The International Journal for Research in Vocational Education and Training (IJRVET) recently published two new articles:
Regional Disparities in the Training Market: Opportunities for Adolescents to Obtain a Company-Based Training Place Depending on Regional Training Market Conditions by Christian Michaelis and Robin Busse (both authors: Georg-August University of Göttingen, Germany).
The Dilemmas of Flexibilisation of Vocational Education and Training: A Case Study of the Piano Makers by Carmen Baumeler, Sonja Engelage and Alexandra Strebel (all authors: Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Switzerland).
Regional Disparities in the Training Market: Opportunities for Adolescents to Obtain a Company-Based Training Place Depending on Regional Training Market Condition
Christian Michaelis and Robin Busse
DOI (Open Access): https://doi.org/10.13152/IJRVET.8.1.5
Context: Due to limited geographical mobility, opportunities for adolescents interested in company-based training are primarily dependent on regional training offers. Competition for company-based training among adolescents varies regionally, and thus, the chance to obtain a training contract varies as well. In this article, we investigate the opportunities for adolescents to obtain company-based training depending on regional training market conditions. We assume that the advantages of obtaining a company-based training place exist in areas of decreased competition among interested adolescents. However, the question is whether those advantages will differ between adolescents depending on characteristics such as school achievement, socioeconomic status or migration background. Furthermore, we assume that, above all, market-induced ease-of-access to company-based training exists for occupations that face hiring challenges and indicates less occupational attractiveness.
Methods: The transition from school (after 9th and 10th grade) to company-based training is analysed using data from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS, starting cohort 4). This dataset is merged with the official regional training market data regarding local supply and demand ratio for training places (called “SDR”) in the dual system of Vocational Education and Training in Germany. Logistic regressions are used to predict the probabilities of obtaining a training place. The focus lies on the interaction effects between SDR and adolescents’ education-related characteristics (school certificates and grade point average), socioeconomic characteristics and migration backgrounds. Subgroup-specific analyses of different clusters of hiring challenges for trainee occupations are used to examine whether these effects are valid for all occupations.
Findings: The results confirm regional differences in obtaining a training place depending on the SDR. Here, applicant hierarchies according to educational achievement continue to exist if competition for company-based training among adolescents decreases. Beneficiaries are better-qualified adolescents with poorer GPAs. SDR hardly influences social disparities. However, the advantages of obtaining a company-based training place primarily exist for training occupations with hiring challenges when competition for company-based training among adolescents decreases. These occupations have a significantly lower occupational prestige (ISEI-08) compared to occupations with fewer hiring challenges.
Conclusion: The results make it clear that market-induced ease-of-access to company-based training is not necessarily an advantage. Because the findings indicate that the advantages pertain mainly to low-prestige occupations, it can be assumed that career-path disadvantages can arise down the road. Future studies should investigate this in more differentiated ways.
The Dilemmas of Flexibilisation of Vocational Education and Training: A Case Study of the Piano Makers
Carmen Baumeler, Sonja Engelage and Alexandra Strebel
DOI (Open Access): https://doi.org/10.13152/IJRVET.8.1.6
Context: Dual VET systems are often praised for their labour market proximity because of economic stakeholders’ involvement. However, when labour market requirements change rapidly, a lack of flexibility is attributed to them. This occurs in times of fast socio-technological change like the current digital transformation. A repeatedly proposed measure to increase system flexibility is to reduce the number of occupations and create broader occupational profiles, for example, by combining similar occupations into so-called occupational fields. However, little is known about actually establishing occupational fields.
Approach: Against this backdrop, we address the following research question: How was an occupational field created? As Switzerland attempted to merge occupations over a decade ago, we selected an information-rich and illuminative case concerning the research question: The piano makers’ occupation as one of the first occupations required to merge into an occupational field called musical instrument makers together with organ builders and wind instrument makers. Based on a qualitative case study, we reconstruct the process of occupational field construction by combining expert interviews with comprehensive document analysis and present its narrative.
Findings: Based on this case study, we contribute to the understanding of VET flexibilisation by detailing occupational field creation and identifying opportunities and challenges. Here, we pay special attention to the institutional work of the affected occupational association and identify the importance of preserving its collective occupational identity. Although regulatory changes disrupted the piano makers’ occupation, the occupational association reinstitutionalised it as part of the musical instrument makers’ occupational field. Over a decade later, the piano makers reintroduced their former occupational title, which is deeply connected to their occupational identity.
Conclusion: The results indicate that VET reforms that promote flexibilisation by creating occupational fields encounter serious limitations in collectively governed dual VET systems. In the Swiss system, occupational associations are core collective actors that rely on their members’ voluntary work. To maintain these economic stakeholders’ necessary commitment to VET, their collective occupational identity, symbolized by their long-standing occupational title, needs to be preserved.