Friday, March 22, 2019

INAP conference - DAY 2 morning

Late finish last night from the conference dinner, held at a traditional German beer house, and earlish start today.

The first keynote is with Professor Dietmar Frommberger from the University of Osnabruck, on ‘apprenticeship comparison – differences, trends and challenges. Covered the different manifestations worldwide of apprenticeship. Reasons for these and further development of apprenticeship systems. Began by re-iterating the long history and longevity of apprenticeship and the current interest and revival. Degree of standardisation and formalisation of apprenticeship varies across countries. Informal apprenticeship where there is no certification, ‘exam’ etc. exists in all countries. Target groups comprising apprentices varies from adult / employees to junior / school leavers. There is a difference between ratio of school / workplace learning and whether these are mandatory or voluntary. Curriculum approaches range from fragmented modularisation, competency based to no modularisation, not competency based and final assessment completion only. Management models vary from no direct public or legislative intervention to public control by ministry / ministries / national training agencies. Stakeholder involvement from none to strong alignment and funding models also vary. Standards for trainers range from none to legislative standard requirement.
Reasons for the above variances are often historical with adjustments made as national systems develop. Economic considerations often inform how apprenticeship systems evolve. Provided the example of the UK, whereby early industrialisation changed the nature of apprenticeship / employer relationships. Apprentices were exploited as ‘boy or cheap labour’ and because of this, unions did not support them, especially when apprentices wages drove the pay rates down within industries.UK therefore, has a different trajectory to other European countries, which retained apprenticeship and tweaked these as industrialisation progressed.
Then covered the further developments of apprenticeship systems. Costs tend to now be distributed among many – public, employers (i.e. via levy), apprentices. Curriculum development usually in the form of competency based approaches, modularisation and qualification frameworks and systems. Qualification of teachers and trainers taken to be the norm.
As a summary, there is a balance between company interests / HR development and standards exist in all apprenticeship systems. For successful change, a balance is still required. The balance is challenged through many reasons, apprentice poaching, company difficulties in meeting standards, rigid curriculum, funding complexities etc. Development of a ‘theory of change’ is a next step.
Through questions, other factors include how apprenticeships fit into the broader VET and education systems. The range of occupations covered and number of apprentices present, in comparison to other tertiary education options, also impact on how apprenticeships are viewed. Especially their attractiveness as post-school destinations.

3 streams of presentations begin after the keynote. I stay with the Future of Work: Industry 4.0 stream.

Professor Philipp Gonon presents on ‘learning skills in the digital age: in schools or in the workplace?’ Covered digitisation as having an extensive impact on apprenticeship. Part of a larger study focused on how VET is impacted by digitisation. Summarised recent paper ‘times of uncertainty’, a literature review of the mainly European literature on digitisation. Digitisation in VET may be viewed as affirmation, disruption or as provision of alternative option. Rise of the distribution of learning – at school, at home, in the workplace. Provided examples of distributed learning occurring with apprentices in workplaces situated in different countries (polysynchronous), ‘smart’ manufacturing. Detailed the project objectives and longitudinal (3 years) study areas. Evaluation of integration of tablets into VET reveals mixed results – challenges include logistical and technical and learning approaches. Proposed changes will include displacement, drift, layering or  conversion rather than exhaustion (i.e. collapse of the dual apprenticeship model).

Then, Dr. Ludger Dietmer from the Institute of Technology and Education in Bremen, on ‘studying the relationship between quality of apprenticeship and the in-company work environment’. Summarised the current key challenges in German VET; quality of apprenticeship and in – company work environments; quality tool to be used in the case studies; and some results. Challenges include recruiting sufficient number of VET teachers; weak cooperation between schools and training companies; improving quality apprentices; and provision of VET teachers able to provide quality training. Cooperation across learning environments is important, weak cooperation weakens work process learning. Continuum of cooperation from information sharing, coordinations, shared projects, cooperation, and ‘learning field team’ to work on curricula – there is institutionalised didactical – methodological cooperation. 60% of schools are at the bottom end of continuum and not many at the higher end. Summarised the role of VET teacher ‘queriensteiger’ who has higher ed qualification, high domain vocational skills and experience, vocational practice and pedogical skills and ability to integrate practical knowledge with vocational scientific knowledge. This VET teacher is able to straddle both learning environments and may shift cooperation up the continuum. They should be able to apply knowledge and experience to implement and assess quality of company VET; able to plan tasks; access tools and instruments to study learning; and ability to evaluate the data to inform innovation and improvement. Shared several projects completed, using spider diagrams to illustrate the quality points being met (or not). 

Professor Pan Haisheng from Tianjin University presents on ‘an empirical study on motivation and policy validity of Enterprise’s participation in vocational education’. Began with the rationale for the study. Mainly due to increase in demand for skilled workers driven by rapid shifts into 'intelligent manufacturing'. Competences required of social, technical and occupational specific. At the moment, competence demand ratios are not matched to course supply rations. Therefore, need to match as students are not prepared sufficiently work-ready and one important factor is a lack of support and involvement of companies to better inform curriculum and training. Has to be balanced as enterprises tend to be willing to pay for technical skills but not for general skills. Summarised hypothesis for the project, context of research, findings and conclusions. Used 'international comparative research for employers' scale - preference scale for enterprise partipations in VET' as a tool to tease out technology preference and cost preference variables.