Work-based training in companies performs different functions in relation to Germany’s dual systems in higher education. For students, work-based training provides them with a knowledge and understanding of what work is, and what occupational areas they are attracted to. It provides training for the students in the real-work environment to build specific competences needed for particular jobs. For the employer, it allows him to test the students skills in different functions and get the assessment of managers before the graduate is hired.
Work-based training at the DHBW has strong associations with vocational education and training in the form of apprenticeships and traineeships. However in the case of the dual study programmes at the DHBW, the work-based training of three months after each semester necessarily incorporate significant periods of time within the workplace and at different functions within the company/ workplace and therefore include episodic periods of learning as students progress through their 3 years study programme.
Work-based training therefore plays a dual function for students alongside the study period. It offers the students a way of learning about different jobs in the company and help them to be informed about the various choices; but it also provides skills, knowledge and accreditation which give students access to opportunities in a company based on the students‘ personal skills set.
Alumni of the DHBW often argue: “We know after the 4. semester, what we don`t want to do in a company. We early understand if we have the skills to become a good salesman or if we better should work in the HR department.“
High motivation and matching between individuals and job positions is usually sustainable only if the decisions which job the graduate will take is based on personal understanding of the self, the labour market and occupational needs.
The work-based training after each semester has a strong impact on the students career path and also on the labour market if these activities are based on individual decisions. They are aligned both with (i) economic and labour market needs but also with (ii) individual career constructions which keep the individuals moving towards certain educational, economic and labour market targets and translating these objectives to personalised ones. The embedded engagement of work-based training in the study programme and curriculum as well as successful graduation from it depend upon strong correspondence with the individuals’ work values, interests, skills and motivations.
In Germany work-based training is part of the cultural heritage, as well as providing the basis for sustained economic growth through the continuing supply of skilled young people into businesses. Practices such as mentoring and co-referral between education providers and employers are an established part of the industrial practices that underpin growth and innovation.
In Germany the federal law regulates the organisational structure of the HVET component in companies; laws of the Länder regulate dual education.
Some countries have strong, well-established and culturally embedded systems such as the dual training system in Austria, or well-advertised and well-known traineeship/ internship opportunities as in Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
What was the challenge intended to be addressed? Why? What did work well? What did not work well? What have been the main achievements? How did you evaluate its success? What has been the change brought by this good practice?
Students involved in regular work-based trainings, make better decisions about the scientific work they perform at the institution, such as project work or bachelor thesis throughout their study. As the training in workplaces requires strong understanding of the company structure, the needs and challenges it leads to a better understanding of different career pathways, the content of the different occupations and occupational outlooks, but also to a better self-awareness and the ways individuals identify themselves in learning and working environment. As a result, utilisation of job-related skills is connected with the student’s personality.
What are the enabling conditions (e.g. institutional, economic, social/cultural, regulatory) that needed to be in place or played a facilitating role for the good practice to be successful?
Dual study programmes as an emerging hybrid form of higher education, offer the participant the opportunity to complete a degree programme at a higher education institution whilst simultaneously receiving a certification of practical vocational training or work experience in a company, with the primary aim of bridging the divide between academia and industry as well as to increase employment opportunities for graduates.
What are the challenges, barriers or limiting factors encountered? How have they been addressed?
Dual-study programmes are built upon effective links between education providers and employers. Time and resource constrainst are often mentioned as inhibitors.
Feasibility & Sustainability
What are the elements that need to be put into place for the good practice to be sustainable (institutionally, socially, economically, etc.)? If applicable, indicate the total costs incurred for the implementation of the practice. What are the benefits compared to total costs?
These programmes require stable long-term cooperation to make sure that the curriculum is closely connected to the job while meeting all academic standards. Both parties need to negotiate to award students a double qualification for the two integral parts of the programme; a higher education certificate and a certification of practical training or work experience in a company.
Replicability & Upscaling
What are the possibilities of extending the good practice more widely? What are the conditions that need to be in place for the good practice to be successfully replicated in a similar context? What are the steps that should be taken/respected to ensure that the good practice is replicated / up-scaled, but adapted to the new context?
Vital stakeholders in dual-study education include:
Governments – Providing the framework in which dual study programmes can be recognised and accredited.
Business – Providing the market driver for dual study programmes as well as the employment and vocational training for students entering these programmes.
. HEIs – Providing the educational element of the programme executed through the
curriculum design and delivery functions, which offers students a HEI degree as part of the
dual study programme.
. Vocation education providers – Providing the vocational education and training (VET)
element in selected dual study programmes, which offers a further qualification for students.
What would have facilitated an earlier and/or bigger impact? What are the key features that should be kept in mind if this would have to be implemented again? What would you do differently if you could go back in time? What could have been done better?
Work-based learning not only integrates labour market demand and supply, but also opens up social debates on the career adaptability. Work-based training in companies offers ways to orient people towards particular occupations before they make career choices. It gives them an opportunity to gain and practise skills, such as communication and social skills that are more and more relevant for employers.
Please provide some information about the context and initial situation that can help in fully understanding the action (e.g. information about the national system, applying regulations, etc.)
The running of the dual study programmes also needs a commitment of resources including manpower and salary or programme participants. Whilst German students are paid throughout their studies, other countries may only pay for the time completed. Finally, in addition to physical location to work in, industry partners also need to locate appropriate departments, committed temporary supervisors and in some cases a permanent mentor for the student to work with.