The Finnish National Board of Education sets the core curriculum for each vocational qualification – this includes the objectives (learning outcomes) for each study module. One VET provider, the Jyväskylä Education Consortium has analysed the needs of industry and commerce, and their work processes to make sure that they align with the skill requirements which are set in the core curriculum of each vocational qualification. The VET school has a written contract with each employer and makes these details available to all students through the school’s online information system.

Teachers assign students to appropriate employers so that they are able to practice the skills required by the core curriculum and meet the outcomes in their personal study plan. Students, teachers, and workplace instructors jointly plan the work-based learning. Students receive coaching from their teachers before they begin working with employers. The same teachers continue to support workplace instructors and the students throughout the period of work-based learning.

The skills acquired by the students during their work-based learning are assessed in line with the agreed assessment plan and criteria – this is a joint assessment which involves the student, the workplace instructor and the teacher. The teacher completes a written record of the assessment and the reasons for the decision – these are added to the VET school’s student information system.

Jyväskylä Education Consortium collects feedback from the student and the workplace instructors on each period of work-based learning. This feedback is analysed in teachers’ and management meetings. A summary of this feedback is analysed each year by the local committee which oversees the assessment process (in Finland this is based on students being assessed through a demonstrating of their skills). The VET school uses both local and national approaches to assure quality. These include:

  • each vocational qualification and study module has a clear set of skills which are set at a national level;
  • for each study module the work settings (and employers) are carefully selected to match the national skill requirements;
  • the Jyväskylä Education Consortium’s quality system publishes clear guidance on the quality system which supports work-based learning;
  • teachers receive training on how to organise and assess work-based learning
  • students receive coaching in relation to the goals and assessment criteria used in work-based learning;
  • students are supported by trained workplace instructors who are familiar with the national expectations and assessment criteria;
  • work-based assessment is a shared undertaking which involves the student, the teacher and the workplace instructor;
  • students’ know-how is demonstrated through a demonstration of their skills (they are required to demonstrate they can do the work required by the employer) and assessment is are based on national assessment criteria;
  • assessment and the justification is documented in a predefined and standardised way
  • there is a systematic collection of feedback from students and workplace instructors;
  • the feedback system also enables comparisons with national information as the same software and questionnaires are used in many VET schools;
  • the National Board of Education collects and evaluates learning outcomes nationally;
  • the management board of the Jyväskylä Education Consortium and the individual colleges analyse the feedback and students’ acquisition of learning outcomes each year; and decide on the appropriate developmental measures.

The data collected by the Jyväskylä Education Consortium includes information which is connected to the EQAVET indicators. This includes information on:

  • the number of days training received by staff;
  • the cost of this training;
  • the number of trained workplace instructors;
  • whether the learning outcomes are achieved;
  • number of work-based learning contracts that are in place;
  • the number of weeks students spend in a work-based learning context;
  • students’ employment status on completing their qualification;
  • number of skills demonstrations given by students in the workplace.

The approach to quality assurance supports the employment of students after graduation. In addition those employers who support students during their work-based learning are able to recruit new staff who are familiar with the ways of working in the organisation. The Finnish model for work-based learning enables each VET school to improve their own processes and teaching methods. It also helps teachers to stay in contact with the working life and thus maintain their knowledge. The collaboration between school and employment also improves the local networks and strengthens the local economy.

The Jyväskylä Education Consortium system is evaluated continually - mostly by looking at the students’ results e.g.:

  • the students’ learning outcomes compared to the national level;
  • students’ employment rates once they graduate;
  • internal audits on the processes and systems used by the school;
  • external reports from the National Education Evaluation Council’s evaluations on work-based learning (2010) and the assessment of work-based learning (2010).

The VET student’s know-how is demonstrated during their working life and in real working situations when they are learning. The students are assessed by both the workplace instructor (who has the up-to-date skills and the knowledge of everyday work) and the teacher (who is familiar with the pedagogical aspects of learning and teaching).

The Finnish work-based learning model operates through a close collaboration with local companies. This makes it possible to offer VET students a wide range of opportunities and experience in different kinds of companies and environments. This gives VET students many options in terms of employment. Every student has to complete at least 6-8 weeks per year on work-based learning. In many qualifications students complete two periods of learning per year in a work-based context.

For more information on this case study contact:

Employer/VET provider/contact person:      
Hanna Rajala, Chief Planning Officer (Processes and Quality)
The Jyväskylä Education Consortium

hanna.rajala@jao.fi

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