Project

How is the quality of upper-secondary-level VET understood by its players, and how does it influence learner commitment? An analysis of the various learning locations and the development of a scientifically-based assessment tool

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The notion of quality of training is becoming increasingly important in policy discussions on vocational education and training in Switzerland, where it has been an integral part of the Federal Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act (VPETA) for over 10 years. The effectiveness of Swiss dual-track VET programmes is recognised both nationally and globally, based in particular on economic indicators such as youth unemployment rates. If we are to develop the quality of this skill formation system, in which most young people in Switzerland participate, greater focus needs to be placed on how the various players in the system (learners, vocational school teachers and workplace trainers) gauge and perceive the quality of their education and training. If the quality of skill formation is enhanced, this could help develop competences and improve the commitment of learners to their programmes. It may even reduce the incidence of premature apprenticeship contract termination.

This project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant no. 100019_175880).

This study sets out to investigate the quality of upper-secondary-level VET from the perspective of the different players involved: learners, vocational school teachers and workplace trainers. A further aim of the project is to identify those factors of quality that either promote or inhibit the commitment and skills development of learners at the two main learning locations (i.e. the host company and the vocational school). Finally, with a view to implementation, a formative assessment tool will be developed in cooperation with vocational school teachers and workplace trainers, thus allowing them to take learners’ perceptions of their VET programmes into consideration and potentially modify their practices.

The project will focus on four occupational fields, specifically those that tend to have the highest apprenticeship contract termination rates: (a) hair and beauty, (b) commercial employee, (c) construction and (d) retail. This choice of occupational field should allow us to form an intricate and critical picture of the quality of upper-secondary-level VET. While some aspects of quality should be common to all four occupational fields, specific features are also likely to emerge.

Once complete, this study will improve our understanding of the quality of upper-secondary-level VET and provide vocational school teachers and workplace trainers with a practical assessment tool.

Method

The project consists of several studies and combines different data collection and analysis methods – both qualitative and quantitative. There will be three phases involving the various players in the four occupational fields mentioned above:

  1. In the first phase, focus groups shall be convened to identify the features that learners, vocational school teachers and workplace trainers associate with high-quality education and training programmes.

  2. Based on the feedback from the first phase, a scientifically verified questionnaire will be developed that prompts learners to give their views on the quality of their education and training, both at the vocational school and at the host company. The correlation between learners’ perceptions of quality, their commitment and their skills development will then be analysed by means of a questionnaire-based survey distributed to approximately 100 classes.

  3. Working together with the eventual users, the initially developed questionnaire will then be further adapted to enable vocational school teachers and workplace trainers to undertake a formative quality assessment of the vocational education and training provided.

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Format: 2020
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