Improving Higher Education Efficiency with Vocational Training Based on Alternation

Improving Higher Education Efficiency with Vocational Training Based on Alternation

Walter Nuninger (University of Lille, France) and Jean-Marie Châtelet (Université de Lille, France)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 37
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1811-2.ch009
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This chapter describes the main levers to develop an efficient vocational training offer in the context of a strategic displayed willingness for continuous improvement and excellence. The challenge, for the parties (learners included) over their life course, is to make clear of: first, the issues of training (repository of skills with challenging situations); second, the training requirement specifications dealing with the pedagogical culture of the trainers, the design of the Formative Work Situation and the responsibilities of actors helped by their inventive use of innovative tools (brown paper mapping) for the guidance; third, the chosen multi-level organization to monitor and ensure compliance thanks to convenient processes for quality. Despite the perceived complexity and difficulty of Work Integrated Learning, the choice of alternation is a key element to target excellence. Indeed, the integrated constraint of training for and through the workplace enhances the relationship between parties, their involvement and active attitude while sharing outcomes, benefits and cost.
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Since the “European 2020” Act in 2010 (EC, 2010), Continuous Vocational Training (CVT) became part of a global European perspective of support and safeguard of career path by training. Indeed, among the growth priorities, note: an economy based on knowledge and innovation (smart), efficiency promotion (sustainable) and high-employment delivering social and territorial cohesion (inclusive). The underlying outcome is a comprehensive system in the scope of Lifelong Learning (LLL), offering anyone access to the University; at any age and at any time in one's career path based on prior work experience (Davies, 2007; Yang et al., 2015). The European Standards and Guidelines (ESG, since 2009 and updated in 2015) by the European Network of Quality Assurance (ENQA, 2015) gives a framework for the recognition of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) through Quality Assurance but also stresses the involvement of students as well as employers and society to achieve the goal: quality, accessibility, return on investment and improvement in all domains for efficiency. A logical follow-up is to develop trainings in close relationship with potential employers with a real customer focus for better adaptation. In addition, taking into account prior experience and training in and for the workplace is one way to make partners involved in the training; sharing cost and benefits for mutual interest. Then, Work Integrated Learning (WIL) stands for a global framework (Ferns et al., 2015) for Integrated Learning Work (ILW) based on Formative Work Situation (FWS) and double tutoring (Nuninger & Châtelet, 2014); one solution is to put learners into challenging situations on the ground to incent personal development and ramp-up skills with personal responsibility with respect to company results. The choice of alternation appears as a voluntary decision from the parties with high frequency of periods in the workplace and at school (sandwich-courses) to strengthen the learning outcomes (White, 2009): first, professional skills in the field; second, social and collective intelligence; and third, autonomy and learning skills in addition to basic and specific knowledge put in practice. The corollary is that the efficiency will rely on multi-level organization for decision-making (profit centers with an area of autonomy) and the pedagogical team with a specific pedagogical culture; a Community of Practice (CoP) (Cox & Richlin, 2004) that complies with the requirement specifications for WIL. The challenge of the training offer is then for people to possess the key skills required for learning throughout life and adaptability to enhance employability. The main lever falls within the competence of the pair of tutors who guide the learners along their individual learning path. As a consequence, the issue for the University is to be a learning organization to handle the tremendously changing environment and to achieve the goal with particular attention to human factors and organizations. The result is the global sustainable equilibrium of the triple helix of evolution between stakeholders (Etzkowitz, 2008): HEIs-Company-State (or Society) and the dynamic spiral of each party (Beck & Cowan, 1996): trainers, trainees and tutors (Gibbs & Coffey, 2004).

In the following, the background is summarized with a roadmap for HEI organization at different levels extracted from previous experience over more than twenty years in WIL (Nuninger & Châtelet, 2011a, 2011b, 2014; Nuninger et al., 2016). Then, the focus is put on the voluntary choice of alternation with Formative Work Situation (FWS) to achieve excellence (EFQM, 2013) and on its corollary with respect to the professional profile for the tutors, their professional training (Knight et al., 2006) and their existing toolbox. The aim is to make clear the basics, key levers and validated specifications to develop an efficient Work Integrated Learning (WIL) for Technical Vocational Education Training. Ultimately, considering the influence of the changing environment, some keys are expressed to mitigate risks and achieve the goal driving the change in society and people facing uncertainties and complexity.

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