International Conference on Work Based Learning

15-07-2015

News | Vocational education and training

How can effectively co-operate the fields of education and the world of work? How can companies and enterprises get more interested in dual training? These were the main issues of the conference on 11-12 June 2015 in Budapest, attended by 95 participants, representing 10 European countries. The event was organised by the Austrian, Romanian and Hungarian Erasmus+ national agencies, with the support of the NetWBL international network.

NetWBL (Net Work-based Learning) is a network of the national agencies of the Erasmus+ Programme – in Hungary represented by the Tempus Public Foundation. Its foundation and its work have been supported by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Education and Culture. NetWBL aims to strengthen work-based learning (WBL) elements in existing vocational education and training (VET) systems and higher education and to support apprenticeship in particular. NetWBL will make visible the results of Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) projects on work-based learning and will support VET reforms by providing an on-line toolbox for use by policy makers, social partners and VET providers. In accordance with the work of NetWBL, the Budapest conference focused on presenting best practises and the vocational education and training systems of the organising countries of Austria, Romania and Hungary.

On the first day of the conference the focus was on the situation and challenges of work-based learning and dual training in Austria, Romania and Hungary. The network's understanding of work based learning is broader than apprenticeship: WBL includes forms such as dual training, training provided by a VET institution, WBL in higher education and training in the school workshops. Presentations highlighted that although the youth unemployment rate in Europe is 22% on an average, this number can be very different in some countries. In Greece, Spain, Italy or Croatia youth unemployment can be over 40%, while in Germany, Austria or the Netherlands this amount is less than 10%.

The importance of dual training is that it helps developing skills that are assisting young people in finding jobs. According to the statistics, in countries where apprenticeship or dual training represents a larger part of the education system, youth unemployment is lower and graduates participated in work oriented training programmes spend less time without job. Although work-based learning clearly offers an advantage, it is still not a widespread practise in Europe. In Hungary only 44% of students of vocational schools participate in dual training.

Presentations at the conference highlighted that due to reforms introduced in the VET system in Hungary, work-based learning has gradually gained more and more ground.  In Austria the system offers the opportunity for clustering and task sharing between the small companies. By request a third player – adult training company – is also available to act as a catalyst between the VET school and the company. In Romania the focus is on practical issues such as involving companies into dual training, and looking into their motivation and fears. Participants of the round table discussion agreed that coordination between the different parties is vital especially discussing details of the curriculum. They also confirmed that dual training can provide work force that is productive and committed to the employer. 

On the second day of the conference participants could choose from parallel workshops. The first workshop was managed by the National Agency for Lifelong Learning, Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD-GmbH).  Participants could learn more about the selected best practice tools regarding work-based learning developed under the Lifelong Learning Programme and could also be involved in the interactive testing of content, functionalities and design of the Toolkit. The second workshop was presented by the Romanian National Agency for Community Programs for Education and Professional Development, Ministry of Education and Scientific Research and it focused on identifying quality issues and on the implementation of WBL including topics such as recognition and validation. The third workshop was about cooperation between education and training and the world of work, exploring ways of cooperation among VET schools, companies and social partners. The workshop included good practices, project presentations and discussion as well as ideas on how to make work-based learning attractive for enterprises. This session was managed by the Tempus Public Foundation, Hungary.

Based on the outcome of the presentations, discussions and project presentations the following conclusions can be made about work-based learning and especially dual training:

  • Work based learning (WBL) can support national reforms.
  • WBL will be a highlighted priority of the new VET Agenda.
  • Good co-operation and coordination between the parties (decision makers, training institutions, and companies) are essential. Partners often speak different languages – trust and more time are necessary for getting results.
  • A third party (NGOs, associations, local organisations) could serve as a bridge that mediates between the school and the company and helps them to speak a common language. With the support of EU-funded projects, these organisations could help sharing good practices, such as handbook for companies on dual training, mentoring for companies and trainers.
  • Strengthening cooperation between local partners is essential - companies and schools have to find each other at local level in order to react to problems and needs specific to their region.
  • NetWBL is planning on further developing online tools, which can be helpful in sharing experiences. There is already a great interest for the WBL toolkit, launched at the Budapest conference, which can help finding the good examples and case-studies.

The Austrian – Hungarian – Romanian conference was just one programme in a series of events organised by the extended NetWBL network around Europe. They disseminate information on best practises, share best projects connected to WBL on several smaller, regional and larger, international events.

You can find further information on the conference here: http://tempus.tpf.hu/wbl/index.php?page=3

and on NetWBL here: www.net-wbl.eu

Last modified: 07-12-2015