Archive of European Projects

Vocational Cooperative Learning Triangles: Using Cooperative Learning to Promote Employer Engagement
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 31 Aug 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

VET learners must develop relevant transferable skills required for the workplace. To ensure these skills are transferred, VET teachers need stronger links with employers so their learners can interact meaningfully with them. This problem (or opportunity) is clearly recognised in business. 1st European Business Forum on Vocational Training (2012) states promoting collaboration between business & VET is pivotal to ensure proper alignment between what businesses need & what institutions teach their future employees. Cooperation around work-based learning of VET students is beneficial to all the 3 actors: the learner, the company & the VET organisation (the learning triangle). Most companies regard technical skills as the basics –the must haves – but having staff with suitable technical skills alone does not make a company stand out. What makes the difference is the level of transversal skills. Employers stress that these transversal skills enable skilled employees to fully utilise their technical expertise, put it into practice & contribute to company growth, learning & innovation. The consortium will therefore transfer & implement an innovative student-centred pedagogy, Cooperative Learning (COL) to develop transversal skills. Whilst COL is not new, it is rarely used in VET. Working with COL develops experience & maturity, mainly by exposure to views & feelings of others & the ability to work collectively to a goal whilst considering these. We will identify innovation-friendly employers to work with trained VET staff, to create tasks (real workplace tasks framed as learning outcomes) for transversal skills development. Employers, learners & staff will work on tasks together as peers in Vocational Cooperative Learning (VoCOL) Triangles promoting engagement by bringing together the worlds of work & VET. Outputs will include a best practice guide; guide to COL & training material; lesson plan resources & video; EQF mapping guide & website. ET2020 calls for partnership between enterprise & VET in 2 strategic objectives: improving quality & efficiency of education & training by raising the quality of CPD opportunities; & enhancing innovation & creativity at all levels of VET - calling for developing cooperation between “innovation-friendly” institutions to promote creativity & innovation by developing specific teaching & learning methods. VoCOL’s objectives are: 1. To develop skills of VET staff to use COL to develop & assess key employment competencies; 2. To improve VET’s attractiveness & relevance by ensuring curriculum meets employability needs of learners & employers; 3. To strengthen alignment & collaboration between work & VET through innovative methods; 4. To enhance the modernisation & internationalisation of VET systems in partner countries. The consortium comprises 5 VET partners along with ICI & 3 industry Associate Partners. Dundee & Angus College UK, provides VET training to over 16,000 learners. Since 2007 a small team of staff have experimented with COL in to support acquisition of technical & transversal skills with very positive results. They have received praise from HMIe, were featured at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas & established a COL community of practice. Bollnas Kommun, SE: engages with local companies to run "Vocational High Schools Courses" for adult learners related to business life. HETEL, ES: association of 21 Basque VET centres working to deepen collaboration with companies through various initiatives. INSTITUT INPRO, CZ: educational organization operating in further education, VET & development of new forms of education. The RegioVision Schwerin GmbH, DE: facilitates the integration of people with difficulties to access the labour market through continuing vocational training. ICI, IS: training & advocacy organisation offering EU wide training in COL. Also 3 industry partners will be Associate Partners to ensure labour market relevance: Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce, Association of SMEs & Crafts of the Czech Republic & MittMedia i Hälsingland (Swedish media company). Participating organisations will gain new ways of working with employers; broader understanding of practices & systems; better alignment to the labour market. Teachers/trainers will: upgrade knowledge, skills & competence; develop intercultural skills; be better able to match learners' transversal skills with workplace requirements; acquire improved methods of teaching. Participating learners will experience an increased awareness of transversal skills & their importance in the labour market; feel a greater sense of initiative & self-worth; improved levels of skills for employability. Sustainable longer term results will be: -Deeper work based learning & engagement for increasing numbers of teachers; -Replicable practices to improve professional VET & employer engagement all over Europe; -Realistic engagement of increasing numbers learners with the workplace & improved employability.
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