The main messages are based on an analysis of all of the case studies.

In each of the six Building Blocks there are a number of main messages which may be useful to National Reference Points in their work with VET providers.

In the design area [Building Block 01]:

  • Quality assurance is strengthened if it is planned from the start – and responsibilities for each stage of work based learning are clarified.
  • Many VET teachers who spend time in companies find it easier to establish close connections between work-based and school-based provision.
  • Small and medium sized enterprises can be encouraged and supported to become more involved in work-based learning if attention is paid to their specific training needs and their context.
  • On-line systems enhance employers and VET schools’ ability to work collaboratively and this supports quality assurance and the strengthens the opportunity to review work-based learning.
  • Decisions on selecting companies to be involved in work based learning is difficult. However when VET schools are able to select, many report significant improvements in the quality of provision.

There are some case studies from Member States which illustrate how these issues have been approached:

Many case studies (e.g. Portugal and France) show that VET providers have designed a three stage quality assurance process for work-based learning: before the placement; during the placement and after the placement.

VET provider staff from Netherlands spend one day/week in a company to ensure connections are made between the school’s provision and employers’ practice.

Germany has encouraged small and medium sized enterprises to become involved in work based learning by responding to employers’ needs.

Italy has designed its training courses, curriculum and qualifications in response to the needs of employers.

In the improve area [Building Block 02]:

  • Increasingly data from work-based learning is being used to make comparisons with regional or national data. This helps employers, other stakeholders and VET providers to identify areas where further information can be collected and used to review and improve quality.
  • Employers, VET providers and other stakeholders are increasingly designing agreements for work based learning which set clear expectations for training and clarify how and when improvements will be made.
  • In many situations the amount of time learners devote to work based training is increasing.

There are some case studies from Member States which illustrate how these issues have been approached:

Hungary, Finland, Italy and UK compare national data with information from the VET provider to identify areas for improvement.

In France each apprenticeship is based on a set of national guidelines which clarify what processes need to be in place to ensure on-going improvements in quality.

Netherlands has used the external inspection process as a stimulus to redesign its quality assurance processes.

In the respond area [Building Block 03]:

  • The individual needs of learners which are matched to the needs of employers brings benefits to everyone. Allocating a named member of staff to support learners during work based training strengthens the quality of provision and enhances the quality assurance process.
  • Work-based learning enables VET providers and employers to design more individualised approaches to learning.
  • Learner and employer feedback is part of a systematic approach to quality assurance during work based learning. This feedback is being used during training and at the end of the courses to improve quality.
  • VET providers, employers and stakeholders need to work closely together during periods of work based learning. In some situations this closeness is characterised by staff from VET schools visiting students, and organising regular meetings with employers.

There are some case studies from Member States which illustrate how these issues have been approached:

Finland uses an on-line process to analyse individual employers’ needs and matches learners accordingly.

Italy uses an individualised, IT-based process of matching learners to employers. This responds to both the needs of the learners and the companies.

In the communicate area [Building Block 04]:

  • IT systems are important to ensuring learners, employers and VET schools remain in contact during work based learning. Real-time systems are increasingly being used to improve quality, monitor progress and ensure communication is effective.
  • Formal agreements between VET schools, employers and other stakeholders are being used to strengthen communication during work based learning.
  • Learners are being seen as key stakeholders who have a stake in their own learning – this is particularly noticeable during periods of work based learning.

There are some case studies from Member States which illustrate how these issues have been approached:

Many case studies (e.g. Portugal and UK) use a real-time, on-line system to liaise with employers and students during their work based learning.

A national campaign to promote a new type of work based vocational training has been designed in Romania. An on-line resource helps students to select their most appropriate training pathway.

In France there are clear rules for employers and VET providers in relation to the need to establish and maintain effective communication based on a formal Partnership Agreement.

In the train area [Building Block 05]:

  • Training in both pedagogy and quality assurance is becoming more important for company-based staff.
  • Training which supports company based staff and other stakeholders to become more involved in assessment is important in many situations.

There are some case studies from Member States which illustrate how these issues have been approached:

All the staff in the Hungary case study are involved in developing the quality assurance processes used by the VET provider.

Portugal and Netherlands have detailed processes for selecting employers and training work based staff on issues relating to quality assurance.

Austria organises training for company-based staff. Attendance is required before a student begins their work based training.

In the assess area [Building Block 06]:

  • VET schools expect employers to be involved in assessment. For many VET schools, employer involvement is an essential part of work-based learning.
  • Assessing learners while at work is one aspect of an assessment of practical skills and professional competences which are essential for VET qualifications.
  • Assessment during work based learning should be based on a pre-determined set of competences and skills. Agreement on the focus of assessment improves the quality of training and work based learning.

There are some case studies from Member States which illustrate how these issues have been approached:

Portugal uses an on-line system to record learners’ achievements and monitor employers satisfaction.

The assessment of learners in Finland is based on an individualised skills and a competence profile which is agreed before the work-based learning begins.

Staff from employers are involved in assessing learners though skills demonstrations in Romania and Finland.

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