Workplace education and training and working life cooperation in VET
The evaluation of working life orientation and cooperation in vocational education and training provided information about the realisation of workplace education and training, the ways in which it has been implemented and its functionality and effectiveness. Additionally, the evaluation produced information on the structures and forms of cooperation between VET providers and employers, their effectiveness and related development needs.
The evaluation data consisted of statistical and register data, questionnaires aimed at VET providers and personnel teaching vocational units and interviews with employers and workplace instructors. The preliminary conclusions and development recommendations of the evaluation were refined with stakeholders in a development webinar before their finalisation.
Key results and conclusions
The majority of VET providers have mapped their local workplaces suitable for workplace education and training. Nearly all VET providers also have some cooperation forums and bodies with employers, which they see as strengthening the working life orientation of VET. The forms of cooperation with and services offered to employers are also quite diverse, although there is a need to develop them to better meet the needs of employers. VET providers also monitor, evaluate and develop workplace education and training and other cooperation with working life quite regularly. However, development based on collected information seems to be fairly small in scale, with operations seemingly relying on previously established practices, operating methods and relationships.
The implementation of workplace education and training is made challenging by the fact that it is difficult to find workplaces suitable for competence acquisition and demonstrations for some fields and qualifications. Difficulties in finding suitable workplaces affect initial vocational qualifications in particular. The difficulties are most prevalent in the humanities and the arts, and more specifically qualifications in the fields of media and visual expression, applied art and performance. The most common factors hindering the finding of workplaces suitable for workplace education and training were the simple lack or small number of workplaces, companies being small in size or one-person companies due to the nature of the field in question and local workplaces not corresponding to national qualification requirements. Employers are also not yet sufficiently familiar with apprenticeship training and the possibilities thereof.
Workplace education and training is not always collaboratively planned by the teacher, the student and the workplace instructor, which hinders the successful implementation of workplace education and training periods. Furthermore, the staff of VET providers and workplace instructors have differing views on whether students possess a sufficient level of competence at the start of workplace education and training. As such, more discussion is needed between VET providers and employers on the level of competence that students should possess at the start of a workplace education and training period. There is also room for improvement in the ways in which educational institutions and workplace instructors agree on the practices related to providing guidance to and monitoring the competence development of students. The staff of VET providers and workplace instructors had conflicting views regarding each other’s contribution to the guidance of students and the monitoring of their competence development, which may be partly due to teachers often guiding students through e.g. learning diaries, which may leave the workplace instructor unaware of the communication taking place between the teacher and the student.
The strengths of workplace education and training include competence demonstrations and competence assessment. The organisation of competence demonstrations as part of workplace education and training works well, and students are in most cases satisfied with the implementation of competence demonstrations. Most workplace instructors feel that they have received sufficient training for assessing competence demonstrations and that the organisation of competence demonstrations in cooperation with educational institutions has primarily worked well. Ideally, competence demonstrations should be planned in collaboration with the teacher, the student and the workplace representative, but this does not always happen. Furthermore, the level of cooperation between VET providers related to workplace education and training and especially the organisation of competence demonstrations is still relatively low.
VET providers employ a variety of methods to develop the guidance and assessment skills of workplace instructors. The majority of VET providers also offer regular opportunities for workplace instructors to develop their guidance and assessment skills.
Cooperation between VET providers and employers benefits the staff of VET providers, students and employers alike. The majority of VET providers’ teaching and guidance personnel felt that working life cooperation develops their field-specific competence. Based on students’ experiences, VET and the workplace education and training included in it improved their preconditions for entering and operating in the job market. Cooperation between VET providers and employers also promotes the availability of skilled labour and the employment opportunities of students. For employers, the possibility of gaining new employees by recruiting students is, in fact, one of the main reasons for offering workplace education and training opportunities.
- New methods should be developed to increase the number of workplaces suitable for workplace education and training.
- The expectations and roles of educational institutions and employers regarding competence development should be clarified.
- Educational institutions and workplaces should agree on the practices and responsibilities related to guidance and competence development monitoring together.
- The collaborative planning of competence demonstrations by teachers, students and workplace instructors should be strengthened.
- Employers’ awareness of training agreements and especially apprenticeship training should be further increased.
- VET providers should continue their efforts to develop the guidance and assessment skills of workplace instructors and offer more opportunities for updating and developing these skills.
- VET providers should enable and encourage teachers to continuously develop their competence. It is especially important to ensure the field-specific competence of teachers.
- VET providers should continue to develop the provision of services and training stemming from the needs of working life. Cooperation between VET providers in the provision of services and training to employers should also be increased and harmonised.
- The monitoring, evaluation and development of workplace education and training and working life cooperation should continue, and the role of educational institutions’ personnel in these efforts should be clarified. In particular, other forms of cooperation besides workplace education and training should be developed to better meet the needs of working life, and the feedback received about them should be better utilised.
Publication and press release
- Partnering with working life – Evaluation of workplace education and training and working life cooperation in vocational education and training (in Finnish, summary in English)
- Press release: Workplace education and training has increased in vocational education and training – shortage of workplaces suitable for learning
The evaluation produced information for the focus areas of Increasing the functionality of the educational system and Developing Learning and Competence.
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