Country: Belgium (Flanders)
Economic Sectors: Manufacturing
Theme: Delivery of WBL, Partnership
Educational field and level: Vocational education and training
Target groups: Teachers and Trainers (Education and Training), Trainers and Mentors in the Workplace
The initiative ‘workplace learning +’ (Werkplekleren PLUS) is a model that involves intensive collaboration between Companies and Technical VET Schools with a view to better reflecting the realities of the workplace in classroom-based learning.
WORKPLACE LEARNING+ enables learners from technical VET schools to participate in a one-week internship as a part of their general education. Internships are organised, in small groups, at a single company, with a focus on specific technical and social skills from the existing VET curriculum. Learners are also supported by a mentor at the company, usually on a one-to-one basis. Individual learners gain practical experience and learn specific occupational skills, as well as gaining an insight into the working environment. In terms of social or transversal skills, this is also an opportunity for individuals to demonstrate specific attitudes and aptitudes such as punctuality, curiosity and ambition, and this are skills that are also assessed by mentors at the end of the internship. Behind the internship, both theoretical and reflective work is undertaken both in classroom settings and as a part of onsite supervision, the latter also involving teachers directly. Participating companies also benefit through being able to get to know possible future employees and through building capacity in their own staff, with individual mentors required to participate in a preparatory training course. The WORKPLACE LEARNING+ initiative is organised by a network of technical schools and businesses in the North Limburg region of Belgium, known locally as the KIO (Kenniscentrum industrie-onderwijs / Knowledge Industry Education Association). As well as being responsible for facilitating cooperation between industry and education, KIO also provides support and training for teachers and preparatory training for workplace mentors. More recently, there have also been efforts made to develop tools for the assessment of professional competences.
Success factors and challenges for WBL
The main success factor of the WORKPLACE LEARNING+ initiative is that of enabling cooperation and collaboration between schools and local companies. Teachers play an integral part of the internships, taking the role on onsite supervisors, which allows learning and progression to be also transferred back to the classroom and to be linked with future course delivery. Teachers are also required to undertake internships themselves, in a partner company, and mentors must participate in preparatory training: a win-win situation. A continuing challenge is that of convincing companies of the benefits, for all parties, associated with work-based learning. There is also a need to continue to motivate workplace mentors to reflect and report on learning achievement, with many seeing this as the role of teachers.
Website of the initiative: http://www.industrieonderwijs.be/
Tool for the assessment of professional competences by KIO (users have to register before download) http://www.industrieonderwijs.be/forum
Presentation of the initiative: (Dutch) https://prezi.com/htuattziwemc/untitled-prezi/
Presentation of a case example within ‘workplace learning +’: http://www.industrieonderwijs.be/images/stories/wpl/bijlagen_draaiboek/bedrijf%20en%20wpl%20beveiligde%20pdf.pdf