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close this bookSchool Enterprises: Combining Vocational Learning with Production (UNEVOC, 1998, 64 p.)
close this folder3. Conclusions and Guidelines
View the document(introduction...)
View the document3.1 Rough typology of school enterprises
View the document3.2 Structures of school enterprises
View the document3.3 Organisation of learning
View the document3.4 Competency profile, learning outcomes and learning goals
View the document3.5 Curricular processes
View the document3.6 Teaching staff
View the document3.7 Regulatory framework of school enterprises
View the document3.8 External relations
View the document3.9 Impact of school enterprises
View the document3.10 Financial options for school enterprises
View the document3.11 Mixes of private and public roles
View the document3.12 Factors that may enhance school enterprises

3.3 Organisation of learning

School enterprises incorporate elements from several formal and non-formal modes of organising learning and training for skill development. Formal vocational training is but one way of training. Enterprise-based training, such as on-the-job training, the apprenticeship method and ‘attachment learning’32 are modes of training that complement formal training methods. These refer to an attachment of the learner to the person or agency providing the training. Recent studies have investigated the contribution of these informal processes of learning to skill development and their relevance to future employment.33 Formal or institutionalised training contributes only in a very small way to skill development and employment in developing countries, especially in the informal sector.

32 Bowman, M. J. and Anderson, C. A., 1976

33 Singh. M., 1996

An important function of school enterprises is to supplement on-the-job training. It will be useful therefore to elaborate the main features of the various modes of organising learning and training.

Enterprise-based learning

Apprenticeship method

The traditional ‘apprenticeship’ has the following characteristics. A master craftsman takes on one or more trainees to be initiated into his craft, and they work with him under his instruction and guidance. The apprenticeship contract specifies a period of some training during which the apprentice will work for the master craftsman. At the end of that period, the former apprentice becomes a full-fledged journeyman who can take on his own apprentices. The journeyman provides subsistence for the apprentice and, as he gains in skill and experience, he will receive some pay. Training and production take place within the production enterprise. The organisational structure is therefore determined to a very large extent by the work organisation and technology level of the enterprise. Learning and working are given approximately the same attention and completely integrated with each other.

Traditional apprenticeship systems are essentially vocational-entry arrangements and long-term. Entrants have no considerable prior grounding in general unspecialised school learning.

The trainee learns by the auto-didactic learning method, i.e., the ability to learn through trail and error and learning by doing. He informally imitates what goes on around him in an actual production situation by watching, copying, participating and helping. The trainee enters into social ties with the master providing the training. The work of the trainee is practical and vocationally relevant. It forms the basis of the trainee’s own future livelihood. The products can be marketed. Traditional apprenticeships provide an ideal environment for stimulating enterprise networks needed for later self-employment.

In traditional apprenticeships, the same master craftsmen, journeyman or experienced worker responsible for the production process and economic activities also transmits skills and knowledge to the trainees. He also takes orders, negotiates with customers, passes on parts of his own work to the trainee, and plans the work and work sequences, often contributing to the work himself and helping the trainee. He monitors the work and evaluates the work outputs.

The traditional apprenticeship training in the informal sector has been an important way to complement training in business centres of public training institutes in Ghana and Kenya. The case studies from these two countries indicate the volume of training undertaken through traditional apprenticeships despite the acknowledged limitations of the apprentice masters as trainers.

Traditional apprenticeship is not confined to the informal sector. The modern sector also has large numbers of individuals who acquire their skills informally on-the job without support from the formal educational system. There is clearly a merit in expanding the intersection between these two training sectors.34 It has been shown that communication of the rudiments of business know-how in association with apprenticeship training and participant observation, rural or urban, seems to have been generally successful. On the other hand, business know-how as a complement to school-based or non-formal training is usually both ineffective and expensive.

34 Ferej, A., 1996

In developing countries, apprenticeship has often been viewed as an aspect of industry rather than of education. The apprentice in the informal sector is a low-cost labourer ultimately rewarded for years of menial service. The apprentice is indentured and only after the trade skills are acquired can the apprentice become free to travel (‘journeyman’). This model of training served industry well when much of the labour needed was unskilled. But today, industry is moving towards requiring a greater need for higher skills. There is a need, therefore, for school enterprises to adopt an apprenticeship model that is not based upon the cheap workforce model of the developing countries informal sector, but instead one in which active learning is designed to develop a variety of process skills in the workforce. Such on-the-job training is recognised as a part of the educational system when it is deliberate rather than accidental. All jobs, where productivity and output and innovation are influenced by experience, have an educational component. Wasted opportunity, lost productivity and diminished profit result when this accidental on-the-job education is ignored.35

35 Landgren, C. R., 1993

School enterprises which recognise the role of on-the-job training are those with established apprenticeship programmes. Important dimensions of apprenticeships in school enterprises are:

· Apprenticeships refers to the acquisition of a vocational skill through work under the supervision of established practitioners.

· Apprenticeships vary substantially in duration, covering both artisan and craft skills as well as both commercial and manual skills. In the case of PIKA, the apprenticeship is driven by the fact of the large number of complex moves which must be learned to complete a process. PIKA takes on apprentices who, for example, ultimately are expected to be able to create the organ single-handedly. Others are motivated by a commitment to learning different aspects of the trade. Building trades people, like plumber and electricians, seem committed to this kind of on-the-job training programmes.

· In fully-fledged apprenticeships, attachment to an enterprise continues with utilisation of the increasing skills (manual and commercial skills) acquired over an extended period of learning.

· Apprenticeship arrangements commonly involve acquisition of skills that have wide applicability, hence are portable across agencies and activities.

· Apprenticeships entail some sort of recognised obligation, formal or informal, on the part of the trainee. The alternative is payment of fees by trainee to master.

· The apprentice model of learning is an effective model of learning in school enterprises, as the rewards for the learned action are substantial. The young learner is the most easily taught. The young apprentice learner learns his basic competency skills in the context of genuine work context. This contrasts with most existing vocational training programmes in which the rewards early on are limited, and in which students are older and have learned the basic competency skills out of context.

On-the-job training

Here a distinction is often made between transferable skills in a competitive state and firm-specific skills that reduce the chances of labour turnover. There are similarities between apprenticeship systems and firm-specific on-the-job learning. There are investments by trainees in foregone uses of their own time, whether or not they pay fees, even as there are also costs incurred by the trainers. And there are, in varying degrees, attachment of the learner to the master or to the modern employer. However, unlike traditional apprenticeships, on-the-job training in most large modern enterprises is a continuing process that can upgrade skills, counter obsolescence and prepare for innovations within the enterprise. Employees are given incentives in order to check voluntary turnover, whatever the extent of specialised on-the-job training and learning.

Several problems, including staff recruitment and retention at school enterprises, could be reduced by giving modern firms and informal sector craftsmen a larger role in the training process. By virtue of their closer contact with the market, an employer-operated training could be more efficient in the selection of trades. Less encumbered by formal regulations and bureaucratic procedures, private firms and small enterprises can establish, expand, adapt or discontinue training courses with greater speed and at lower cost. Student motivation to effectively integrate theory with practice is enhanced by greater proximity to the actual working situation and the immediate presence of a prospective employer.

The SENA-type programmes in Latin America were initially established by employer groups to provide off-the-job training and skills upgrading, and large employers were taxed to cover costs of the programme. The linkages with employers ensured relevance in the job markets. These programmes have a variety of components, for both short-term training meant to introduce new but relatively low levels of skills, and for adults who wish to upgrade their skills to apprenticeship levels and long-term programmes for skill training after apprenticeships.36

36 Jimenez, E. et. al., 1989

The dual vocational training method is a system in which practical training takes place in workshops of private enterprises, while the corresponding vocational theory training is done in normal, not necessarily government, training centres. In some Latin American countries, the primary objective of the co-operation between the government vocational training institutions and private enterprises is the training of skilled workers for the demand of modern industrial enterprises. In Nigeria, an experiment has been made in introducing the dual system of vocational training by extending informal apprenticeship training in small and micro-enterprises through government organised theory lessons, as well as efforts by the government to introduce certain standards also for informal vocational training in private enterprises.37

37 Boehm, U., 1990

The idea underlying the dual vocational training is to promote enterprise based vocational training and, at the same time, shift the responsibility for vocational training as far as possible from government-run vocational training institutes to the private sector. It aims to promote a stronger emphasis on practical vocational training in ‘real’ workshops of private industrial enterprises, and to qualify graduates and make them more compatible to the needs of modern industry. It is hoped ultimately to increase the total number of apprenticeship places as well as the subsequent employment opportunities of the apprentices.

Critique of in-enterprise training in the formal and informal sectors

Although there is a strong case for locating training as near as possible to enterprises, it is equally important to realise why it is necessary in the first place to remove training from the hands of entrepreneurs.38 Wiemann and Greinert refer, in their vocational and pedagogical critique of enterprise-based vocational training, to the structural problems of trying to combine in-enterprise plant operations with the necessities of modern learning.39 The operational and technological structure of the enterprise is geared to optimising the production of goods such as to satisfy the dictates of market competition rather than being tailored to the necessities of vocational training. The enterprise’s business situation is market-dependent and, hence, limited to the specialisation of only a range of products. This results in an equally limited learning potential. Since the enterprise regards its employees as producers of goods, they are able to cater to the trainees’ vocational learning needs only as a side occupation. In view of the permanent pressure from the market, vocational learning is pushed into marginal functions. The method of demonstration and copying has certain disadvantages. The master craftsman, journeyman or experienced worker shows how a product is to be manufactured and the student imitates without questioning. The student learns only what is taught in the production course but is unable to use this knowledge to solve a new problem or produce a new product. Students should be able to experiment with new products which may have a better chance in the market, rather than to orient to the already overfilled demand for certain goods. The introduction of new products in apprenticeship programmes is often confronted with problems, such as high capital requirements and the lengthy training required, which craftsmen can hardly afford even where students pay a fee.

38 King, K. 1985, 43 pp.

39 Greinert, W.-D. and Wiemann, G. 1993

The dual vocational training has also come under critique in its application in developing countries. As regards the training aspect, private enterprises hardly train more apprentices than their own immediate need, let alone employ them after training. Furthermore, many enterprises, especially medium-sized and smaller ones, have difficulties, at least initially, to cope with the requirements related to workshop-based vocational training, not only for internal organisational and financial reasons, but also because of the inadequate number of pedagogical qualified skilled workers who could be assigned the task as instructors. At the same time, external mentors are normally not accepted as instructors on the part of the enterprises to train their workshop staff in dual vocational programmes. They are unlikely to be keen on making their situation even more difficult by taking on young people from the informal sector, who often have low levels of schooling, as apprentices. There will certainly be cases where payment of an apprenticeship grant during the enterprise-based training will enable school graduates to take up formal vocational training. But, on the whole, the dual vocational training provides no better chance for an occupation-oriented qualification than the centre-based formal vocational training since it confronts most persons from the informal sector with just the same formal and de facto formal enrolment restrictions.

The assumption that a shift of the larger part of vocational training into private enterprises would improve the training quality, increase the number of apprenticeships, and open employment opportunities for the graduates may prove to be correct in individual cases. On the whole, however, the number of jobs will only increase if the overall economic development creates a corresponding labour demand.

Learning organisation outside of genuine work situations

School enterprises have also incorporated several types of training methods that have evolved for teaching vocational competencies outside of genuine work situations. These basic types include the training course method, practical learning, and the project method. These forms of training have evolved in situations existing outside of the real work process and economically imposed constraints, and constitute an essential form of training conducted in vocational centres, industrial training institutes and off-enterprise training centres.

Vocational education theory according to the training course method

Training according to the training course method is expected to supplement the training that is conducted through the production process within school enterprises as well as within enterprises external to the school. It is a method that is crucial for imparting basic vocational competencies in school enterprises.

In school enterprises, the training course method has the aim of transmitting certain course material in a predefined period of time. This entails a detailed planning of the course, keeping in view that the theory elements are directly linked to the practice elements. This contrasts with the traditional training course method which usually concentrates on theory without linking it to practice. Although occupational problems are broken down into learning sequences and structured according to theoretical considerations, they are not completely cut off from the real work context. As instructors are often those who are also involved in the production process and economic activities, the learning is not separate from the work context. In vocational training centres and industrial training institutes with enterprises or business centres attached to them, vocational education theory is usually under the direction of full-time instructors. In such places basic vocational training is normally geared to certain types of learning, e.g. introductory courses in welding, hydraulics, pneumatics, etc.

Unlike the separation of vocational learning and production process in the traditional course method, the attachment of enterprises to training institutes attempts to promote the trainees’ relations to the realities of a genuine job situation. The idea is to prevent the trainees’ relationship to the genuine job situation from becoming stunted as a result of attending a separate place of learning for too long a time.

The duration of learning through the training course method depends on the learning ability of the trainees. Compared to underachievers requiring much personal attention and continuous support, self-assured, creative achievers find it easier to learn a trade in an on-the-job situation and therefore require less time in basic vocational training courses. It also depends on the type of learning course. Compared to the curricula in woodworking and metalworking with a heavy bias on empirical and experimental work, curricula in electrical trades with a substantial theoretical component are more suitable for teaching through the course method (Wiemann, 1996).

An important advantage of training course learning within school enterprises is to prepare the trainee for a plurality of related vocations and occupations. However this method can become disadvantageous when the learning is dominated by the routinisation of work procedures with respect to the specification of learning sequences, consistency of learning and, above all, predetermined learning achievements. Such a constellation overlooks the operational reality and the problem-solving processes for which vocational training is supposed to systematically prepare the trainee.

The combination of vocational learning and the enterprise demands special didactic systems, demands that the teaching staff be specially prepared for this particular kind of combining training in vocational theory with the school’s production processes and economic activities. Relatively brief vocation-specific familiarisation normally suffices if the instructor in question has had sufficient practical experience.

Another way of organising school instruction in school enterprises is to develop courses in relation to the genuine job situation in industrial firms and in medium and small-scale enterprises. This is followed in schools in France40 and has produced a new idea about the design and organisation of school instruction.

40 Bruy,A., 1989 pp. 45-46

Practical or active learning in training workshops

Training workshops and science laboratories are becoming more common in almost every educational endeavour associated with school enterprises, and ‘hands-on’ is a popular description of in-service training programmes. Even in the development of critical thinking, the importance of active and contextual learning has been recognised.

Practical or active learning makes the operation of the production processes and jobs simpler than when these have to be done by reading books or memorising the works which describe action. The opportunity to watch each process being completed, to hold each of the pieces, and to get the feel of the materials makes job tasks relatively simple. The simplicity of some apparently complex processes is illustrated in the practice of medicine. In describing surgical training, doctors often talk of ‘watching one, doing one, and teaching one’ during their internships. This shows that there is nothing that can match active participation for learning process-oriented subjects.

Project method and team work

Whereas theoretical learning follows primarily the training course method, the practical skills in training workshops follows the method of team work and project work. The learning organisation in the project method is built around learning goals (competencies) whereby the learning contents are adapted to the learning goals. Theory has only a supporting function and is not an end in itself. It enables the trainees to understand their trade better.

For some time now, the project method of training has been increasingly supplanting the training course method in many school enterprises.41 In the MAN Salzgitter project, four students make up a project team. Their task is to independently design, construct and produce a complex technical system in the field of applied industrial automation. Planning, organisation of production, purchase of components, and cost calculation are important elements of the project work. The project work is examined and evaluated and it has direct relevance to employment in the industry.

41 Greinert, W.-D. and Wiemann, G., 1993 p. 66

This didactic system includes selection of project tasks from the flow of production. This requires flexible combinations such as temporary integration of theoretical and practical learning in the form of workshop groups, and the development of special learning and teaching aids for both the teaching staff and the trainees.

Group activities and team work play an important role in the project method. This helps in avoiding the disadvantages of structuring that is common in traditional course training. Group activities and team work through the project method not only promote the necessary technical skill and knowledge, but also the necessary attitudes, behaviour and orientations. Cooperative forms of production are necessary in promoting mutual help, experience exchange and critical thought.

In comparison to the training course method, the learning sequences in the project method cannot be planned in detail. The prescribed learning objectives cannot be as well-controlled and secured as in course-learning situations and in vocational school subject lessons. Teaching staff often perceives such instruction as overly time-consuming and too unstructured, and the fact that different teachers are expected to function in a team may serve as a source of conflict.

In some cases, the project method has been introduced right from the inception of designing school enterprises. This aids in achieving an economic viability situation. Through the project method, trainees are involved in the selection of products and services which can be used locally, taking into account the surrounding market for these products. Product analysis and production planning are incorporated at the beginning of the training. Planning and monitoring of economic activities are therefore taken care of right at the planning stage itself.

The project method encourages team work between students and teachers who, through their combined efforts, first conduct a survey of the region with regard to what trades the community requires, the employment/self-employment potential of the trades, local resources, geographical and climatic factors, and future projections of industrial and infrastructure growth relevant to the region.

The project proposal contains details of organisation, location, type of vocation, market potential and linkage, names of enterprises practising the relevant vocation in or near the location, whether vocational training is already being imparted in the trade in question, outline of the teaching requirements, linkages with other institutions involved in the vocation with the aim of optimising resource convergence, scope and objectives, and the requirements proposed: financial and infrastructure, possible resource alternatives, income expected, and time schedule of project.

Training according to modular learning units

Training according to modular learning units has also been employed in some case studies of school enterprises (Costa Rica). This training is based largely on modular learning units similar to the ‘Modules of Employable Skills’ (MES) developed by the ILO.42 The MES are based on vocational profiles prevailing in industrialised countries, the overall qualifications for which are respectively segmented into partial qualifications which can be applied separately. It is possible to obtain the overall qualification in one vocational profile by successively acquiring all partial qualifications. Another possibility is to acquire only partial qualifications from several vocational profiles: a kind of cross-vocational qualification which often tends to meet best the qualification needs of the target groups in question. MES qualifications are possible in training courses as well as in private studies. The ILO has elaborate training manuals for students and additional training material for MES instructors.

42 See International Labour Office (ILO), 1982

One advantage of the MES training approach is that it allows the choice of individual learning programmes suited to the specific qualification needs, starting level of technical skills, and time constraints of each participant. On the other hand, as MES are especially designed for self-training purposes, it may be too individualistic an approach for participants from the informal sector, who need guidance on account of their particular learning disadvantages. The use of MES learning materials not only requires ‘hard skills’ in reading, writing and mathematics, but also the ability to learn systematically and without guidance on the basis of logically structured didactic material. Persons from socially disadvantaged groups may not have these basic educational competencies. Even skilled craftsmen who can read, write and do calculations reasonably well may have difficulties in thinking in abstract terms and understanding technical drawings without any guidance. A further difficulty is that, since MES has been developed on the basis of industrial technologies, the training and learning of MES skills and their application at work requires tools and equipment, often a workshop, which, at best, will be found in modern industrial enterprises, but normally not in micro-enterprises. Another shortcoming of the MES approach is the segmentation of skills. As a result technical inter-dependencies are not easily realised and understood. Because theory is not taught, learning is reduced to practical training.

In the ‘Talleres Pos’ (Costa Rica) these shortcomings can be partly offset, in principle, by technically and didactically trained instructors. The general tendency is, however, for people with little previous training and education not to start a training course at all for fear of dropping out.