KA3 – Support for Policy Reform
VET-Business Partnerships on Work-based learning and Apprenticeships
Call for proposals EACEA 40/2016
Brussels, 23 November 2017
Wrap-up of the discussions - Outcomes
How will you carry out the skills needs assessment including possibly with a sectoral dimension? Please identify challenges and solutions.
The main questions raised during this activity were:
√ What happens after School/University?
√ Will needs change over time? Particularly, what skills will be needed in 2050?
√ How to keep up with the changes?
√ What is VET´s role in this?
The group identified four main stakeholders: students, society, VET providers and companies. The group came to the conclusion that a common vocabulary was needed between these groups of stakeholders in order to have the same understanding on the challenges they face and the possible solutions they propose to overcome them.
Some of the main challenges identified were gaps in skills and needs for a specific skill set. Moreover, today's relation between general and specific skills is not in line with the needs of the industry. Therefore, an evaluation of learned skills, competences and capabilities should be established between students (graduates) and VET providers in order to reduce this gap and improve the employability of young people. In addition to that, national curricula and educational methods in some countries should be improved to reflect the substantive needs of the market.
When it comes to laws and regulations, they could better support the importance of getting skills and competences in VET. This is also the case for some countries' established curricula or mind-sets when it comes to acknowledging Work Based Learning (WBL). Moreover, countries' and regions' history in VET can also have a very important role at contributing to the successful implementation of the skills needs assessment. SMEs should get together with large companies and attempt to have policy makers understand the growing importance of new ways of acquiring skills and competences, such WBL.
How will you ensure systematic cooperation, in particular between businesses and VET schools, including where appropriate collaborating with the tertiary level and/or VET teachers and in-company trainers? Please identify challenges and solutions.
The main problems identified under this topic were:
√ Sustainability of VET+ business partnerships
√ Keeping the motivation of all stakeholders
Some solutions proposed were to develop strategic documents relevant for the project, to build the WBL partnership supported by legislation and to involve actors at different levels (European, national, regional, local levels, sectoral levels and at the level of students).
The participants also focused on stressing the benefits of a particular cooperation, such as curricula or innovation aspect, possibility of a long term cooperation and enhanced quality.
They also highlighted the need of setting an agreement arrangement with a memorandum of understanding, in a structural way that stresses clear responsibilities at all levels (even at local).
Further on, development of WBL strategies was mentioned according to the needs/demand from the authorities or sector with a regularly updated needs analysis.
Other important aspects of collaboration are specialists in associations and the training that is provided for them, capacity building for VET trainers, in-company trainers and academic trainers which would not only comply to the needs but should also be of interest and entertainment to the people benefiting from it.
Last mentioned solution to the problems identified were tools of co-operation, in particular silos, platforms to communicate, setting practical arrangements, uploading CVs, evaluating, regularly developing focus groups, competitions, games, shared laboratory and learning from other good practices/sharing good practices from existing co-operations.
What kind of activities, including support tools, are you developing and how will take into account regional / local development strategies to improve the provision of apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning?
Participants presented the activities and the support tools they are developing in the framework of their projects’ implementation, aiming at the improvement of the provision of apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning. The main activities and support tools identified were the following:
E-platforms - Different kinds of platforms are being developed – platforms providing training and relevant material, information on apprenticeships and WBL and relevant good/best practices, and/or promoting networking between individuals, as well as organisations and institutions.
Capacity-building/ train-the-trainer - The “train-the-trainer” approach is being employed in different projects, aiming at the enhancement of capacity of VET trainers and other relevant professionals, thus promoting the provision of apprenticeships and WBL.
Development of WBL/Apprenticeships Models - Drawing on previous experience through the exploration of good/best practices and needs assessment, projects are developing WBL/Apprenticeships Models, which aim to serve as “roadmap” for effective structures and processes facilitating the provision of apprenticeships and WBL.
Networks - Projects are focused on network-building, through the active involvement of VET providers, SMEs, social partners and all relevant stakeholders, thus promoting the exchange of knowledge, experience and practice, the widest possible dissemination, as well as the sustainability of projects results after the end of the funding period.
Alignment with/conformity to regional / local development strategies - All projects have stemmed from an initial needs assessment of local/regional scope. Therefore, activities and support tools being developed have a strong local/regional dimension and are in alignment with the corresponding strategies, while promoting diffusion of knowledge through dissemination in national and EU levels.
How will your project contribute to increasing the attractiveness of work-based learning and apprenticeships?
The main findings of the discussions under this topic were:
Knowledge transfer: There is a clear evidence of knowledge transfer from countries with high attractiveness and penetration of WBL and apprenticeships to those countries where those schemes appear less attractive for businesses and apprentices. Experiences, practices and actions that have resulted to a higher image of WBL and apprenticeships are being demonstrated as best practices and transferred to countries with a lower image of WBL and apprenticeship.
Development of coordination and communication Tools: Some projects underlined that the low image of WBL and apprenticeships is a result of lack of communication and coordination among stakeholders; therefore they include the development of coordination and communication platforms. These are going to increase information flows and close the gap between expectations of all stakeholders (SMEs / VET Providers / apprentices), resulting to higher attractiveness of WBL and apprenticeships.
Sectoral approach and Involvement of social partners and associations: Effective and market oriented WBL and apprenticeship schemes are going to be designed through an actual involvement of all stakeholders with a sectoral approach. Based on this approach, funded projects are going to achieve higher attractiveness and higher participation rates, since WBL and apprenticeships are going to match their actual needs. Within this scope, projects have included actions of active participation and consultation of social partners and associations matching WBL and apprenticeship schemes according to real business’s needs.
Raising attractiveness through demonstration of sectoral perspectives and employability: Participants have stated that sectoral desertification and lower image for specific sectors have to be taken into consideration since they result in lower WBL and apprenticeship attractiveness. Some participants have presented a concrete approach that will demonstrate sectoral perspectives and high employability opportunities of sectors with a lower image among apprentices, as a mechanism that will increase attractiveness of WBL.
Improvement of curricula and teaching methods: Mismatch of curricula and teaching methods with actual market needs in terms of skills and competences result a lower attractiveness of WBL and apprenticeships, since both apprentices and businesses conclude that the options and benefits for all involved members are limited. Within this framework, some selected projects have proposed the design and introduction of new, more advanced curricula and teaching methods, which will include all latest developments and changes in job functions at a sectoral approach, raising the level of attractiveness.
Attractiveness campaigns: Low image is a reality. In order to change this perception, some granted projects have proposed new ways of raising attractiveness, including targeted awareness raising campaigns for each of the stakeholder’s groups. Among those proposed activities are workshops targeting students, parents and companies and the creation of National Focus Learning Groups, targeting all stakeholders.
Capacity building of SMEs: Low attractiveness of WBL and apprenticeships has been described as a result of low participation of SMEs, which is in close relation to their limited capacity of active involvement in the design process. To tackle this, some of the funded projects, have included capacity building actions for SMEs, in the areas of design and handling of WBL. Higher capacity will provide better results and raise attractiveness resulting to an increase of positions for apprentices.
Attractiveness through demonstration of good working conditions: Higher participation of apprentices is going to be achieved through combating fault perceptions for the working conditions at specific sectors. Taking these misbeliefs as a starting point, some of participants have included actions that are aiming to increase awareness and tackle illusions on actual working conditions in specific sectors, transforming them into appealing life-long career perspectives.