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Workplace Trainers and their Organisational Contexts in Companies

Anke Bahl (bahl@bibb.de)

Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Bonn, Germany

Draft Paper to be presented at the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER)

in Vienna, 29.09.09 - 02 SES 07.5 A: Enterprise Learning and Recruitment

European and German policy for VET trainers and a lack of empirical evidence

Within the Lisbon agenda of the European Union teachers and trainers are considered key actors in all strategies targeted at stimulating the development of society and the economy. It is assumed that their roles change in knowledge society and that they need particular support as they respond to these challenges in the perspective of lifelong learning (EC 2002, p.7).

Member States are asked - in accordance with national legislation and practices – to implement measures to make the teacher/trainer profession more attractive. This includes steps to create attractive working conditions and adequate career structure and development as well as further consolidation of continuing training for educational staff (EC 2004, p. 24). The professionalisation of teachers and trainers in VET in particular is considered an important theme for continuing European cooperation.1  

In Germany, two new federal occupational profiles (with qualifications at EQF levels 6 and 7) for VET trainers have just been introduced by the government (August 2009) 2, building on the basic qualification of the “trainer aptitude regulation” and aiming to contribute to the development of a professional identity for the VET trainer.

The general assumptions behind these policies are usually very simple. The first is that trainers have to meet continuously higher demands in their work and therefore need to be updated in their knowledge and skills. The second is that a higher qualification of educational staff will lead to a higher level of the training provided and thus raise the general output, i.e. a better qualified work force. The third is the expectation that the promotion of programmes of continuous professional development and the creation of new professional profiles will attract individual VET trainers and thus help to raise their status.

In my eyes this line of argumentation is rather one-dimensional and too narrowly focused on VET trainers as individual agents of change. It does not seem to meet with the complex reality of company-based trainers in particular. Also one can observe a striking discrepancy in the German debate between the call for professionalisation on behalf of stakeholders like the social partners, the relevant ministries and all educational institutions interested in providing such programmes, and the needs claimed by the company representatives themselves (Brater, Wagner 2008, p. 8). This is partly due to the fact  that under the label of professionalisation a variety of – also conflicting - agendas are being followed, but at the same time an indication that these policy strategies are not yet substantiated enough by sound empirical needs analysis (cf. Büchter, Hendrich 1996).

1 Cf. the work of the cluster „Teachers and Trainers in Vocational Education and Training (VET)” http://www.kslll.net/PeerLearningClusters/ClusterDetails.cfm?id=11 and in particular the results of the Peer Learning Activity on the professionalisation of teachers and trainers in Vocational Education and Training http://www.kslll.net/Documents/PLA_Bonn%20summary%20report.pdf.

2 http://www.bmbf.de/intern/upload/aus_und_weiterbildungspaedagoge.pdf



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