Cooperation between vocational education and training (VET) providers and working life is generally working well. However, education providers must develop the provision of services and training based on the needs of working life.
The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) has evaluated workplace education and training in vocational education and training, as well as the cooperation between education providers and working life.
New ways to increase the number of workplaces suitable for workplace education and training must be developed
Workplace education and training has become more common every year between 2018 and 2021, so even during the coronavirus pandemic. However, around half of VET providers have had problems finding workplaces suitable for workplace education and training in some fields and for certain qualifications. The problem has affected vocational upper secondary qualifications more than further or specialist vocational qualifications. The problem was most common in the humanities and arts, particularly in media and visual expression, arts and design, and performing arts. The most common reasons for not finding a suitable workplace for workplace education and training were the lack of suitable workplaces, the fact that the workplaces cannot offer tasks suitable for the qualification requirements, and the instruction of students and the resources it requires.
“Education administration, education providers and working life must work together to find ways to make workplace education and training more feasible. For example, could VET providers collaborate more with each other? It is also important to consider whether the challenges in finding suitable workplaces are genuinely due to the nature of the field or the operating culture of the institution, for example,” says Senior Evaluation Advisor Raisa Hievanen.
Workplace awareness of apprenticeship training should also be raised, as workplaces are still not sufficiently familiar with the concept.
The expectations and roles of educational institutions and working life in the production of competence need to be clarified
High-quality workplace education and training requires that there is a clear division of responsibilities between education providers and their staff, students, workplaces and workplace instructors in the production of competence. The evaluation found that this is not always the case. The objectives of workplace education and training, the student’s work tasks and the monitoring of competence development are not always agreed upon between the teacher, the student and the workplace instructor. Thus, there is some confusion between education providers and working life as to what level of competence students should have at the start of their workplace education and training.
“Therefore, we encourage the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Finnish National Agency for Education, education providers, and employers and other working life operators to continue the discussion on the roles of education providers and working life in the production of competence and the factors that support and ensure this,” says Counsellor of Evaluation Paula Kilpeläinen.
Competence demonstrations and competence assessment are the strengths of workplace education and training
The implementation of competence demonstrations and competence assessment are the strengths of workplace education and training. However, there are significant differences between fields of education: almost all of the competence demonstrations in business and administration are carried out in workplaces, compared to only a third in the humanities and arts. Both students and workplace instructors are satisfied with the implementation of the competence demonstrations. Workplace instructors are also satisfied with the training they have received for the assessment of the competence demonstrations.
Working life cooperation benefits all parties involved
In the experience of VET providers, teachers, students and working life representatives, cooperation is beneficial for everyone. It improves students’ preparedness for the transition to working life, strengthens teachers’ industry-specific competences and contributes to the availability of a skilled workforce. For working life, the main reason for taking on students for workplace education and training was precisely the opportunity to recruit new employees. However, from the perspective of working life, educational institutions need to further develop their communications and the accessibility of their services to working life. Too often, access to information about services relies on personal contacts.
Implementation of the evaluation
The evaluation data consists of register data on workplace education and training and demonstrations (Koski database), VET student and working life feedback (Amispalaute, Työpaikkakysely, Työpaikkaohjaajakysely), surveys of VET providers and staff participating in the teaching of vocational qualifications, as well as interviews with employers and workplace instructors. The preliminary conclusions and development recommendations of the evaluation have been further refined with education providers and stakeholders in a development webinar before their finalisation.
Closing webinar of the evaluation on 20 September 2022
FINEEC will organise a webinar on 20 September 2022 at 9:00–11:30 to support the utilisation of the evaluation results and development recommendations. The webinar is open to all interested parties. For more information on the webinar, visit the FINEEC website (in Finnish). Come and join us!
Hievanen, R., Kilpeläinen, P., Huhtanen, M., Tuurnas, A., Loukusa, V., Pylväs, L., Rasinaho, K., Taakala, J., Tujula, M., Vieltojärvi, M. 2022. Partnering with working life – Evaluation of workplace education and training and working life cooperation in vocational education and training. Finnish Education Evaluation Centre. Publications 23:2022.
- Senior Evaluation Advisor Raisa Hievanen, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 29 533 5542
- Counsellor of Evaluation Paula Kilpeläinen, email@example.com, tel. +358 29 533 5557
- Evaluation web page: https://karvi.fi/en/vocational-education/thematic-system-evaluations/working-life-orientation-and-cooperation-in-vocational-education-and-training/
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