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Expectations of technology companies for vocational training and vocational teachers

Many fields of technology are experiencing a shortage of experts. Companies need both engineers and professionals who have secondary level degree. To promote the attractiveness of technology sectors and meet the skills challenges of the future, we need cooperation between vocational training and companies.

What kind of cooperation do vocational teachers with companies have? What expectations do technology companies have for VET and teachers? We found out about this in the NextSteps@TechVET project, which involves training providers and companies from Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and the Netherlands.

Data acquisition methods

What kind of cooperation do vocational teachers have with technology companies? We addressed this question as part of a survey of teachers that focused on the current state of career guidance and workplace learning. The number of respondents to the survey is 61. The respondents represent five different VET providers from Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and the Netherlands. Typical respondent is a pedagogically qualified male teacher who has not completed additional training on career guidance.

The views of technology companies (17 companies) were clarified through semi-structured interviews. Respondents represent companies that provide on-the-job training places, apprenticeships or otherwise co-operate with a vocational training provider in their area. There is variation in the extent of the collaboration. The companies operate in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, or the Netherlands. Most of the participants were in a managerial position in the company, but also employee level positions were represented.

Cooperation with technology companies by vocational teachers.

According to a survey conducted in the NextSteps@TechVET project, VET teachers collaborate with technology companies on workplace learning as follows. The teachers typically make agreements with the companies (54% of respondents), and settle duration, times, and goals for the on-the-job training (59%), which they also evaluate (56%). For teachers who responded to the survey, less common forms of co-operation are coaching of workplace instructors (18%) and joint planning of learning tasks in the workplace with the workplace instructors (25%). 13% of respondents state that they do not cooperate in any way with companies.

Expectations of technology companies for vocational training

According to the interviews established collaboration with VET providers includes

For some, the co-operation goals were defined in written form in training contracts or agreed or described through discussions. The following table shows the expectations of technology companies towards VET providers, VET teachers and students.

Technology companies´ expectations for
VET providersVET teachersVET students
Communication and collaborationCommunication and collaborationMotivation and attitudes
· good communication and co-operation·  open, active interaction· a student wants to learn and is committed
· providing information about the students’ competence·  open-minded and co-operative attitudes· open-minded and active attitude
· easy contacting· sharing information with company· a student wants to develop themselves and is ready to work
·  collaboration to understand the company’s needs· knowing the company (more presence in the company, getting to know the methods, materials etc.) 
·  matching needs and expectations (understanding the limitation of job possibilities for certain degrees, different kind of education and training options)· providing information what is expected of students (company can plan work tasks accordingly) 
·  organization of student recruitments· a bridge between the company and a student 
·  participation in the administrative duties in relation to WBL  
Quality of educationStudent guidancePrior knowledge
· newest tools and theoretical approach· support student learning and assessment·  Basic skills and knowledge
· well-trained students (basic information, social skills, working life rules)· following the students’ progress (visitations at the workplace) 
· ensuring quality teaching· support students’ positive attitudes 
Teachers’ competenceTeachers’ competenceFollowing working life and company guidelines
· training of vocational teachers· knowledge about the company· is responsible and accepts the rules of the working life
· optimising the workload for vocational teachers·  up-to-date knowledge (e.g., technologies, methods)· gets to work on time and follows the schedules
· competent and qualified teachers·  offering basic knowledge to students· follows safety instructions
 ·  knowledge about working life needs· accepts the work tasks
Table 1. Technology companies´ expectations for VET providers, VET teachers and VET students.

Exploitation of results

The Confederation of Finnish Industries, the Chamber of Commerce, Finnish entrepreneurs and the Ministry of Education and Culture released in 2018 a model called 10 Steps to Succeeding for the needs of Finnish business and vocational education. The expectations raised by technology companies in the international framework are very much in line with the 10 Steps to Succeeding model. Both emphasize collaboration and ongoing communication. Educational institutions and companies need to know each other’s and each other’s needs. A vocational teacher is expected to be familiar with the companies in their area and the learning opportunities available in them. The teacher is expected to support the company in planning, implementing, and evaluating workplace learning. One of the teacher’s tasks is to coach the workplace instructors working in the company.

Based on current situation studies, the NextSteps@TechVET project will train learning ambassadors who work at the interface between the educational institution and the world of work. They are student career guidance specialists, and they maintain relationships with companies and train workplace instructors. The learning ambassadors therefore take care of the guidance of the students on the one hand and the quality of on-the-job learning on the other. Both are very important things when it comes to meeting the skills challenges of the future.

The project has created an extensive Material Bank to develop the skills of both learning ambassadors and workplace instructors. The project will develop a work-based learning model that will be able to meet the future skills needs of technology industries. It is worth following the progress and results of the project on the website http: and on social media. You can also find out more about the results of the current situation survey through the pages.

For more information contact:

Project manager
Tuomas Eerola

NextSteps@TechVET project has been funded with support from the European Commission, under ERASMUS+, with the reference number 2020-1-FI01-KA202-066596. 

Remark: The European Commission accepts no responsibility for the contents of this article.