Assessment of processing industry learning outcomes: skills close to excellent, working life relevance moderately good

Vocational education Suvi Skantz

Based on the grades obtained, the students had good command of the different competence areas in process industry demonstrations. The majority of the demonstrations were performed in the workplace, and women and men obtained equally high grades in them. Process industry vocational education and training is well placed to take on the challenges created by the VET reform.

The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) has assessed the learning outcomes of the Vocational Upper Secondary Qualification in the Processing Industry. In the assessment, the students who had started studying for the vocational upper secondary qualification in autumn 2013 were monitored until spring 2016. The assessment data was obtained from grades given for vocational skills demonstrations and from supplementary data describing the arrangement of such demonstrations. The assessment comprised a total of 15 providers of vocational education and training (VET) and 156 students.

Vocational skills close to excellent, grades for theoretical knowledge clearly lower

The results indicate that measured by grades, the quality standard of vocational education and training in the process industry is close to excellent. Almost one half of the students (49%) received the grade ‘very good’ in their demonstration, 44% the grade ‘good’, and 8% the grade ‘satisfactory’. The best grades were awarded to the students for key competences for lifelong learning and mastering the work process. The grades awarded for mastering the underpinning knowledge of the work were clearly lower.

Industry well placed to take on challenges created by VET reform

Following the VET reform, education providers must have good and effective working life contacts which enable the students to acquire and demonstrate knowledge and skills in line with the objectives. Vocational education and training in the process industry is well placed to take on the challenges created by the reform, as the majority of demonstrations are already given and assessed in the workplace. Additionally, the availability of workplaces matching the qualification objectives is relatively good around Finland.

– The assessment found that the identification and recognition of prior learning and individual study paths are already implemented well in VET, says Senior Advisor Paula Kilpeläinen.

More attention to workplace instructors’ guidance and assessment competence and teachers’ working life competence needed

On average, the overall quality of demonstration activities is relatively good, and the majority of demonstrations given by students met the vocational skills requirements set in the qualification requirements.

While the proportion of workplace instructors who had received induction and training was relatively high, a need to improve their competence emerged in the assessment. In particular, development needs were observed in workplace instructors’ competence related to guidance and assessment. Teachers’ working life competence also emerged as a key development need. Existing good practices and models can be used to train workplace instructors and develop teachers’ working life competence.

“In the future, particular attention should be paid to ensuring workplace instructors’ guidance and assessment competence and teachers’ working life competence, as the students will increasingly acquire and demonstrate their competence in the workplace”, Kilpeläinen notes.

The job title of qualification holders in the process industry is Process Operator. The sector is rather small and male dominated. Production in this sector is diverse and extensively automated, and different forms of bioenergy production are a growing field within the industry. Products are made both for direct consumer use and as raw materials for other industries.

Report: Kilpeläinen, P., Jalolahti J. & Stylman V., 2018. Vocational competence in the Vocational Upper Secondary Qualification in the Processing Industry. Publications 15:2018. Finnish Education Evaluation Centre.

Inquiries: Paula Kilpeläinen, Senior Advisor, tel. +358 29 533 5557 paula.kilpelainen@karvi.fi