COTRAIN conference : high points from the German partner point of view…

How can the training of apprentices be bettered? How far can models of collaborative trainings (cotrain) contribute to improve the results of vocational training? ON last May 14, this was the theme of the conference of the Erasmus+ financed project COTRAIN and of the partnership from Belgium, Italy, Austria and Germany. The idea behind this network of training institutions and research institutes is to transfer experiences of the dual system as practised in Germany and Austria and of their practical experiences of collaborative training to the partner countries. Some results have been presented during the conference. They have been discussed with more than eighty participants representing a broad field of experience including Italian and Belgian companies, administrative bodies from the Italian and BeFr regions, European Commission, trade unions, Chambers and training institutions.

Cotrain is a policy issue…

Starting with a sparkling welcome of deputy secretary general Mrs. Sabine Libert (FGTB Wallonne) three panels discussed different aspects of collaborative training. The first panel talked about general aspects. Cotrain is a policy issue! It would not work without a strong politic support. Especially from the Italian perspective cotrain would bring together various stakeholders from local and regional level of companies, training centres and authorities to improve the learning process of apprentices. This means a higher complexity of training - therefore guidance and awareness rising must be taken into the focus. If it works well the benefits would be very clear for local economy: innovation for companies by higher grade of interaction and more skilled people according to the employers’ needs of. Another speaker highlighted the need for leverage. As developments are raised on the local level cotrain will contribute to define common standards of training and to further develop trainings according to the needs of companies. An important prerequisite for the development of a ”local company fabric” will be trust building of companies on the local level which would be built up by good experiences and cooperation. Several contributions were therefore added to this point by proposing a system of accreditation of occupation profiles as a reference for job outlines.

A winning model for all, but still fears…

During the second panel the partners of the COTRAIN project discussed some of their findings. Apart from all the benefits which can arise out of collaborative training (e.g. enlarged and quick experiences of young people, innovation, saving of costs, social responsibility of companies and society in general for youngsters and education in general) it is also very clear that reservations still exist and must be taken into serious consideration. These are the loss of skilled workers to a bigger company who did not educate, a lack of confidentiality between companies and legal uncertainty. Collaborative training as from a German perspective can only be successful if it is built on trust and good experiences. Good news: COTRAIN brings elements that can decrease fear felt by some employers at the first sight!

During the third panel the conference became very practical: how to secure legal security? How to balance interests of (better paying) big companies and small companies? How to secure common standards and benchmarks? How much flexibility can we ask from apprentices? These issues An interesting debate raised between practitioners and politicians.

A common objective: increase training quality…

Why was it worth spending half a day in a dark conference hall when the sun was bright? It is the exchange between the stakeholders who do all have a common target: The best possible education for young people and to secure skilled people for future needs. It is the local definition of trust, of benefit for all sides and of experience. Some speakers have put it in the words that cotrain is a win-win for all sides. Even more, the capacity of adapting the training to labour changes depends on the collaboration of companies, VET centres and Chambers. This also means that standards must be agreed on and a judging board must be established (if it doesn’t exist already) who secures the standards. Apprentices need a clear legal framework in which they can start their education for 2 to 4 years. The youngsters and companies need comparability of learning outcomes and certification.

At the end the project contributed to a very interesting discussion with different European points of view. Education differs from country to country. Cotrain and the conference opened the European door for mutual learning – and this is what cotrain is about!

The conference was to opportunity to a first broadcast of the COTRAIN video, now available here !

Discover CoTraiNewsletter 1 ; CoTraiNewsletter 2 ; CoTraiNewsletter 3 & CoTraiNewsletter 4