inspired by the US economic model. They favoured the education and training of engineers and technicians, as well as clerical workers.

This communication thus proposes to question the modalities of the forward planning of French VET system, highlighting its successes, like the development of new pathways (further and continuous training, technical higher education) and the extension of the vocational schools’ network. It also intends to reveal its main pitfalls, especially the growing divergence between VET and the labour market, exposed by the crisis of the Fordist model.

"Continuity and Reform in German VET 1950 to 1970"


University of Konstanz, Germany

The post-war history of VET in Germany is marked by the challenge to rebuild the country after the war by strengthening the economic system. The dominant theory in VET of the 1950s was to give companies a major say in organising training based on the apprenticeship system which had developed since the late 19th century. However, the "dual system", as it is called up to the present day, also required a certain amount of state influence, especially regarding the vocational part-time school as the second learning venue - something which originated before the Second World War. Due to the federalist tradition, this has been the responsibility of the federal states up to the present day. However, the stability of the dual system as a whole was creepingly challenged from the early 1960s onwards, including system reforms that were meant to reduce the overall responsibility of companies in the apprenticeship system. State influence, seen as a major concern of the reform protagonists of the 1960s and early 1970s, in fact led to a confinement of changes in the system. The Vocational Training Act did not install a new training system, but mainly „consolidated much previous practice under one Act“ (Raggatt). All in all, it may be said that the "conservative" character of the German VET system, its corporatist governance framework and the "occupational" orientation underlying training, was not challenged fundamentally, in the years between 1950 and 1970. Neither the influence of the occupying powers after the war nor the reform initiatives of the left-wing spectrum of the political system proved strong enough to change its basic features and underlying "philosophy".

The paper’s focus is on reconstructing the underlying drivers of these features of German VET representing an “updated past” even in the face of new challenges.

Date: Friday, 04/Feb/2022
8:45am - 9:00amVirtual Welcome and Help Desk
Location: Plenary Hall
Plenary Hall 
9:00am - 10:00amKeynote 4: Prof Dr Lukas Graf
Location: Plenary Hall

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.

Plenary Hall 
10:00am - 10:30amCoffee-Break
10:30am - 12:00pmPaper Session 6A: Mobility and school-to-work transitions
Location: Room 1
Room 1 

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, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET
Room 2 

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.

Twofold Dual: the evaluation of an experiment in flexibilization of Dutch Basic Police education


HAN University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands, The

The ground design of basic police education for all-round officers at level 4 (BPO) is a dual apprenticeship. Four months’ terms at the academy are followed by a four months’ term at a police department. The program is also competence-based: each part-qualification refers to an integrated set of competences around a cluster of significant professional activities and is combined with the acquisition of self-regulation skills for professional development and resilience skills. Since 2013 the basic dual model is increasingly criticized, both for organizational as well as educational arguments. The experiment Twofold Dual is designed as an alternating trajectory in which two terms (academy and department) are packed together in such a way that the share of academy time is decreasing over time and the share of department time is increasing.

We would like to present the results of the monitoring and evaluation research with 3 measurement moments (at the start, halfway, at the end of the pilot) at 2 pilot locations (Amsterdam, Rotterdam). Research questions to be answered are: 1) Does the pilot lead to increased and/or earlier employability of the aspirant officers? 2) What is the effect on the quality of: a) learning; and b) mentoring? 3) What are the unexpected negative and/or positive side effects? Data is collected at 4 types of stakeholders (aspirant officers, teachers, workplace supervisors and career coaches). Although COVID had a substantial effect on the pilot, Twofold Dual showed some positive results and shed light on imperative conditions.

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

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, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET
Room 4 

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
1:00pm - 1:40pmBest Paper Award
Location: Plenary Hall
Plenary Hall 
1:45pm - 3:15pmPaper Session 7A: Returns to education
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Irene KRIESI, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET
Room 1 

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
Room 2 

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, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET

Discussant: Patric RAEMY, Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET

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.

Room 3 

SY 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.

“SY”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.

SY 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.

SY: 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
Plenary Hall 

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