Apprenticeships as modes of learning and models of education

Apprenticeship is usually seen as a model of education combining experiences in workplaces and tertiary education institutions. However, apprenticeship has been primarily been a mode of learning (Billett, 2016). Before the advent of education provisions for occupations mainly over the last hundred years, across human history and cultures apprenticeship was primarily a process of the apprentice engaging in active and self-directed learning. This remains the case in countries that practice what is referred to as ‘traditional’ apprenticeships (ILO 2015, Marchand 2008). Given concerns about learner engagement, requirements for learning contemporary occupational knowledge, and need to develop the capacities required for learning across lengthening working lives, it is timely to revisit the original concept of apprenticeship. That is where learners are positioned to ‘apprehend’ the knowledge required for occupational practice and having responsibility for organising and optimising their learning. As in earlier times, contemporaneously, much occupational knowledge cannot be accessed by learners’ discovery efforts alone. Hence, alongside a focus on active learning, it is necessary to consider the pedagogic practices that guide and support that learning. Importantly, these practices are sometimes distinct from those designed for teaching and classroom instruction. As noted, these kinds of processes of active engagement and guidance are not just limited to the initial occupational preparation but have a key role in the ongoing development of occupational capacity across working lives. It follows, this paper will set out premises for viewing apprenticeship as a mode of learning, elaborate learner engagement qualities, briefly elaborate curriculum and pedagogic practices supporting it and conclude with potential implications for vocational education and development of occupational capacities.

Employment for older workers on the agenda at APEC

Older workers may be hit hardest by the financial impact of the COVID pandemic. Presented here are the presentation in an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum about the re-employment of older workers.

The presentation was based on extensive research across Australia and Singapore, including two sessions:

  • Elaborating older workers’ employability: Personal and institutional factors (see slides)
  • Older workers, work and employability: Re employment policies and practices (see slides)

Evaluating modes of skill acquisition

This report describes and summarises the processes of and outcomes of a pilot study conducted in 1993 that evaluated three modes of vocational skill development currently being implemented in Queensland, Australia at that time.  These modes are: i) the Formal pre-employment (college-based provision of vocational education); ii) Integrated (i.e. combination of work and college-based experiences) and On-the-job modes (i.e. wholly work-based).  Through the research, a fourth mode was investigated- School then workplace experiences. The purpose of this project is to provide some broad guidelines for use in the design, implementation, and evaluation of these modes of skill acquisition.

A copy of the report can be found here.

Teaching students from University of Geneva and Freiburg

These teaching sessions are about learning through work and the contributions and limitations of learning through work interactions and activities. Watch Day One here.

Day Two here provides introduction, recap and question and answer session and presentation on practice pedagogies and personal epistemologies

Enhancing the learning potential of workplace

This video addresses concepts of curriculum, with an emphasis of the practice or workplace curriculum, various models of practice curriculums and some initial considerations for developing a practice curriculum. Click here to watch the video.

Integrating workplace experiences – ‘alternance’

This video addresses topics associated with integrating experiences in workplaces into tertiary education programs, refers to concepts associated with the processes of integrating experiences, distinctions between work-integrated learning and work integrated education, and curriculum and pedagogic practices associated with the integration of those experiences. Finally, considerations are given to post-practicum interventions. Click here to watch the video.

Learning occupations through practice

From the findings of the Australian Research Council funded Future Fellowship project entitled ‘Enhancing practice-based learning experiences: towards a curriculum, pedagogic and epistemology of practice’ a handout resource was developed to capture the key concepts, rationale for and considerations of practice curriculum, pedagogies and epistemologies.

This handout is available below in English, French, Chinese and Portuguese

Integrating students experiences across work and educational settings

From the Australian Learning and Teaching Council awarded national teaching fellowship entitled: integrating practice-based experiences, a handout was developed that provides guidelines for how these experiences might be organised and enacted in tertiary education institutions.

This handout is available below.

Augmenting Students’ Learning for Employability Through Post-Practicum Educational Processes

This project investigated and trialled a range of approaches to enhance higher education students’ employability through post-practicum interventions. That is, utilising and integrating their workplace experiences in ways directed to achieving specific educational outcomes associated with graduate employability. Identified across two
phases of projects, the first 14 in healthcare and the second 28 in other disciplines were ways that post-practicum interventions could be used to achieve specific educational outcomes. A range of considerations for planning and enacting such interventions were also identified.

The handouts for this project include (i) project summary, (ii) final report, and (ii) rounds 1 and 2 project reports.

Enhancing the status of vocational education

Globally, there are concerns in both the developed and developing world that status of vocational education is relatively low, when compared with other educational sectors. This has a significant impact upon parents and young people’s participation in it, and how governments fund and organize it, and also community support for it.

Consequently, enhancing the status of vocational education is a worthwhile goal to ensure that this important educational sector can realize its potential and provide students with effective education, workplaces with the kinds and quantum of skilled workers, and countries with the skill base that they desire.

Below are some resources from two projects intended to inform about how to enhance the standing of vocational education.

UNESCO–UNEVOC Virtual conference

In July 2018, UNESCO–UNEVOC organised a virtual conference that involved over 400 participants from over 80 countries. The responses from participants were synthesized and published in the attached: i) brief overview and ii) final report from UNESCO.

A brief overview of this virtual conference can be found here

A copy of the final UNESCO report can be found here

Enhancing the status of vocational education: the Queensland study

Across 2018 and 2019, a study funded through the Education Horizon scheme of the states schooling system – Education Queensland – interviewed and surveyed school age students, parents and teachers, as well as students and teachers from vocational education to ascertain how vocational education can be seen as being worthwhile and legitimate post school pathway.

A research bulletin over viewing the project and its key findings can be found here

A listing of strategies that can be implemented by governments, schooling systems, vocational education system and industry to enhance the standing of vocational education can be found here.