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Revisiting Kostelec 4: The way(s) forward from the “Crossing boundaries …” conference

October 24th, 2010 by Pekka Kamarainen

With my recent blog postings (Revisiting Kostelec 1-3 ) I have given an account on the recent international conference with the theme “Crossing Boundaries: The multiple roles of trainers and teachers in vocational education and training”. With this posting it is time to shift the emphasis from the memories and to consider the way(s) forward.

In this context it is essential to note that the organiser of the conference – the network “Trainers in Europe” – is coming to the end of its EU-funded working period. As things stand now, it is apparent that the follow-up phase will be characterised by distributed successor activities (for which the platform can serve as a home base).

For the further discussion on the frollow-up activities I have made the following observations on parallel working agendas that were present in the conference and merit to be considered:

1. The professionalisation of trainers (and parity of esteem between trainers and teachers in VET)

This agenda is stimulated by debates on academic drift and on vocational progression routes. It is overshadowed by the Bologna process and the degree structures. Yet, it can also bring into discussion the value of work-related learning opportunities. In the conference this agenda was represented by the presentation of Alrun Schleiff and Simone Wanken on ‘learning tandems’ and ‘cross-mentoring’. In the preparation phase some other proposals were adressing this context.  After the conference it is worthwhile to explore, what is happening with such initiatives at the national and European level.

2. Trans-national mobility (and comparability of qualifications) of trainers across EU

This agenda is stimulated by policies to promote mobility of trainers (in a similar way as mobility of teachers) across Europe. However, the hitherto perceived diversity of training contexts and professional profiles has made it difficult to promote such initiatives effectively and to get the target groups inspired. Yet, in the light of internationalisation of production and services this is a real challenge. In the conference this agenda was represented by the presentation of Sandie Gay on skills verification and identification of common core areas.

3. Promotion of specific (pedagogic, ICT-related and sectoral) competences of trainers

This agenda covers a wide range of initiatives that are linked to specific aspects of trainers’ competences (pedagogic, multimedial, sectoral) and are looking for ways to address these aspects in a European context. As a contrast to the above mentioned ones, these initiatives do not necessarily raise questions on teh formal qualification frameworks or on recognition issues as their starting points.  In the conference this agenda was represented by the presenations on the development/utilisation of e-learning and of self-assessment approaches.

4. Promotion of process innovations in training contexts and rethinking the role of training functions

This agenda focuses on the limits of hitherto developed models for in-company training or training in external centres. The main thrust of the agenda is to link the efforts of different parties (workplace trainers/mentors, internal experts, external service providers, intermediate agencies) to real-time innovation agendas and to working with cutting-edge knowledge. In this context the focal point is not in achieving certain formal standards (or using specific know-how) but in bringing different elements into an ongoing innovation process. In the conference this perspective was addressed most explicitly by the presentation of Johannes Koch.

The above presented list of parallel working agendas is probably not exhaustive and there are several overlaps of interest and approaches. However, in my view these agendas can be seen as mutually complementing developments that (at least currentlky) have their own dynamics.

In my view this observation strengthens the final proposal of Europe-wide consultation process on a new type of Innovation Forum that puts the interests of trainers into the centre (instead of highlighting national or European policy frameworks). To me, the conference at Kostelec refreshed the menories of the best consultation seminars and their dialogue-oriented spirit. I think that it is good to build on this heritage.

Looking forward to further discussion!


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